Age of Accountability, Dedication of Children
What is the Assemblies of God position
concerning the baptism of children, their security in the Kingdom,
and the practice of dedicating them to the Lord?
According to the Bible, everyone (adult or child) who
recognizes his or her need of a Savior and then repents and
believes in Christ should be baptized (Acts 2:38,41; 8:36-38). But
in the Scripture there is no record of infants or very young
children being baptized. This is because they are not yet able to
understand the need of a Savior.
Yet God places a high priority on children. When asked who is
the greatest in the kingdom of God, Jesus responded, "Unless
you change and become like children, you will never enter the
kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Godís love for children
is also shown in the Old Testament. In Leviticus the Lord
specifically prohibited the people of Israel from offering their
children as a sacrifice to the pagan god, Molech (Leviticus
20:1-5). It seems fair to conclude that if God forbade children
from being sacrificed, He would not order those same children to
be placed in the eternal fire of hell. From these Scriptures the
Assemblies of God believes that children are loved by God, and
until they come to an age of understanding (some call it "the
age of accountability"), they have a place in the kingdom of
God. This means that should a child die before developing to a
point where the knowledge of Christ can be understood and applied
through forgiveness, the child would inherit eternal life in
heaven as an heir of Godís kingdom .
In Luke 2 we see the parents of the baby Jesus taking Him to
the temple "to present Him to the Lord" (Luke 2:22).
Later the Gospels tell us that little children and infants were
brought to Jesus for Him to touch them and bless them (Matthew
19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17). In following this
practice, Assemblies of God churches encourage parents to publicly
dedicate their children to the Lord. This is usually done in a
church service. In dedicating their child the parents acknowledge
the child as a gift from God and vow before Him and the
congregation to set a godly example for the child and a commitment
to lead the child to Christ at an early age.
Some who have accepted Christ as adults wonder if the baptism
they received as infants fulfills the New Testament mandate of
water baptism (1 Peter 3:21). In the Assemblies of God we believe
baptism in water is to follow salvation (acceptance of Christ and
His forgiveness of our sins) as demonstrated in the New Testament.
For this reason we urge all new converts to follow the biblical
pattern of water baptism in obedience to Christ.
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of
All Scripture quotations are from the New International
Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.