Early Years Profession of Faith.

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Berean, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. Berean

    Berean
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    I recently had a friend of mine that has a 5 year daughter that is getting baptised. I would like to know your opinions on this. I know that the Holy Spirit must call and convict a person, I guess What I am asking is this unusual for a child of this age to be called to salvation. In my church there have been many testimonies of supposive early life experiences that was later doubted and a true salvation experienced later confessed to, mine being one. Could this be one of the reasons that 85% of evangelical young people leave the Church after leaving the home. I would never advocate discouraging these children in any manner. Samuel is an example in the Old Testament of just such a case.
     
  2. RAdam

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    Does she believe in Christ? If so, what else doth hinder her to be baptized?
     
  3. Ruiz

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    Berean,

    Can this happen at a young age? Yes!

    However, as a Pastor I am cautious and I ask a lot of questions. My middle child, 6, says she believes in God. I have taken countless hours talking to her about her salvation by asking questions. In most normal churches, she would have been Baptized, but I am not certain.

    Here is what I look for in our sessions.

    1. Does she understand the Gospel? This is not just to say she can tell me the Gospel, but as I ask specific questions, does she really understand the Gospel. While my daughter could tell you "what the Gospel is", she lacks understanding when you ask questions about basic elements of the Gospel, like propitiation (I do not use the big words, but use it here) or imputation. I ask a lot of questions and it as so far spanned about 6 months at this time.

    2. Does she understand sin? When I interview kids, I look for specific sins the Lord has convicted them of. Just saying, "God forgave me" is generic. If God convicted you of sins, He normally convicts you of sins specifically not sin generally. While my middle child will say, "I am a sinner" and even get emotional, she is general with her sin.

    3. What is her view of God? My middle child does have a good view of God but some view him in unBiblical terms. I had one refer to him as a good grandfather. I had another view him as existing for them. I ask lot of questions about God to get their understanding.

    4. Is there fruit of repentance and what are those fruit. I will not only interview the child but the parents. Many parents want their child to be Baptized that but cannot get specific. I want to know specifics but I also want to see it sustained. As I am talking to the children and it takes some time, I want to continue to see fruit.

    Yet, children can be Baptized if they are genuine converts. However, you must be cautious because they are good at parroting adults without a true understanding of things. I want to make sure they understand the Gospel, their sin, God, and show forth fruits of repentance.
     
    #3 Ruiz, Jun 17, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 17, 2010
  4. annsni

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    This is our experience as well. We have had our children be baptized around the ages of 9-11 even though there was faith much younger than that. Our measurement is when they can articulate their faith in their own words and not just parrot what they have heard. By waiting for them to be able to fully explain it, it's made them a bit older. Our 7 year old was just asking about being baptized but we're waiting for her since we both feel she's too young just yet.
     
  5. Salty

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    Lets take two singles who met each other for the first time at a church singles group. After the activities they go out for a late supper. The next morning they come to church and announce they are getting married in 3 days! Most of us would think that would simply be a foolish decision. "But it was love at first sight" A dedicated pastor would want them to know each other for at least a year - so they fully understand what they are doing.
    I'm not saying that baptism is exactly the same as an marriage, but the analogy is there.
    Let that young child wait a year or two so he fully understands what salvation, baptism, and living the Christian life is all about.

    One other thing - if a child believe in Santa Clause, then we might consider that he is not properly able to distinguish fact from fantasy.

    Salty
     
  6. Ruiz

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    Salty,

    Bad illustration. My wife and I never went on a date before I proposed to her... and I do not think that was foolish... but I understand the point you are making and somewhat agree with your point :thumbs:

    The "Santa Clause" is an interesting thought.
     
  7. Scarlett O.

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    I struggle with 4, 5, and 6 year olds claiming salvation. I just taught a class full of 18 five and six year olds last week in Vacation Bible School.

    One child told me everyday that she loves Jesus very much. I thought that was sweet and I believed her.

    Another little boy wrote on all of his drawing and artwork (that went with the lesson) "God is Great". Again I thought that was very good and He seemed to understand what he was writing. He talked about God being great.

    But are those children saved? I don't know.

    Can they explain in their own words their NEED for salvation, the consequences of sin, the perfect holiness of Almighty God, and the new creature that they become.

    All I know is this. Over the past three years, I have taught 6th grade at a particular Christian School. Among my duties were to teach Bible classes and to conduct chapels. I had at least 25 students who made a profession of faith during those years, most of them coming to me personally and privately and telling me that they were baptized when they were between 4 and 7, but that they didn't really understand what they were doing. Each one of the children who came to me personally (about 18 of those 25) told me almost the same thing.

    "I'm not saved. I was baptized a long time ago, but I didn't understand what I was doing back then, but I understand it now. I understand what sin is and what Jesus did."

