CHILDREN AND BAPTISM
“Parents whose children desire to be baptized have a work to do, both in self-examination and in giving faithful instruction to their children. Baptism is a most sacred and important ordinance, and there should be a thorough understanding as to its meaning. It means repentance for sin, and the entrance upon a new life in Christ Jesus. There should be no undue haste to receive the ordinance. Let both parents and children count the cost. In consenting to the baptism of their children, parents sacredly pledge themselves to be faithful stewards over these children, to guide them in their character building. They pledge themselves to guard with special interest these lambs of the flock, that they may not dishonor the faith they profess.” —Testimonies to the Churches, vol. 6, p. 93.
“Religious instruction should be given to children from their earliest years. It should be given, not in a condemnatory spirit, but in a cheerful, happy spirit. Mothers need to be on the watch constantly, lest temptation shall come to the children in such a form as not to be recognized by them. The parents are to guard their children with wise, pleasant instruction. As the very best friends of these inexperienced ones, they should help them in the work of overcoming, for it means everything to them to be victorious. They should consider that their own dear children who are seeking to do right are younger members of the Lord's family, and they should feel an intense interest in helping them to make straight paths in the King's highway of obedience. With loving interest they should teach them day by day what it means to be children of God and to yield the will in obedience to Him. Teach them that obedience to God involves obedience to their parents. This must be a daily, hourly work. Parents, watch, watch and pray, and make your children your companions.” – Testimonies to the Churches, vol. 6, p. 93.
“When the happiest period of their life has come, and they in their hearts love Jesus and wish to be baptized, then deal faithfully with them. Before they receive the ordinance, ask them if it is to be their first purpose in life to work for God. Then tell them how to begin. It is the first lessons that mean so much. In simplicity teach them how to do their first service for God. Make the work as easy to be understood as possible. Explain what it means to give up self to the Lord, to do just as His word directs, under the counsel of Christian parents.” – Testimonies to the Churches, vol. 6, p. 94.
“After faithful labor, if you are satisfied that your children understand the meaning of conversion and baptism, and are truly converted, let them be baptized. But, I repeat, first of all prepare yourselves to act as faithful shepherds in guiding their inexperienced feet in the narrow way of obedience. God must work in the parents that they may give to their children a right example, in love, courtesy, and Christian humility, and in an entire giving up of self to Christ. If you consent to the baptism of your children and then leave them to do as they choose, feeling no special duty to keep their feet in the straight path, you yourselves are responsible if they lose faith and courage and interest in the truth.” – Testimonies to the Churches, vol. 6, p. 94.
The Importance of the Early Years
“Too much importance cannot be placed upon the early training of children. The lessons learned, the habits formed, during the years of infancy and childhood, have more to do with the formation of the character and the direction of the life than have all the instruction and training of the after years.” Ministry of Healing, p. 380.
“It is during the first years of a child's life that his mind is most susceptible to impressions either good or evil. During these years decided progress is made in either a right direction or a wrong one.” Child Guidance, p. 193.
“Many neglect their duty during the first years of their children's lives, thinking that when they get older, they will then be very careful to repress wrong and educate them in the right. But the very time for them to do this work is when the children are babes in their arms. It is not right for parents to pet and humor their children; neither is it right for them to abuse them. A firm, decided, straightforward course of action will be productive of the best results.” Child Guidance, p. 194.
“Too much importance cannot be placed on the early training of children. The lessons that the child learns during the first seven years of life have more to do with forming his character than all that it learns in future years.” Child Guidance, p. 193
Jesus Values Children
“Those who love God should feel deeply interested in the children and youth. To them God can reveal His truth and salvation. Jesus calls the little ones that believe on Him, the lambs of His flock. He has a special love for and interest in the children. . . . The most precious offering that the children can give to Jesus, is the freshness of their childhood.” Reflecting Christ, p. 373.
