Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
Calvinists will shout Sovereign Grace, Sovereign Grace! Lutherans will shout Means of Grace, Means of Grace!
When I was a Pentecostal (and was a credo-baptist), I was often asked by converted folk, "Look if I am saved by faith, why do I get baptized, why is this needed? What is this for"? Good question, no?
Guess what my answer was? I answered - well Jesus said you should be baptized so you should be, besides, baptism is showing your commitment to follow Christ. It is a reflection of what has happened in you as a witness to the outside world. Then we would both walk away, but in my head - a niggling thought would still linger - "yeah, so what if I do not get baptized, since it does not do anything and I am saved by faith, that is it, so what is the baptism for"? Really, the reason I gave those folks were so flimsy justification for baptism.
What non-Lutheran Prots think regarding the Lutheran idea of baptism is that a.) it contradicts sola fide, JBFA. ( so they think), b.) how could God be tied to something, some kind of work (so they think)? They observe baptism and even observe the life of the baptized and it seems nothing happened when that baby was being baptized and furthermore, that adult now lives such a sinner, it is hard to believe something happened back there.
Non-Lutheran Prots who believe in the doctrine of sola fide do not really understand the Lutheran concept of sola fide. Yet, they will understand it, if they take the time to put down their preconceived ideas, brazenly look at the Scripture's text and the Lutheran explanation. I was a non-Lutheran Prot too, so it can be done.
I need to quote Larry again here, his experience is worth studying...
If I might put it in a nutshell the best trick the devil has done is to take the means of grace and gloss them over with a coat of ‘white wash works righteousness’, so that grace now looks like, to many, works righteousness. E.g. Infant baptism is the ultimate view of the distribution of real and true grace to someone who can do nothing but RECEIVE it. The devil being a sly general sees, “Oh they only want grace eh.” So he camouflages infant baptism with the errors of Rome so that it looks like works righteousness and tada the Baptist heresy is born. So that now no one in that theology, baptistic, may take advantage of their baptism as a true means of grace. It’s as if they are poor and starving with no money and all they think they have is this heavy white garden block that is just short of junk that can be thrown out (the works righteousness white wash over infant Baptism). The do not realize that what they have under that false doctrine white wash is the golden treasure from heaven. So that when they suffer from hungering and thirsting for a righteousness that is not their own (am I really saved, reborn, elect), they never go to that ‘white washed heavy block’ to realize God has given them the righteousness. If they could but or if others like Lutherans could be scrap a little of the devil’s white wash off of that heavy block and say, “SEE look GOLD not concrete – you have the wealth of heaven on you in your baptism!”
The same thing applies to the real presence issue regarding the Lord’s Supper. The devil’s white wash under the Mass has caused many, including the brilliance of Zwingli and Calvin and their successive followers to no longer see the true gold from heaven that is the very and true body and blood of Christ.
Having now diverted many Christians from the true means of grace by a ‘white wash’ of works righteousness, he now diverts them to false “means of grace” which are not any such things but truly works righteousness and false hopes. The examples vary from denomination to denomination and from church to church but range from alter calls, rededications, praying the prayer of salvation again and again, rebaptism, not the true body and blood of Christ rituals, and general empty “free style” liturgies. These works righteousnesses are glossed over by the devil with a paint of grace.
So that the real means of grace, the Pure Gospel and the Sacraments according to Christ’s institution are white washed with works righteousness white wash; and false means of grace which are really works righteousness are glossed over with ‘grace colored paint’. So that men avoid true grace and go to false grace which is works righteousness!
The devil ALWAYS inverts the Word of God, nothing new under the sun.