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Beyond the Heart

Beyond the Heart

The Significance of Making a Profession of Faith


Jon Delger

Executive Pastor

Peace Church

Published On:

April 10, 2024

Maybe you’ve been asked the question before - “have you made a profession of faith?” Maybe you are part of a church where occasionally people stand up front and “profess their faith.” What does it mean to make a profession of faith? Is it biblical? Is it an old church tradition? How does it relate to church membership? How does it relate to baptism?

Profession & the Bible

Scripture is quite clear that if you have faith in Jesus, this faith should not only exist in your heart and mind, it should also be expressed outwardly. For example, Romans 10:9-10 says,

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Belief in the heart is to be accompanied by confession of the mouth.

Likewise, Jesus says that anyone who is ashamed of him (ie. ashamed to profess their faith in him publicly) will be denied by Jesus before his Father (Matthew 10:33; Luke 9:26).

So while the Bible doesn’t give explicit instructions for how to profess one’s faith (ie. How many people have to be present? Should they be Christians or Non-Christians? Should this be a public ceremony?), we can see the importance of such an outward act.

Profession & Church History

Throughout church history, Christians have held ceremonies for new Christians (1st generation believers) or Christian children coming of age (2nd generation believers) to profess their faith. One example is the catholic practice of confirmation, which is a rite of initiation. Reformation leaders like Martin Luther and John Calvin affirmed the importance of educating young believers and then providing an opportunity for them to profess their faith. For children in believing families, John Calvin believed this should happen at ten years old and that children should not be permitted to partake of the Lord’s Supper until after making a public profession of faith. Today, Reformed and Presbyterian churches continue this tradition by asking children coming of age and new members who have not made such a profession in a church to make a public profession of their faith. In Baptist churches, this profession of faith is paired with baptism.

Profession, Membership, & Baptism

Some of the confusion that sometimes arises about profession of faith has to do with how it relates to membership and baptism.

At Peace Church, where I serve as a pastor, we sometimes find adult believers offended at the idea that we would ask them to make a profession of faith before the church in order to become a member. They will say, “I’ve been a believer for many years, I profess my faith in conversations with my family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. I’ve never stood in front of a church and done it, but why should I have to profess it now as if my faith were something new?” Others will ask, “Why are some people baptized when they make profession of faith while others are not?” Let me try to answer these questions and then share a way we have tried to simplify the conversation.

First, the relationship of profession and membership. At Peace Church, we stand in the Reformed and Evangelical tradition of Christians that believe standing before the church to profess your faith is an important thing for the individual and the church. We also pair this act with the covenantal making of promises - promises to God and the church to walk with the Lord, to help other believers walk with the Lord, and to accept loving correction in one’s own life if one’s walk falters. We ask all new members who have never taken this step before to do so. For most, it is an exciting opportunity (despite some natural stage fright). For some, it feels strange because they are not a new believer or a child coming of age. In this situation, my encouragement is to view it more like a testimony. No, your faith is not new, but you are giving glory to God and encouraging the body of believers by proclaiming your faith in Jesus and perhaps sharing a little of how he has worked in your life.

Second, the relationship between profession and baptism. At Peace Church, we believe in covenantal infant baptism. So most children growing up in the church will have been baptized as children and will make a profession of faith when they come of age and have a firm understanding of the gospel. We don’t set a necessary age for this, but it is often in the range of 10-18. Some of those coming of age may not have been baptized as children. In this case, they are baptized at the same time that they make a profession of faith and become a church member.

Here are the main questions our elders ask in membership interviews. The first is where the bulk of the time is spent, and the rest are usually short answers to clarify the situation they are coming from.

  • Tell me about your relationship with Jesus.

  • Are you currently a member of another church?

  • Have you ever stood in front of a church and declared your faith in Jesus?

  • Have you ever been baptized?

  • Are you currently under church discipline in another church?

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