“How interestedly the Lord Jesus knocks at the door of families where there are little children to be educated and trained! How gently he watches over the mothers' interest, and how sad He feels to see children neglected. . . . In the home characters are formed; human beings are molded and fashioned to be either a blessing or a curse.” That I My Know Him, p. 39.
“As the children gathered the wildflowers growing so abundantly around them, and crowded up to present to Him their little offerings, He received them gladly, smiled upon them, and expressed His joy at seeing so many varieties of flowers.” The Upward Look, p. 57.
“These children were His heritage. He knew that He had come to ransom them from the enemy by dying on the cross of Calvary. He spoke words to them that ever after they carried in their hearts. They were delighted to think that He appreciated their gifts and spoke so lovingly to them.” Upward Look, p. 57.
“Christ watched children at their play, and often expressed His approval when they gained an innocent victory over something they were determined to do. He sang to children in sweet and blessed words. They knew that He loved them. He never frowned on them. He shared their childish joys and sorrows. Often He would gather flowers, and after pointing out their beauties to the children, would leave them with them as a gift. He had made the flowers and He delighted to point out their beauties.” Upward Look, p. 57.
“It has been said that Jesus never smiled. This is not correct. A child in its innocence and purity called forth from His lips joyous song.” Manuscript 20, Feb. 12, 1902, "Our Elder Brother." Upward Look p. 57.
“God wants every child of tender age to be His child, to be adopted into His family.” Counsels to Teachers and Parents, p. 169.
“When Jesus told the disciples not to forbid the children to come to Him, He was speaking to His followers in all ages,--to officers of the church, to ministers, helpers, and all Christians. Jesus is drawing the children, and He bids us, Suffer them to come; as if He would say, They will come if you do not hinder them..” Desire of Ages, p. 517.
Children and Salvation
"Children of eight, ten or twelve years, are old enough to be addressed on the subject of personal religion. Do not teach your children with reference to some future period when they shall be old enough to repent and believe the truth. If properly instructed, very young children may have correct views of their state as sinners, and of the way of salvation through Christ.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 400.
“In the closing scenes of earth’s history, many of these children and youth will astonish people by their witness to the truth, which will be borne in simplicity, yet with spirit and power. They have been taught the fear of the Lord, and their hearts have been softened by a careful and prayerful study of the Bible. In the near future, many children will be endued with the Spirit of God, and will do a work in proclaiming the truth to the world, that at that time cannot well be done by the older members of the church.” Counsels to Teachers and Parents, pp. 166,167.
“Parents who can be approached in no other way are frequently reached through their children. Sabbath school teachers can instruct the children in the truth, and they will, in turn take it into the home circle. But few teachers seem to understand the importance of this branch of the work. The modes of teaching which have been adopted with such success in the public schools could be employed with similar results in the Sabbath schools and can be the means of bringing children to Jesus and educating them in Bible truth. This will do far more good than religious excitement of an emotional character, that passes off as rapidly as it comes.” Testimonies for the Church, v. 4, p. 70.
Education of Children
"Children should be so educated that they will sympathize with the aged and afflicted and will seek to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and distressed. They should be taught to be diligent in missionary work; and from their earliest years self-denial and sacrifice for the good of others and the advancement of Christ’s cause should be inculcated, that they may be laborers together with God.” Testimonies, v. 6, p. 429.
“By your manner of dealing with the little ones you can by the grace of Christ mold their characters for everlasting life, or by a wrong course of action you can give them the impress of a satanic character. Never act from impulse in governing children. Let authority and affection be blended. Cherish and cultivate all that is good and lovely and lead them to desire the higher good by revealing Christ to them.” Evangelism, p. 582.
“In the children who were brought in contact with Him, Jesus saw the men and women who should be heirs of His grace and subjects of His kingdom, and some of whom would become martyrs for His sake. He knew that these children would listen to Him and accept Him as their Redeemer far more readily than would grownup people, many of whom were the worldly-wise and hardhearted. In teaching, He came down to their level. He, the majesty of heaven, answered their questions and simplified His important lessons to meet their childish understanding.” Evangelism, p. 579.
