How Young is Too Young?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Tom Butler, Aug 16, 2008.

  1. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    In the thread on How Many Baptisms, Allan noted that he had been immersed at age five, but truly baptized after God saved him at age 17.

    The question for discussion is, should churches baptize children that age? Or even at seven or eight?

    I recognize that some children who have been reared in families where the Bible is studies may have more knowledge of spiritual things than others, so there may be no pat answer.

    But are there some general guidelines that you would offer in this area? How young is too young?
     
  2. Allan

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    I would agree that there are no 'pat answers'. I know of some who are saved that were saved at such young ages (5-10) and one imparticular stands out in my mind. She was 5 and God convicted her of her sinfulness and she cried out to God to save her, which He did. She celebrated her 90 something birthday this year but remembers her salvation as if it was yesterday. She is probably the most evangelistic person in the majority of the Dakota :laugh: .

    I believe that with children we should speak with them (as with any one else) to determine 'why' they desire to come to God (want to or need to), 'what' they understand sin is, and concluding or summerizing in their own words 'Why' they feel they need to be saved.

    If they answer rightly to our own satisifaction we should not prevent baptism since we are not God to know who is saved or not. However it is important, whether child or adult, to continue speaking with them on occassion to see if there was a change of mind/heart toward God and sin and if their understanding was something beyond just a mental assent. Thus discipleship is an imperitive to the church body so they can not only know truth but know others who live it so as to have something to which they can see and hear a comparison to their own.

    Example: My family and I went camping with two other families in our church. It was just an outing to have fun. But at the camp fire after all the kids were put to be we sat up talking. One of the things we wanted to get to know about each other was our salvation experience. We all took turns talking about what God had done and how he changed our lives. One lady who husband I had the privilage of introducing to Christ a month earlier stated she didn't have a testimony and the truth was (in her words) she never really understood what we were talking about (changed lives, constant peace, ect..). However she KNEW biblically all the answers but didn't KNOW them personally. She figured it was something she would figure out in time, but that was 10+ years ago and she was still searching.
    She began crying and we began talking about the gospel message point by point.
    I then asked her a question I ask everyone: If you were to die right now and stand before God and He were to ask you "Why should I allow you into Heaven?" What would you say to Him? She didn't know. I said that she need to go away from the camp and have a sit down with God all by herself. (there was a little more to it than that of course but I left it to her to deal with her issue before God). We all sat there praying for her and softly sang songs between prayers.

    She was away from us for about 15 minutes or more and to make a long story short she got saved. And the question she couldn't answer before she gave very definitive answers to through tears of joy. And they weren't short answer but answers that trancended just quoting the verses but that were specifically personal and how that verse applied to her. It became her own testimony of truth. And even now she declares there was such a huge change that night that carries on still today in her and in her understanding of God, sin, righteousness, and His great Love toward her.



    So even if they knew the verses to quote it is a matter of if they see them personally as much as knowing Him personally. And that is only known to us through discipleship/mentoring and true fellowship with them as they grow in Christ.

    At least that is my opinion.
     
    #2 Allan, Aug 16, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2008
  3. Pipedude

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    Among adults in Sunday School classes, I have taken an informal poll by the showing of hands on a number of occasions, and always gotten the same response.

    I ask, "How many of you made a profession of faith and were baptized before you were thirteen, and had to go back through the process and do it again after you were sixteen because you had doubts and had to settle the matter?"

    Then I ask, "How many of you made a profession of faith and were baptized before you were thirteen and never had to go back through the process because you've continued to believe that that experience was genuine?"

    You can guess the response. The first group outnumbers the second group nine to one.
     
  4. Allan

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    I will state this however:

    I do agree that to much emphasis has been given to the prayer itself and not so much the heart and understanding which was present during the prayer. Thus there needs to someone who will speak about salvation compitently and clearly do accertain what they are seeking. It is with heart one is made righteous through belief and by their declaration is one shown to have been saved. Therefore in order for the heart to believe it must understand the matter before them. Not in totallity for no saved ever understood it all but in the measure that they do understand and grasp the basics of salvation. Sin, Righteouness, Judgment, and His great love to set us free.

    The prayer itself is not wrong for we all are to "call out to God" Rom 10:13, but let us not make the mistake that it is the pray that saved them but their understanding that moved their heart to cry out which make all the difference in the world regarding salvation.
     
    #4 Allan, Aug 16, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2008
  5. Brother Bob

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    Seems to me that churches and people would learn from that experience alone, but don't................:tear:

    When someone says to me that their 5 year old was saved last night. I truthfully do not know how to answer them. I just smile and go on.

    Bbob,
     
    #5 Brother Bob, Aug 16, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2008
  6. Jon-Marc

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    No one should be baptized until they have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I was baptized before I was saved, and then I was saved when I was 17 and was baptized again shortly after. Baptizing an unsaved person only gets them wet; it doesn't save anyone.
     
  7. bapmom

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    The fact that a child made a profession and was baptized, yet had doubts later, does not mean they weren't saved at that young age. It 'could' mean they weren't grounded, it 'could' mean they've fallen away from God in their daily walk and they feel farther away from God, so the devil places doubts in their heart. It 'could' also mean they were never saved.

    If a child comes to us with doubts, we should just go through the plan of salvation again with them. There's no need for the endless round of debates, except to point out that no one should turn a child away with the words "Oh, you already did that when you were five, don't worry about it."

    A friend of mine says she was saved at the extremely young age of 3 years old. Who am I to argue with her? Do I know her heart? No, only she and God know. She says she's not struggled with doubts, she remembers her thoughts and her personal decision at that time. I do know she lives by her convictions that she finds in the Bible.

