From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Church
So we wonder why they have found fault with our description that speaks of living members. We have said nothing new. Paul has defined the Church in precisely the same way, saying that it should be cleansed in order to be holy. He adds the outward marks of the Word and Sacraments, saying, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27). We stated this in our Confession with almost the same wording.
Pulling It Together
The true Church consists of the righteous who enjoy Christ’s fellowship through faith and the Holy Spirit. So we must be careful to confess that sinful people, such as ourselves, become righteous and holy only through the grace of God. They do not become righteous by their own works but instead, are cleansed by the promise of God’s Word in Holy Baptism. The Holy Spirit regenerates and renews them, so that they are fit for the kingdom. Members of the Body of Christ are justified to God and sanctified by the gracious agency of God, not by their religious deeds and moral character. Being justified by his grace, the Church enjoys the hope of eternal life promised in the gospel to those who believe.
Prayer: Wash me, Lord, and I shall be whiter than snow. Amen.
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Views of Baptism is written for a range of readers including the parent or sponsor about to baptize a child, the adult who wants to understand baptism more fully, and the professional teacher or preacher who needs the truth about baptism stated simply but backed by careful research. This books explores three views of baptism: the individual-centered view, the means-of-grace view, and the Roman Catholic view. It includes a description of how Christian baptism came to us in stages from its Jewish roots. A question and answer section addresses specific matters often raised when people contemplate baptism.