The Wisdom of the Spirit

The Baptism of the Eunuch By Rembrandt 1626 - Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7417249

The Baptism of the Eunuch By Rembrandt 1626 - Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7417249

Text: 1 Corinthians 2:1-12

Grace, peace, and mercy to you from God the Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Please open your hymnal to page 325. We are looking at: The Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

FIRST

What is Baptism?

Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word.

Which is that word of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28: 19

SECOND

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.

Which are these words and promises of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16: 16

THIRD

How can water do such great things?

Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.” Titus 3: 5– 8

FOURTH

What does such baptizing with water indicate?

It indicates 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 emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?

St. Paul writes in Romans, chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6: 4
— LCMS (2015-03-20). Lutheran Service Book: Pew Edition (Kindle Locations 14268-14289). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

It is 2017, the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation. And while almost everybody knows about how Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, very little know what happened the next year. Luther was asked to come to a debate in Heidelberg, Germany. There, a presentation of his theology was given called the Heidelberg Disputation. It was here, in 1518 that Luther really started to solidify and spell out that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone.

But, the true hallmark of Luther’s theses presented in Heidelberg was a distinction of two theologies. Actually, not theologies, theologians. A Theologian of Glory and a Theologian of the Cross. A theologian of glory, Luther states, calls good evil and evil good while a theologian of the cross calls evil evil and good good. It reflects the Apostle Paul’s writing – “God chose the foolish things” (1 Cor. 1:27). And, “6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory…10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Cor. 2:6-12).

In our baptisms, we have been brought into the family of God, not of our own works, reason, or strength, so that we may not boast (1 Cor. 1:26ff). However, a Theologian of Glory looks at Baptism and declares is a work we have done. A statement of faith, a declaration to be numbered amongst believers. It is purely a ceremony, nothing more. Or, if we stay with Luther and recognize that everybody is a theologian (whether a Christian or not, everybody has a belief about God) then many theologians of glory deride faith and Christianity all together. A nonsensical collection of myths and fables of which we have evolved beyond the need.

But, a theologian of the cross grasps the hidden things of faith through the Spirit of God. It looks at baptism and sees what Scripture declares. That in baptism we were buried with Christ. That our sins were crucified upon the cross. That the price of our rebellion against God has been paid. That the wages of sin were meted out upon Jesus. And, in that washing we died. And, just as Christ rose from the grave we too, have been given new life. That through the forgiveness of sins we have been given life everlasting. That baptism now saves us (1 Peter 3:21).

So, what does this all mean? The answer is two-fold. Paul states, “And I , when I came to you, brother, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom" (1 Cor. 2:12). The greatest witness of our faith is our vocations. To hold claim to the title of Christian is to say that everything I do reflects Christ. That is a weighty load. Everything I do reflects Christ? It is supposed to. But, before you despair, remember that through baptism God gave you His Holy Spirit. The Spirit which empowers you to live the faith. To reflect Christ into the world. To be salt and light.

Don’t let somebody take that away from you. Don’t let somebody demean the waters of life in which you were washed. Don’t listen to the Devil whispering in your ear asking, “Did God really say?” God said that you have been redeemed and made whole. That in your baptism God places the seal of the Holy Spirit upon you that you might be predestined to life everlasting. God did this.

Amen.

And now may the peace that surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.