Communion – What and Who is Given and Served?


The Divine Service contains two services: The Service of the Word and the Service of the Sacrament. 

What is a sacrament? 

A Lutheran List of Requirements for Something to be a Sacrament:

  1. A Sacred Act
  2. Instituted by God
  3. Has the promise of God’s forgiveness and grace attached to it.
  4. Is connected to a visible means or external element.

The word Sacrament is not in the Bible.  So different denominations might view this word and its meaning differently.

Because of this, different denominations have different sacraments. 

“It is far more profitable to focus on the meaning and use of particular things than to argue about the numbers of sacraments.  For example, what does the Bible say about the Lord’s Supper, and how are we to use it?  This is much more fruitful than the question of categories” (Called to Believe, page 202).

Does Communion meet these four requirements to be called a sacrament?

Read Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, and 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 to see if these requirements are in Scripture. 

Questions to ask:

What makes the Lord’s Supper efficacious?

The person distributing the bread and wine?

The people receiving the bread and wine?

What type of bread was used at the institution of the Lord’s Supper? (Luke 22:7)

What type of bread was used for Passover? (Exodus 12:7)

However, the words of institution do not signify it has to be a certain type of bread.

What type of bread have you seen used? 

What is the mode of distribution? 

Wine is the other element of the Lord’s Supper.

Matthew 26:29 – How does this verse refer to the cup?

What were they drinking in 1 Corinthians 11:20-21?

Is it OK for Christians to drink alcohol?

Ephesians 5:18 – What does this verse say?

John 2:1-22 – What was the miracle in this passage?

Matthew 11:19 – Do you think Jesus drank if he was accused of this? 

What is received in the Lord’s Supper?

Real Presence – Teaches that Christ’s body and blood is received as is bread and wine.  This teaching uses the phrase “in, with, and under” to explain the location of the blood and body in the wine and bread.

1 Corinthians 10 – Participation in the blood of Christ and the Body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 11 – Sinning against the body and blood of Christ. Is means is. 

Matthew 26:28 says that there is forgiveness of sins through the blood.

1 Corinthians 10 – One loaf, one body of Christ.

Other views

Transubstantiation –  Bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.  The traditional Roman Catholic Mass then has the priest take the Body and Blood and offer it as a sacrifice for sin.  He did not kill Jesus on the altar, just offered the Body and Blood as a sacrifice for sins.  Participation was a good work that earned participants merit before God. 

Consubstantiation – A new substance is formed. 

Spiritual Presence – The presence of Christ is in the meal, but just spiritually. Calvin advocated for this.  “The finite is incapable of the infinite.”  Really?  What about the incarnation?  A participant only receives bread and wine, but the Spirit enables the participant to reach up to heaven and partake of Christ there. 

Symbolic or Memorial Meal – The elements are just earthly.  No presence of Christ at all, nor is there any gifts, such as the forgiveness of sins in the meal.  It is an object lesson to help us recall what Christ has done for us.  The focus is upon our work. 

Quotes from early Church fathers on communion:

“I take no delight in corruptible food or in the dainties of this life.  What I want is God’s bread, which is the flesh of Christ, who came from David’s line; and for drink I want his blood: an immortal love feast indeed!” – Letters of Ignatius: Romans: Paragraph 7

“Pay close attention to those who have wrong notions about the grace of Jesus Christ, which has come to us, and not how at variance they are with God’s mind.  They care nothing about love: they have no concern for widows or orphans, for the oppressed, for those in prison or released, for the hungry or thirsty.  They hold aloof from the Eucharist and from services of prayer, because they refuse to admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

– Letters of Ignatius: Smyrnaeans: Paragraph 2

“This food we call Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down for us.  For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the word or prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.” – First Apology of Justin: Paragraph 66

