By John Norcott
Believer’s baptism a great ordinance.
The greatness of the ordinance of believer’s baptism may appear if you consider these seven points.
1. Consider that baptism is an ordinance which has a great Pattern to enforce it; for the Captain of our salvation practised it, as you see in Matthew 3.13. “Then cometh Jesus to be baptized”. “If any man serve me”, said Christ, “let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be”, John 12.26. Christ is the best Example;
will you not “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth?”
2. Consider the great Name in which baptism is administered, Matthew 28.19-20. “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. This Name must not be slighted;
it is the Name of the great God.
3. Consider that baptism is a great business, it is called Righteousness. Righteousness is a great matter. Christ calls it a comely and becoming thing, Matthew 3.15. “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness”. It is a fulfilling of all righteousness and therefore is no small concern.
4. Consider that baptism is in the great Commission; it is one of the last commands of our blessed Saviour after His resurrection and a little before His ascension. “Go … teach… baptize”, Matthew 28. 19-20.
5. Consider that baptism is joined to great promises. “And, lo, I am with you alway”, Matthew 28.20. Here is the promise of the glorious presence of Christ with those who teach and baptize. There you also have the promise of the Holy Ghost. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”, Acts 2.38.
You have also the promise, assurance, and token of the washing away of sins, Acts 22.16. “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins”. Baptism in water, of itself, does not cleanse, for Simon Magus was baptized and yet remained in the gall of bitterness, yet when it is practised in faith it is, to the baptized believer, a lively emblem and a refreshing token of his being washed from sin. Doubtless this means that the washing of baptism is the outward token of the inward cleansing of sin by the blood of Jesus, but it is plain that in the Word of God this is only spoken to a believer in Christ.
Again, you find the promise of salvation annexed to baptism in connection with faith, Mark 16.16. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”.
Now Christ’s presence, the Holy Ghost, pardon of sin, and the gift of salvation are all great promises, and they are each and all joined to baptism in the scriptures of truth.
6. Consider the eminence of baptism. Every word of God is full of importance, but baptism has the special honour of being put side by side with faith in the business of salvation. Scripture does not say that he that believeth and receiveth the Lord’s Supper shall be saved. Neither does it place any other ordinance in such a place of eminence; but it does most distinctly say, “He that believeth AND IS BAPTIZED shall be saved”, Mark 16.16. Is not that a great thing which is thus linked to faith, that root and mother of all graces, by which men are justified, and by which they live?
7. Consider that since Christ has gone to heaven He has commanded baptism, Acts 8.29. The Spirit bade Philip join himself to the chariot, and this he was clearly commanded to do that he might preach Christ to the eunuch and then baptize him. “And when he was baptized, he went on his way rejoicing”. Here is one call from heaven to baptize and Philip was called to do it.
Another command from heaven to baptize, after Christ’s ascension you have in Acts 9.10-11, when the Lord Jesus sent Ananias to Paul; and when he comes he says, “and now why tarriest thou? arise and be baptized”, Acts 22.16. Paul tells us that these were the words of Ananias but it was a call from heaven to baptize.
Again you find, in Acts 10.4-5, that Cornelius had a call from heaven to send for Peter who would tell him words whereby he should be saved. Peter also had a call from heaven to go to Cornelius, vv. 19-20, “Go therefore, nothing doubting”. Peter is here commissioned from heaven to speak words whereby Cornelius might be saved; and when he came to Cornelius, and his preaching had been attended by the falling of the Holy Ghost upon them that heard it, you find in verse 48 that he commanded them to be baptized. So you see that baptism was commanded after Christ’s ascension which plainly shows that baptism is a great ordinance.