When should my child be baptized?
As a parent who takes seriously your God-given responsibility to spiritually lead and nurture your children you may have asked yourself, “When is a good time for my child to be baptized?” The answer to that question isn’t often as simple as we’d like, but hopefully this will give you some principles and a good place to begin. If you would like to see what Reston Bible Church teaches about baptism and how we conduct baptisms, click here.
What is baptism?
- Baptism is a sign of faith. It is a public declaration of our faith in and allegiance to Jesus Christ. Jesus commands us to be baptized. It is our first act of obedience to Him as disciples. Baptism is not required for salvation, but it is incredibly important for a believer to do.
- Baptism is an outward expression of an internal reality. It is a picture to us of what Christ has done for us and in us, including:
- His death and resurrection
- Our union with Christ in His death and resurrection
- The washing away of sin
- Being raised to new life in Christ
Questions to consider
Has my child truly come to faith in Christ?
This the first question you should ask and can be more difficult to discern than you might originally think. As a church, we believe that baptism is for those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus for salvation. Before considering baptism for your child, you need to discern whether or not your son or daughter is a Christian. Here are a few helpful questions in attempting to discern whether or not your children are Christians:
- Do they understand the Gospel?
- Do they know that Jesus died to pay the penalty for their sin and that there is no other way to be with God than through Jesus?
- Do they understand they need a Savior?
- Do they know what it means to “believe” in Jesus?
- Finally, have they placed their trust in Jesus alone to be their Savior and Lord?
Keep in mind that if a child is expressing faith in the gospel, our first impulse should not be to doubt it. We have every reason to believe that God has used the ordinary means of prayer, discipleship, and teaching to bring to life faith in our young children.
Is there any fruit?
If you spend time discipling your children in the knowledge of God’s Word and his gospel, evidences of faith will begin to be exposed, such as remorse over sin, a love for Jesus Christ, and a hunger to learn more about God. Intentional discussions and questions can reveal motivations and desires that can either affirm or call into question the child’s faith.
Remember that we are saved by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone; however, that faith never stays alone. True faith always produces the fruit of good works. Good fruit is one of the ways that we are able to discern true faith.
Who is driving?
We should teach all believers about the importance of baptism, but we want them to want to. You want them to push. You don’t want to hound them about it. We want to talk consistently with them about identifying and obeying Jesus while making sure they have a heart that is in love with God – not simply one that is trying to please me. Ask them why they want to be baptized. Their answer may be something as simple as, “Because Jesus said we should,” and that simple obedience is a great indicator that their heart is in the right place. Their love for Jesus should be driving the decision.
Obviously, this is an inexact science. We want our children to have a baptism that is meaningful and memorable, but we don’t want to delay it forever. And we certainly want to train them to obey Jesus’ commands, especially at a young age.
If you and your child would like more information on baptism at RBC please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.