Baptism is an important step that a believer in Christ takes to share with the world that they are a Christian.
As your children see others get baptized, or read about Jesus getting baptized in their Bibles, they may begin to ask if they can get baptised.
While this desire is always an occasion to rejoice, it’s important for parents to discern whether or not a child understands and believes the gospel before saying “yes” to this request.
Of course, there is no system or checklist that you can go through to tell whether or not your son or daughter is ready to be baptized. But here are a few questions to help you think and pray through as you consider whether or not to baptize your children:
Whose idea was it to get baptized? If your child thinks that you want them to get baptized, they may do it just to please you. If your child wants to get baptized without any prompting from you, that can be evidence of the Holy Spirit calling them to get baptised.
Does your child understand the gospel? Do they understand what sin is, and that the penalty for sin has been taken by the death of Jesus? Do they understand that there’s no amount of good works they can do to please God, but that Jesus was perfect on their behalf? Do they understand that Jesus’s resurrection means that there is no more penalty for sin to be paid, and that we can live with God forever through faith in him?
Is there evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in your child’s life? When a person is brought to faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live in them and begins to change them to make them look more like Jesus. Do you see conviction and repentance of sin? Do you see a love for God and His Word, the Bible?
Do you have others that you can process this through with? Obviously, your spouse should be the first person that you pray and discuss this with. But think about involving others as well. It’s a safe bet that your friends and you small group would love to pray with you about this important decision. Your church elders and staff would also be great to talk with.
RELEASING THE PRESSURE
I mentioned earlier that deciding whether or not to baptize your child is an important decision. And it is. But I also want you to remember that this is not a life and death decision, and not an eternal life or eternal death decision. The act of baptism itself does not save a person. Only God can do that. And a believer who doesn’t get baptized has not committed the unforgivable sin.
If you’re not sure if now is the right time, then it might be best to hold off. No harm can come to your child by waiting, since it doesn’t impact their salvation. A child who is older will also be able to better articulate their faith, and will better remember this important step of faith.
If your child can articulate what Jesus has done for them, if you see fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and if you and your spouse agree that now is the right time, then there’s no reason to wait. Talk with your family, community, and church leadership to know the best method, time, and place to celebrate your son or daughter becoming your brother or sister in Christ.