“But vain in every respect are they who despise the entire dispensation of God, and disallow the salvation of the flesh, and treat with contempt its regeneration, maintaining that it is not capable of incorruption. But if this indeed do not attain salvation, then neither did the Lord redeem us with His blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of His blood, nor the bread which we break the communion of His body. 1 Corinthians 10:16 For blood can only come from veins and flesh, and whatsoever else makes up the substance of man, such as the Word of God was actually made. By His own blood he redeemed us, as also His apostle declares, In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins. Colossians 1:14 And as we are His members, we are also nourished by means of the creation (and He Himself grants the creation to us, for He causes His sun to rise, and sends rain when He wills Matthew 5:45). He has acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as His own blood, from which He bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of the creation) He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies. When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which [flesh] is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him?— even as the blessed Paul declares in his Epistle to the Ephesians, that we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. Ephesians 5:30 He does not speak these words of some spiritual and invisible man, for a spirit has not bones nor flesh; Luke 24:39 but [he refers to] that dispensation [by which the Lord became] an actual man, consisting of flesh, and nerves, and bones—that [flesh] which is nourished by the cup which is His blood, and receives increase from the bread which is His body.” Irenaeus (Against Heresies Book 4, Chapter 2)

Why do we celebrate Holy Communion today?

  1. To remember Jesus’ death (1 Corinthians 11:25)
  2. To confess our faith in Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:26)
  3. To receive strength for our faith (Luke 22:19-20)
  4. To receive the personal assurance of forgiveness (Matthew 26:28)
  5. To receive comfort and peace (Matthew 11:28)

A Different Kind of Baptism – Spirit-Baptism!

Two Main Questions:

1.  Is there a difference between having the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit?

2.  Is there a difference between having been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and having been baptized in the Holy Spirit?

Acts 1:4-8

4On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

   6So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

   7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 2:1-4

 1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

This act drew a big crowd and the disciples were all empowered
(using the word power from Acts 1:8) and were enabled (Acts 2:4) to speak the native tongues of those who heard them. 

Acts 2:14-21

 14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17“ ‘In the last days, God says,
      I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
      your young men will see visions,
      your old men will dream dreams. 18Even on my servants, both men and women,
      I will pour out my Spirit in those days (not just on that day, Pentecost, but “in those days”),
      and they will prophesy. 19I will show wonders in the heaven above
      and signs on the earth below,
      blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20The sun will be turned to darkness
      and the moon to blood
      before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21And everyone who calls
      on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]

Acts 2:32-33

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

The Holy Spirit was promised.  This pouring out was the promised gift of the Father in Acts 1:4. Joel said this Spirit would be poured out on all people, your sons and daughters.  I guess this could be taken as a promise too.

Contextually, would it be safe to say that the promise from Acts 1:4, Acts 2:14-21 (If we consider that a promise), and Acts 2:33 are the same promise that Peter mentions in Acts 2:38,39?

38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 

Is the promise of “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the pouring out of the Spirit as on the day of Pentecost?  Are the three terms, the pouring out of the Spirit, the filling of the Spirit, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, synonymous?    Note that “the gift of the Holy Spirit” in vs. 39 seems to be parallel to the word,“gift,” in Acts 1:5.  Is this pouring out, or filling, or baptism in the Holy Spirit (from here on out to referred to as Spirit-Baptism) received in the sacrament of Baptism?

For the apostles it obviously was not.  I’m sure they had already been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  I’m also pretty sure that they already had the Holy Spirit in them as well, since they had faith in Christ and proclaimed his as Lord.  For Cornelius and his household it was also not received in the sacrament of Baptism.

Acts 11:11-18

11“Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’

   15“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a]water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?”

   18When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

This text seems to show that being baptized with the Holy Spirit, Spirit-Baptism, is different from the sacrament of baptism.  Cornelius and his household had the Holy Spirit come on them apart from washing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, but it reminded Peter of what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

The people in Acts 2 who Peter told to repent and be baptized, might have already had faith before verses 38 and 39.  I say this because in verse 37 we are told that the people upon hearing Peter’s statements were cut to their hearts.  This means that they were convicted of their sins and potentially already believed that Jesus had risen from the grave, which would mean that they already had faith, which means the Holy Spirit was already at work in them or that they already had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or what Lutherans would consider to be “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” If all of this is a proper interpretation, then the stance that the gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in verse 39 would not be referring to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which all Christians have.  Could it be referring to the pouring out of or the filling of the Spirit mentioned at the beginning of Acts 2 or Acts 11

This then begs the question, is the Holy Spirit given in the sacrament of Baptism?

