Kylee has been really sensitive to the Holy Spirit lately about giving her life to Jesus. Every time I ask about kids getting saved in Kids Church, she raises her hand. She has asked me probably 5 or 6 times to get baptized.
The other day, Haley and her were going to the store and Kylee said, "Momma, when can I get baptized? I've already given my life to Jesus 3 times!". Haley told me about it on our way home from church the next day and I asked, "Kylee, did you give your life to Jesus?" Before she could speak up from the back seat, my 2 year old shouted with excitement, "I want to go to Chuck E. Cheeses'!" We all laughed!
So, the question is, how do you know if your child is ready to be saved? How do you know if they are sincere or if they are just doing what they see their friends do? How do you know if it is real or not? After doing children's ministry for almost 15 years, I've seen kids repeatedly come forward for salvation. We try to head this off by asking general questions at the altar. "Why are you coming forward? Is there something you wanted to do today?" If you ask a kid, "Do you want to give your life to Jesus" they all will 100% of the time say "YES".
Is it OK for kids to come down repeatedly? Of course. I think, they need time to process. Should they have every doctrine figured out or the Roman's Road To Salvation memorized? No. Remember this point - never turn a child away from the Lord! What if you do and they grow up and reject Jesus as a teenager? The statistics say that most people give their lives to Christ at an early age (88% before age of 18). Sometimes kids come down for salvation because they feel guilty over a sin. If this is the case, instruction about repentance is necessary. They need to know about the doctrine of the security of the believer in their terms of understanding.
Jesus Christ welcomed and blessed children during His ministry. Mark 10:13-16 speaks about this. "And they began bringing children to Him, so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, 'Permit the children to come to Me; and do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter in at all.' And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands upon them."
Now, some of the kids that came to Jesus that day were probably too young to understand Jesus as their Savior - but Jesus didn't reject them from coming to Him. The point is to teach and train your children from infancy about Christ and salvation. Kids need to feel Jesus' love from an early age. This will help them as they grow older. A little Greek lesson here - the Greek word used for “children” implies that they were small, young kids. It's the same word used in II Timothy 3:15 that Paul said about Timothy in knowing the scriptures from an early age. The same scriptures that lead to salvation to Jesus through faith!
What about the "age of accountability"? I've heard this all my life. Some think a child has to reach this before he can make any spiritual decisions. The age we see of 12 in Jewish culture, but this was not often a salvation or beginning of trusting the Lord age, but the age of Jewish ceremony. An age is not really the true mark of salvation. It varies for everyone. Probably a better statement is "condition of accountability". Whenever a child is capable of learning simple Biblical principles, then that is the age they are accountable to God for acting on those truths. God is not going to send kids to hell. HeThey are his kids. He'll keep them safe in his arms and grace until they begin to reach the condition of understanding a need for a savior. And just a side note, infant baptism doesn't help. You're just washing babies. It is not mentioned at all in scripture and baptism doesn't save - only Jesus does. Baptism always follows salvation in scripture.
A major prerequisite for baptism is repentance: "Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV). Baptism is necessary for every believer though as an outward sign and testimony. It is also commanded by Jesus.
Try not to intimidate or pressure your kids to “walk the aisle” just for your peace of mind. They can do this and never genuinely repent over sin or have a personal faith in Christ. It is simply going through the motions. The way a child is saved is the same way an adult is saved - by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). You can't work it up just because other kids their age are doing it and they haven't yet. Trust in the Lord that He is at work. Don't just depend on the church to teach your child about salvation. Talk about it at home - Read the first few verses in Deuteronomy 6.
Trust the work of the Holy Spirit. Once your child realizes his sinfulness and responds to that sinfulness in repentance and faith in Christ, he can and will be saved, regardless of his age. Jesus got mad at the disciples trying to turn away children because the disciples probably thought none of the kids could understand. (Now who asked the most questions about not understanding in scripture - the disciples)
When Peter preached his first sermon, he said, "For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself" (Acts 2:39). Peter spoke of salvation to all who recognized Christ as the Son of God and accepted Him with repentance and faith (Acts 2:22-42). This included children
Jesus said this, "Unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. And whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3-4). In many cases, it is easier for a child to perceive and receive spiritual truth than for an adult to do so because they try to rationalize truth with their limited thinking. True, genuine, child-like faith is what Christ wants from us all.
What about a child who dies before reaching the condition of choosing Christ as savior? David faced this. After his baby died, He said, "While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:22-23). David knew God and knew he would be with Him. But he also knew that he would see his son there. This is an encouragement to every parent who has lost a child.
Remember this point. Most of the time, kids who grow up in a Christian home and attend church regularly accept Christ earlier in life. Why? Kids are taught the principles and truths of Christ and the Bible from an early age. They are more sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit. The word says "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). It is only natural that kids who hear and learn the Word will be saved at an earlier age. Christian parents have to realize it is their responsibility for their children's spiritual education.
Jesus said Heaven was full of kids! "Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." (Mark 10:14)
Don't set an age limit on the Holy Spirit. If kids have a genuine faith and desire to give their lives to Christ, then let them. Who are we to turn a child away from the Lord? Trust the Lord that He is at work in your child's life. Jesus can save children. God called Samuel (1 Samuel 3) at an early age. Eli, while godly, didn't perceive God could this at first but quickly realized he should instruct Samuel to listen and respond to the voice of God.
My final point in this is that God's salvation plan is simple. It is not complicated. It so simple that children can understand and accept it.
Here are some things to ask about your child in their salvation process:
1. Does the child show a growing love for God?
2. Does the child demonstrate love and concern for others?
3. Does the child have a growing appreciation for God’s grace?
4. Is the child learning to pray and spend time alone with God?
5. Does the child have a sense of their own sinfulness?
6. Does the child demonstrate new spiritual desires?
7. Does the child continue in their faith over time?