Why I Believe in Infant Baptism Part 5: Applying it Today
As my wife and I began to put the final pieces into place about what we now believed regarding baptism, we had a few final questions. One of them was about the mode of baptism. I had always been raised with the idea that being fully immersed in water was the only acceptable way to be baptized. After all, being immersed really pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. How does that fit with sprinkling babies? If I believe and infant should be baptized, was sprinkling okay? Should I meet in the middle and pour water instead of fully immersing? Thankfully, I believe scripture does have an answer to this question, and this will be the final question I tackle in this series on infant baptism. To tip my hand at the beginning, I'll say that I believe all three methods of baptism are acceptable as each one gives us a different picture of our salvation and even pictures a different ministry of the Trinity.
The Father & Sprinkling-
When we become Christians the process of sanctification begins. Sanctification is the process of setting something aside as separate, or holy. It is the purification process to make us more like Christ. Hebrews 9:13-22 refers to several instances where the sprinkling of blood accomplishes this work. This passage speaks of Moses cleansing the people of Israel and the book of the law by sprinkling them with blood. Earlier in the passage is that through the sprinkling of Christ's blood we ourselves will be made pure before the Father. The passage ends by telling us that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The demands of a righteous God must be met. Blood must be shed to pay for sins. When someone is sprinkled with the waters of baptism this cleansing is pictured and we are reminded of how Christ's blood was shed to satisfy the debt we owed to God for our sin.
The Son & Immersion-
Another picture of our salvation is found in Romans 6:1-4. This passage tells us that we were buried with Him by baptism into death, and then raised again in newness of life. Christ's death, burial, and resurrection are all pictured in a wonderful way as we see someone immersed under water, then raised again, symbolizing that transformation from the old self into the new creation. The ministry of Christ's death and resurrection is central to the gospel, so it is very appropriate for that picture to be used when baptizing someone.
The Spirit & Pouring-
When someone becomes a Christian, they receive the Holy Spirit. Before Christ ascends into heaven he promises that the disciples will be baptized by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). How is this baptism pictured? By the Spirit being poured out. He is described as being poured out on the disciples in three separate verses in Acts 2 (Acts 2:17, 18, 33). The Apostle Paul also describes the Holy Spirit this way in Titus 3:5-7 where he says that the Spirit is poured out on us so that we might become heirs of eternal life. In this way pouring also becomes an excellent picture to show how the Spirit is poured out on the believer when they are saved.
As you can see, there is room for many different practices as far as the mode of baptism is concerned. This means we should be gracious to those we disagree with, seeing that the issue of how one is baptized is not clearly spelled out in scripture.
I hope these posts have explained why I believe in infant baptism. Some of them may have been clearer than others, and I'm sure there are many issues I didn't touch on or didn't clarify enough. Maybe you can sympathize with what I've written over the past few weeks. Perhaps you are in the middle of a transition yourself or just trying to get a clearer picture of the different sides of the issue. Wherever you are in your study of this topic, I hope you'll continue studying the scriptures. I know I have a ways to go myself.
A resource I'd recommend is Bryan Chapell's booklet titled: Why Do We Baptize Infants? It's in the Basics of the Reformed faith series and can be found online. He covers many of the topics I wrote about, but in a much more eloquent and thorough way. Jesus Loves the Little Children: Why We Baptize Children is also a great resource.
If you have questions or need clarity about something I've posted feel free to let me know either with an email or a comment. I'd love to hear from some of you. Thanks for reading!
Other Posts On "Why I Believe in Infant Baptism":
1- Opening Thoughts
2- What is Baptism Anyway?
3- Baptizing Unbelievers and OT Examples
4- Baptism from Abraham to Us
5- Applying It Today