Sunday, October 27, 2013

Infant baptism, death, and salvation - some thoughts from a Reformed view

  1. RC questioner,
    I am asking you nicely. Please give me your opinion about what happens to all the validly baptized infants that don’t live to be old enough to express a personal faith in Jesus Christ?
    Me: Here is my belief:
    WCF 10:3. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
    Acts 9:38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.
    The Reformed confession, the Canons of Dort, Chapter 1, Article 17 (“The Salvation of the Infants of Believers”), affirms:
    Since we must make judgments about God’s will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.
    Acts 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.
    Note that baptism isn’t required of infants in order for them to be saved. Indeed those children of Christians, as well as unborn who die before birth, are considered covenant children. And therefore we can presume with confidence (as Peter says that the promise is also to the children) that by God’s grace, mercy, and faithfulness they are marked for salvation. Now you may object and say, “what about faith alone?” When someone reaches the age of reason where they can reject or believe the gospel then faith is necessary for salvation, as clearly taught in Scripture and affirmed in our confessional standards. If a baptized child when older rejects Christ, then the only path to salvation is repentance and faith alone in the merits of Christ Jesus.
    What about infants who die that are not of the covenant (i.e. of non-believers)? See above – WCF 10:3. In other words, as God so chooses an individual for election unto salvation, even one outside the covenant who dies in infancy, then they “are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth.” God’s sovereign grace and election are always the determining factors in salvation. As Paul wrote:
    For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.
  2. WCF 28 Of Baptism
    5. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.
    For proof of this all we need to consider is our dear Lord Jesus as he hung innocently on that cruel cross for our damnable sins and the words he spoke to that guilty thief on the cross next to him:
    One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
    Amazing grace indeed…

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