I’ve said many times in my life that the Holy Spirit is given in Baptism.  I’ve used it as one of the reasons why infants should be baptized.  It’s always been a statement that I have questioned though, because not everyone receives the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism, do they?  What about the adult convert?  Before they receive the sacrament of baptism, they already have the Holy Spirit, because they already have faith and already confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Do they then receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism? 

Luther, in my opinion, even implies that infants already have faith before they are baptized.  He does this in his Baptismal Booklet found in the Book of Concord.  In this booklet he has a format for infant baptism, in which he says, “the priest shall let the child, through his sponsors, renounce the devil.”  A string of questions follow in which the child through the words of his sponsors renounces the devil and accepts the Trinity.  These questions conclude with, “Do you want to be baptized?”  The sponsors then answer, “yes.”  And then the baby is baptized.  The question was not, “Do you want this baby to be baptized, it was “Do you want to be baptized?”  So, if the baby truly believes all these things, which the sponsors answer on his behalf, then the baby already has faith and the Holy Spirit as well, which would mean that the child does not receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism.  He/She would already have the indwelling of the Spirit. 

Obviously though, the Holy Spirit is present and working in the sacrament, because the Word is present in Baptism.  To separate the Holy Spirit’s work in the Word and sacraments would certainly be wrong, but is this work of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism “the gift of the Holy Spirit?” 

If it is not, what exactly would be the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:39 and is it connected with the sacrament of baptism or does it come separate?  What would it be if it is not simply having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as creator and sustainer of faith?

It could be what some Christians refer to as the Spirit-Baptism.  It is different from the sacrament of baptism.  Could it be the filling of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2? It is a baptism in the Holy Spirit apart from water.  In Acts 1 it is said that this Spirit-Baptism would be for the empowerment to witness. 

Are there other examples in scripture of what might be the filling of the Spirit or Spirit-Baptism?

Acts 19

Paul in Ephesus

   1While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”

   They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

   3So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

   “John’s baptism,” they replied.

   4Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5On hearing this, they were baptized into[b] the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[c] and prophesied. 7There were about twelve men in all.

These people apparently already believed in Christ.  They were already disciples.  I think it is interesting that they were just baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  It does not match with the words of Matthew 28.  It seems that after the baptism, that Paul placed his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them, unless the placing on of the hands was part of the baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus, this act of the Holy Spirit coming on them was apart from the sacrament of baptism.  “Came on” is the same term used in Acts 11 with Cornelius and his household, which was an event that Peter said was the same as what happened on Pentecost and it reminded him of when Jesus said, “I will baptize you in the Spirit.”  Remember that what happened at Cornelius’ house was separate from the sacrament of Baptism. 

Are there more examples of what could be called Spirit-Baptism?

Acts 8:4-23

  4Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ[a]there. 6When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7With shrieks, evil[b] spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8So there was great joy in that city.

Simon the Sorcerer

   9Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” 11They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

   14When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into[c] the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

   18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

   20Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

So again here is another example of where people in scripture believed but had not received the Holy Spirit.  This people also had already been baptized as well, so this seems to be an event separate from the sacrament of Baptism.  Again you see the word phrase, “come upon,” which matches with Acts 19 and Acts 11, which in Acts 11 is tied back to Pentecost and Jesus’ statement, “I will baptize you in the Spirit.”  The word “simply” concerning the Baptism into the name of the Lord Jesus sure penetrates deep and hard into my Lutheran theology.  Would a Lutheran ever say, “I’ve simply received Baptism”? This passage seems to imply that someone can simply receive Baptism and not receive the Holy Spirit.  I think the receive here could be more in the sense of a Pentecost type of receiving, a filling of the Holy Spirit.

Is Spirit-Baptism a one-time thing?

Acts 4:8-13

8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected,
      which has become the capstone.[a][b] 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

   13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Here in this passage we see that Peter is “filled” with the Spirit.  This is the same terminology used at Pentecost in Acts 2:4.  There we read that all in the room were “filled” with the Spirit.  Then they spoke in tongues as they were enabled.  Jesus told them to wait until they received the gift his Father had promised.  He told them that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and that this power was to help them witness.  Maybe it seems the same in this passage, from Acts 4:8, that Peter was filled with the Spirit and was empowered at this moment to aid his witness. 

