“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 simply water, but it is the water included in God’s command and connected 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 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:
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
How can water do such great things?
It is not just the water that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts this word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simply 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 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 does such baptizing with water signify?
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily come forth and arise, to live before God in righteousness and purity forever, 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 the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted 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 is the benefit of this eating and drinking?
This is shown by the words: “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” In the Sacrament, forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given to us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation
How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
It is not the eating and drinking that do these things, but these words: “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” These words are, along with the bodily eating and drinking, the main thing in the Sacrament. Anyone who believes these words has what they say: that is, the forgiveness of sins.
Who receives this sacrament worthily?
Fasting and bodily preparation are a fine outward training. But the one who is truly worthy and well prepared is the one who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” But the one who does not believe these words, or who doubts them, is unworthy and unprepared, because the words “for you” require wholehearted belief.