Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The treasure of baptism

Listening to: Andrew Bird: Noble Beast

Do you realise the value of the gift you have been given in baptism?

Do you even realise it is a gift?

Do you make use of your gift, coming back to it again and again to draw from its depths?

Baptism... is not our work but God’s... God’s works, however, are salutary and necessary for salvation, and they do not exclude but rather demand faith, for without faith they could not be grasped. Just by allowing the water to be poured over you, you do not receive Baptism in such a manner that it does you any good. But it becomes beneficial to you if you accept it as God’s command and ordinance, so that, baptized in the name of God, you may receive in the water the promised salvation. This the hand cannot do, nor the body, but the heart must believe it.

Thus you see plainly that Baptism is not a work which we do but is a treasure which God gives us and faith grasps, just as the Lord Christ upon the cross is not a work but a treasure comprehended and offered to us in the Word and received by faith. Therefore they are unfair when they cry out against us as though we preach against faith. Actually, we insist on faith alone as so necessary that without it nothing can be received or enjoyed...

To appreciate and use Baptism aright, we must draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and we must retort, “But I am baptized! And if I am baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.”

(pp.460-461, Martin Luther, “The Large Catechism,” in The Book of Concord, ed. Robert Kolb and Timothy Wengert (Minneapolis: Fortress, Press, 2000)

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