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Christian baptism is one of two ordinances that Jesus instituted for the church. Just before His ascension, Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Fath...
Luther's Small Catechism: IV. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household. First. What is Baptism?--Answer. Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's Word. Which is that word of God?--Answer. Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Secondly. What does Baptism give or profit?--Answer. It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. Which are such words and promises of God? Answer. Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Thirdly. 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. Fourthly. What does such baptizing with water signify?--Answer. It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever. Where is this written?--Answer. St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Christian baptism, as Jesus Christ commanded his disciples in the Gospel of Matthew 28: 16-20, is the fulfillment of God's promises, prophesied by prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36: 25-38). Jewish people were familiar with these passages in the book of prophet Ezekiel, and they were baptized by John the Baptist after confessing their sins. (Matthew 3: 5-17). If we meditate on the passages in Ezekiel 36: 25-38, we can make a conclusion that baptism means born again, born of water and the Spirit (Matthew 3: 11-12;John 3: 1-15). Since Christian baptism means born again, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he/she is born again/baptized. (John 3: 3; Mark 16: 15-16).
Baptism is required of believers and it must be understood that only believers can be baptized, symbolic to being buried with Christ and then resurrected with him and walk in the in the life of life in Christ. As to infantile baptism, we can not justify their baptism as they have no knowledge of right or wrong. They may be blessed and dedicated unto God as a child as our parents vow to raise us up in the nurture and admonition the Lord. That's just giving back to God that which he has given unto us. Baby baptism is not biblical. Only believer sin the New Testament can be baptized.
In 1Peter 3:20-22, I read the following: 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. Along other scriptures Acts 2:41 and Acts 8 mentioned above it seems the act of baptism is crucial for salvation. Rather than being just a thing to do to show obedience. The 3000 that responded to Peter at Pentecost were all believers in God, since they were Jews, so Peter didn’t need to say believe, just repent and be baptized. Anyone who is not a Christian today cannot in the same way claim a belief in God. So I see it as a package deal. Upon instruction in the Word, people come to believe, in God, in Jesus, in the Holy Spirit and in repentance and in baptism. It is all or nothing, surely, that is salvation.
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