Christ Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI


What does Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 2:36-41, Romans 6:1-11, Galatians 3:24-29, Ephesians 5:25-26, Colossians 2:6-15, Titus 3:4-8 and 1 Peter 3:18-22 have in common?


Baptism is the next part in my summer newsletter articles about the Small Catechism.  To begin, we need to ask an important question:
Whose work is baptism?  

There are two ways to answer that question:
  • Our Work for God.
  • God’s Work done to us.

Pending on which answer you choose will affect how you use your Baptism in your daily life.  
Those Christians who live in the reformed, protestant camp: such as Baptists, Pentecostals, Non-Denominational, etc. will answer the question, “whose work is baptism?”, by choosing option 1: Baptism is our work for God.

By thinking that Baptism is our work done in obedience to God, these Christians will then say that Baptism is only an outer sign that reflects an inner change.  Also, they will say that since our works do not save us (on that point they are right), they will then say that Baptism does not save us because it is a work that we do for God.

It would logically follow then that you wouldn’t baptize infants, because they cannot choose Jesus! To baptize an infant would not count, because it wasn’t their work for God.

This all seems to work, but here is the problem: Where they started affected where they ended up.  They answered the first question wrongly.  Baptism is not our work for God.

Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and the first 1,500 years of the Church will respond with option 2: Baptism is God’s work done to us.

I encourage you to read any of the passages I listed above, in fact, I want you to read them.  Listen to how baptism is described by Jesus, Paul, and Peter.  You will quickly note that the Bible notes that through Baptism, God is working!  In Baptism, God is delivering the goods that Jesus won on the cross.

Baptism is not a separate entity from Jesus. On the cross is where salvation was achieved by Christ.  However, Baptism is how the salvation that Christ purchased on the cross is delivered to us.  When firefighters come to put out a house fire, they use a hose.  Now obviously it was not the rubber tube itself that put out the fire, but what the hose was able to deliver: water to dose the flames.  It is the same with Baptism, the water is the hose which sprays out the Word of God.  The same word that spoke creation into being, now speaks at the font: “My child.”  “Forgiven.”  “Clean Conscious.”

Note the language of doing a Baptism: It is done in the name of the Triune God.  It is not done in your name, nor the pastors name that baptized you.  When you witness a baptism, you are witnessing God saving a person.  Just as the thief on the cross heard Jesus say, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  So now in the waters of baptism, Jesus speaks the same word to you.
What a gift to treasure!  A gift that is for “you and your children” Peter says in Acts 2.  You are baptized!  It is never a past tense reality.  Your baptism is a present tense reality.

This is why we baptize infants.  When Jesus says to baptize all nations, remember, infants are a part of all nations, unless you want to go down the route of dehumanizing infants, something not uncommon today, but that is another problem!  But infants are the perfect candidates for baptism, as Jesus says the kingdom of God was made for such as these.  Why?  Because infants are helpless and must have God do everything for them, infants can only receive.  And infants have faith, it is why babies cry.  They have faith that someone will answer their cry.  Just as infants in the womb recognize their mom’s voice, so too do they also recognize the voice of their heavenly Father, just like the in-utero John the Baptist in Luke 1.

Baptism is a work of God.  It is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word.  And God’s Word forgives sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this.  It is the Word working through the water that gives life, grants grace, destroys old man Adam, kills the sinner, raises the saint, bestows the Holy Spirit, and makes us heirs of eternal life.

What great and magnificent gifts that God works through your baptism.  This is a treasure that is yours forever!

In Christ,
Pastor Andrew