Baptism, New Birth, Keys – AALC Colloquy Q8 of 20 Blog

Ezekiel 36:25 English Standard Version 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.

8a. DESCRIBE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF HOLY BAPTISM 

First, scripture tells us some very important things about baptism. Let’s start with John the Baptist and Jesus’ baptism.   Baptism is tied to repentance, which means changing our minds about our sins and turning away from them.  We receive the baptism of the Holy when we are water baptized (Matt. 3:11-17). Dr. Jordan Cooper, in his blog, gives a modified description of Baptism based on Luther’s Small Catechism: 

What is Baptism?

Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word.

Which is that word of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

What benefits does Baptism give?

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.

Which are these words and promises of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

How can water do such great things?

Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus chapter three: “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. This is a trustworthy saying.” (Titus 3:5-8).

What does such baptizing with water indicate?

It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written? 

St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4).  

So we see that baptism is a really big deal! My heart is grieved over those churches who have diminished the efficacy of the Sacraments of Water Baptism and the Eucharists as Means of Grace. Scripture has so much more to say about baptism.  

Mark 16:16 says we must believe and be baptized to be saved, or ignore this and be condemned. Christ discusses his Passion as a baptism of suffering in Mark 10:35-39 and Lk 12:50. Acts 2:38 says baptism is for the forgiveness of sins. Christ says we MUST be born of the water and of the Spirit (John 3:5). Acts 22:16 says baptism washes away sins. We are baptized into Christ and buried with him when we are water baptized (Romans 6:2-4).  1 Cor. 10:1-5 says quite powerfully that the children of Israel were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. The famous Ephesians 5 passage about husbands loving their wives says that Christ sanctifies the church by cleansing her by the washing of water with the Word. I love Titus chapter 3: Titus 3:5–7 (ESV) says that we are saved by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.  If the Spirit renews us, it must be the washing of baptism that regenerates us.  And finally, 1 Peter 3 is the greatest proof of baptismal regeneration.  1 Peter 3:21 is the verse that says baptism saves us, but the entire chapter relates baptism to Noah being saved from the floodwaters by the ark. Was Noah literally saved or symbolically saved from the flood? He was truly saved. Baptism truly saves. Yes, we are saved by faith alone, through grace alone, but baptism is a means of grace, through which our salvation and through which the Holy Spirit is distributed. God can work salvation where and when he chooses.  And since we know this, why could he not regenerate the newborn infant? 

8b.  INFANT BAPTISM —- First, I want to examine some passages of scripture that changed my view of whether or not infants can have saving faith? Psalm 8:2
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.  Matthew 21:16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”  These are just two examples, and of course there is the testimony about John the Baptist leaping in the womb of Elizabeth upon her meeting with Mary (Lk 1:41). Psalm 71:5-6 describes the Psalmist trusting in Yahweh since his youth. Pastor Brian Wolfmeuller of the LCMS has excellent content on his website and social media concerning this topic: paidion– This is the most common word used of a very young child, infant, child, both boys and girls.  brephos– This word can be used of unborn babies in the womb [St Luke 1:41,44] or of nursing babies and infants [St Luke 2:12,16].  mikron– Literally, “small one,” this word can be used to describe one’s stature [St Luke 19:3], one’s age [St Matthew 18:6,10,14], or in esteem, influence and power. napion– This word can be used of an infant, often nursing [Hebrews 5:13], or, in the legal sense, of a minor. [Galatians 4:1]. thalazonton– One who is nursing [St Matthew 21:16]. teknon– Child, with special reference to the relationship with the parents, used even for unborn babies in the womb.  St Luke 18:15-17 [And parallels in St Matthew 19:13-15 and St Mark 10:13-16] (NKJV)

“15 Then they also brought infants (brephos) to Him that He might touch them; but when His disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children (paidion) come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child (paidion) will by no means enter it. 

