“Baptism Now Saves You”
An Online class on the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and the Christian Faith.
Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, E. Peoria, IL
Written By Pastor Craig S. Stanford
“Baptism now saves you__ not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience__ through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 3:21
This class is simple. Simply read through the material contained on this Webpage and if you have any questions, please click on the e-mail icon and Pastor Craig Stanford will answer any questions you might have. If you want to talk to him directly, please call 691-3911.
I. Church Membership is of two kinds.
There is baptized membership in the church. Baptism is the sacrament of initiation. Through the water and the Word, God the Father adopts the baptized as a son or daughter by uniting the baptized with Jesus Christ, who became our brother. A person who believes and is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is a Christian and has all the gifts of the Gospel – – namely the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.
The second kind of membership is Communicant Membership. Once a Christian is baptized and is old enough to be instructed in the doctrines of the Holy Scripture, the Christian is to receive instruction and upon mastering the basic articles of faith, especially in regard to the Law, Gospel, and sacraments of Jesus Christ, the Christian is admitted to Lord’s Supper.
The Sacrament of Holy Baptism requires little theological training. But the Holy Scripture teaches that a person who participates in Holy Communion is to have a more thorough understanding of the doctrines of Jesus Christ. For additional study please read 1 Cor. 10:16ff, 1 Cor. 11:16-31, and Acts 2:40-44.
II. Three Theological Traditions in the Christian Church
The Christian church has broken itself down into three basic theological groups. The Roman Catholic and Eastern traditions, the Reformed traditions, and the Lutheran tradition.
At Issue is this question “How does God accomplish the salvation of souls?” Each tradition thinks and answers this question differently. The answer given directly affects their view of Holy Baptism.
The three basic explanations of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism
Roman Catholic and Eastern Traditions
Baptism is the work of the church, wherein God infuses the substance of grace into the baptized, setting the baptized on the road to good works, thus meriting the forgiveness of sins. (Roman Catholic)
Baptism is the work of the one being baptized as a symbol of the commitment (decision) he/she has made to Jesus. “It is an outward symbol of an inward reality.”
The Lutheran View
Baptism is a work of God in Jesus Christ wherein He gives the Gospel and all its benefits to the one being baptized out of His sheer grace and mercy. The Lutherans regard the Sacrament of Holy Baptism as the Gospel in liquid form.
III. The Gospel
What is the Gospel? Answer: The Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, became incarnate in Jesus Christ, lived a life of perfect obedience to the Law of God, was crucified for the sins of the world, forsaken by God the Father in our place, and was raised on the third day. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ for Christ’s sake alone.
Romans 3:21 “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”
1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not merely an idea or set of beliefs. The Gospel of Jesus Christ actually gives spiritual and temporal blessings to those who believe. What does the Gospel give?
– The Person of Jesus Christ – – Col 3:3.
– The Work of Jesus Christ – – Romans 5:19.
– Peace with God – – Eph. 214.
– Forgiveness of sins – – Luke 1:77.
– The resurrection from the dead – – 1 Cor. 15:13-15.
– Eternal Life – – Rom. 6:23
– A room in the heavenly mansion – – John 14:1-2.
– The indwelling of the Holy Spirit – – Rom. 5:5
– A new nature in the image of Jesus Christ – – 2 Cor. 2:5
– Victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil 1 Cor. 15:56-57, 1 John 3:8-10
– Fellowship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and fellowship with all the
saints. 1 John 1:1-10
IV. The Need For Forgiveness – The Doctrine Of Sin
From the moment of conception all human beings are born in bondage to sin. With the exception of Jesus Christ, every human being cannot help but sin. Everything we do is tainted by sin. Death is God’s standing judgment against sin. Infants die, thus proving they are in need of what Jesus Christ gives.
Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned – 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.”
Thus far we have learned the all people are conceived and born in sin and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ saves us from our sin and God’s righteous judgment. But the question arises, how does the work of Jesus Christ from nearly 2,000 years ago get applied to me in the here and now? The answer: Through the means of grace.
V. What Is A “Means Of Grace?”
Definition of Means of Grace – The manner or way in which God brings the person and work of Jesus Christ some 2,000 years ago to individuals.
Throughout the Old and New Testament God always attached His words, promises, and commands to physical elements and actions. As mention above, the Gospel is not an abstract idea or pious thoughts. It is a real and concrete promise of God. Throughout all of human history, God has attached His Word of Promise, or His curse of judgment to physical objects and events. Among the examples are the following:
*Look upon the Bronze Snake made by Moses and be saved – Numbers 21:4-9
*Naaman instructed by Elisha to wash in Jordan seven times to be healed from leprosy – 2 Kings 5:10-11
*Elijah who stretched out on top of the widows son three times to bring him back to life – 1 Kings 17:21-22
*John the Baptist who baptized the people as He preached a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins – Luke 3:3
*Touching Jesus or the touch of Jesus brought healing to many – Luke 8:43-44
*Commanding the ten leprous men to show themselves to the High Priest. Luke 17:14
*The command to fill the water pots which lead to the miracle of changing water into wine – John 2:6
God does not work in the abstract. The Christian religion, unlike so many other world religions is incarnational. God uses physical elements and acts to carry His Word and promises. This is what He does in using Sacraments of Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper to impart His grace and create and sustain faith.
