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Question #401

When is a child ready for baptism?

I was raised in a denominational church with infant baptism, and a following of confirmation in early teens. However after much studying, I was baptized as an adult. Being raised with a church of "rules" about ages of baptism and confirmation, I have a hard time understanding when a child is ready for baptism. I know for myself that I was confirmed because that was the next stage in Sunday school. It is what you did, not thought (this was at age 12 or 13). I understood and believed what I was taught, but never questioned my pastor. I worry that my own children will do the same, just go through the motions because it is expected. Can you help?

The Answer:

The time for one to obey the Lord's commands to become a Christian is generally referred to as "the age of accountability." That phrase simply describes the point at which a person becomes accountable before God. Questions and Answers, No. 91, has a discussion of that concept.

As for the remainder of the question, you are to be commended for your desire to study the scripture. From the scripture you learned that infant baptism is unknown to scripture and is, therefore, unscriptural. The same is true about "confirmation." The proper path is to always "examin[e] the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). The issue raised by your question and comments is whether you were scripturally baptized as an adult. Presumably you were immersed, having rejected the sprinkling or pouring that accompanies infant baptism. However, for immersion to be scriptural baptism it must be for the remission of sins. See Class:Questions, Lesson 3.

In respect to your own children, the best approach is to begin training them early to understand the scripture and look to it and it alone for guidance. This does not mean that they cannot consider that which is taught by a man, but they must understand that what is taught is not true because the teacher is a preacher. It is true only if that which is taught is in harmony with scripture. That goes for this website as well. "This word is truth" only if it harmonizes with "Thy Word Is Truth." It is that for which this website strives because man can only be saved by correctly following the word of God.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)