We’ve established, in my previous posts on baptism, that babies and young children are in need of salvation. And this is where baptism itself comes in. It comes in because baptism is a means of God’s grace. In fact, Scripture tells us that God saves us through baptism.
In 1 Peter 3, baptism is compared to the flood. And, in verse 21, we read: “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…” Just as Noah and his family were saved through the waters of the flood, so are we saved through baptism.
Many of us tend to think of baptism as nothing more than a ritual. We think of it as an act done by man. However, this isn’t the case. Baptism is an act performed by God. It’s a work performed by God to accomplish our salvation.
Many Christians object to this thought. They object to it because there are many who have been baptized, yet have walked away from the Church. There are those who were baptized as children who have no faith in Jesus. And they don’t believe that these people are saved simply because they were baptized.
This is something with which Lutherans would agree. As Martin Luther points out in the Small Catechism, the water is not magic. It’s not the water that saves. It’s the water in connection with God’s Word that saves.
You see, in baptism, we receive the gospel. In it, we receive the promise of God. In Acts 2:38, Peter encouraged the people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, telling them that they’d receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We can see this again in Acts 22:16. And, in Mark 16:16, Jesus says: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” When we receive this promise in faith, we receive the promised blessing of God.
For this reason, when we present our children for baptism, they receive the gospel. When we present our children for baptism, we bestow upon them the very promise of God. And it’s this Word, bestowed through baptism, by which they are saved.