2339. Baptism Essential To Obedience

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No. 2339-39:601. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, October 13, 1889, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, December 17, 1893.

He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. {Mr 16:16}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 573, “Baptismal Regeneration” 564}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 900, “Preach, Preach, Preach Everywhere” 891}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2339, “Baptism Essential to Obedience” 2340}
   Exposition on Mr 16 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2467, “Christ and His Co-Workers” 2468 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mr 16 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2780, “Sojourn in Mesech, The” 2781 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mr 16 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3452, “Belief in the Resurrection” 3454 @@ "Exposition"}

1. If our congregations were what they ought to be, it would be a very simple matter to preach, for a sermon would then only need to be like the orders given by a commanding officer to his troops, short, sharp, plain, clear, and distinct. Our hearers would not want illustrations and metaphors; they would ask simply to be told what they must do to be saved; and the more plainly they could be told, the better pleased they would be. I am going to try this evening to preach that kind of sermon, sinking the preacher in the teller of good news, plainly speaking of the way of salvation. If you want to be saved, listen to my message. If you do not care for salvation, yet, maybe, while you hear about it, you may start longing for it, and God may bless you.

2. My text is preceded and followed by other important words, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be damned.” The gospel, then, is for “every creature.” Wherever there is a man, woman, or child, an intelligent creature, the gospel is to be preached to such a person. You who are gathered tonight are clearly within that description, and therefore the gospel is to be preached to you. But if we are commanded to preach it, it is implied that you are commanded to hear it. To hear it without attention, to hear it without resolving to obey it, will be useless work. Hear it, therefore, as I desire to preach it, remembering that Christ stands here to hear me preach, and to see how you accept the message from him that I am to deliver.

3. This gospel is sent to every creature because every creature needs it. Whether the creature knows it or not, he is lost, lost by nature, and lost by practice, too, so much lost that he cannot save himself; he needs to be saved. Will you all believe that? If you have not believed in Christ, you are lost, and you cannot save yourself; begin by believing that fact. But then rejoice that there is sent to you a gospel which can save you, a gospel which is adapted and meant for the salvation of just such a person as you are; for to you God says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.”

4. My fellow Christians, you who have believed in Christ, it is time for us to bestir ourselves, for we have not preached the gospel to every creature yet by a long shot. Some people have never preached it to anyone; some, I mean, of the very people who are commanded to preach it to every creature. A quaint preacher says that, if some of God’s people were paid ten dollars an hour for all that they have done for their Lord, they have not earned enough yet to buy a cake of gingerbread; and I am afraid that statement is true. Some people have done so very little for the spread of the gospel, that the world is none the better for their being in it. Do I speak too severely? If I do, you can easily pass over what I say; but if not, if it is so that any here have never yet fairly and squarely related the gospel of Jesus Christ, begin at once. When you get home tonight, tell the gospel to your nearest relative; and go out tomorrow to your next-door neighbour, or to the friend whom you can most easily reach, and tell the good news that your Lord has revealed to you, and so help to preach the gospel to every creature. An army chaplain once said to the Duke of Wellington, “Do you think that it is of any use our taking the gospel to the hill tribes in India? Will they ever receive it?” The duke replied, “What are your marching orders?” That was the only answer he gave. Stern disciplinarian as that great soldier was, he only needed marching orders, and he obeyed; and he meant that every soldier of the cross must obey the marching orders of Christ, his great Commander. Go, therefore, as far as ever your position and capabilities allow you, and tell to every creature the word of the gospel as it is recorded in my text, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.”

5. I want to do my part tonight as far as my feeble voice will permit me; and I will speak a few words, first, concerning belief; secondly, concerning baptism; and, thirdly, concerning being saved. We shall get the whole text clearly in considering those three points.

6. I. First, CONCERNING BELIEVING. This is the main point, this is the hinge of salvation, for he who believes in Christ is not condemned; he who believes in him has everlasting life.

