“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)
Baptism is a public profession of our faith in Jesus Christ. It is our initial opportunity to put our newfound faith on public display! It is our chance to proudly announce to others that we have become a Christian. Far from being ashamed of it, we’re ecstatic about it and pleased to offer public proof of it! By submitting to Christ’s command to be baptized we’re showing everyone how serious and sincere we are about living the rest of our lives for Him who gave His life for us on the Cross of Calvary!
According to Jesus, if we’re ashamed of Him before men, He’ll be ashamed of us when He returns “in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Having already separated sinners from saints by differentiating between those unwilling and willing to: (1) Come to Him (2) Deny themselves (3) Take up their cross (4) Follow Him, and (5) Lose their lives for His sake and the gospel’s (vs. 34-37), Christ’s now makes a final distinction between sinners and saints. Whereas saints are distinguished as those who unashamedly confess Christ (Romans 10:9-10) and preach the Gospel (Romans 1:16), sinners are distinguished as those who are too ashamed to do either.
Sinners and saints are easily detected. Sinners, for fear of suffering this world’s persecution, and in hopes of securing this world’s praise, will refuse to profess Christ (1 John 4:1-3) and to preach the cross (Galatians 5:11). Saints, on the other hand, will do both, regardless of cost and consequence to themselves (Acts 4:20; 1 Corinthians 9:16).
Although baptism has nothing to do with our salvation, it speaks volumes about whether or not we are truly saved. Why would the truly saved refuse to be baptized? Why would a true follower of Christ be disobedient to Him and publicly ashamed of Him? Truly, the only plausible explanation is the want of true salvation.
“Someone says, ‘I can be saved without being baptized.’ 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 whose idea of religion is that he will do what is essential to his own salvation, only cares to save his own skin. Clearly, you are no servant of Christ’s. Baptism, if not essential to your salvation, is essential to your obedience to Christ.” (C. H. Spurgeon)