I know a young dad with 5 children. The oldest, a girl, struggles with mom’s authority, never with the dad. She is 14 and wanted to be saved a few years. The dad wanted to see change in her before acknowledging her desire to be saved. I shared she could not change before being saved and having the Holy Spirit. Shortly later he spoke with her and she prayed for Jesus to save her. For baptism he feels he needs to see more change to allow it. How do you respond to young children and also when should they be baptized?
Thank you for bringing these questions to the Q&A. They are important.
First, whenever a child can understand sin, consequence, and deliverance through Jesus, they are old enough to be saved. This will vary from child to child. I know individuals who trusted in Christ as early as four and a few at three years who were close to turning four.
You are correct in pointing out no one can change until they receive the Holy Spirit. That is the point. We need a deliverer.
Second, in regard to baptism and wanting to make sure someone is “ready” for baptism, care must be taken not to create a works-based feel by the “probation period” and confuse salvation and sanctification. The Scriptures command believers to be baptized. There is no indication of a needed time delay or age requirement after salvation. In fact, the longest period of time recorded in the Bible between a salvation and subsequent baptism is three days. That was Saul of Tarsus. On the day of Pentecost, baptisms immediately followed salvations on that very same day.
Water baptism pictures Spirit baptism. At salvation, we are immersed into Christ and thus clothed with Christ as His Spirit moves into us. This is the provision for new living. Personally, I believe that teaching this truth with a view toward getting baptized right away would help new believers more quickly turn to walking by faith and growing in grace.
Regarding children, since Jesus indicated that children can believe for salvation, then it follows they can and should get baptized.
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