The following is a comment I left on Forty Bicycles blog. I am not a theologian but I am a student of God's Word. It is a duty and an honor to earnestly contend. Jude 1:3
I read your "Plagiarizing Myself II " article on baptism from Nov 4, 2004. Sorry, it has taken so long to respond since my April 14,2005 comment.
As I understand, there are some key points that we agree upon, mainly that in baptism a person dies with Christ and is risen with Him into a newness of life (Rom 6:3-5 and Col 2:12). Also, that it is through baptism that people are brought into Christ (Gal 3:26-27), and become a member of His body.
Regarding what you have said about regeneration and conversion, I agree that conversion happens before regeneration. Conversion, according to Vine's Dictionary, "implies a turning from or turning to.” Therefore, there has to be an inner change from one state to another. Regeneration is the new birth. I think that the difference in these two ideas is demonstrated in Acts 2:37-38. The people that heard Peter and the apostles preaching the gospel were pricked in their heart and asked what they must do to be saved. This shows that their thinking had changed and they were converted to the words of the apostles. Then they were baptized in v41 and received the regeneration or rebirth into a new life. Rom 6:4
The changing of the heart is something we do, not God. See Matt 13:15 and John 12:39-40. It is by understanding when we read, hear or see God's Word, that we are convicted of the truth and that is what converts us. John 3:20 shows His Word sheds light on man’s deeds but most in the world do not want their deeds to be reproved and thus avoid the light. They cannot be converted if they won't listen.
Baptism does bring the person into the body of Christ but it is also at this point that one becomes a Christian and salvation is given. See again Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38-41 and Gal 3:25-29 (Note that the heirs of the promise are those that have been baptized into Christ by faith)
John 3 is about regeneration. Regeneration is baptism. Being born again by the water and the blood are referring to the waters of baptism which are sprinkled with the blood of the slain Lamb. The kingdom which we enter upon baptism is the church of which Jesus is king.
Baptism is an act of faith because there is belief that what the Scriptures say are true and if someone believes, then he will do as that person instructs. This does not make someone worthy of a reward (faith by works) as it is only expected of him. Luke 17:7-10.
Infants or children are not in need of baptism. They are so pure and innocent that Jesus used them as an example of the kind of heart that is needed to receive the kingdom. Luke18:17. A parent cannot decide for their child what path they will choose. A parent can only train them in the ways of righteousness (Prov 22:6) and trust their child to make a wise decision for themselves once they are able. Children are unaccountable for their actions for they are innocent as were Adam and Eve in the garden until they willfully defied God.
Infants are not capable of faith or repentance. Both faith (Acts 18:8) and repentance (Acts 2:38) are required of the candidates themselves for baptism. Heb 11:6 states that “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." In the argument for infant baptism, it is believed that the faith of the parents will bring the baby into Christ but in this verse, it is the faith of the person himself that is required.
Infants cannot be in solidarity or pledge allegiance with anyone. This must occur when they are able to choose for themselves. God places people into the church (Acts 2:47) not the parents. It is by hearing the gospel and responding to it that one is saved. God draws people through the Word but an infant cannot be drawn because he cannot understand. (John 6:44-45) Children attend the services with their parents and are taught by both their parents and the church but they are taught so that they themselves will one day respond.
People are to be like a child in their simple trust of God not because of their lack of knowledge or understanding. Adults can be weak in the faith but this does not mean that babies are to included because of their weakness.
Repentance is an internal reality with external behavior. See Luke3:7-8. Both faith and repentance are seen by a persons' obedience.
God's Word is the external means which internally convicts the soft soil of a heart. This conviction leads to repentance, Acts 2:37-38. That person acts by confessing that Jesus is the Son of God and obeying the words that said to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Matt 28:19