Not Magic, But a Sign

“We have taught that those baptized in the Lord Jesus are made one body with him in his death, and through baptism they die with him and are buried with him and in his Resurrection they rise to new life.  Therefore, the true use or observance of baptism is that we regularly die to the old Adam and this kind of dying we must do as long as life shall last.” (Wolfgang Capito, A reformer who worked alongside Martin Bucer in Strasbourg)

“Capito makes a point here which is essential to understanding the further development of the Reformed rite of baptism.  Baptism is not a ritual which saves one as if by magic at a particular time or occasion. It is not as though before one is baptized one is lost and after baptism one is saved. Baptism is far more a sign under which the Christian lives out the whole of life. It is a sign of continual washing from sins and a continual renewal in new life. It is not so much the ritual of a once-and-for-all crisis experience as it is a prophetic promise of what is and always will be the character of the Christian life.” (Hughes Oliphant Old, commenting on the above quote in The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite, p. 52)