When Should My Children Be Baptized

By Tim Challies

Every Christian parent longs for his children to trust in Christ and to make this profession public. In Baptist churches such a profession is made public through baptism. One of the ongoing discussions among Baptists relates to the age at which children can or should be baptized. Many children raised in a Christian home—perhaps even most of them—profess faith at a young age. Many parents then ask, Should my child be immediately baptized? Here is my attempt to answer this question.

Defining Baptism

Baptism is an ordinance of God given to the New Testament church. It symbolizes that the recipient has been buried and resurrected with Christ and serves as public profession of faith and admission into the local church community. It precedes both membership and partaking of the Lord’s Supper, and as such, is the gateway to full participation in the life of the church.

Three Premises

Here are three premises related to the age of baptism.

Premise #1 – Those who make a credible profession of faith are to be baptized. 
Without exception, the New Testament pattern for baptism is that it follows a credible profession of faith (see Acts 8:12, Acts 9:36, Acts 16:29-34). What makes a profession of faith credible? I look for credibility to be displayed in knowledge and maturity.

Knowledge. For a person’s profession of faith to be credible, he must display at least a basic knowledge of the gospel and of the meaning of baptism. Baptism is not a rite performed upon a person, but an ordinance in which he is a full participant. Therefore the one who is baptized must have knowledge of what is being done and why.

Maturity. Maturity displays itself in autonomy and in counting the cost. The mature person is autonomous in that he has the ability to make independent decisions. He is also one who counts the cost, who has seen some of what a decision may cost him in terms of relationship, prestige or suffering, yet still desires to proceed.

Premise #2 – Children may, and often do, become believers at a young age.
We must be careful never to communicate to children that they are too young to understand the gospel or respond to it. Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me.” God calls us to share the gospel with our children and to call them to repentance and faith. God graciously allows many children to come to a saving faith, even at a very young age. For this reason every member of a church ought to be active in sharing the gospel with every child in that church, calling on them to respond to it and trusting that God does work in the hearts of young children.

Premise #3 – This is a matter of wisdom and conscience.
The New Testament contains no clear example of a child receiving baptism; neither does it contain a clear example of a child being refused baptism. In the absence of clear commands, the leaders of each church must prayerfully exercise charity and wisdom as they seek to determine whether or not they will make it their practice to baptize children who profess faith.

The Age of Baptism

With these premises in mind, I believe there is wisdom in waiting until children are older before baptizing them. My reasoning is primarily grounded in the second test of credibility: maturity.

At some stage children are too young to make a credible profession of faith.

Imagine that you are listening in while a father has a conversation with his two-year-old son:

Dad: “Do you love Jesus, Johnny?
Boy: “Da!” (That’s his sound for “yes.”)
Dad: “Do you trust Him with all your heart?”
Boy: “Da!”
Dad: Do you think your sins make you bad?”
Boy: “Da!”
Dad: “Do you give Jesus your whole life?”
Boy: “Da!”

Is it possible that God just saved that boy? Absolutely! Can we have any degree of certainty that this is a genuine conversion? No, we can’t. The age of that child calls into question his ability to understand and respond to the gospel. His cognitive abilities and his self-awareness have not yet developed to the point where we can be certain that he can understand what it is that he is agreeing to. It is not unlikely that the same boy would answer “Yes,” when asked if storks deliver babies and if Santa Claus delivers gifts.

I use this illustration to display what all Christians affirm: There is evidently an age at which a child is too young to make a credible profession of faith. Though that child may be genuinely saved, he lacks the maturity, the autonomy and the ability to count the cost that will give us confidence that his profession is credible. Therefore, it would be unwise of us to baptize him until we can establish the validity of his profession. The question is, When does a child reach that level of maturity?

