Tuesday, December 10, 2013

God's Joyous Exchange...in baptism

Many years ago I attended an Evangelism seminar where a pastor demonstrated one way to share the Gospel of Jesus.  His presentation was built around 2 Corinthians 5:21 - God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.  His Law/Gospel way of telling the good news of Jesus' salvation by grace through faith was so clear and compelling that I made the presentation my own and have shared it many times.

Last night I finished reading "Martin Luther - Preacher of the Cross," by Professor John T. Pless.  I was excited to read a passage Pless shared which showed how Luther connected this joyous exchange to baptism. 

Luther preached: Is not this a beautiful, glorious exchange, by which Christ, who is wholly innocent and holy, not only takes upon Himself another's sin, that is my sin and guilt, but also clothes and adorns me, who am nothing but sin, with His own innocence and purity? And then besides died the shameful death of the Cross for the sake of my sins, through which I have deserved death and condemnation, and grants me His righteousness, in order that I may live with Him eternally in glorious and unspeakable joy.  Through this blessed exchange, in which Christ changes places us with (something the heart can only grasp in faith) and through nothing else, are we freed from sin and death and given His righteousness and life as our own.  (page 126)

What glorious Gospel! In our baptism we receive the blessings of the Cross of Christ Jesus! "Christ changes places with us."  He takes our place at the cross and we are spared.  Instead, our blessed Lord "clothes and adorns us" with His righteousness so that we might "live with Him eternally in glorious and unspeakable joy."

Live today in this baptismal grace.  Remember your baptism when you are beset by guilt or overwhelmed by sorrow.  Although you sin, you are forgiven in Christ.  Although you have not earned it, Christ has made you holy, covering you in His righteousness and purity.  Although you do not deserve it, Jesus, in His ascension, has readied a place for you in the kingdom of heaven.  All because of His joyous exchange which began in your baptism!