Wednesday, May 03, 2006

For whom does God intend Baptism?

One of the great tragedies of modern Christendom is the historically-recent (and erroneous) idea that infants and small children are not to receive Baptism as Christ commanded.

Some mistakenly believe that children are without sin and therefore not in need of forgiveness. Others misunderstand the nature of faith, thinking it depends upon human intellectual ability. And still others regard Baptism as a human work or only symbolic.

The essential question is: "What does God say?"
Some things are hidden. They belong to the LORD our God. But the things that have been revealed in these teachings belong to us and to our children forever. We must obey every word of these teachings (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Use the truth to make them holy. Your words are truth (John 17:17).

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy in this book: If anyone adds anything to this, God will strike him with the plagues that are written in this book. If anyone takes away any words from this book of prophecy, God will take away his portion of the tree of life and the holy city that are described in this book (Revelation 22:18, 19).
Regarding baptism, Jesus commanded:
...make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

Christ also promised: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved... (Mark 16:16).

...No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5).
Jesus opened the Kingdom of God to little children:
Some people brought infants to Jesus to have him hold them. When the disciples saw this, they told the people not to do that. But Jesus called the infants to him and said, "Don't stop the children from coming to me! Children like these are part of the kingdom of God. I can guarantee this truth: Whoever doesn't receive the kingdom of God as a little child receives it will never enter it (Luke 18:15-17).
Where does God limit the promises and blessings of baptism to only those of a certain age or intellectual ability?

Those who would deny Baptism to babies must show from Scripture that Christ denies it to them. Without this, it must be concluded that anyone who would limit Baptism in such a way are adding to the Word of God and contradicting Christ Himself.

Notes

Since the founding of the Church at Pentecost, Infant Baptism has been practiced. It is only in recent centuries that some Christians have denied to children what Christ does not deny.

As sinners, babies need His forgiveness:
Indeed, I was born guilty. I was a sinner when my mother conceived me (Psalms 51:5).

The LORD...said to himself, "I will never again curse the ground because of humans, even though from birth their hearts are set on nothing but evil...” (Genesis 8:21).

...because of our nature, we deserved God's anger just like everyone else (Ephesians 2:3).
Babies are able to have saving faith in Christ (faith is the gift of God; it does not depend on man's intellect):
These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be drowned in the sea with a large stone hung around his neck (Matthew 18:6).

Indeed, you are the one who brought me out of the womb, the one who made me feel safe at my mother's breasts. I was placed in your care from birth. From my mother's womb you have been my God (Psalms 22:9, 10).

Soon afterward, Mary hurried to a city in the mountain region of Judah. She entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard the greeting, she felt the baby kick.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She said in a loud voice, "You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child that you will have. I feel blessed that the mother of my Lord is visiting me. As soon as I heard your greeting, I felt the baby jump for joy (Luke 1:39-44).

As far as the Lord is concerned, he [John the baptizer] will be a great man. He will never drink wine or any other liquor. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born (Luke 1:15).
Through Baptism God forgives our sins:
Peter answered them, "All of you must turn to God and change the way you think and act, and each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins will be forgiven. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. This promise belongs to you and to your children and to everyone who is far away. It belongs to everyone who worships the Lord our God" (Acts 2:38, 39).

“What are you waiting for now? Get up! Be baptized, and have your sins washed away as you call on his name” (Acts 22:16).
Through Baptism God rescues us from death and the devil:
Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? When we were baptized into his death, we were placed into the tomb with him. As Christ was brought back from death to life by the glorious power of the Father, so we, too, should live a new kind of life. If we've become united with him in a death like his, certainly we will also be united with him when we come back to life as he did (Romans 6:3-5).

...all of you who were baptized in Christ's name have clothed yourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:27).
Through Baptism God gives us eternal salvation:
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved... (Mark 16:16).

Baptism, which is like that water [of Noah's flood], now saves you...It saves you through Jesus Christ, who came back from death to life (1 Peter 3:21).

...[God] saved us through the washing in which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth and renewal. God poured a generous amount of the Spirit on us through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:5-6).
Through Baptism God unites us with Christ and cleanses us:
...Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. He did this to make the church holy by cleansing it, washing it using water along with spoken words (Ephesians 5:25, 26).

By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether we are Jewish or Greek, slave or free, God gave all of us one Spirit to drink (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Baptism is not Man's work, but the work of God, the Gospel of Christ Himself applied to sinners along with water.