“God wants the children and youth to join the Lord's army. . . . The children have as strong temptations to meet, on the right hand and on the left, as do the older soldiers. Satan and his legions will work every device to ensnare the young. It is the privilege of the children to enlist in the army of the Lord and seek to persuade others to join their ranks. Children must be educated and trained for Jesus Christ. They must be trained to resist temptation and to fight the good fight of faith. Direct their minds to Jesus as soon as they can comprehend your lessons in simple words, easy to be understood. Teach them self-control. Teach them to begin the work of overcoming when young, and they will receive the precious help that Jesus can and will give, connected with prayerful efforts of parents. Cheer them with encouraging words for the battles they fight in resisting temptation and coming off conquerors through grace given them of Jesus Christ.” That I May Know Him, p. 42.
“Parents should hang in memory's hall the precious sayings of Christ. The children will repeat the words they hear often on the parents' lips--of Christ, and faith, and truth. Precious truth may be spoken by children. Whole armies of children may come under Christ's banner as missionaries, even in their childhood years. Never repulse the desire of children to do something for Jesus. Never quench their ardor for working in some way for the Master. Children rightly educated will learn to love Jesus and to grieve if they think they have grieved the Savior by any sin committed by them. Keep their hearts tender and sensitive by your own words and example.” That I May Know Him, p. 42.
“The angels of God are ever near your little ones. . . . Let love and tenderness, patience and self-control, be at all times the law of your speech. Winning love is to be like deep waters, ever flowing forth in the management of your children. All through His life, Christ performed acts of love and tenderness for the children.” That I May Know Him, p. 42.
“The children and youth, with their fresh talent, energy, and courage, their quick susceptibilities, are loved of God, and He desires to bring them into harmony with divine agencies. Our children stand, as it were, at the parting of the ways. On every hand the world's enticements to self-seeking and self-indulgence call them away from the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord. Whether their lives shall be a blessing or a curse depends upon the choice they make. . . . They belong to Christ. They are the purchase of His blood, the claim of His love. They live because He keeps them by His power. Their time, their strength, their capabilities, are His, to be developed, to be trained, to be used for Him.”. . .
In Heavenly Places, p. 217.
“The Christian worker may be Christ’s agent in drawing these children to the Savior. By wisdom and tact he may bind them to his heart, he may give them courage and hope, and through the grace of Christ may see them transformed in character, so that of them it may be said, ‘Of such is the kingdom of God.’”
Desire of Ages, p. 70.
Religious Training by Parents
- God designs that the families of earth shall be a symbol of the family in heaven. Christian homes, established and conducted in accordance with God’s plan, are among His most effective agencies for the formation of Christian character and for the advancement of his work. Testimony to the Churches, vol. 6, p. 430.
- God calls for Christian families to go into communities that are in darkness and error, and work wisely and perseveringly for the master.Testimony to the Churches, vol. 9, p. 40
- A well-ordered Christian household is a powerful argument in favor of the reality of the Christian religion, an argument that the infidel cannot gainsay. All can see that there is an influence at work in the family that affects the children, and that the God of Abraham is with them. If the homes of professed Christians had a right religious mold, they would exert a might influence for good. They would indeed be the “light of the world..” Patriarchs and Prophets, p.144.
- The greatest evidence of the power of Christianity that can be presented to the world is a well-ordered, well-disciplined family. This will recommend the truth as nothing else can, for it is a living witness of its practical power upon the heart. Testimony to the Churches, vol. 4, p. 304
- The mission of the home extends beyond its own members. The Christian home is to be an object lesson, illustrating the excellence of the true principles of life. Such an illustration will be a power for good in the world. For more powerful than any sermon that can be preached is the influence of a true home upon human hearts and lives. As the youth go out from such a home, the lessons they have learned are imparted. Nobler principles of life are introduced into other households, and an uplifting influence works in the community.Ministry of Healing 352
- It is a most grievous thing to let children grow up without the knowledge of God.
