I was reading Luther's Larger Catechism, and I came upon the section where he discusses the sacraments. I must confess, as a Baptist with a profound respect for Luther, some of these concepts are very foreign to me.
I remember one part in particular where he wrote that one cannot be saved apart from being baptized.
In the second place, since we know now what Baptism is, and how it is to be regarded, we must also learn why and for what purpose it is instituted; that is, what it profits, gives, and works. And this also we cannot discern better than from the words of Christ above quoted: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. 24] Therefore state it most simply thus, that the power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is this, namely, to save. For no one is baptized in order that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare, that he be saved. 25] But to be saved, we know, is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil, and to enter into the kingdom of Christ, and to live with Him forever.
..and Regarding infants
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.
I also remember reading that it does not matter the worthiness or manner in which the sacraments are given, so long as they are given in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (if I have mis-remembered something please correct me but please do not allow it to serve as a distraction). The important thing was invoking the name of God, whereby the sacraments become efficacious to the point where even an evil "Pastor" would be able to administer the sacraments and it would be effective still.
Hence it is easy to reply to all manner of questions about which men are troubled at the present time, such as this one: Whether even a wicked priest can minister at, and dispense, the Sacrament, and whatever other questions like this there may be. 16] For here we conclude and say: Even though a knave takes or distributes the Sacrament, he receives the true Sacrament, that is, the true body and blood of Christ, just as truly as he who [receives or] administers it in the most worthy manner. For it is not founded upon the holiness of men, but upon the Word of God.
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.
It seemed as though Luther's "faith alone" was not in the work of Christ, but rather the sacraments, and the work of Christ was the means whereby the sacraments derive their qualification for being "made effectual" by the name of God.
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. Let this be the first part, regarding the essence and dignity of the holy Sacrament...
...Comprehend the difference, then, that Baptism is quite another thing than all other water; not on account of the natural quality but because something more noble is here added; for God Himself stakes His honor, His power and might on it. Therefore it is not only natural water, but a divine, heavenly, holy, and blessed water, and in whatever other terms we can praise it,-all on account of the Word, which is a heavenly, holy Word, that no one can sufficiently extol, for it has, and is able to do, all that God is and can do [since it has all the virtue and power of God comprised in it]. 18] Hence also it derives its essence as a Sacrament, as St. Augustine also taught: Accedat verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum. That is, when the Word is joined to the element or natural substance, it becomes a Sacrament, that is, a holy and divine matter and sign.
I don't know how to ask the questions in my mind. I want to understand this concept, but I just cannot fathom it right now because it is so radically different to my own viewpoint. Could someone provide a broad overview of this soteriology and perhaps link to the pertinent parts of the confessions Lutherans hold (Formula of Concord, for instance)? I will read the confessions more in depth at a later time, but for now I am at a very beginning point in studying Lutheran theology.
My intent is to learn, not to offend. If I have stated something so incorrect that it could be an insult, it is because of my ignorance of the topic. Please forgive me in advance. All of the above quotes came from Luther's Larger Catechism, http://bookofconcord.org/lc-6-baptism.php