“From infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation.”—2 TIMOTHY 3:15.
1, 2. Why might some parents worry when their children want to dedicate themselves to Jehovah and get baptized?
THOUSANDS of Bible students dedicate themselves to Jehovah and get baptized. Many are young people who have been raised in the truth and have chosen the best way of life. (Psalm 1:1-3) If you are a Christian parent, you probably look forward to the day when your son or daughter will get baptized.—Compare 3 John 4.
2 Still, you might worry. You may have seen some young ones get baptized but later begin to doubt whether living by God’s standards is really good for them. Some have even left the truth. So you might be concerned that your child will start serving Jehovah but then lose the love he or she used to have for the truth. Your child might become like some Christians in Ephesus in the first century. Jesus said of them: “You have left the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4) How can you help your child keep his love strong and “grow to salvation”? (1 Peter 2:2) We can learn from the example of Timothy.
“YOU HAVE KNOWN THE HOLY WRITINGS”
3. (a) How did Timothy become a Christian, and what did he do with what he learned? (b) What three aspects of learning did Paul point out to Timothy?
3 The apostle Paul first visited Lystra in the year 47. This is probably when Timothy, who may have been a teenager, learned about Jesus’ teachings. He applied what he learned, and two years later he began traveling with Paul. About 16 years after that, Paul wrote to Timothy: “Continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing from whom you learned them and that from infancy you have known the holy writings [the Hebrew Scriptures], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14, 15) Notice that Paul said that Timothy (1) knew the holy writings, (2) was persuaded to believe the things he learned, and (3) became wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Even very young children can learn about the people and events of the Bible
4. What have you used to teach your young children? (See opening picture.)
4 As a Christian parent, you want your child to know the holy writings, which today include the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Greek Scriptures. Even very young children can learn about the people and events of the Bible. Jehovah’s organization has provided many books, brochures, and videos that parents can use to help their children. Which of these are available in your language? Your child needs to know what is in the Bible in order to build a strong relationship with Jehovah.
“PERSUADED TO BELIEVE”
5. (a) What does “persuaded to believe” mean? (b) How do we know that Timothy was persuaded to believe the good news about Jesus?
5 It is not enough to teach children about the people and events of the Bible. Remember that Timothy was also “persuaded to believe.” The Greek phrase Paul used here means “to be assured of” or “to be convinced and certain of the truth of something.” Timothy knew the Hebrew Scriptures “from infancy,” that is, from the time he was very young. Later, he became convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. Timothy’s faith was so strong that he got baptized and worked with Paul as a missionary.
6. How can you help your children to build faith in God’s Word?
6 How can you help your children to build faith as Timothy did, so that they too will be “persuaded to believe”? First, be patient. It takes time to build strong faith. And the fact that you believe something does not mean that your children will automatically believe it too. Each child needs to use his or her own “power of reason” to build faith in the Bible. (Read Romans 12:1.) As a parent, you can do much to help your children strengthen their faith, especially when they ask questions. Let us see what we can learn from the example of one father.
7, 8. (a) How does one Christian father show patience when he teaches his daughter? (b) When have you needed to be patient with your child?
7 Thomas, whose daughter is 11 years old, says that she sometimes asks him questions such as: “Could Jehovah have used evolution to develop life on earth?” or “Why don’t we get involved in the community, with elections for example, to try to improve things?” At times, he has to resist the urge simply to tell her what to believe. Thomas knows that what convinces a person of the truth is not one big fact but many small pieces of evidence.
8 Thomas also knows that he needs to be patient in order to teach his daughter. In reality, all Christians need to be patient. (Colossians 3:12) Thomas realizes that it will take time and many conversations to help his daughter build her conviction. He needs to reason with her on what she learns from the Bible. Thomas says: “Especially on important points, my wife and I want to know if our daughter really believes what she is learning and if it makes sense to her. If she has questions, that’s good. Frankly, I would worry if she accepted something without asking questions.”
You need to be patient to help your child to build faith in God’s Word
9. How can you help your children to believe God’s Word?
9 When parents teach with patience, in time their children will begin to understand “the breadth and length and height and depth” of faith. (Ephesians 3:18) We can teach them in a way that fits their age and understanding. As their faith in what they learn becomes stronger, it will be easier for them to defend their beliefs to others, including schoolmates. (1 Peter 3:15) For example, can your children use the Bible to explain what happens at death? Does the Bible’s explanation make sense to them?* (See footnote.) Remember that you need to be patient to help your child to build faith in God’s Word, but it will be worth it.—Deuteronomy 6:6, 7.
