Ask Your Preacher
What age is it when you know right from wrong and if you sin you go to hell?
Counting The Years
Dear Counting The Years,
The age of accountability is the age when a child becomes accountable to God for their sins and would be judged for them… exactly at what age that happens is the tricky part of your question. We can tell you what the Bible says on the subject, but it doesn’t say much.
We know any baby that dies goes to heaven. David’s son died, and David made it clear that his son was in heaven (2 Sam 12:23). Also, Paul uses the immaturity of children as an example (1 Cor 13:11). This tells us God doesn’t have the same expectation of a child’s behavior as He does of an adult’s. Children are not bound by the same rules as adults. A child doesn’t have the mental capacity or maturity to be held accountable for their mistakes like adults are.
In order to become a christian, there are several things God expects you to be capable of doing:
- Take responsibility for your sins (Acts 3:19).
- Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
- Be responsible for your own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).
If a child is not capable of doing those things, they cannot be held accountable for their eternal future.
This still doesn’t answer the question though because every child matures at a different rate. Everyone agrees that a five-year-old can’t be held accountable, and that a twenty-year-old can. It is the age spectrum in between where our judgment gets fuzzy. Only God, who knows our hearts (Lk 16:15), can accurately judge the hour in which a child makes that transition into accountability.
Do you have to be baptized to go to heaven?
Immersed In Questions
Dear Immersed In Questions,
The most well-documented and clearest doctrine in the New Testament is baptism… yet, it is also the most commonly ignored topic in the religious world. It is impossible to be saved without being baptized. Peter said it best when he said, “Baptism saves you” (1 Pet 3:21). Every person that became a christian in the New Testament was baptized – immediately. You won’t find a single person in the book of Acts that wasn’t baptized. When the first sermon was preached after Christ ascended into heaven, the apostles told the people that they needed to “repent and be baptized… for the remission of their sins” (Acts 2:38). Paul tells us that baptism is a burial with Christ, and only after that burial do we receive a new life (Rom 6:3-4). Baptism was so important to Paul that he was baptized even before eating or drinking (Acts 9:18-19), which shows how important it is because Paul hadn’t had food or water in three days (Acts 9:9)! Belief is not enough; even the demons believe in God (Jas 2:19). It is only when our belief is combined with obedience that we have living faith (Jas 2:17-18), and the very first command to obey that God gives us is to be baptized in the name of His Son (Matt 28:19, Mk 16:16).
You said getting baptized is a requirement to be saved. What happens if someone accepts Jesus and the same day that person passes away? For example, one of the criminals on the cross did not get baptized, and Jesus said to him, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Dear Making Exceptions,
Part of accepting Christ is being baptized; those who obeyed Christ didn’t wait to be baptized later; they were baptized as soon as possible (Acts 16:33, Acts 8:36-38). In almost all cases, when someone makes the decision to obey Christ, there isn’t anything hindering them from being baptized immediately. In those extremely rare circumstances when someone can’t make it to water, God is a perfect judge and won’t make any mistakes in who does or doesn’t go to heaven (Heb 12:23).
As far as the thief on the cross, there are four solid explanations for why Jesus told him that he would be in Paradise. Read our article “The Thief On The Cross” for a full write-up on that particular question.
Regardless of how God deals with unique circumstances, the Bible tells us what we should do. If you are willing and able to be baptized, it is a commandment the Lord gives for salvation (1 Pet 3:21).
How do you respond to someone saying they do not believe in God because they think believers are brainwashed from an early age?
Thinking For Myself
Dear Thinking For Myself,
When faced with someone who believes that Christianity is based off of a mindless faith, we try and show people the evidence that points toward Christianity. After all, many people convert to Christ after growing up in atheistic and anti-religious households. You might point out to this person that not all christians were raised to be that way; many choose it later in life. If that peaks their interest, you might point them to some of the evidence for God's existence. We recommend that you read the post “Does God Exist?” for a list of some of those evidences.
Does it matter how we are baptized and who baptizes us as long as it’s in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? I'm getting baptized at my friend's church which is Calvinistic; I'm more of non-denominational Bible-believer, but anyway, they're going to baptize me in a swimming pool. Should I go through with it?
Dear Diving In,
Why you are baptized is one of the most important elements of baptism, and a Calvinistic church will not baptize you for the right reasons. People are baptized all the time without being saved! The word ‘baptism’ comes from the Greek word ‘baptizo’ which means ‘immersion’. The word ‘baptism’ is the same word that Greeks used when a ship sank to the bottom of the ocean or when someone dove to the bottom of a swimming pool. In the most technical sense, people are baptized when they take baths, go swimming, etc. Taking a bath will baptize you, but it definitely won’t save you.
The Bible teaches that baptism saves you. According to the Bible, baptism is a requirement of salvation. Peter said so in Acts 2:38 when he preached the first sermon after Christ’s ascension. In 1 Pet 3:21, it specifically says that baptism saves us. Mk 16:16 says that baptism is as integral a part of salvation as belief, and Paul tells us in Rom 6:4-5 that baptism buries us with Christ, so we might be born again without our sins. The Bible clearly teaches baptism as a prerequisite for salvation.
Now, here is your problem. Calvinism teaches that baptism is “an outward showing of an inward grace.” That means that Calvinistic churches do baptize people, but they believe it is only for show and that you were already saved before you were baptized. Therefore, the reason they baptize people is completely wrong. If you are baptized for the wrong reasons, you just get wet – not saved. We would be happy to get you in touch with a congregation that isn’t tied to denominations, teaches the whole Bible (Rev 22:18-19), avoids manmade traditions (Matt 15:9), and will baptize you for the right reasons. Just e-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the general area of the country you live in and we will happily put you in contact with a faithful church. You may also find the article “Calvin And Sobs” on Calvinism of use to better understand this manmade religion.