Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Baptism Is Not A Sign But A Means (Sasse)

Part of one of Sasse's lectures found on Pres. Rev. Harrison's Blog:

... "So the question is: What is Baptism according to the testimony of the New Testament? What does it give or profit? What is the relation of Baptism to the faith of the baptismal candidate? Is it necessary for salvation or not? Our first answer must be that, according to the clear teaching of the New Testament, Baptism is “the washing of regeneration.” The ancient church, which always actually identified Baptism and regeneration, and the church of all times with the exception of the Reformed denominations, has understood Titus 3:5 in this sense, and rightly so. There Baptism is said to be “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

In Baptism the Holy Spirit is communicated; we are “all baptized into the one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Those who are baptized have been baptized into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3). These are all realities that take place, not alongside of Baptism, but in Baptism. In the New Testament, Baptism with water, inasmuch as it is a baptism into Christ, into the name of Christ, is Baptism with the Spirit, it is a being born anew and at the same time from above “of water and of the Spirit” (John 3:5). Certainly the New Testament knows of no regeneration without Baptism and independent of Baptism. Baptism, therefore, is not a sign but a means of regeneration. To take it only as a sign of a regeneration, that also takes place without it and independently of it, is unbiblical.

The Reformed Church in its doctrine of Baptism, precisely as in its doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, on the one hand rejects the pure symbolism of Zwingli, as though Baptism were nothing but an “ostensible” sign of the Christian profession like the white cross which the confederate attaches to his garment in order to show that he is a confederate; but on the other hand it also rejects both the opus operatum of the Roman sacramental doctrine and the Lutheran and New Testament identification of sign and substance.

Why does it do this? In the final analysis, it is because of the aversion of Calvin and his medieval theological predecessors to the view that an external, physical act can evoke spiritual effects like the forgiveness of sins. But this is, in the first place, a philosophical prejudice, and in the second place it is a misunderstanding of the significance of the Word of God in Baptism. “For without the Word of God the water is simply 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.” Even in Catholic doctrine the Word as forma is inseparably united with the sacrament; as Augustine’s famous dictum, quoted over and over again by all occidental churches, puts it: Accedit verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum [The word comes to the element and it becomes a sacrament; Tractate 80 on John 3; Smalcald Articles III.V.1].

That which separates Luther from the Catholic doctrine of Baptism is best stated in his own words in the Smalcald Articles, where he draws the line between himself and Thomism as well as Scotism at the same time:

Therefore we do not hold with Thomas and the monastic preachers or Dominicans, who forget the Word and say that God has imparted to the water a spiritual power which, through the water, washes away sin. Nor do we agree with Scotus and the Barefoot Monks who teach that by the assistance of the divine will Baptism washes away sins, and that this ablution occurs only through the will of God and by no means through the Word and water. (SA III,V 2-3)

For Luther, everything depends on the close connection of water and the Word:

God, however, is a God of life. Now, because He is in this water, it must be the true aqua vitae that expels death and hell and quickens forever (WA 52.102.9).

But that this presence of God or Christ cannot be any other presence than that in his Word will not need to be proved, we trust, in the case of Luther. All effects of Baptism, in the view of Luther and the Lutheran Church, are effects brought about by the Word connected with the water." ...

Another Baptism article:

More Sasse:
Letter on Dogmatics
She can wait.



    Why does Satan want you to stay away from the the watery grave of baptism?

    1. Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

    Lucifer wants you dry so you cannot be saved.

    2. Acts 8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.

    Beelzebub wants you dry to prevent you from rejoicing.

    3. Acts 22:16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.

    The Devil wants you dry so your sins will not be washed away.

    4. Galatians 3:27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

    The prince of darkness wants you dry so you will not be clothed with Christ.

    5. Acts 2:41,47 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 47 ...And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    Satan wants you dry because he does not want you saved and subsequently added to the Lord's church.

    6. Romans 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

    The prince of devils wants you dry to keep you from walking in a new life with Christ.

    7. Romans 6:6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

    Lucifer wants you dry so you will remain a slave to sin.

    8. Romans 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    Beelzebub wants you dry so you cannot be alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    9. 1 Peter 3:21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you---not the removal of dirt from the flesh , but an appeal to God for a good conscience---through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    The prince of the devils wants you dry because he does not want you to be saved.

    10. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Lucifer wants you dry because he does not want you to have your sins forgiven nor does he want you to receive indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit.

    11. Colossians 2:12-13 ..buried with Him in baptism...13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.

    Beelzebub wants you dry because he does not want your transgressions forgiven.

    12. Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have dine in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by thewashing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

    The Devil want you dry so will remain unsaved.

    13. John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    The prince of darkness wants you dry in order to keep you from entering the kingdom of God.

    14. Ephesians 5:25-27 ...Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her , having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory , having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

    Satan wants you dry because he does not want you sanctified, cleansed, nor holy and blameless.

    15. Revelation 20:15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Lucifer wants you dry because he does not want your name written in the Lamb's book of life.He want you to be thrown into the lake of fire.


    1. Good verses. But, shouldn't we be more concerned with what the Father wants than what the enemy wants?