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BAPTISMAL REGENERATION –
UPDATED FOR OUR TIME

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, September 9, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).


C. H. Spurgeon was the greatest Baptist pastor England ever produced. On June 5, 1864 he preached a sermon titled, “Baptismal Regeneration” from this text. “Spurgeon knew,” says Eric W. Hayden, “that he had ‘stirred up a rattlesnakes den’ and fully expected his printed sermons to drop in sale but ‘they increased greatly in sales at once.’ Spurgeon’s sermon on baptismal regeneration is one of the most controversial sermons the great preacher ever delivered” (Eric W. Hayden, “1864 in the life of C. H. Spurgeon,” back jacket of The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1991 reprint, volume X, pp. 313-328).

I am simplifying Spurgeon’s sermon, and I am adding some new material, on the “instant baptism” craze which has risen up in full force in our Baptist churches since the time of Spurgeon. “Instant baptism” was brought into our Baptist churches for the first time in the 19th century by the “decisionist” evangelist Jacob Knapp, a disciple of the “decisionist” false teacher, Charles G. Finney.

For a correct understanding of baptism, we begin with our text, and then I will give you most of the material from Spurgeon’s great sermon on this subject.

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”
      (Mark 16:15-16).

This evening, standing in the presence of God, I will honestly speak what I feel, and I will let you decide whether I am right.

I. First, baptism without faith in Christ saves no one.

The text says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” But whether a man has been baptized or not, it says, “he that believeth not shall be damned.” So, baptism does not save the unbeliever. It does not deliver him from the common doom of all unbelievers. He may have baptism or he may not have baptism, but if he believes not, he will be in either case most surely damned. It does not matter whether he was baptized by immersion as an adult, or sprinkled as a baby. If he does not have saving faith in Jesus Christ, then this terrible doom is pronounced upon him – “He that believeth not shall be damned.”

I am not aware of any churches that teach new birth and salvation through baptism except the Catholic, Episcopal, and Eastern Orthodox. It seems strange to Baptists and most Protestants that these three churches teach salvation and the new birth through baptism, but they do. Listen to what the Episcopal Catechism says. It was written in very simple words, because it was meant to be read by small children. The child is asked its name, and then questioned, “Who gave you this name?” “My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism; wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” Isn’t that plain and definite enough? There can be no misunderstanding. The child is not only made “a member of Christ,” but he is made in baptism “the child of God,” and “an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” Nothing could be more plain. Furthermore, the Episcopal form for the administration of this baptism is very plain. Thanks are given to God because the person who is baptized is regenerated, born again. “Then shall the priest say, ‘Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is regenerate [born again] and grafted into the body of Christ’s Church, let us give thanks unto Almighty God for these benefits; and with one accord make our prayer unto him, that this child may lead the rest of his life according to this beginning…We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for thine own child by adoption, and to incorporate him into thy holy Church.”

This, then, is the teaching of the Anglican [Episcopal], Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox churches. I am not dealing with infant baptism. I will say little about that this evening. I am only speaking about baptismal regeneration, whether a person can be born again and receive salvation through baptism – whether in adults or infants, whether by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.

There are some clergymen in those churches who say they believe in an evangelical new birth – by living faith in Christ. But I say that it is dishonest for them to remain clergymen in a church whose articles of faith teach new birth by baptism. It is dishonest for these clergymen to consent to what they do not believe.

We ourselves are very open on what we believe. We say that people are not saved by being baptized. Baptism does not give you a new heart. It does not give you a new spirit. It does not wash your sins away. It does not give you the new birth. Baptism without faith in Christ saves no one.

The idea of salvation coming through baptism is out of character with the spiritual religion Christ came to teach. The religions of the world depend on physical and outward things: Buddhist prayer wheels, mantras, indulgences for climbing the “Holy Stairs” and so on. But the religion Christ came to give was based on inward, spiritual knowledge. The idea of a priest washing away a baby’s sins by sprinkling water on its head smacks of the magical ideas of the religions of man – not the spiritual, heart religion Christ came to teach.

Furthermore the dogma of baptismal salvation is not supported by the facts. Are all baptized people really children of God? Thousands of those who were baptized in their infancy are now in our jails. Do you believe that these men, many of whom have been living by plunder, felony, burglary, or forgery, are born again? If so, God deliver us from such new birth! Karl Marx was baptized. Was he a Christian? Darwin and Stalin were baptized. Were they Christians? Mao Tse Tung was baptized. Was he a Christian? Fidel Castro was baptized. Is he a Christian? You may not be too sure about some of them [although I am sure] – but I will give you one more name. This man was baptized. Do you think his baptism made him a “child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven”? Was he “regenerate and grafted into the body of Christ’s Church”? Did his baptism make him a Christian? His name? Adolf Hitler. Yes, Hitler – the monster – was baptized!

Church leaders may say that Hitler was a “child of God” because he was baptized as a baby. But I say that Hitler was a child of Satan. I say that baptism did not save him – and I say that he is burning in the flames of Hell this evening. And if baptism did not save Hitler, how could it save you?

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

II. Second, faith in Christ is the indispensable requisite to salvation.

“No outward forms can make you clean;
The leprosy lies deep within.”

