By Brent Kuhlman
“Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Whoa there, Peter! Better try that again! After all, we are told time and time again by the popular TV, radio, and book pastors that Baptism is essentially a nothing! That Baptism is only for the adults! And yet here you are, Peter, saying just the opposite. And it’s right here in the Bible.
Peter won’t try again. No, do-over for him. He only confesses what the Lord Jesus has taught. Peter doesn’t make things up. No creative, innovative stuff with him. “Make disciples of all nations,” Jesus said, “by baptizing” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus died for all. Won salvation for all. In Holy Baptism He dishes out the forgiveness of sins and salvation that He accomplished on Good Friday.
And so Peter’s invitation. Not to an American Protestant tent-like revival altar call where you give your heart to Jesus, but to the baptismal font! To the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). “Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” In other words, receive this gift from the Lord Jesus. Be given to by the Lord Jesus Himself. Baptism is His gift. His giving. His doing. For whoever is baptized in God’s Name is baptized by God Himself.
Who is to be baptized? “Every one of you!” What part of “every” don’t you understand? “Every one of you” leaves no one out! Peter doesn’t discriminate and says that Holy Baptism is only for a few. Jesus died for all. Holy Baptism is for all.
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Baptism is not essentially nothing! Peter proclaims quite clearly that this gift is “for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Forgiveness of sins! All your sins! No sins left out of Jesus’ dying for you. So now, no sins not forgiven in Holy Baptism. Such is the work of the Holy Spirit that Jesus Himself promised: “He [the Holy Spirit] will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you” (John 16:14). Indeed!
And it’s all not just for the adults! Holy Baptism and its magnificent benefits are for the kids, too. “For the promise [the promise of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism] is for you and your children, and for all who are far off.” For you! For your children! For all! No age restrictions. It’s all gift. “For you” talk is Gospel talk. Gift talk. Holy Baptism and its benefits are for everyone.
SO, ARE YOU FORGIVEN?
Of course, you are. How do you know that? “Jesus died for me. He rose for me. He put His Name on me in Holy Baptism.” Are you Holy Spirit-filled? Of course! How do you know that? I am baptized in Jesus’ Name! “Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Great stuff, Peter! Thanks a ton. Your pastoral care in Acts 2:38-39 is for faith. After all, Jesus promised: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). So when your conscience, the devil, or the world, accuse you because of your sin, the only reply that counts is faith: “I am baptized! And since I am baptized I have the promise of the forgiveness of all my sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit who is the Lord and giver of life.” Happy living in your Baptism!
Rev. Brent Kuhlman is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Murdock, NE.
This article was originally published on the Higher Things website in August 2019.