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The perfect gift

August 20, 2014 No Comment

by Don Schiemann

Rev. Don Schiemann

Rev. Don Schiemann

The perfect gift: most retailers have an idea of what that is and try to sell it to you. Particularly at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day, we seem to be inundated with flyers in the mail and commercials on TV full of suggestions about the perfect gift. And the cost? Well if you really love your spouse, parent or child, it’s worth it, even if it drives you to the verge of bankruptcy.

God has given us the perfect gift in His Son. Jesus lived a perfect life on our behalf and then died the sinner’s death at the cross. He atoned for all of our sins.  He rose from the dead and, in His rising, conquered death—the last and greatest enemy and final consequence for sin. He has borne all of the cost needed to be paid for our salvation.

God is rich in mercy so His gifts do not end there. Among His gifts to us is the holy sacrament of baptism. Most of us were infants when the pastor poured water over our heads and spoke the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Some of us may have been baptized as adults, but the result was the same. God placed His name on us and claimed us as His redeemed sons and daughters.

There are some church bodies which believe that baptism is an act of obedience on the part of the believer. The Bible clearly teaches, however, that baptism is not something we do but, rather, something which God does. St. Paul writes: “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 Saviour, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).

There are others who diminish baptism by suggesting that a second baptism—a baptism of the Holy Spirit—is necessary. Nothing could be further from the truth! Baptism, as Scripture teaches, is complete. The Apostle Peter, in his Pentecost sermon, spoke these words: “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).

Baptism is the perfect gift—a gift that keeps on giving. It is in our baptism that we receive new life. You see, in baptism we are connected to Christ and His death and resurrection. St. Paul wrote: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

Baptism is the perfect gift—a gift that keeps on giving.

In our baptism, we are given the forgiveness, life, and salvation that were won for us at the cross and the empty tomb. In our baptism, we are connected to Jesus Christ and have the assurance of our salvation through Him. In our baptism, we are given the strength and grace for daily Christian living.

At the Mount of Ascension, God called on His Church to be in mission. We are to bring the Word of Life to a dying world. What does that mission look like? Jesus said: “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 28:19-20). In short, we are to teach and to baptize. We are to dispense God’s perfect gifts.

The simple and perfect gift of baptism is a treasure worth more than all of the world’s wealth. What a blessing for parents to bring their little children to the sacrament of baptism! What a sacred trust is given to Christ’s Church that we are called upon to administer this sacrament! And what a blessing to have been baptized and to have received this perfect gift from God!

The gifts flow from the font where He calls us His own
New life He gives that makes us His and His alone.
Here He forgives our sins with water and His Word;
The Triune God Himself gives pow’r to call Him Lord. (LSB 602)

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Rev. Don Schiemann is President of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church–Canada.

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