In a group discussion recently, a person asked why God instructs babies to be baptized. That led to a series of questions from the group about things such as why God has angels and whether or not angels can sin. Many questions like these are based on misunderstandings. The Bible gives us guidelines and some help in understanding, but we are not God and don’t speak for God. There are some questions mortals cannot answer.
However, the question about infant baptism is a failure to understand the purpose of baptism. No Bible passage tells anyone to baptize babies. Acts 2:38-41 says that the purpose of baptism is “for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” According to tradition, the purpose of infant baptism is to forgive “original sin.” The Bible does not tell us that we inherit the sin of Adam and Eve or our relatives. Acts 2:40 tells us that baptism is to “save yourselves.” It is not to free ourselves from previous sins by someone else.
Our concept of angels is often rooted in traditional artistic pictures. According to the Bible, angels are God’s messengers and workers. They are not physical beings but can temporarily appear in the physical world to accomplish God’s purposes. For example, in the Old Testament, they announce to Abraham that Sarah will bear a son (Genesis 18), visit Lot in Sodom (Genesis 19), wrestle with Jacob (Genesis 32:24-29), and speak through a donkey (Numbers 22:28-33).
Angels are outside of our time dimension, so they cannot die or repent because those things depend on time. They also do not act in a way that deprives humans of the capacity to make their own choices. When the angel Gabriel told Mary she would be the mother of the Son of God, she willingly replied, “Let it be to me according to your word.”
Turning angels into human-like vehicles that take away the free moral choices of humans is a misunderstanding and distortion of God’s Word. There are some questions mortals cannot answer, but even though we may not have all the answers to why God does things, we know that God is God, and He has a purpose in all He does.
— John N. Clayton © 2023