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Q&A: How does remembering my baptism help with the guilt I carry?

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

Q&A Bible study open bible 2023 Dave Scharf

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.

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This entry is part 1 of 67 in the series question-answer

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