Pastor's Pen for 01/16/2017When Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3)  

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Heaven is opened by Christ Jesus. Heaven is open at the birth of Jesus at Christmas. The Angel of the Lord preaching about Christ the Savior born for you. Now here at the Baptismal font in the River Jordan. Jesus standing in the place of sinners. What do sinners deserve? Death. For the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6)

From the banks of the Jordan – Jesus’ face is set resolutely on His journey to Calvary's Cross. Jesus paying your debt of sin. Jesus dying in the place of sinners. It is by the Blood of Jesus that heaven is open for you. Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Mark 15) God the Father is well pleased with His Beloved Son. Jesus has come to bring you back to God. You are no longer separated from God by your sin because Jesus has made atonement for you. We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 1)

Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11). Believing in Jesus you are pleasing to God. There is no other way to the Father except through the Son. The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus crucified, risen, and ascending comes to you through the power of His Word – bringing you peace. In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3) In Holy Baptism heaven is open for you. God proclaims that He is well pleased with you. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1) Jesus wins salvation for you. Jesus delivers salvation to you in His Word.

You are the baptized Children of God. Washed clean in the flood of forgiveness of sin poured into you. When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3) Heaven is open. Gr eat boldness and confidence to live as the Childr en of God.

BUT what about my sin? The sins that continue to war against me? What about my struggles? Where do we turn? THE WORD OF GOD! ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4)

Return to your baptism. The flood of forgiveness never runs out. Your sinful nature does not take days off. As long as you live in the body the Old Adam is at war against your new life in Christ. What to do with sin? Kill it! Let your sins die at the bottom of the baptismal font. What comes forth from the waters? New Creation. Resurrection. Life lived by faith. Luther says: (Baptism) indicates that the Old A dam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sin and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. (LS Baptism IV)

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mark 16) Heaven is open. Happy living as the Lord's Baptized Children. Repenting of your sins and believing in Christ. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Lance D. Berndt is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church ( in Omaha, NE.