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Unit 4-B: Holy Baptism:
     More Than Just Water!

"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."
                                             St. Paul in Galatians 6:4 (NIV)


Holy Baptism:
   A Means Of Grace


What Is A "Means Of Grace?"

In the previous lesson "Means of Grace" were defined as the tools ("means") by which He gives His grace. God's Word and the Sacraments are His means of grace. He uses these "tools" as a means to bring us to faith...and strengthen our faith.

Baptism: What It Does 

Like all Sacraments, Holy Baptism does three things. It...

1) Grant us forgiveness of sins;
2) Deliver us from death and the Devil; and 
3) Give eternal salvation to all who believe this as the words and
        promises of God declare.

Baptism: What It Is

Don't let looks deceive you! When we look at the visible things (or "elements")
in the Sacraments, we may think that what we see is what we get.

But this is not so.

The water in Holy Baptism is not just simple water. In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther wrote, 

"Baptism is not simple water only, but is is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's Word."

What makes the water in Baptism so powerful? God's Word. Baptism is simply a God-given connection of water with God's Word. That's what makes Baptism work. God's Word is always powerful. Paul, in Romans 1:16 taught that the Word of God "it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" (NIV). If one does not use God's Word in Baptism, is there a Baptism? Definitely Not! Without God's Word, the water of Baptism is simply water...and nothing more.

Whenever God's Word is present, the Holy Spirit is there to empower the Word of God to change hearts. When God's Word is connected with water, the most remarkable thing that can happen occurs: God renews and regenerates a sinner and makes them a forgiven child of God. This is nothing less than a total renovation and recreation of who we are. 

Baptism: God Makes Us  A "New Creation"

When one is baptized and comes to saving faith, they become a "new creation." No longer does God look at us as sinners. He sees us as forgiven saints. Do we deserve God's forgiveness? Do we deserve this new identity as "New Creation?" 

Of course not! It is entirely by God's grace that, by Holy Baptism, He makes us His children. God gives this calling to everyone! Whether one is black, white, yellow, red, male, female, young, old, smart or not-so-smart, God called us to baptize everyone. Everyone? Yes, EVERYONE...including infants and the elderly. 

It is only when we recognize the universality of God's grace that Christians understand that when Jesus said, "baptize all nations" that He meant everyone. Those who deny infant baptism not only defy Jesus' command to baptize everyone. They also deny the universal, unlimited grace of God who would reach out and save everyone who believes in Him.

Baptism: Can God Save Without It?

The blessings of Baptism are for those who, having been baptized, have faith and believe in God. The Bible gives some instances of people who have been saved without Holy Baptism. The thief on the cross is one of those people. The people of the Old Testament were also saved without Holy Baptism.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, the New Testament records how Jesus' Apostles continually preached that people should be baptized "for the forgiveness of their sins" (Acts 2).  The Apostles regularly preached repentance and baptism. They knew Jesus' teaching, "He who is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:16 NIV). Since baptism was the way Jesus taught them to bring salvation to people, it is necessary that we baptize infants as soon as possible after birth...and adults when they come to faith in Jesus Christ.

What if you don't receive Holy Baptism or were wrongly baptized? 

While saving faith cannot exist in the heart of one who refuses to be baptized, saving faith can exist in those adults who have not--and cannot--be baptized. However, if such believing adults continue to refuse Holy Baptism, their unbelief in Baptism and the power of God's Word is damnable.

Sometimes people lose their baptism certificates and are unsure of the date and circumstances of their baptism...if they were baptized at all. Those who are unsure of their baptism should talk with their pastor about the possibility of being baptized as Christians. 

We must also remember that just because one is baptized doesn't mean they "automatically" go to heaven. Only unbelief damns. For that reason, there will be people in Hell who were baptized as Christians. The reason they are in Hell is not because there was a problem with their Baptism. No. The reason they are in Hell is because of their unbelief. Somehow Satan deceived them and they gave up their faith in Jesus Christ...in whom they were baptized.

Baptism: A Daily Experience

Though Holy Baptism is only done once, it is celebrated every single day. Each day one ought to remember their Baptism and reflect on God's forgiveness, grace and love for them. By remembering our Baptism daily, we continue to live in the confidence of which St. Paul wrote in Romans chapter 8.

"I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

In Baptism, God gives His gracious, eternal promise to be with us always "until the end of the world." With this promise, why would anyone NOT want to be baptized? 

Celebrate Your Baptism today!!!


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