Summary: Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." I cannot imagine any child who loves Jesus, and who desires to be baptized in obedience to Him, being to young.
Baptism and the Lord's Supper are two of the simplest things we do as Christians. But the fact
is, these two simple acts of obedience to Christ have created a great deal of controversy in the
Christian world. Every aspect of baptism is a major issue on which Christians differ.
THE TIMING OF IT: Should it be when people are infants, or when they are old enough to be
believers and able to make their own choice?
THE METHOD OF IT: Should it be by sprinkling, by pouring, or by immersion?
THE MEANING OF IT: Is it a sacrament by which grace is imparted, or is it a symbol of our
obedience to Christ?
THE NECESSITY OF IT: Is it essential for salvation, or is it just a basic step of obedience? Is it
essential for church membership, or can one be a member of the church and not be baptized?
Beside all of these issues there is the more subjective issue as to what one is suppose to feel
when they are baptized. The author of How To Live Like A King's Kid shared this testimony of his
baptism: "So I went to his little Baptist Church with him. And when the pastor invited anyone who
wanted to, to come forward and make a public confession of faith-a confession with his mouth that
he had faith in Jesus in his heart-I went forward and did it. They scheduled a baptismal service for
me right away, and I dutifully got wet all over, being immersed in the dunk tank. I didn't mind too
much. The Bible said New Testament Christians were baptized by being immersed-that's what the
word baptizo means-and if New Testament Christians did it, that was good enough for me. Besides,
I read that Jesus was baptized by John in the River Jordan, and so baptism seemed a good thing for
me if I was going to follow Him. When I came up out of the water, I was disappointed. I didn't feel
anything but wet. I thought I had done something pretty terrific, humbling myself in the little old
country Baptist Church like that. And I waited for a ball of fire to hit, but nothing happened, not
then. Ed said the feelings would come later."
He went on to say that they did come later, but he was expecting his baptism to be like that of
Jesus when the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove, and God spoke from heaven about how
pleased He was with His Son. His expectations were too high, for baptism is an act of obedience to
Christ, and its value does not depend on how it makes you feel. It should make you feel good to
obey your Lord who commanded that all who follow Him be baptized. But He did not promise it
would be an experience of ecstasy. In fact, in many parts of the world being baptized is a very scary
experience, for it can mean rejection by your family and society. Many obey Christ in fear and
trembling, for the consequences of their obedience can be suffering and even death.
Trying to keep up with the changes in churches on this issue is almost impossible. Many
churches that practiced only infant baptism are now baptizing by the believer's baptism, and many
are doing so by immersion. Some even baptize infants by immersion. John Westerhoff tells of the
infant baptism in a Catholic Church. The father came down the isle with a coffin that he had made,
and the mother was carrying a pail of water. The godparents carried the baby. The coffin was
placed on the alter while the priest filled it with water. He took the child and held its nose and
pushed it under the water saying, "You are drowned in the name of God the Father, the God the Son,
and God the Holy Spirit." The congregation then stood and sang joyful Easter songs. The priest
said over the head of the child, "You are now resurrected so you might love and serve the Lord."
So now you have even babies being immersed with the same symbolism that Baptists have
stressed for centuries. Many Catholic churches now recognize that for centuries Catholics baptized
in large baptismal pools, and now they are going back to that original method. Christians
everywhere that recognizing that baptism is symbolic of the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul in
Rom. 6 makes it clear that we are buried with Christ in baptism, and that we are also symbolically
raised from the dead with Christ. The only adequate way to convey this is by immersion. You
cannot be buried in a cup or a baptismal fount. You need a large enough body of water to immerse