Download MP3 Audio Track . . . or listen on SoundCloud, YouTube, or Spotify

“Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).

THERE IS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT A STRONG LINK BETWEEN BELIEF AND BAPTISM. I would go so far as to say that the link is inseparable. The only people who were baptized were those who believed in Jesus Christ (Mark 16:15,16) and had repented of the sins they were seeking to be forgiven of (Acts 2:37,38). Their baptism was preceded by the “good confession” (1 Timothy 6:12,13), an oral affirmation that, yes, they were in fact believers in Christ (Romans 10:9,10). As to who was to be baptized, the New Testament is clear.

Without faith, baptism only gets a person wet. It is not a ritualistic act, effective regardless of what is going on in the recipient’s heart. Rather, its efficacy depends on “faith in the powerful working of God” (Colossians 2:12) — the active ingredient is trust in God: dependence on what He has done, and also what He will do.

“Infant baptism” is the act of “baptizing” (not really baptizing but only sprinkling) infants shortly after they are born. This having been done, it is said that the children are now “Christian” children, rather than “unbaptized” or “unchristian.” This is more common in Europe, where most countries have a state church. Birth in one of those countries means that you are a citizen of that country politically, and religiously, you are enrolled in that country’s national church. In such cases, your “baptism” is often a mere formality. A very secular Englishman once told me, “We only go to church twice in life: when we’re hatched and when we’re dispatched.” He made that remark humorously, but even so, he seemed to be glad not to be one of the “unbaptized” in the world. As we have seen, however, in the New Testament, baptism was meaningless without faith.

I hesitate to use an entire page to talk about infant baptism. But unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about baptism in people’s minds — and this is one of the most prevalent. Yet it only takes reading the New Testament to see what baptism was originally: the appeal of a believer for a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21).

“Those who were baptized [in the New Testament] were men and women who were able to make a decision to commit their lives to Jesus. This and other requirements for baptism indicate that baptism is for those old enough to know what they are doing” (Owen Olbricht).

Gary Henry — +

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This