More on water baptism and whether it is for children/infants

This is part of a discussion with someone who believes infant water baptism is some how is not a work and is efficacious for salvation and bringing them into the church. I asked, “since baptism is a physical action you do, how do you figure that baptism is not a work?” The other person’s words are in quotes.

 

“The early church and reformation churches have never seen baptism as a work. It is a significant part of the salvation process. We can not earn our salvation by anything we do. The Mosaic law is the works that was specifically outlined that you cannot earn your way to heaven without a relationship with God. Many Jews in the OT did not have a relationship with God, and believed that we can earn our way to Heaven by strict adherance to the Mosaic law. Faith in God is a grace and baptism is a grace. Grace is a free gift from God. Baptism is a gift from God to wash our sins away. We are only receiving this gift. An infant cannot have faith, nor choose Christ, so how can grace be given to that infant whether it be an infant of a Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Mormon or Budhist family?”

 

God can give grace to whom He pleases. I think based on Scripture, that very young children believe innately, automatically, until they become able to tell the difference between right and wrong (when the Law came…). We must trust as a child trusts. Children are treated differently than older folks.

 

Note: Jeremiah was pure before he left the womb.

Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

 

Jesus carries the little ones in His arms.

Isa 40:11

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

 

Each person is responsible for his own sins; this verse indicates each of our souls are alive until we sin.

Ezekiel 18:20

20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

 

David (who was favored by God) said his infant child, who had died, would not return, but he would go to be with him:

2 Samuel 12:22-23 

22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

 

Children are pure in heart, until they learn to sin (see Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 7:9), and the pure in heart will see God:

Matthew 5:8

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

 

In fact, we are told to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven:

Mt 18:2-6

2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, UNLESS YOU CHANGE AND BECOME LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

 

Mt 18:10

 10″See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

 

The kingdom of heaven belongs to those like children:

Mt 19:13-15

13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.  14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

 

 

Lk 18:15-17

15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 

Welcoming children welcomes Jesus:

Mk 9:36-37

36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

 

Causing little children to sin is a horrible thing:

Lk 17:1-2

1 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.

 

Paul said the same thing as Eze 18:20

Romans 7:7-10

7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 ONCE I WAS ALIVE APART FROM LAW; BUT WHEN THE COMMANDMENT CAME, SIN SPRANG TO LIFE AND I DIED. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.

 

The Holy Spirit does not reside with sinners, and yet HE filled John from the womb.

Luke 1:15

15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.

 

Why would the baby, if it was condemned, leap for joy at hearing Jesus’ earthly mother’s voice?

Lk 1:41-44

 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

 

The children recognize God

Ps 8:2

2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

 

Mt 20:15-16

15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.  16″Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ” ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”

 

In Numbers and Deuteronomy, we see the children are not responsible for grumbling, even though they suffer because of the parents – this indicates an age of accountability. Children are treated differently than adults – even by God.

Deuteronomy 1:37-39

 37 Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either. 38 But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it. 39 And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad—they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it. 

 

Numbers 14:28-35

28 So tell them, “As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: 29 In this desert your bodies will fall—EVERY ONE OF YOU TWENTY YEARS OLD OR MORE WHO WAS COUNTED IN THE CENSUS AND WHO HAS GRUMBLED AGAINST ME. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 AS FOR YOUR CHILDREN THAT YOU SAID WOULD BE TAKEN AS PLUNDER, I WILL BRING THEM IN TO ENJOY THE LAND YOU HAVE REJECTED. 32 But you—your bodies will fall in this desert. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. 34 For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ 35 I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this desert; here they will die.”

 

In Nehemiah, only those who could hear with understanding were required to listen to the word of God – again indicating an age of accountability. It is the same with us today.

Nehemiah 8:1-3

 1 all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.  2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

 

You might think  that children need to be baptized to be in the church. But Paul wrote that children are holy, clean, because of the sanctified wife or sanctified husband:

1 Corinthians 7:14

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

 

“The bible specifically says that when we are baptized our sins are washed away and the Holy Spirit comes into us.”

 

But that understanding of the text flies in the face of what Paul wrote:

Titus 3:5

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

 

The “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” is one and the same event – baptism of the Holy Spirit, not of water. We are reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit. It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that give us spiritual life – not water baptism.

 

” It also says in scripture that if the parents believe, then their whole household may be saved.”

 

This means the promise is for adults and children and whole households who believe. But no mention is made of an infant. I have 5 children living at home, none is an infant.

 

The Gentiles heard, believed, were baptized with the Holy Spirit, and then were baptized with water (as an act of obedience and an expression of faith):

 

Acts 10:43-47

 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”  44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Acts 11:13-17

13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?”

 

In fact, in this case, there was no mention of baptism at all being a requirement for salvation (and again, household does not mean infants, but people old enough to hear and believe):

Acts 16:31

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

  

” We must all choose Christ, but if you cannot choose Christ yet like an infant then a faithful parent will get that child baptized so that child will be a member of the church, washed away original sin and is now a disciple.