A Sacrament is a sacred act and, when the following three things are present they constitute a sacrament or sacred act:
1. There is a direct command of Jesus Christ Himself.
2. The Word of God is used together with physical element (i.e. water, bread and wine, the spoken Word)
3. God gives forgiveness of sins in and through the physical element, which are joined to His Word
So how does the cross of Jesus Christ, 2,000 years ago, come to us? The Gospel comes to us through the “means” (the tools) of God. Those tools are His Word and Sacraments.
Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. 18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.”
There is generally little debate that the spoken or written Word creates and sustains Christian faith. The question is, “Is Baptism another form of the Gospel?” “Does God create a Christian in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.
VI. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
Baptism – Greek – “Baptizo” – means “to dip, sink, ceremonially washing, undergo, [the] root baph – to dip, dipped.” (Strong’s Analytical Concordance.) To be baptized is to be washed clean with a spiritual washing in which real water is used. The word immersion, or to put under water, also applies this washing, but must be connected to the idea of being made spiritually clean. Reformed traditions often stress the importance of “being immersed” as the only proper way of being baptized. But the Scripture makes it clear that what is needed is water and the Word. The amount of water or the method of baptizing has not been set down as a law in the Scripture. The Greek word (Greek is the original language of the New Testament), apolouo is used in the New Testament as a synonym for baptizo and means “to wash off, wash away:__ wash away, washed.”
To be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is to be washed, made clean in the person and work of Jesus Christ. An examination of the whole Scripture (not just a few misunderstood passages) shows that Holy Baptism is the liquid form of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
VII. The Problem of not Using the whole Scripture
Unfortunately, many Christian denominations do not draw their doctrine of Holy Baptism from the full counsel of God. Baptism must be understood from the whole counsel of God. The doctrine of Holy Baptism is to be drawn from the entire Old and New Testaments. The God of the Old Testament period is the same God presented to us in the pages of the New Testament. In the Old Testament we have already seen that God uses means. The words and deeds of the prophets and the blood sacrifices of animals were the means by which God applied the blessings of the promised Messiah to the people who lived before the birth of Christ.
Christian denominations that deny the power of Holy Baptism often ignore or rationalize the meaning of many New Testament Bible passages that deal with the true nature of Holy Baptism. But if the full significance of Holy Baptism is going to be rightly comprehended, the entire New Testament must be used.
The Old Testament Sacrificial System – Atonement
The Old Testament Rite of Circumcision and Instruction
THE | THE BOOK | THE
GOSPELS | OF ACTS | EPISTLES
THE NEW TESTAMENT
DOCTRINE OF BAPTISM
What Does the New Testament Say?
VIII. What does the New Testament actually teach about Holy Baptism?
In order to see the full picture, it is essential to study what all three sections of the New Testament teach concerning Holy Baptism. So here is a suggestion. As you look over the Bible passages below, take a piece of paper and write down exactly what each verse says about Holy Baptism or the washing of water and the Word. Once you have done this we can compare what the Scripture teaches concerning Holy Baptism with what the Scripture says about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Matt. 3:5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; 6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
Mark 1:4 John the Baptizer lived in the wilderness and preached that people should repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
Luke 3:3 He [John the Baptist] went into the whole Jordan Valley and preached the Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.“
John 3:22-23 After this, Jesus and his disciples went into the country of Judea and there He was spending sometime with them and baptizing. John too was baptizing in Aenon, near Salim, because water was plentiful there. People came and were baptized.
John 4:1-3 When the Lord found out that the Pharisees had heard that He was making and baptizing more disciples than John, although Jesus Himself was not baptizing but his disciples, He left Judea and went back toward Galilee.
[The the Baptist said] “I have baptized you with water. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)
John 3:5-6 “I tell you the absolute truth, if anyone is not born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What is born of the flesh is flesh, but what is born of the Spirit is spirit.'”
Mark 10:38-39 “Can you drink the cup which I am drinking or be baptized with the baptism with which I am being baptized?” “`We can,’ they told Him. `You will drink the cup I am drinking,’ Jesus told them, `and be baptized with the baptism with which I am being baptized.'”
John 19:33 “But coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; 34 but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.”
Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all people by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to pay close attention to everything I have commanded you–And remember I am with you always, even until the end of time.”
