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What Luther Says

Remember Your Baptism (Or Be Triggered By It)

My journey from American Evangelicalism to Confessional Lutheranism has taught me many things, but when it comes to the topic of Holy Baptism, I've learned that there seem to be two distinct types of Christians: Those who fall into the "Remember Your Baptism!" camp and those who are "Triggered" by any thought of it that's different from their own.

It's an odd thing too, because even though I can completely identify with those who still cling to a so-called "Believer's Baptism" derived from "Decision Theology" (since that was once me for so long), I'm hardly angered to the point of hysterics in response to those who hold to this well-meaning but misguided view of this Sacrament.

Sure, I dislike heretics and the heterodox as much as the next guy, but my zeal is never fueled by an anger but more by a sadness for those caught in the web of deceit, half-truths, and lies regarding this incredible gift from God.

My counterparts, on the other hand, seem more than a little fiery with people like me who insist that Infant Baptism is not only Biblical, but that when the Word of God says that Baptism saves you in 1 Peter 3:21...get this...it actually means that Baptism saves you!

Below is a picture I shared on Facebook recently. Here's what I wrote to go along with it...

I'm sure this meme will trigger some people, but it's the truth. Look, I get it. Baptism was one of the many things I misunderstood and got wrong for so many years as a Christian despite the crystal clear teachings about it in God's Word. 
It is not "symbolic" like I once thought. It is real and salvific (1 Peter 3:21). 
It is not merely a "Physical Baptism" that is followed by a so-called "Spiritual Baptism" which is reserved for the "Victorious Christian" or some spiritual elites. It is the "one baptism for the remission of sins" (Ephesians 4:5; Nicene Creed) and it is offered freely to all sinners around the world and throughout history. 
It is not "Something-I-Need-To-Do-For-God-To-Prove-My-Love-And-Devotion-To-Him-Publicly" either. It is something God does to us and for us to prove His love publicly for you, for me, and for all mankind. 
It is not merely water mixed with a few verses from the Bible. It is a blessed sacrament, an undeserved gift, because "Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word ... It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare ... Certainly not just water, but the Word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this Word of God in the water. For without God’s Word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit ... It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever" (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Titus 3:5-8; Romans 6:4; Luther's Small Catechism). 

Thank God, it actually generated some fruitful discussion and created some opportunities to confess the pure truth!

For instance, the very first question that someone asked was, "So when should someone be baptized, in your perspective?" To which I replied with...

I would say as soon as possible! It's why we "crazy Lutherans" baptize our newborn babies, because why would we prevent any of our loved ones from receiving such a beautiful and incredible gift from the Lord? 
In Baptism, God chooses us as His own child, we don't choose Him, and He is the the one "doing something" not us, since we merely have to receive such a blessed gift. Yes, of course, there are adults who are Christians who have never been baptized, but I would still respond the same -- why have they not been baptized yet if they believe, teach, and confess that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior? Why wouldn't they want to do what God's Word tells us to? Regardless of the specific reason(s), they can and should be baptized. 
Again, Baptism is considered a gift simply because we are told it saves us, but also because it comforts our conscience whenever the world, the devil, and/or our "Old Adam" tempts us and we commit a sin. If we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and we believe what we are told about being baptized in His name and into Christ, then we can be 100% certain that we still belong to God despite what our conscience and those fiery darts from the devil tries to tell us. 
Now, it's not a "license to sin" and a "Get Out of Jail Free Card" either, but it's the grace we so desperately need in the moments after we've sinned and are guilt-ridden by what we have done and know to be in violation of God's Law. It's the gift of His grace and mercy that helps us to know that we are forgiven in Christ Jesus, through daily repentance and faith in Him and His promises, as we look outside ourselves and to God, to Christ's work upon the cross, and to the Lord's work through our Holy Baptism that He has performed for you, for me, and for all of us, despite how we might "feel" about ourselves and our current standing before Him in the moment. It's why we teach ourselves to "Repent Daily!" and to "Remember Your Baptism!" 
I hope that helps and that I didn't miscommunicate anything about this very special Sacrament, but perhaps some of my acquaintances and friends who are Pastors will straighten me out if that's the case. Anyway, sorry for the long reply too, but I got a little excited!

I pulled no punches that day though.

As expected, someone then asked me, "Where in the Bible does it say baptism saves us?" I simply replied with "1 Peter 3:21" and then...nothing.

Well, that's not entirely accurate.

Instead of conceding that the Word of God was clear in this case, the same person proceeded to ignore that Bible reference and responded the way I probably did many years ago when the truth first hit me between the eyes unexpectedly like that.

the Bible says that you must accept Jesus and commands you to be baptized it does not say that baptizim ... He doesn't command us to accept I said when you accept Jesus as your savior then he commands us to be baptized, he doesn't command us to accept, He would love for us all too but unfortunately not all do. Im sure that saddens Him ...

Of course, there is not a single Bible verses that says that.

I went all in at that point...

