January 09, 2022    The First Sunday of Epiphany

The Sunday of the Baptism of our Lord

Baptism Inaugurated Jesus’ Ministry and

Authenticates Our Relationship With Him


            Confucius was a man who was born in China in 551 B.C. He was first a teacher and then a government official. He observed life carefully and based on his observations he created a system of ethical teachings, which are still practiced by millions of Chinese today. Confucius died about 479 B.C.    Siddhartha Gautama was a man who was born in India in 563 B.C. He was born a nobleman, but after encountering death for the first time as a young man, he forsook his noble life and became the Buddha. His teachings, which claim that right thinking and self-denial enable men to attain an eternal oneness with the universe, form the basis of Buddhism. The Buddha died in 483 B.C. Mohammed was a man who was born in Arabia in 570 A.D. He grew up as an orphan, traveled in Arabian caravans, and married a wealthy widow named Khadija.  Over the span of roughly twenty years, he claimed to have received numerous special revelations from Allah through the angel Gabriel. These supposed revelations formed the basis of the “holy book” of Islam, known as the Koran.  Mohammed died in 632 A.D. Undoubtedly, though each died long ago, Confucius, Buddha, and Mohammed are three of history’s most significant individuals.    Their ideas have influenced the religious lives of billions of human beings across the centuries.

            There are many people in our world today who are very comfortable and confident referring to Jesus Christ as another important figure in history, in the mold of Mohammed, Buddha, and Confucius.  They regard Jesus, Who was born in Palestine about 4 B.C. as a great Teacher, Whose ideas regarding morality, as revealed in the Bible, have also influenced the lives of billions of people.  They know He died by crucifixion in 29 A.D.  However, they see Him only as an important man — an equal of the other great men who have founded history’s other religious and philosophical movements.  They are unwilling to have their hearts and lives bound by Jesus’ teachings as expressed in the Bible;  for Jesus, they claim, was only a great man…..not God.

            In contrast, when you and I, and countless other Christians, consider Jesus Christ, we see Him – not as the world regards Him….a mere man, but – as the eternal Son of God, our Savior from sin and for heaven.  We believe that He became a human being, died and then rose from His grave, and ascended to heaven where He now reigns as our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   That is what the Bible teaches, and that is what the incident in our Gospel Lesson and Sermon Text, the Baptism of Jesus, clearly reveals.

            Apart from Christmas and Easter, one of the most illustrated events in Jesus’ life is His baptism.   The drawing on the first page of our bulletin depicts Jesus standing waist deep in the water of the River Jordan, with John the Baptist standing on the shore – a seashell in his right hand – pouring water over Jesus’ head.  As angels watch the event, over Jesus’ head is a Dove (depicting the Holy Spirit) descending from heaven.  Many people were baptized by John in the River Jordan, but the Person Whose story the inspired Gospel writers have recorded, and Whose picture Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld in 1851 drew, is no ordinary individual, or even just another great figure in history.   As you listen to the details and significance of Jesus’ baptism in today’s Scripture lessons, you can’t help but hear in your own mind the voice that spoke from heaven that day affirming Jesus’ deity: “This is My beloved Son With Whom I am well pleased.”               And no doubt, as the early Christians heard the account of Jesus’ baptism in the Gospels, the words of the prophet Isaiah, which serves as our Old Testament Lesson, would have come to mind. “Here is the Lord’s Servant, Whom I strengthen – the One I have chosen, with Whom I am pleased” (42:1).   This reading will provide us with some vital information regarding Who Jesus is and What He came to accomplish:  He is called the Son of God and the Lord’s Servant.

            During the eight Sundays of the Epiphany season (which began this past Thursday and will continue through March 1st), we’ll consider portions of God’s Word that reveal (or prove) Jesus Christ to be the Scripture-Promised Savior-Servant of the Lord.  We’ll look at various events and messages of Jesus which reveal His total deity and total humanity (both essential if He was going to be the world’s Savior).   We’ll also consider the responsibility His Church has (including you and me) to reveal Christ/make Him known to the world in which we live through our Christian witness and mission efforts.

            This morning, we “kick off” our Epiphany season re-examination of Who Jesus is by studying the account of His baptism, in which the Father affirms His approval of Christ as His Chosen Servant.   Over the years both this morning’s Gospel Lesson, which includes the story of Jesus’ Baptism (Matthew 3:13-17), and the Matthew 17 account of His transfiguration have served to “frame” (or bookend) the Scripture lessons read in our churches during the Epiphany season.   Why?  Because in today’s baptism account we have an instance were where each of the persons of the Trinity manifested Himself….while in connection with Jesus’  transfiguration the LORD revealed His glory and reaffirmed  the truth that the Jesus Christ Who walked and talked on earth, and Who would suffer, die and rise again as the Messiah, was, is, and always will be the one, true, eternal God.   In addition, both accounts also emphasize God the Father’s public affirmation of Jesus and His redemptive mission with the words:   “This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.”

