“Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord,” Acts 10:47, 48
The ordinance of baptism, in reference to the church of God , sets forth something of an experiential character very strikingly. In the first place, as baptism is a burial, it is not normal to bury anyone until he is dead. No living person is put into the grave and buried. In like manner, no sinner has a right to the ordinance of baptism until he is dead. I speak not of the death of the body. Of what death, then, do I speak? The death of which the apostle speaks: “I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” It is the soul that is dead to the law, dead to all hope of salvation and justification by works of righteousness. Are you dead, my friends? If you are not dead in this sense, you have no right to the ordinances of God’s house; the command does not belong to you.
About eighteen years ago…,I met an aged pilgrim in a narrow passage, quite unexpectedly, and having shaken hands with me, he said, “I hear you are going to baptize before you leave the town.” “Yes,” I said, “I am, on Thursday night.” Then, in a rather sharp and hurried manner, he said, “Well, Sir, are you going to baptize the dead or the living?” The question came to me in a rather novel form, and I was for the moment at a loss for an answer. After a short pause, however, I saw the old man’s design, and I said, “I hope I am going to baptize both the living and the dead. They are dead to all hope of saving themselves by works of righteousness, but they are alive to God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” -- JOHN KERSHAW, 1853
From Shreveport Grace Church bulletin, March 11, 2007