Light on the Rock Blogs
Infant and child baptism
As people from various backgrounds and religious former-affiliations come into contact with Light on the Rock, we receive a variety of comments and questions. Another recent inquiry is whether infants or children can be or should be baptized.
True Biblical baptism of course means “to be immersed” or “immersion” – to be put under the water, not just sprinkled with water as is common on the Catholic and some other denominations. The original Greek word is “baptizo” meaning to completely “immerse, submerge, baptize” (Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament).
In a Biblical baptism your entire body goes under water and then back up again, to picture our burial spiritually into Christ and our resurrection spiritually in Christ as well (Romans 6:3-6). Being sprinkled with water is not baptism. It’s not the same at all as being buried – in figurative death as we are totally immersed into and under the water.
So any of you reading this who believe you are baptized because as an infant you were sprinkled with water by a priest must understand: in fact, you were never immersed. You were never baptized even a first time. But you should be baptized upon your repentance and confession of sins and accepting Jesus as your master, king and savior. This time, your baptism should be by complete immersion under water. For those of you baptized as infants, being baptized now will be your first true baptism. Remember – if you read Acts 19:1-9 – you’ll see that some who had been baptized by John the Baptist were re-baptized by Apostle Paul because they did not understand the Holy Spirit. And yet John baptized by immersion and taught repentance and was a true minister and prophet of God.
Baptism points to us dying with Christ and being resurrected to newness of life in Christ. It all points to Jesus/Yeshua’s death and resurrection. On your own, please study Romans 6:3-14. Here’s the first part.
Romans 6:3-4 --"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”.
We know of John the Baptist – the baptizer. Notice where he baptized and why.
John 3:23 -- “Now John also was baptizing [immersing] in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized (immersed).”
John the baptizer baptized in the Jordan “for there was much water there.” If sprinkling water was all that was required, he would not have needed to find a place where there “was much water”.
John 1:9 says Yeshua/Jesus came to be baptized (immersed) by John “in the Jordan”. So Yeshua was baptized in a river. He was not sprinkled with water.
When the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized, it says Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he was baptized. Then they came back up out of the water (Acts 8:35-39). Please be sure to read that in your Bible.
So sprinkling water on anyone of any age and calling it “baptism” is simply unscriptural. One’s whole body has to be immersed in water as it actually symbolizes our old self being buried as Romans 6:3-6 explains.
Now how about the age when a person can be baptized?
Jesus/Yeshua was baptized at age 30. That should say plenty to us. He is our example. He was not baptized as an infant or even as a teenager. He was baptized at age 30. Those of you who believe in infant or even child baptism need to decide if you think Joseph and Mary (his parents) and Jesus himself were all wrong to have Jesus wait til he was 30 years old.
Neither is there a single clear instance in the Bible that I am aware of, of infants or children ever being baptized.
But there are other significant points to consider
** Baptism follows repentance and forming a promised, committed relationship with our Almighty Father and Jesus Christ.
After Peter’s sermon on Pentecost (Shavuot – meaning ‘weeks”), people asked him what they could do. Here was his reply.
Acts 2:38 -- “Repent and let every one of you be baptized [immersed] in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
God’s Holy Spirit usually came upon the laying on of hands first by the ministry (Acts 8:17; 19:6). There was the exception of Cornelius and his household, who were given the Holy Spirit first, as a sign to Peter, that God had already “OK’d” uncircumcised Gentiles to come into the church and be baptized. See Acts 10:44-48.
How can we possibly say that an infant or even a child or teen has repented and committed himself/herself to God? We can’t. So children and infants should not be baptized. Nor should adults be baptized who have not repented or properly understood repentance yet.
But neither should you wait, once you’re an adult who has fully and deeply repented. Having repented does not mean you never sin anymore. It means you are choosing to live God’s way now and accept Yeshua as your Savior. You will still sin. If you come to me or any ministers and claim you’re ready for baptism because you don’t sin anymore, I would try to open your eyes to see that we all still stumble in sin. But don’t delay your baptism once you have repented and accepted Christ as your Master and committed yourself to obey Him fully.
I do have a sermon on “Baptisms”. It’s plural because there are various baptism – of water, of fire, of the Holy Spirit. I know you’ll learn a lot more by listening to it. It would actually be a good review for anyone, even all those already baptized, as we come up to Pentecost and review what it was that we committed to.
Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, that newly baptized person is immersed into the body of Christ and becomes a member or part of the body of Christ, the church, by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13 says by one spirit we are baptized – immersed – into one Body, meaning the very body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:13a “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”
One purpose for us being baptized is to find and prepare a bride for Messiah. A baptized person is committing to happily marry Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). Paul said he betrothed us to Christ, as a “chaste virgin”. Can an infant repent? Can an infant make the commitment to marry the son of God?
Just as you would not put an engagement ring on an infant or child, neither should we ever baptize a child or infant. It makes no sense. Committing to marriage – especially to the Son of God – takes far more maturity and understanding.
So – no, an infant or child should not be baptized or immersed in the name of Jesus Christ.
If a teenager (let’s say 16-17-18 yrs old) wishes to be baptized, there should be thorough counseling on the subject first. This should include a complete discussion of repentance, of accepting Christ and what it means to be totally committed to Christ and God’s Way. I’d personally still advise them to wait until at least 18 or 19 years of age or even later. SO many who were baptized at 16-18 years of age quit later on.
I was present for the baptism of an approximately 16-year old girl who insisted on it. I refused to baptize her before this point. But then a new pastor came in and baptized her. But now 25 or so years later, she lives in sin, uses profanity freely, openly condemns the minister who baptized her, and she does not display any of the fruit of God’s spirit. Ditto for countless other children and teens who were “baptized”. SO many have discarded all that water baptism was supposed to mean.
So if you’re a teenager and want me to baptize you, I will likely tell you to wait a few more years. I just haven’t seen good fruit from most teens who were baptized.
And again, let me remind you: Jesus was 30 when he was baptized. HE is our model. You’re not “more ready” than he was, if you’re still a teenager. He waited til he was 30. Infants and children should NOT be baptized. If you were “baptized” (sprinkled) as an infant, you should seek proper baptism now.
I recommend again you listen to my sermon on “baptisms”.
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Many thanks for sharing this amazing topic.I shared it with 3 friends from Catholic Church and they were amazed.
It’s something many believers have never understood, that one is baptized when has turned away from sins, given his life to Christ and has accepted Him to be the Lord in His Life. Meaning a person is spiritually mature to identify what’s wrong and what’s right. This is the best moment one can repent, get baptized and commit to obey God’s commandments.Again the baptism will have to be biblical (by immersion). Thank you Philip for this.