7. Now, concerning believing, let me ask first, What is to be believed? Well, you are to believe that you have broken the law of God, and that consequently you are under condemnation; but that God, in his infinite mercy, has sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world so that you might live through him. His divine Son, his only-begotten Son, was born of Mary, as a man of the substance of his mother, feeling as we do, and was in all respects most truly man. When here, he obeyed his Father’s will; and, when the time came, he gave himself up as a sacrifice for guilty men. He died, “the Just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God.” He, being without sin, took on himself the sin of his people: “Who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” Being found with human sin imputed to him, he suffered in the room, and place, and stead of those whose sins he bore. On the cross his blood was shed, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, but by that shedding of blood he blotted out the iniquity of all those who put their trust in him. This is what you have to believe, that —

    He bore, that you might never bear,
       His Father’s righteous ire.

He was laid in the grave; and on the third day he came out from the tomb, rising again for the justification of his people since he was crucified for their offences. After a while, he went up into the highest heaven, and he is now enthroned there, King of kings, and Lord of lords. He sits at the right hand of God, even the Father, and there he pleads and makes intercession for sinners. Believe this. “Through this Man the forgiveness of sins is preached to you.” He is exalted on high, a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins. That is what is to be believed. I might go into a great many details; but I shall not do so tonight. The essence of what is to be believed is that Jesus Christ is given to us by God, so that by his death he might put away sin, and we might be reconciled to God, and that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

8. So that I may answer this question better, let me correct it, or turn it into another, and then answer that. The question is not so much what is to be believed, as who is to be believed? For, in very deed, the believing of a certain thing to be true, though that may be helpful, is not the entire matter. I, believing a thing to be true, trust myself to that truth; there is faith, the act of trust. But if we would be saved, we must trust a Person, we must trust the Lord Jesus Christ. You are not so much saved by believing a dogma, as by trusting a Person; you must believe the dogma, or you will not trust the Person; but, believing the doctrine, you then come, and put your trust in the Person about whom that doctrine is taught. If you wish to be saved, trust yourself with Jesus Christ. He, who died, lives for ever, and “he is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him.” Saving faith is trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting him truly, entirely, solely, constantly, trusting him now. Behold him, then, the Son of God, enthroned in glory; lay your soul and all its sins at his dear feet, and trust in him to save you, and he will do it.

9. Many will ask a third question, — Why is he to be trusted? I should like to answer that by another, — Why is he not to be trusted? When one said to me, the other day, “I cannot trust Christ,” I enquired, “Can you trust me?” And when the quick reply was, as it ought to be from a hearer to a minister, “Yes, sir, I do trust you,” I said, “Well, then, you certainly can trust the Lord Jesus Christ, for he is infinitely more worthy of being trusted than I can ever be.” Cannot trust Christ? That is a wonderful piece of Satanic delusion. I can say, tonight, that I cannot only trust my soul to Christ, but that, if I had as many souls as there are grains of sand on the sea-shore, I could implicitly trust them all to him. Why should I not? He is “God over all, blessed for ever,” and he is Man, tender and gentle; therefore he ought to be trusted. Oh my hearer, can you look the crucified Christ in the face, and say that you cannot trust him? Can you see the bloody sweat in the garden, can you gaze on the nailed hands and feet, and pierced side of this suffering Man, who is at the same time very God of very God, and can you then say that it is hard to trust him? Oh, no! He is so true, so noble, so generous, so faithful, that I beseech you to trust him, and to trust him now.

10. That raises another question, — When is Christ to be trusted? And the answer is, Now. He was never more worthy to be trusted than he is tonight, and you never needed a Saviour more than you do tonight. You are, perhaps, talking about trusting Christ at some future time. You tell me that you do not trust So-and-so, but that you hope to trust him one of these days. I will not give a penny for such a hope as that. No, friend; if at any future time you should deem Christ worthy of your confidence, he is worthy of your trust tonight, for he is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Just as you are, in that pew, or sitting in the aisle, Christ deserves your confidence; and please give it to him. Cast your guilty soul on him this very moment; do not live another second in unbelief, for that unbelief is a slander on my Lord, a grievous injury to his dear, faithful love. Now, while the word is leaving my lip, as it reaches your ear, say and mean it, “I do believe; I will trust Jesus; I yield myself to Christ, and take him to be my Saviour.”

