130113 Titus 3:4-7

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Titus 3:4 – 7

Theme: Is My Baptism Really that Important?

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

I am sure that everyone of us here this morning would agree that it is important to have clean hands. I read once that in order to have really clean hands, you should wash your hands with soap and water for as long as it takes you to sing two rounds of "Happy Birthday to You" or as long as it takes you to sing through the national anthem. Many people today make use of hand sanitizers to clean their hands, when they don't have any soap or water that they can use. During this cold and flu season, it is important to make sure our hands are clean. But even more important than clean hands, is having a clean heart before God. In our reading from Titus chapter 3, we are told that because of the kindness and love of God our Savior we are saved "through the washing of rebirth". On this Sunday, when we read about the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry and his baptism by John the Baptist, we ask the question: "Is my Baptism really that important?"

Do you celebrate your birthday in some way year after year? Have you ever forgotten what day you were born on? Those may seem like silly questions to ask. You may be thinking to yourself, "Of course I remember what day I was born on!" "Of course I celebrate my birthday in some way year after year!" We don't quickly forget the day we were born on, do we? But what about the day you were re-born? Do you remember the day you were baptized; the day you personally were "saved through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit"? Is it a day you celebrate year after year? For many of us, our Baptism happened many years ago, at a time we can't even remember. Yet, your Baptism is the single most important event that happened in your life. Why is it so important? It is important because of what you and I are like as human beings. All of us are born spiritually dirty. From our parents, we inherited our sinful nature. You and I have hearts stained with the dirt of sin. From the very beginning of our life we are enemies of God and blind to the Bible's message of forgiveness. God's Word clearly teaches us that because of the dirt of sin, you and I cannot by our own thinking or choosing come to believe in Jesus Christ as our one and only Savior from sin. As we read in God's Word before us, you and I are saved "not because of righteous things we had done." Ephesians chapter 2 tells us that our being saved is "not by works, so that no one can boast" and "as for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins." You and I were born into this world with the same great need: a need to be re-born; a need for a Savior from sin.

So, a natural question to ask at this point is, "How then is anyone saved?" God's Word gives us the answer to that question this morning, "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior." The kindness, the love and the mercy of our Savior-God can be summed up in a single word: "grace". Just as we run our hands under warm running water to get the dirt off, so also, at the time of our Baptism, the Word of God connected with the water that is used gives Baptism the power to wash away the dirt of sin. Through the working of God the Holy Spirit and God's powerful Holy Word, our hearts once filled only by sin, are now filled with forgiveness and faith in Jesus Christ, our only Savior from sin. Again, from Ephesians chapter 2 we read, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." Is my Baptism really that important? God's Word teaches you and me that it is, because at the time of our Baptism, our loving Triune God gives you and me the gift of faith in Jesus Christ as our one and only Savior and gift of the forgiveness of all of our sins.

Not only do we receive the gifts of faith and forgiveness at the time of our Baptism, but we also receive the promise of everlasting life with our Savior in heaven. God's Word proclaims the Good News that we are "justified by his grace, [so that] we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Through the grace, that is, the undeserved love of our Savior, you and I are declared "Not Guilty" of our many sins. As God the Father looks at your heart and my heart through glasses stained red with the blood of Jesus our Savior, it is "just-if-I'd-never-sinned." Through Jesus Christ alone we have God's promise that the glory of heaven is ours to enjoy. The inheritance we will enjoy is far greater than any earthly possession that can be left for us. Through our Baptism connecting us to our Savior, we look forward to inheriting a life that will never end in the great riches of heaven.

Is my Baptism really that important? In speaking about the importance of Baptism, Dr. Martin Luther writes, "Baptism works forgiveness of sin, delivers from death and the devil and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare." So my encouragement for each of you here this morning is to take time this coming week to remember your Baptism. Offer a prayer of thanks to our gracious Father that through the wonderful gift of Baptism, you came to believe in Jesus Christ as your one and only Savior. Rejoice that through your Baptism, you received the free gift of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus and are given the promise of everlasting life with him in heaven. As you give thanks for your Baptism, let your heart fill with joy as you read this comforting message from our God's Word for YOU, "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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