Too young to be baptised?
"Little children, little children
who love their Redeemer
Are the jewels, precious jewels
His loved and His own."
It is often said that children are not mature enough to make the decision to get baptised. However, more and more of them are seeking permission from their parents to do so. Some parents hesitate, wondering if the child is fully aware of what it takes to successfully navigate the journey they are about to embark on. Adults find it challenging 'walking the straight and narrow', and for them, it would be an even more difficult task for children.
Regarding the wisdom of allowing children to make a public declaration on their faith through baptism, Family and Religion reached out to Reverend Carlene Bryan of the Dominion In Christ International Ministries Church, who shared that as a minister of the gospel, she had seen enough so-called mature believers take the decision to get baptised, and the minute the Word doesn't change to match their tradition or experience, they turn their backs on God and maturity goes out the window.
"Yet, God still has mercy on them. So, if a child gets baptised and finds himself or herself in a backslidden state, God will also have mercy," she said.
Bryan said that there have been too many needless theological wars over the years regarding the baptism of children because of a lack of understanding of the Word of God. She pointed out that water baptism is not the baptism that saves, but rather the precious blood of Jesus, which cleanses from sin.
BEING BORN AGAIN
"When we are born again, the Holy Spirit immediately baptises us into Christ. We become one with Him (Rom 6:1-6). After we are born again, we are commanded to be baptised into water. This baptism is symbolic of what happened when we accepted Jesus as our Saviour," she shared, adding that the Bible is clear on who should be baptised and when. "The encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:29-38) clearly shows that one only needs to believe on the Lord Jesus and then they can be water-baptised (Rom 10:8-17).
"However, because of complicated church doctrines throughout the centuries that are not based on scripture, much confusion has developed. Christian baptism is the outward expression of what has taken place on the inside. Many times, when the Bible refers to confessing Jesus before men, it is partially referring to being baptised as baptism was the customary way of expressing your belief publicly," Bryan pointed out.
According to her, while each church should set its own guidelines for determining a minimum age for baptism, she cautions that they should guard against communicating to children that they are too young to understand the gospel, or that this is just a thing for grown-ups. Citing Jesus' words to his disciples when they were turning the children away, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children," she said that God expects the gospel to be shared with children so they can be nurtured and disciples as they live by faith.
Citing no biblical evidence where children are baptised, she said it is not an indication that it should not be done.
TEACHING THE WORD OF GOD
"The only guideline is that it should take place after salvation. If you are old enough to be saved, then you should be old enough to be baptised," she said, highlighting the fact that many Sunday schools are more like arcades as children can be seen playing games, or on their tablets, oblivious to the Word of God being taught.
"However, it is the duty of every church to ensure that each child is taught the Word of God by an anointed minister to win them over to Jesus Christ. It is obvious that setting an age limit has been problematic over the years as many churches can attest to the serious lack of young people in their congregations. While we push them aside, the world has been successful in seducing them away from the Kingdom," she observed.
It is for that reason Bryan said that parents should be more involved in the decision of a child's baptism as much as possible since they are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of the child. Bryan added that parents need to spend time disciplinging their children in the knowledge of God's Word and his gospel so that a love for Jesus and a hunger to learn more about God can be nurtured.
"We should not underestimate the ability of our young children to grasp concepts. Some children can understand the gospel message enough to express salvation at the age of five or six while others will be teenagers before being able to understand well enough to make a decision to follow Jesus. It depends not only on their ability to make that decision, but to live and walk out their faith," she said.