            In today’s Gospel Lesson/Sermon Text we find Jesus receiving the Holy Spirit’s anointing at His baptism.  That anointing – as well as the Father’s affirmation – both formally and publicly designate (or inaugurate) Him as the One Who was to take mankind’s place under God’s wrath as the Messiah, our righteous, sin-Substitute and Deliverer.  Beginning here, with His baptism, Jesus’ redemptive work is set in motion…..redemptive work that will extend through a three year public ministry and which will culminate ultimately in His crucifixion and resurrection. 

            This morning’s Old Testament Lesson is Isaiah’s “Servant Song” which emphasizes the grace, faithfulness, and righteousness of the Messiah.  The reading clearly prophesies that the Servant of the Lord is the One to Whom all people should look for redemption, fulfilling the great Epiphany theme of the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles. The opening verse also fits in well with one of today’s traditional themes –  which concentrates on the significance of the Savior’s Baptism and our own, because it paraphrases the words of the Father and summarizes the work of the Spirit in that great event. 

            In addition our Epistle Lesson speaks about the benefits of baptism for us by comparing Christian Baptism to two events in Christ’s life:  His death and His resurrection.   As Christ died and rose, so through Baptism, our old sinful nature is put to death and the new man (the believer) rises to lead a life that is God-pleasing.  Please also note that this portion of Scripture is quoted by Luther in the Fourth part of his lesson in the Small Catechism on baptism (included on the closing pages of today’s bulletin).


            Finally, today’s Children’s Lesson is based on Paul’s inspired words in Titus 3 about the benefits of Baptism for us.  The Apostle starts by reminding us of what we “used to be” before faith – namely, wretched, condemned sinners.  Then, pointing both to Christ’s coming and His mission to save us, as well as our Baptism (“the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit”) Paul not only speaks about the blessing of being forgiven/washed of all our sins through Christ, but also celebrates the fact that we are heirs of eternal life through faith in Him Who has saved us…..Jesus Christ, our Lord.


Some added information about the Epiphany Season 


            By tradition, “The Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord” always falls on January 6th (this past Monday).  This season of “Epiphany” in which we currently find ourselves is the third festival season of the Christian Church year — which began on the first Sunday of this past December (the first two festival seasons were Advent and Christmas).  The Epiphany season varies in length from 3 to 8 Sundays, depending on the date of Easter.   The early arrival of Easter means a shorter Epiphany cycle, while a later Easter date means a longer Epiphany season.  (This year’s Epiphany season will be eight Sundays in length).

            With the exception of the Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord (Easter Sunday), the celebration of the Epiphany of our Lord is the oldest of the Christian church’s festivals.  Almost 2000 years before the birth of Christ, January 6th marked the date of a celebration dedicated to the birth of the pagan sun-god, Aeon.  By the close of the second century A.D., Christians “took over” this date and “reformed” it into the Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord, replacing any and all pagan overtones connected to the sun-god, with Christian meaning, significance, and worship of the “Son of God,” Who is the true Light of the world.

            The word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word, “epi-phan-eh-oh” which means “to reveal” or “to manifest.”  For us, Epiphany reminds us of the manifestation, or revelation, of God’s glory to mankind through the Father’s sending of His Son, who took upon Himself our human nature, into our world.  Until the inauguration of Christmas in the 4th century AD, both the birth and the baptism of Jesus were celebrated on the day of the Epiphany of our Lord.  When the celebration of Christ’s birth changed to December 25th, the Eastern Church (today’s Eastern/Greek Orthodox Church) restricted Epiphany to the commemoration of Christ’s baptism.  In the Western Church, Epiphany became associated with the coming of the Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12), though the  reason for this tradition is not particularly clear.  However, since the Wise Men were not Jews, one of the primary thrusts of the Epiphany message in the Western Church has been the importance Christ being revealed to the non-Jewish people (the Gentiles) of this world.   As a result, in many churches the Epiphany season also has become a time to emphasize the missionary/out-reach/witnessing work which Christ has entrusted to every member of His Church on earth. One final point of interest: while very little is said about the Wise Men (Magi) in Matthew’s account of their visit to the Christ Child, legend has fixed their number at three (no doubt because three gifts were brought to Jesus by them:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh), and has even given them the names Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior.   What’s more, by another legend they have come to be regarded not only as wise men, but as kings.  Of course, we do not — nor should we — put our faith in legends…interesting though they might be.