Remember that you must have a new heart and a new spirit, and baptism cannot give you these. You must have a new faith, which makes your life holy and your speech devout, or else you do not have the saving faith of God’s elect, and into God’s kingdom you will never come. I pray that you will not rest upon this rotten foundation, this deceitful invention of the Antichrist. May God save you from the false, Satanic teaching that baptism can save your soul! May you be delivered from the demons who whisper such foul doctrine in your ears! I pray that you will not rest in baptism!

“No outward forms can make you clean;
The leprosy lies deep within.”

The only way you can be saved is through faith in Christ.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

Faith in Christ is the one and only requirement for salvation! What does it mean to “believe” in Christ? First, it means to believe what the Bible says about Christ. You must believe that He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. You must believe that He rose from the dead and ascended back to Heaven. You must believe that He is alive today, seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. But, second, you must believe in Christ Himself. You must do more than just believe things about Him. You must actually believe in Him.

“Whosoever believeth in him [shall] not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

If you wish to be saved, you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me urge you with all my heart to look nowhere but to Christ for your salvation. If you rest upon any outward ceremony, including baptism, you will perish. You must believe in Christ alone.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

I plead with you to lay ahold of Jesus Christ. He is the foundation. He is the rock of salvation. Come to Him. Rest on Him. Be washed clean from your sins by His Blood.

None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.
   (“Come, Ye Sinners,” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

May God give you this vital, essential faith in Jesus Christ, without which there is no salvation. Baptized, re-baptized, circumcised, confirmed, fed upon sacraments, and buried in consecrated ground – you will perish unless you believe in Him! The Bible is plain. He that believeth not may say that he has been baptized but it will do him no good, for

“he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

“Ah,” but you say, “there is baptism in the text. What do you do with that?” I say that the baptism in the text is connected with faith in Christ.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…”
      (Mark 16:16).

There is no thought here that anyone would be baptized who had not believed in Jesus. Or, if there is such a person, it is very clear that his baptism will be of no use to him, for he will be damned, whether he is baptized or not. It seems to me that baptism follows belief. Baptism should follow believing. A person who knows that he is saved by believing in Christ does not, when he is baptized, lift his baptism into a saving ordinance. In fact, he is the very best protestor against that mistake, because he knows that he has no right to be baptized until after he has been saved.

The eunuch said to Philip,

“See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest” (Acts 8:36-37).

The man believed first, and was baptized afterward. That is believer’s baptism. And Scriptural baptism is for believers only.

Baptism is a testimony of a man’s faith. The man is already saved. He says, “I am about to be buried in water. I believe in Jesus, the Son of God, who was baptized in suffering, and was literally dead and buried. So, I will be buried with Him in the water of baptism. When I rise from the water I show all men that I believe in the resurrected Christ.” We say by our baptism that Christ was buried and rose from the dead. We say He is the ground of our salvation. Baptism is commanded by Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), and the person who has faith in Christ obeys His command.

There are those who say that sins are washed away by baptism. They are wrong. The Bible says,

“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”
      (I John 1:7).

Not a single sin, not one, is washed away by baptism. It is the Blood of Christ, and the Blood of Christ alone, that washes away “all sin” (I John 1:7).

I have told you the truth. I am clear of the false teaching of salvation by baptism, instead of salvation by the Blood of our blessed Master, Jesus Christ.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

In our day, many people “come forward” and are instantly baptized. But have they been saved by believing in Jesus? A simple question or two would reveal the answer. “Why did you come forward?” “I came to rededicate my life.” Do not baptize that man! He is not saved by believing in Jesus! He believes in rededication! Again, “Why did you come forward?” “I came because I wanted to join the church.” Do not baptize that man! He is not saved by believing in Jesus! He simply wants to join the church.

I have found that very few who “come forward” come for the right reason. Few have real, vital faith in Jesus Christ. The modern way of baptizing everyone who comes forward “with no questions asked” is as evil as infant baptism, no, it is actually the same as infant baptism. What do I mean? I mean that the infant does not have saving faith in Christ. Baptizing him does him no good at all; in fact it may well be a stumblingblock to him in later life. He will say, “I’m all right. After all, I was baptized.” And it is exactly the same with people who come forward in a rush of emotion to dedicate or rededicate their lives. Thousands of them have no saving faith in Christ. We should go back to the old Baptist way, and carefully explain salvation through faith in Christ, in a non-emotional situation, in another room, or at another time (click on here and read “Instant Baptism Examined” for examples of the old-time Baptist method of counselling inquirers).

And I say to you this evening, you must come to Jesus. You must rely on Him. You must be washed from your sins by His Blood. If you would like to speak to me about this, I am available to counsel you seven days a week by telephone at (818)352-0452. Or you can speak to me or one of the deacons at any time after our services at the church.

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
   Weak and wounded, sick and sore,
Jesus ready stands to save you,
   Full of pity, love and power.
He is able, He is able, He is willing,
   Doubt no more.
He is able, He is able, He is willing,
   Doubt no more.

Let not conscience make you linger,
   Nor of fitness fondly dream:
All the fitness He requireth,
   Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, This He gives you,
   ‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.
This He gives you, This He gives you,
   ‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.
(“Come, Ye Sinners” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 16:14-16.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Come, Ye Sinners” (by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).


THE OUTLINE OF

BAPTISMAL REGENERATION –
UPDATED FOR OUR TIME

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).

I.   Baptism without faith in Christ saves no one, Mark 16:16.

II.  Faith in Christ is the indispensable requisite to salvation,
John 3:16; Acts 4:12; Acts 8:36-37; I John 1:7.