Full Text for Dogmatics 3- Volume 9 - Why do you have to be baptized? (Video)

No. 9 I�d like to move to another means of grace, if I may. Baptism. Isn�t it enough to believe in Christ? Why do you have to be baptized? >>PROFESSOR ROLAND ZIEGLER: Well, Josh, we talked a little bit about that before, about this question. Now, how much do you need? Sometimes that's a question that comes up with evangelicals who are very insistent on the necessity of faith. But they see baptism more as a good work by a person. And then you say of course "Well, is this good work really necessary?" And then you fall into a legalistic trend. And even if you're Lutheran, of course you have the same stress on faith. You say faith is necessary. And faith alone. And some evangelicals will say: Well, if you say you have to be baptized and you say we are saved by baptism, you actually are a traitor to the ***sola filae, the alone by faith. So to answer that question we really have first of all to look at why we baptize and what does baptism mean before we answer that is it necessary. Again that's a point we can't answer in the abstract. Because baptism is not something that is deduced from some higher premise. The highest premise is you have to have faith. And then you somehow deduce from that: Well, you should be baptized. Baptism, as said before, rests on the institution by Christ. We baptize because Christ has said to and not from -- not because it's an inference from some theological opinion. So the fundamental thing to say about baptism is it was instituted by the risen Christ as a sacrament for all people. And the text of course is Matthew 28:19 to 20. And the apostles following his command baptized. And so does the church until Christ will come again. Baptism starts at Pentecost or continues really in Pentecost when the people who were hit by Peter's sermon said, "What are we to do?" He said, "Repent and be baptized" in Acts 2:38. So the dominical command, the institution, that's why we baptize. And the confessions derive the necessity of baptism from the dominical command, too. The Small Catechism says baptism is nothing else than the Word of God in water commanded by the institution of Christ. If we look at the Small Catechism, what are the major passages for the teaching of baptism? Well, it starts with Matthew 28 and then it has Mark 16. And then it goes on to Titus 3:5 and into Romans 6 about what baptism is and what baptism does. It's the dominical commands of the institution of baptism. So that means if somebody rejects baptism, this person rejects God's Word, faith in Christ, who direct and bind us to baptism. See, baptism is not some kind of an isolated rite. If you say, "I don't need baptism. Oh, Jesus, I know better. Oh, the apostles, I know better. I don't want that." And then it makes us a little bit careful before we say, "Oh, baptism, do you really need it?" Now, Christ did institute baptism in a different way than he instituted his Supper. He does not show them how to do it. But he presupposes that the apostles have an idea of what baptizing means. And of course they did. Because Jesus was not the first that baptized. The first in the New Testament era was John the Baptist. That's why he got his name. Or John the Baptizer as some people say nowadays which I think is a little -- I don't know. I'm fine with John the Baptist. But I'm just a foreigner. The baptism of John was also done for the remission of sins. Now, there is something new in the baptism after Jesus' resurrection. But baptism was a rite that the disciples knew about. The new thing is that it is done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And the new thing is that it has a relationship to Christ's death and his resurrection. Jesus talks in a more hidden way of baptism even before the resurrection when he talked with Nicodemus in John 3:5: You have to be born from a -- again by water and the Spirit. Another reference to baptism might be the blood and the water flowing out of Christ's side in John 19:34. It's not quite clear. But some people interpret it for baptism alone. Others see both sacraments there. It certainly has some kind of a sacramental reference. Jesus can use baptism, also, as a metaphor when saying: Can you be baptized with the baptism I will receive? Can you bear the cross I will receive as a term for the cross and martyrdom? Baptism therefore has a history before Jesus. But it is not the same as the ritual washings that the Jewish people had at the time of Jesus or the so-called baptism of the proselytes. There were many washings in Judaism and still are for Orthodox Jews where the ritual defilement is washed away. But these are continual washings. They recur. Whereas baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime event. We only baptize once. We preach quite often. We receive the Lord's Supper quite often or we hear sermons quite often, too, hopefully. But we are baptized only once. That's one of the distinctive marks of baptism. So baptism rests on the institution of Christ. Christ commanded it. And the church followed it. So in that sense, baptism necessity is shown by Christ. Again, not derived from anything else. And overall, Christianity followed the dominical command. There are very, very few communities that do not baptize. The Quaker are one such community. They reject all external forms of