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Wednesday of Lent 3

March 22, 2009

Wednesday of Lent 3         
March 18 2009
Preaching the Fourth Chief Part:  Holy Baptism                                       

                                                                                    + Jesu Juva +

WHAT BENEFITS DOES BAPTISM GIVE?  It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

WHICH ARE THESE WORDS AND PROMISES OF GOD?  Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned,” (Mark 16:16). 

Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11

Last Wednesday we heard and rejoiced in Christ’s promise that, “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mark 16:16).  To be saved is to be forgiven.  To be forgiven is to be saved. Acts 2:38-39 comes ringing in.  Baptism, that Peter says is for “every one of you,” and for “your children,” bestows the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit.

Baptism, forgiveness, Holy Spirit, salvation.  They all go together.  Christ promises.  The apostle Peter learned it from Jesus.

And now tonight we hear from the apostle Paul.   Two other texts from the Scriptures come ringing in that extol the benefits of Holy Baptism.  That Holy Baptism is a magnificent treasure that Jesus gives and faith receives.  If you’re the timid kind, you might even doubt that the boundless blessings of Holy Baptism could all be true.  Doubt no more!  Enjoy the ride!  Trust what God’s Word says!  The joy and comfort from Holy Baptism is awesome!         

First, Acts 22:16.  Paul speaks of the day he received Holy Baptism.  Ananias said to him:  “What are you waiting for Paul?  Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away.”  Paul didn’t object.  He simply received.  “Be baptized and wash your sins away.”  That’s forgiveness talk.  Hooked with the water and Word of Holy Baptism.  Baptism is a washing, a bathing, a cleansing from sin.   

Why?  Because Jesus puts all His Good Friday merit and power in it. You don’t obtain forgiveness by what you do or don’t do.  Instead, forgiveness is a gift as a result of Jesus shedding His Blood at Calvary. When you were baptized in the Triune Name Jesus took the forgiveness of sins He won for you on the cross and tucked it into the worded water.  It’s just as St. John writes:  “This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood,” (1 John 5:6).  The blood of Jesus is mingled in Holy Baptism.  So, the day of your Baptism is the day you were washed in the blood of Jesus. 

And His blood is the blood of life:  divine life.  For He is Immanuel, God with us.  His blood is shed for you for the forgiveness all of your sin.  “And the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, purifies us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7).  All the sin you’ve done.  The naughty.  The religious.  The well- meaning.  The sin you’ve forgotten.  All the sin that has been committed against you.  Name the sin.  It’s all forgiven and answered for.  Even Peter’s shameful denial.  Even Judas’ betrayal.  Yes, even Jesus died for such a sin and sinner.  And for you too! 

In Holy Baptism faith sees that the water is rosy-red with the blood of Christ.  The very blood that flowed and gushed from His sliced open side.  You are sprinkled with the sin forgiving and sin cleansing blood of Christ at the font (1 Peter 1:2).  “What are you waiting for,” Ananias asked Paul.  “Get up, be baptized and wash away your sins.”  

Now another text from St. Paul.  1 Corinthians 6:11.  What kind of sinner are you?  No different than the Corinthians.  The list runs from sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality to theft (grand or petty), greed, drunkenness, slander, swindling, etc.  Those sins ought to DQ you from going to heaven, right?  You should get what you deserve, right?    

Nope!  Instead, you get a big dose of Paul’s high pastoral care.  “AND THAT IS WHAT SOME OF YOU WERE!”  Past tense.  From God’s perspective something has changed.  Sinners who would not inherit God’s kingdom because of their sin and rebellion “HAVE BEEN WASHED.”  Washed.  Sound familiar?  Sounds like Acts 22:16 doesn’t it?  “What are you waiting for, get up, be baptized, and WASH away your sins.”  So too here for the Corinthians and for you. 

“You were WASHED!”  In other words, baptized.  You are baptized!  YOU ARE FORGIVEN!  And when you’re washed, baptized, and forgiven, you’re “sanctified,” and “justified” in the name of “the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  The benefits all hang together with the gift. 

Are you forgiven?  Are you sanctified?  Are you justified?  Well?  What’s the answer?  The answer is “Yes, of course Reverend!  All of the above!  Didn’t you listen to Paul’s words?  Good grief!  I am baptized, that is, I am washed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  I now have victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, God’s grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with all his gifts.”    

Indeed you are.  What Jesus says is absolutely true:  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,”  (Mark 16:16). 

In the Name of Jesus. 

From → "B" Sermons

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