Baptism Part 3
How can water do such great things?
Answer - It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.
Water does not wash away our sins, only the blood of Christ can do this. “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Christ’s action plus faith, trusting in Christ’s work, is what produces such great blessings. We trust that what God has promise will happen to us. God’s Word not only puts these great things into Baptism but through this same Word He also operates on our hearts and works and creates saving faith.
Naaman a man afflicted with leprosy was told to dip in the Jordan River and he would be healed. (See 2 Kings 5:8-14) The promise of God was connected with the water. While Naaman had to bathe in the water it was the Word of God that really cleansed and healed him. Even so, in baptism, “without the Word of God the water is simple water and no Baptism, but with the Word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a gracious water of life”, which offers the forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil and gives eternal salvation to all who believe.
Satan, hear this proclamation;
I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation,
I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled,
All your might has come unraveled,
And against your tyranny,
God my Lord, unites with me!
God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It stanza three, Lutheran Service Book © 2008 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis