On Sunday morning we had a baptism at church. It was a beautiful occasion as we brought another child into the family of Christ. It’s amazing how a little water and a few words make all the difference. As I finished performing the baptism it really struck me how beautiful a reality baptism is. It’s not just a symbol to say, “Now we symbolically accept you as a brother or sister in Christ…unless we don’t like you anymore or something.” No! When we baptize it’s a reality for us and in the eyes of God. Sins are washed away (Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21, Romans 6:4) and we are brought together into the one true church where Christ is the head. We are covered with Christ in baptism (Colossians 2:12, Galatians 3:27). When God looks down upon us He sees His own son. Our sins are washed away and we can have peace knowing that God’s promise of forgiveness has been applied to us.
“For you.” These are two simple words that can dramatically change the meaning of a statement. If I say, “There are millions of dollars in the bank,” you may think, “Okay, that’s interesting.” However, if I say, “There are millions of dollars in the bank FOR YOU,” or I hand you a check for millions of dollars then things are a bit different. It is in the absolution and the sacraments, like baptism, where the news “There is forgiveness on account of Christ,” get’s those beautiful words, “for you,” tagged onto the end. It’s no longer a general statement of truth, instead, it’s a reality for you from now and into eternity when Christ returns and we are raised with him.
Not only are our sins washed away, but we find hope amongst the community of saints who encourage us along the way as we await Christ’s return in faith and repentance. After a person is baptized, the baptismal liturgy in the Lutheran Service Book includes a welcome for the newly baptized. We say, “In Holy Baptism God the Father has made you a member of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and an heir with us of all the treasures of heaven in the one holy Christian and apostolic Church. We receive you in Jesus’ name as our brother (sister) in Christ, that together we might hear His Word, receive His gifts, and proclaim the praises of Him who called us our of darkness into His marvelous light.” To all of that the congregation replies, “Amen (i.e. yes this is true/we agree). We welcome you in the name of the Lord.” How amazing!
God’s promises are real and they are for you. The sacraments are beautiful things consisting of common elements and the promises of God. Lord, help us never to lose sight of you mercy and grace to us.
Here’s a link to an Issues Etc. interview with Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller regarding justification and the sacraments where you can you will find a more thorough treatment on the topic. This interview is part of a series surrounding the Christian faith and where we see problems cropping up in what is often called, “Pop-Culture Christianity” as many lose hope in God’s promises, and look, instead, to themselves for hope.
If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or call to discuss. firstname.lastname@example.org