“Grace isn’t something for which I must look in my heart. It’s in the heart of God.”
What is Baptism?
Baptism is not just plain water, but it is water contained within God’s command and united with God’s Word, as Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
What does Baptism give? What good is it?
It gives us the forgiveness of sins, redeems us from death and the Devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, just as God’s words and promises declare:
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
How can water do such great things?
Water doesn’t make these things happen, of course. It is God’s Word, which is with and in the water. Because, without God’s Word, the water is plain water and not baptism. But with God’s Word it is a Baptism, a grace-filled water of life, a bath of new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says:
God 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.
What is the meaning of such a water Baptism?
It means that the old Adam in us should be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance, and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, in turn, a new person daily come forth and rise from death again. He will live forever before God in righteousness and purity, as St. Paul writes:
Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under bread and wine for us Christians to eat and to drink, established by Christ Himself, as the holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul write:
Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.
In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
MATTHEW 26:26-28 • MARK 14:22-24 • LUKE 22:19-20 • 1 CORINTHIANS 11:23-25
What good does this eating and drinking do?
These words tell us: Given for you and Shed for you to forgive sins.
Namely, that the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation are given to us through these words in the sacrament. Because, where sins are forgiven, there is life and salvation as well.
How can physical eating and drinking do such great things?
Of course, eating and drinking do not do these things. These words, written here, do them: given for you and shed for you to forgive sins.
These words, along with physical eating and drinking are the important part of the sacrament. Anyone who believes these words has what they say and what they record, namely, the forgiveness of sins.
Who, then, receives such a sacrament in a worthy way?
Of course, fasting and other physical preparations are excellent disciplines for the body. But anyone who believes these words, Given for you, and Shed for you to forgive sins, is really worthy and well prepared.
But whoever doubts or does not believe these words is not worthy and is unprepared, because the words, for you demand a heart that fully believes.