Should Babies Be Baptized?
By Lance Mosher
Perhaps you are an expecting parent or a new parent, and someone has suggested that your new child should be baptized. Is that right? Should babies be baptized? To properly and biblically answer this question, we must first properly, biblically, and briefly answer two other questions: “What is baptism for?” and “Are babies born with sin?”
What is baptism for? If one reads the New Testament with an open heart and open mind, ready to accept what the Bible has to say, he or she would see that the Bible says baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and is a part of God’s salvation process (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).
Are babies born with sin? Again, reading the Bible will guide us to a truthful answer, and that answer is no. Since it is God who gives the soul to babies, and not parents, babies are innocent (Eccl. 12:7), and they do not bear the iniquity of their parents’ sin (Ezek. 18:20).
BABIES SHOULD NOT BE BAPTIZED FOR TWO REASONS
First, since baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, and babies are innocent (without sin), baptizing a baby has no spiritual significance. There will be a time in that person’s life when he or she will be old enough to choose from either good or evil (Isa. 7:15-16). The moment that he or she willfully and knowingly chooses evil is the moment he or she sins. That moment is the moment that he or she is separated from God (Isa. 59:1-2) and deserves spiritual death (Rom. 6:23). There will be a time in every person’s life when he or she will choose to sin (Rom. 3:23). A sinful life necessitates baptism, not an innocent one. Sin is something committed, not inherited (1 Jn. 3:4). To learn more about the significance of water baptism, click here.
Second, we must rephrase and broaden our question. “Who should be baptized?” The Scriptures teach that those who have need of forgiveness, those who have believed, those who have repented of their sins, and those who choose for themselves are to be baptized. When the Jews on Pentecost were pierced to the heart after learning that they had the Messiah killed, they asked, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). “Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38). They were to, first, repent of their sins, and second, be baptized. Babies have no sins of which to repent and do not have the mental capacity to understand sin or repentance. Jesus promises, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). This is comparable to one plus one equals two. If you take away either of the ones, you no longer have the sum of two. If you take away either belief or baptism, you do not equal salvation. An infant does not have the mental capacity to believe. Therefore, when someone “baptizes” a baby, one of the primary ingredients of salvation (belief) is missing. A baby does not need salvation, because he or she is not in a lost state. Click here for more details.
No one can find an example or command in the Bible even mentioning infant/baby baptism. The church of the New Testament knew that only those who need salvation (people who have willfully, knowingly sinned against God), those who believe, and those who repent of their commited sins were to be baptized. In every biblical record of baptism, there is the choice of the individual to be baptized (those of Jerusalem, Matthew 3; Jesus, Matthew 3; the Jews on Pentecost, Acts 2; the Samaritans, Acts 8; the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8; Saul of Tarsus, Acts 9 and 22; Cornelius, Acts 10; Lydia, Acts 16; the Philippian jailer, Acts 16; the Corinthians, Acts 18; and the Ephesians, Acts 19). Babies cannot choose for themselves to be baptized; therefore, they cannot follow the example or commandment of baptism in the Bible. In fact, the teaching of infant baptism, or “christening,” began centuries after the New Testament was written. The authority to practice infant/baby baptism cannot be found in the Bible.
Were you “baptized” as a baby? I know many people who were baptized as babies because their parents were convinced that they were in danger of hell if they were not baptized. If you were baptized as a baby, do you understand that since you were not lost, that baptism did nothing for you spiritually? You were simply getting wet. Now that you are old enough to make your own decisions, have you been biblically baptized? Have you been baptized for the right reason with the proper method? There is only one baptism that God accepts (Eph. 4:5), and that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). When we explore Scripture, we quickly learn that immersion in water is the only proper method of baptism (Mt. 3:16; Acts 8:38-39; Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12). What if you were “baptized” for the wrong reason, improperly, or only as a baby? The Scriptures teach that you must be baptized for the right reason, in the proper way, and as a mature person! In Acts 19, Paul is talking to a group of people who were baptized with a different baptism than the one authorized by God. Paul mentions that their baptism was not the baptism authorized by Jesus Christ. What did they do in response to this? “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:3-5). God shows no partiality to people (Acts 10:34-35; Rom. 2:11). What He requires of one person to be saved, He requires of all. What He required then, He requires now. If you have not obeyed the commandment of the one baptism to receive forgiveness, you must answer God one question: “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16)!
Except where noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation