A German pastor of the Evangelical Church wrote a treatise in 2003 entitled “Biblical Baptism – Infant Baptism or Baptism of Conversion” and introduced it with the musing words: “Baptism is a hotly disputed topic in the churches of our day. More and more of those who seriously accept the Bible as the Word of God turn away from infant baptism to the so-called ‘baptism of faith.’ This movement today goes far into the parish churches and communities. There is a lot of uncertainty and sometimes even disputing about this issue.” Indeed, church history reports that the struggle for the “proper” baptism was not only waged by words or claims of the Bible, but by the brutality of the sword. Unfortunately, well-known reformers also stood by the side of those who argued with all severity for the enforcement of infant baptism. Abominably, thousands were killed for the sake of their testimonies. But infinitely greater is the deception by which many millions, without being born again and having peace with God, went from time into eternity, relying on the righteousness of their infant baptism.
Historians document that infants were already being baptized in the second century. In later centuries, the unbiblical idea that man can become a Christian through baptism arose in the Catholic Church. But the words of Jesus hold true: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). It is noteworthy that even this one verse, taken seriously and consequently applied, debunks most of the theories in favor of infant baptism.
One does not enter the kingdom of God, which Christ has established, through natural birth or a ceremony. Admittedly, this was precisely the case with the Jews: a Jewish infant had to be circumcised under the law to fulfill the divine command. Such a ritual is not known in the New Testament gospel. The comparison of the apostle with the circumcision (Colossians 2:9-15) describes the process of personal rebirth of people who have been placed into the kingdom of God.
As argument for infant baptism, it is stated that Jesus loved the children (Matthew 19:13-14). But this event is not about the baptism of young children, but simply about the love toward children and the intercession of mothers for their children. Further, 1 Corinthians 7:14 is cited, stating that the faith of the family council is sufficient to claim baptism for the whole family, including infants. Thereby, the accounts of Lydia (Acts 16:14-15) and the prison warden (16:31-33) are also mentioned. It is argued that only Lydia believed – and then all the people belonging to the household, including the toddlers living in the home, were baptized. The word of God does not speak of this. Rather, in the case of the jailer, it is clear that people were being baptized who knew exactly why they were being baptized. Verse 34 speaks of his whole home rejoicing that they had come to believe in God. Babies are happy about fresh diapers or a meal – but have no understanding of the saving grace of God.
Biblical baptism is not a sacrament that grants us grace in God. The Reformers directed us to the core biblical statement: Sola Fide – wholly by faith (Romans 3:28). No work, not even baptism, can bring salvation to man. Therefore, it is also reasonable that reformers doubted infant baptism in its early stages.
In Mark 16:16, Jesus speaks of the order: “(1) He who believes and (2) is baptized will be saved” Then he continues: “But he who does not believe will be condemned.” Central and deciding for salvation is faith alone. In effect, this is not possible for a baby. Faith and the consequent baptism are completely conscious choices (Galatians 3:26-27). The one being baptized attests to the work of salvation he personally experienced according to Romans 6:5. An infant has not experienced this and cannot testify. Baptism is a personal, public confession to Jesus (Romans 6:3-4). A baptized baby does not confess anything when it is sprinkled with water.
Who really belongs to the Church of God, the body of Christ, the redeemed? All who are born again and circumcised in their hearts (Colossians 2:11). Infant baptism adds people (children) to the church without personal faith. They remain part of the church, even if they live in sin and are unbelieving through and through.
Even the alternative communions and confirmations performed by the great churches are unbiblical and cannot remedy the shortcomings of infant baptism. Every person must personally and consciously experience a rebirth according to John 3, so that he becomes a member of the body of Christ. The children in the great churches go through a ritual and confess what is told to them without personally experiencing God.
The Bible does not teach infant baptism, rather a conscious baptism of born-again people who publicly testify to what they have experienced with Christ. And this public confession stands in the will of God and under His blessing.
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