Also, there is an aspect of covenant which relates to infant baptism.  Colossians 2:11-12 says that we were circumcised with a circumcision not made by hands, through being buried with Christ in baptism.  So this passage argues that baptism is the new circumcision.  It ushers us into the family of God through Christ.  Now, in the Old Testament, from the patriarch, to Rahab and her family, to Noah and his family, we see a pattern of entire families being blessed and ushered into the covenant family thru the faith of the person who believed in Yahweh. So there are several passages in the New Testament that describe entire households believing, and/or believing and being baptized: Acts 11:14, Acts 16:15, Acts 16:31, Acts 16:34, Acts 18:8, 1 Corinthians 1:16, etc. People have made the argument that there were no infants or young children in these households, but this is an argument from silence.  Also, the church fathers encouraged the baptism of infants: From the beginning of New Testament Christianity at Pentecost to our time, unbroken and uninterrupted, the Church has baptized babies. Polycarp (69-155 AD), a disciple of the Apostle John, was baptized as an infant.  Justin Martyr (100-166 AD) of the next generation, about the year 150 AD, states in his Dialog with Trypho The Jew “that Baptism is the circumcision of the New Testament.” Irenaeus (130-200 AD) writes in Against Heresies II 22:4 “that Jesus came to save all through means of Himself — all, I say, who through Him are born again to God – infants and children, boys and youth, and old men.” Similar expressions are found in succeeding generations by Origen (185-254 AD) and Cyprian (215-258 AD), and at the Council of Carthage in 254 where the 66 bishops stated: “We ought not hinder any person from Baptism and the grace of God … especially infants … those newly born.”So we see several things from scripture and from the testimony of early theologians.  We see that baptismal regeneration is biblical.  We see that even unborn infants can have faith.  And from the Early Fathers, we see that infant baptism has always been the norm for the church.  “Believer’s Only Baptism” is a relatively new invention, and is a bi-product of the heterodoxy of the early Anabaptists, whom Luther and his followers fought against so vehemently.  I also want to leave some of my final thoughts about infant baptism and how it relates to salvation in general. 

I want to close out my conversation by saying that infant baptism is a beautiful illustration of monergism in salvation. If one cannot “make a decision for Christ,” and if our part in salvation is purely passive, then why is there such controversy over baptizing infants? I mean, if heaven and hell are the only alternatives each of us face, and even infants are born needing forgiveness, then why not provide them with the means of forgiveness? I rest my case. Again, Lutheranism is showing itself to be a movement of Christians dedicated to living and worshipping based on what the Scriptures actually say.  And speaking of what the scriptures actually say, there is much I wish to say concerning my changing views on the Lord’s Supper.

8c. HOLY COMMUNION — I will start this with a quote from the WELS website on the subject: 

True Lutherans teach what Jesus clearly said on the night he was betrayed. “This is my body. . . . This is my blood of the covenant” (Matthew 26:26,28). We do not deny what Jesus said. We do not try to explain how Jesus can be present with his body and blood under bread and wine. Martin Luther wrote, “Why do we not put aside such curiosity and cling simply to the words of Christ, willing to remain in ignorance of what takes place here and content that the real body of Christ is present by virtue of the words?” (Luther’s Works Vol 36, p. 33).  We believe that Jesus’ body and blood are really and truly present in the Lord’s Supper. And we believe that Jesus is giving real and true spiritual gifts to us through this eating and drinking: forgiveness, life, and salvation. It is pure gospel for our comfort and spiritual strength. We simply hold to Jesus’ words. This is what true Lutherans do, as Luther emphasized in the Large Catechism. “We speak about the bread and wine that is Christ’s body and blood and has the words attached to it. That, we say, is truly the treasure—and nothing else—through which such forgiveness is gained. Now the only way this treasure is passed along and made our very own is in the words ‘Given . . . and shed for you.’ For in the words you have both truths, that it is Christ’s body and blood, and that it is yours as a treasure and gift.” 

I concur with this WELS statement. Christ’s True Presence, i.e. His Body and Blood are located in the bread & wine.  Christ is omnipresent both in his divine and human natures. Colossians 1:19 – For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and for him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Col. 2:9).  So if the fullness of God and the fullness of deity dwells in Christ, why cannot Christ be truly present in the bread and wine? John Calvin tried to make the argument that the physical Christ is seated at the right hand of God, and therefore cannot be in the bread and wine simultaneously.  But who says he can’t? Why cannot the Second Person of the Trinity do what he wants, where and when he wants, regardless of if we understand it or not? When we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ through the sacrament of communion, we enter into something called a Mystical Union with Christ. His supernatural power to forgive, heal and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Luther also said this: A sacrament must have 2 things for sure: God’s Word and the instituted external sign [or means, or element; Ger. Zeichen]; these we find only in the 2 sacraments [Baptism and Communion].” (WA 11, 454) ES. Holy Communion is the consistent encounter with God that so many Charismatic and Pentecostal believers are looking for.  Because Christ promised to be with us each and every time we take communion, we are guaranteed to encounter Him every Sunday through the Word and Sacraments, particularly in Communion.  Communion is the proof that we are not subscribers to Gnosticism; Christ uses natural elements for supernatural purposes.  To say that Christ cannot be present in the bread and wine is to say that the infinite cannot inhabit the finite.  And if this is the case, then we must reject the Incarnation, and we must also reject the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which takes place during water baptism, or is subsequent with conversion, as there is one Lord, one Faith, and only one Baptism (Eph.4:5).  In John 6, Christ said these poignant words: John 6:53–56

[53] So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of [j]the Son of Man and drink his blood, you [k]have no life in you. [54] Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood [l]has eternal life, and [m]I will raise him up on the last day. [55] For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. [56] Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood [n]abides in me, and I in him. (ESV).  Since we know Christ wasn’t a cannibal and did not approve of human sacrifices, this text must be a reference to His True Presence in the Bread and Wine. And of course, the benefits of Communion must be received by faith, even though Christ is objectively present in the bread & wine. This ties into the concept of the sacrament being received by faith. 

      8d. DISCUSS THE STATEMENT, “FAITH DOES NOT MAKE THE SACRAMENT, BUT RECEIVES THE SACRAMENT.” 

First, can we determine what a sacrament actually is? In the Apology (Defense) of the Augsburg Confession, Melancthon and his contemporaries have much to say on the definition of a sacrament: If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments. For rites instituted by men will not in this way be Sacraments properly so called. For it does not belong to human authority to promise grace. Therefore signs instituted without God’s command are not sure signs of grace, even though they perhaps instruct the rude [children or the uncultivated], or admonish as to something [as a painted cross]. 4] Therefore Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God’s command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament.

The Missouri Synod has a quote on their Cyclopedia that talks about the sacraments as means of grace:  The efficacy of the means of grace does not depend on the faith, ordination, gifts, or intention of the administrator. Hearers of the Word, communicants, and subjects of Baptism derive no benefit from the means of grace unless they have faith (the receiving means; the hand reached out to accept blessings offered in the conferring means); but it does not follow that faith makes the means of grace effective. The Word is effective per se; the Sacraments are Sacraments by virtue of Christ’s institution. Faith does not belong to the essence of the means of grace; it is itself a blessed work through the means of grace by the power of the Holy Ghost (Ro 10:14–17; Eph 1:19–20).

So with all of these quotes.  I believe that the Sacraments are the work of God and not of man.  It is the Spirit of God in Baptism and the Presence of Christ in the Bread and Wine that does a transformative work in every recipient of the sacraments.  The sacraments stand by themselves because of the Word of Christ itself.  So our faith is not in faith itself, but in Christ’s promises declared over the sacraments.   In his Large Catechism, Luther says: 10] For to be baptized in the name of God is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore, although it is performed by human hands, it is nevertheless truly God’s own work. From this fact every one may himself readily infer that it is a far higher work than any work performed by a man or a saint. For what work greater than the work of God can we do?Again, it is the Word of God which makes or breaks a sacrament. For it is of the greatest importance that we esteem Baptism 8] excellent, glorious, and exalted, for which we contend and fight chiefly, because the world is now so full of sects clamoring that Baptism is an external thing, and that external things are of no benefit. But let it be ever so much an external thing, here stand God’s Word and command which institute, establish, and confirm Baptism.    And Luther says: For the kernel in the water is God’s Word or command and the name of God, which is a treasure greater and nobler than heaven and earth. That is, when the Word is joined to the element or natural substance, it becomes a Sacrament, that is, a holy and divine matter and sign.

So the sacraments are still valid though the person administering the sacraments is immoral and the person receiving the sacrament is struggling with their faith.  The Psalms tell us that God’s Word is as firmly fixed in our physical realm as the heavens themselves (Psalm 119:89).  If that is the case, and Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and forever (Hebrews 13:8), then God’s Word is still firmly fixed in the heavens, even in our church age. So we must trust that Christ is not a liar.  Scripture says that God is not a man, that he would change his mind: Numbers 23:19.   Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? God is faithful even if we are not faithful; for he cannot deny himself (2 Tim. 2:13).  The efficacy of the Sacraments is based upon the one who instituted the sacraments, and nothing else.  Of course, we must have faith to receive the benefits, but the sacraments have real power in and of themselves.  This is what the Bible teaches, what Lutherans teach, and this is what I believe.  And Luther also has another point.  If we base the effectiveness of the sacraments on human belief, then it diminishes the sacraments themselves.  Since we are Simul Iustus et Peccator, that is, simultaneously both just and sinner, the quality and/or quantity of our belief or faith will alway be highly subjective. So again, we cannot, must not equate the power of the sacraments with the depths or shallows of our faith.  Rather, we place faith in the Word of the Lord.  Now that we have established this, we will see that just as the sacraments have everything to do with God and nothing to do with us, so it is with conversion itself. 

8e. ADULT CONVERSION 

Article XXVIII of the Augsburg Confession says this: 28] In order, therefore, to deliver pious consciences from these labyrinths of the sophists, we have ascribed to repentance [or conversion] these two parts, namely, contrition and faith. 

 I believe that an adult is converted when the Holy Spirit regenerates and washes their inner man.  This occurs either through the reading of the Word, the proclamation of the Word, or through Baptism.  Romans 1:16 tells us the Gospel itself is the power of God unto salvation. During the preaching of Peter, people received the Holy Spirit and were brought to repentance (Acts 2:37, 10:44).  True conversion has two parts: godly sorrow and faith. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17).  In Romans 10:13, Paul tells us that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  This is one of the texts that repudiates the Calvinist notion that salvation only applies to those whom God elected before the world began.  But we see faith at work in Romans 10:14–15: [14] How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? [15] And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (https://www.esv.org/Romans+10/).  — So we see here that we must have faith in order for true conversion or regeneration to take place.  But faith in what? We must have faith in the proclaimed message of Christ that we hear.  But we can’t believe unless we hear.  And we can’t hear without preachers, and preachers cannot preach unless they are sent, namely by appointment from their church, and the laying on of hands from other ministers of the faith.  Again, just like the sacraments, conversion itself is entirely based on the initiative of God.  We see this in other scriptures. Romans 5:2 and Ephesians 2:8 attest to this.  Titus 3:5 tells us that we were not saved based on works done by us in righteousness, but because of God’s mercy.  There are several passages, but I will just let these stand by themselves for the time being.  But we have seen that faith is a part of adult conversion.  Also, contrition, or godly sorrow over our sins is a part of adult conversion as well.  In article 10 of the LCMS’ position paper on their doctrine, adult conversion is summarized in this way: We teach that conversion consists in this, that a man, having learned from the Law of God that he is a lost and condemned sinner, is brought to faith in the Gospel, which offers him forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation for the sake of Christ’s vicarious satisfaction, Acts 11:21; Luke 24:46, 47; Acts 26:18.  Although I am speaking about the role of faith in a person’s conversion first, I believe that contrition comes before faith, as this quote suggests. It is the dichotomy of Law & Gospel and their proper distinction that brings about true repentance and salvation.  This is what I believe Melancthon was saying when he spoke of conversion having two parts — contrition (conviction from violating the Law) and faith (a person’s relief and change upon hearing the Good News about Christ).  Let’s start to take a look at the aspect of contrition in the life of a convert. Passages like these describe what true repentance looks like in a human soul (2 Cor. 7:10, 2 Tim. 2:25).  Paul says in 2 Corinthians that godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret.  It also produces an eagerness to clear ourselves, indignation, fear, what longing, zeal, etc.  In context, the “opponents” described in 2 Timothy could be anyone outside of Christ, as Christ says the wrath of God remains on those who do not believe (John 3:36).  Also, Ephesians 1 tells us several things about how we are actually opposed to the things of God, and Romans 8 tells us that we are diametrically opposed to the things of God before we belong to Christ. Scripture calls the faith of men, or his conversion, a raising from the dead, Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12, a being born of God, John 1:12, 13, a new birth by the Gospel, 1 Peter 1:23-25, a work of God like the creation of light at the creation of the world, 2 Cor. 4:6.  And in Article XII no. 28 of the Apology, Melancthon says: But we say that contrition is the true terror of conscience, which feels that God is angry with sin, and which grieves that it has sinned. And this contrition takes place in this manner when sins are censured by the Word of God, because the sum of the preaching of the Gospel is this, namely, to convict of sin, and to offer for Christ’s sake the remission of sins and righteousness, and the Holy Ghost, and eternal life, and that as regenerate men we should do good works. 30] Thus Christ comprises the sum of the Gospel when He says in Luke 24:47: That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in My name among all nations.  — So conviction is brought about by the hearing of the Law.  And comfort is brought about by the hearing of the Good News of Christ.  The Spirit of God produces faith through the hearing of the Word, and thus, sinners are regenerated.  Without the Law & Gospel, without the Word, without the Holy Spirit, there would be no conversions.  I reject, along with the scriptures and the testimony of the Early Church Fathers, the concept of libertarian free will.  Scripture says we were transferred from the domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13) into the kingdom of His Beloved Son.  We have been chosen to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). If we had not been called, we would still be in darkness.  So we see from scripture and the Confessions that conversion is all about God, just like the sacraments.  One of the things that Melancthon called a sacrament was absolution.  I believe Confession & Absolution are intricately woven into the Office of the Keys. 

8f. THE OFFICE OF THE KEYS — Matthew 16 describes the keys as such: 

Matthew 16:19 (ESV) – I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

                  I believe that the Smalcald Articles address this: 

                  Smalcald Articles Part III, Article VII. Of the Keys. 1] The keys are an office and power given by Christ to the Church for binding and loosing sin, not only the gross and well-known sins, but also the subtle, hidden, which are known only to God, as it is written in Ps. 19:13: Who can understand his errors?   Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18 speak to this. Peter’s foundational authority in Matthew 16:19  is extended to the entire community of disciples in Matthew 18:18, giving them the authority to declare the terms under which God forgives or refuses to forgive the sin of wayward disciples.  So we see that this authority to bind and loose begins with Peter, but is ultimately given to all the apostles: 

Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV) If your brother sins against you, ngo and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have ogained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established pby the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, qtell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, rlet him be to you as sa Gentile and sa tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, twhatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed6 in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you uagree on earth about anything they ask, vit will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

20 For where two or three are wgathered in my name, xthere am I among them.” We see that this is dealing with sin from the context.  And also, John 20 is even more explicit: 

John 20:19–23 (ESV) 19 cOn the evening dof that day, the first day of the week, ethe doors being locked where the disciples were ffor fear of the Jews,3 Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, g“Peace be with you.”20 When he had said this, hhe showed them his hands and his side. Then ithe disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As jthe Father has sent me, keven so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he lbreathed on them and said to them, m“Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 nIf you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

   The office of the Keys is the authority given to the church to forgive or give absolution to sinners: 

Article XXV, Apology of the Augsburg Confession: Of Confession.13] Nevertheless, on account of the great benefit of absolution, and because it is otherwise useful to the conscience, Confession is retained among us.Yet the Office of the Keys extends beyond Confession and Absolution, even though the authority delegated to the church in Absolution is incredible in and of itself.  The Cyclopedia of the Missouri Synod speaks of the Keys: 3. The Office of the Keys is spiritual (Mt. 20:25–26; Jn 18:36; 2 Co 10:4; Eph 6:10–17); it includes all spiritual rights, duties, and privileges necessary for the welfare of the ch. on earth, e.g., the conveying of grace to mankind through preaching, administering Baptism and Lord’s Supper, and through mutual conversation and consolation. In particular, the Office of the Keys gives power to forgive and retain sins (loosing and binding), i. e., not merely to announce and to declare to men the remission or retention of sins, but actually to give forgiveness to penitent sinners and to deny forgiveness to impenitent sinners (Jn 20:23; 2 Co 2:10). — Because the Spirit of God indwells Christians, we are the carriers of Christ’s presence on the Earth.  The presence of the church on Earth is the grace of God in action, to leave us as a lighthouse and a beacon on Earth, to lead wayward sinners away from the rocks and towards the shores of Heaven, through the Word and Sacraments.  Christ said it Himself: Matthew 5:14–16  (ESV) [14] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. [15] Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven — Because of the Office of the Keys, and the church’s divine privilege of spreading the message of Christ to a decaying world, we are truly a lighthouse to this planet.  What an amazing proclamation! I am reminded of the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians:  2 Corinthians 4:5-6 English Standard Version (ESV) 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Through the preaching of the Law & Gospel, the proud are terrified and the fearful are comforted.  The Christian is refreshed and the unregenerate will be converted how, when and where God sees fit, because the Gospel IS the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).  In Confession and Absolution, those who are already a part of the kingdom of light receive grace to continue in the faith, and are constantly reminded that their salvation is based on the merits of Christ and not their own.  In Baptism, the Spirit regenerates the unbeliever and bestows the Holy Spirit upon those who convert prior to being baptized (1 Peter 3:21).  In fact, I have seen 1 Corinthians 10 in a new light because of my newfound understanding of the office of the keys: 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 English Standard Version (ESV)10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. — This passage shows the profound power of Baptism.  This is a part of the Office of the Keys.  Baptism and The Lord’s Supper are physical signs and symbols that truly convey grace and truly contain supernatural power, and they are also vehicles in which Heaven’s blessings come to earth.  I was taught in another denomination that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was something that took place apart from and subsequent to conversion. But this passage says all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  The cloud was the Shekinah Glory of God and the water was the Red Sea—this means Holy Spirit Baptism and water baptism. Both occur at the same time! As it is written: Ephesians 4:4-6 English Standard Version (ESV) 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 Christ has conveyed true and real authority to his priests upon the Earth, and the shepherds and pastors that Christ has appointed are the vehicles through which all the benefits of the keys are bestowed upon the church and the world.  If the Old Testament Law was administered by angels (Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19, Hebrews 2:2) , then the The Office of Keys is the ladder that Christ’s angels use to descend upon the earth (Genesis 28:12, before the Law was given) and minister to his saints (Hebrews 1:14).  Christ has said that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against His church.  Let us be confident in his Word and the Means of Grace he has given us through the Keys. Now, different churches have different views on the Keys, and we will discuss different denominations and how they view different aspects of Scripture.

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