Sermon quotes on baptism

Jay Adams

Probably in our own, modern substitutes for (immediate baptism upon profession) – raising hands, coming forward, etc. – are the result of a felt need to do something for those who believe. It seems certain that those who believed were distinguished from those who did not. There is no evidence that the New Testament evangelistic preachers asked them to come forward, but there is every indication that they did invite those who believed to be baptized (Ac. 2:38). And it seems that this was the way in which new converts professed their faith in Christ and came under the care and discipline of the church. 

Preaching with a Purpose, Zondervan.

James H. Aughey

God brings men into deep waters not to drown them, but to cleanse them.

Augustine of Hippo

One generation and another generation; the generation by which we are made the faithful, and are born again by baptism; the generation by which we shall rise again from the dead, and shall live with the Angels for ever.

Saint Augustine of Hippo, Aeterna Press.

Dorothy Bass

For all Christians, baptism embodies release from yesterday’s sin and receipt of tomorrow’s promise: going under the water, the old self is buried in the death of Christ; rising from the water the self is new, joined to the resurrected Christ.

Dorothy Bass, Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time, Jossey-Bass.

John Calvin

Question: How do you know yourself to be a son of God in fact as well as in name?

Answer: “Because I am baptized in the name of God the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” 

Catechism of the Church of Geneva

Alfred Edersheim

His previous life had been that of the Perfect Ideal Israelite – believing, unquestioning, submissive – in preparation for that which, in His thirteenth year, He had learned as its business. The Baptism of Christ was the last act of His private life; and, emerging from its waters in prayer, He learned: when His business was to commence, and how it would be done. 

The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.

Rachel Held Evans

But sometimes I think what the church needs most is to recover some of its weird. There’s no sense in sending her through the makeover montage of the chick flick when she’ll always be the strange, awkward girl who only gets invited to prom on a dare. In the ritual of baptism, our ancestors acted out the bizarre truth of the Christian identity: We are people who stand totally exposed before evil and death and declare them powerless against love. There’s nothing normal about that.

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, Thomas Nelson Press.


Philip Gill

‘I am baptized!’ Apparently Martin Luther, the great 16th century figure of the reformation used to take great comfort from these words. When it seemed to him that the whole church had left the precepts of the Gospel, when he was under scrutiny from Church officials as to the truth of his beliefs, when his life was under threat and when he suffered self doubt he would boldly claim, ‘I am baptized.’

Gregory of Nyssa

For ‘the Spirit breathes where He wills, and thou hearest His voice, but canst not tell whence He cometh or whither He goeth.’ He blesses the body that is baptized, and the water that baptizes. Despise not, therefore, the Divine laver, nor think lightly of it, as a common thing, on account of the use of water. For the power that operates is mighty, and wonderful are the things that are wrought thereby.

Vance Havner

We may never be martyrs but we can die to self, to sin, to the world, to our plans and ambitions. That is the significance of baptism; we died with Christ and rose to new life.

Michael Horton

Baptism is not only a sacrament of our union with Christ; it is also a sacrament of our communion as the body of Christ.

Thomas Keating

If you accept the belief that baptism incorporates us in the mystical body of Christ, into the divine DNA, then you might say that the Holy Spirit is present in each of us, and thus we have the capacity for the fullness of redemption, of transformation.

Liturgy Training Publications

When the convert emerges from the water, the world seems changed. The world has not changed, it is always wonderful and horrible, iniquitous and filled with beauty. But now, after baptism, the eyes that see the world have changed.

Max Lucado

Baptism separates the tire kickers from the car buyers.

Max Lucado

Baptism is the initial step of a faithful heart.

Martin Luther

Baptism signifies that the old Adam in us is to be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance, and perish with all sins and evil lusts; and that the new man should daily come forth again and rise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

George Macdonald

The seed dies into a new life, and so does man.

Eugene Peterson

Every call to worship is a call into the Real World…. I encounter such constant and widespread lying about reality each day and meet with such skilled and systematic distortion of the truth that I’m always in danger of losing my grip on reality. The reality, of course, is that God is sovereign and Christ is savior. The reality is that prayer is my mother tongue and the eucharist my basic food. The reality is that baptism, not Myers-Briggs, defines who I am.

Take and Read: Spiritual Reading — An Annotated List.

