In the second place, inasmuch as we now know what Baptism is, and how it is to be regarded, we must also learn the purpose and end for which it was instituted, that is, its benefits and effects. This we have admirably set forth in the words of Christ, quoted above, namely: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," Mark 16, 16. Therefore, comprise it in the most simple manner, thus, The virtue, work, use, fruit, end of Baptism, is to save. For no one is baptized in order to become a prince, but, as the words say, in order to be saved. It is well known, however, that to be saved implies nothing less than to be liberated from sin, death, and the devil, to come into the kingdom of Christ, and to live eternally with him.
Here you perceive again how preciuos and valuable Baptism is to be esteemed, since we obtain in it such an inestimable treasure,– a circumstance which goes far to prove that Baptism cannot be mere, simple water; for simple water could not effect what is thus accomplished by the word of God, and because, as previously said, the name of God is in it. But wherever the name of God is, there also must be life and salvation; hence it is truly a divine, blissful, fruitful, and gracious water; for through the word it obtains the power to become a washing of regeneration, as St. Paul terms it, Tit. 3, 5.
But in reply to our sophists, the innovating spirits, who assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things add nothing to salvation, we say, it is true, that nothing in us effects it, but faith, as we shall hear subsequently. But these blind leaders will not observe, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, to which it adheres, and upon which it rests and depends. Thus faith adheres to the water, and believes that in Baptism are embraced life and eternal happiness, not through any virtue of the water, as has been sufficiently stated, but through Baptism's being connected with the word and ordinance of God, and ennobled by his name. Now, if I believe this, in what else do I believe but in God, as in him who has given and implanted his name in Baptism, and proposed to us this external object, in which we are able to lay hold of this treasure?
Now, these innovators are so insane as to separate faith and the object to which it adheres, although that object is external. Indeed it should and must be external, so that it can be perceived and apprehended by the senses, and conveyed to the heart through them; for the whole Gospel is an external and oral message. In a word, whatever God does and performs in us, he wishes to effect through such external ordinances. Now, wherever he speaks, yes, rather in whatever way or through whatever instrument he speaks, to this the eyes of faith are to be directed, and to this faith must cleave. Now, here we have the words: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." In reference to what else are these words spoken, but to Baptism; that is, the water embraced in the ordinance of God? It follows, therefore, that whoever rejects Baptism, rejects the Word of God, rejects faith, and Christ, who refers and binds us to Baptism.