Later in the same chapter we read. 

  23On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage
      and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth take their stand
      and the rulers gather together
      against the Lord
      and against his Anointed One.[c][d] 27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people[e] of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

   31After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Points on this passage.

1.  vs.  25, maybe when we are filled with the Spirit, it is when we are not speaking at all.  It is a time when it is nothing of me, but only of God, his word.  And this word is spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of God’s servants. 

2.  They admit to God the threats that they face in the world, all the powers and forces that oppose the spread of the Gospel “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 

3.  They ask to be enabled to speak His word with great boldness.  “Enabled” is the same word used to describe how and why the people present at Pentecost were able to speak in tongues. 

4.  “With Boldness” seems to tie back to the earlier mentioned passage from this chapter, when the people saw the courage with which Peter and John spoke.  Maybe when filled with the Spirit we are given confidence, courage, boldness, to help us proclaim. 

5.  Stretch out your hand.  In The Prayer of Jabez, I read that the hand of the lord is a biblical term for God’s power and presence in the lives of his people (Joshua 4:24, Isaiah 59:1).  “The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21).  Wilkinson who wrote The Prayer of Jabez says, “A more specific New Testament description for God’s hand is “the filling of the Holy Spirit.  The church’s growth bears powerful witness to both the necessity and the availability of the hand of God to accomplish the business of God.”

6.  They prayed for it.  They prayed for the Lord to enable them to speak his word and to give them boldness when doing so.  They asked and they were “filled” with the Holy Spirit.  They spoke boldly.  I’m guessing, they were filled with the Spirit and then they went out and spoke boldly.  I guess I’m pointing out that it was something they asked for.  Does God give us good things that we don’t ask to receive? Yes. In scripture does God fill people with the Spirit even when they don’t ask for it? Yes.  But here, they asked. 

So, what about this asking? 

Luke 11

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

   1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

   2He said to them, “When you pray, say: “ ‘Father,[a] hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.[b] 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4Forgive us our sins,
      for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c] And lead us not into temptation.[d]’ ”

   5Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

   7“Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness[e] he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

   9“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

   11“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

The man doesn’t give to his friend based on friendship, but based on his friend’s boldness to come at midnight.  And the man will give his friend as much as he needs.  Then maybe we see the connection to this in verse 12.  How much more will your father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! The sentence does not end with a question mark, although it is phrased as a question.  It ends with an exclamation mark.  It seems that we can ask for the Holy Spirit and that we can ask for it boldly.  Now, only a Christian can pray to God and only a Christian can ask god for a gift.  In this verse however, the asked for gift is the Holy Spirit, but I thought Christians already had the Holy Spirit? So what’s being asked for of the Holy Spirit?  Is it for more of the Spirit, a filling of the Spirit?

Is this verse telling us to ask for the Holy Spirit like they asked in Acts 4?

Here’s a verse that I think can help explain one way of describing being filled with the Spirit other than being enabled or empowered for service. 

Ephesians 5:19

18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

I have always related the “be filled with the Spirit” of Ephesians 5:18, with what I think is commonly referred to as Spirit-Baptism.  When you are drunk on wine, you cannot walk straight, talk straight, think straight, or act straight.  That is a lot of straights.  This is because you are not in control.  The same would be true with being filled with the Spirit.  You are not in control; the Spirit is in control.  Except here, your actions are straight.  For this to take place, that means our flesh is completely in the back seat.  A complete surrender to God’s will takes place for the Spirit to be in control in this manner. 

Here are some points about Spirit-Baptism if it is held in the regards as it has been presented:

1.  Spirit-Baptism is not a means of grace.  There is no forgiveness of sins offered in Spirit-Baptism. 

2.  All Christians have the Holy Spirit, at times however, Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit.  This does not mean that when not filled with the Spirit a Christian only has a percentage of the Holy Spirit.

3.  Spirit-Baptism is for the enabling and empowering of a Christian for witness and the serving of the Lord’s kingdom, in whatever role, the Lord has given to him/her.

