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 answers to your questions are found in a correct understanding of baptism. There are several documents that we would encourage you to read before the response below. The documents are called, “Is baptism necessary for salvation?“, “What type of baptismal ceremony is right?“, and “Do I need to be baptized as an adult?”
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. (NASB) Acts 2:37-38
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, and so they asked, “What shall we do?” Now that they believed, Peter told them that they needed to repent of their sins. Men and women do repent if they are serious. Repentance comes from a heart that is crushed by a guilty conscience over sin. Peter made it simple. If you are really sorrowful over your sin, then you are ready to be baptized. As you have seen in the three documents, baptism is for those who are repentant. It is for those who have confessed their sins. If there is real confession, their sins are forgiven. It is for those who have believed and are repentant over sin. Baptism is an external sign of a commitment to Jesus Christ.
The Roman Catholic Church says that baptism will ensure that you go to heaven. But God never says that anywhere in the Bible. If this were true, then that truth should be repeated in multiple places in the Bible. It does not occur anywhere.
Men and woman can repent at any age. Little children can repent. Actually little children find it easier to repent than adults. As we grow older, pride becomes a great issue. We do not like to admit that we are wrong. Repentance is more difficult. Repentance comes when a person honestly believes in Jesus Christ. We do not start life believing in Jesus Christ. We start by thinking that the world revolves around us. A man or woman cannot come to Jesus unless he/she changes their heart attitude toward Him. When that happens, repentance follows.
Baptism is an outward display or symbolic act of a changed heart toward God. 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!”