After twenty years in ministry, my husband and I are firm believers in baptism class. In some Christian churches, this is not an option. If you confess faith, you are immediately taken to a body of water or a bathtub and immersed. In that case, I am in favor of a robust follow-up baptism class. For many other Christians, this is not the case.
Without a doubt, baptism is a big deal. It is the public confession of our faith in Jesus Christ. The process of descending into the water and being lifted up, echo the death and resurrection of Jesus. Through the waters of baptism, we are born into new life in Christ.
Why are we baptized? The Bible commands it for those who believe. Furthermore, the Great Commission in Matthew 28 tells us to go forth into all the world, baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ.
Have they heard the Gospel?
Sometimes in the busyness of our church programs, we do not explicitly articulate the gospel message. Sadly, we don’t take the time to explain the basic foundational ideas of faith clearly and frequently enough.
In baptism class, the kids are intentionally choosing to be in a space to hear those messages and respond. The focused time of the course also gives an opportunity to evaluate where each child or participant is on their faith journey.
Instead of just knowledge questions about the Bible, baptism class focuses on fundamental ideas of theology. Who is God? What is the purpose of the church? Who is Jesus? What does the cross mean? What is sin? There is teaching in these areas, but there is also a lot of conversation. In truth, it is through dialogue that we get a feel for where a child’s heart is at concerning the gospel.
Baptism Class does not save.
How do I know if my child is saved? They are not saved because they attend a class. Baptism class doesn’t miraculously turn out Christians. Becoming a Christian isn’t ultimately about knowledge, but a step of faith to believe in Jesus. We are to pursue greater knowledge, that is how we love the Lord with all our understanding. Bible knowledge helps us to apply God’s word to our lives. The proper illumination of that knowledge comes first with a heart committed to Jesus.
In the end, how does a parent decide if their child is ready to be baptized? We worry if they are making this choice because of peer pressure. The other kids their age are in class and planning on being baptized. We wonder if it is pressure from us as parents. Are they getting baptized just to please us? Or, is it their own personal conviction?
Many parents wonder if their child clearly gets it. However, did we at their age? Even as adults, do we truly understand the fullness of what it means for Jesus to die on a cross for us. Furthermore, do we grasp the depth of our sinfulness and need for God’s salvation?
We were still sinners after baptism and so will our children still be sinners. For some reason, I had it in my head that baptism would give me miraculous powers to overcome sin. I have no clue from where that misunderstanding came. Yet, I distinctly remember being so disappointed.
When do people come to believe in Jesus?
How do people come to believe in Jesus? Most people accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. In fact, the vast majority of them do so before the age of 13. Once we become an adult, the chance of becoming a Christian is around 6% for the rest of your life.
The experience of how conversion takes place is not a one size fits all story, regardless of your age.
Frequently the only model that some recognize is the Apostle Paul version. They expect a Damascus Road experience where the person can give testimony to the day and hour that they came to believe in Jesus.
In contrast, those who grew up in a quieter Christian community or who are introverts, the conversion experience might be very different. I call this the blossom of faith. You know by the fragrance and aroma that they believe, but the process of professing belief has been long the gradual opening of a beautiful rose. Consequently, the blossom of faith is a real conversion experience.
What does the Bible say about salvation?
How do I know if my child is saved? What does the Bible say about salvation? The biblical response is the most critical question for our hearts to answer.
“If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord,
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
Does your child confess Jesus as Lord?
Do they believe in their heart that Jesus is their Lord?
Do they believe that God raised Jesus from the dead?
Then, they will be saved according to scripture. You have your answer to the question of how do you know if your child is saved. The next step is baptism to publicly confirm their confession, and be baptized just as Jesus Christ was baptized.
However, don’t expect them to be mature Christians. There is a saying: “Don’t compare your beginnings to someone else’s middle.” Without question, they are baby Christians. After all, baptism and salvation are not arrival points. Instead, they are the beginning of a glorious journey.
How can we guide them on this journey?
If your child has made their confession, but you aren’t sure that they are saved – disciple them in faith. As parents, we must be careful not to require more than what scripture has set forth.
If they have fulfilled the definition of salvation in Romans, who are we to deny them baptism? How are we hindering them? If I keep wondering in fear if my child is saved, I give the Great Deceiver more power in my life.
We remember when Jesus instructed the disciples and said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)
Once my child is saved, how do I disciple them?
- Teach them to read their Bible daily.
- Equip them to take ownership of their personal Christian growth.
- Engage them in conversations that apply Scripture to their lives.
- Model and teach the importance of continued repentance and confession.
- Pray, always without ceasing, for them always.