Are some children too young to ask for salvation? Can a 3 or 4 year old truly believe?
The Bible does not give an age requirement for when a person can believe in Jesus Christ as his or her Savior. Instead, the emphasis of the New Testament is on understanding a person's need for salvation based upon both the universal reality of human sin (Romans 3:23) and Christ's exclusive ability to address sin and provide salvation (John 3:16; 14:6).
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How old is old enough to believe in Jesus? First, a person must be old enough to recognize he or she is a sinner who is in need of salvation. Even a child as young as 3 or 4 years old can understand the difference between right and wrong.
Second, a person must recognize Jesus as Lord or leader of their life. Romans 10:9 clearly teaches, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Though no person can fully comprehend Jesus, even a young child can place his or her trust in Jesus as Lord.
Third, Romans 10:9 also teaches a person must be old enough to believe Jesus resurrected from the dead. This can be a difficult concept for young children, as they often have not experienced death and have trouble understanding how someone can die and come alive again. However, a child need not fully comprehend the details of death to accept that Jesus came alive again to show He is truly God's Son. In fact, children can often be more trusting than adults, making this supernatural aspect of the resurrection easier for some children to believe.
In sharing Jesus with young children, it is important to emphasize that Jesus loves everyone and wants them to believe in Him so they can live together forever. This is the focus of John 3:16 that teaches, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." God's love, God's Son, and eternal life with God stand as the key elements in this message and can sometimes even be understood by children as young as preschool age.
It is also important to note that Jesus was known for His love and positive attitude toward children. When others attempted to send children away who had come to see Jesus, He answered, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14). Every child is important to Him and is loved by Him.
Though the New Testament does not record young children coming to faith in Jesus, the Old Testament offers a striking example of spirituality in the life of the child Samuel. Shortly after he had been weaned (which traditionally took place between the ages of 2—5), Samuel "was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli the priest" (1 Samuel 2:11). First Samuel 3:1-18 further reveals that God spoke to Samuel even when he was a boy. God can and sometimes does operate powerfully in the lives of even young children in ways that show a true belief in the Lord.
Only God knows the exact time a child is ready and able to accept Jesus as Savior. His clear desire is that anyone who believes in Him can have eternal life (John 3:16). Scripture reveals His heart of love toward children and that He has sometimes worked through even young children such as Samuel through the power of His Spirit.
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Can an "illegitimate" child, one conceived out of wedlock, be saved?
Is a death bed conversion possible?
What is the Truth about salvation?
Truth about Salvation