In the Christian Church there has been more than just a little controversy and conflict over Baptism and when it should take place and how it should be administered. Should candidates for Baptism be infants, or young adults able to answer for themselves, or people on their death beds (as was the case with Roman emperor Constantine)? Should the candidates be washed, sprinkled, or immersed? Should Baptism ever be repeated or renewed? These are just some of the questions I have encountered during my forty years of ministry, and I am sure other pastors have had to deal with other questions, too!

In his Small Catechism the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther answered the question of what baptism is with a brief statement: “Baptism in not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word.” What Baptism is, simply enough, is water applied in God’s name and according to Christ’s command. This is evident in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). Here Jesus, as He was preparing to return to heaven after His resurrection from the grave, said to His disciples: “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….” Jesus’ command is simply that water be applied in the name of the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In the third portion of Luther’s consideration of Holy Baptism, he cited our text, Titus 3:5-8. Here, St. Paul, the author of the letter to Titus (a young pastor), wrote:

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, He washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.  (Titus 4:5-8)

St. Paul had it right: these things are excellent and profitable! Lord, grant that we will learn and live by them, In Jesus’ name. Amen.