It is wise to wait to baptize a child until he has reached a certain level of maturity.
I believe that a person should be baptized when the credibility of his conversion becomes naturally evident to the church community. This will normally be when the child has begun to mature toward adulthood and is beginning to live more self-consciously as an individual. At this time he is able to understand that there will be a cost to being a Christian; he is able to anticipate this and to count it all joy. At this time he is also developing autonomy. In the process of leaving behind his child-like dependence on his parents he begins to make more and more of his own choices. Such independence and maturity will allow him to relate to the church directly and as an individual rather than being primarily under the authority of his parents. I believe that such criteria typically correspond to the teen years, and more typically, the mid-to-late teen years.

Delaying baptism does not mean we should consider childhood conversions or baptisms invalid.
While I believe it is best to delay baptism until a child’s knowledge and maturity offer substantial evidence of true conversion, this by no means negates the possibility or likelihood of childhood conversions. Neither does it render invalid the baptisms of those who are baptized as young, believing children.

Pastors ought to take every opportunity to meet with children to speak to them about their souls.
Even if it is not a pastor’s practice to baptize young children, he should always thrilled to meet with children to speak to them about their souls. When a child expresses a desire to be baptized, it presents a pastor a wonderful opportunity to spend time with that child, to hear how the Lord has been working in his life, and to encourage him to continue to seek the Lord.

What are the benefits of waiting to baptize children?
Delaying the baptism of children who profess faith offers several benefits:

  1. It allows membership in the church to proceed logically from baptism so that every baptized believer can immediately serve as a fully-functioning member of the church. This avoids the confusion of whether young children can be members of the church or whether they can be baptized but not members.
  2. It accounts for the uncertainty that may attend childhood conversions. Often a child professes faith, then retracts or doubts his profession, and then affirms it again. This model allows the child to proceed through much of this turbulence before he is baptized, thus preventing doubt about whether he was truly saved before his baptism.
  3. It calls on parents to lead their children and to understand that their children are not being disobedient in waiting for baptism. Their obedience in this area comes in submitting to their parents and the elders of the church.
  4. It esteems baptism as a one-time act to be anticipated as a public, credible, mature profession of faith.

-Tim Challies, http://www.challies.com/articles/when-should-my-children-be-baptized

Teach Children the Bible Is Not About Them

Here’s a great article from Sally Lloyd-Jones looking at how we should teach our children about God through how we teach the Bible.  Check it out at: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/02/21/teach-children-the-bible-is-not-about-them/

 “When I go into churches and speak to children I ask them two questions:

First, How many people here sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you?They tentatively raise their hands. I raise my hand along with them.

And second, How many people here sometimes think that if you aren’t good, God will stop loving you? They look around and again raise their hands.

These are children in Sunday schools who know the Bible stories and probably all the right answers, and yet they have somehow missed the most important thing of all.

They have missed what the Bible is all about.

They are children like I once was.

As a child, even though I was a Christian, I grew up thinking the Bible was filled with rules you had to keep (or God wouldn’t love you) and with heroes setting examples you had to follow (or God wouldn’t love you).

I tried to be good. I really did. I was quite good at being good. But however hard I tried, I couldn’t keep the rules all the times so I knew God must not be pleased with me.

And I certainly couldn’t ever be as brave as Daniel. I remember being tormented by that Sunday school chorus “Dare to Be a Daniel” because, hard as I tried to imagine myself daring to be a Daniel, being thrown to lions and not minding . . . who was I kidding? I knew I’d be terrified out of my skull.

How could God ever love me?

I was sure he couldn’t because I wasn’t doing it right.

Breaking Spells

One Sunday, not long ago, I was reading the story of “Daniel and the Scary Sleepover” from The Jesus Storybook Bible to some 6-year-olds during a Sunday school lesson. One little girl in particular was sitting so close to me she was almost in my lap. Her face was bright and eager as she listened to the story, utterly captivated. She could hardly keep on the ground and kept kneeling up to get closer to the story.