    I'm not going to turn any child away who wants to be saved - go through the plan with them. If they want to make a decision don't stop them. If they desire baptism they desire a good thing. If later in life they have doubts, and believe they need to be re-baptized, what's the problem? It's not like "re-baptism" is teaching "re-salvation". It shows they have a heart that wants to be obedient to God.

    We might also ask how many people have made professions of faith and been baptized in their teen years, and then had doubts and were re-baptized in their twenties or thirties. This doesn't necessarily mean there was a flaw in the original message. It 'could' mean their heart was not initially ready for the entire message, or it could just mean the devil stole their assurance and they need some closer fellowship with God.

    Let's not be so quick to judge that churches are misleading children into false professions. The thing I see more often is well-meaning but misguided parents dismissing their child's questioning with "Oh you already did that". This is what concerns me more.
     
    #7 bapmom, Aug 16, 2008
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2008
  8. Brother Bob

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    what if they really were not "saved" and you talk them out of it??? Only ones who knows their hearts is God and them. We have no way of knowing their hearts.

    BBob,
     
  9. Reformer

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    I Personally think this is VERY case sensitive. There is no exact answer we should ascribe to every situation.
     
  10. Reformer

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    I wouldn't say it only gets them wet, in many cases it also gives them a false sense of security that sometimes lasts a lifetime, UNFOURTANTLY we can't look at a person and tell if they are truly regenerate or not, this is where the confusion comes from.
     
  11. webdog

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    Since it is the Holy Spirit who convicts, I dont' think we can talk them out of it.

    I was saved and baptized at 7, btw.
     
  12. bapmom

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    That was the point of my whole post - we should not be trying to 'talk them out of it'.

    If a child comes to you with doubts you go through the plan of salvation with them again. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts, and it is the Holy Spirit who they are responding to. All of this fretting does just one thing, IMO, it makes us wary of presenting the gospel and can paralyze us to the point where we are afraid we'll "mess them up". That's a trick of the devil to try to get us to just stop telling the gospel out of fear.
     
  13. tinytim

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    But that would apply to all ages...

    I was saved at 8, baptized at 10, and I know it...
     
  14. LeBuick

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    :thumbs:

    I was first baptized at 6 (preached my first sermon at 5) and there has never been any doubt I was saved. The other two times I was baptized was me renewing my dedication and commitment to Christ and I don't believe had anything to do with my salvation. I know I was His all along because each time I strayed He left the 90 and 9, found me and gave me a ride back to the fold on His shoulder.
     
  15. Tom Butler

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    On the other side of the coin, we shoujld never try to talk a doubter into believing his original experience was valid. The doubts themselves could very well be the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.
     
  16. Deacon

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    Not much to add here.

    I probably wouldn't have a problem with youth being baptized if I saw it balanced with older babes in Christ too.

    It's true that youth under 16 years old are more willing and impressionable to the witness of the gospel.

    So we should expect to see more youth baptized but sometimes I think these young kids are baptized out of peer and family pressure.

    I was pleased to see a group of young men and women baptized last spring at our church;

    One even describing his fall into drugs and sin and ultimate desire to come to seek the forgiveness of God and his family.
    You heard the troubles he'd seen and could foresee some of the tough battles he still has to fight, but before us was a real believer!

    Rob
     
  17. canadyjd

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    Since I don't believe in baptismal regeneration, I know that salvation is not the issue. If they are saved, we are not preventing their salvation by not baptizing them.

    On the other hand, as TCGreek stated, there are many given a false sense of assurance who really didn't understand what they were doing.

    With my own children (all three made made professions of faith between 6 and 8), I told them that when they wanted to be baptized so badly that they just couldn't stand not being baptized anymore, to come and talk to me.

    My oldest was baptized at 15. The other two haven't come to me yet and said they couldn't stand it any longer, they just had to be baptized. Still waiting patiently.

    BTW, I won't baptize my children, either. I knew of a man who was baptized as a child by his pastor/father. Later in life, he believed unto God for salvation but wouldn't be baptized because he felt it would dishonor his father/pastor. I don't know if he ever worked through this conundrum.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  18. LeBuick

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    I believe if one sticks around the Church and sincerely studies the word with the objective of walking closer to Christ the Holy Spirit will convict and expose one's true relationship with regard to salvation. I said that to say I agree with your statement and often say everyone AT the church is not IN the church but it is not necessarily the church's fault for giving false sense of assurance. Some of that false sense of assurance has to be shouldered by the non-believer. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water etc...
     
  19. Beth

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    Depends

    I believe it depends on the child....totally an individual case. Our youngest came to a saving faith during a VBS two summers ago, when he was 7. He was baptized shortly afterwards. During these past two years, we have continued to see evidence of Christ's nature in him in terms of an increasing sensitivity to his personal sin and willingness to put others ahead of himself. I know our pastor, though, won't baptize anyone younger than 7.
     
  20. superwoman8977

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    My son was 9 when I finally allowed him to be talking about salvation and baptism and I will do the same with my now 5 almost 6 yr old. I want them to understand the concept. My 9 yr old wasnt allowed to have his own bible till he was 8 and that was because I wanted him to be able to read and understand it for himself before we invested. I do not believe these kids who get baptized under 7 have a full knowledge of salvation and all that.

    I was baptized as a baby and then re-baptized when I joined a baptist church when I was 22 years old since I was told infant baptism does not exist which I do not believe that either. I had our daughter when she was breathing her last in my arms after her birth baptized because I felt it was the right thing to do at the time.
     

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