4.  Spirit-Baptism is synonymous with being filled with the Spirit, and this can happen multiple times in a Christian’s life. 

5.  This is a promise from the Lord.

6.  Sometimes Spirit-Baptism is received without asking, but it is also received through asking. 

7.  Spirit-Baptism seems to be connected to prayer and also the laying on of hands. 

8.  With this presentation of Spirit-Baptism, it is stated that the Holy Spirit is not given in the sacrament of Baptism, but that the Spirit works in Baptism on the basis of the Word. 

9.  Being baptized in the Holy Spirit, does not mean that you must speak in tongues. 

Besides point eight, do these points oppose Lutheran doctrine?

Are the scriptures in this presentation misused?

So to repeat the first two questions. . .

1.  Is there a difference between having the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit?

2.  Is there a difference between having been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and having been baptized in the Holy Spirit?

Questions and Answers about Baptism

Questions and Answers about Baptism

Andy Wrasman (Concordia Univ. Irvine, Spring 2006)

Questions and Answers about Baptism

Answered from the Canonical Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions

The quotes from the Lutheran confessions are in the public domain and may be copied and distributed freely. The source of these translations is Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921).

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society.  Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.  All rights reserved. 

What is Baptism?

From this now learn a proper understanding of the subject, and how to answer the question what Baptism is, namely thus, that it is not mere ordinary water, but water comprehended in God’s Word and command, and sanctified thereby, so that it is nothing else than a divine water; not that the water in itself is nobler than other water, but that God’s Word and command are added. (LC 4:14)

Therefore I exhort again that these two, the water and the Word, by no means be separated from one another and parted. For if the Word is separated from it, the water is the same as that with which the servant cooks’ and may indeed be called a bath-keeper’s baptism. But when it is added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament, and is called Christ-baptism.  (LC 4:22)

Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God’s command and connected with God’s Word.Which is that word of God?—Answer.  Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (SC SHB: 1-4)

Baptism is nothing else than the Word of God in the water, commanded by His institution, or, as Paul says, a washing in the Word; as also Augustine says: Let the Word come to the element, and it becomes a Sacrament.  (SA 5:1)

Who gave us Baptism?

In the first place, we must above all things know well the words upon which Baptism is founded, and to which everything refers that is to be said on the subject, namely, where the Lord Christ speaks in Matthew 28, 19: Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Likewise in St. Mark 16, 16: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  In these words you must note, in the first place, that here stand God’s commandment and institution, lest we doubt that Baptism is divine, not devised nor invented by men. For as truly as I can say, No man has spun the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer out of his head, but they are revealed and given by God Himself, so also I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved, lest any one regard it as a trifling matter, like putting on a new red coat.  For it is of the greatest importance that we esteem Baptism excellent, glorious, and exalted, for which we contend and fight chiefly, because the world is now so full of sects clamoring that Baptism is an external thing, and that external things are of no benefit. But let it be ever so much an external thing, here stand God’s Word and command which institute, establish, and confirm Baptism. But what God institutes and commands cannot be a vain, but must be a most precious thing, though in appearance it were of less value than a straw.  (LC 4:3-8, italics added for emphasis)

What then are the benefits of Baptism?

It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.  (SC SHB: 6)

But where the name of God is, there must be also life and salvation, that it may indeed be called a divine, blessed, fruitful, and gracious water; for by the Word such power is imparted to Baptism that it is a laver of regeneration, as St. Paul also calls it, Titus 3, 5. (LC 4:27)

Thus it appears what a great, excellent thing Baptism is, which delivers us from the jaws of the devil and makes us God’s own, suppresses and takes away sin, and then daily strengthens the new man; and is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this estate of misery to eternal glory.  (LC 4:83)

Where is this found in scripture?

· Forgiveness of Sins

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38, italics added for emphasis)

And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name. (Acts 22:16, italics added for emphasis) 

· Rescues from death and the devil.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.  (Romans 6:3-5)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption,the forgiveness of sins.  (Colossians 1:13-14)

In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.  (Colossians 2:11-12)

· Eternal Life

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. (1 Peter 3:18-22, italics added for emphasis)

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)

Who receives the benefits of Baptism?