11. “If I do that,” one says, “When will the blessing come?” The text says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved,” and the blessing will come at once. Swift as the lightning flash is the act which saves the soul. One moment, a man may be black with accumulated sin; the next moment, he may be white as the driven snow. It takes no time for God to blot out iniquity. We pass in an instant from death to life, from darkness into marvellous light. I am praying that, while I speak to you in feebleness, God may work with his almighty power, with that right hand that split the Red Sea in two, so that the ransomed of the Lord might cross over dry-shod. May he come, and save the people made ready by his grace for this night of his glorious power, leading them immediately to believe, and giving them at once, as the result of their faith, reconciliation to God and justification by Christ Jesus!

12. Here let me correct a mistake into which some people fall. They say, “Do you exhort us to believe?” I do, indeed, with all my heart. “But, sir, faith is the work of the Spirit of God.” Yes, did I ever say that it was not? I insist on it continually that, wherever there is any faith, it is created in us by the Spirit of God. But listen. Did I ever tell you the Spirit of God believed for us, or did you ever read anything in Scripture approximating to that statement? No, the Spirit of God leads us to believe, but we distinctly believe, and it is our faith that saves us; it is not that the Holy Spirit believes instead of us, and we lie still, like a man under the surgeon’s knife. Oh, dear, no! Every faculty is awakened and aroused by the Spirit of God. We see that Christ can save, and we believe it. We believe that he will save, and we trust him to save us. It is our own act and deed, it cannot be anyone else’s act and deed. You cannot believe for another; there can be nothing like sponsorship here; and the Holy Spirit himself cannot believe for you. It is not written, “Let the Holy Spirit believe for you”; that would be absurd; but it is written, “Believe,” “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” With your own proper mind and heart you must believe in Jesus Christ if you wish to be saved.

13. I do not know that I need to say more concerning believing. I have often tried to explain it, I am afraid that I have not always made it as plain as I have intended. Only let me warn you not to say, “I understand the plan of salvation very well. Dear sir, I am sure I do; I do not need it explained to me, I understand it perfectly.” My dear friend, it is one thing to understand the plan of salvation, and quite another thing to believe in Jesus Christ to the salvation of your soul. It is a miserable night, the rain is pouring down, and here is a man, sitting out in the street, exposed to the bad weather, and he has a plan for a house down there on the wet pavement, and he says, “I am all right; I understand the plan of a house quite well.” You see, he is looking at the plan; he has a view of the front of the house, he knows where the windows and doors should be; and he has a ground-plan, too; he can see where the kitchen is, and the hall to the kitchen, and he knows the arrangement of all the rooms. But, my dear fellow, you are getting wet through and through; the storm is raging, why do you not go into the house for shelter? “Do not talk to me,” he says, “I understand the plan of a house very well.” The man is a fool if he talks like that; everyone concludes that he is out of his mind; and what is he who is satisfied with understanding the plan of salvation, but who does not come to Christ, and put his trust in him? Come to him now, I beseech you. You who do not know so much about the plan of salvation, come to Jesus, come and trust him; trust him now.

14. II. Now, in the second place, a little CONCERNING BAPTISM: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.”

15. Please observe that I did not make the text. Perhaps, if I had made it, I should have left out that piece about baptism; but I have had no hand in making the Bible, I am obliged to take God’s Word as I find it, and here I read these words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” “Do not dwell on the baptism,” one says; “leave that out.” That is what you say, my dear sir; I cannot see your face, but I do not believe that you are my master. My Master is the Lord who taught holy men to write this Book, and I can only go by the Book; the Book has the baptism in it, so I must stick to the truth as it is in the Book: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.”

