By Bonita Joyner Shields, Editor of the Power Points Sabbath School Lesson Guides for Juniors and Earliteens
Pastor Bonita was one of the founding staff members of KidsView when it first got started in 2002. She loves working with kids, and we know you will enjoy what she has to say about making the decision to be baptized.
Right before Jesus went back to heaven after living on earth, He told His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
Why do you think Jesus expects people to be baptized? Is baptism “magical,” meaning that once you’re baptized and come up out of the water, you are never tempted to hit your brother or sister ever again? (Sorry, it doesn’t work that way—at least it didn’t for me!)
Baptism is a symbol
. A symbol is a visible sign of something invisible. So when we go under the water when we are baptized, it is the sign of our “dying” to our old way of life before we came to know and love Jesus. Then, when we are raised up out of the water, it is the sign of our being raised into a new life in which our love for Jesus affects all of our life’s decisions—how we treat our family and friends, how we act at school, and when we get older, whom we will marry and even how we will raise our children. Baptism is a public commitment that we want to follow Jesus for the rest of our lives.
How does a person know when they are ready to make this important decision?
This is a good question that kids and parents often ask. The Bible doesn’t give us an exact age at which a person should be baptized. Some churches, for example, choose a grade level and age as “the right time.”
“Kids should be in fifth grade and at least 11 years old before they can be baptized.” Other churches ask parents to decide when their child is ready. These are all good suggestions. But ultimately every kid (after discussing it with their parents) has to decide for themselves if they’re ready to make the decision to be baptized.
Whatever your age, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
Why do I want to be baptized? Is it because my best friend wants to be baptized at the same time? (Not a good reason!) Or is it because I want everyone to know how much I love Jesus? (Good reason!)
Am I willing to take the time to study and understand what it means to follow Jesus?
During this study time we learn what we commit to as a follower of Jesus. While we will continue to learn about Jesus and our forever friendship with Him all through our lives, if we’re not willing to take time now to understand Him more we might not be ready to take this important step of baptism.
Matthew Henry, a man who wrote a book of comments on the Bible, gave his heart to Jesus at age 11. Isaac Watts, a well-known hymn writer, decided to follow Jesus at age 9. Jonathan Edwards, a preacher who lived many, many years ago, committed his life to Jesus at age 7. Yet others aren’t ready to make this commitment until they’re a teenager or an adult. Whatever your age, realize that this is the most important—and the best—decision you will ever make!