worship. And there are some hyperdispensationalists that say that baptism was only for the emerging church and it has no longer any significance for our age. I remember meeting one of those dispensationalists a long time ago when I worked in a home for mentally handicapped people. And I was kind of stunned because I had never encountered anybody like that. And he said "Well, so you consider me not to be a Christian?" And I said, "Well, yeah." But we still remained on good speaking terms. I mean, he was aware that his opinion was a little bit exotic at least in that setting. What does baptism do? So after the institution, what's the benefit? In the words of the Small Catechism, baptism is not just plain water but it is the water included in God's command and combined with God's Word. So as the word ***baptizo shows, there is no baptism without water. Although it means mostly immersion, it is also used for the washing of hands. The Baptists and also some of the eastern Orthodox make a big thing about that baptism has to be administered through immersion. But we do not accept that. Again, the biblical usage of baptism can mean immersion. But it also can mean washing. It should be a little bit more than just a sprinkling maybe. One of my teachers at the seminary in Germany said: You have to hear the sound of the water. Water really has to flow. Not just a little -- you dip your finger in the fountain and then you make -- wave your fingers across on the baby, which is good. But again, it's not necessary. Luther himself thought that immersion would be nice. But you know, in cold unheated churches in Germany, infant mortality was high enough without that. So that's probably why it was not really done in northern Europe or central Europe. So you shouldn't substitute anything. Like in the time of rationalism they used rose petals. Isn't it much nicer with a child? You have rose petals with which you baptize. Okay. It hasn't come up lately I think. But I'm sure somebody will repeat that kind of folly. So baptism is water connected with the Word. As we said before in the section on the Word of God, it's the word and the element, the promise and the element. Only the rite which is in the borders of the institution as of baptism. So you have to follow the prescribed right. You can't make up your own thing. It's bad enough when you write your own vows but you can't write your own baptismal formula for your child. You can't baptize in the name of the good the true and the beautiful which supposedly was also done by some liberals in Germany or some -- it was done today in the name of the creator redeemer and sank fire or mother son and lover and things like that. That's not the baptism that Christ instituted. That's just a mockery. The nature of baptism can be seen partially in the apparent symbolism of its application of water. It's a washing. Titus 3 Verse 5: It is the flood of judgement killing sin. So the flood. Flooded is an archetype if you want to call it of baptism I Peter 3:21. Other ways to talk about baptism are on a rather unsymbolic level when Paul calls baptism a burial in Romans 6:4. Also the term new birth is not a metaphor for water. Or that we put on Christ, Galatians 3:27. So the natural symbolism of water can be used. But it doesn't exhaust what baptism is or it doesn't define what baptism is. Just looking at the water and ritual of washing won't tell you that you die and rise with Christ in baptism for example. There will be other symbolic rites that might be more appropriate to that. But we don't do that. Because baptism does not wash you from your sins because there's this water and it washes you and it has a significance beyond that but because it is connected with God's Word. The nature of baptism can also be seen in the formula used in baptism. In the name or literally into the name. This "in the name" means that you are baptized into the name or by the power of Christ. By the power of the triune God. So it's Father, Son and Holy Spirit that draw you into their life and connect you with their life. So baptism effects repentance and forgiveness because the exalted Christ relates the person who is baptized to himself. And in Romans 6 Paul can talk about again that we are baptized into Christ's death. We are drawn into that. We participate in that. Another way is that we are baptized into the body of Christ. That we are now part of his body. That's another effect of this language of baptizing into. So when you are baptized, you become a member of Christ's body. You are connected with his death and resurrection. You are a part of the community of believers. And you are a child of God. You have now the sonship, the ***heothesia. We are baptized. We do not baptize ourselves. That shows you that baptism is not something we do. Otherwise we could baptize ourselves. But it is something that happens to us. And in a way, it's a beautiful illustration, also, of the monogenism of grace. That is it's grace alone. You really can't do it yourself. You receive it. Baptism is not something I do but something that is done to me. What benefit does baptism give? Well, we know that question from the Catechism. It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil and gives eternal salvation to all who believe. This as the words and the promises of God declares the benefits are, therefore, an effective