INFANT / CHILD BAPTISM
All Bible quotes are from the American Standard Version, unless otherwise noted


Introduction

Many denominations do not believe in Infant baptism, (Baptists, Pentecostals, Missionary Alliance, Plymouth Brethren, Wesleyans, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.), and many other denominations do believe in infant baptism (Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Methodists, etc ). Reasons for belief in infant baptism include:

1. Infant baptism is seen as the New Covenant replacement of the Old Covenant circumcision commandment (compare Genesis 17:10-12 with Matthew 28:19). Since infants under the Old Covenant were subject to circumcision, they reason that infants are also subject to baptism under the New Covenant.
2. Many believe that an unbaptized baby has no salvation if it suffers death.
and...
3. That it falls in line with Christ's command to baptize all people Matthew 28:19.

Although there are plenty of Scriptures that speak of baptisms and baptizing, it is interesting to note that there are no Scriptures that explicitly state whether or not to baptize infants. This is why there is a difference in belief as to the validity of such a ritual.

Since there is a disagreement among the Christian denominations as to whether an infant's baptism is essential, this can cause a lot of anguish for a family whose child has passed away before being baptized. We are going to let the Bible speak on this issue – regardless of denominational thinking – and put this matter to rest.

The Reality of Children Who are Unbaptized

At 1 Corinthians 7:14 the Bible states:

“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”

Quite plainly, this verse is stating that children are made holy and clean through a believing parent's faith. Period.

According to Scripture, being "clean" and "holy" in the sight of God is the same as being saved (1 John 1:9, Romans 6:22-23) because we are made clean through faith in the blood of Christ (Revelation 1:5, 7:14, Acts 2:21, 15:11, 16:31, Acts 20:28, Romans 3:25, 5:9-10 10:9,13, Ephesians 1:7, 2:8, Hebrews 9:12, 10:19, 13:12, 1 Peter 1:18-19, 1 John 1:7, Revelation 1:5). It is grace through faith in the blood of Christ that saves a believer (Acts 15:11, Romans 3:24, 5:21, 6:14, Ephesians 1:7, 2:5, 8, Titus 2:11).

Therefore, since a child is clean in the sight of God due to the believing parent's faith in the blood of Christ, this means the child is saved through that parent. This Scripture also makes it clear that one believing parent is enough for this salvation – it doesn't need to be both parents (as in cases of a spiritually mixed marriage). Therefore, if just one of the parents is a believer, that will be enough for God to grant salvation on the child.

This is true even in the case of parents who are non-baptized believers. Now, some disagree with this concept. They take the passage at Mark 16:16, in which Jesus says:

“ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.”

and believe this means one is saved through faith and baptism. However, there are two flaws with this reasoning:

  1. First of all, Jesus does not say that an non-baptized believer is damned, instead he specifies that it is only non-believers who are damned, which is supported in Scriptures such as Revelation 1:5 and Romans 3:25. Realize that when a person becomes a believer, it is naturally assumed that one will undergo baptism, as baptism into Christ is how one becomes eligible to receive the gift of Holy Spirit (Luke 3:21-22, Acts 1:5, 2:38, 8:15-17, 10:47, 19:5-6, 22:16-18, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Acts 19:2-6). This is why believing and baptism are mentioned together in Mark's passage.

  2. Secondly, there is not one single Scripture stating that an non-baptized believer will be damned. In every Scripture mentioning a person heading for damnation, it is always in reference to those who fail to believe in the blood of Christ.

So, summing it all up, a child is not damned if he or she isn't baptized, since, as 1 Corinthians 7:14 says, the believing parent's faith covers the child for salvation.

Children of Non-Believers

Of course, this opens up a whole other can of worms: What of children who are in a situation in which neither parent is a believer? Is that child damned?

First of all, remember that Scripture tells us our Father is merciful (Luke 6:36). We are also told that He prefers mercy over sacrifice (Matthew 9:13), that He prefers to destroy no one if possible (2 Peter 3:9), and that He shows mercy towards those who are non-believers due to ignorance (1 Timothy 1:13).

Secondly, it is important to realize that all people – whether children or adults – aren't judged until judgment day. In fact, all the dead are currently awaiting judgment day, just as we the living are (Romans 14:10, 2Corinthians 5:10, 2 Peter 3:7, Revelation 20:12-13). Therefore, even deceased children of non-believers have not been judged yet. And, as Revelation 20:12-13 points out, when Judgment Day arrives, the judgments bestowed are according to the person's deeds. It is probable that this will be especially true in cases of those who died before having the opportunity to know Christ, such as children (or even adults who weren't given an opportunity). Therefore, it is likely that a non-believer's child will be shown mercy on judgment day.

In cases where a child had no time to have "deeds" to be judged by (a newborn baby for example), it also helps to know that God sees a person's heart (1 Samuel 16:7, Acts 15:8-9). Being omnipotent, He knows what a person is going to be like even before they are born (Psalms 22:10, Romans 9:11-12). Since He is merciful, He would certainly show mercy on the children who would have grown to be believers if they had the chance.

Purgatory or Limbo?

Since none of the dead have been judged yet, does this mean that the dead children are now in purgatory or limbo?

NO.

Scripture tells us that when a person dies, his or her spirit returns to God – who gave the spirit to the person in the first place (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Psalms 104:30). Thus, there is no limbo or purgatory – instead they are actually sleeping in God's tender care. This should be a great comfort for those who are grieving the loss of a precious child.

 

In Summary

So, to sum it all up, Scripture reveals that children are saved through a believing parent's faith, and that the children of non-believers will be shown mercy on Judgment Day. If you need to know more regarding general baptism, please click here for more information.

We pray that this essay has helped settle the minds of you who were concerned about your beloved children. May the peace of our Father rest upon you.

 


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