Words From Our Past – January 20th, 2017

 In Words From Our Past

Now, as I have often said, God’s Word teaches us that the sacrament of baptism has three parts.

The first is just natural water . . . [Baptism] is water, but there is something more which is added to it, which makes this water glorious and holy, makes it in fact the real baptism, namely: The second part, God’s Word beside and with the water, which is not something we have invented or dreamed up, but is rather the Word of Christ, who said, “Go into all the world and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” [Matt. 28:19]. When these words are added to the water, then it is no longer simple water like other water, but a holy, divine, blessed water. For where the Word of God, by which he created heaven and earth and all things, is present, there God himself is present with his power and might. . . . we must not look upon the water as simply water without the Word, but rather know that the Word with and beside the water constitutes the substance of baptism, as St. Paul says clearly in Eph. 5 [:26] that Christ washed and cleansed his bride, the church, by the washing of water with the Word, which is quite a different bath and washing than that which occurs through natural water or human washing and bathing in a tub. For here, says St. Paul, is the Word of the living God which says, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; in other words, here not a man, but God himself is baptizing. For when it is done in his name it is done indeed by the holy Trinity.

Then there is a third part which is necessary to make it a sacrament, namely, institution or the Word which institutes and ordains baptism; for two kinds of Word must be present in order that it be a baptism. One which is spoken with the water or baptizing, the second that which orders and commands us to baptize in this way, that is, to immerse in water and to speak these words. When these two come together, namely, the command and institution to do this and the Word with the water, which is used in accord with the institution and practices and administers the same, then this is called a baptism and is a baptism.

—Martin Luther

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