On July 29, 2012, I had the privilege of baptizing my infant daughter, Evelyn Christine. I have not always believed in infant baptism, but I only came to understand why we baptize infants about six years ago. Ever since then, I have been looking forward to the day when I would baptize my own child, and here are a few of the reasons why.
I baptized my infant daughter because of God’s commandment.
In Genesis 17, God commanded Abraham to circumcise every male born into his family throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant: “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you….You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.” (Gen. 17:7, 11). Circumcision was to serve as the sign of the covenant that God forged with his people.
In the New Testament, Paul explains that Gentiles have been grafted into this covenant that God made with Abraham through Christ: “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). If my wife and I are in Christ, then we are Abraham’s offspring! And since Abraham’s covenant is for his offspring “throughout their generations,” my infant daughter is also Abraham’s offspring. She is a member of God’s covenant with his people, and as a member of the covenant, God commands that she receive the sign of his covenant.
But in the New Covenant, baptism (a sign for females as well as males; cf. Acts 16:15) now fulfills and replaces all that circumcision had promised: “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:11-12). God now commands that his covenant people receive baptism, and not circumcision, as the sign of his New Covenant: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
Therefore, I have no hesitation in saying that God commands those who are in Christ to baptize their infant children.
I baptized my infant daughter because of God’s promises.
Baptism is all of grace. The washing of baptism’s water points to the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews insists that we ought to have confidence to boldly approach the throne of God’s grace because by the blood of Jesus, our hearts have been sprinkled clean just as our bodies have been washed with pure water (baptism): “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (Heb. 10:19-22).
And baptism’s promise belongs to my children. The Apostle Peter declared, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:38-39).
If baptism’s promise belongs to my daughter, then who could withhold water for her baptism?
I baptized my infant daughter because we are praying for her salvation.
Baptism doesn’t save any more than a hammer builds a house. The hammer, by itself, has no power to construct a house; however, in the hands of a master builder, the hammer is an important part of the process of building the house.
Jesus Christ is the chief builder of the household of faith (Heb. 3:3), and only Jesus saves. But Jesus uses means (i.e., tools) to save his people, and his toolbox includes his Word, prayer, and the sacraments. Just as Jesus uses his Supper to confirm and strengthen our faith, so Jesus can use baptism to bring us to faith. Of course, not everyone who receives baptism will ever come to true, saving faith. Neither, however, does everyone who hears Jesus’ Word come to faith, and yet we still affirm that faith comes through hearing the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).
I baptized my infant daughter because my wife and I (along with many others) are praying that she will never remember a day when she didn’t love Jesus. We are praying that through baptism, the Word, and prayer, Jesus will save our daughter in the power of his Holy Spirit. We are praying that our God will be God to her (and to her offspring after her!), just as he has been God to us.
And now, Evelyn Christine, may the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, giving you his peace.