“I do not urge you to look within, to try & see whether this new birth is there. Instead of looking within thyself, look thou to him who hangs on yonder cross, dying the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Fix thou thine eyes on him, and believe in him; & when thou seest in thyself much that is evil, look away to him; and when doubts prevail, look to him; and when thy conscience tells thee of thy past sins, look to him.
I have to go through this story almost every day of the year, and sometimes half a dozen times in a day. If there is a despairing soul anywhere within twenty miles, it will find me out, no matter whether I am at home, or at Mentone (on vacation), or in any other part of the world. It will come from any distance, broken down, despairing, half insane sometimes; and I have no medicine to prescribe except “Christ, Christ, Christ; Jesus Christ and him crucified. Look away from yourselves, and trust in him.” I go over and over and over with this, and never get one jot further. Because I find that this medicine cures all soul sicknesses, while human quackery cures none. Christ alone is the one remedy for sin-sick souls. Receive him; believe on his name. We keep hammering at this. I can sympathize with Luther when he said, “I have preached justification by faith so often, and I feel sometimes that you are so slow to receive it, that I could almost take the Bible, and bang it about your heads…”
One said to me just lately, “Oh, sir, I am the biggest sinner that ever lived!” I replied, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” “But I have not any strength.” “While we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died.” “Oh! But,” he said, “I have been utterly ungodly.” “Christ died for the ungodly.” “But I am lost.” “Yes,” I said, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” “The Son of man has come to save that which was lost.” I said to this man, “You have the brush in your hand, and at every stroke it looks as if you were quoting Scripture. You seem to be making yourself out to be the very man that Christ came to save. If you were to make yourself out to be good and excellent, I should give you this word — Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He did not die for the good, but for the bad. He gave himself for our sins; he never gave himself for our righteousness. He is a Savior. He has not come yet as a Rewarder of the righteous; that will be in his Second Advent. Now he comes as the great Forgiver of the guilty, and the only Savior of the lost. Wilt thou come to him in that way?” “Oh! But,” my friend said, “I have nothing to bring to Christ.” “No,” I said, “I know that you have not; but Christ has everything.” “Sir,” he said, “you do not know me, else you would not talk to me like this;” and I said, “No, and you do not know yourself, and you are worse than you think you are, though you think that you are bad enough in all conscience; but be you as bad as you may, Jesus Christ came on purpose to uplift from the dunghill those whom he sets among princes by his free, rich, sovereign grace.” (C.H. Spurgeon, The Simplicity and Sublimity of Salvation)
We recently have been asked this question, “Why doesn’t Cornerstone do Baby Dedications?” What follows is an answer to that question.
We did a dedication ceremony about 15 years ago on a Sunday morning for several parents who had expressed a desire for it. On that occasion, we explained that we preferred to think of it as a PARENT dedication, not a BABY dedication. We joined many other churches in taking this approach for two reasons: 1) the parents were the only ones volitionally involved in the occasion, and 2) we wanted to avoid giving any impression that the ceremony was some kind of sacrament through which God’s grace is imparted to the child (which is what is believed with the practice of infant baptism). With that understanding clearly communicated, the prayer service was meaningful, and everyone seemed blessed. Since that time, however, we have very rarely been approached by parents requesting such a dedication ceremony.
Why so few have approached us since that time is anyone’s guess, but we think it has something to do with an ever-enlarging appreciation of the covenant we all make when we become members of Cornerstone.
When a person becomes a member of Cornerstone, he or she signs a covenant which entails several formal commitments, one of which is, “I covenant to teach my children the Word of God” and to “seek the salvation of my family.” One does not become a member of Cornerstone without formally dedicating himself or herself to such a task on behalf of his or her children. Hence, to say it another way, ‘parent dedication’ is a vital part of the membership process. All parents who are members of this church can rightly be viewed as having dedicated themselves to bringing up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Additionally, looking at the matter of child dedication from another angle, one can observe that the people of Cornerstone are doing child dedications all the time here at Cornerstone. In fact, we dedicate (surrender) our children to the Lord every time we pray for them and with them. Indeed, it is good and helpful for parents to surrender their children to the Lord and to do so daily; and it is wonderfully redemptive for children to grow up under the sound of their parents pleading with God for the salvation of their souls.
Terry Johnson expresses this sentiment well:
“Children growing up with the daily experience of seeing their parents humbled in worship, focusing on spiritual things, submitting to the authority of the Word, instructing their children will not easily turn from Christ. Our children should grow up with the voices of their [parents] pleading for their souls in prayer ringing in their ears, leading to their salvation, or else haunting them for the rest of their lives.” (Terry Johnson, The Family Worship Book: A Resource Book for Family Devotions, 10).
Charles Spurgeon gives moving testimony concerning the power of his mother’s prayers for his soul:
"..I cannot tell you how much I owe to the solemn words of my good mother. It was the custom on Sunday evenings, while we were yet little children, for her to stay at home with us, and then we sat round the table, and read verse by verse, and she explained the Scriptures to us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading...and the question was asked, how long would it be before we would think about our state, how long before we seek the Lord. Then came a mother's prayer, and some of the words of that prayer we shall never forget, even when our hair is grey. I remember on one occasion, her praying thus: 'Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.' That thought of a mother's bearing swift witness against me, pierced my conscience, and stirred my heart....” (“Early Religious Impressions” from Spurgeon’s autobiography. http://www.spurgeon.org/earlyimp.htm)
Spurgeon’s powers of eloquence failed him when testifying of the impression that his mother’s prayers had upon him:
“Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed upon me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me. How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come?...How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, 'Oh, that my son might live before Thee!'
Here at Cornerstone we are passionate about the dedication of our children to the Lord. We are so passionate about this that we parent them, pray for them, and bring them up with the goal that they themselves will one day, of their own volition, call upon the name of the Lord for salvation and dedicate themselves to a life of following Christ. If there is such a thing as a child dedication ceremony in Scripture, it is Believer’s Baptism, when our children give public testimony of their salvation and the full committal of their lives to the Lord.
Hence, to parents who wish to dedicate themselves and their children to the Lord, we would recommend a minimum of the following three steps, 1) join a solid local church which requires such a dedication of yourself as a part of the membership process; and 2) pray for and with your children daily, dedicating yourself and your children to God’s gracious and saving purposes; and 3) when God chooses to take your children and lead them into a life of service to Him, release your children to do as He bids them.
If, in addition to these three steps, you would like to ask your Care Group, any fellow-believers, or the elders to pray for God’s enabling grace upon you as you seek to parent your children, then feel free to ask as often as you like. We will be delighted to pray with you!