Pre-Service Prayer     In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.    I thank You my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, for keeping me through the night from all harm and danger.  Keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You.  Into Your hands I commit my body and soul and all things.  Let your holy angel be with me, that the Devil may have no power over me.   Amen.



The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019,    The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via OneLicense.net #A712831



Pre-service prayer                                                                                                                 Pre-worship music


Pre-Worship Hymn Singing, beginning at 9:25 a.m.


Let Us Praise The Lord


The Greeting and Introduction to Worship

afterward, at the invitation of the Pastor, the Congregation will rise


The Invocation


We make our beginning


In the name…. of the Father,

Who created and preserves this world and every one of us, and Who gave His Son into death for us and raised Him in glory on the third day;


And of the Son,

Who became fully human in order to be our Savior-Substitute, Who laid

down His life only to take it up again on the third day, Who rules over all things from heaven for the good of His Church, and Who will return in glory on the Last Day to deliver that Church;


And of the Holy Spirit

through Whom Christ was made alive,

Who has worked and sustains saving faith in our hearts,

Who lives in us now through the Word,

and Who will one day give life to our mortal bodies.




The Psalm for this Morning                                                                                                                 Psalm 8


P:  O Lord, our Lord,    how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

C: Set this glory of Your above the heavens.


P:  From the lips of little children and nursing babies, You have established strength because of Your foes,

C: to put a stop to the enemy and the avenger.


P:  Whenever I look up at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,

C: the moon and the stars, which You have set in place,

P:  what is man that You remember him,

C: and the Son of Man that You pay attention to Him?

P:  Nevertheless, You make Him suffer need apart from God for a while,

C: but crown Him with glory and honor.


P:  You make Him the Ruler over the works of Your hands;

C: You put everything under His feet,

P:  all flocks and cattle, and even the wild animals,

C: the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea, +   which pass through the currents of the seas.


P:  O Lord, our Lord,

C: how majestic is Your name in all the earth!


after which the Congregation will be seated for


The Opening Hymn                                                                Hymn 82  “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise”


After which the Congregation will rise


We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God


Pastor      God, our Heavenly Father, invites us to come into His presence and to worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness for all our sins.


Congregation Holy and merciful Father,   I confess that I am by nature sinful   and that I have disobeyed You in my thoughts,

words, and actions;    I have done what is evil in Your sight   and have failed to do what is good.    For this I know that I deserve Your punishment, both now and for eternity.     But I am truly sorry for all my sins,   and trusting in the perfect life   and innocent death of my Savior,   Jesus Christ, I plead:   God have mercy on me, a sinner.


Pastor      Our gracious Lord and Master has shown us His mercy:   He has given His one and only Son to save us from all our sins.    

And now, carrying out my office as a called servant of Christ,  and according to His command and authority,   I forgive you all your sins   in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  May the peace of God rest upon all of you.    Amen.

In joyful response to this reassurance of God’s love and forgiveness for us in Christ, please join me now as we sing the praises of our gracious and majestic Lord:


“Majesty”                                                                                           written by Jack Hayford, Rocksmith Music

                                                                                                                used with permission, CCLI # 13666699


Majesty, worship His majesty.  

Unto Jesus, be all glory, honor and praise.

 Majesty….Kingdom authority,   flow from His throne,

unto His own, His anthem raise.

So exalt – lift up on high, the name of Jesus.

Magnify, come glorify, Christ Jesus the King.

  Majesty, worship His majesty.   Jesus Who died.

Now glorified.   King of all Kings.


Our Prayer for This Morning                                                                                                                           


Almighty and eternal God   +    direct our actions that we may always please You.   +   Open our eyes by the power of the Holy Spirit   +   that we may see and confess Your Son,  Jesus Christ, +  as truly God and truly Man, + and as the one and only Redeemer of the entire world.    +  Also give us the strength of faith +  in this new year  +   to live each day to the honor of Your glorious name.   +   We ask this for Jesus’ sake  +   Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit   +   as the one true God, +   for ever and ever.  +   Amen.


After which the Congregation may be seated


Feed Us, Lord


The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                                          Isaiah 42:1-7


Here is My Servant, Whom I uphold, My Chosen One in Whom I delight.

I am placing My Spirit on Him. He will announce a just verdict for the nations.    2 He will not cry out.   He will not raise His voice.   He will not make His voice heard in the street.   3 A bent reed He will not break,

and a dimly burning wick He will not snuff out.    He will faithfully bring forth a just verdict.  4 He will not burn out, and He will not be broken

until He establishes justice on the earth.   The coastlands will wait for His law. 


