Doubts Inspired by Baptism?

[14] But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [15] and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. [16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14–17)

As we sat down in the Pastor’s Study, it was clear by Martha’s expression something was wrong. Sure enough, within minutes she poured out her doubts about her faith in God, doubts caused by our church’s teaching on baptism. 

That’s right. Her doubts were inspired by baptism. How could the sacrament that gives so many of us reassurance about our faith lead someone to doubt? 

Martha got connected to our church about six months earlier. The initial few months she attended a book club hosted by two of our members at a local coffee shop. Sometime in the third month she accepted an invitation to attend worship and Bible class with a member. 

During those three months I’m certain every time a pastor or member referenced salvation, they spoke of baptism. Martha got the idea that, not only does baptism save, but one can’t be saved without baptism. She wasn’t baptized. Hence, her troubled countenance when we started our conversation. 

God had brought Martha to faith in Jesus through reading Scripture in a small group Bible study. This is in agreement with verse 15 from our reading, which says Scripture is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.” Certainly, it is backed up by Romans 10:17: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 

Since she already had faith in Christ, should Martha have requested baptism? Yes, she still needed to be baptized. But not because her faith was somehow lacking, but because of God’s command in Scripture. Ultimately, Martha was baptized. 

Before being called to glory, Martha gave me permission to share this story. It is especially helpful in adult instruction. It is my hope that it also might assist you one day, if you run into a similar circumstance. 

(A Second Look devotions are written for the congregations of Ohio District LCMS.)

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