We believe, teach, and confess that the Holy Spirit works through Holy Baptism to either create or strengthen saving faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible plainly teaches this in the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to Titus, chapter 3, verses 5-7:
“He(God) saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.”
Likewise St. Peter writes in his first general epistle, chapter 3, verse 21: “...this water (i.e. of the Flood) symbolizes baptism that now saves you also - not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.”
Baptism, then, is not just the confession of man, nor submission to God but a gracious water of life through which God himself works to bring us his grace.
We believe, teach, and confess that Holy Baptism is the only means God has given us to work saving faith in infants and babies. Since they cannot yet be taught to know Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit uses the sacrament of Baptism to effect a simple trust in the hearts of these precious little souls. And this trust is the very essence of faith.
Contrary to the teaching of many today, children are not born into this world “pure as the driven snow.” The Bible tells us that we all enter this world with a sinful nature, alienated from God and in need of his grace and salvation. “Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me,” Pslam 51:5. Babies also, then, need this salvation that Christ won. This salvation can be given to the sinner only through the work of the Holy Spirit, and not through any work of man.
In addition, Christ commanded us to baptize and teach “all nations.” Even the census taker acknowledges that babies are part of the nation. For this reason also, the Apostles on several occasions baptized entire households (which surely included children).
So we believe, teach, and confess that: “Baptism works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare: ‘Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned,’” Mark 16:16. [Luther’s Small Catechism]