Catechism Unit Question Numbers: 301-307
The Institution of Baptism
The Catechism states, “Through Baptism, the triune God puts his name on us and makes us members of his family.” We are born into this world with an utterly sinful nature that is opposed to God, and as such we are in the devil’s camp and have no motivation or means of getting out on our own. But with the water and words of baptism, God removes us from the devil’s clutches, he miraculously washes away all our sins, he claims us as his own dearly loved children, and he graciously grants us a full and free inheritance of everlasting life and peace with him. What undeserved love he showers upon us!
On the face of it, baptism appears quite simple. A few drops of plain water. A short sentence, just 18 words. That’s it. But make no mistake – the full authority and power of God is behind baptism to make it a very real miracle. This miracle is made possible only through the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ – his birth, his perfect life, his innocent suffering and death, and his triumphant resurrection from the grave. Baptism may look simple, but it is far more amazing than we can fathom.
Some people today may view baptism as merely symbolic, or simply a way to express your dedication to God. Such thinking denies the power of God in baptism, and focuses on human choice and action rather than the grace of God. This way of thinking is not new, as Luther was compelled to defend the divine institution of baptism in his day, writing that “Baptism is no human plaything, but it is instituted by God Himself”, and that “What God institutes and commands cannot be an empty thing.”
Let us never take this divine gift of grace for granted! Even if we cannot remember the day of our baptism, we ought to ponder what it means for us every day. At our baptism, God clothed us with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. We were dead in our sins; He gave us a new life. Let us live in this baptismal grace every day, repenting of our sins and rejoicing in God’s love and peace!
Just as we ought to ponder what baptism means for ourselves, so we also ought to remind our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ what their baptism means for them. In the order for Holy Baptism (CW p. 14) the pastor states, “Our Lord commands that we teach his precious truths to all who are baptized. Christian love therefore urges all of us, especially parents and sponsors, to assist in whatever manner possible so that _____ may remain a child of God until death. If you are willing to carry out this responsibility, then answer: Yes, as God gives me strength.” Perhaps you’ve wondered… what does this really mean? What am I now expected to do?? Or what can I do?? Plenty! We can pray for the strengthening of faith for all our fellow believers. We can support children’s ministry, teen ministry, and family ministry at church. We can support Christian education with our offerings and our prayers. We can strive to be Christ-like examples to everyone in our church family, children and adults alike. We can be ready at all times to provide love and care, discipline and forgiveness, comfort and encouragement, and help and support to anyone in the family of believers who is in need. Just as God’s grace and love was poured out on us in our baptism, so we can pour out kindness and love to others.