“The ceremony of confirmation is the solemn and joyous acknowledgment by the congregation that God has confirmed His covenant promise of salvation, which was signified and sealed to these baptized children, by granting them repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ upon their coming to the age of understanding and commitment” (RCUS Directory of Worship).
When God saves His elect by granting them repentance and faith in Christ, He enters into a covenant of friendship with them, promising to be their God and the God of their descendants (Gen. 17:7-11). This means God promises believing parents that they will have His elect among their descendants (Isaiah 59:21; Rom. 9:27), and that if they bring up their children for Him, He will circumcise their hearts so they repent and believe in Christ (Gen. 18:19; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:1-4). “God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Deut. 30:6).
God’s promise to grant faith and repentance to covenant children, signified and sealed in the Old Testament by circumcision (Rom. 4:11; Gen. 21:12), is now in the New Testament signified and sealed by baptism (Acts 2:38-39; Col. 2:11-12). For example, when Lydia (an adult convert, like Abraham) believed, then “she and her household were baptized” (Acts 16:15) – just like Abraham believed and he and his household were circumcised (Gen. 17:23-24)!
In the OT, covenant children were circumcised in infancy (a sign of membership in the old covenant church); afterwards were instructed in the true religion; and upon profession of faith in the Lord became full members of the congregation and were admitted to the Passover. This same basic pattern continues in the NT: covenant children are baptized in infancy (a sign of membership in the new covenant church); afterwards are taught the Christian faith, and then, upon profession of faith in Christ, become full members of the church and are admitted to the Lord’s Supper (Communion). This is why full membership is called communicant membership.
Every time God grants repentance and faith to a covenant child, He is confirming His covenant promise of salvation (Rom. 15:8; 1 Cor. 1:8). It does not matter when the Holy Spirit placed faith in the covenant youth’s heart. “If his parents and the church have done their work responsibly, he has from childhood known the teaching of God’s Word. But God is the one who has given this faith [2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15]. He has confirmed the promises of His covenant. By the ceremony of Confirmation, the church is recognizing what God has confirmed by means of the young person’s response of faith” (Maynard Koerner, Pastoral Ministry from a Covenantal Perspective).
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). “No one can say that Jesus is LORD except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).
When our covenant children are ready to confess to the Spiritual Council (the pastor and elders) that they hate their sins, are trusting in Christ alone for salvation, and are obeying Christ out of thankfulness for salvation, then that means they are ready to become full members of the Christian church through Confirmation.
Communicant Membership Vows
- Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the inerrant and infallible Word of God, and its doctrine, summarized in the confessions of this Church, to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?
- Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
- Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord; and do you promise, in reliance on the grace of God, to serve Him with your whole heart, to forsake the world, to mortify your old nature, and to lead a godly life?
- Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government of this church, and in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to obey its discipline?