The Second Article of the Creed

Advent 3, Wednesday    December 19, 2018


Readings: Philippians 3:1-11; John 1:19-34

Catechism emphasis: The Blessings of Baptism (p. 204ff.)


Philippians 3:1-11

1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.


John 1:19-34

19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I am`The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD,”‘ as the prophet Isaiah said.” 24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 “This is He of whom I said,`After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 “I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” 32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 “I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me,`Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”



  1. The Blessings of Baptism (p. 204ff.)



What benefits does Baptism give?

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


Which are these words and promises of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark:  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”  [Mark 16:16]





Baptism works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this.


It didn’t do that for Jesus; it did the opposite.


No sin, no death, nothing satanic belonged to Jesus. He was the holy Son of God, of the same substance with the Father, true God himself, and nothing of sin or death or Satan belonged to Jesus.


Then he was baptized. He who knew no sin stepped into the waters of the Jordan, the water where sinners had been washing away their sins, in from that water of sin, Jesus received all sin unto himself.


Baptism, to Jesus, meant sin, death, and Satan, Jesus’ willingly taking it all upon himself.


All this so that, stepping out of the waters of the Jordan, he receives his Baptismal name: The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.



Now, because his baptism meant to Jesus sin, death, and Satan, our baptism means to us forgiveness of sins, life, and rescue from Satan.


For if Jesus was baptized into us, if at his baptism he stood in our place, taking upon himself all belonging to us, then we were baptized into him, we, at our baptisms, being made to stand in his place, receiving for all that belongs to him: righteousness, life, and peace with God.



So we have this great mystery, that God, out of his grace, wanting to justify the sinner, institutes the way he will come to the sinner with his gifts. He comes to us through the water and the word of Baptism.


That’s how the Large Catechism speaks of Baptism, as being nothing less than God’s word:

I can also boast that Baptism is no human plaything but is instituted by God himself. Moreover, it is solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved. We are not to regard it as an indifferent matter, then, like putting on a new red coat.


It is of the greatest importance that we regard Baptism as excellent, glorious, and exalted. It is the chief cause of our contentions and battles because the world now is full of sects who proclaim that Baptism is an external thing and that external things are of no use.


But no matter how external it may be, here stand God’s Word and command which have been instituted, established, and confirmed in Baptism. What God instituted and commands cannot be useless. It is a most precious thing, even though to all appearances it may not be worth a straw…


To be baptized in God’s name is to be baptized not by men but by God himself. Although it is performed by men’s hands, it is nevertheless truly God’s own act. From this fact everyone can easily conclude that it is of much greater value than the work of any man or saint. For what work can man do that is greater than God’s work?


In this season of our Lord’s Advent, his coming to sinners for salvation, we may look at our Lord’s Advent to those sinners listening to John by the Jordan river, when our Lord made his Advent among them, and exchanged with them their sin for his righteousness.


We may also look at his Advent to us.


He came to us and our children in the water and word of Baptism. There he took from us our sin, exchanging it, clothing us in his righteousness.


We now consider ourselves like Paul, when he wrote of not having his own righteousness, which would be from the Law, but having the righteousness which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. [Philippians 3:9]


And our faith clings to Christ and all the gifts he bestows upon us through Baptism:

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




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