16. First, let me remind you that our Saviour’s words teach us that baptism follows faith:“ He who believes and is baptized.” Never neglect the order of things in the Bible. If God puts them one, two, three, do not put them three, two, one. You never had a servant, I hope, who twisted your orders out of order. Did you ever say to her, “Mary, now go and sweep the parlour, and afterwards take the duster, and dust the table, and the shelves, and the books?” Did she come to you some time later, and say, “Madam, I have done as you commanded me; I dusted the table, and the shelves, and the books, and then I swept the room?” Every good housewife here knows what would happen from turning her orders upside down in that way. Now, a great many in the Christian Church at the present day have put it like this: “He who is baptized and believes.” I am not one of those maidservants; I dare not turn my Master’s orders upside down. You have no right to baptize people until they have believed in Christ as their Saviour. Remember how Philip put it to the Ethiopian eunuch when that worthy man said, “See, here is water; what hinders me from being baptized?” Philip answered, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And if you do not believe with all your heart, you ought not to be baptized, you have no right to this ordinance of Christ unless you are a Christian. “He who believes and is baptized,” — that is the scriptural order. Read the New Testament impartially, and you will always find that those who were baptized were believers. They believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and then they were baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

17. Next, I would have you notice that this matter of baptism is often linked with faith. Over and over again it is stated so in the New Testament; and there are passages, which I will not quote tonight, in which baptism has a particular prominence given to it in connection with the work of salvation. It might have been put, “He who believes and comes to the communion table shall be saved”; but it is not so written. Some churches have exalted what they call “The Holy Eucharist” into a very elevated position indeed, far beyond what Scripture has ever accorded to it, yet the Lord’s supper has never had given to it in the Word of God the position of being put side by side with faith, as baptism is in this and other passages. I am not going to dwell on that point tonight; I merely tell you what is the teaching of the New Testament. You shall give your own account of it if you please; but our appeal is “to the law and to the testimony.”

18. This much also I must say, that it is not possible that there can be anything saving in the baptism itself. The act of applying water in any way whatever cannot wash away a single sin. That would be going back to the old covenant of works, the old ceremonies of the Mosaic law; all the washings under the law — and they were very many — never washed one sin away; nor can any washing in water take away the sin of any man. Even the tears of Christ are never spoken of as putting away sin; it is his precious blood alone that cleanses away the sin of men. In my text, while it says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved,” yet, when the condemnation is announced, it is simply, “He who does not believe shall be damned,” and the matter of baptism is not mentioned, for there are many who believe, but who are not baptized, and who cannot be, as the dying thief, for example, yet they are assuredly saved. Nevertheless, here stands my text, and I cannot alter it, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.”

19. Why do you suppose that baptism is put into this prominent position? I think that it is for this reason, Baptism is the outward expression of the inward faith. He who believes in Christ with his heart confesses his faith before God and before the Church of God by being baptized. Now, the faith that speaks like this is not a dumb faith; it is not a cowardly faith; it is not a sneaking faith. Paul puts the matter like this, “If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”

20. But why is confession so necessary to prove true faith? I answer that it is necessary to the very existence of the Church of God; for, if I may be a believer, and never confess my faith, you may be a believer, and never confess your faith, and so all around we should have a company of men believing, and none of them confessing; and where would the outward ordinances of the Church of Christ at all be? Where would any minister be? Where would the setting up and growing of the kingdom of Christ be? For a hundred reasons, it is absolutely necessary for Christ’s kingdom that the believer should openly confess his faith. Do you not see that? And hence baptism, being God’s way of our publicly confessing our faith, he requires it to be added to faith, that the faith may be a confessing faith, not a cowardly faith; that the faith may be a public faith, not a private faith; so that the faith may be a working faith, influencing our life, and the life of others, and not a mere secret attempt for self-salvation by a silent faith which dares not acknowledge Christ. Remember those words of the Lord Jesus, “Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny me” (and in that place it means, “he who does not confess me”) “before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.” There is, therefore, no regenerating efficacy about water, or about immersion, or about baptism in any shape or form; but it is necessary as the outward visible expression of the inward spiritual faith by which the soul is saved.

