I indeed baptize you with water … He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
Baptism with water is right. It is one of God’s appointments, and He would require nothing that is useless. Some people think that there is no necessity for being baptized; but they make themselves wiser than Christ in saying this of that which He commanded to be done. Baptism has a meaning, and must never be despised. It teaches by picture, showing us, first, that we are unclean and need washing, and then depicting the deep work of grace by which the heart is cleansed.
We should not lightly esteem a rite which has such solemn divine sanction. But while baptism with water is proper and should not be omitted, it cannot wash away sin nor save our souls. We must not think that because we have been baptized we are necessarily Christians. There must be a change within us. We must be converted, “born again.” And no amount of washing with water will produce this change. Christ must baptize us with the Holy Ghost.
There is danger that many are satisfied with the baptismal water, and do not look for the regenerating grace. It is the peril of all forms of service that people trust in them and do not realize their need of Christ. A few drops of water on the brow make no impression on the life, and it is only when the baptism symbolized by water is received by faith that real blessing comes upon the one who is baptized.
When Jesus was being baptized He prayed, and the heavens were opened and abode upon Him. Like blessing descends from heaven upon every one receiving the symbol who also by prayer seeks the heavenly baptism. The same is true of the Lord’s Supper and other divine ordinances. When the ordinance is received in faith and with prayer, God gives the grace of which the emblem is but the image.