At the end of the story there were no other teachers around, and I panicked and went into automatic pilot and heard myself—to my horror—asking, “And so what can we learn from Daniel about how God wants us to live?”

And as I said those words it was as if I had literally laid a huge load on that little girl. Like I broke some spell. She crumpled right in front of me, physically slumping and bowing her head. I will never forget it.

It is a picture of what happens to a child when we turn a story into a moral lesson.

When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it all about us. But the Bible isn’t mainly about us, and what we are supposed to be doing—it’s about God, and what he has done!

When we tie up the story in a nice neat little package, and answer all the questions, we leave no room for mystery. Or discovery. We leave no room for the child. No room for God.

And that’s why I wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible. So children could know what I didn’t:

1. That the Bible isn’t mainly about me, and what I should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

2. That the Bible is most of all a story—the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

3. That—in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost him—God won’t ever stop loving his children . . . with a wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

4. That the Bible, in short, is a Story—not a Rule Book—and there is only one Hero in the Story.

I wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible so children could meet the Hero in its pages. And become part of His Magnificent Story.

Because rules don’t change you.

But a Story—God’s Story—can.

**********

Editors’ Note: The new Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sam Shammas contains 44 lessons revealing how Jesus is the center of each Bible story and how every story whispers his name. It includes activities, notes for teachers based on material from Timothy Keller, memory verses, handouts for children, a hardcover copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible, and three audio CDs containing David Suchet’s reading.”

What I Pray My Children Say About Their Parents And Their Home

Jesus was worshipped.

I had a great childhood.

Dad was crazy about mom.

My dad was the same at home as he was at church.

I can’t believe how patient my parents were.

The Gospel was preached.

My parents did not assume I understood the Gospel. Ever.

We prayed often… even when meals weren’t involved.

We laughed… a lot.

My parents loved Jesus.

My parents treated me with respect.

My parents’ love was unconditional.

My parents were servants.

There was wisdom.

My dad asked for my forgiveness… more than once.

I know I was… but I can’t remember being spanked.

My parents loved the church.

My dad preferred me over his ministry.

My parents weren’t perfect, but they were broken.

I was prepared for life.

The standard was sincerity and not behavior.

I was encouraged to be myself.

I learned what it meant to love my spouse by watching mom and dad.

Grace, not law was the means of correction.

My parents listened.

I was free to make mistakes.

There was unending forgiveness.

My parents were my friends.

My parents insisted I know they love me.

-Byron Yawn, 01-31-12

Posted here: http://thetrajectory.org/some-of-what-i-pray-my-children-say-about-their-parents-and-their-home

Biblical Manhood

Biblical Manhood –Dr. Voddie Baucham:  Genesis 2:15-25

It is not good for man to be alone…

By our culture we have been taught to “define manhood on the ball field, in the bedroom and by the billfold.” …“Those who look for this in a man end up with disillusionment.”

“There is no man in the world that it’s more important for me to disciple then my son.”

Asked about why his son travels with Him eight or so days a month, “With you guys doing this how’s he going to play ball? When people say that to me here’s what I hear, ‘I want to know how your son is going to be able to worship at the alter of the sport god?’ Who cares, I don’t, it’s meaningless, it’s absolutely meaningless. We don’t need another ballplayer; we don’t. We need men with trained minds, we need men with godly, biblical character, we need men with multigenerational vision, we need men who commit themselves and all their faculties to the glory of Almighty God. I am raising a warrior for Christ, that’s what I’m raising. Not an entertainer, that’s not what I’m raising. [People say] ‘Well you know team sports, they build character.’ Do you really believe that? …So the guys in this culture with the greatest character ought to be in the NFL and NBA. Is that you final answer? That’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. How did George Washington build character?Adams?Jefferson? Jesus?”

Three things we see here, even before the Fall that a man must be committed to, at least these three.

I. He must be committed to God honoring labor.

“God does not abide lazy men and neither should we.”

