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Why Do We Baptise Infants?


There are several Christian doctrines that often lead to division in the church. These include the doctrines of predestination, gender roles and baptism.

Some Christians say that only believing adults should be baptised and others believe that infants of believers should be baptised too. One prominent leader who holds to the latter is Bryan Chapell, Senior Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church and former Chancellor and President of Covenant Theological Seminary, the denominational seminary of the Presbyterian Church in America.

In a very short book called ‘Why do we baptise infants?’ from the Basics of the Faith series, he includes the introduction that he uses before baptising a child in a service. It’s a very short introduction to why I, and the vast majority of Christians since the beginning of the church, think infants of believers should be baptised.


“Will baptism save this child? No, salvation comes through trusting in Jesus Christ as one’s Saviour and Lord. Then why do we baptise this child? Not for sentiment, though he/she is sweet. Not for tradition, though it is dear. We baptise this child because we believe the Bible commands us to do so.

Throughout biblical history, God promised to bless through a covenant relationship with his people. He said to Abraham, “I will be a God to you and to your children after you.” Abraham believed God’s covenant promise and devoted all that he had to the Lord, including the members of his household. In obedience to God, Abraham showed his devotion through practicing the rite of circumcision in his household. This rite demonstrated that God’s covenant would pass to future generations, but would necessitate the shedding of blood for sin.

The shed blood did not create the covenant, but rather acted as a seal, a pledge given by God, that he would honour his promise to all who, like Abraham, put their faith in him.

In the New Testament, the apostle Peter, preaching on the day of Pentecost, assured that all the covenant promises of God would continue for the children of believers. He said in Acts 2:38-39, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins… The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

The promise to bless through faith in God’s grace continued, but the apostle Paul told the Colossian believers that the sign of this covenant had changed. No longer foreshadowing the shedding of Christ’s blood, the New Testament sacrament of baptism is a sign of what Christ’s blood accomplishes: the washing away of sin, and thus our union with him.

This water does not itself wash away sin, but rather, according to the apostle Paul, this sacrament acts as a seal – a visible pledge of God given to the church – whereby heaven assures us that when such children as this one expresses faith in Christ, all the promises of his covenant grace will apply to them.

The Bible gives us good reason to express our covenant privileges through such a baptism. In the New Testament accounts of baptism, every person identified as having a household present at his or her conversion also had the whole household baptised.

Yes, it is sweet to savour God’s goodness to families, but sentiment is not what leads a church or parents to this holy ordinance. We baptise children in obedience to biblical teaching, in keeping with the precedent of centuries of faithful families, and in expectation of God’s presence and blessing. God now uses this sacrament to pledge to us his faithfulness as we, in faith, devote this child of the covenant to him.”


Buy Bryan Chapell’s book here.

Other recommended resources:

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