This is the final installment in my series on baptism. Thanks to all who have read these posts, I appreciate you doing so.
If you missed any of the first three articles in this series, here are the links to them,
What are the reasons that someone ends up with the eternal destination of hell? It has nothing to do with baptism that is for sure. We all know the reason for our eternal destination in heaven; we believe in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross of Calvary. Why do we need to believe in Jesus and what He has done? We are all guilty of sin, (Romans 3:23) and we need a Savior because we can’t save ourselves! Set aside the issue of baptism for a moment and look this related issue.
We all sin as established in (Romans 3:23), but in order for there to be sin, we have to be aware that we have sinned (Romans 7:7-8) (Romans 7:13), hence the reason for the law. A baby is not aware of that fact, nor are they even remotely capable of being aware. As a child we are aware of having done wrong, we have sinned, infants are not capable of knowing this, nor sinning. Then in order to receive forgiveness of sin, we have to confess our sin to God, 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. An infant cannot confess sin to God, because an infant has no idea what sin even is!
From this I draw the conclusion then that babies that die, go to heaven. No the bible does not say that, but the bible does not say that they don’t. If sin is the reason (and it is) that we are assessed, by God the death penalty, then we must be aware of that sin. Since an infant is unaware of it’s sinful nature, then the penalty does not apply to them, and baptism of an infant has no meaning other than as a reassurance to the parents.
The time for baptism is when one has reached an age of accountability, meaning in this case when a person knows what sin is and what the penalty for sin is without the intersession of Jesus Christ by faith. In the Jewish faith that age was generally considered to be twelve or thirteen years of age; then a person was accountable to God for their sins. When sin and the resultant penalty of death is understood, the concept of spiritual birth is understood, and the fact that this (spiritual birth) is possible through the death and resurrection of Christ, then it is time for one to be baptized. Baptism without the understanding of what it symbolizes just does not make sense; this would be akin to committing your life to Jesus Christ and having not a clue as to Who Jesus even is, it just would not make any sense!
Some will argue that because we inherit the sinful nature of Adam, when a baby is born, it is born into sin, and therefore subject to judgment, hence the need to be baptized right away. While we are born with the sinful nature, that is different then our own personal sin.
I am not here going to argue about the sin nature. I believe we are born with a sin nature; we all sin after all. Being born with a sin “nature” is not sin; it means that we will at some point commit sin.
Now lets say for the sake of argument that an infant is born with inherited sin. What would be the penalty for inherited sin? Physical death, Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death…keep in mind that this is inherited sin…this is very important here. We are all going to die a physical death unless we happen to be here at the very end when the rapture happens, that is a given. So the infant dies from whatever cause, that is only the death of the body, which we just established will happen to all of us. The Spirit on the other hand will continue to live.
Now…we have established already the case for a person needing to know what sin is in order to be guilty of it. Since an infant does not and cannot possibly know what sin is, an infant cannot possibly be guilty of any “personal sin”. Did you catch that? Personal sin, not inherited sin. We will all die a physical death because we all sin, period. Infants do not sin!
Their infant bodies will have died from whatever tragic event caused their death, but their spirit will live on; infant baptism does nothing to change this in a positive or negative way.
Since the infant did not commit personal sin, then the infant will be counted as righteous before God, and then will enter into eternity with God, not without Him. No personal sin means no judgment against the infant; no spiritual death as there are no grounds for that to happen.
I cannot see a Righteous, Holy, and Just God, which He is…commit an infant to eternity in hell. The infant cannot possibly meet the qualifications of Jesus to be saved, and again…cannot possibly know what sin is!
Baptism is for the believer in Christ, for the one who has repented of sin and knows the only way to be forgiven and saved is through a personal relationship with the risen Lord Jesus. As baptism is a representation of what happens when we commit our lives to Christ, we must first believe in Christ’s atoning work on the cross and know that we need Christ’s intercession for us. We must have a desire to live a life dedicated to Jesus Christ and serving Him as He directs. We must believe in Christ’s ability to forgive us and make us clean and new by His sacrifice on the cross for each one of us.
Baptism is the outward expression of the transaction that has inwardly occurred between God and us. We are publically saying, “I’m with you Lord, I will obey you and live for you, I believe in you Lord.” Baptism is a beautiful thing, precious in the eyes of the Lord.
I hope this series has been informative and thought provoking for you.