It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.  Which are these words and promises of God?  Christ our Lord says 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).  (SC SHB: 6-8)

Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. (LC 4:29)

This is again most beautifully and clearly expressed in the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. That is, faith alone makes the person worthy to receive profitably the saving, divine water. For, since these blessings are here presented and promised in the words in and with the water, they cannot be received in any other way than by believing them with the heart.  Without faith it profits nothing, notwithstanding it is in itself a divine superabundant treasure.  Therefore this single word (He that believeth) effects this much that it excludes and repels all works which we can do, in the opinion that we obtain and merit salvation by them. For it is determined that whatever is not faith avails nothing nor receives anything. (LC 4:33-34)

Does this faith constitute Baptism or make it valid?

Further, we say that we are not so much concerned to know whether the person baptized believes or not; for on that account Baptism does not become invalid; but everything depends upon the Word and command of God. (LC 4:52)

Therefore let it be decided that Baptism always remains true, retains its full essence, even though a single person should be baptized, and he, in addition, should not believe truly. For God’s ordinance and Word cannot be made variable or be altered by men. (LC 4:60)

Whose work is Baptism?

A Sacrament is a ceremony or work in which God presents to us that which the promise annexed to the ceremony offers; as, Baptism is a work, not which we offer to God, but in which God baptizes us, i.e., a minister in the place of God; and God here offers and presents the remission of sins, etc., according to the promise, Mark 16, 16: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. A sacrifice, on the contrary, is a ceremony or work which we render God in order to afford Him honor. (AAC 24:18)

For to be baptized in the name of God is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore, although it is performed by human hands, it is nevertheless truly God’s own work. (LC 4:10)

Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended in the Word, and offered to us and received by faith. (LC 4:37) 

What if someone falls away from the faith?  Should they be baptized again?

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3-5, italics added for emphasis)

Therefore our Baptism abides forever; and even though some one should fall from it and sin, nevertheless we always have access thereto, that we may again subdue the old man. But we need not again be sprinkled with water; for though we were put under the water a hundred times, it would nevertheless be only one Baptism, although the operation and signification continue and remain. Repentance, therefore, is nothing else than a return and approach to Baptism, that we repeat and practice what we began before, but abandoned. (LC 4:77-79)

But if any one fall away from it, let him again come into it. For just as Christ, the Mercy-seat, does not recede from us or forbid us to come to Him again, even though we sin, so all His treasure and gifts also remain.  If, therefore, we have once in Baptism

obtained forgiveness of sin, it will remain every day, as long as we live, that is, as long as we carry the old man about our neck. (LC 4:86)

But when the baptized have acted against their conscience, allowed sin to rule in them, and thus have grieved and lost the Holy Ghost in them, they need not be rebaptized, but must be converted again, as has been sufficiently said before. (SD 2:69)

If Baptism always remains, what is the role of Baptism in the Christian’s daily life?

But the act or ceremony is this, that we are sunk under the water, which passes over us, and afterwards are drawn out again.  These two parts, to be sunk under the water and drawn out again, signify the power and operation of Baptism, which is nothing else than putting to death the old Adam, and after that the resurrection of the new man, both of which must take place in us all our lives, so that a truly Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, once begun and ever to be continued. For this must be practiced without ceasing, that we ever keep purging away whatever is of the old Adam, and that that which belongs to the new man come forth.  (LC 4:65)


Should children be baptized?

Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God’s grace. (AC 9:1-2)

Of the baptism of children we hold that children ought to be baptized. For they belong to the promised redemption made through Christ, and the Church should administer it [Baptism and the announcement of that promise] to them. (SA 5:4)

Does this mean that children are part of the command to baptize all nations?

For it is very certain that the promise of salvation pertains also to little children [that the divine promises of grace and of the Holy Ghost belong not alone to the old, but also to children]. It does not, however, pertain to those who are outside of Christ’s Church, where there is neither Word nor Sacraments, because the kingdom of Christ exists only with the Word and Sacraments. Therefore it is necessary to baptize little children, that the promise of salvation may be applied to them, according to Christ’s command, Matt. 28, 19: Baptize all nations. Just as here salvation is offered to all, so Baptism is offered to all, to men, women, children, infants. It clearly follows, therefore, that infants are to be baptized, because with Baptism salvation [the universal grace and treasure of the Gospel] is offered. (AAC 9:2)

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”  (Acts 2:36-39, italics added for emphasis) 

Does this mean that children are sinners in need of God’s grace?

