A Sweet Savor Contact Miscellaneous Audio Messages Penmen

INFANT BAPTISM.

AN Arkansas reader of the SIGNS, who wants his name withheld, has asked our views on infant baptism. A very few words ought to suffice on this subject. The ordinances of the gospel church, including baptism, are for believers only. Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize none but believers. By belief, we do not mean that which usually passes current in the World to-day as belief, which is a matter of lip only, but we mean that belief which comes from the heart, and is the fruit of faith, the gift of God and the fruit of the Spirit. Philip told the eunuch there was no hindrance to his (the eunuch’s) baptism if he (the eunuch) believed with all his heart. Therefore, the belief required as essential to baptism must be a whole-hearted belief, a belief wholly and unreservedly in the wholeness of Jesus as being one’s all in all. Such a belief can only be engendered in the soul by the operation and experimental work of the Holy Spirit, and springs from that faith which is derived from God, God-given. Now, as to whether it is right to baptize an infant must turn on the question as to whether that infant is a believer in Christ or not, after the manner of belief as outlined above. There is nothing too hard for the Lord to do, and we see no reason why God is not just as able to reveal his grace in and to an infant of tender years as in and to a man or woman of adult years. Age has nothing to do with baptism. One might be ninety years old and unfit for baptism, because of the absence of that belief which is the work of faith; again, one might be very young and yet have experimental knowledge of grace and the salvation it brings. We think we have personally known of some very young children, in one case an infant not old enough to talk, who died, and in dying acted in such a way as to lead one to no other conclusion than that Jesus was with them and made himself known to them in their last hours. Now if such children were able to make a confession of that which they felt, and expressed a desire for baptism, we see no reason why baptism dared be refused to them. The difficulty is, however, that infants, not being able to express themselves intelligently, cannot make what would be considered a satisfactory acknowledgment of belief, and would not be likely to ask to be baptized, and there is no authority in the Bible for baptizing one against his wish or inclination, whether or no. One might be a real believer, yet until he openly confessed that belief, and expressed a desire for baptism, he could not be baptized. We believe in the cases of some of the Lord’s people their exercises of mind began in very early years, indeed so early that they cannot remember when they did begin, but until they were in a position to make confession of that experience they could not be baptized. Therefore we do not believe in the baptism of infants, not because we believe infants incapable of being wrought upon by the Holy Spirit, but because infants, if so exercised, are not capable of such intelligent expression as would be necessary to baptize them.   L.

Elder H. H. Lefferts

Signs of the Times
Volume 84, No. 10.
May 15, 1916