5 This is what the true God says,  the Lord Who creates the heavens and stretches them out, Who spreads out the earth and everything that it produces, Who gives breath to the people on it and life to those who walk on it”   6 “ I am the Lord.   I have called You in righteousness.    I will hold on to Your hand, and I will guard You.   I will appoint You to be a Covenant for the people, to be a Light for the nations, 7   to open the eyes of the blind, to bring the prisoners out from the dungeon,  and to bring those who sit in darkness out of prison.”



The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                                    Romans 6:1-14


What shall we say then? Shall we keep on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 Absolutely not! We died to sin. How can we go on living in it any longer? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 We were therefore buried with Him by this baptism into His death, so that just as He was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too would also walk in a new life. 5 For if we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection.


6 We know that our old self was crucified with Him, to make our sinful body powerless, so that we would not continue to serve sin. 7 For the person who has died has been declared free from sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. 9 We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, He will never die again. Death no longer has control over him. 10 For the death He died, He died to sin once and for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. 11 In the same way also consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.


12 Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires. 13 Do not offer the members of your body to sin as tools of unrighteousness. Instead, offer yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead, and offer the members of your body to God as tools of righteousness. 14 Indeed, sin will not continue to control you, because you are not under law but under grace.


                                                                                                                                    following which the Congregation will rise, out of respect for Jesus for


Today’s Gospel Lesson                                                                                                            Matthew 3:1-17


In those days, John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, 2 “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven is near!” 3 Yes, this is he of whom this was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:   “A voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make His paths straight.’”


4 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all of Judea, and all the region around the Jordan were going out to him. 6 They were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit in keeping with repentance! 9 Do not think of saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones. 10 Already the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I baptize you with water for repentance. But the One Who comes after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor. He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”


13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to be baptized by John at the Jordan. 14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?”   15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, because it is proper for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John let Him. 16 After Jesus was baptized, He immediately went up out of the water. Suddenly, the heavens were opened for Him! He saw the Spirit of God, descending like a dove and landing on Him, 17 and a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My Son, Whom I love. I am well pleased with Him.”



The Apostles’ Creed                                                            to the melody of “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”


I believe in God the Father,   Maker of the heav’ns and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, our Savior, God’s own Son, of human birth.

Virgin born, the Lord incarnate,    Whom the Spirit did conceive,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate;     Our salvation to achieve.


Crucified, was dead and buried,    Down to hell in victory;

From the dead He rose the third day;    Up to heav’n triumphantly.

There at God’s right hand He’s ruling,     By His will the world is led.

He will come to judge the nations,    Both the living and the dead.


I believe in God the Spirit,    In His Church, His chosen band.

They are joined in close communion,    Holy in His sight they stand.

I believe in sins forgiven;    That the dead will rise again;

I believe in life eternal.    Amen!   Amen!   A – – men!



After which the Congregation may be seated for


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                     Titus 3:3-7


3 For at one time we ourselves were also foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by many kinds of evil desires and pleasures, living in malice and jealousy, being hated and hating one another.  4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward mankind appeared, 5 He saved us—not by righteous works that we did ourselves, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and the renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs in keeping with the hope of eternal life.


Saved….through Christ….by Baptism

The Hymn of the Day                                                           Hymn 89   “To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord”


after which the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Pre-Sermon Salutation


Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord!   May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.


The Sermon Text                                                                                                                      Matthew 3:1-17

Today’s Gospel Lesson


Find Your Salvation in Jesus’ Baptism


after the Sermon, the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Post-Sermon Blessing


May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, now encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.  Amen.


We Present to God Our Offering and Prayers


We Present Our Offerings of Love to Our Lord


Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.

   However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash) to the church address (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can donate on our website:  www.gracelutherannwa.com

The Prayers of the Church

Included in our Prayers today:

Intercessory Prayers

for Chris Merritt, who remains in a Minnesota ICU because of Covid.


Dan Beck, who is contending with – and awaiting treatment for – cancer;

also for

Lesa Roe, who continues to recover from knee replacement surgery.

And for

Amy Bruns, recovering from a broken knee.



The Prayer for This Morning                                                                                                  (Followed by….)


P:  In addition, Lord God, accept the thanks of every one of us for the privilege of being Your servants engaged in Christian ministry…..undeserving though we are!   Help each of us daily to grow intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, so we can be faithful to You in all that we think, say and do.