21. And, dear friends, once more, baptism is often the test of obedience. He who believes in Christ takes him to be his Master as well as his Saviour; and Christ, therefore, says to him, “Go and do such and such.” If the man refuses to do it, by it he proves that he does not intend to be the disciple of the Master. “Oh!” one says, “you know that baptism is a non-essential.” Have I not begged you to cease such idle and wicked talk as that? Do you have a servant? Do you go to business early in the morning? Do you like a cup of tea at six o’clock, before you start out for the city? The maid does not bring it to you, and you ask, “Why have I not had my tea brought to me?” “Oh!” she answers, “it is non-essential; you can do your business very well without that cup of tea.” Let such a reply as that be repeated, or let it be given only once, and I will tell you what will be non-essential, it will be non-essential for you to keep that girl any longer in your house; you will want another servant, for you will say, “Clearly she is no servant of mine, she sets herself up as the mistress of the house, for she begins to judge my commands, and to say that this one is essential, and that one is not essential.” What do you mean by “non-essential?” “I mean that I can be saved without being baptized.” Will you dare to say that wicked sentence over again? “I mean that I can be saved without being baptized.” You base creature! So you will do nothing that Christ commands, if you can be saved without doing it? You are hardly worth saving at all! A man who always wants to be paid for what he does, whose one idea of religion is that he will do what is essential for his own salvation, only cares to save his own skin, and Christ may go where he likes. Clearly, you are no servant of his; you need to be saved from such a disreputable, miserable state of mind; and may the Lord save you! Often, I do believe that this little matter of believers’ baptism is the test of the sincerity of our profession of love for him. It would have been all the same, it may be, if the Lord Jesus Christ had said, “Pick up six stones off the ground, and carry them in your pocket, and you shall be saved.” Someone would have said, “That stone-picking is a non-essential.” It becomes essential as soon as Christ commands it. It is in this way that baptism, if not essential to your salvation, is essential to your obedience to Christ. If you have become his disciple, you are bound from now on to obey all your Master’s commands: “Whatever he says to you, do it.”

22. III. Now, lastly, CONCERNING BEING SAVED: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.”

23. What is this being saved? Well, it means, of course, what everyone wants it to mean, salvation from the punishment of sin. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” His transgressions shall be forgiven him, his iniquity shall be blotted out, he shall not be brought into condemnation; but in the last great day he shall be justified in Christ. Indeed, he is justified now, as the apostle says, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is certainly a part of this being saved.

24. It means, next, that he who believes and is baptized shall have salvation from the dominion of his old nature. When you believe in Christ, there shall suddenly spring up in you a new life, a new principle; a well shall be dug within your being, and a fountain of living water shall begin to bubble up within you to everlasting life. A miracle shall be performed on you; there shall come into your heart the Holy Spirit, who shall dwell there to recreate you, to set up within your soul a new throne on which shall reign a new King. The old dominion of sin shall be broken as with a rod of iron; and there shall be a new order of things within your heart; and righteousness shall begin to reign there by Jesus Christ.

25. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved”; that is, he shall have salvation from his old sins. He shall no longer be the slave of drunkenness; he shall get the love of swearing by the throat; he shall have his lying, his anger, his passion, under his feet. “He who believes and is baptized” shall see all his old adversaries put to the rout; and what he could not do, through the weakness of his flesh, shall be done for him by the power of the Spirit of God; and by divine grace he shall master his sins. He shall begin to live for God, under new impulses, strengthened with a new power, and so he shall be delivered from his old sins.

26. Listen again, for this is wonderful. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved”; he shall have salvation from going back to his old sins. If it were not for the final perseverance of the saints, I should think my gospel a poor gospel to preach; but he who truly believes in Christ shall have such a change accomplished in him that the blessed work shall never be undone. My Lord shall light such a candle in your heart that the devil himself shall never be able to blow it out. Christ shall come to you with such power and authority, and set up his eternal throne in your soul with such divine majesty and might, that you shall be his in time and throughout eternity. We preach about no temporary salvation, no work of grace that eventually will grow feeble, and lose its power; but we tell of a work of grace that shall enable you who believe to go on from strength to strength, from glory to glory, until every sin in you shall be driven out, and you shall be made perfectly like your Lord. Then you shall behold his face in righteousness, and be with him for ever and ever.

27. Once more, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved”; he shall have salvation from the age in which he lives. “But,” one says, “I do not want to be saved from that.” Do you not? “No.” But if you go with the age, and go with the world, you will go down the Niagara Falls which this age is just now shooting, down to the destruction to which this world is doomed. Do not cherish the friendship of the world that killed your Lord, for the world and the works that are in it shall be burned up. You remember how Peter said, on the day of Pentecost, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” That is what I want you to do tonight. “With many other words he testified and exhorted, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this untoward generation.’ ” A man who wishes to be a man, and who desires to be a saved man, had better take up arms against this evil age. He who would prove himself to be alive to God must swim against the current of the times. Dead fish go downstream; can you not see them? I see the white bellies of the dead fish floating down by myriads; but the living fish goes up the stream, against the current, and finds his way to purer waters. Beloved, he who believes in Jesus Christ with all his heart shall be made to play the man where men are now so few, and to stand firm for God and truth where others yield to the Satanic power, and to be holy where ungodliness, like a mighty torrent, now sweeps down our streets. “He who believes and is baptized” into the adorable name of Jesus swears, as a Red Cross Knight, to follow Christ, and Christ alone, believing in him though every man is a liar, and resolving for him to live, for him to die, and in him to find hope here and eternal felicity hereafter. He is the man who shall be saved from this present evil age to the glory of God the Father.

28. All this great work is accomplished by faith in Christ; that is the one way of salvation. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” Believe in him, as men sometimes say, “up to the hilt.” Believe in his Manhood sympathizing with you; believe in his Godhead able to help you; believe in his blood cleansing you; believe in his eternal life bringing everlasting life to you. May God bless you, every one, for his dear Son’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Joh 3:1-18}

If you were called in to see a person who was dying, and wished to read a chapter from the Word of God, and you were afraid that the sick one did not know the way of salvation, you could not select a better portion than the one we are about to read. I have chosen it in the hope that some may now learn from it what they must do to be saved.

1, 2. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night,

Perhaps he was very busy during the day. It is better to come to Jesus at night than not to come to him at all. All hours are convenient to Christ; you may come to him when you are at home tonight. When everyone else is asleep, Jesus is still awake.

In all probability, however, Nicodemus did not wish to commit himself by coming to Christ by day. He had not yet tried and tested him, so he would not be thought to be Christ’s follower until he had first had a quiet private talk with him. As a ruler of the Jews, he was wise in acting so discreetly.

2. And said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, unless God is with him.”

He admitted the truth as far as he could see it. The miracles of Christ proved him to be a divinely commissioned teacher. Always be willing to go as far as you can go in the pursuit of truth. If you cannot see everything at once, see all that you can see. Do not be of a critical spirit; be frank and teachable as this man was.

3. Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, ‘Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ”

It is such a mystery, a thing of such a marvellous character, that his old nature cannot see it. He must have new eyes, he must be a new man, he must be born again, before he can “see the kingdom of God.” Have you understood this idea, my dear hearer? Do you understand that you cannot polish yourself up to a certain point, and then see the kingdom of God? You must be born again; there must be a radical change in you, a new birth, a birth from above, if you are even to see the kingdom of God.

4, 5. Nicodemus says to him, “How can a man be born, when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, ‘Unless a man is born by water and by the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’

At first Jesus said that a man could not see the kingdom of God unless he was born again; now he tells Nicodemus that a man cannot enter the kingdom unless he is born by water and by the Spirit. There must be a cleansing; he must be “born by water.” There must be a spiritual life; he must be “born by the Spirit,” or he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6. What is born by the flesh is flesh;

Nothing more. However godly your father, however gracious your mother, all that is “born by the flesh is flesh.”

