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From the Word: 1 For this reason—being surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses—let us also remove each hurdle, and the sin that constrains, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the leader and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2)
From the Confessions: The Small Catechism, The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
“The Promise of Baptism”
What gifts or benefits does Baptism bring?
It brings about forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare.
What is this Word and promise of God?
It is the Word of our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)
Pulling It Together: Remember Jesus. Keep him in mind as the one who ran before you and is now waiting for you to cross the finish line. Now, if you believe and are baptized, you are in the race, but finishing the race (2 Tim 4:7) requires the endurance of faith. Therefore, the Christian must lay aside everything that would keep her from faith in Jesus. The Christian life is a daily pressing on to the finish of a very long run, so it demands faith in the one who supplies the courage and strength to continue running. Baptism was the beginning of a marathon that promises the prize of salvation and eternal life at the end. You must run, however slowly, with endurance to the finish: to Jesus. That means you must keep faith in him all the way to the end of your life. You must continue believing, despite the obstacles of sin, the devil, or simply the hurdle of yourself.
Prayer: Give me, Lord Jesus, the strength and courage of faith. Amen.
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Written in honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, The Life of Martin Luther, a nine-session adult study, takes participants through the circumstances and events of the life of Martin Luther as it reflects on the biblical themes underlying the Lutheran Reformation.