Lord, according to the multitude of Your loving-kindness, hear us as we now bring our personal needs and concerns, as well as our praises and expressions of thanksgiving to  You.   


Moment for Silent Prayer


Finally, Father, grant us whatever else You know that we need, for the sake of Him Who died and rose again and now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever.   We offer this prayer in Jesus’ name, and continue now with the prayer that He has taught us: 

Our Father, Who art in heaven   Hallowed be Thy name;   Thy kingdom come;  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;    Give us this day our daily bread;  And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;   And lead us not into temptation;  But deliver us from evil;   For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory   for ever and ever.    Amen.   

We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Closing Blessing


The LORD bless you and keep you.

The LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The LORD look upon you with favor, and grant you His peace.    Amen.


the Congregation will be seated for


The Closing Hymn                                                                                                                           Hymn 321 

                                                                                                   “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise”


Post-service prayer, Announcements, Postlude




Recently At Grace:   Sunday Worship Attendance:   43   (33 communed)

Online views:  22    Bible Class: 18  (Online: 15)     Tuesday Bible Class: 9

Sunday Budget Offerings: $1094.90

New Year’s Eve  $90.71 (online)   Budget: $6610   YouTube ministry: $50


This Week’s Birthdays & Anniversary:                       Jan 11 – Debbie Jones;

Jan 13 – Dale Johannes;        Jan 13   Macy Roberts;       Jan 15 – Kris Arthur


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church


Today     Choir Rehearsal, 8:40 a.m.                Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m.                  Fellowship, 10:40 a.m

Tuesday   Morning Bible Class, 10:30 a.m.                                

                 Church Council Meeting, 6 p.m.

Wednesday   Family Bible Studies for women and men, 6:00 to 7:15 p.m.

Saturday  Outreach Calling/Visitation, 10:00 a.m.

Sunday    Choir, 8:40 a.m.   Morning Worship with Communion 9:30 a.m

                 Fellowship 10:45 a.m. .   Bible Class/Sunday School – 11:00-noon

                 Youth Confirmation Class: 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.



Serving Us Next Sunday                                                                         Elders:   Steve Stone and Vic Walker

Ushers: Terry Bruns, Tom Otto, Tim Huebner

Altar Guild:   Harriet Johnson, Tina Wambold


Today’s and Tuesday’s  Bible Classes ……..In Bible Class today we’ll be studying I Corinthians 12, which is the beginning of a 3 chapter discussion dealing with Spiritual gifts.    Tuesday, from 10:30-11:30 am, we’ll study 2 Kings 18-19, considering the reign of Judah’s King Hezekiah.    If you can’t join us in person, join us over the phone  (1-701-802-5405, then dial 7519304#).


Church Council Meeting TUESDAY   (January 11) ….starting at 6 p.m.


Please Join Us This Wednesday Evening for Bible Class from 6:00 to 7:15 p.m.   We have both a women’s class and a men’s class….and plenty of room for you.   We encourage you to join us for this midweek “rest stop” in God’s Word as well as for this opportunity for some good middle-of-the-week fellowship with fellow church members.  Our men’s class will be studying in the book of Psalms.    Our women’s class will begin a study of the book of Isaiah.


Fellowship Service Appeal We’re just a few days into this new year as we gather for worship today.  We also have an entire year’s worth of “Sunday Morning Fellowship Service” to arrange.   Specifically, we need church members – like you – to volunteer to provide for our Sunday morning fellowship refreshments.  You can sign up for one week at a time, a few weeks, or a month (or more, if you’d like).  A reimbursement of up to $25 per week (from our fellowship “jar”) is available.  For more information, speak with Tina and John Wambold.  The “Sign Up Poster” for Sunday Fellowship” is affixed to the south wall (next to the store room) in our fellowship hall/gymnasium.   In advance, “THANK YOU” and God bless you for serving.


(In connection with today’s Gospel Lesson, Epistle Lesson, Sermon Text and Children’s Lesson which all deal with the topic of baptism, we hope that you will use the following [next page] excerpt from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism to review what the Scriptures teach and what we believe about the doctrine of Baptism.  The following text has been taken from the current WELS edition of the Small Catechism.)

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism


As the head of the family should teach them in the simplest way to those in his household.




First: What is Baptism?

Baptism is not just plain water, but it is water used by God’s command and connected with God’s Word.


Which is that Word of God?

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




Second: What does Baptism do for us?

Baptism works forgiveness of sin, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.


What are these words end 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.”




Third: How can water do such great things?

It is certainly not the water that does such things, but God’s Word which is in and with the water, and faith which trusts this Word used with the water.  For without God’s Word the water is just plain water and not baptism.  But with this Word it is baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of rebirth by the Holy Spirit.


