- Written by Pastor Shawn Nettleton Pastor Shawn Nettleton
- Created: June 27 2022 June 27 2022
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18b–20a). At the end of his Pentecost sermon, the apostle Peter proclaimed, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself" (Acts 2:38–39).
God’s gift of Holy Baptism stands at the center of the Christian life. In fact, as Robert Kolb notes,
Baptism frames the whole of the Christian life and brings the action of God to the heart of our lives. For in baptism God has transacted the joyous exchange of our sinfulness for our Lord's innocence. He has used baptism to put us back in the right relationship to himself, and through it he has given us new identities, as his beloved children. 1
Baptism connects us to Jesus, plunging us into His death and raising us up with Him in His resurrection! Saint Paul uses the strongest language possible to declare that we have been “united” with Christ in Holy Baptism. Like a broken bone that fuses together as it heals and becomes one again, our life and Christ’s life are fused together and become one life (Romans 6:5).
There is no distance or separation between us so that what happened to Christ happens to us. When Christ died to sin, we died with Him. When Christ was raised from the dead, we were raised to new life with Him! Sin and death have no power over Him, and it has no power over those joined to Him in Holy Baptism. This is our new reality, our new identity in Christ! This reality defines and determines our whole existence, our very life.
Tragically, many people today do not have a sense of identity. They are lost and end up searching for a sense of identity and acceptance in all the wrong places, everything from wealth and worldly status to sexual promiscuity (immorality) and gender orientation. Living in a culture that promotes and encourages such debauchery, perversion and ungodliness, it is imperative and ever important for our young people to cling to and rejoice in their identity given in Holy Baptism.
This past week (June 20–23) five youth accompanied me to the Catechism Retreat hosted at Lutheran Valley Ranch and Retreat near Woodland Park. We joined up with nearly 200 other youth, adults and pastors from Lutheran churches as far away as Texas, Iowa and California. Together we spent three days studying the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and its importance in our lives as God’s people. Of course, youth also spent the week participating in various activities led by the LVR staff such as rock climbing, horseback riding, archery, fishing, climbing the high ropes course and going down the zip line! It was a great week!
When we begin our prayers by making the sign of the holy cross or when begin the Divine Service “In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit” we are essentially remembering our Baptism into Christ, remembering who we are and whose we are. We remember that the name of God has been placed upon us in Holy Baptism; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are God’s holy, righteous, beloved and precious children in Christ Jesus. This is who we are! This is our God-given identity in Christ.
The prophet Isaiah declares to God’s people in his day and ours,
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:1–5).
God did not simply give nations or men in exchange for you, He gave His one and only Son as a ransom in exchange for you. In Holy Baptism, God placed His name upon you! You are His! He is yours! Rejoice today and always in your God-given identity as a beloved child of God and sing “I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!” 2
Yours in Christ,
- Robert Kolb, Teaching God’s Children His Teaching: A Guide For Study of Luther’s Catechism (Concordia Seminary Press, 2012), 119.
- Erdmann Neumeister, “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It,” in Lutheran Service Book (CPH, 2006), 594.
Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at nettleton@StJohnsFC.org or at 970-305-2420.