‘And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.’ Exodus 14:15
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 28:16–20
How often I have heard people say, ‘Well, yes, the Lord is my gracious Master, and I am his servant, and I believe it is the duty of believers to be baptised; but if the Lord ever reveals it to me, then I will do it.’ There is a soldier for you! He is not content to get the same orders as his fellow-soldiers, but he cries, ‘When the regiment is on the march, if the captain will come round to my tent and talk to me by myself, I will not mind going.’ Why, he deserves to be flogged for a deserter. I will not wish anything hard to my Christian brother, but I do venture to prophesy that he will be beaten with many stripes if he talks in that way. ‘Ah,’ says one, ‘but the Lord must apply it to me.’ What for? The thing is clear enough without its being applied. If there is anything in the Bible which is plain at all, it is that he who believes in Christ should be buried with him in baptism. Then, if it is your clear duty, you ought to do it at once. ‘Well, I will pray about it.’ And do you believe God will hear such a wicked prayer as that? If I tell my child that there is something to do, and he tells me, ‘Well, I will think about it,’ I shall let him know that I am not to be thus impudently trifled with. If I say to him, ‘Now, my child, do so-and-so,’ and he replies, ‘Father, I will pray about it,’ I shall not put up with such hypocritical rebellion; it will not do in one’s own house, much less in the house of God. Are you to be permitted to trifle with positive precepts, and then to lay your sin upon God’s back? I do not think so.
For meditation: There are no loopholes in the command ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you’ (Acts 2:38). The first step of repentance and faith is essential to salvation (Mark 16:16); the second step of baptism is essential to obedience.
Sermon no. 548
18 October (1863)