2 Timothy 3:15 “And that from a child though hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation…”
Here’s a common question I’ve been asked many times by different parents, “Is my child old enough to get saved?”
If you work in children’s ministry, you’ve probably been asked a similar question. And many people have many different opinions about an answer to that question. I’ve heard stories told of kids being saved at unbelievably young ages, as well as heard some pastors who’ve said kids can’t truly be saved until after they are at least 12 years old. So how is a parent to know the right answer?
Well, the only answer that matters is what the Bible says, and here’s what we know that the Bible does and does not tell us.
1. The Bible makes it very clear that children can and do get saved
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)
“Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:14) (according to this verse, the possibility of children perishing is real, meaning that they too need salvation)
2. What the Bible doesn’t make clear is a certain age at which a person can be saved (age of accountability)
However, it does give plenty of explanation for how any person can be ready to be saved, regardless of their age.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “A child of five, if properly instructed, can as readily be regenerated as an adult.”
So, what are the requirements for a person to be saved?
- A proper understanding of sin and the gospel
- Personal conviction of sin through the Holy Spirit
- An attitude of repentance and willingness to make the choice to turn from sin and ask for God’s forgiveness.
So, is a child of 4 or 5 capable of being saved? What about a child of 11 or 12? The answer is that there’s no right or wrong answer, as every person will be different based upon what God is doing in their heart. Neither you nor I have the power to save anyone regardless of age.
Jesus said in John 6:44 that “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” The power of God’s Holy Spirit to convict a heart of sin and it’s need for forgiveness is something that belongs to God alone, yet is not limited to any age, young or old.
3. As soon as a child is able to grasp the concept of their sin, they are ready to begin grasping the concept of God’s grace (and their need for it through the person of Jesus Christ)
Certainly, a child’s exposure to spiritual things at an earlier age will increase the likelihood of them being saved at a younger age than a child who rarely attends church or is seldom taught the Bible. However, I’ve seen 7 and 8 year olds who have attended church for the first time, heard the gospel, and within a few short weeks, pray and accept Christ as their Savior, as sincerely as anyone.
I remember this past year when our family (myself, my wife, and our two oldest ) was praying for the salvation of Seth, our 7 year old. He knew he needed to be saved, and we knew it as well, but we were patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for God to do His work in Seth’s heart. And He did.
Now we as a family, are praying for the salvation of our youngest, Shane, who is 5.
So, what about your little son or daughter… are they old enough to become a child of God? Here are some simple questions to ask yourself:
- How much do they comprehend the Gospel? Can they answer specific (not yes or no) questions about who Jesus is and why He died? (Click Here for a Free Counseling Cue Card to know which questions to ask.)
- Are they asking questions on their own?
- Do you sense the Holy Spirit of God working conviction in their heart? In your times of discipline, are they sorry for their sin? Have they shown any sensitivity to the fact that their sin is what caused Jesus to have to die on the cross?
- Do you feel that they could pray on their own from their heart to be saved, rather than simply repeating a prayer?
Below is a free resource about Dealing With A Child For Salvation that will explain to you 3 necessities to help you know if a child is ready to be saved. You can access this free resource by Clicking Here.
In addition, the Counseling Cue Card is available that will provide you with a list of questions you can ask to find out a child’s level of understanding about sin and the gospel. You can access this free resource by Clicking Here. (If you work in Children’s Ministry, I’d encourage you to give a copy of both these resources to all of your workers. You’re free to make as many copies as needed.)
Usually, you as the parent or someone else who works closely with the child will be the ones best able to discern when that child is ready to be saved. Because you are aware of where they are on their spiritual journey. No one else knows as closely the details of their life and journey thus far. But you do. And God has given you the primary responsibility of helping your child navigate through this process and know when the time is right for them to personally and sincerely accept Christ as Savior.
So, how do we answer the question, “Is my child old enough to be saved?”…
Only you, them, and God can truly know and discern when they are ready. But one thing we know for sure is this – the Gospel is not restricted to anyone or any age…
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”