By Pastor Trey Sullins
PART TWO (Read PART ONE here.)
Once a child has accepted Christ as their savior, a parent’s next question is often, “When is my child ready for baptism?”
Baptism is a wonderful act of obedience any believer can take. It is the outward demonstration of what Jesus has done in their life. For children, it can be both an exciting time as well as a frightening one.
The Bible teaches that baptism is the physical act of obedience that occurs after a person has given their life to Christ and accepted His gift of eternal life. There are some religions that have “infant baptism”, which is designed to insure salvation and dedication to God for the child before they can make that decision for themselves. AFBC believes the Bible teaches that as parents we dedicate our children to God and train them in His Word, but that is not salvation. It leads them toward salvation which they must choose on their own.
I like to use the analogy of the wedding ring. I ask the child if they know what it is. Often times they do and I am able to take it off and hand it to them. I then ask the question, “If I take off my wedding ring am I still married?” Some will answer yes and some will say no. Then I ask them, “If you put the ring on, does it make you married?” Then most of them get the idea that it is just a ring. I go on to explain that the ring is something I wear to show people that I am married. The ring doesn’t make me married, but is a symbol of my being married. The ring is like baptism. When you ask Jesus to come into your life and forgive your sins, you get baptized to show other people that Jesus is now your “boss”.
Recently we had a number of the children in our church experience baptism. It has raised a number of questions among the other children. They want to know about baptism. What does it mean? Can I do it too? This is a great time for parents to begin a dialogue with their child to determine if the child is ready for baptism.
You will want to ask questions like:
“Why do we need to be baptized?” The obvious answer is, “Because God said so” or they might say, “To show others that Jesus is my boss.” You might also inquire, “Why do you want to be baptized?”
This type of conversation with your child will give you a better understanding of their level of comprehension.
When you feel your child is ready to be baptized, you can then communicate with a pastor that your child understands that they are a sinner and have accepted Jesus into their life and is ready to show others, through baptism, that they are now followers of Christ.