This Sacrament, or sacred act, instituted by our Lord Himself (Matthew 28:19,20) is described in the inspired Word of God as ” a washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). It is a miracle of grace. In Matthew 28 we have the commission given to the Church to “teach (make disciples of) all nations (by) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.”
We conclude that a valid Baptism is in the name of the Triune God, and is to be done with water. The essentials of baptism are the Word and the water. The mode or manner of baptism is nowhere commanded in Scripture. Therefore whether the water is applied through pouring, sprinkling, or immersion is immaterial. Interestingly in Mark 7:3,4 the word “baptize” is used in reference to the “washing” of cups, vessels, tables (couches), etc.
Since the time of the early Church infants have been baptized. Among others, Origen who died in 254 said, “The Church has received from the Apostles the tradition (command) to baptize also little children.” The decree of the Council of Carthage (418) in very sharp words declared. “Whoever denies that newly born children are to be baptized, let him be anathema.” St. Augustine said that the custom of baptizing infants “stems from the Holy Apostles”(Quotes from “The Abiding Word”, CPH, 1947, page 397). The Apostles received their instruction from the Lord Jesus. Indeed, our Lord Himself became indignant when the disciples attempted to turn away infants (Luke 18:15) from Jesus. They had been brought to Jesus that He should touch them and bless them. Whereas at that time they brought little children to receive the divine blessing through the physical touch of Jesus, our little children are “touched” and blessed by Him through this Sacrament, which He has instituted. The miracle of Baptism is a miracle of grace.
While the early church clearly practiced infant baptism, our practice of infant baptism is not based on the authority of the fathers but the teaching of Scripture. We baptize infants because
1. They are part of the nation (Matthew 28:19).
2. They have sin (Psalm 51:5, John 3:6, Romans 5:12) .
3. They are in need of forgiveness (John 3:5)
4. They can have faith (Matthew 18:6, Mark 10:15)
The context clearly shows that at Pentecost children were included when the Lord said through the Apostle, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children . . .” (Mark 2:38,39).
We have the witness of Scripture that infants are to be baptized. Thereby the Lord in His grace miraculously creates faith through the Word of Baptism. Indeed how the Spirit accomplishes this is beyond us, but so then is the fact of the creation of the world through the Word, the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the miraculous conception, and the virgin birth of Jesus. It is of God. God does not tell us to understand how or even why, but simply to believe His Word! That is enough for us. At the same time we have the witness of Scripture that adults who can be instructed as infants cannot, are instructed and then baptized (Acts 8:29-38).