Parents make a most terrible mistake when they neglect the work of giving their children religious training, thinking that they will come out all right in the future and, as they get older, will of themselves be anxious for a religious experience. Cannot you see, parents, that if you do not plant the precious seeds of truth, of love, of heavenly attributes, in the heart, Satan will sow the field of the heart with tares? Adventist Home, p. 320
Too often children are allowed to grow up without religion because their parents think they are too young to have Christian duties enjoined upon them. . . . Adventist Home, p. 320
- Adapt Instruction to the Child's Age.--As soon as the little ones are intelligent to understand, parents should tell them the story of Jesus that they may drink in the precious truth concerning the Babe of Bethlehem. Impress upon the children's minds sentiments of simple piety that are adapted to their years and ability. Bring your children in prayer to Jesus, for He has made it possible for them to learn religion as they learn to frame the words of the language. Adventist Home, 320
When very young, children are susceptible to divine influences. The Lord takes these children under His special care; and when they are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they are a help and not a hindrance to their parents. Adventist Home, p. 321
- Fathers and mothers who make God first in their households, who teach their children that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, glorify God before angels and before men by presenting to the world a well-ordered, well-disciplined family, a family that love and obey God instead of rebelling against Him. Christ is not a stranger in their homes; His name is a household name, revered and glorified. Angels delight in a home where God reigns supreme, and the children are taught to reverence religion, the Bible, and their Creator. Such families can claim the promise: "Them that honor Me I will honor." Adventist Home, p. 322
From the earliest age a wise education in Christ's lines is to be begun and carried forward. When the children's hearts are impressible, they are to be taught concerning eternal realities. Parents should remember that they are living, speaking, and acting in the presence of God. Adventist Home, p. 320
Tips for a Balanced Christian Parenting
By Orathai Chureson, PhD, Adventist Children’s Ministries
All Christian parents desire to have a smooth parenting experience and be effective in disciplining and guiding children. The primary goal is to develop a Christian mindset, skills in making good choices, and attain wisdom needed for daily living and beyond. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This verse suggests that it is not about what we tell them to do, but it is the matter of their grappling skills under effective parenting effort. Sensible children understand that their decision making can impact their lives and that they value those pleasant experiences from making right choices in the past. A well-balanced parenting does just that. Parental effort and involvement will focus on training and guiding children in their thinking and reasoning according to their developmental stages. Children’s thinking capacity must consistently and continually be mentored. Even into adulthood, in a person’s lowest and desperate times of life, there is still a need for a kind of mentor who is truly empathetic and feels their sorrow and joy.
Tips from Mrs. White for a Well-Balanced Parenting
The Bible and Spirit of Prophecy by Mrs. Ellen G. White have provided wisdom and directives on the right parenting scheme that is more balanced and wholistic in nature.
- Know Your Children Personally and Intimately. When it comes to parenting model, children do have preferences. Some seem to thrive under strict parenting and other are withdrawn. We must know what motivate them more in their learning whereas we also facilitate them well in the process of character building. Mrs. White warns, “There is danger that both parents and teachers will command and dictate too much, while they fail to come sufficiently into social relation with their children or scholars,” (CG, 265.1). Knowing our children personally and intimately will give us insights as what to do in a given situation and how to appropriately and sufficiently guide their mind in the decision-making process.
- Keep in Mind the True Purpose of Parenting Education. Ellen G. White says, “What is the great aim and object of their education? Is it to fit them for life and its duties, to qualify them to take an honorable position in the world, to do good, to benefit their fellow-beings, to gain eventually the reward of the righteousness? If so, then the first lesson to be taught them is self-control, for no undisciplined, headstrong person can hope for success in this world or reward in the next,” (CG, 91.1). Be purposeful as Mrs. White warns, “Neglect of duty, injudicious indulgence, failure to restrain or correct the follies of youth, will result in unhappiness and finally ruin to the children and disappointment and anguish to the parents,” (CG, 258.1).
