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What is Baptism good for?

Pentecost Sunday was last weekend. Two millennia ago on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples in Jerusalem. They preached the Gospel to people from "every nation under heaven" in the hearers' own languages.  Peter stood up and gave a sermon that cut those who heard it to the heart: You crucified and killed Jesus, but the Father raised Him. The crowd cried out, "What shall we do?"  Peter responded, "Repent and be baptized."  And on that day, about 3,000 were given the gift of Baptism.  As we confess in the Small Catechism, Baptism works the forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe it, as the words and promise of God declare.  

Now we begin the long green season on the church calendar: the season after Pentecost.  So what good does Baptism do you right now, in your daily life? In his letter to Titus, Paul writes, "[God our Savior] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5-7). In Baptism, faith has the thing to trust:  God saved you, but NOT by “works done by us in righteousness.” Instead, He saved you “by His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” In other words, God saves you by baptizing you.  

In Baptism, you have been made an heir.  That means you are God’s own child. Think about that for a moment: the whole inheritance–forgiveness of sin, salvation, and eternal life–already belongs to you!  Even though you don’t see or feel the inheritance yet, you are baptized–not only once, but now and forever.  That means God will never lie or change His mind about you.  So when times get tough, and the devil is doing everything he can to point to your sin and death and get you to doubt God’s promise, you have God’s name and His promise to call on. You will cry out, “Father, you promised: I am baptized!” And the one who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13). God does not and cannot lie.  So in Baptism, you have a sure thing, right now!

Grace and peace to you,

Pastor Raleigh


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