6. And what is born by the spirit is spirit.

There must be, then, a Spirit-birth, or else you have no spirit; you do not belong to the spiritual realm; and you cannot see and you cannot enter the spiritual kingdom.

7, 8. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound,

The sounding of the wind blowing through the trees, —

8. But cannot tell where it comes from, and where it is going:

Where it begins, where it goes, or where it comes to an end, you cannot tell.

8. So is everyone who is born by the Spirit.”

You do not know where the spirit-life begins; and you cannot tell to what it will lead. There are heights to which the spirit-life can carry you, of which you have never dreamed; this is a mystery beyond your understanding.

9. Nicodemus answered and said to him, “How can these things be?”

He did not deny that they might be; but he asked how they could be. Ah, many a man has asked the same question! “How may I be made anew? How may I become a new creature?” Only he who makes all things can make all things new. The new birth is as great a wonder as creation itself; and there is as much, and a great deal more, to be done in you to make you a Christian, than has been done in you to make you a man.

10. Jesus answered and said, to him, “Are you a master of Israel, and do not know these things?

These truths lie on the very door-step of our holy religion. There are deeper and higher mysteries than these.

11, 12. Truly, truly, I say to you, ‘We speak what we do know, and testify to what we have seen; and you do not receive our witness.’ If I have told you earthly things,

Commonplace things, the lower things of faith. “If I have told you these,” —

12. And you do not believe, how shall you believe, if I tell you about heavenly things?

There are mysteries in our holy religion which we would not tell to everyone. It would be casting pearls before swine to mention them to unregenerate men. Christ tells Nicodemus that the primary truths must be believed before the more advanced doctrines can be revealed.

13. And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he who came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven.

It is Christ who knows everything. He understands all mysteries; he can teach all truth, for he has been in heaven, he came down to earth, and he has gone back again to heaven.

Now, perhaps, some of you will be saying, “How are we to be saved? If there is no salvation without the new birth, how can we obtain the new birth?” Listen. The same chapter which tells you about the mystery of regeneration, tells you about the simple way of salvation by faith in Christ.

14, 15. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

“Whoever.” If you believe in Christ, you are born again. If you trust him, you have the new life. This simple way of salvation is not contradictory to the way of salvation by the new birth, it is the same thing stated in a form that we can comprehend.

16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This text has saved thousands of souls. The constellation in the heavens, called the Great Bear, has in it the two pointers which direct the eye of the observer to the pole-star; and this verse points to Christ so clearly, so distinctly, that many have found him by it, and have lived. Let me read it again: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

17, 18. For God did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He who believes in him is not condemned: but he who does not believe is condemned already,

Not, “shall be condemned at the last,” though that also is true; but “he who does not believe is condemned already,” —

18. Because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.”

May the Lord bless to us the reading of this very simple gospel chapter, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — Rock Of Ages” 552}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — ‘What Must I Do To Be Saved?’ ” 540}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Desiring To Submit” 589}

The following sermons by Mr. Spurgeon will give further instruction to readers who desire to know the teaching of the Scriptures concerning the ordinance of believer’s baptism: —

       No. 573. Baptismal Regeneration (224th. Thousand).
          No. 1,552. The Friends of Jesus.
          No. 1,627. Baptism — A Burial.
          No. 1,832. Elijah’s Plea.
          No. 1,838. The Good Ananias: A Lesson for Believers.
          No. 1,932. Love’s Law and Life.
          No. 2,275. Belief, Baptism, Blessing.

