Last week we spe of the institution of baptism and why we baptize infants. We saw from Scripture also that adults are instructed before they are baptized.
There is no blessing in the simple act of baptism. They who would turn baptism into a good work or meritorious deed on man’s part are abusing this wonderful gift of God. Further, they who proceed to neglect the education of their children in the Word of God after the child’s baptism are also abusing baptism, to say nothing of the terrible abuse of the child! The Lord has instructed that the baptized be taught His Word. Through the instruction in the Word of God the baptized grows in understanding as well as in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
To understand the blessing of this Sacrament, we remember that it is a “means of grace.” Through the Gospel Word the Spirit transmits to the baptized and credits to our account all that our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for us at the cross. Without Christ there would be no meaning to Baptism. Without the means of grace, there would be no vehicle to make what Jesus accomplished our own. This is why we appreciate the means of grace in Word and Sacrament.
The Word of Baptism, the Gospel, creates faith, faith which in turn believes the words and promises of God. Scripture says of Baptism, “Be baptized . . . for the remission of sins . . .” (Acts 2:38), and again, “Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16). Baptism works a change. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Baptism makes us partakers of the death and ultimately the resurrection victory of Christ over devil and death. “Know ye not that so many as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3)? Baptism gives eternal salvation. Again Scripture is clear, “Baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). Every blessing of baptism is always connected to Christ. It is not faith in baptism that saves for it is faith in Christ alone that saves! But baptism is a means through which the Spirit of God makes the blessings promised our own! Since we cannot instruct infants as we can instruct adults, the Lord has instituted this sacrament as a means through which the Spirit works in their heart because He desires the forgiveness and salvation of little children no less than others.
For the Christian the blessings of baptism are precious. Because of the weakness of our own flesh we daily need the reassurance that our baptism gives: (According to His mercy He saved us) ” But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying . . .”(Titus :4-8)
Finally we remember that Scripture says in Mark 16, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved . . .” That is God’s promise which makes glad the heart of each believer. But what about those who are not baptized? Scripture does not give us the answer to that. Since Scripture is silent so also must we be. Since salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we are confident of the salvation of all who confess Christ. “He that believeth not shall be damned,” is the conclusion of Mark 16:16 A confessor of Jesus Christ will not neglect baptism. Yet such as would refuse baptism place themselves under the indictment of the last half of Mark 16:16. If God Himself takes one in death before baptism that is His doing, and we bow to His will. On the other hand for peace of heart and mind Christian parents will not want to neglect the baptism of their children and subject themselves to the nagging question, “What happens to the unbaptized?”