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Baptism and Entrance into the Kingdom

A passage that is often used by paedobaptists in proof of what they believe is Mark 10:13-16.  Those who hold to so-called "believer's baptism" find the use of this passage baffling, since it does not speak of baptism at all.

It is, nevertheless, an important passage and can be used to support the practice of infant baptism.  This is true from several points of view, but it is important in all that is said to remember that these children were in fact infants (Lk.  18:15).

(1) These infants were received by Jesus, who also took them in His arms and blessed them.  To be received into Jesus' arms and blessed is nothing more or less than salvation itself. However, that these infants were in fact saved by Jesus is clear also from verses 14 and 15 where He speaks of them receiving the kingdom.

Of that salvation and reception of the kingdom baptism is a picture or sign which shows us how we enter the kingdom.  The paedobaptists argument, then, is this: that if these infants can receive the reality to which baptism points, why cannot they receive the sign?  To put it differently, if they can receive the greater thing, why not the lesser?  Indeed, we believe that because they can and do receive the reality, they ought also to receive the sign, since salvation is promised to them no less than to adults in the covenant of grace.

(2) The second argument is a little different.  It is based on what Jesus says in verse 15.  There He tells us that no one receives the kingdom except in the way an infant receives it, that is, passively, without its knowledge, and by the power of grace alone.  To receive the kingdom as a little child, therefore, is to receive it without works - without any effort on our part.  That is the only way an infant can receive the kingdom!

And, indeed, that is the only way we can receive the kingdom.  Initially, when salvation first comes, we are neither seeking it nor desiring it.  We are, after all, dead in trespasses and sins, and it is only when God graciously gives us salvation and the kingdom by regenerating us that we also begin to seek and know what He has done.

Jesus, then, tells us that there is only one way to receive the kingdom, that is, as a little child.  If we have not received it in that way we have not received it at all (vs.  15)!

Therein is another reason we baptise infants.  We do not say that every baptised infant itself is necessarily saved, but we see in the baptism of every infant a picture of how salvation is possible for that infant according to the promise of God's covenant, that is, by the power of sovereign grace.

Not only that, but in every baptised infant we have a picture of how any and everyone of us has been saved - not by our willing or efforts, but by almighty power of sovereign grace, which came to us unlooked for and unsought and gave us new life and birth.

Infant baptism is, therefore, a wonderful testimony to the power and sovereignty of grace!  How sad that many do not have or see that testimony in the baptism of helpless infants!

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Additional Info

  • Volume: 7
  • Issue: 5
Hanko, Ronald

Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)

Ordained: November 1979

Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002


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