Where is this written?

St. Paul says in Titus, chapter 3, “God 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.”




Fourth: What does baptizing with water mean?

Baptism means that the old Adam in us should be drowned by daily contrition and repentance, and that all its evil deeds and desires be put to death.  It also means that a new person should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.


Where is this written?

St. Paul says in Romans, chapter 6, “We were buried with Christ 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.”




The Sacrament of Baptism

and its Significance for all of us


God’s Gift of Baptism

     Baptism, without a doubt, is one of the Christian Church’s most precious “possessions.”   It’s a special gift from God with extraordinary power and blessings that go beyond what we see in the ceremony/activity of Baptism.   It is a “Means of Grace” by which God the Holy Spirit, in His mercy, applies the benefits of the redemptive work of Christ to the person being baptized, miraculously bringing individuals to faith and strengthening them in their faith.

     In many church bodies, baptism is viewed as an “ordinance” – something God has commanded us to perform, and which the obedient Christian wants to do.   In most of those churches, baptism is only (and, unfortunately, incorrectly) offered only to individuals who have reached an “age of accountability” (or “responsibility;” a teaching, incidentally, which is found nowhere in Scripture)  – when the person supposedly recognizes his/her sin and is able to publicly declare both the willingness to repent of sin and the desire to be baptized as a sign of commitment/ faithfulness to Christ.  In these churches, the “activity” of the individual being baptized is considered the chief part of Baptism.   God’s activity is seen in the furnishing of the ordinance/command that the individual is satisfying.

     Along with the Lord’s Supper, in our church we refer to Baptism not only as a “Means of Grace” (a means by which God establishes and strengthens/maintains saving faith in Christ), but also as a “Sacrament.”  The term Sacrament comes from the Latin language and is used in many church bodies to describe various special rites, ceremonies and symbols.   (The specific term “Sacrament” is not found anywhere in Scripture, but the concept is definitely there.)   In our church, we recognize and employ two “Sacraments:”   Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.   By definition, a Sacrament: 1) is a sacred activity instituted by Christ;   2) through which God offers, gives and seals the forgiveness of sins, new life in Christ (faith) and eternal salvation;   and 3) is manifest in an earthly element (in Baptism, water; in the Lord’s Supper, bread and wine) which is connected to God’s Word.

     We believe (because Scripture teaches) that when the Sacrament of Baptism is employed the person being baptized plays – by far – the smaller of the two roles (God fulfilling the much larger and more important role).   From the recipient’s side the activity of Baptism seems to be very brief and simple.   The individual is presented for baptism.   Water (in any manner – whether by sprinkling, pouring or immersing…..the amount/volume doesn’t matter)  is applied.    Most importantly, God’s Word (specifically, from Matthew 28:19, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”) has to be spoken, since it is the power of God in His Word that makes Baptism “efficacious”  (effective, spiritually beneficial to the individual).    And that’s it – as far as what the person being baptized does, and what we see and hear.     But just like the “tip” of an iceberg – the only part of the iceberg a person sees above water – is small compared to the substance of that iceberg which is unseen, beneath the surface of the water…..even so in the activity of baptism, the recipient’s role is like the “tip” of the iceberg:   noticeable, but small;   while the role the Lord plays is like the “substance’ of the iceberg – unseen beneath the surface, but massive by comparison to the “tip.”

               That “greater by far role” in Baptism – which the Lord graciously and powerfully fills – includes His conveying to us the following blessings/benefits;   (not in any priority)   First, His full and free forgiveness           of all our sins – and the assurance that the curse of sin (eternal


death in hell) has been satisfied through the death of Christ for us, as well as that eternal salvation is ours through faith in Christ (Acts 22:19….part of today’s Sermon text;   Acts 2:38-39;   and Mark 16:15-16).     Second, in Baptism God miraculously establishes faith in the hearts of infants and children presented for baptism (and yes, little children, even infants can believe – see Jesus’ testimony about this Matthew 18:1-10, esp v6 and Luke 18:15-17; also Matthew 28:19 and II Timothy 3:15), so that they are saved (Mark 16:15-16 and I Peter 3:21).    Third, He strengthens faith in those (typically adults) who already have been brought by the Holy Spirit to faith in Him (see Romans 6 and Acts 8).     Next, God covers us with Christ’s righteousness, makes us members of His family of believers and empowers us to live godly lives for Him (Galatians 3:26-27; John 3:5,6; Titus 3:4-7).  Those blessings and benefits are certainly significant, aren’t they?   And God’s Word tells us they are available and freely given to every one of us!