It is further taught that since the Fall of Adam all men who are naturally born are conceived and born in sin, i.e., that they all, from their mother’s womb, are full of evil desire and inclination, and can have by nature no true fear of God, no true faith in God. This passage testifies that we deny to those propagated according to carnal nature not

only the acts, but also the power or gifts of producing fear and trust in God. (AAC 2:2-3)

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.  (Romans 5:12)

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  (Ephesians 2:3)

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.  (Psalm 55:5)

Can infants have faith to receive the gifts offered in Baptism?

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them.  And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  (Matthew 18:1-6, italics for emphasis)

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.  (Psalm 8:2)

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.  “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ” ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” (Matthew 21:14-16) 

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. (Psalm 22:9-10)

We bring the child in the conviction and hope that it believes, and we pray that God may grant it faith; but we do not baptize it upon that, but solely upon the command of God.  (LC 4:57)

Are there any other scriptural indications that infants should be baptized?

– New Testament Baptism corresponds to Old Testament circumcision

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  (Colossians 2:9-15)

– Entire houses were baptized, so it is likely that infants were baptized in these incidents.

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.  (Acts 16:13-15, italics added for emphasis)

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family. (Acts 16:29-34, italics added for emphasis)

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.  (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)  (1 Corinthians 1:13-16, italics added for emphasis)

– Jesus urges infants to be brought to him.  We need to receive the kingdom of God like a little child. 

People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (Luke 18:15-17)

Is there any visible confirmation that God approves of baptizing infants?

That the Baptism of infants is pleasing to Christ is sufficiently proved from His own work, namely, that God sanctifies many of them who have been thus baptized, and has given them the Holy Ghost; and that there are yet many even to-day in whom we perceive that they have the Holy Ghost both because of their doctrine and life; as it is also given to us by the grace of God that we can explain the Scriptures and come to the knowledge of Christ, which is impossible without the Holy Ghost.  But if God did not accept the baptism of infants, He would not give the Holy Ghost nor any of His gifts to any of them; in short, during this long time unto this day no man upon earth could have been a Christian. Now, since God confirms Baptism by the gifts of His Holy Ghost, as is plainly perceptible in some of the church fathers, as St. Bernard, Gerson, John Hus, and others, who were baptized in infancy, and since the holy Christian Church cannot perish until the end of the world, they must acknowledge that such infant baptism is pleasing to God. For He can never be opposed to Himself, or support falsehood and wickedness, or for its promotion impart His grace and Spirit.This is indeed the best and strongest proof for the simple-minded and unlearned. For they shall not take from us or overthrow this article: I believe a holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.  (LC 4:49-51)


Concluding Summary

  • Baptism is a sacrament that is the Word of God is brought to water.
  • Baptism is a means of grace that is the Holy Spirit works faith through Baptism.
  • Baptism was instituted and commanded by Jesus.
  • Baptism is not our work, but it is God’s work in bringing us into a right relationship with Him.
  • Baptism rescues us from sin, death, and the devil. 
  • These benefits of Baptism are received through faith, which is not our work but a gift from God. 
  • Our faith does not validate Baptism, but solely receives it. 
  • Loss of faith or the lack of faith at the time of receiving Baptism does not warrant a second baptism.  Baptism is always valid on account of God’s Word and not our faith.
  • Infants are a part of the command: “Baptize all nations”.
  • Infants are sinners and in need of the grace offered through Baptism.
  • Infants can have true faith in order to receive the benefits of Baptism.
  • Baptism’s correspondence with circumcision, the baptizing of entire households, and Jesus’ urging for the little children to be brought to Him are also scriptural supports for baptizing infants. 
  • God confirms his approval of infant Baptism by granting many of them the Holy Spirit and faith. 