          {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 573, “Baptismal Regeneration” 564}
          {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1552, “The Friends of Jesus” 1552}
          {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1627, “Baptism — a Burial” 1627}
          {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1832, “Elijah’s Plea” 1833}
          {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1838, “The Good Ananias: a Lesson for Believers” 1839}
          {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1932, “Love’s Law and Life” 1933}
          {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2275, “Blessing Belief, Baptism” 2276}
          {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2339, “Baptism Essential to Obedience” 2340}

Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster have also published the following works on the same subject by other authors: —

Baptist Confession of Faith. Thirty-two Articles on Christian Faith and Practice, with Scripture Proofs, adopted by the Ministers and Messenger of the General Assembly, who met in London in 1689. Preface by C. H. Spurgeon. Paper covers, 4d. Post free, 5 stamps.

Lectures On Baptism. By the late William Shirreff, Minster of the Gospel, Glasgow. With a Preface by C. H. Spurgeon. Cloth, 2s. 6d.

“The Lectures are, to our mind, especially likely to conciliate and win those who already hold sound views upon the great doctrines of the gospel. They were clearly meant to be an appeal to the author’s old friends, the Presbyterians. They are thorough and uncompromising; but, at the same time, calm and judicious.” — C. H. Spurgeon.

Baptism Discovered Plainly And Faithfully According To The Word Of God. By John Norcott. A New Edition, corrected and somewhat altered by C. H. Spurgeon. In large type, paper covers, 6d.; cloth, 1s. Cheap edition, just reprinted, price 2d., for distribution, 8s. per 100.

Christian Baptism. A Sermon by the Rev. Hugh Stowell Brown, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Price 1d.

Christian Baptism. A Reply to Rev. S. D. Scammell. By Rev. George Duncan D. D. Price 2d.

Gospel, Received by Faith
552 — Rock Of Ages <7s., 6 lines.>
1 Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
   Let me hide myself in thee!
   Let the water and the blood,
   From thy riven side which flow’d,
   Be of sin the double cure,
   Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
2 Not the labours of my hands
   Can fulfil thy law’s demands:
   Could my zeal no respite know,
   Could my tears for ever flow,
   All for sin could not atone:
   Thou must save, and thou alone.
3 Nothing in my hand I bring,
   Simply to thy cross I cling;
   Naked, come to thee for dress;
   Helpless, look to thee for grace;
   Foul, I to the fountain fly;
   Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
4 Whilst I draw this fleeting breath,
   When my eye-strings break in death,
   When I soar through tracks unknown,
   See thee on thy judgment-throne —
   Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
   Let me hide myself in thee.
               Augustus M. Toplady, 1776.

Gospel, Stated
540 — “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”
1 Nothing, either great or small,
      Nothing, sinner, no;
   Jesus did it, did it all
      Long, long ago.
2 When he from his lofty throne,
      Stoop’d to do and die,
   Everything was fully done:
      Harken to his cry: —
3 “It is finish’d!” Yes, indeed,
      Finish’d every jot:
   Sinner, this is all you need,
      Tell me, is it not?
4 Weary, working, plodding one,
      Why toil you so?
   Cease your doing; all was done
      Long, long ago.
5 Till to Jesus’ work you cling
      By a simple faith,
   “Doing” is a deadly thing,
      “Doing” ends in death.
6 Cast your deadly “doing” down,
      Down at Jesus’ feet,
   Stand in him, in him alone,
      Gloriously complete!
                        James Procter, 1858.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
589 — Desiring To Submit
1 Oh that my load of sin were gone!
   Oh that I could at last submit
   At Jesus’ feet to lay it down,
   To lay my soul at Jesus’ feet!
2 When shall mine eyes behold the Lamb?
   The God of my salvation see?
   Weary, oh Lord, thou know’st I am;
   Yet still I cannot come to thee.
3 Rest for my soul I long to find;
   Saviour divine, if mine thou art,
   Give me thy meek and lowly mind,
   And stamp thine image on my heart.
4 Break off the yoke of inbred sin,
   And fully set my spirit free:
   I cannot rest till pure within,
   Till I am wholly lost in thee.
5 Come, Lord, the drooping sinner cheer,
   Nor let thy chariot wheels delay;
   Appear, in my poor heart appear!
   My God, my Saviour, come away!
                  Charles Wesley, 1742, a.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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