     An honest, fair and faithful study of Scripture leads us to a clear, correct conclusion:   God has instituted Baptism not merely as an ordinance/law for some (adults and teens, generally) to fulfill, but as a Means of Grace by which He graciously works to establish and sustain faith….and Christian faithfulness in us, through His Baptismal assurance that – for Jesus’ sake – He has guaranteed us all (adults and children – even infants) pardon from our sins, peace with Him, and the promise of everlasting life in Paradise/heaven.





What the Scriptures teach about Baptism

….Particularly Infant Baptism


In most churches the need for infant baptism is not clearly seen because it is incorrectly presumed that infants and small children are not actually sinners.  Such churches further assume that such children are not held “accountable” for their sins until an undefined time when they reach an age of “discernment” (when they are supposed to consciously understand their sin and  their need for a Savior, plus personally desire that Savior as their own).    Unfortunately this is a teaching that is built too much on the use of human reason as opposed to what Scripture teaches.   Simply put, the position they generally take is “it’s got to make ‘sense’ before I’ll believe it, and — to me — it doesn’t make sense that babies can believe.”    In addition, they teach that baptism cannot be administered unless and until the recipient “personally and publicly desires” to be baptized……a desire that a little child/infant cannot verbally express.  But what does the Bible say?  First….


BABIES/CHILDREN ARE SINNERS….just as much as adults


Romans 6:23 (do babies die?   sure they do, even in the womb.    If Adam and Eve had NOT sinned, death would not have entered the world.   Death is an evidence of sin’s existence.    Babies die, because babies are sinners………by the way, if someone says “Well Jesus died and He wasn’t a sinner,”   You can respond by saying, “Yes, you’re right, He wasn’t a sinner, and yet He chose to become responsible for our sins and die for them.   (Isaiah 53:6 and  II Corinthians 5:19-21)


Psalm 51:5  (David, under inspiration…..and these are GOD’S words!….acknowledges that he was not only sinful “at birth,” he was a sinner from the time when he was conceived.   …..And don’t let anyone tell you that the “act” of conception [i.e., intercourse] is sinful, since the Lord gives the gift of sexual intimacy to married people, and so, in and of itself, it is not sinful; indeed, He blessed it in Eden — only the abuse of it is sinful!)


Romans 3:23-24  (the “all” includes everyone…..man, woman, child, adults, infants too)


Romans 5:12-21 (“all men” …..again is a reference to everyone, regardless of age…..the Greek word (anthropos……we get our word “anthropology” from it) refers to “mankind”/”humankind” NOT to males)


John 3:5,6 …..all people, including babies, need to be “born again”…… the statement “of water and the spirit” is a clear reference to baptism [Titus 3:5,6]……notice two other things here.   First the preposition “of” and then the conjunction “and.”   In the Greek there is only one preposition, upon which both words “water” and “spirit” depend.    The conjunction “and” ties together the two words “water” and “spirit” ….the sense here is that being born again of water and the spirit is one action/activity that occurs at the same time.  [Some churches incorrectly claim that Jesus is saying here that a man is first born of water (physical birth…..mom’s “water” breaking) and then later on is born of the spirit (at the time of his/her conversion);   the original language Greek doesn’t really allow for that understanding.]



Matthew 28:19 (babies are certainly part of “all nations”…..after all, “When does a baby become a citizen of this country?”    Answer # 1…..”Surely at the time the child is born!”   [for example, many “aliens” come to this country to have their children born here;   at which point the children automatically are considered US citizens.]    Answer #2…..Even before they’re born   [consider this:   someone attacks a pregnant woman, who loses the unborn child in the attack, though mom survives.    What criminal charges are filed?   Among others, the charge of “manslaughter” because a PERSON has lost his/her life.   …….By the way, isn’t it almost schizophrenic that our country affords protection to a pre-born child as a person, yet at the same time calls the child/person a “fetus” and nonhuman so that it can be aborted? !!!!!])


Galatians 3:26,27  (all people need to become “sons” [children] of God……that, again, includes children/infants)


Acts 2:38-39 (“the promise…for you and your children” is the promise of forgiveness, a forgiveness which is clearly connected to “baptism”…….This is a good passage from which to point out that churches that don’t baptize children are clearly in violation of God’s Word)





Luke 18:15 (Luke tells us here that people were bringing “babies” to Jesus.   The Greek word used here is the plural form of  “brephos,” which typically refers to very small children….to infants/babies.   The story here in chapter 18 is Luke’s “parallel” account to what Matthew records about the same event in chapter 18 of his Gospel.)


