You can have saving faith, and not have received the physical sign of baptism; and of course, you can be physically baptized and not have faith in what your baptism is a sign of. But the clichÃ© that baptism without faith is just â€œgettinâ€™ wetâ€ isnâ€™t quite the full picture. Rather, baptism without faith is like those moments in the Lord of the Rings where the pathetic creature Gollum has the elven rope tied around his neck. In short, the very nature of the rope makes it a burning torment to him.
The grace of faith may arise before or after the sacrament itself. But if the grace of faith never arises, the sacrament is like a heavy chain which you canâ€™t be free of. The bright glory promised in baptism will turn out to be fiery wrath if faith is absent. Because in baptism youâ€™re buried and risen with Christ and you enjoy this by faith in the operation of God which raised Jesus from the grave (Col. 2:12). So the charge to those who have been baptizedâ€“â€“or are about to be baptizedâ€“â€“your faith in Christ and your baptism into Christ must go hand in glove.