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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 200

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From the Word: 38 The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being. 39 Now, he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive; for the Spirit had not been given since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:38–39)

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism, The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

“The Means of Baptism”

How can water do such great things?

It is not the water that does these things, but the Word of God connected with the water and our faith which relies on that Word. For without the Word of God it is simply water and not Baptism. But when connected with the Word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit.

As Saint Paul says to Titus: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy.” (Titus 3:5-8a)

Pulling It Together: In Christian Baptism, water does more than touch the outside of us, as though washing the skin. Because God’s Word is bound with the water, it cleanses and renews the whole person. This is the work of God’s Spirit, who does his work in us so thoroughly and abundantly (Titus 3:6) that the Holy Spirit himself wells up from the believer as a kind of flowing, living water. That which touched the outside must, by virtue of the Spirit of God, reach deep within the believer. God’s Spirit revives believers’ spirits, now pouring forth from within us as the baptismal water had once been poured upon us. We are able, therefore, by faith to hear him speak within us through that same binding Word. Through the Word and the Water, God renews us daily, and even more often, since he is always flowing from our “innermost being” (John 7:38 NASB). The Spirit revives us in many ways, not least by testifying to our own spirits that we are God’s own children (Rom 8:16).

Prayer: Revive me, Lord God, according to your Word. Amen.

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Why Did Jesus Have to Die? examines the most profound event of salvation history—the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—exploring from a biblical perspective what is known as the doctrine of the Atonement. This six-week Bible Study would be particularly appropriate during the season of Lent.

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