Should My Child Get Baptized?
One of my greatest gifts the Lord has given me as a dad was baptizing our eight-year-old daughter a couple years ago. Many have approached me asking questions regarding how to know when is the best time to baptize your children. Here are seven things I tell them to keep in mind.
1. Jesus saves and Jesus determines the times and places (Acts 11:27).
As parents, it is our most pressing desire and prayer for our kids to be saved. But remember, salvation is of the Lord—beginning, middle, and end. I was not brought up in church but saved later in life. Thus, I am living proof that Jesus determines the time and place of our salvation. As much as we may want to force or speed up salvation when it concerns our children, Jesus is in control—and he’s perfectly good in all he does, so we can trust him. Pray for their salvation and trust Jesus in the timing.
2. Be under good teaching (Romans 10:17).
Faith comes from hearing the word of God, and as a young person I was not exposed to good gospel teaching. So for my children, it was (and still is) very important that week after week we are under sound biblical teaching and the proclamation of Christ’s gospel.
My younger daughter has lived in three countries, and we have been a part of four churches (in Texas, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Washington). In each place, we have faithfully attended the local church for community. When we were not receiving gospel teaching, we would listen to podcast of world-class Bible-teaching to make sure we were receiving good, life-giving, convicting, challenging, encouraging preaching from the word (2 Tim. 3:16). My wife Marci and I feel very strongly about being connected to a local church to ensure our family is watching our life and doctrine closely (1 Tim. 4:16).
3. Look for a change in heart (2 Cor. 5:17).
In 2010, our family went to Australia for Christmas. While there, we planned to be in Sydney for Christmas services with our good friends at Hillsong Church. On Christmas Eve, our daughter raised her hand and confessed for the first time to have a desire to know Jesus Christ. Almost immediately, Marci and I could see a change in her nature. She showed an acknowledgement and distaste for sin and sinful things that was not there before she professed saving faith while in Australia. She desired to pray (something she had never shown interest in before) and she desired to attend church. Whereas before our Australia trip, we required her to attend church with us, she now longed to attend church on her own. It was a true joy to see the work of the Spirit in our little girl’s new heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26).
4. Wait and train (Eph. 4:11-16).
Soon after our trip to Australia, our daughter began asking about being baptized. She said that her older sister got baptized when she was 8, and now she wanted to be baptized. So I began asking her the important question, “Why do you want to be baptized?”
As we had this continual conversation over the years, the answers to this question changed. At first, her answers were cute. She wanted to be “on stage and on the big screen at church.” Then she said that she wanted to “because [her] sister did.” Each time she would give one of these answers, I would use the opportunity as a teaching moment to reply, “Honey, the meaning of baptism is a display or show your faith in Jesus Christ to the church. Being baptized signifies the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and that we too will enjoy death, burial, and resurrection with Jesus because he is our Lord and Savior.”
In the summer of 2012, by God’s providence, Mars Hill Church went through a great series called Jesus Loves His Church. The sermon one week was on baptism, and Pastor Mark Driscoll did a super job teaching on the meaning of baptism. Knowing the message topic that week, I allowed our daughter to stay in service to hear the message instead of heading off to Kids Ministry. The sermon brought up good discussion and I think was a pivotal message in her understanding of faith.
5. Baptism is not required for salvation (Luke 23:42-43).
Christians are saved by faith, not baptism (Eph. 2:8-9, Gal. 2:16, Gal. 2:21). Baptism is a sign of the covenant and represents the reality of Jesus circumcising the believer’s heart. As with all covenantal signs, baptism is a kind of physical sermon that shows the inward spiritual blessing of regeneration.
“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:11–12
6. Baptism is important for evangelism.
“Baptism is faith in action.” ~ Watchman Nee
Baptism is a great display of faith to believers and unbelievers. When my older daughter was baptized in Texas, we invited grandparents, friends, and neighbors. Some were Christians, and others were not. Our younger daughter’s baptism was specifically scheduled during one grandparent’s visit. Once you see that Jesus has changed his or her heart and begin to plan your child’s baptism, focus on the evangelistic aspect. When we are baptized, we are demonstrating our faith to others. Convey to your children that their baptism may be used by Jesus to save others. After my eight-year-old’s baptism, one of the elder candidates came forward saying his two kids saw the baptism and began to ask him questions about baptism. I had the privilege of joining him in the baptisms his two kids several months after that.
7. Baptism is an important day (Acts 8:36-38).
The Sunday morning of my daughter’s baptism brought a myriad of emotions—extreme joy, excitement, a humble fear of the Lord, to name a few. In fact, she later told me that my hand was shaking as I placed it on her in the baptismal. It was a heavy, weighty moment and one I hope the Lord allows me to not soon forget. I knew without a doubt that Jesus had saved my girl. I was humbled and honored to baptize her. And I’m privileged to continue to pastor her as she grows in faith and godliness—only by the grace of God, through of the blood of Jesus, in the power of the Spirit.