‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.’ Mark 16:15–16
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 6:3–4
What connection has baptism with faith? I think it has just this, baptism is the avowal of faith; the man was Christ’s soldier, but now in baptism he puts on his regimentals. The man believed in Christ, but his faith remained between God and his own soul. In baptism he says to the baptizer, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ;’ he says to the church, ‘I unite with you as a believer in the common truths of Christianity;’ he says to the onlooker, ‘Whatever you may do, as for me, I will serve the Lord.’ It is the avowal of his faith.
Next, we think baptism is also to the believer a testimony of his faith; he does in baptism tell the world what he believes. ‘I am about,’ says he, ‘to be buried in water. I believe that the Son of God was metaphorically baptized in suffering: I believe he was literally dead and buried.’ To rise again out of the water sets forth to all men that he believes in the resurrection of Christ. There is a showing forth in the Lord’s Supper of Christ’s death, and there is a showing forth in baptism of Christ’s burial and resurrection. It is a type, a sign, a symbol, a mirror to the world: a looking-glass in which religion is as it were reflected. We say to the onlooker, when he asks what is the meaning of this ordinance, ‘we mean to set forth our faith that Christ was buried, and that he rose again from the dead, and we avow this death and resurrection to be the ground of our trust.’
Again, baptism is also faith taking her proper place. It is, or should be, one of her first acts of obedience.
For meditation: This sermon, preached against the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, provoked a fierce backlash against Spurgeon. Baptism comes second to repentance (Acts 2:38), receiving the word (Acts 2:41) and believing the gospel (Acts 8:12,37; 18:8), things which a baby cannot consciously do.
Sermon no. 573
5 June (1864)