Friday, September 7, 2012

                                           WHO CAN BE BAPTIZED?
     When studying the subject of baptism, many will delve into innumerable sources available from many writers and scholars.  When coming to a conclusion on the matter it is not uncommon for one to settle on a viewpoint that seems most logical as well as one they can agree with.  Unfortunately, what they decide upon is not the written word of God.
     Most people will recognize that baptism is necessary, though they will not agree on how baptism is to be administered.  In line with that thinking it is also called into question who can be baptized.  Because of the many denominational ideas and teachings concerning baptism, sprinkling and pouring have become very popular modes of baptism, which has led to the baptizing of infants as well as adults.  When we understand that baptism is a burial as we discussed in last week's article it should become a bit clearer as to who can be baptized in accordance with God's teaching on the subject.
     Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"  (Mk. 16:16).  When the eunuch asked Philip what hindered him from being baptized Philip responded, "If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest" (Acts 8:36,37).  What the eunuch believed is that Jesus is the Son of God (vs. 37).  This and other passages relate to us that one must believe in Jesus in order to be baptized.  An infant is incapable of this.
     When Peter began to proclaim to the Jews in Jerusalem what they must do to be saved, he told them to, "repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). We are told that God desires all men to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).  To repent is to turn from one thing and go to another.  In this case it is to cease from sin and turn to God.  An infant is incapable of this.
     We are also required to confess that Jesus is Lord as well as the Son of God, and that He died for our sins (Jn. 3:16; Ro. 5:8, 10:9).  This confession must be made with the mouth (Ro. 10:10).  An infant is incapable of this.
     Infants are said to be born into sin but the Scriptures teach no such thing. It is not a sin to be born and prior to birth one cannot do good or evil (Ro. 9:11).  To be born in sin is to be born into a sinful world which is the meaning of the psalmist (51:5). Infants are born pure until such time as they grow to know and understand what sin really is.  That will come at various times in the life of each child.
     Since baptism is a burial and is essential for salvation, then one must be able to hear what the word of God says about sin, believe that word, repent of the wrongs one has committed in life, and confess a need for the saving blood of Christ which is contacted in the watery grave of baptism (Mt. 26:28; Acts 2:38; Col. 2:11,12; Ro. 6:3,4).  All of this is the result of faith which is produced in the heart of the hearer as the gospel is proclaimed (Ro. 1:16,17).  An infant cannot have this faith for it lacks the ability to comprehend these basic truths.  Since Scripture cannot contradict itself, passages that deal with whole households being saved can only mean those of a household who qualify for baptism through obedience to the gospel.
     God's truth is pure and is most precious.  May we diligently strive to uphold this truth in our lives as we share it with others.  Rodger

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