Having now finished the first three chief parts of common Christian doctrine, we now turn our attention to the treasured and precious gift of Holy Baptism. Here in simple water, usually drawn from the faucet, God places his Holy Word, that is his name. And where God’s name is, he promises to be for us and for our salvation. (Matt. 28:19-20)
Here in water and Word, we who are conceived and born sinful and thus under the power of the devil, are marked with the cross of Jesus and delivered from our enemies. (Ps. 51:5. Rom. 3:9-20, Rom. 6:23, 1 John 5:19) Here we are set free from sin, death, and the devil. (Rom. 6:5-23) Here we are joined to Jesus. His death becomes our death. His resurrection becomes our resurrection. “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom 6:3-4)
Now, when God looks at you his baptized, he does not see a sinner who is judged and condemned to hell. He sees his forgiven, righteous, blameless, and holy bride, whom he has washed with water and Word. (Eph. 5:26-27) You are righteous, holy, and blameless, not because you deserve it, not because you have earned it, and not because you think you’re a good person, but rather because of the blood of Jesus. (1 Pet. 1:18-19) Now, when God looks at you, he sees one who is adorned in the sacrifice and blood of Jesus. “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’” (Rev. 7:13-14) “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)
Having been buried and raised with Christ, clothed in his sacrifice, forgiven all my sins, saved through this washing of rebirth and renewal, joined to the body of Christ, rescued from the devil, made a child of the living God through faith in his Word, and receiving his name on my forehead and on my heart marking me as one redeemed by Christ the crucified, how can some still say baptism is a work that I do to prove I am a Christian? How can the act of pouring water over someone accomplish such great things? It’s not the water or the human act, but rather “it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word.” (SC, pg. 23) Or put differently, because this is what the Lord has spoken and promised in his Word. Christ has spoken and he has done, does, and will continue to do it!