I carry around a lot of guilt. I was told that I need to “remember my baptism.” How does that help me with my guilt?
I struggle with guilt too. As much as I try to serve Jesus with my life, I get the thought in my head that God must not be pleased with me.
Yes, you are forgiven!
When I’m at work, I feel guilty that I’m not spending enough time with my family. When I’m with my family, I keep thinking I should be doing more to be faithful at work. Add to that the tortured conscience from past failures, and the result is crushing guilt. Will God really forgive?
Scripture’s answer is a resounding yes. When Jesus says that he died for the sins of all, he means you! Through his Word, God looks at you and says, “I’m going to take every sin of yours and place it on my Son. He will suffer the punishment you deserve. And for you? I’ll forgive you and wash you so clean that I’ll never remember that you were a sinner.” Through his Word, God assures you, “Yes, you are really forgiven! I love you.”
Unique comfort of baptism
God does not show you his love and forgiveness in just that one way. Through your baptism he also assures you that you are forgiven and loved as his child. Acts 2:38 says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (emphasis added). That “for” expresses the purpose of Baptism: that you receive the forgiveness you need so much.
God takes away your guilt through Baptism. “Baptism . . . now saves you also . . . the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism gives you the pledge, or guarantee, of a good conscience toward God. Notice why. Not because you have defeated every demon that plagues you to sin, but because Jesus has, and your baptism connects you to his victorious resurrection. Romans 6:3 says, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”
This is why Lutherans rejoice to say, “I am baptized,” not just “I was baptized.” We ARE connected to Jesus’ death and resurrection (Romans 6). We ARE clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:26,27). We ARE saved (1 Peter 3:21). As the beautiful hymn says, “God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!” (Christian Worship 679:1*).
Baptism gives you a new identity
Because of Baptism, you have a new identity. Paul uses the picture of marriage to describe the relationship between Jesus and the church: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27, emphasis added).
Think about a wedding day. The bride spends extra time getting ready for that day. The groom stands at the front of the church, and the doors open to reveal his bride. She takes his breath away because she looks so beautiful. In the same way, through Baptism, God has made you radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish. You are holy and blameless in his eyes because he sees the perfection of Jesus.
Through Baptism, God assures you, “Yes, you are really forgiven! I love you.” Remember that every day!
Have a question, ask it here!
*Text: © Robert E. Voelker
Author: David Scharf
Volume 110, Number 11
Issue: November 2023
A picture of heaven
November is the time in the church year that we celebrate the end times. Having reviewed the life of Jesus and the blessings he gives to his church on earth, it’s fitting to focus on what happens after we leave this world.
Life in heaven
Martin Luther once wrote a letter to his elementary- school-aged son. In it, he described heaven like this: “I know of a pretty, beautiful, and cheerful garden where there are many children wearing little golden coats. They pick up fine apples, pears, cherries, and yellow and blue plums under the trees; they sing, jump, and are merry. They also have nice ponies with golden reins and silver saddles . . . and when they are all together there, they will also get whistles, drums, lutes, and all kinds of other stringed instruments; and they will also dance, and shoot with little crossbows” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 49, pp. 323,324). What was Luther’s point? He was not trying to give specifics as biblical truth. He was trying to explain to his young son that heaven will be a perfectly happy place by using the things that bring little boys happiness!
As a parish pastor, I would sometimes entertain the pious speculation that happens when a member of the congregation passes away. If the Christian was a big hunter, I might say, “Right now Bob is enjoying the biggest Cabela’s ever made!” Or if the person loved game shows, I might say, “Ruth just found out what it feels like to win the Showcase Showdown on heaven’s The Price Is Right.” The family members get the point. Their loved one is perfectly happy in heaven!
But what will heaven really be like?
Read John 14:2,3; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Hebrews 12:22, 23; 1 John 3:2; and Revelation 7:9,10,15-17; 21:1–22:5.
List what these sections of Scripture tell us about heaven. Then identify your favorite truth about heaven. Remember that Revelation often uses figurative language.
Life with resurrected bodies
This may sound strange, but the goal of the Christian’s life is not heaven. The goal of the Christian’s life is to be in heaven with your resurrected body!
Martin Luther compared death and the resurrection to exchanging garments: “St. Paul makes death and the grave signify nothing but the taking off, and the flinging away, of an old, torn coat, and the resurrection the putting on of a beautiful, new coat called immortality, wrought and woven for us by the victory of Christ” (What Luther Says, Vol. III, p. 1218).
John says in 1 John 3:2, “We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Philippians 3:21 says, “[Jesus] will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
Read Luke 24:31,39,41-43; John 20:26,27; and 1 Corinthians 15:42-44.
As with the topic of heaven, there is much that Scripture does not tell us about what our resurrected bodies will be like, but the above sections of Scripture share some truths. Identify your favorite truth about our resurrected bodies.
- Q&A: Why is Pontius Pilate immortalized in our creeds?
- Q&A: How does remembering my baptism help with the guilt I carry?
- Q&A: Do parts of the Bible teach works righteousness?
- Q&A: How can I overcome my struggle with lust and pornography?
- Q&A: How should I help my child struggling with same-sex attraction?
- Q&A: Should Christians pray to saints?
- Q&A: Is anger sinful?
- Q&A: How can parents encourage adult children who wander from the faith?
- Q&A: Does the doxology belong in the Lord’s Prayer?
- Q&A: Is God fair?
- Q&A: When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” what are we praying for?
- Q&A: How can I better manage what God has given me this year so that I glorify him?
- Q&A: What are ways to glorify God besides singing in church?
- Q&A: I have no special gifts, and I mess up all the time. Does God really need me?
- Q&A: How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference?
- Q&A: My friend died and was not a professing Christian. What do I say to the family?
- Q&A: How can my mother and I forgive my father for being unfaithful and causing my parents to divorce?
- Q&A: Why were demon possession, gifts of healing, and gifts of tongues more prevalent in biblical times?
- Q&A: Is Christianity the only religion that gives the certainty of heaven?
- Q&A: If people go to hell, isn’t it their fault because God gave them free will and they rejected him?
- Q&A: Why are the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension important for the disciples and for us?
- Q&A: Can you explain Jesus’ words to the wailing women he met on his way to be crucified?
- Q&A: What if spouses don’t “love” each other anymore?
- Q&A: Is it wrong to have a cross with Jesus’ body on it?
- Q&A: Is our time of grace really unchangeable?
- Q&A: I know that we are saved by grace apart from works, but how can it be that easy?
- Q&A: Are there degrees of glory in heaven as a reward for good works?
- Q&A: Do Lutherans take the Bible literally and teach millennialism?
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible?
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us?
- Q&A: Why does it seem like Christianity is so negative?
- Q&A: How can I explain how Jesus’ resurrection is possible and if the Bible is reliable?
- Q&A: Is it okay to live together if we are planning to get married?
- Q&A: How is the Bible God’s Word?
- Q&A: Were we “created to make a difference”?
- Q&A: Am I being judgmental if I point out someone’s sin?
- Q&A: Do I need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God?
- Q&A: Can a Christian vote for a political candidate who supports abortion?
- Q&A: Does God really care?
- Q&A: Does it really matter how God made the world?
- Q&A: Does God send people to hell?
- Q&A: Is death natural?
- Q&A: How can I forgive and forget?
- Q&A: Does God help those who help themselves?
- Q&A: How can we say that the Old Testament God is the same as the New Testament God?
- Q&A: Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
- Q&A: Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
- Light for our path: Does God hate us?
- Light for our path: What kind of comfort can you give someone when a loved one commits suicide?
- Light for our path: What does a submissive wife in a Christian marriage look like?
- Light for our path: Is it a sin to want to die from a terminal illness?
- Light for our path: What advice can you give about applauding in church?
- Light for our path: Can you please explain Matthew 5:20?
- Light for our path: What is karma?
- Light for our path: Can the devil personally be tempting me and a lot of other people at exactly the same time?
- Light for our path: Does the word Easter refer to Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess?
- Light for our path: What role does emotion play in contrition?
- Light for our path: What does the white stone in Revelation 2:17 mean?
- Light for our path: Is the cross symbol now anti-Christian?
- Light for our path: Were Joseph and Mary engaged or married when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy?