It is my belief that infant baptism is Scriptural. Let me show you how I understand this.
First, Acts 2:38-39 tells us that baptism is for us and our children. It does not state precisely whether these children are "of the age of reason" (and thus for babies) or not. But we are told to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins, something that babies cannot do. What if we are only capable of one or the other, baptism or repentance and faith? Obviously an infant is incapable of personally committing a sin, so what happens to that child? Does that child then achieve Heaven by right? After all, the child hasn't sinned, therefore it shouldn't need to be forgiven or have a savior, right? I imagine that any good Christian reading this does not want to agree when the case is stated this way! We all need a savior.
So here are two questions:
Let us first consider whether a baby can be considered to be guilty of any sin. Romans 5:18-19 says that the transgression of Adam brings condemnation to all. Inherited sin, by its very nature, must affect a person from conception onward. It is, according to Romans 5:18, one of the main reasons Christ came - to save us from inherited sin, specifically the "original sin" of Adam. Lest there be any doubt about the reality of Original Sin in infants, consider that when Israel came to conquer the land they were told to kill men, women, and children (1 Sam 15:2-3 ). Why? As punishment! There is a great mystery here, how can the fitness for punishment be inherited?
Thus, the answer to the first question, "How can children need a savior," is that we have Original Sin. Now the second question, "How can they be saved since they cannot have faith?" Children cannot repent, nor can they have faith. What then, can save them? We must remember that salvation is a free and un merited gift of God (grace), and that faith does not begin with us but with God. He makes the first move, yet we can help him in this. We can, for example, carry the gospels to new lands, we can preach it, translate it, distribute it, etc. Baptizing, like preaching, is our way of cooperating with God's giving of this first grace. God brings salvation to us - sometimes through the ministering of others.
Now for the second question. How can a baby, born with Original Sin be saved? If the baby is too young for faith and repentance, how will it be saved? The Christian faithful for centuries have believed that the answer is baptism.
Does the Bible ever say that baptism is required for salvation? In John 3:5 the Bible specifically says that "unless you are born of water and the Spirit you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." There are some who would associate "water" in this verse with a woman's "water breaking" in natural birth. Isn't it strange, that if this was a valid figure of speech, that it occurs nowhere else? If this were proper, shouldn't it say "born of water" in the following passages: Job 14:1 , Job 15:14 , Job 25:4 , 1 Cor 11:12 ? Try reading these passages and mentally substitute "born of water." Does this sound plausible? Isn't it far more logical to assume that being "born of water" is a way of referring to baptism?
Although children do not have faith they also do not have disbelief, they do not reject the first grace that God bestows through baptism. Once they reach the "age of reason" they must believe and keep the faith, for at that point failure to do so is to reject grace. Reason can be used to reject the grace of salvation, it is not normally the means by which it is obtained. Baptism is the visible sign and instrument of that grace (a visible sign and instrument of grace is called a sacrament).
Under the Old Testament children were brought to God through circumcision. Circumcision was the sign of grace in the Old Testament, but only a sign. Women are not excluded from grace. Baptism, however, is both the sign and instrument of grace under the New Testament (Col 2:11-12 ). It is symbolically a dying in Christ and a raising in Him. Circumcision was a physical sign wrought by the hands of men; baptism is a gift of Christ and leaves no physical mark - only a spiritual one, the forgiveness of sins.
We can motivate this further. We know that Jesus wants us to bring little children to him (Mat 19:14 , Luke 18:15 - this latter verse actually says they were babies). We note that Jesus did not baptize these children, rather he blessed them. They may have been baptized previously, or they may not. However, we must remember that the Kingdom of Heaven exists for those like children. How then, are we to bring them to Jesus since he no longer walks among us? Are we to say that these verses no longer command us to do anything? Baptism of infants provides us with a means of fulfilling this command. Some people attempt to fulfill this with "baby dedication." There is no such practice recommended in the New Testament (and I believe it is only for the firstborn male in the Old Testament). Also, it is contrary to ancient Christian belief and practice.
Does the Bible ever explicitly relate an instance where infants are baptized? While it is true that Scripture gives us no explicit example of infant baptism, it gives us three examples in which whole households were baptized. The expression household would normally include children in the house - assuming there were any. These examples, which may have involved baptism of infants, are in Acts 16:15 , Acts 16:33, and Cor 16:15 .
Is there a doubt in your mind? Should you baptize your infant? Ask yourself which is worse, to mistakenly apply a baptism to your child when your child does not benefit from it, or to deny your child something that Christ commanded you to do for him or her? If you wish to baptize your little one, all that is necessary is that you find water, and repeat the words Christ told us to use with baptism, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." It would also be nice if you shared the news of the baptism with me via email.