When to Baptize?

18 04 2008

(by: jt)

When to baptize is an issue that I would like help thinking through. What are your thoughts about Grace Community’s (CA) approach?


The temptation for many parents is to rush their child’s baptism. Our elders here at Grace Church believe it is better to wait, and be absolutely convinced of a child’s conversion, than to baptize the child prematurely — and thereby potentially give an unsaved child a false sense of assurance.

Note: In case there are those who did not read carefully, this is a quote from John MacArthur’s church (Grace Community), not Grace Church in Memphis.





4 responses

18 04 2008
Jeremy Whitten

I think baptism has become too sophisticated these past 2,000 years. Not to diminish the glorious testimony that water baptism demonstrates, but I think that it only confirms a public “profession” of entering into a relationship with Jesus and NOT a persons complete salvation! The candidate obviously must repent, place their faith in Jesus alone and desire to be “publicly” known as a Christ follower. I don’t think it has to go any further than that. The bible doesn’t say anything about waiting to make sure the profession is legitimate by evaulating the persons lifestyle or by waiting for spritual fruit to be produced. Waiting for spiritual fruit would indicate that baptism is based on “sanctification” and not “regeneration” which is what I think water baptism symbolizes. Yes, I do feel that childhood conversions should be handled with caution but we can also mislead by putting too much of an emphasis on baptism. A person (or even a child) can disguise themselves as a “wolf in sheeps clothing” and fool us all. Therefore, why make water baptism into a public “confirmation”, it smells too much like Rome (which is where I think these errors have their roots)!
-Jeremy Whitten

18 04 2008
Jordan Thomas


Thanks for your thoughts!

Your points are precisely the issues that have continued to resurface in the “baptism debates” when folks are being urged to not wait too long to baptize someone. They are well taken.

Some questions I have is whether or not there is some necessity for “some fruit” to be demonstrable prior to baptism that is “in addition” to the person’s consent to be “publicly known as Christ’s follower.” Is there anything else that you’d look for? Why, why not? Would it be “wrong” to wait for this fruit to be observable?

I couldn’t agree more about baptism being an ordinance that should follow “regeneration” as opposed to “sanctification.” But, to me, the tricky thing is that sanctification always begins “immediately” upon true conversion. So, if there’s not evidence of “some” sanctification has conversion truly happened? Would it be inappropriate to want to observe these sanctifying graces as confirmation that regeneration actually happened (regardless of what the person “says” about their conversion and desires to follow Christ?).

Finally, do you agree with the reasoning (i.e., like at Grace Community) that the potential for giving a false sense of security to one prematurely baptized would be sufficient grounds for waiting for sanctifying fruit to be borne prior to being eligible to be baptized?

Thanks again!

19 04 2008
Jeremy Whitten

Two words stand out to me as I continue to ponder this important subject. The first being “Perserverance”, which to me if properly taught and understood makes the whole issue disappear. A person who’s being baptized needs to understand that their faith must be legitimized by their continuing obedience to and faith in Jesus. As long as a child can understand that then I don’t feel like its necessary to wait for more fruit to be manifested. ( I would consider a desire to follow Christ the first and most important fruit of all ). The next word that stands out to me is “Discipline” which is where we get our word “Disciple” from. By publically professing yourself to be a “follower of Christ”, the convert must then be instructed that they fall under the authority and discipline of the local church. Which then brings the significance of the next ordinance that Jesus instituted: “The Lord’s Table”, which I feel along with Baptism, has become too ritualistic and liturgical (formal). By particpating in “The Lord’s Supper, the Christ follower further demonstrates his or her desire to “Commune with Christ and His people” and therefore displays evidence that his or her “profession” was authentic. This intimacy with fellow believers is what helps determine if a person truly desires to be a disciple of Christ (similar to what you would experience in a small group) I think the local church ought to bring these two ordinances together in order to help establish confirmation of true conversion. I know the fear is to baptize false converts but I’m sure the greatest preachers in the history of the world ( John the Baptist included) baptized “false converts”. We are only charged to teach, instruct, encourage and discipline those who are a part of the local chruch. The Day of Reckoning will ulitmately decided if our “professions” in Christ were real!

-Jeremy Whitten

21 04 2008
Jeremy Whitten

Btw, to clarify what I meant about “The Lords’ Supper” being “too ritualistic” is that I’ve often felt that the New Testament model and what Christ intended is for the local church to “break bread” and “drink wine” during the course of an actual meal. Not a symbolic, meaningless ritual like that of the Roman Catholic practice. There’s much to be said about the intimacy and closeness of eating a real meal together. It was a necessary part of the New Testament church and I don’t see why we can’t practice the “Lords’ Supper” in the same way. There may be some churches who do this on occasion or every time but I’m not aware of any. My home church does it the “traditional” southern baptist way. We don’t belittle the significance of it nor dumb down the importance of it but I think we would all benefit if we stuck with the biblical pattern in order to maintain that openess and intimacy that members of a local church should share in order to help their Christian walk to progress with a clear conscience before God and before the brethren. Thus reinforcing one’s profession of Christ and association with His people by partaking in meals and fellowshipping; affirming one’s baptism (profession) to be real and authentic.

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