Beloved by God – Baptized and Justified
“And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
One of the most clear demonstrations of Lutheran theology is the baptism of an infant. Thereby, we practice and preach the clear Gospel that we are saved solely by Christ’s merits on the cross, delivered to Christians by God’s grace, through the precious gift of faith. In the baptism of an infant, there is nothing that the child can bring to God. The child can only receive from God His precious gift of faith, which clings to the merits of Christ on the cross. This is why we esteem baptism so highly because it is a precious gift of God that delivers everything that Christ won for us on the cross. Christians, therefore, do not speak of baptism as a past event, but a present reality. The proper understanding is not to say “I was baptized, but I am baptized.” For I am just as much an heir of forgiveness, life and salvation today as I was on the day that I was baptized.
The Luther scholar Paul Althaus writes, “Luther thus places baptism in the center of the Christian life. His understanding of baptism exactly expresses his doctrine of justification.” (The Theology of Martin Luther, p. 356) This is why Luther encourages Christians to daily return to the baptismal waters that we can by daily contrition and repentance turn away from our sin and rejoice in the absolution given to us in Holy Baptism. When Luther writes about baptism, he writes about Christ because baptism is the Gospel itself and thus connects us with our Savior and His death and resurrection. In one of his sermons, Luther writes, “Where does baptism get this power? It is God’s institution and the Lord Christ, along with His death, suffering, bloodshed, and merits, is in baptism…Therefore baptism is a washing in which we are washed by the blood of the innocent Lamb, Christ.” (Martin Luther on Baptism, p. 81)
The Easter season provides an excellent time to renew our teaching on baptism. However, we are an Easter people and such renewal should not be limited to a season of the church year, but through the life of the Christian. It is good for us to daily return to our baptism and rejoice that we are the baptized people of God for we have received from God’s working the fruits of Christ’s cross. May the Lord bless and keep you in your baptismal grace!
Prayer - Almighty and most merciful God and Father, we thank and praise You that You graciously preserve and enlarge Your family and have granted us new birth in Holy Baptism and made us members of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and an heirs of Your heavenly kingdom. We humbly implore You to keep us in our baptismal grace, that according to Your good pleasure we may faithfully grow to lead godly lives to the praise and honor of Your holy name and finally, with all Your saints, obtain the promised inheritance in heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan