Mr. MacDonald asked the inhabitants of the island of St. Kilda how a man must be saved. An old man replied, "We will be saved if we repent and forsake our sins and turn to God." "Yes," said a middle-aged woman, "and with a true heart too." "Yes," rejoined a third, "and with prayer"; and a fourth added, "It must be the prayer of the heart." "And we must be diligent too," said a fifth, "in keeping the commandments." When each of them made their contribution, feeling that a very decent creed had been made up, they all looked and listened for the preacher's approval, but they had aroused his deepest pity.
The secular mind always maps out for itself a way in which self can work and become great, but the Lord's way is quite the reverse. Believing and being baptized are not matters of merit to be gloried in—they are so simple that boasting is excluded. It may be that the reader is unsaved—what is the reason? Do you think the way of salvation as laid down in the text is dubious? How can that be when God has pledged His own word for its certainty? Do you think it too easy? Why, then, do you not obey it?
Those who neglect it are without excuse. To believe is simply to trust, to depend, to rely upon Christ Jesus. To be baptized is to submit to the ordinance that our Lord fulfilled at Jordan, to which the converted ones submitted at Pentecost, to which the jailer yielded obedience on the very night of his conversion. The outward sign does not save, but it portrays our death, burial, and resurrection with Jesus and, like the Lord's Supper, is not to be neglected. Reader, do you believe in Jesus? Then, dear friend, dismiss your fears—you will be saved. Are you still an unbeliever? Then remember there is only one door, and if you will not enter by it you will perish in your sins.
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.