From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Mass
Theologians rightly distinguish between a Sacrament and a sacrifice. The common genus of both of these is either a ceremony or a sacred work. A Sacrament is a ceremony or work in which God presents us with that which the promise attached to the ceremony offers. Therefore, Baptism is a work—not one that we offer to God, but in which God baptizes us through a minister operating in the place of God. Here God offers and presents the forgiveness of sins according to the promise: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). A sacrifice, on the contrary, is a ceremony or work that we render to God in order to honor him.
Pulling It Together
Baptism is necessary for salvation. Jesus did not say, Believe and you will be saved. Instead, he adds a work that he does to us through a Sacrament (meaning a sacred thing). This is not a sacrifice or work done by us, but one that God does for us. The work of God is effective because of the promise that he has connected to the ceremony. In the Sacrament of Baptism, both belief and baptism are given to us by God. Even the faith to believe is a gift from God (Eph 2:8). The promise attached to God’s work in us—both faith and baptism—is that one is saved. The Sacrament of Baptism “brings about forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare” (Small Catechism).
Prayer: Help me to hold fast to my faith in you, Lord, by remembering that you baptized me. Amen.
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Learning About Baptism teaches the meaning of Holy Baptism according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the First Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons focus on Baptism as a promise from God, emphasizing the power of God's Word in the Sacrament to create faith and repentance in our daily life.