Luther’s Small Catechism – Baptism Also Now Saves Us (1 Peter 3:21)

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As Jesus was ascending into heaven, He told His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Not ten days later, on the first day of Pentecost, Peter addressed the crowd and convicted them of their role in crucifying Jesus. When the people were “cut to the heart,” they asked, “‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children [little ones, not descendants], and to all who are afar off’” (Acts 2:37-39).
From these two passages we see a number of remarkable truths: 1) Disciples are made by Baptism and God’s Word, 2) Baptism gives the forgiveness of sins, 3) it imparts the Holy Spirit, and 4) it is for all people, even children.
Baptism is a special gift that God has given to us. Like the Old Testament covenant of circumcision, it makes us part of God’s family. Through Baptism, we can confidently pray, “Our Father…” just as children ask their dear fathers. Through Baptism, our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16). Through Baptism, we receive all the benefits as heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
“How can water do such great things? It is not the water that does these things, but the Word of God which is in and with the water, and faith which trusts this Word of God in the water. 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 washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says, Titus 3:5-8: ‘According to His mercy He has saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that having been justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.’” (From Luther’s Small Catechism)