(Last week at Bible camp we had the opportunity to baptize 5 precious souls into Christ. We rejoice in these, and pray that they all may be faithful to the Lord until they pass from this life, or until the Lord returns. I came across this article that should cause all of us to pause, consider and remember the awesome responsibility we as parents have to do all we can, even when our children are older, to help them get to heaven. I pray for all of us as we try to get to heaven together. Tommy)
Wanting their children to become Christians is the most natural and most significant desire among Christian parents. Most of these parents struggle with the common problems relating to how old a child should be when he or she can be baptized. It is never as easy thing to decide. We shy away from baptizing a child at too early an age, but we fear if we discourage them, they may later change their minds about baptism altogether! In all of this, it may be that parents do not deal with a matter that is at the heart of their child’s response to the Lord. Parents often neglect helping their children understand why a person should be a Christian.
Let me state my point in as strong a way as possible. It may be that many parents do not see their children as lost sinners who need a Savior. If the parents does not see the real problem, it is entirely possible that the child will not see the problem either. The child’s response to baptism in this case is a little different than the response made in some churches. The child sees baptism simply, “the right thing to do,” with the goal being to “join the church.” Certainly baptism is the right thing to do, and when one is baptized the Lord adds that person to the church. However, we would not to teach the gospel to any other person in those terms. We would make it clear that the problem all people face is that of sin. Sin separates from God, destroys life and condemns one to eternal punishment. The only solution for sin is the blood of Christ. We appropriate that work when we believe in Christ, repent of our sins, confess our belief in Jesus as the Son of God, and submit to baptism for the forgiveness of our sins. There is no other purpose for baptism. All other benefits of baptism are a direct result of our forgiveness.
How can our children respond properly, if we do not teach them properly? If we do not see our children as sinners who need forgiveness, we are not teaching them the same gospel found in the New Testament.
Occasionally, someone who has been a member of the church since a young age, will request baptism again. Most often, the reason given is that it has troubled them for a long time that they didn’t truly understand their actions when baptized the first time. This request always demands a discussion, in which I make an attempt to determine the real problems. Sometimes, a person has learned more about what the Bible says, and makes the mistake of thinking they did not know enough the first time around. Others, however, clearly indicate that they did not know what baptism was all about. They know that all they did was “go along with the crowd,” or they yielded to pressure of well-meaning parents, friends and even spouses. They did not actually see themselves as lost sinners who needed saving. What had been important was “church membership.” The only problem is that the Bible teaches church membership comes with salvation. In fact, without salvation, church membership means nothing.
Parents have a great responsibility. Teach your children the gospel as presented in the Scriptures. That gospel demands honesty with the problem of sin. Jesus died for sinners, not innocent children. Learning this important fact might help a lot of parents know when a child is ready for baptism. Children are not saved because they were born into a “Christian family,” or because they grew up going to Sunday school every week. Children are saved the same way the rest of us are saved. They believe and obey the gospel. Make sure they understand the problem. BILL DENTON