What Is Baptism?

Simply put, Baptism is the application of water to a person in the name of the Holy Trinity—the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Plain water is truly used in this Sacrament, but it is not plain water alone.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, following His death and resurrection and just before His ascension, gave the Church the gift of Holy Baptism:

“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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20

So it is that the water of Holy Baptism is used according to Jesus’ command and combined with the name of God and all that name stands for. This God-given reality changes everything about this particular application of water.

What Does Baptism Do?

In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther provided a concise explanation for us:

It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. (SC, Baptism, Second Part)

To learn more about what Lutherans believe and teach about Holy Baptism, check out the book Lutheranism 101.

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4 Responses to What Is Baptism?

  1. Joel N says:

    I was baptized in the Southern Baptist Church when I was eighteen years old subsequent to my profession of faith. I understood it (at least according to SB theology) and was very sincere. If I want to become a member of my local Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) will I be required to be re-baptized?


    • ScotK says:

      Hi Joel.

      It is exciting to hear of your walk toward inclusion in a Lutheran congregation. Thanks for sharing that with us.

      I can only begin to answer your question, ultimately you and pastor will work through this together. When a person has been baptized with water in the name of the Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Small Catechism, Sacrament of Holy Baptism, First), that person–YOU– can be assured that by that baptism you have been, rescued from death and the devil, given eternal salvation, and that you have without doubt, received the words and promises of God (Small Catechism, Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Second).

      What these words and promises of God? “[Jesus said] Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16)

      While a baptized child of God may later doubt this Word or turn away from God, the Word of God remains, the power of God persists, and in fact, is calling that erring one to return and repent.

      This is the hope that is yours in baptism as a child of God:

      1 Corinthians 6:11: And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

      Romans 6:3-5: 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.
      For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

      Joel, in this forum I can only speak to you about the blessings of baptism. The Pastor can work with you to explore the Scriptures, understand your unique and personal story and need, and provide you with pastoral care. In this way, our pastors are a true blessing to us, speak the mercy and power of God’s Word into our lives, and provide for the care of our souls.

      In Christ’s peace,


  2. Joel N says:

    Thank you so much for your response Scot. I really appreciate it! I think the pastor will be a great person to talk to, because as it turns out, his wife was Southern Baptist before they were married. Seems like God just planted my wife and I in the right spot.

    Also want to thank you, Laura L. and others who are so helpful on this site. You all are a tremendous resource for us newbie Lutherans!

    God Bless,

  3. Heather says:

    I really believe this blog post , “What Is Baptism?
    | Lutheranism 101”, particularly entertaining plus
    it ended up being a remarkable read. Thanks for the post,

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