The job of a Father is to protect his daughter from unqualified and worthless men.

Our culture has taught you to value a $200,000 car more than a man’s daughter; fathers give up their daughters to a teenage boy who is not yet a man to manipulate her emotions, yet would never give up the keys to a $200,000 car.

God put Adam in the Garden to work and tend the garden. The Curse did not add work, but rather cursed the ground and added toil, labor and sweat. The Protestant/Puritan work ethic that there is gain in labor is foreign to us. Sloth is sinful, laziness is godless. Proverbs 6:6-11; 26:13-16; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12; The Bible says at times it is wrong to give benevolence, If a man in lazy, God intends for him to be hungry. Even Adam inEdenworked. 1 Timothy 5:8.

Hard work is a Biblical command. Hard work should be done for glory to God, seeking excellence in all my hands find to do. I may be a street cleaner, but I should have the cleanest streets in the city, because I clean them to the glory of God.

Procrastination in school is a mark of laziness. Do you study to maximize your learning, or as little as possible to get the grade you want?

II. He must be committed to the law of God.

Genesis 2:16 –The Law of God given before the Fall, the Law is not an answer to sin and the Fall. Most men do not know the law of God, or have a commitment to it. Do you know the Ten Commandments? If you don’t even know the basics of the Law, how do you know the rest? Part of this is to pass on the law of God to others, especially your wife, and to protect her from attacks on that law.

Genesis 3:1- Eve had not been properly discipled, her understanding of the Law of God was skewed. Adam had not showed proper headship thus Romasn 5:12 can say it is his sin that brought the Fall, not just his eating but his lack of headship. Adam was given headship before the Fall, over the animals and his wife. Headship is not blaming your wife. It is taking responsibility. Even in the curse, God rebuked Adam for listening to His wife and disobeying God.

Ephesians 5 –The man is to wash his wife in the word, He is to be discipling her. Ephesians 6:1-4 –The man is to bring up his children in the feat and admonition of the Lord. It is the duty of the man to disciple and spiritually lead his wife and children. Why would a woman marry an unbelieving man? 2 Corinthians commands marriage only among believers, but even if he is entering the Kingdom by the skin of his teeth, that doesn’t mean he knows God’s law. Until you have met a man who is qualified to disciple you and your children, you have not met a man who is qualified to be your husband. He must be committed to the Law of God.

III. He must be committed to the primacy of the family

Genesis 2:18. For the previous days the pattern of creation was the same: let there be, then there was, then it was good. The first time Creation was not good was when man was alone. Yes there are men who have been called and gifted by God to not take a wife and situations when it is best to not take a wife. However, marriage is the preferred position. Every man should be prepared to be a husband and every woman should be prepared to be a wife. What if God has called them to singleness? Is there one standard of godliness for single people and another or those who are married? No. But Jesus was single. Yes, but he is engaged and there is a coming wedding. If a man is to be Christlike, he should be committed to his family.

In your youth protect your purity, when you become a man guard yourself and pray that God provide for you, in your youth, a wife with whom to start a dynasty. The strongest, wisest, and most godly men in the Bible fell into sexual sin. I am not stronger than Samson, wiser than Solomon or godlier than David so I should get married. It is better to get married over burning with passion.

The Ten Commandments: I am God, you are not going to get another. Don’t even make anything that looks like me. Don’t even mess with my name. Work six days, rest the seventh, Don’t mess with my day. Honor your parents, the authority I’ve put in your life, and here is the first promise. Don’t kill others. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steel. Don’t lie. Don’t covet.

You are subject to your parents until you take a wife and she becomes the family to whom you should commit yourself. If you do not honor and obey your father and mother you are not qualified to create a new family. Are you committed to a multi-generational view of family, to be a father, to raising children, and to provide so that your wife can devote herself to your children?

This is the minimalist version of Biblical manhood; there is a whole lot more than this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDR3xCaXiXc&feature=related