Biblical Logic of Infant Baptism
by Pastor Tom Anderson
It's Biblical, traditional and downright adorable! God invites the children of believers to be baptized. This is made plain in the logic of the Bible. Let’s review the chain of reason running through scripture.
The covenant of salvation is by grace through faith. “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8) The outward ceremony of baptism does not save us yet even so it is God’s given sign of an inward and spiritual grace.
Abraham was saved by grace through faith. Paul points out that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law but by faith, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) Abraham did not know Jesus by name. All he had was the unspecified promise of God that through Abraham’s offspring “all the families of the earth would be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) Abraham believed this promise without knowing specifically how God would fulfill it in Jesus. Paul makes it clear, “In Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations…” (Galatians 3:14)
As the sign of the covenant of faith, God asked Abraham to be circumcised. “You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.” (Genesis 15:11)
God extended the covenant to children. It was God’s idea and God’s command to Abraham and Sarah to bring their infant Issac to be marked by the sign of the covenant of faith. So it is that in the Jewish faith, children have always been included in the covenant of salvation. Jesus himself was circumcised. (Luke 2:21)
Water baptism has replaced circumcision as a sign of the covenant of salvation by grace through faith. “In Christ also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, but putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God…” (Colossians 11-12). Just as God commanded circumcision in the Old Covenant so now Jesus Christ commands baptism in the New Covenant, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…” (Matthew 28:19)
The first believers were Jews and it was unthinkable to them that children of believers would not be included in the New Covenant. How could the New Covenant be narrower than the Old Covenant? How could it be that God would switch from including children to excluding them from the covenant? So Peter proclaimed to the crowds in the first Christian sermon on the day of Pentecost, “The promise is for you and for your children…” (Acts 2:39)
Even unborn children are capable of responding to the presence of Christ. John the Baptist leaped in the womb for joy when the pregnant Mary came into the room. (Luke 1:44)
Salvation requires that baptized children--when they reach the age of reason--must openly profess a personal faith in Jesus Christ. “For with the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:10) In the end, Christians do not trust in the outward ceremony of baptism but in Jesus Christ himself.
To this day there is a divide among churches over whether or not children should be baptized. This probably bothers us more than it does God. It shouldn’t prevent us from warm Christian fellowship between churches. Yet each church must make a decision. Based on the Biblical logic, Methodists speak God’s invitation to include the children of believers into the covenant of salvation. It is Biblical, traditional and downright adorable!