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What Luther Says

Baptism As A Means Of Grace

Yesterday, we explained what the "Means of Grace" are. Today, I thought we could look at one of them more closely.

I had always viewed Baptism as something I DID to show my commitment, devotion, love, and obedience to Jesus for all the public to see when, in reality, it is something HE DID to show His commitment, devotion, love, obedience to me!

More importantly, it is Baptism that made me a child of God and a part of God's kingdom! It is Baptism that washed me clean of my sins and gave me forgiveness and salvation!

If you're not a Lutheran, then that's probably really difficult for you to accept, especially if you believe that we only truly become a Christian when we "Make A Decision For Jesus Christ" (a.k.a "Decision Theology" or something else I used to believe wholeheartedly).

Ok, so what does the Bible actually say about Baptism? What do Lutherans actually believe, teach, and confess about this Means of Grace? What about that whole "baptizing babies" stuff too?

The following article is quoted partially from the Christian Cyclopedia provided by The LCMS and it should provide us with some crystal clear answers to those key questions.

Baptism As A Means Of Grace 
1. Baptism Instituted By Christ. 
Baptism was instituted by Christ (Matthew 28:18–19) and is to be used as a means to impart forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation till the end of time. Its visible element is water (1 Peter 3:20–21); nothing else may be substituted. The mode of applying water is an adiaphoron, the Greek term baptizein meaning not only immersing but also washing, sprinkling, and pouring (Mark 7:3–4; Acts 1:5 cf. 2:16–17; Ephesians 5:25–26; Hebrews 9:10 [“washings,” literally “baptisms”] cf. Numbers 19:13, 19; Didache 7:1–3).

2. Purpose of Baptism. 
“It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare” (SC IV 6). According to Scripture, Christ sanctifies His church with the washing of water by the Word (Ephesians 5:25–26). Baptism makes disciples of men (Matthew 28:19); it saves (1 Peter 3:21); it is a washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) by which men are born again (John 3:5–6). Through Baptism we put on Christ, that is, His merits and righteousness, by the very faith which, by application of the Gospel, it creates in the heart (Galatians 3:26–27); for Baptism is pure Gospel, not Law, and hence it does not save mechanically, but by faith, which receives the blessings Baptism offers and which is worked by this Sacrament; the Gospel is both the means of creating faith and the foundation of faith. Baptism also unites the baptized with the Triune God, for we are baptized into communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19) as also into communion with Christ (Galatians 3:27). And by Baptism we are buried with Christ into death, that is, through Baptism we partake of the merits which Christ procured for the whole world by His vicarious suffering and death (Romans 6:3–5). Baptism, as the application of the saving Gospel, is, therefore, a true means of grace. “How can water do such great things? It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water” (SC IV 9–10). Baptism is a means of grace because it “is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's word” (SC IV 2), the Gospel promise of salvation. Those who have fallen from baptismal grace should remember that God's promises of forgiveness, life, and salvation remain unshaken; they should return penitently to the Gospel covenant est. by God with the baptized in and through Baptism.

3. Meaning of Baptism. 
By Baptism we are buried with Christ into death and arise with Him to newness of life (Romans 6:4). “What does such baptizing with water signify? It signifies that the Old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever” (SC IV 11–12).

4. Infant Baptism. 
Baptism in the New Testament is the counterpart of circumcision in the Old Testament (Colossians 2:11–12), and in the OT infants were circumcised (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3). In the New Testament families were baptized (Acts 16:15, 33; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:16); in Acts 2:38–41 Baptism is connected with the promise “to your children.” Christ’s command to baptize all nations certainly also included infants (Matthew 28:19–20). The need for infant regeneration is clear (Psalm 51:5; John 3:6; Ephesians 2:3). Baptism is the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost (John 3:3–7; Titus 3:5). Christ desires to have also little children brought to Him for the blessings of His grace (Mark 10:14). Little children can believe (Matthew 18:2–6).

I like how straightforward each section was and how they reference the corresponding Bible passages and the excerpts from our Confessions that point us back to such truths in the Word of God.

Now, this certainly isn't the first time we've tried to tackle the important subject of Baptism.

What Do Lutherans Believe About Baptism?

Worldview Everlasting Videos About Baptism

They'll 'Bless Pets' But They Won't Baptize Babies!?!

You're Baptized! Not 'FILL IN THE BLANK'

However, I think it's always good to reinforce the fundamentals of our faith as often as we can.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, Baptism is so much more than just a "symbolic" act that draws all the attention to ourselves. It's a pure gift from God and one that was instituted by Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18–19) and is a gift to be used as a means to impart forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation till the end of time.

NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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