    It was almost like listening to a tape recorded message over and over. And it was almost frightening.

    It's a very hard thing to judge a very young child's decision. On one hand I would rather slit my own throat than to quench the Holy Spirit in their little lives.

    But on the other hand, I do not want them to get baptized on a sweet, but too shallow of a happy, jolly, I-love-Jesus, feel-good, state of mind without an understanding of their sin and the consequences of it.

    Salvation is when you are convinced of your sin and God's holiness and you are broken because of it and you surrender your all to Him and never look back.

    There aren't any easy answers here.
     
    #7 Scarlett O., Jun 17, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  8. Zenas

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    Amen! There is no other scriptural requirement for baptism and it is absurd to go beyond this. Some of the expectations of a candidate for baptism being put up on this thread would difficult for many normal adults to answer. We don't have to understand the theology of baptism to be a suitable candidate. And those of who think we do understand it may often disagree. If a child states a belief in Christ and asks to be baptized, he or she should be baptized without delay. My wife was baptized in a river at age 4. She has matured a lot in her faith since that time but she has never once had second thoughts about her baptism.

    To be sure, we have a duty as parents and as a church to continue to educate these young people in the ways of Christ so that they grow spiritually as they otherwise mature. Baptism, however, should not require a passing score on a theology exam.
     
    #8 Zenas, Jun 17, 2010
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  9. Ruiz

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    Throughout Church history, theologians have stated there needs to be three levels of assent for salvation. They use the Latin Words "notitia", "assensus", and "fiducia." They roughly stand for "knowledge", "assent", and "belief."

    As a Pastor, my purpose is to ensure that there is proper knowledge of the individual, true assent to that knowledge, and a proper view of faith. I know that if they have an improper view of God, they cannot meet the notitia requirement. I know that mere generic belief (not Biblical Belief) is not enough as Satan himself believes. I also know that mere cognitive belief is not enough for salvation. Faith is the final area where I look at and is important.

    Concerning the last stage, I wrote an article several years ago on the topic:

    Therefore, if a person says, "I believe", I want to know what they believe and has this belief engaged the fullness of the person specifically. If not, I would not Baptize the person. Now, someone can have difficulty in articulating this belief. This is understandable. However, that is what the role of the Pastor to have wisdom to understand the difference. We should work to understand if our children have the notitia, assensus, and fiducia necessary for salvation.
     
    #9 Ruiz, Jun 17, 2010
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  10. RAdam

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    Exactly. Scripture is clear. The requirement for being baptized is professed belief in Christ.

    Christ also said not to despise (meaning in the 1611 english to disrespect or disregard) the children. What are we saying to them if we tell them they aren't mature enough, they need to wait a year or two? I've known kids that had a better understanding of Christ than most adult Christians. I learned a lot about Christ when I was a child. We should respect the ability of the Holy Ghost to apply gospel preaching to these little ones' hearts.
     
  11. Ruiz

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    RAdam,

    First, I am not despising children's belief. I am questioning what some use as the definition of "belief." See my exposition of what belief must entail above. I am not saying that they can't be mature enough. My statements are clear, I examine them to see if they have the knowledge, assent, and faith in the fullness of Scripture in accordance to Scripture. Yes, there have been 5 year olds I have seen with genuine conversions. There have been 21 year olds that I believe were not. Jonathan Edwards wrote of a 7 year old in his congregation who displayed a genuine conversion. However, I do not just trust that a child who says, "I believe" has the belief, assent, and faith necessary. As well, because they "understand" does not mean they are saved. As a church, we want to acknowledge everyone who is truly saved but we do not want to reassure anyone who is not.
     
  12. Zenas

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    With all due respect, you're going way beyond the Bible here. Applying your understanding of the requirements for baptism, I doubt if illiterate persons, persons with mental illness such as autism or persons with very low intelligence of any age could be baptized.
     
  13. Ruiz

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    Zenas,

    What is it about what I do that you think a mentally retarded or autistic person could not understand or accomplish. BTW, my brother is both mentally retarded and autistic so I do have experience in handling issues with people from "low intelligence."

    All I am doing is ensuring they meet the minimum requirements for salvation. Salvation, afterall, is a prerequisite to Baptism. We are not told that Baptism should be given to anyone who wants it, but to Disciples alone. Since Disciples alone are to be Baptized, I am to work at determining if they are a disciple. I am not here to determine whether they say, "I believe." Heck, if that were the case then I could Baptize the Devil as he believes. No, I am to Baptize Disciples.

