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What if it’s true . . . that you are a child of God

What if it's true bible study time graphicWe live in a world that is having an identity crisis. We tie our identities to political parties, to work, to relationships, to popularity, to finances (or lack thereof), to gender, or to marital status. We tie our identities to anything we think might get us ahead in life. We are fighting for people to recognize us and approve of us.

The biggest problem, though, is that everyone else is doing the same thing. We are all fighting for approval. As one author put it, “Because everyone else is also working frantically to craft and express their own identity, society becomes a space of vicious competition between individuals vying for attention, meaning, and significance, not unlike the contrived drama of reality TV” (You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World, Alan Noble, p. 4).

A Christian’s identify crisis

In such a vicious world full of people vying for attention and approval, where do we find ourselves as Christians? “Child of God!” we cry for the world to hear—and appropriately so. But, if we’re honest with ourselves, “Frustrated sinner” is our quiet confession.

I’ve never considered Paul to be someone who had an identity crisis, but then I read Romans chapter 7. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . . For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15-19). I love this section of Scripture, not because I enjoy seeing the apostle Paul struggle but because there is a certain amount of comfort in knowing that it’s not just me.

A Christian’s life cycle

But Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, offers a little bit more hope than just the knowledge that he gets us. You might say that Romans chapters 6–8 encapsulates the entire life of a Christian. Review it for yourself and see how the cycle goes.

Paul takes you to your baptism first. In Romans chapter 6, he shows you how you are connected to Christ in his death and resurrection through your baptism. How can you live in sin any longer? In Baptism, you died to sin. “Amen,” cries the redeemed saint.

But perhaps you noticed what comes right around the corner: Romans chapter 7. Remember that part? You just read it. “I do not understand what I do.” If Paul—and you—died to sin in Baptism, why are you still sinning? “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24).

In Paul’s great frustration, he finds the answer to his identity crisis. He doesn’t manufacture his own identity. His identity comes from outside of himself. It’s a gift. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). It is Christ who justifies, who frees, who establishes your identity!

And then, as if singing a beautiful song of victory, Paul marvels in the gift of life forever in Christ. Read through Romans chapter 8 again. What section of Paul’s victory song sticks out to you? Do you see your identity there? “The Spirit . . . has set you free” (v. 2); “live . . . according to the Spirit” (v. 4); “adoption to sonship” (v. 15); “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (v. 17); “more than conquerors” (v. 37); and more. This is your identity; it’s all given to you.

Though you’ve reached the end of this beautiful victory song, you have not reached eternity yet. Doubts set in. Sin rears its ugly head again. What then? You go back to your baptism in Romans chapter 6, and the Christian life cycle starts all over again. One might think that this is what the entire life of a Christian looks like. You might say that this is what the afternoon of a Christian looks like! And yet, in this struggle, you see your identity as a child of God—baptized into his family—shine through.

Martin Luther said it this way: “[Baptism] also means that a new person should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever” (Luther’s Small Catechism, Baptism Part 4).

This is what it means, dear Christian, to return daily to your baptism. This is where Christ has connected you to himself in death and in life and has given you an identity you can depend on. An identity not concocted by you but given to you. An identity that doesn’t depend on the approval of others because you are approved by God.

With that identity firmly yours in Christ, you can go and live freely.

Author: Gregory Lyon
Volume 111, Number 05
Issue: May 2024

The blessing of baptism

Baptism is administered once, but its blessings continue throughout life and into eternity. In the Large Catechism, Martin Luther described the blessings of Baptism this way:

Thus it appears what a great, excellent thing Baptism is, which delivers us from the jaws of the devil and makes us God’s own, suppresses and takes away sin, and then daily strengthens the new man; and is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this estate of misery to eternal glory. (

This We Believe

What do we believe about Baptism? These statements of belief are from This We Believe, a public summary of the main teachings of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

VI. The means of grace

3. We believe that also through the Sacrament of Baptism the Holy Spirit applies the gospel to sinners, giving them new life (Titus 3:5) and cleansing them from all sin (Acts 2:38). The Lord points to the blessing of Baptism when he promises, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). We believe that the blessing of Baptism is meant for all people (Matthew 28:19), including infants. Infants are born sinful (John 3:6) and therefore need to be born again, that is, to be brought to faith, through Baptism (John 3:5).



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