Alexander Schmemann

Thus the whole death is not the biological phenomenon of death but the spiritual reality whose “sting… is sin” (1 Cor. 15:56) – the rejection by man of the only true life given to him by God. “Sin entered the world and death by sin ” (Rom. 5:12): there is no other life but God’s life; the one who rejects it dies because life without God is death. This is the spiritual death, the one that fill the entire life with “dying” and, being separation from God, makes man’s life solitude and suffering, fear and illusion, enslavement to sin and enmity, meaninglessness, lust and emptiness. It is this spiritual death that makes man’s physical death truly death…”

 Of Water and the Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism

John Stott

Baptism with water is the sign and seal of baptism with the Spirit, as much as it is of the forgiveness of sins. Water-baptism is the initiatory Christian rite, because Spirit-baptism is the initiatory Christian experience.

John Stott

Being a Christian involves a personal, vital identification with Jesus Christ, and this union with Him is dramatically set forth in our baptism.

Secret Church

William Stringfellow

Thus the vocation of the baptized person is a simple thing: it is to live from day to day, whatever the day brings, in this extraordinary unity, in this reconciliation with all people and all things, in this knowledge that death has no more power, in this truth of the resurrection. It does not really matter exactly what a Christian does from day to day. What matters is that whatever one does is done in honor of one’s own life, given to one by God and restored to one in Christ, and in honor of the life into which all humans and all things are called.

The only thing that really matters to live in Christ instead of death”

Instead of Death: New and Expanded Edition.

Hans Urs von Balthasar

The Church does not dispense the sacrament of baptism in order to acquire for herself an increase in membership but in order to consecrate a human being to God and to communicate to that person the divine gift of birth from God.

Unless You Become Like This Child

N.T. Wright

Christian living means dying with Christ and rising again. That, as we saw, is part of the meaning of baptism, the starting point of the Christian pilgrimage.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense.

John Calvin

For so long as we remain cooped up in this prison of our body, traces of sin will dwell in us; but if we faithfully hold fast to the promise given us by God in baptism, they shall not dominate or rule.

Tish Harrison Warren

As Christians, we wake each morning as those who are baptized. We are united with Christ and the approval of the Father is spoken over us. We are marked from our first waking moment by an identity that is given to us by grace: an identity that is deeper and more real than any other identity we will don that day.

Taken Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. Copyright (c) 2016 by Tish Harrison Warren, p.61. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

Martin Luther

Thus, we must regard baptism and put it to use in such a way that we may draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and say: ‘But I am baptized! And if I have been baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.

The Large Catechism,” in The Book of Concord (1580), ed. Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000), pt. 4, §44 (462).

John Chrysostom 

The heavens were opened to show us that our baptism will open the heavens for us. God is made accessible to us. We can know the Unknowable. We can be changed. A good work is done in us, and we have the means to have the promise fulfilled in us.

Cyril of Jerusalem

[When you were baptized,] you died and were born in one and the same moment. This saving water was both tomb and womb. It is a strange thing, quite out of the ordinary.

For indeed, at the moment of Baptism we are not actually dead, we have not really been placed in the tomb, we are not actually brought back from the dead: by these ceremonies we seek to represent Christ’s Passion.

Yet we are truly given new life.

Sermon 2.4, in The Awe-Inspiring Rites of Initiation: Baptismal Homilies of the Fourth Century, ed. Edward Yarnold (Slough: St. Paul, 1972), 76.

Martin Luther

Thus a Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, begun once and continuing ever after. For we must keep at it without ceasing, always purging whatever pertains to the old Adam, so that whatever belongs to the new creature may come forth.

The Large Catechism, Book of Concord p.445.

Maximus of Turin

Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy.

Sermo 100

Marcus Peter Johnson

Baptism is not something other than the gospel, it is the gospel in three-dimensional form, the experience and assurance of which we live for the rest of our lives.

One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 231.

Marilynne Robinson

“It is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash.”

Gilead: A Novel (London: Picador, 2004), p.28.

Alexander Schmemann

“Biological” or physical death is not the whole death, not even its ultimate essence …in [the] Christian vision, death is above all a spiritual reality, of which one can partake while being alive, from which one can be free while lying in the grave. Death here is man’s separation from life, and this means from God Who is the Giver of life, Who Himself is Life. 

Of Water and the Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1974), 62–63.

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