Who Should be Baptized?

The short answer to the question of “who should be baptized” is “believers.” The common expression in most protestant circles concerning baptism has always been “believer’s baptism.” However, like all commonly used terms, the more a term is used the more its meaning erodes. This is certainly the case with the term “believers.” Although it is hard to find a singular word to capture the truth on this matter we should say that those who should be baptized are people who have demonstrated repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and Savior.

If it is true then that those who have demonstrated repentance from sin and faith in Jesus as Christ should be baptized we could also say at least two things in this regard:

  1. Babies and small children should not be baptized.

Some Christian faiths practice infant baptism as a means to remove original sin from children. Those who practice infant baptism would hold that while a child cannot comprehend repentance and faith, baptism in infancy serves as a means to somehow assure that salvation has, and in a another sense, will take place (if this is not the case I would invite someone from that circle to share with me the proper position on this; BAPTISTS NEED NOT APPLY). If my statement is indeed the proper position on infant baptism, there is nothing in the Bible that demonstrates this is true. In Scripture, namely the book of Acts, everyone who was called on for baptism had also demonstrated repentance of sin and faith in Jesus as Savior. Some would hold that the “household” salvations in Acts, such as that of Lydia (16:15) or the Philippian Jailer (16:36), support the idea of infant baptism. To say that the household idea supports baptism is quite an inference upon the text. The primary meaning of the text does not point to this issue, nor does it imply anywhere the age of the children, that they even had children, or the idea that if there were children that they needed to be baptized in order to remove original sin.

On this issue we should seek the plain teaching of Scripture. The plain teaching of Scripture is that baptism is for those who have demonstrated repentance from sin and faith in Jesus as Savior; this is hard to dispute in any context. This being said, I would like at this point to deter what is becoming a common practice in households who do not hold to infant baptism. More and more as a pastor I am hearing language that goes something like, “It is time for (insert child’s name here) to be baptized, he is getting to that age.” PARENTS SHOULD NOT PUSH BAPTISM UPON THEIR CHILDREN. PARENTS SHOULD TEACH THE GOSPEL TO THEIR CHILDREN. If a child cannot demonstrate repentance and faith at 7, 10, 12, or 18 he or she should not be baptized. If a parent pushes baptism upon a child who is not born again he has done a dangerous thing to his child. Most often the child will point to his or her baptism AS their salvation experience and may not ever truly contemplate the demands of the gospel upon their soul. As a parent I would rather my children be saved than wet! Wouldn’t you?

  1. It is extremely odd and conflicting for a person to say they have repented of their sin and have faith in Christ but yet NOT participate in baptism.

In this post I do not wish to discuss the idea of baptism as a salvific act. Yet as a pastor of a church that does not believe baptism is necessary to save, I have noticed another anomaly that develops in such churches. The anomaly is that there is a remnant of people who claim Jesus as Savior but yet do not participate in baptism.

In reading the New Testament one will find that it is a foreign concept that someone would be saved but not baptized. The thief on the cross in Luke 23 is the only example I find that this was the case. Obviously, his was a most unusual circumstance. Unless a person comes to Christ in a state of health in which it makes it impossible for them to be baptized, those who claim Jesus as Savior should be baptized. For those who have demonstrated repentance and faith, baptism is the right thing to do. I would go so far as to say it is the natural thing to do. 1 Peter 3:21 confirms this is true. Baptism without faith does not save because it is unable to remove the filth of the flesh, but at the same time baptism in faith is salvific as an answer of a good conscience toward God. If you demonstrate repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ you should be baptized.


Billy Worley said…
Thanks for the post, Brian. My father trusted in Jesus just over 2 months ago, and called last night to tell me he'll be getting baptized next Sunday. He is 72 years old.
Brian Branam said…
That is great news Billy. I know that baptism will be an incredible event in your own life!

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