Baptism Now Saves You (1 Peter 3)
- Order of Service: Divine Service 3
- Hymns: LSB #474, 821, 844, 634, 468, 680
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to Him. (1 Peter 3:21-22)
Baptism is the basic building block of the Christian faith. Faith begins at Baptism. Baptism into Christ's death and resurrection. Where everything began. Where we live our daily lives. Katlyn, Brooklyne, Ciarra, (and Dakota), [Graduates], where your journey continues as you leave high school and go onto greater adventures.
As you prepare for your next step, you would be wise to begin with Baptism as well. The Baptism where your faith began. Where your defense against the world around will begin. As you begin college and are treated like adults, St. Peter says, “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone.” As you go out, you will be asked to make a defense for what you believe.
Why do you believe it? Is it because it's what your parents believed? It shouldn't be. You stood before this congregation and confessed that this faith is yours. It belongs to no one else. This defense needs to be done with “gentleness and respect.” Not harsh and condescending. But how do you do that?
You point to your Baptism. The Baptism that “now saves you.” Not just in the past. In the present and for the future. Your Baptism is the “reason for the hope that is in you.” This reason isn't something that the world understands. The world doesn't understand salvation. It says to you as a Christian, “You bring some strange things to our ears.” Salvation's strange things sound good to us, but they are hard to swallow for those who don't believe in Christ.
Why is Baptism so important? “It is the water included in God's command and combined with God's Word.” The command for Baptism was Jesus' last words before ascending into Heaven. God's Word in Baptism is “firmly set” on the salvation of souls. Baptism saves you because God uses Baptism to save you. You are saved just as faithful Noah was saved in the Ark. The eight souls were saved by being sheltered from the water in the Ark of gopher wood. You were saved by being sheltered with the water pouring from Jesus' side with His blood. Salvation through water.
But Baptism is not simply “a removal of dirt from the body.” Any bath water can do that. Baptism is living water that puts to death and makes alive. It puts sin to death in the flesh. It makes you alive in the Spirit. Baptism is a continuation of Christ's death and resurrection. Not that Christ didn't do enough. Christ did everything. But Baptism brings Christ's death and resurrection to your daily life. As the Catechism teaches us, Baptism “indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” Baptism is a daily process in the building up of faith and growing into salvation.
In this process, Baptism makes an appeal to God for a good conscience. Good conscience is necessary for growing in faith and your understanding of salvation. If your conscience isn't fully convinced in Christ, you can't grow in faith in Him. Your conscience can't be fully convinced unless it has been illuminated by the lamp of God's Word. Being entrenched in God's Word will help you to understand your Baptism as the foundation for your faith. The reason for your hope. The basis of your defense against others who don't want you to “honor Christ the Lord as holy.”
God created man to seek Him. To honor Him as holy. To worship Him in Spirit and in truth. To hold up His Light in a world cloaked in darkness. To show Christ's death and resurrection to the world. This you will do in a few moments as we eat Christ's body and drink His blood. There He comes to you to forgive your sins. The sins He's already suffered for. The sins that are no more because of His resurrection.
Jesus' resurrection makes your Baptism work. But Jesus' resurrection is a process that takes forty days. Jesus suffered to pay the debt for your sins. “ He blotted out with His own blood the judgment that against us stood; He full atonement for us made, and all our debt He fully paid.” Jesus died and was buried to put those sins to rest. He descended into Hell to preach His victory over sin, death and the devil. He rose from the dead to assure you of your own resurrection. He ascended into Heaven to prepare a place for you. He sits at God's right hand, where everything is subject to Him. Everything. Not one thing is out of His control.
Katlyn, Brooklyne, Ciarra, [and Dakota], [Graduates], your future is in His hand. As you go out from this place to wherever He leads you, you go with this congregation's prayers and blessing. You will be tried, as silver is tried, but you will come out to abundance in Christ if you gently and respectfully remain faithful to your defense of your faith. Jesus has promised you the Holy Spirit to help you remain in the truth. You go from here, but you don't go alone. You aren't spiritual orphans now. When you get to your next destination, find a confessional Lutheran congregation to become a part of for the time you have ahead of you. If you need help finding one, let me know and I'll get you in touch with one. Why? So they may take up our slack and help keep you grounded in your Baptism. Because your Baptism now saves you. Amen.