The PRV family recently went up into the mountains for a service in an old abandoned church building, potluck picnic and a baptism. The entire event proved to be a powerful encounter with the Living God – so much so that everyone who was there left knowing that Jesus cared about them.
Sunday also was day that we remembered why we baptize people for as I mentioned earlier, baptisms sometimes become so common place in the Christian church that we forget its significance.
Below is my sermon notes from that day (the audio is not available due to the lack of electricity at the Pinehurst church).
It is interesting to me that I delayed this event so much this summer…yes, I delayed it… you all might not have known that…but when folks first came to me asking if we were going to hold a baptism this year, I hemmed and hauled… not because of the people getting baptized!!!
I delayed because I wasn’t sure if I was ready.
One of the dangers of growing up in the church is that you forget why you do certain things. They become routine… they cease to be special and become ‘common’…
This is what baptism became to me… it lost its meaning…it lost its purpose…. Why get wet? Just follow Jesus… Why hold a baptism when folks just need to go out and do the things of Jesus?
Yet you all – the church – kept on pushing me…challenging me…asking for a baptism… so I finally said ‘yes’.
What is that we are learning? When God speaks you have a crisis of faith that leads to action… well, I had a crisis of faith…. And as the saying goes, you can’t stay the same and go with God…
So this week I have been praying and asking questions about baptism…it started in the Sawtooths with my brother and lasted until last night when the pieces came together…
This is why we are taking a break from our journey through the Bible today…for I want to talk about baptism. I want to share with you the excitement I found as I re-questioned this ancient sacrament of the church.
But before I do so, I would like to ask you all the same question I have been wrestling with: What does baptism mean to you? Why do we do it?
Let us take five minutes and answer this question – turn to your neighbor, those beside you or behind you…maybe in front….and ask them about baptism….
*give folks 5 minutes*
Ok… could we get a few folks to stand up and tell us their answers to these two questions?
*have 2 or 3 folks stand up and respond*
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. –Romans 6:1-14
• Jesus went into the tomb dead and came out alive – having defeated death
o When we go into the waters we join our lives with Jesus
o Our old self dies…. We go into the water one way and come out different
– Sin and evil no longer has mastery over us
– Baptism is more than just a symbol – it is an event
• A powerful event that cares a HUGE meaning
• Spiritual, emotional, physically….
• Tebah – The Hebrew word used for Noah’s ark and the basket that held Moses. It means “a chest, an ark, wooden box, a tomb”
o A tomb…. The waters that were used in destruction – used to wipe the world clean during Noah’s time or to kill the baby boys when Moses was born – was also used to protect God’s people.
o Noah and his family went into the waters one way and came out different – Moses went in as a baby Israelite doomed for death and came out the son of the daughter of Pharaoh.
John the Baptist
o Gentile converts to Judaism had to be immersed in water before being accepted
– They had to die to their old lives
• Old gods
• Old idols
– They had to repeal and renounce these
• So do we..
• We need to publically and vocally renounce the gods we used to serve and pledge allegiance to Jesus and only Jesus
– John the Baptist called the Jews to be baptized
• to be excommunicated and then brought back into the people of God
• a really radical concept!
– Jesus stood with the sinners and Gentiles when He asked to be baptized
• He didn’t have to…
• But He stood with us
• Holy Spirit
o When Jesus came out of the waters, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him
o As the Second Person of the Triune God, Jesus had always known the presence of the Holy Spirit
– He conceived by the Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary
– But now he experience the power of the Spirit
– The new age of the Kingdom had come – the promises of God to unleash His spirit into the hearts of the people had started.
o Just like we follow Jesus into the waters of baptism to signify the death of our old lives and our resurrection to the new, we also must follow His baptism in the Spirit
– What happened to Him must happen to us
– We need not only God’s presence but His power to go into all the world sharing Jesus with everyone we met
o As Jesus stood dripping wet in the Jordon, the Father spoke:
o “You are my son, whom I love” Mark 1:11
– Reference to Psalm 2 in which God promised to place His Son, the anointed King, on Mount Zion to rule the nations
• Jesus was the final King – the final David – who would usher in the End Time – the Kingdom of God into this present evil age
– “You are my son, whom I love”
• The Father always loves the son
• He loves Him for who He is, not for what He does
• As we start our journey with God – as we are baptized – know that God loves us unconditionally
• He speaks over us, “You are my son, you are my daughter, whom I love”
o We do nothing…
o We just are
o “With you I am well pleased” Mark 1:11
– Reference to Isaiah 42 – the first of a series of prophecies that climas in Isaiah 53 where the servant of the Lord sacrifices himself for the sins of the world.
• Jesus was to be Davidic Warrior-King AND the Suffering Servant
• God commissions the Son not only to overturn Satan’s kingdom but also to become the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
– The Father declared His unconditional love and approval for the Son
• He approved of Jesus identifying with our sins in John’s baptism
• God approves of us
o He is well pleased with us
o He embraces us… we are approved
• It is hard for us to accept this…
o Our world is filled with disapproval
o We may think that we are inadequate, sick, overweight, slow, whatever…
• All this pales in comparison with God’s love and approval
o Jesus has come for us
o We can begin to truly live new lives
o Right after Jesus’ baptism the Spirit lead Him into the wilderness
– Just like Israel spend 40 years in the wilderness in the first Exodus
– Jesus would spend 40 days in the wilderness in the second Exodus
– Both had temptation
o Right after the breakthrough of Jesus’ baptism with the power of the Spirit and the confirmation of the Father’s approval
– He had to battle Satan’s seductive alternatives
– Defeated it by the Word of God – hanging on to what God says
– Don’t be afraid if Satan tries to tempt you at your weakest points
– 1 Peter 5:8-9
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
o We are in community – grab a friends hands
o Stand firm and fight with the Word of God – the power of the Spirit of God
o Jesus has won
o We have died to our old self and we are no longer bound by that
o We are a new creation