Forward this issue to a Friend 

Join Our Mailing List Like us on Facebook
 
Titus 3:4-8

 
When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
(ESV)
Return to Baptism
Friday of Easter 4
22 April 2016
Repentance is the daily return to baptism. This is to be the practice of the Christian life given in baptism every day. If we fall from faith, baptism remains a gift from God to which we may return for forgiveness upon repentance. Baptism is never abandoned by God. Why should it be abandoned by us? Our weakness, sin, and unbelief cannot undo the gracious favor which God grants to us in our baptism. Thus repentance returns us to baptism and all the gifts which God grants in it. When I was a graduate student at a Southern Baptist seminary, a professor's wife was well-known for having undergone that Baptist baptism some twenty times; each time having failed to live up to the obedience promised by her in their rite. The problem with this approach to baptism is that it rejects the promise which God makes to His people through the washing of regeneration. Baptism's validity always stands with God.
 
Even if we fall from faith (God forbid!), our baptism will always stand as God's gift of grace to which we may return in repentance. In the same way that a wayward child is always welcome home after leaving for a life of dissipation and folly, when he returns brokenhearted and contrite for his life of sin, so also those who have fallen into unbelief and other great shame advice may always return to the home and safe haven which is baptism. Our gracious Lord's call to repentance is a call to return to the haven of baptism.

 

Martin Luther

"Baptism remains forever. Even though we fall from it and sin, nevertheless we always have access to it so that we may again subdue the old man. But we don't need to have the water poured over us again. Even if we were immersed in water a hundred times, it would nevertheless be only one baptism, and the effect and signification of baptism would continue and remain. Repentance, therefore, is nothing else than a return and approach to baptism, to resume and practice what had earlier been begun but abandoned.
 
"I say this to correct the opinion, which has long prevailed among us, that our baptism is something past which we can no longer use after falling again into sin. We have such a notion because we regard baptism only in the light of a work performed once for all. Indeed, St. Jerome is responsible for this view, for he wrote, 'Repentance is the second plank on which we must swim ashore after the ship founders' in which we embarked when we entered the Christian church. This interpretation deprives baptism of its value, making it of no further use to us. Therefore the statement is incorrect. The ship does not founder since, as we said, it is God's ordinance and not a work of ours. But it does happen that we slip and fall out of the ship. If anybody does fall out, he should immediately head for the ship and cling to it until he can climb aboard again and sail on in it as he had done before.
 
"Thus we see what a great and excellent thing baptism is, which snatches us from the jaws of the devil and makes God our own, overcomes and takes away sin and daily strengthens the new man, and always remains until we pass from this present misery to eternal glory.
 
"Therefore let everybody regard his baptism as the daily garment which he is to wear all the time. Every day he should be found in faith and amid its fruits, every day he should be suppressing the old man and growing up in the new. If we wish to be Christians, we must practice the work that makes us Christians. But if anybody falls away from his baptism let him return to it. As Christ, the mercy-seat, does not recede from us or forbid us to return to him even though we sin, so all his treasures and gifts remain. As we have once obtained forgiveness of sins in baptism, so forgiveness remains day by day as long as we live, that is, as long as we carry the old Adam about our necks."

Martin Luther,  Large Catechism, 4.77-86
 
Prayer
Lord Jesus, You have never abandoned Your promises to Your people given in the sacrament of baptism. Grant us repentance every day that we may return to the gracious gift You have given us in baptism, through which we have received forgiveness of sins, new life, and salvation. Amen.
 
For all those trying to recover from flooding in Houston, that they would be kept safe and that they might be rescued from despair
 
For those who have abandoned their baptism in unbelief, that they might be called back to the kingdom of Christ through repentance
 
For the catechumens as they prepare themselves to make a good confession before many witnesses, that they would confess Christ and His Word faithfully
Art: RUBENS, Peter Paul  The Resurrection of Christ (1611-12)

Find me on Facebook                                                                                      © Scott R. Murray, 2016 

 
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
Sent by smurray@mlchouston.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact