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What Luther Says

Tertullian: 'How Mighty Is The Grace Of Water'

Who was Tertullian? Let's see what others have to say...

Tertullian, Latin in full Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullianus, (born c. 155, /160, Carthage [now in Tunisia]—died after 220, Carthage), important early Christian theologian, polemicist, and moralist who, as the initiator of ecclesiastical Latin, was instrumental in shaping the vocabulary and thought of Western Christianity.


Question: "Who was Tertullian?" 
Answer: Tertullian is known in church history as the father of Latin theology, as he was the first church leader to write his works in Latin. Most of his writing was in defense of Christianity against persecution from without or heresy from within. He had an enormous influence on the early church, and much of that influence can still be seen today. 
Born about AD 145 to a Roman centurion in Carthage, Quintis Septimus Florens Tertullianus was trained in Greek and Latin and became a lawyer in Rome, where he was converted to Christianity about AD 185. Though we know very little about the details of his conversion, he said that he could not imagine a truly Christian life without a conscious breach, a radical act of conversion. Prior to his conversion, he indulged in the typical licentiousness of Roman society, including sexual promiscuity and enjoying the games in the arena. He was profoundly affected by the testimonies of Christians who were martyred in the arena, and it is likely that his conversion was a result. 
Tertullian was ordained a presbyter in the church at Carthage, North Africa, and began writing books addressing the issues facing the church of his day. In response to a heresy about the Godhead, Tertullian wrote Against Praxus, which for the first time used the word trinity to describe the Godhead. Concerning Father, Son, and Spirit, Tertullian said, “These three are one substance, not one person.” His longest book, Against Marcion, defended the use of the Old Testament by the Christian church, and demonstrated how to use the Scriptures to refute heresies. Gnosticism was a major threat to the church of his day, and Tertullian did more than anyone else to overthrow the influence of the Gnostics. 
Tertullian was a key player in the transition of the church from a persecuted minority to a major influence in Roman society. Early in his ministry, he wrote his Apology, which defended the church against the persecutions of the state and explained the principle of religious liberty as an inalienable right of man. He was the first writer to use the word church to describe a specific building, rather than the assembled people. He was also the first to speak of a distinction between clergy and laity, though he affirmed the universal priesthood of the believers. 
While he is known as the father of Latin Christianity, and some would blame him for the errors of the Roman Catholic Church, many of Tertullian’s teachings stand against those errors. Tertullian laid down the principle that custom without truth is only time-honored error. In other words, tradition must be backed by Scripture for it to have any value. Regarding baptism, he firmly taught against baptizing children because they were not old enough to repent and believe. Though he was one of the early church fathers who advocated celibacy as the correct interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7, he himself was married. 
Later in his life, possibly after a dispute with Roman bishops, Tertullian adopted Montanism, which marked him as a heretic in the church. Despite that move, his earlier writings maintained their popularity and value among his peers and have remained a valuable part of our theological heritage. Tertullian was a man greatly used of God to define and defend the essential doctrines of the faith, and we are still benefiting from his ministry today.

He also had some great quotes for the discerning Christian to prayerfully consider!

For instance, we Lutherans believe, teach, and confess what God's Word and Luther's Small Catechism (which is merely a summary of what God's Word says) tells us about Holy Baptism.

What Is Holy Baptism? 
What Makes Holy Baptism So Special? 
What Benefits Does Baptism Give? 
How Can Water Do Such Great Things? 
What Does Such Baptizing With Water Indicate? 
What Does Baptism Have To Do With Our Daily Life? 
Why Are Infants And Young Children Baptized?

As I've written here hundreds of times before it seems, a proper (and Biblical) understanding of Holy Baptism is one of the things that really helped me appreciate and embrace the Lutheran confession of "the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3), because of how powerfully comforting it is!

So, with all of that serving as a firm foundation established with the pure, unadulterated truth of God's Word, now we can especially appreciate Tertullian's words about Baptism. Check this out...

"How mighty is the grace of water, in the sight of God and His Christ, for the confirmation of Baptism! Never is Christ without water: He who is Himself baptized in water (Matthew 3:17); inaugurates in water the first display of His power when invited to the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11); in His preaching He invites the thirsty to His own eternal water (John 7:37-38; John 4:6ff); He approves, among the works of charity, the cup of water offered to a poor child (Matthew 10:42); He gathered His strength at a well (John 4:6); walks over the water (Matthew 14:25ff); calms the waves (Mark 4:39); and serves His disciples with washing by water (John 13:5). Even His Passion bears witness to the power of Baptism's waters, for while He was being handed over to the cross, water intervened and was a witness against Pilate's hands (Matthew 27:24). And when He is wounded, after His death, water bursts forth from His side that had been pierced with the soldier's lance (John 19:34)!" 
-- Tertullian

I don't know about you, but I find that list absolutely stunning!

It's not that it's surprising, but just that it's beautifully and perfectly poetic though completely and totally all a part of the reality of the life of Jesus Christ.

We are known for proclaiming "Remember your Baptism!" and "You need to drown your 'Old Adam' in your Holy Baptism on a daily basis by repenting and remembering your Baptism!" whenever we feel guilt and shame as a result of sin in our lives.

That's why, for me, thinking about the glorious gift of Baptism, imagining the Baptismal Font, will always remind me that "the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7:17).

In a Lutheran layman's terms, from water mixed with the Word to the "living water" we read about throughout the New Testament, yes, "How mighty is the grace of water," because it is the very grace of Christ Jesus Himself for you, for me, and for all mankind!

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 6 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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