Our friend Alastair has a great post arguing against delayed Baptisms. Many Christians feel that you should delay a Baptism so that the one who is to be baptized can be instructed or tested to see whether he is sincere in his faith. But we know that our “sincere faith” is as shifty and uncertain as loose gravel. You see, some of our Christian brothers and sisters build their baptism upon their faith, and in doing so, lose all the comforts of the Gospel and certainty of their salvation. Christianity as understood through Holy Scripture, however, builds its faith upon Baptism so that instead of relying on proof of faith through works or “bearing fruit”, we can rely on the certain and solid promises of the Gospel rendered unto us through Baptism. The great Lutheran hymn writer Paul Gerhardt puts it like this:
In Baptism we now put on Christ–
Our sin is fully covered
With all that He once sacrificed
And freely for us suffered.
For here the flood of His own blood
Now makes us holy, right and good
Before our heav’nly Father.
O Christian, firmly hold this gift
And give God thanks forever!
It gives the power to uplift
In all that you endeavor.
When nothing else revives your soul,
Your Baptism stands and makes you whole
And then in death completes you.
When a person gets baptized in view or in light of their “faith” or their maturity in the faith, it becomes the person making all of the promises and commitments to God. But to those who come to Baptism for the gift it offers, God is making all of the promises to you, and unlike us, He can keep those promises forever! With all of this said, here is an excerpt from Alistair’s “On Delayed Baptism”:
“Baptism is the open door through which God invites us to come to eat with Him at His table. Anyone who accepts this invitation should be welcomed readily and admitted speedily. We should let such people come to Christ and not stop them. After all the Baptism is Christ’s, not ours.
By delaying Baptism, Baptism has become less of an invitation and more of an obstacle. Rather than being the open door through which God invites us, it becomes the closed door that stands between the convert and a seat at God’s Table. Baptism becomes a hurdle that we must jump in order to enter God’s presence. The convert must convince the leaders of the Church that his faith is really genuine. Baptism becomes less of an act of God’s sheer grace and more a sign of personal attainment.”