It is evident from Scriptures that God’s purpose is to save not only individuals, but the whole family. Some Old Testament examples are: Noah (Gen. 6: 18) and Abraham (Gen. 17: 7).
o Family Salvation and Baptism
Household salvation is also mentioned in the New Testament. Acts 16 records the conversion of Lydia and the Philippian jailor under the apostle Paul’s ministry. In both instances, their families also came to believe in the Lord, and were baptised: Lydia – “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us” (Acts 16: 14-15); the Philippian jailor – “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway” (Acts. 16: 31-33). Another example is that of Crispus and his family: “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18: 8).
o The Parents’ Act of Faith
Offering the child for infant baptism is an act of faith on the part of the parents. Having believed in God’s promise of salvation towards their child, they now promise to bring him up in the fear and nurture of the Lord: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22: 6). They must also make every effort to guide the child in the path of righteousness through their unceasing prayers, godly influence and faithful example.
o The Child’s Christian Upbringing
Infant baptism does not confer anything mystical upon the child. However, it certainly does make a difference in the child’s life. With the privilege of Christian upbringing and the knowledge of his consecration to the Lord as an infant, the child will be more ready to respond to the Gospel. His heart will be more receptive to Biblical instructions.
We do acknowledge that infant baptism does not save a child. When the baptised infant grows to maturity, he should make his own public confession of faith. In the Bible-Presbyterian Church, this step of faith is called “Reaffirmation of Faith”. But should he die before his faith is affirmed, we believe that he will be saved on account of his parent’s faith (II Sam. 12: 23).
o The Congregation’s Faithful Example
Our Saviour has set for us an example by calling the children unto Himself: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mk. 10: 14). Likewise, we must receive these little ones because they too belong to the Lord as much as adult members. They are to be part and parcel of the life of the church – in worship, teaching and fellowship. The church and her members have the responsibility of complementing the parents in instructing them and setting before them a faithful witness.
From our review of both the Old and New Testaments, there is no doubt that the Lord is concerned for the tender souls of our children. Time and again, God’s Word commands believing parents to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord so that they will learn to obey and fear Him from an early age (Deut. 4: 9; 6: 7; 11: 19; 31: 13; Ps. 34: 1; 78: 5; Prov. 3: 1; 22: 6; Eph. 6: 4; Col. 3: 21).
Though infant baptism is not specifically commanded in Scriptures, it is clearly laid out in God’s Word that our children come under the Abrahamic covenant of grace, and should partake of the sacrament of that covenant. Our children’s baptism as infants is a clear statement to them that we belong to the family of God. It is also a testimony of our faith to trust in the Lord to save them.
As discussed, it gives the child a “head-start” to his faith through Christian influence and instruction in the home as well in the church. We believe that with such a spiritually favourable environment, the child will come to know of God’s saving grace in His own good time. May God grant us grace to do our part and prayerfully trust the Lord for the salvation of our children.