    So, I have fully illustrated my questioning, which part of my questioning do you have a problem with? What questions would you think a person could not articulate, even those of low intelligence? Now, I will say that if you cannot understand the Gospel then you cannot put faith in God (a baby in the womb cannot have faith in God). Thus, I assume faith means understanding. If you don't understand you cannot have faith. Yet, I think some 5 year olds can understand. Faith also means assent. Faith also means a full encompassing of more than the mind but also the heart and soul which transforms the life. If these are not present in children or adults, then I cannot believe them to be disciples.
     
    #13 Ruiz, Jun 17, 2010
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  14. Zenas

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    Frankly I think your questions, especially as you have annotated them, require too much understanding. And who is to be the judge of how much knowledge is enough? You seem to want the candidate to be reasonably knowledgable; the pastor down the road might be satisfied if the candidate understands "imputation" but will not require knowledge of "propitiation." Your baptismal standards will then be higher than those used in the other church. Does that mean your baptisms are more valid than the other church? Surely not.

    Ruiz, as I read through the N.T. I cannot find a single instance of a person asking for baptism and being refused. Also I cannot find a single instance where the baptism of a new Christian was delayed while he or she could be examined for knowledge, sincerity or understanding. Neither can I find any admonition to pastors about not being too quick to baptize. Cf. 1 Timothy 5:22 (admonition about not ordaining too quickly). In fact, if we followed the N.T. example, we would baptize the same day they make a profession of faith.
     
  15. ReformedBaptist

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    I have baptised two of my children so far. I was convinced of my daughter's regeneration and educated her about her responsibility to obey Jesus and baptized her. She was 9 or 10.

    My son just turned 10 and I recently baptized him. He came to me about it, and I explanied from the Scriptures what it was, why, what it meant. And who is the proper subject of it.

    My main question was, "Do you believe with your heart in Jesus Christ?" And he answered, "Yes, I believe Jesus is God, the Savior."

    How could I refuse water?
     
  16. Ruiz

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    I think I require both imputation and propitiation. Why? First, imputation means they understand Christ was the substitute for our sins and our sins were imputed upon Christ. Without imputation, there is no salvation. Propitiation answer the question on why Christ needed to die. When modern churches say, "Christ died for your sins" they rarely answer the question, "Why?" Some like to say, "Because I am a good person." No, I am looking for an understanding of propitiation that God's wrath would be upon us but God accepted Jesus as the satisfaction of that wrath. This is rather basic. If you just believe Jesus died, you must ask, "Why?" Imputation, as one scholar noted, is an essential element of the Gospel. Propitiation, as well, must be understood in order to understand the need for salvation and true grace.

    As for your "not a single instance", granted there is not a single instance but we do not want to have descriptions dictating our theology. As well, we know that Baptism was not essential to such a degree that Paul did not concern himself as much with Baptism. I also do not think believers were all Baptized the same day (I doubt they were in Acts 2).

    Baptism is for disciples alone, making it about those who profess is a violation of that command in Matthew 28.
     
  17. Jerome

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    I ran across this gem on the Capitol Hill Baptist Church website:
    [Pastor Mark Dever has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Ecclesiatical History from Cambridge University]
     
  18. Ruiz

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    Yeah, I strongly disagree with Mark. I think Ted Christman's little book that espouses Baptizing children is more Biblical.

    http://www.hbcowensboro.org/forbid-them-not-free-pdf-download/

    Mark, unfortunately, seems to not want to Pastor his flock through the tough decisions and to utilize wisdom. Rather, he would rather wait till they are much older in order to deal with this issue. How unfortunate! BTW, he mentions Ted's booklet in one of his online seminars concerning this issue. Oh, and Edwards would disagree with him.
     
  19. Ruiz

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    My wife served as a missionary for a time and she relays this true story. There as a tribe where missionaries were ministering to and they shared the Gospel and the people "believed." In fact, they seemed sincere with their entire heart. However, after Baptizing them, the missionaries left. What they didn't know is that while they thought they communicated well the Gospel, the new converts thought the water took away their sins. Oh, they said they believed in Jesus and they believed with everything they had... they voiced strong language in their belief. However, if the missionaries had only inquired more and investigated more, they would have realized the tribe did not understand the Gospel.

    Question, who is at fault? The missionaries for Baptizing this tribe or the tribe for not understanding? I believe the missionaries acted in gross negligence and they should never have Baptized these people.

    So, when someone says, "I believe", I want to know what they believe, why, and what difference it makes.
     
  20. Zenas

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    I was merely using "imputation" and "propitiation" as two separate but related concepts, not to point out that one is more important than the other. Now, if descriptions can't dictate our theology we have a greatly attenuated gospel. And Paul, next to Jesus and John the Baptist, was more concerned about baptism than any other person we see in the N.T. He is the only person we read about who found a baptism defective and rebaptized those who had received it.
    How can you say these believers were not baptized the same day? I'm afraid you're engaging in wishful thinking here.
     

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