I have been wondering about baptism. I have learned that in Jesus' time the apostles used to baptize people in water after they had repented in the name of Jesus. Why do Catholics baptize babies? Are people saved even if they could not repent when they were babies? Why can't the people that go to these churches see that a person has to repent in order to be forgiven of their sins? I am wondering if you could help. Thank you.
The answer to the question, “Do people need to repent before they are baptized?” is found in a correct understanding of baptism. There are several documents that we would encourage you to read in the Suggested Links at the end of the article. The document “Is baptism necessary for salvation?” is especially recommended.
The Apostle’s Baptism
Yes, the apostles did baptize those who were believing in Jesus Christ. This occurred on the first day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:37-38 (NASB)
The people who heard the Apostle Peter were pierced in their hearts. They believed that Jesus was their Messiah. They believed that they had murdered the Holy One. So they asked, “What shall we do?” Now that they believed in Jesus and were saved, Peter told them to repent of their sins. Saving faith includes repentance. Repentance occurs when the Holy Spirit convicts a person of sin and righteousness (John 16:8-11). When this occurs, the heart is crushed with guilt over sin. Peter made it simple. If you are repentant over your sin. that is a very strong indication the person truly believes in Christ. It is a strong indication they have saving faith. Consequently, the person is ready to be baptized. Baptism is for those who believe in Christ and are repentant over sin. Baptism is an external sign of a commitment to Jesus Christ.
Roman Catholic Baptism
The Roman Catholic Church says that baptism will ensure that you go to heaven. But God never says that anywhere in the Bible. That is a false teaching. If it were were true, then that truth should be repeated in multiple places in the Bible. But is never stated anywhere.
So, if repentance over sin is missing, there is no assurance the person has saving faith. That is why Peter said, “”Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins . . .”
Baptism is an outward display or symbolic act of a changed heart toward God. That change occurs as the result of saving faith. Saving faith produces repentance and submission to God. The forgiveness of sins accompanies that change. Baptism says, “I believe that Jesus is God. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I am sorry for my sins, and I want His forgiveness. I die to myself and I want to live for you.” Baptism says, “I repent of my sins and I have changed my heart toward God – I believe in you, God!”
Suggested Links:Is Baptism Required For Salvation?
What type of baptismal ceremony is right?
Do I need to be baptized as an adult?