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Wednesday of Lent 4

March 28, 2009

Wednesday of Lent 4         
March 25 2009
Preaching the Fourth Chief Part:  Holy Baptism                                       

                                                                                      + Jesu Juva +

HOW CAN WATER DO SUCH GREAT THINGS?  Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water.  For without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism.  But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three:

"He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ, our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  This is a trustworthy saying,” (Titus 3:5-8). 

Titus 3:5-8; St. John 3:3-5

Forgiveness.  Rescue from death and the devil. Eternal salvation. 

Can water do all that?  Does water have special powers to forgive sins, stave off death and the devil, and grant eternity?  Maybe not water out of the well or faucet.  But perhaps if you could obtain some bottled water from the Holy Land.  Yeah, that’s it, Jordan River water!  The very river in which Jesus was baptized! Man! That water would really be something wouldn’t it?  Holy water. 

No.  Water is water.  No matter whether it’s from the tap or from a famous river.  Water doesn’t give forgiveness.  Water doesn’t rescue you from death and the devil.  Water doesn’t give you eternal salvation. 

Well, then, what does all these salvation things if it’s not the water?  It’s the Lord’s word.  Christ’s mandate and institution word:  “make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19).  His word of promise.  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mark 16:16).  Without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism.  But with God’s word it is a Baptism.  God’s Word makes it a Baptism and God’s Word in, with, and under the water gives precisely what is promised.   
And now tonight another trustworthy word from the apostle Paul that He learned from Jesus.  That’s Titus 3:5-8.  “God saved you,” says Paul.  You’re the Lord’s.  He’s got you.  You’re safe with Him.  He is most pleased with you.  You are a new creation.  Given new life.  Born again.  You have a new identity.  The text says:  “He [God] saved us.” 

Good thing.  God’s put us out of business in saving ourselves.  So if you’re trying to get yourself saved, put down your guns.  The saving job’s been done.  God’s gone and done it.  In a most remarkable way. 

Paul declares that “God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Saved through a washing.  “Washing.”  We heard that when Paul recounted his baptism:  “What are you waiting for, get up, be baptized, and WASH away your sins,” (Acts 22:16).

Baptism is the “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” 

Are you born again?  Of course you are.  Are you a new creation?  Of course you are.  It happened at your Baptism.  The water hooked with God’s word.  God’s word and the Holy Spirit go together.  In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth by His word, the Holy Spirit was there hovering over the water.  At Jesus’ Baptism there was God’s word and the Spirit coming down as a dove.  Now when God restores His fallen creatures He speaks His Spirited word and hooks it with water:  Holy Baptism.  “A washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

And of course Paul learned this from the talk Jesus had with Nicodemus late one night.  Jesus told Nicodemus that “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit,” (John 3:5).  That’s the whole born again talk.  Water and the Spirit.  Everyone knows that’s Holy Baptism.

“God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

The word of God.  That’s what makes Baptism a Baptism.  The word of God is what bestows the benefits promised.  Jesus keeps His word.  And where the divine word’s going on the Holy Spirit’s at work with all His power and might.  He is, after all, the Lord and giver of life!  So with the Holy Spirit-ed word of God the water is a Baptism, a life giving water and a washing of the new birth by the Holy Spirit.

And faith says:  “Thanks.”  Faith trusts what Jesus says and gives in, with, and under the water.  What Jesus says and gives is certain and sure.

In the Name of Jesus.   

From → "B" Sermons

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