public Profession of Faith
What is public profession of faith?
Public profession is the act of declaring “in the presence of many witnesses” that Christ is your “only comfort in life and in death” (1 Tim 6:12; HC Q&A 1). By confessing Jesus as our Lord and Savior, professors promise to trust and obey him for the rest of their lives, and to help others do the same.
The promises we make in profession of faith are much like marriage vows, in that we pledge a permanent commitment to Christ and his Body. The result is full communion in the local church and the privilege of participating in the the Lord’s Supper. With profession comes greater joy, fellowship, service, and oversight.
Why it Matters
Public profession doesn’t save us, but it is a vital mark of saving faith which God works in believers:
“...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.” (Rom 10:9)
The importance of public profession cannot be overstated. Jesus said, “Whoever would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mt 16:24). The Bible teaches us that to follow Christ requires that we join ourselves to His church (Heb 10:22-25; Acts 2:47). Moreover, Jesus warned that whoever is unwilling to confess him publicly will not be among his people in glory:
“Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.” (Mt 10:32-33)
For those who make profession, this event forms a significant and beneficial milestone in their calling. The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to call to mind his profession as a means of encouragement and zeal:
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Tim 6:12).
Whether you're an adult who has never been received into membership, or a Covenant child thinking about taking the next step in your Christian life, you should be excited about the blessings and responsibilities that await you. Profession is the door to full privileges in Christ's church, including communion in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, service in office, and congregational voting.
When & Who is it for?
Because students develop at different paces, we do not have a fixed age for profession of faith. On average, children at Phoenix URC make profession sometime between age thirteen and sixteen. But it may be sooner or later.
We encourage every covenant child to take this step since it is the natural progression into maturity. On the other hand, faith is not something we can coerce. It must be something our children deliberately exercise. Therefore, after explaining the idea and importance of public profession, we say, “the ball is now in your court; we're rooting for you to shoot and score.” Meanwhile, we pray God grants courage and desire to explore the faith further.
Readiness is demonstrated in four ways:
1. Personal Faith & repentance
You must believe on Christ as your savior and redeemer, not trusting your own obedience or faithfulness to merit or secure your salvation. Moreover, you must acknowledge Jesus as your Lord, repenting from dead works and sin, and serving God the power of the Spirit (Acts 8:37; Rom 10:9).
2. Basic Understanding & Affirmation
You must show basic understanding and agreement with essential Christian doctrine, as summarized in our confessional documents (1 Cor 11:28-29).
3. Heartfelt Desire to commune & serve
By God's grace, you must have a heartfelt desire to participate in the life of the Church from this time forward. Not only does this include regular attendance at worship and lifelong pursuit of holiness, but also exercising your gifts for the benefit of the body (Rom 12:4-8; 1 Cor 12:26-28; 1 Jn 2:19).
4. Submission & Participation in Discipline
Christians are disciples. Therefore, if you or others should grow delinquent in life or doctrine, you pledge to submit to and participate in the godly discipline of the Church through mutual accountaibility (Mt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5:1-13).
The Process of Profession
If you believe you (or your child) are ready to be discipled toward profession, speak with any elder or pastor and we’ll guide you through the process. Basically, preparing for profession entails scheduling one or more meetings to review and sharpen your basic understanding of the faith, as well as to discuss your spiritual walk and the expectations that come with full membership. Nothing complex, mind you, but whatever is necessary for participating in communion and church discipline in a meaningful way.
Once the pastors are confident students grasp the essentials truly, if not in great detail, we invite them to be interviewed by the Consistory (elders and pastors). Interviews can feel intimidating. We assure you the purpose is to establish and encourage you in the faith, as well as to introduce you to the elders who oversee the flock.
Finally, after Consistory approves the request, a date is set for public profession. The Pastors call the Professors forward during the service and ask them to affirm four questions (based on the readiness requirements above). After that, they are received publicly into full communion with the Body. Let the rejoicing begin!
Taking the next step…
Please let one of the pastors know if you or your child are considering making profession of faith. We would be happy to discuss it with you, as well as to pray for you during this key transitional time. May God bless your growth in Christ!