Baptism of the Holy Spirit, for Lutherans, is another way to refer to the Christian sacrament of baptism. Baptism, along with Holy Communion, is one of the two sacraments of Lutheranism. Lutherans are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- the three natures of the Christian Triune God -- and baptism is considered a means of receiving the Holy Spirit.
Baptism and the Holy Spirit
Lutherans consider baptism to be a practice commanded by God, and it is one way of receiving the Holy Spirit. Lutheran confessional documents in the Book of Concord heavily emphasize baptism, and the sacrament is believed to be a powerful work of God. In the Large Catechism's section on Holy Baptism, Martin Luther wrote: "For do you think it was a jest that, when Christ was baptized, the heavens were opened and the Holy Ghost descended visibly, and everything was divine glory and majesty?"
Biblical Basis for Lutheran Baptism
Scripture alone, rather than Scripture combined with past church tradition, is the basis for Lutheran beliefs. Therefore, Lutheran beliefs about baptism, or anything else considered to be divinely ordained, must come from the Bible. Martin Luther cited two verses from the Gospel to inform his belief that baptism is commanded by God. The first is Matthew 28:19, which states: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." The second is Mark 16:16, which reads: "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned."
Necessary For Salvation
The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, one of the Lutheran confessional documents found in the Book of Concord, clearly states in Article IX: "Baptism is necessary to salvation." Because Lutherans believe human works do not factor into the salvation equation, it should be emphasized that baptism, in Lutheranism, is not considered a human work -- baptism is a work of God.
Like the Catholic Church before it, the Lutheran Church believes in infant baptism. Lutherans believe that a person can receive the Holy Spirit through baptism regardless of age. In the Large Catechism, in a section dedicated to the subject of infant baptism, Luther wrote: "The Baptism of infants is pleasing to Christ." Several parts of the Book of Concord condemn the Anabaptists -- a Reformation-era sect now known as Mennonites -- for their belief that children should not be baptized.
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