Holy Baptism (part two)

Jesus says: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

Luther explains: “What benefits does baptism give? 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.”

Salvageable adds: That triple blessing of forgiveness, rescue, and eternal life were won by Jesus on the cross. He shares those gifts with all who believe in him. Baptism is a means of grace because it conveys those gifts to each individual Christian. God’s promise is made personal through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

Baptism is also an adoption ceremony. No one is a child of God through being created by God. All of us have strayed like wandering sheep, forsaking the God who made us. None of us deserve to call him Father. Jesus claims us for his Kingdom and makes God our Father by his sacrifice on the cross. The crucifixion of Jesus pays the full price for our adoption. Holy Baptism is the ceremony that applies that payment personally to each Christian. Even Jesus was baptized. He did not need to be baptized. He is the true Son of God and does not require an adoption. He is sinless and needs no forgiveness. He overcame death and the devil and already possess eternal life. Yet Jesus was baptized to (in his words) “fulfill all righteousness.” His baptism grants power to our baptisms. Through the adoption conducted by Holy Baptism, the Father of Jesus Christ sees each of us as his Son. He says to each of us what he said to Jesus: “You are my Son. You are the one I love. With you I am well pleased.”

Mark 16:16 clearly says that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. It also clearly says that whoever does not believe will be condemned. Whoever has been baptized but does not believe remains condemned. Baptism did not fail that person, but that person failed to remain in the faith given by God.

The verse does not address the question about someone who believes but is not baptized. God does not want us to live in doubt. He prefers that whoever comes to faith should be baptized as soon as possible to remove any doubt about God’s promise. Likewise, Christian parents arrange for their children to be baptized at the first opportunity. Trusting the promise of God and the power of his Word, they seek his guarantee, just as Peter said on Pentecost: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children…” (Acts 2:38-39). J.

7 thoughts on “Holy Baptism (part two)

  1. I find this interesting, but I think I might misunderstand. If parents arrange baptism, as in child or infant, how does that child believe? You address baptism without belief, but I don’t see how that can apply to a child.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good question. I sort of have the same concern, but I don’t find it especially productive to debate some things with other Christians. If we are not careful, we can make a mountain out of mole hill. If we are going to get anywhere, we need to climb real mountains, not mole hills.

      As I see it, Baptism is something we do because Jesus said to do it. Some Christians baptize in infancy. Others wait until belief is possible, considering the affirmation of belief important at Baptism. Nevertheless, even the Christians who baptize infants have a confirmation ceremony. So the affirmation of belief is delayed, but the public affirmation of belief is still made. Is that good enough? So long as we are doing our best to obey Him, my guess is that God will think it is.

      What is critical? That is, what should we be much more concerned about? We need to instruct our children in the Bible. As members of churches we need to work together to learn learn what is in the Bible, do our best to live the teachings of the Bible, and through instruction and our example teach the Bible to our children. Unfortunately, we are not teaching the Bible to our children the way we should. So the problem is not baptism without belief. The problem is that too many of us don’t obey Jesus’ command to make proper disciples, not even of our children, and I doubt God will give us a pass on that one.

      What matters is that when our children are old enough to believe, they know enough to believe. We want them to know enough to make a meaningful, sincere, affirmation of faith.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was not intending to debate or raise conflict. I find this site a good place to broaden my knowledge. I have never heard of baptism presented in this manner. Sorry if I am out of line. My husband and I had our babies dedicated presenting the child back to the Lord with a promise to do our best to raise them to know, honor, and choose the Lord as their Savior. Were we lacking something? Actually they have chosen to follow the Lord and walked as they understand the Bible. I do not know a definite time when I became a Christian. Some folks say that if one is a Christian, he will know the time and place that happened. I don’t. As best I remember I have always prayed and believed. I do not doubt my salvation but I do not know “when and where.” I was baptized in water when I was seventeen but I believe I was “saved” long before that. Your views are appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @oneta hayes

        Out of line? I hope I did not leave the impression I thought that.

        During the Protestant Reformation, people were martyred over the issue of baptism. So it is a serious subject, and we need to discuss it, but we have to avoid the extremes of our forbears.

        I heard David Jeremiah discuss the different experiences that people have with being born again. He made of point of saying we have different experiences. We are all unique.

        When you were born again is not nearly as important as the fact you were born again. If you cannot remember the time, that is probably just a good indication your parents taught you well.

        If you have faith in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ, you know it. You also know better than anyone else save our Lord what the loss of that faith would mean to you, how it would change your life.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oneta,
        You are in no way out of line to ask these questions. Thank you very much for reading and commenting.
        You have saving faith in Jesus Christ. So do your children. That is great! At this point, the timing of your baptism does not matter. However, baptism is assurance to you that God’s promises are true, not just in general for “some people,” but for you personally. Not remembering the moment you began to believe does not matter. God knew you and claimed you “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4); Jesus made you a Christian when he died for you on the cross. Baptism brings the benefits of the cross to you and to each baptized believer.
        I don’t expect to unify the entire Christian Church on earth through my little WordPress blog, but I do appreciate the opportunity to explain the teachings of Martin Luther and of Lutherans in general. Questions and discussion are good; they let me know that people are reading and are thinking about what I wrote. Your words are appreciated. J.

        Liked by 1 person

    • A child does not have language skills to confess faith, but a child can believe. Jesus spoke about believing as a little child believes and told his followers not to forbid the little children to come to him. In his Large Catechism, Luther wrestled with this question and concluded that the baptism of infants must be valid, since the Church had been practicing it for centuries, and those baptized as infants (including Luther himself) possessed saving faith. J.

      Liked by 1 person

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