Written Word

Why Be Baptised? – Part 2: Baptism is not for Infants

The practice of baptising infants is not apostolic in origin though it is widely practised today. The baptising of infants made a late entry into the church and conflicts with Scripture. The following examples demonstrate that infants or unbelievers are not candidates for baptism.

  • Jesus said those who had been taught are to be baptised. (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16). Obviously that excludes infants.
  • The Apostles commanded those who believed in Jesus and had repented of their sins to be baptised. (Acts 2:38-41)
  • Philip the evangelist baptised the Ethiopian after he confesses his faith in Jesus as the Son of God. (Acts 8:34-39)
  • The Apostle Paul baptised those Corinthians who had come to believe in Jesus. (Acts 18:8)

Baptism is an Immersion in Water

The word baptism literally means to immerse, to dip, and that was the practice recorded in the Bible.

For example, when Jesus came to the Jordan river to be baptised by John, he submitted to an immersion in water. “As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water.” (Matthew 3:16) The same fact is seen when Philip baptised the Ethiopian. “As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptised?’…then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8:36-39)

Baptism and Forgiveness

In lesson one we pointed out that Jesus is the only one who can save us from our sins. He and he alone is the Saviour. Therefore whatever response we make to God’s offer of forgiveness does not detract from the fact that our forgiveness is a gift from the gracious hand of God.

3,000 people were baptised on Pentecost. In reply to their inquiry, “What shall we do?” Peter told them, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:38-41) It was not their baptism that forgave their sins; it was Jesus. But by faith in his atoning death, their sins were forgiven when they were baptised in his name. What they did by being baptised was not calling attention to what they were doing, but demonstrating their faith in what Jesus had done for them.

There were false teachers who said that one had to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses in order to be saved. (Acts 15:1) They were teaching that one could be forgiven by what one does. This teaching undermined the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. However, Paul shows that the circumcision that really counts takes place “in Christ.” This circumcision, Paul says, is performed by Jesus, not by man, and removes, not just a piece of flesh, but the whole body of sin. “In him you were also circumcised, in putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the human hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:11-12) Paul ,who refuted the false teaching of salvation by works, had no problem is linking baptism with the removal of our sins. Paul could do that because baptism is faith responding to God’s offer of pardon in Jesus Christ.