Matthew 18:6 (Here Jesus says something VERY noteworthy.   He speaks about “these little ones who believe in Me.”   Who are the little ones (Greek, “mikros”)?    Matthew 18:2 refers to one of  them earlier as “child” (Greek, “pais”) which in New Testament usage  referred to young children ranging in age from infants (Matthew 2:16) to growing children (Matthew 17:18; 21:15;   Luke 9:432) to Jesus at the age of 12 (Luke 2:43).   Of course, in this account, Luke defines for us how old the child is by identifying him as a “baby.”   Here in verse 6, Jesus makes it clear: children – babies can believe.   “How is that possible?,” many ask.   Others say, “It makes no sense to me.”   And still others, “I can’t believe that.”   Our answer:   If Jesus says it, we believe it – whether it makes “sense” or not.   I’ll take the word of Jesus any day, over any opinion – and certainly over the doubts – of anyone.   After, has Jesus ever been wrong?




…..(in contrast to the “reformed” belief that the recipient is the one publicly “carrying out” the most important part of baptism, which they believe is because the recipient is “giving testimony of his/her faith”)


Ephesians 5:25,26 (it “cleanses” us of our sin;   and everyone is a sinner – remember Romans 3:23: “ALL have sinned”)


I Peter 3:21 b – (The waters of the flood, upon which Noah and his family were saved as they rode in the ark are symbolic of the water in baptism which — when connected to the Word of God through which the Holy Spirit works — truly “saves” the recipient.   God’s gift of eternal salvation, therefore, is a MAJOR part of baptism.)


Titus 3:5,6  (the “washing of regeneration” is an obvious reference to “baptism”;     Notice here that the Holy Spirit is significantly involved in this washing, since through it He “renews” [another way of saying “born again”] us by imparting faith into a person’s heart….in the case of an infant/child…..or strengthening existing faith…..in the case of an adult)


Mark 16:16  (salvation, again, is connected to the act of baptism…….the fact that “whoever believes” is recorded before “and is baptized” does not mandate, as many reformed teachers suggest, that a person cannot be baptized unless/until that individual publicly declares his/her faith.    Ask this question…..”to whom is Mark writing?”   The answer?    “To adults.”   And, as with most of the incidents in the NT when the act of baptism is described, the majority of people being baptized — or in some cases, the individual being baptized — will be adults/an adult.    After all, even in our churches today, the majority of members are adults.)


Acts 22:16    (baptism “washes away sin”……again, the cleansing/forgiving element of baptism is a proof that Baptism is a Means of Grace [NOT the only means, but one of the Holy Spirit’s means for working and strengthening faith]  along with the preaching of the Word and the Lord’s Supper, and so it serves as a means by which God conveys His forgiveness and the gift of faith to people)


Acts 2:38  (we looked at this before…..the two points of this passage to consider now are:  1) baptism conveys God’s forgiveness to the recipient;  and 2)  through baptism the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to people….and it through the Holy Spirit’s activity that faith is begun and is sustained/strengthened.)



….AND TO DO SO AN ANY MANNER  (not necessarily “to immerse”)


Mark 7:3,4……throughout this text the word “wash” is used.   In the Greek language the word which is primarily used for “wash” is “baptizein”  (some say “baptizo”).   In either case, it is the word that is often translated “baptize.”     Pay special attention to the footnote (that some translations provide), which refers to “dining couches” being washed.    Those couches would be similar to one a psychiatrist might stereotypically use in his office, upon which the patient is supposed to rest while in counseling.     People in the days when Jesus walked on earth actually ate at formal dinners from similar devices.    The simple point we want to make is this:    Do you immerse a “couch,” or do you apply water to it when you wash/clean it?   You apply water.   In a similar way, when we wash our cars we surely don’t immerse them!     And when reformed teachers say that in the accounts of Jesus baptism in Mark (1:10) and Matthew (3:16), where it says Jesus “came up out of the water” ….that that must mean He was “under the water” first before He came “up” and then went “out” of the water.  That’s an erroneous conclusion.  Remember that Jesus was with John in the VERY SHALLOW Jordan River.    Besides, when you go into a river from dry land, what direction do you always have to go?   Down….because the water is running through some kind of a depression below dry ground.   Going down into the water (from which you later go “up”) doesn’t demand that you go completely “under” the water.   Many a fly fisherman goes down into the water to fish without ever going “under” the water.    Then, when it’s time to leave the water you go from the lower point/depression “up” and finally “out of the water” and onto dry land.    The New Testament Greek words used in those two accounts easily “allow” this understanding.   What’s described here, then, is movement from one place to another, and nothing more than that.