A reader recently told me that their child had not been baptized as a baby, and they now wondered if their child was saved. The Bible clearly teaches that baptism is essential to salvation and forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21) and is needed in order to become a disciple of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; Galatians 3:26-27). The question is whether infants should be baptized. Let’s look at what the Bible says about baptism.
Biblical baptism is being submerged in water rather than having it poured or sprinkled on someone. The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and the Greek word transliterated “baptize” literally means to immerse. The immersion (baptism) one reads of in the New Testament requires certain prerequisites. First, one must confess whole-hearted faith in Christ before being baptized (Acts 8:35-38; Mark 16:16; cf. Romans 10:9-10). An infant is cognitively incapable of believing in anything and certainly cannot confess that faith. One must also choose to repent of their sins before being baptized (Acts 2:38). Repentance requires having godly sorrow over one’s sins (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). An infant does not have the cognitive capability to have godly sorrow over sin and thus make the decision to repent or turn away from said sin.
In fact, the Bible teaches that infants have no sin in their lives in the first place. Many believe that babies inherit the guilt of their parents’ sins. This led to the establishment of the practice of infant baptism. However, the Bible very specifically states that people are not held accountable for the sins of their ancestors (Ezekiel 18:1-20). In fact, Paul described a time in his life when he was spiritually alive before becoming a sinner (Romans 7:7-11). He also described Jacob and Esau as having not yet done either good or evil while in the womb (Romans 9:10-11). Thus, children are born free from the guilt of sin and remain so until they reach an accountable age as taught in the Bible (Isaiah 7:15).
No one enters the new covenant (testament) with the Lord without first knowing him (Hebrews 8:6-13). In the old covenant (testament), this happened to Israelites by virtue of being born into a Jewish family. The males entered the covenant by way of circumcision when they were eight days old (Genesis 17:9-14). As they grew older they had to be taught to know the Lord. Under the new testament, you are first taught the gospel about the Lord (Romans 10:17; Mark 16:15). Only after having obeyed the gospel through faithful, penitent baptism do you enter into that covenant relationship with God with a “circumcision without hands” (Colossians 2:11-12). Where infant baptism is practiced, this distinctive feature of the new covenant is no longer present. Infants who have been baptized and supposedly entered a covenant relationship with the Lord at that point would still need to be introduced to know the Lord as they grew older. However, what the writer of Hebrews said about the new covenant is true only when baptism (the means by which we enter a covenant relationship with the Lord today) is administered to penitent believers.
Therefore, God’s Word teaches that there is no need for one’s newborn child to be baptized. Doing so would only accomplish getting them wet and going against what the Bible teaches myself. Eventually, children will grow enough so that they will become accountable, and then it will be inevitable that they will sin (Rom. 3:23). That is when they will need the salvation and forgiveness of sins that only the penitent baptism of a whole-hearted believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ can provide.
What about you? Were you baptized as an infant? If so, I encourage you to consider that you need to be baptized again, baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, baptized into his body which is his church (1 Corinthians 12:13; cf. Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4; Galatians 3:26-27) so that your sins will be washed away (Acts 22:16). Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to study more with you about this. Jesus is extending to you his invitation right now. Accept it by obeying his commands. Only then will he truly be your Lord and Savior (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21-27; Hebrews 5:9).