Water and Word: The Promise of Baptism

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” — Acts 2:37-39

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The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.
She is his new creation by water and the word. — Samuel J. Stone, 1866

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First. What is Baptism?

Answer. Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God’s command and connected with God’s Word.

Secondly. What does Baptism give or profit?

Answer. It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Thirdly. How can water do such great things?

Answer. It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost.

— From Martin Luther’s Small Catechism

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Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. — Charlotte Eilliot, 1835

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