Topic(s): Baptism, Children, Family, Salvation, Youth
When a young person should be baptized is a difficult situation. The New Testament does not speak specifically to any “age of accountability” where one could know for sure they need to be baptized. Neither does the Bible speak of children being baptized. Though households are mentioned as being baptized (Acts 16:15, 33), one may not necessarily infer that children were a part of this group. Elsewhere, the Bible speaks of men and women being baptized (Acts 8:12).
The ability to recite the plan of salvation and the appropriate scriptures is not sufficient. When one obeys the gospel, he takes personal responsibility for the destiny of his soul. This means the ability to forsake mother and father (if necessary) for the sake of following Jesus (Luke 14:25-33). I believe this is key in this discussion.
Also, one must be capable of repenting of sins before he is a proper candidate for baptism (Acts 2:38; 3:19).
The Bible describes baptism as an act of faith (Colossians 2:12). Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Therefore, there must be some understanding of the nature and purpose of baptism before one can be a scriptural candidate for such. For example:
In Mark 16:15-16, the Bible says one must be capable of understanding/believing the gospel message before they can be baptized. Included here is the understanding that baptism is necessary to be saved (Acts 2:38 also teaches that baptism is means by which remission of sins is obtained.)
Acts 2:41, 2:47 says one is not added to the church until he has been saved by being baptized.
Acts 22:16 teach that one should understand that one’s sins are not forgiven until one is baptized.
2 Corinthians 5:17 teaches that if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away and all things are become new. Galatians 3:27 says we are not in Christ until we are baptized into Christ. Romans 6:3-5 also teaches the same.
Must one understand everything about baptism in order to make it valid? I don’t think so, but the scriptures show that those who are baptized in the New Testament had some basic understanding of the nature and purpose of baptism.