One thing I never noticed in the past and for so long is how all of the places in the Bible where God's Word talks about Baptism (especially the ones about baptizing those in a person's whole household, which could conceivably include children) have a very interesting word order to them. 
What I mean is that the order of the words (a.k.a. the instruction given to us about Baptism) is always to "baptize and teach" as in "baptize first" and then "teach them My truths" as opposed to "teach them My truths first" (a.k.a. the belief that a person must accept/believe in Christ FIRST before they can be baptized), and I think this isn't random or to be overlooked by us who respect God's Word as much as we all do. 
Why? Because the common objection to Infant Baptism is always something like, "A person needs to know about Christ and then accept Christ first BEFORE he/she can be baptized..." I know, because I used to believe that too. Nevermind the obvious question of "Why would God require that of anyone first and/or withhold such a precious gift of His, especially given everything we're told about how special Baptism is let alone His free gift of salvation?" but if the intention according to God's Word is to always START with Baptism like it clearly seems is the case and then teach the baptized as they get older, then it seems to make more sense, and places the emphasis back on Jesus Christ where it belongs and should be at all times. 
Therefore, at the end of the day, Holy Baptism is ALWAYS about what Christ has done (is doing and will continue to do) for me, for you, and for all and NEVER about what I, what you, what we have to do for Christ. 
Lastly, it's not as if Christ's full blessings, His gift of Baptism, cannot be given to any of us by Him until we "do something" and do that something at "some subjective age" in our lives that will somehow "prove" to Him, to the world, and to ourselves that we are finally "worthy" to receive such a gift from Heaven. 
Again, I used to think that way to so I get it, but it's just so contradictory to Who Christ is and what His Gospel of Salvation is all about, isn't it? 
"...the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve..." (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).

Thankfully, another Lutheran Pastor chimed in too and put an exclamation point on things.

The Bible doesn't say Baptism saves you? What do you do with I Peter 3:21? "Baptism, which corresponds to this (Noah and his family being saved by God through the flood), now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." 
Sounds to me like Baptism saves by connecting you to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which gives you a "good conscience" before God . . . and a good conscience before God can only come about through the forgiveness of sins.

Sadly, even after all of that, this was this sister in Christ's response (and it was entirely predictable too, because it was something I probably said before)...

alone saves us, therefore an infant cannot make the choice to follow Jesus, and baptism alone will not save him

At that point, I felt it was necessary to reference all the resources that finally convinced me that I was wrong about Baptism, needed to repent, and then submit to God's authority on the subject.

This is an excellent (and short) summary of what the Bible says about this, especially the section titled "Why Are Infants And Young Children Baptized?" so I hope it helps answer your questions.

What About Baptism?

Yet, this only strengthened the other person's resolve.

It is something we are commanded to do as a public declaration of our choice to follow Jesus and turn back from our old way of life and of sin and now trust Jesus to live a new life as a christian.

I let the same Lutheran Pastor from before take over from there.

This is a common objection, but I'm still waiting for a clear Bible passage that says Baptism is a public declaration of your choice to follow Jesus. Scripture says that in Baptism we are crucified with Christ, raise with Christ, have put on Christ, etc., but I can find nowhere that the Bible says that in Baptism we are making a public declaration that we have accepted Christ. And, BTW, even the term "accepted Christ" is not Biblical. Jesus calls for us to follow Him, but He doesn't ever call us to accept Him as our Lord and Savior and then to be Baptized as a testimony to our action. I am anxious to be instructed otherwise from the Word.

This is most certainly true.

Believe me, I used to think all of that too for so long so I definitely understand where someone like that is coming from. Here's a quote and a few resources I found extremely helpful...

"In the last chapter of his Gospel, Matthew describes Jesus' gift of Baptism (Matthew 28:18-20). In these words, Jesus tells His Church how to make disciples -- baptize and teach. The sequence of Jesus' words is interesting. He does not say 'teach and baptize'; instead, Jesus says 'baptize and teach.' Normally, Baptism precedes teaching because God wants people to enter His kingdom as soon as possible. Baptism brings us into God's kingdom by forgiving our sin, covering us with God's grace, and creating faith in us. Baptism is an act of God toward people in which He bestows His grace on sinful human beings. All people are sinful, including babies. Therefore, all people need Baptism. Jesus says in Matthew 28 that 'all nations' are to be baptized, which does not exclude children. There is no reason to deny this precious Sacrament of Holy Baptism to children unless one believes they have no need of salvation. To say they have no need, however, denies original sin. Therefore, it is wrong to deny the benefits of Baptism to children because it steals the mercy and grace of God from little children, who need it as much as any of us." 
-- Rev. Daniel Preus, Why I Am A Lutheran: Jesus At The Center, (pp. 109-111)


On Baptism, Babies, And Salvation... 
NOTE: I like that one because of all the Bible passages it references!


Why Do Many Evangelicals Find It Difficult To Accept Infant Baptism? 
NOTE: This one really hit home for me and forced me to ask some difficult, but necessary questions about what I believed about Baptism at the time, and it specifically forced me to ask myself, "So, why would it be unjust to baptize a baby before they are able to make their decision?" so I hope it's just as helpful for you!

Bottom line, I pray we all benefit from the back-and-forth discussion between those of us who love the Lord, His Word, and His gifts for us.

Obviously, this is a very important subject for all of us Christians regardless of our background and denomination, but it's one we should desire to get right (even if it directly challenges our long-held positions on the topic like it did to mine only a few years ago).

We also know that, sadly, it's one of the more "controversial" too and so I just wanted to take a moment to say that I'm encouraged that we've all been "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) to this point without anyone getting carried away. Rare these days and in these types of discussions.

I hope it continues as this dear sister in Christ (and perhaps others) have more questions too.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, remember your Baptism (or be triggered by it).

NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just your average everyday Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to "Confessional Lutheranism" and one who recently escaped an American-Evangelical-Non-Denominational mindset a little more than 4 years ago now despite being a Christian my whole life. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way back into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with the Bible, our Confessions, and Lutheran doctrine in general (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can not only correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1), but repent of my sin and learn the whole truth myself. With that in mind, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) 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!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavily 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 they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I 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 footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I will defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). 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 "Christian 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. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. 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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