In the last two days, I’ve had three different parents tell me they had kids asking about baptism. Then the pressing question came: “How do I know they’re ready?”
After all, baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This is why we immerse ourselves in water: to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ in His life, death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism is how we respond to believing in the Lord Jesus and profess to both the church and the world, “I am His and He is mine forever!”
As a parent, there is nothing more I look forward to than my kids professing faith in Jesus—and when they do, I cannot wait for them to be baptized. And as a parent (the spiritual leader of my kids), it is my biblical responsibility to instruct them in the ways of the Lord, as I trust Him to give them faith.
Because baptism is the way believers profess their faith in Jesus, we want to be sure that we are baptizing true believers. So on one hand, we want to be diligent to ensure we are not baptizing anyone before their regeneration. But on the other hand, we do not want to delay entry into the covenant family of God and enjoyment of the covenant privileges (membership, the Lord’s Supper, etc.).
So if you are wondering, “How do I know they’re ready?” here are three helpful questions to consider when weighing your child’s readiness to profess their faith through water baptism:
Do they articulate their salvation in Jesus?
This will look different depending on your child’s age. For instance, when I was baptized as a 6-year-old, I couldn’t even spell “substitutionary atonement.” But I was able to articulate that I was a sinner, that through Jesus’ living, dying, and rising I can be forgiven of my sins, and that by the power of the Holy Spirit I could be made like Him. I knew what Jesus did and I responded in repentance and faith.
Do they apply their salvation in Jesus?
How does your kid respond when he or she sins? Do they try to hide their sin, or is their heart broken? Do they seek to find fault with someone else or do they seek to find forgiveness from God and the person they sinned against? When they confess and repent of their sins, do they thank God for the cross of Jesus that pronounces them forgiven and free from all condemnation? And then do they see the gospel (not guilt) as a motivator to become more like Jesus? The goal here isn’t merely changing behaviors but rather transforming the heart by the power of God’s Spirit through the application of Jesus’ finished work.
Do they adore their salvation in Jesus?
This gets at the heart. Are they grateful for what they have in Christ? Do they love Jesus? Does it burden them when they know of others who don’t believe in Jesus? Is the gospel so deeply anchored in their hearts that it drives their affections?
If you are a parent, I implore you to pray that God will work in your kids’ hearts so that you can answer, “YES!” to these three questions. In the meantime, continue to labor diligently in pointing them to the good news of Jesus any and every opportunity you get. But remember that only God can give your child the ability to articulate the gospel, a life that applies the gospel, and a heart that adores the gospel. And when He does, praise Him for His gracious salvation—and encourage your kids to proclaim it in baptism.