Holy Baptism—What is Baptism
Every Christian ought to have at least an ordinary, brief instruction about the Sacraments, because without them he cannot be a Christian. Unfortunately, up to now, no instruction about them has been given. But, in the first place, we take up Baptism, by which we are first received into the Christian Church [John 3:5].
—Large Catechism, Part 4:1
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Here [in the words of Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:16] stand God’s commandment and institution. Let us not doubt that Baptism is divine. It is not made up or invented by people.… Baptism is no human plaything, but it is instituted by God Himself. Furthermore, Baptism is most solemnly and strictly commanded so that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved.… It is of the greatest importance that we value Baptism as excellent, glorious, and exalted. We contend and fight for Baptism chiefly because the world is now so full of sects arguing that Baptism is an outward thing and that outward things are of no benefit. But let Baptism be a thoroughly outward thing. Here stand God’s Word and command, which institute, establish, and confirm Baptism. What God institutes and commands cannot be an empty thing. It must be a most precious thing, even though it looked like it had less value than a straw.
—Large Catechism, Part 4:6-9
To be baptized in God’s name is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore, although it is performed by human hands, it is still truly God’s own work. From this fact everyone may readily conclude that Baptism is a far higher work than any work performed by a man or a saint. For what work can we do that is greater than God’s work?
— Large Catechism, Part 4:10
From this now learn a proper understanding of the subject and how to answer the question of what Baptism is. It is not mere ordinary water, but water comprehended in God’s Word and command and sanctified by them [Ephesians 5:26-27]. So it is nothing other than a divine water. Not that the water in itself is nobler than other water, but that God’s Word and command are added to it.
—Large Catechism, Part 4:14
Lenten Catechesis from Treasury of Daily Prayer © 2008 Concordia Publishing House.
Used with permission.
All rights reserved. www.cph.org
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