communication of grace. The forgiveness of sins is given and handed out to the individual. It is also a real renewal. The new birth that is a new life start. It is the incorporation in Christ and the growing together with him. We are grafted into Christ. Only secondary is baptism an act of confession. The new birth is another way how the pure passivity of the origin of the Christian life is expressed. You don't give birth to yourself. You do not create yourself. You don't give birth to yourself. You receive life. And so also in baptism, the new life. Either born again or the birth from above, you suffer it. That does not mean that it's external to you that you suffer it. That stuff is kind of out on the outside. No, it means something happens with you which you cannot do. We talked about that in context with the Word as a means of grace. The Word does something to you. So also of course baptism does something to you. It changes you. It creates something new. Because it is an effective rite. An effective act. It has nothing to do with magic. And it does not mean that faith is not important. Faith is the means by which it is received. But it is God who does the work. And any talk that stresses man's participation, "Well, at least to go. You have to want it" misses the point. Of course you want it. But that's not the reason that you have it. It's already the work of God that there is a desire for baptism. And in that sense therefore baptism is necessary for salvation. "Except you are born out of water and the Spirit you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven" says Jesus in John 3:5. The Reformed never understood that of baptism. They said: Oh, this is the inner conversion. This is the new birth. It has nothing to do with baptism. And when it says you have to be born out of water and the Spirit, well, water really is a term for the Spirit. Okay. So it means -- literally means according to the Reformed interpretation you have to be born out of the Spirit and the Spirit. Makes a lot of sense to me. Let's go back to what we talked before. Let's take it literally. Unless the context shows you shouldn't take it literally. If it talks about water, give it the benefit that it actually does mean water. And then it becomes a clear reference to baptism. And it's certainly not a forced exegesis. Rather the other way around, it is a forced exegesis. Nowhere in the New Testament do you find any indication that baptism is optional. It is rather the normal way of incorporation into the church. Or to put it differently, of becoming a Christian. The people at Pentecost asked, "What shall we do?" And Peter answers "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Why is baptism necessary? Dogmatically speaking because it is an application of the Gospel. Since baptism at its heart is the gift of the Gospel, a rejection of baptism would be a rejection of the Gospel. Luther in the Large Catechism says: Hence it follows that whoever rejects baptism rejects God's Word, faith in Christ, who directs and binds us to baptism. In the Augsburg Confession, Article 9, it says: It is taught among us that baptism is necessary and that grace is offered through it. Now, comes the but in a way. What happens to those who die without being baptized, without their fault? Okay. You have somebody in adult construction and he gets run over by a car before he can get baptized. Does that mean he's out? No. The point is if God takes this person away before he can be baptized, that does not mean that we have to say he's damned. That would misunderstand baptism again as a law. The same thing with children who die before they can be baptized. If God takes them away, I mean, you always should be able to do an emergency baptism. But if it's not possible, if it's a stillborn child, we don't have to sentence them to hell. That's not our job anyway to declare that for everybody. But then we say God is good and merciful, he has bound us to his institutions. But he can do -- he has ways and means we do not know of and we commend this person to his grace. In the old church they came up with other forms of baptism. For example, during the time of the Roman persecutions, the baptism by blood. If a ***catecumen, one who wasn't in adult instruction, was jailed and could not be baptized but he suffered the death of a martyr, they say: Well, he in effect was baptized by his own blood. If somebody who intends to be baptized and dies suddenly before he is baptized, that was also seen as equivalent to being baptized. So it's always a little difficult to put these neat terms on that. But the intention is clear. We have to baptize. And we have to call everybody to baptize. Where this call is rejected, we have to bind that as a sin. If somebody is deprived of baptism, we have to leave that to God and say: God has called this person through his Word. And we hope -- and we trust that this Word has an effect on him. And if God deemed it appropriate to take him out of this life before he received baptism, we trust that he didn't do that -- that he said: Oh, by the way I killed him before you could baptize him so I could send him to hell. That's not the God in whom we believe. But this is God's gracious will even though we can't understand it. And it was not his sneaky way to condemn him. So we don't have to despair over the faith of such a person.