From Scripture Alone

During the 2021-2022 school year, the Exploring the Faith Class at Oak Road has been looking at various teachings of Christianity to see where these teachings are revealed in Scripture (the Bible). It is our goal to believe, teach, and confess what is found in Scripture alone. Many of us simply believe Christian doctrine from what our church has taught us, but we cannot necessarily show from Scripture alone what we believe concerning these doctrines. Through this process, we might find that what we have believed isn’t always in alignment with God’s Word. It might also become clear that what others believe is not in agreement with Scripture. In these instances, we certainly want to pray and ensure that we are understanding Scripture correctly and seek to correct any error in our confession. As a class, what we have seen through this series is that one belief connects to another belief which connects to another belief. When we are in error with one teaching we will find ourselves in error with another teaching. We have also seen how the connection of these teachings ultimately impacts our understanding of salvation! Just as our understanding of who God is, what he expects of us, and what he has done for us should come from Scripture alone, as Scripture is the very Words of God to us, it is important that we look to the work of God alone for our salvation since that is what Scripture reveals to us – that God alone saves us from our sins!

How Has God Revealed Himself To Us?

God’s Word

Reading God’s Word

The Triune Lord




The Person of Jesus of Nazareth

The Work of Jesus of Nazareth

Law and Gospel

Justification and Sanctification

We are Saved by Grace Through Faith – Conversion


Baptism in the Holy Spirit


More teachings from Scripture to come… Bookmark and save this page.

Justification and Sanctification – From Scripture

Justification and Sanctification

From The Book of Concord: The Lutheran Confessions, The Smalcald Articles Part 2, Article 1:

Article 1: The First and Chief Article

“That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification, Rom. 4:25.

2 And He alone is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world, John 1:29; and God has laid upon Him the iniquities of us all, Is. 53:6.

3 Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit [freely, and without their own works or merits] by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood, Rom. 3:23f

4 Now, since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us as St. Paul says, Rom. 3:28: For we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law. Likewise 3:26: That He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Christ.

5 Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink to ruin. For there is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4:12. And with His stripes we are healed, Is. 53:5. And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practice in opposition to the Pope, the devil, and the [whole] world. Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us.”

Justification Definitions

Justification – God declares sinners to be just (righteous) for Christ’s sake.  He imputes (credits) our sins to Christ and credits Christ’s righteousness to us. 

Objective Justification (AKA Universal Atonement) – Christ’s work of reconciliation in which he justified the entire world by his death and resurrection.  Objective justification focuses on the extent of Christ’s saving work. 

Limited Atonement – John Calvin taught that Christ’s saving work on the cross only atoned for the sins of the Elect.  In short, Jesus didn’t die for everyone.  Lutherans reject this doctrine, because it is not what Scripture teaches. 

Subjective Justification – The application of Christ’s work of justification of the whole world to an individual person.  A person who is subjectively justified receives the benefits that Christ won in objective justification. 

The Essential Components of Justification

Ephesians 2:8-10 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  Ant this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” 

1. By Grace
2. Through Faith
3. The Object of this Saving Faith is Christ (Galatians 2:16)
4. Apart from Your Works


The word sanctification comes from two Latin words, sanctus (holy) and facere (to make). 

The work of the Holy Spirit of making people holy.  In its wide sense, sanctification includes everything God does for our salvation and preservation, including the work of justification and conversion.  In its proper sense, sanctification refers to the inward, spiritual transformation of a believer that is accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit. 

The Proper Distinction Between Justification and Sanctification

Justification is instantaneous at the moment of faith/conversion. 
Justification is a declaration that a sinner is holy. 

Sanctification is a process that starts at the moment of faith/conversion. 
Sanctification is a life-long process of being transformed into the image of Christ. 
Sanctification is never complete in this life. 

A person’s justification must not be judged by that person’s process in sanctification!!!

Examples of Christians (in error) mixing justification and sanctification.

From Catechism of the Catholic Church – Part 3, Chapter 3, Article 2 In Brief
2019 “Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man.”

2027 “No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.”

Kevin DeYoung wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition entitled, “How Do I Know That I’m A Christian?”  He gave three signs that a person can use to have confidence that he or she is saved:

1. The first sign is theological. You should have confidence if you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God. 2.  The second sign is moral. You should have confidence if you live a righteous life. 3.  The third sign is social. You should have confidence if you love other Christians.