- Set Your Clear Expectation. Expectation is important and it should be achievable. Parents must also create both short term and long-term goal. Like academic achievement, character building is a process and it is under both short -term and long-term goals. As the children proceed, parents must also allow children to fail and continue to be positive on them. We must be sure that our expectation is also realistic and attainable for our children; and we must also not forget to create a set of expectation for ourselves in effectively modeling their behaviors.
- Train Your Child to Yield to Your Expectation. Children must be taught to obey from an early age when their physical, mental, social, and emotional dependency are upon their parents. Mrs. White says, “Mothers, you should train your children to yield to your wishes. This point must be gained if you would hold the control over your children and preserve your dignity as a mother. Your children will quickly learn as what you expect of them, they know when their will conquers yours, and will make the most of their victory,” (CG, 91.2).
- Respond with Self-Control and Employ Empathetic Approach. Upon teaching the children, parents need to exhibit self-control themselves at home. This includes self-control in appetite (food), temper, and passion (media, facebook, gaming, fashion, etc.). Parents must model the rightful habits. Mrs. White states, “The scolding and faultfinding of parents encourages a hasty, passionate temper in their children,” (CG, 94.2). Parents must understand their struggles to face powerful distractions around them and make them feel that they are not alone. Responding to children empathetically needs great patience and practice but they deem for huge benefits.
- It is a Teamwork. Both parents must agree on a set of disciplines and expectation. Parenting is a teamwork that need to be agreed upon. Failing in teaming up for effective parenting purpose may cause confusion and noncomplying and rebellious attitude in children. Mrs. White says, “Uniform firmness and unimpassioned control are necessary to the discipline of every family,” (CG, 264.1). When both parents are teamed up, their effort always yields a greater result.
- Keep Guiding and Guarding Children’s Mind and Behavior Dutifully. A single mother was facing hard times with her two young girls when I paid a visit. They were continually crying, screaming, and seeking their mother’s attention. When the needed discipline was suggested, she admitted that she always felt sorry for her two young children having to lose their father at a very young age. As a mother, I do understand perfectly that kind of sorry feeling. To be able to train children to govern themselves responsibly, we must separate our feeling and what we must do at times. Such children also deserve to be trained normally so that they could grow up and become normal individuals with a well-balanced mind and action, and parents must begin at young age. Mrs. White says, “Love has a twin sister, which is duty. Love and duty stand side by side. Love exercised while duty is neglected will make children headstrong, willful, perverse, selfish, and disobedient. If stern duty is left to stand alone without love to soften and win, it will have a similar result. Duty and love must be blended in order that children may be properly disciplined,” (CG, 258.2). Parents must try to stay balanced in their parenting scheme. A healthy and well-balanced emotional and mental development in children requires a balanced act on parents’ part. I find both parenting styles to be very beneficial if we blend well and execute them in a balanced manner.
- Use Praise as a Tool, Not as a Weapon. To promote self-esteem and emotional development we must employ praises as a tool for them to feel confident and grow emotionally secured. Overdoing it, however, can do much harm to them. If praises are misused by overusing them, children may become overconfident and arrogant in nature. They may tend to be misled to self-absorption, and deceptive even to their own perception. Unrealistic praises and overdoing practice by parents and adults will cause the children to drown into the pool of self-obsession. Proverbs 26:28 says, “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” If the saying does not help the hearers, just do not say it. Our love for them must be based on fact and genuine interest.
Christian parents who carry on their parenting responsibility dutifully in Christlike authority may succeed in raising and training up well-balanced children in mind and spirit. The Bible says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change,” (James 1:17). Christian parenting responsibility can never be fulfilled unless our children inherit from us the spiritual legacy, the most valuable gift from us; for this legacy will help safeguarding and providing them for life, ensuring even their reward of righteousness in the world to come!
White, Ellen G. (n.d.). Child Guidance. Retrieved from https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/8.390#408