 

God saves, through faith in Christ – which comes once we are mature enough to make the choice. For those who are not mature enough, certainly the sanctification of the parents is sufficient. As I said, Paul wrote in Romans 7:9 that he was alive apart from the Law, but when the Law came, he died. So until he understood the Law, he was alive in spirit.

 

“Do you believe Muslim babies are saved? I don’t, but I can pray for God’s mercy on them.”

 

From what I see in Scripture, once we’ve reached the age of accountability, where one can discern right from wrong, then we have to decide. Until then, I believe Scripture says God protects infants (this might be mitigated by 1 Corinthians 7:14). I also believe, given what Scripture says and witness after witness, if people are searching for God, He will send them a messenger. 

 

“Do you perform dedications at your church instead of baptism? “

 

We perform dedications of infants and baptism of believers.

 

“If you read all of John 3, you will see what Jesus means about being born again has nothing to do with amniotic fluid and that is a stretch since it has no other passages that support your hypothesis. Here Jesus talks about being born again and then right after he finished the lesson what did he do? He went out and baptized.”

 

Actually, you are mistaken. John 4:1-2 explains that it was not actually Jesus, but His disciples, who was baptizing:

1 The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.

 

“Here we see quite clearly that even Jesus baptized people and that he did this right after explaining to Nicodemus about baptism. “

 

as I said, John 4:1-2 is talking about the baptism that was mentioned in John 3:22-25. So no, Jesus did not baptize.

 

“Yes, we were born through flesh but now we are born of water and spirit and in baptism you get both and there is no separation.”

 

Water baptism is not baptism by the Holy Spirit, otherwise, why would there be cases where someone was baptized by water, but not have the Holy Spirit, and cases where one had the Holy Spirit, but not water baptism?

 

John the Baptist said in Mark 1:8,

I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 

Jesus however said in Acts 1:4-5 believers would be baptized with the Holy Spirit:

4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

 

Example of being baptized with water, and not having received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:14-17

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

 

Example of being baptized with the Holy Spirit (‘Holy Spirit poured out’), and not having received water baptism.

Acts 10:39-48

 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”  44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

 

Note, that Peter recalled God had said John baptized with water, but believers would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 11:15-18

 15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

 

Water baptism is a very different thing than baptism of the Holy Spirit.

 

Water baptism is an expression of faith, just as confessing Christ, or calling on the name of the Lord. These things show we have faith, and show obedience. It is the Christ who saves us because of the faith we have, which we show by our actions. If we do not do the action, then we must question if we have faith.

 

Christ said we need to be born of water and spirit, but He explicitly explained what that meant, and no mention of baptism was made:

John 3:3-6

3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

Note, that Christ told us what it means to be born of water, that which comes from the mother’s flesh with an infant’s birth (flesh gives birth to flesh). This is the first birth. In the same way, Christ told us what it is to be born again, Spirit give birth to spirit; that is to say to be born spiritually from the Holy Spirt.

John 3:16-18

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Christ did not mention baptism, only faith.

Paul said he was not sent to baptize, but to preach the gospel. You’d think if it was as important as evangelism, he would have been sent to baptize as well.

1 Cor 1:7

7 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

In every case, it is baptism of the Holy Spirit that was required.

Belief must exist for baptism to be useful.

Mark 16:16
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Luke 7:50
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Acts 2:21
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Acts 16:31
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”

Romans 10:9-15
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

No mention was made of water baptism being needed.
The water baptism is asymbol of the salvation that saves us, baptism by the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:3-7
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Paul said he was not sent to baptize, but to preach the gospel. You’d think if it was as important as evangelism, he would have been sent to baptize as well.

1 Cor 1:7 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Example of being baptized with the Holy Spirit (‘Holy Spirit poured out’), and not having received water baptism: Acts 10:39-48.

Example of being baptized with water, and not having received the Holy Spirit: Acts 8:14-17.

There are many examples where we are told to believe and be saved (Luke 7:50; John 3:16-18; Acts 10:39-48; Acts 16:31; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:13), that it is by grace, not a work.

1 Corinthians 6:11 speaks of the washing and renewal we have by the Holy Spirit, not water baptism (Titus 3:5).

Hebrews 10:22 speaks of having our hearts sprinkled (this is by the Holy Spirit), and our bodies cleaned (water baptism).

1 Peter 3:21-22 speaks of the water that symbolizes the baptism that saves us – that by the Holy Spirit.

21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Yes, there are instances where we are told to call on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9-15), or confess the name of Jesus (Acts 2:21), or be baptized (Acts 2:38-39; Acts 22:16). But there are too many instances where it is by faith that we are saved. All these have in common is faith. It is the faith that saves us, and the actions that give evidence to the faith being real.

Confessing Christ as sent from God is an expression of faith. Baptism is a form of confessing Christ, just as is calling on Him. The three are expressions of the faith that saves us.


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