Summary of what the Gospel teach:
1) that John’s Baptism is a sacrament that prefigures the full Christian Baptism in Christ Jesus.
2) It calls people to repentance.
3) It empowers people to repent.
4) It brings the forgiveness of sins.
5) It points to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
6) We also learn that Jesus’s entire ministry is a Baptism into His death and resurrection.
7) The entire life of the Christian is also a baptism into the person and work of Jesus.
8) That upon the completion of Christ’s earthly ministry, Baptism will carry with it the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and more. That is Baptism will come into its fullness.
What Does The Book Of Acts Say About Baptism?
Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 “For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized;
Acts 8:35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing.
Acts 9:17 And Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized;
Acts 1:16 “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 “If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”
Acts 16:15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
Acts 16:32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.
Acts 22:16 “And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”
Acts. 7:9 “And the patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. And yet God was with him, 10 and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household.
The testimony of the Book of Acts shows that
1) Baptism is not a human work, a mere symbol of an inward change.
2) It is a command and work of God that washes away sin.
3) In the case of adults, Baptism follows a confession of faith in Christ.
4) It is a promise that is given by God to children and adults alike.
5) Households include everyone, young and old alike.
6) Baptism and conversion to Christianity are to be closely tied together in time.
7) It gives forgiveness and the Holy Spirit
8) It is connected to the name of Jesus Christ.
What Do The Epistles Say About Baptism?
Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.
1 Cor. 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
1 Cor. 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Cor. 15:29 Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
Gal. 3:24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Eph. 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Eph. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory.
Col. 2:9 For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you__ not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience__ through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
1 Cor. 6:10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Hebrews 10:20 “By a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
Rev. 7:14 And I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
In these passages and many others in the Epistles we learn of the true nature and power of Holy Baptism. In the Book of Acts we learn what was said and done in regard to Christian converts and Holy Baptism. The Epistles were written to teach us why these things were said and done. We learn from the Epistles many things regarding the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Among them:
1) In Holy Baptism we are buried with Christ in His crucifixion.
2) We are raised in His resurrection.
3) Our sins are washed way.
4) Baptism saves us and replaces circumcision and circumcision was performed when a son was eight days old.
5). Holy Baptism is likened unto the way in which Noah and his family was saved from a sinful world through the flood of water. We too are saved by the water of Holy Baptism.
6) Holy Baptism is the washing of regeneration wherein a new nature is created.
7) Holy Baptism unites us in Jesus Chris and unites us in one faith, one Lord, and one Baptism.
8) Holy Baptism guarantees a good conscience before God.
9) Holy Baptism is a spiritual robe that is worn and is seen in heaven.
10) Holy Baptism applies the blood of the Lamb to the one who is baptized.
BAPTISM = THE GOSPEL
Our walk through the New Testament regarding the doctrine of Holy Baptism has demonstrated just how powerful and dynamic this particular means of grace is. The results can be summarized in this way:
Holy Baptism in Gospels: John’s Baptism of Repentance is for the forgiveness of sin. John’s Baptism comes from God in heaven, not men; Jesus, in His earthly ministry, takes over the act of baptizing and baptizes more people than John did; Christ Jesus speaks of His entire work as a baptism into which the disciples and all believers will be baptized; The Holy Spirit will be given in the new Baptism; the church is commanded to make disciples by baptizing and teaching people from all nations.
Holy Baptism in the Book of Acts: In Baptism God gives a promise to even children; faith and repentance are immediately followed by Baptism (A confession of faith and baptism are tied as closely in time as circumstance permits). In Baptism sin is washed away. The Holy Spirit is given to the one being baptized. Entire households, families, are baptized.
Baptism in the Epistles: In Holy Baptism we are buried with Christ in His crucifixion, we are raised in His resurrection; our sin is washed a way; Baptism saves us; Baptism replaces circumcision; Baptism is the washing of regeneration-a new nature is created; it unites in Christ; it unites in one faith, one Lord; there is only one Holy Baptism.
IX. What Does Church History Teach About Baptism?
As we have seen, the practice of baptizing infants as part of ones households would have been a natural continuation of the Old Testament practice of circumcision. Some argue that the New Testament’s “silence” on the matter of baptizing infants proves that infants were not being baptized. This is known as an argument from silence and arguments from silence are by nature weak. The same “silence” could also support the assertion that it was common place for infants to be baptized. If it is true that infants were being baptized at the time when the Epistles were being written, and if it were wrong to do so, then the Apostles certainly would have written forbidding the practice. Remember the Epistles were written to correct erring beliefs and practices. In the Church of Corinth the Lord’s Supper was being used in an ungodly fashion. In order to restore a right understand and use of the body and blood of Jesus, St. Paul addressed that problem in 1 Corinthians chapter ten and eleven. The same would have been true in the case of Holy Baptism.
