|Presentation of the infant Jesus at the Temple.|
A certain man thought that by being immersed he could find salvation. A friend of his had quite a time explaining to him that it was not so. But this man insisted that, as water could purify the body, so water consecrated by a minister or priest would purify the soul. Finally, to demonstrate that baptism did not mean regeneration, the friend decided upon an object lesson.
“Here,” he said. “I take an ink bottle, cork it tight, put a string round the neck, and drag it through the river. How long will it take to clean out the inside?” The answer was obvious, “You will never in the world clean it out that way.” We must understand once and for all that no outward act will ever cleanse us within. Repentance is an act that takes place within us, while baptism is an outward act that demonstrates to the world what has already happened in our hearts. Thus, neither John the Baptist nor anyone else in the New Testament speaks of “repentance of baptism” but of “baptism of repentance.” Baptism depends upon and is caused by repentance and not vice versa. It does not make sense for the unrepentant to be baptized.