There is no greater joy for a Christian parent than to see their children receive salvation through faith in Christ. There is no greater hope for parents than to know that their kids are safe in the arms of God. As Christian parents, we long for our children to experience a hope and a future in heaven with Jesus. We earnestly pray for the salvation of our kids and long for them to live a life knowing God and enjoying him forever. If your child has already accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and they have asked Christ to forgive them of their sins, you may already be wondering about baptism. The following Q&A’s are meant to guide you through these scenarios.
Does your child want to take the step in their faith? Find out more - here.
What is Baptism ?
Let’s begin with the meaning of baptism. In short, baptism is an outward symbolic act of obedience that mirrors and marks an inward change of heart that has occurred in a follower of Christ. The NT Greek word “baptize” means “immerse”. Therefore, people are baptized when they are immersed in water as a symbol of their new life in Christ. The actual action of baptism mirrors our death and burial with Christ and the washing away of our sins. Paul says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6:4) Believers in Christ are not saved through baptism, but baptism is an important step at the beginning of the Christian life as it marks our new journey with Jesus.
What is Believer’s Baptism ?
Since we define baptism this way, it follows that only those who have made a confession of faith in Christ and have repented of sin are eligible to be baptized. The New Testament consistently teaches that baptism was reserved for believers only. On the day of Pentecost, after Peter’s sermon, we read that “Those who received the word were baptized” (Acts 2:41) and this pattern continues throughout the book of Acts. First comes faith and then baptism as the obedience that comes from faith. This means that we do not make a practice of infant or “paedo” baptism. While we believe in God’s special care and security for those too young to express faith in Christ, we believe that child dedication is a more biblical practice (1 Samuel 1:20-28) and we encourage only those who have exercised personal faith to baptized.
How old should a child be to get baptized ?
Of course, while we do not teach or practice infant baptism, questions arise about an acceptable age of children who might be eligible for baptism as believers. We may have questions like, “Should my five year old, who has accepted Jesus get baptized?”
This is an important question because on the one hand, we believe that children can be saved at a young age. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me... for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 19:14). We take this to mean that not only does Jesus embrace the little children, but that we as the body of Christ are called to bring our children to Jesus at as young an age as possible and teach them God’s Word diligently (Deut 6:7).
"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."
On the other hand, we recognize that children develop differently and at different rates and pace. Many children are capable of understanding the Gospel and can exercise faith in Jesus personally at a very young age while other kids may take longer to more fully grasp the significance of God’s creation, sin, the cross, the resurrection, repentance and faith. We believe that those children who can understand the Gospel and exercise faith are truly saved. One would guess that baptism should follow immediately. However, there are other considerations.
While we believe that a child might be truly saved at a young age, it is important for us to exercise caution with rushing too quickly into baptism. The question here is one of cognitive maturity. This means grasping both the Gospel and the meaning and significance of baptism. We also want to ensure that children are making a personal decision to follow Jesus and not simply doing so to please their parents or peers. Our recommendation at Central is that children wait until they are at least 12 years of age to be baptized. In Judaism, a boy becomes a “son of the law” at age 12. This is why Jesus was old enough to join his family for the Feast of Passover at the age of 12 (Luke 2:41-52). This was a “rite of passage” for children in that time as they
approached adulthood. We feel this is a helpful guide for us when determining
a child’s readiness for baptism.
Having said that, this is not a law but a guideline for us at Central. We resolve to treat each child on a “case by case” basis. If your child is under the age of 12 and desires baptism, please come and speak to the pastoral staff and we will discuss it further with you. We truly want to ensure that children can obey Jesus without delay while also respecting the process of child development.
Got questions? We'd love to answer them!
Please contact Chris Ross | Family Equipping Pastor - firstname.lastname@example.org