We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus. This is true. This is Scriptural. But this is also one of the reasons many insist that infant baptism should not be practiced.
We’re told that infants should not be baptized because they cannot have faith. After all, they’re too young. They can’t understand the message of the gospel.
This thinking may sound reasonable. However, Scripture tells us something very different. It tells us, in fact, that young children and infants can have faith.
We can see this, for example, in Psalm 22. Starting in verse 9, David writes: “Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God.”
David states, in this passage, that he trusted in God when he was at his mother’s breast. He says that God gave him this faith. So, from the time he was a nursing baby, he had faith in the Lord.
However, he doesn’t stop there. He says that, from his mother’s womb, the Lord had been his God. This implies an even earlier faith. It implies that he had faith even before he was born.
And this isn’t the only passage that reveals to us the reality of faith in young children and babies. In Matthew 18, starting in verse 2, we read: “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.””
We note in this passage that, using a child to make his point, Jesus refers to “these little ones who believe in me.” So, in this way, he tells us clearly that these little ones can have faith. And if this is true, if it’s possible for children and infants to possess faith, then why would we deny them the gift of baptism?
We may struggle to understand how this is possible. However, we must realize that faith is not based on our ability to reason. If this were the case, those who lose their ability to reason based on Alzheimer’s, or those who lose their ability to reason because they are comatose, would be unable to possess faith. We wouldn’t even be capable of faith when we’re sleeping.
According to Scripture, faith is God-given. We can only come to Jesus because the Father draws us (John 6:44). We can only understand the things of God by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). We can only confess that Jesus is Lord by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). So, if God can draw to faith those of us who are lost in sin, who don’t seek him, and who don’t understand him, then he can certainly draw to faith an infant or a young child.
Just as we’re drawn to faith by the Word and Spirit of God, so too are they. As they hear the Word of God being proclaimed, and as they receive the promise of God in baptism, God is able to create faith in their heart. And, in this way, he’s able to grant to them his salvation.