Your own example is also important to help your children develop faith
10. What should be an important part of your teaching?
10 Of course, your own example is also important to help your children develop faith. Stephanie, the mother of three daughters, says: “Ever since my children were very young, I have had to ask myself, ‘Do I talk to my children about why I am convinced of Jehovah’s existence, his love, and the rightness of his ways? Can my children clearly see that I really love Jehovah?’ I can’t expect my children to be persuaded unless I am.”
“WISE FOR SALVATION”
11, 12. What is wisdom, and how do we know that it does not depend on how old a person is?
11 We have learned that Timothy had (1) knowledge of the Scriptures and (2) conviction about his beliefs. But what did Paul mean when he said that the holy writings could make Timothy “wise for salvation”?
12 Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, explains that in the Bible, wisdom includes “the ability to use knowledge and understanding successfully to solve problems, avoid or avert dangers, attain certain goals, or counsel others in doing so. It is the opposite of foolishness.” The Bible says that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” (Proverbs 22:15, footnote) Since wisdom is the opposite of foolishness, wisdom is one sign of maturity. A person becomes spiritually mature because he fears Jehovah and wants to obey him, not just because he grows older.—Read Psalm 111:10.
13. How can young ones show that they are wise for salvation?
13 Young ones who are reasonably mature spiritually are not “tossed about as by waves and carried here and there” by their desires or by the influence of other young people. (Ephesians 4:14) Instead, “their powers of discernment” are being “trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:14) So they make wise decisions, even when their parents or other adults are not watching. (Philippians 2:12) That kind of wisdom is necessary for salvation. (Read Proverbs 24:14.) How can you help your children to develop such wisdom? You need to make sure that they know what your values are. By what you say and do, they should see that you are trying to live according to Bible standards.—Romans 2:21-23.
14, 15. (a) What should a young person who wants to get baptized think about? (b) How can you help your children to meditate on the blessings that come from obeying God’s laws?
14 However, to help your children to build faith, it is not enough simply to tell them what is right and what is wrong. You also need to help them to reason on such questions as: ‘Why does the Bible forbid things that might seem appealing? How can I be sure that Bible standards are always good for me?’—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
15 If your child wants to get baptized, help him also to think seriously about the responsibilities that come with baptism. How does he feel about them? What are the benefits? What are the difficulties? Why are the benefits greater than the difficulties? (Mark 10:29, 30) It is very important to think about these things carefully before baptism. Help your child to meditate on the blessings of obedience and the bad results of disobedience. Then he will be more likely to believe that following Bible standards will always be good for him.—Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.
WHEN A BAPTIZED YOUTH STRUGGLES WITH HIS FAITH
16. What should parents do if their baptized child begins to weaken in his faith?
16 What can you do if your child begins to express doubts about the truth after baptism? For example, your son or daughter may become attracted to the things of the world. Or your child may begin to doubt whether following Bible principles is really the best way of life. (Psalm 73:1-3, 12, 13) The way you react can affect whether he continues to serve Jehovah. Try not to fight with your child about this, no matter if he is still very young or if he is now a teenager. Instead, make sure he knows that you love him and want to help him.
17, 18. If a young person has doubts, how can his parents help him?
17 A young person who is baptized has made a dedication to Jehovah. This is a promise to love and serve him above everything else. (Read Mark 12:30.) Jehovah views dedication as a serious promise, and so should we. (Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5) Remind your child of this. But first, read and study the material Jehovah’s organization has provided for parents. Then, in a kind way and at the right time, stress to your child that his decision to dedicate himself to Jehovah and get baptized was very serious but will bring him many blessings.
18 For example, you can find good advice in the appendix “Questions Parents Ask,” at the back of the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volume 1. It advises parents that they should not quickly think that their teenager has rejected the truth but should find out what the real problem is. It could be peer pressure or loneliness. Or the child may feel that other young people are doing more in Jehovah’s service than he is. The appendix also explains that these issues do not necessarily mean that your child disagrees with your beliefs. They are usually a result of some other difficulty that he is experiencing. The appendix then gives suggestions about how a parent can help a child who has doubts about the truth.
19. How can parents help their children to become “wise for salvation”?
19 As a parent, you have the important responsibility and privilege to bring up your children in “the discipline and admonition of Jehovah.” (Ephesians 6:4) As we have learned, this means that you must teach your children what the Bible says and help them to be convinced about what they learn. When their faith is strong, they will be moved to dedicate themselves to Jehovah and give him their best. May Jehovah’s Word, his spirit, and your efforts help your children to become “wise for salvation.”
The study guides for the book “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” are excellent tools that help both young ones and adults to understand and explain Bible truths. You can find them on jw.org in many languages. Look under BIBLE TEACHINGS > BIBLE STUDY TOOLS.