The testimony of church history supports the practice of baptizing infants. Justin Martyr’s writings (A.D. 89-166) support the claim that Christian men and women had entered the status of discipleship in childhood as infants between 80-90 A.D. Polycarp was a student of St. John the Apostle. His own testimony indicated that he was brought into the Christian faith at a very early age (certainly prior to what is normally accepted as the age of accountability). Tertullian (200 A.D.) attested that the practice of baptizing infants was the standard practice and not a new innovation. Tertullian expressed concerns about the practice when applied to certain groups of people. Jeremias in his book Apostolic Tradition spoke of entire households being baptized, even the smallest of the children (215-220). The Catacombs also show that little children and babies were baptized every early in the New Testament Church. The practice of baptizing infants was not seriously challenged until the time of the Radical Reformers in the 16th century. The Radical Reformers introduced new doctrines and practices concern many articles of faith.
The testimony from church history is strong. The practice of baptizing infants is part and parcel of the New Testament early church. Given the theology of Holy Baptism in the Epistles of the New Testament, it is easy to see why Holy Baptism was so greatly valued by the New Testament and Early Church.
X. Concluding Comments
The Holy Spirit creates the miracle of faith in young and old alike, even infants through the Word and through Baptism. There is no “magical age of accountability” at which time one must come to Jesus Christ. And, more importantly, there is no magical age at which time the Gospel will come to a person. It comes to people in every place and of every age. The Gospel claims who it will and when it will. God has chosen to use the means of grace (water and the Word) which He has given to the Church to make the adoption complete. The Word of God (Law and Gospel together) and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are God’s tools He used to make and sustain Christians.
Human beings contribute nothing to their own conversion. Salvation is by grace, through faith (which itself is a work of God!), in Jesus Christ alone, for Christ’s sake alone. As people grow up in the Church, they learn what God has done for them in Christ on the cross and how He applied this justifying work to them in the Word and Sacraments. The work begun in Holy Baptism is now lived out in daily repentance. No longer are believers in bondage to sin. “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Rom. 6:18)
All that is present in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ because the Sacrament of Holy Baptism derives all of its power and benefits from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the water is only water. But when God combines His Word to the water, the result is Holy Baptism.
Yet as powerful and wonder as the Gospel in Holy Baptism is, the Scripture also teaches that if one is going to be saved, a person need to live by faith. In Holy Baptism a person is made a Christ. But it is only through a life lived in the Church and by making use of the means of grace that a person will remain a Christian. Holy Baptism is not a one time event. It is for daily use.
Just as a person needs to eat food on a regular basis to maintain the physical life, so also the Christian needs to feed on the Gospel of Christ. The Christian does this through regular worship, church members, service to God by serving the church and ones neighbor. Do not neglect the worship service the Scripture teaches for in so doing you neglect your own life in Christ.
In holy baptism a person is made a Christian. But it is equally important that the newly created Christian be raise in the Church. Here is the difference between the Lutheran worship service and Sunday School and the Reformed service and Sunday School. The Reformed teach a person what he or she must become, namely a “good Christian”. The Lutheran teaches the baptized (regardless of age) what God has already made the baptized to be, namely a Christian. In the Lutheran service and Sunday School, the baptized learns what he/she already is.
The Small Catechism
What is Baptism?
Baptism is not water only, but water used together with the Word, and by his command.
What benefits does God give in Baptism?
In Baptism God forgives sin, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe what he has promised.
How can water do such great things?
It is not the water that does these things, but God’s Word with the water and our trust in this Word. Water by itself is only water, but water with the Word of God is a life-giving water which by grace gives the new birth through the Holy Spirit.
What does Baptism mean for daily living?
It means that our sinful self, with all its evil deeds and desires, should be drowned through daily repentance; and that day after day a new self should arise to live with God in righteousness and purity forever.
Dr. Martin Luther wrote the following about Holy Baptism;
In Baptism, therefore, every Christian has enough to study and practice all his life. He always has enough to do to believe firmly what Baptism promises and brings-victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, God’s grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with His gifts. In short, the blessings of Baptism are so boundless that if timid nature considers them, it may well doubt whether they could all be true.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. (Ps. 55:8)
The overwhelming testimony of Holy Scripture is that Holy Baptism does something, namely it delivers all the benefits and promises of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to make us children of God. Gal. 4:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
The members of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church invite you to our church to be baptized and to raise your family (children) in the church. Here you will find the Word of God and the Sacraments administered according to Christ’s good and gracious will. Once you have been baptized and are regularly worshiping with us, we invite you to attend the new member class, Confessing the Apostolic Faith in preparation to receive the holy body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you for taking the time to take this online class.