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Baptism, Sign and pledge

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Baptism: Sign & Pledge

 

Reference: Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective    Herald Press, 1995

 

This past week I was talking with a good friend of mine about how excited I was about the upcoming baptism in our church. My friend said, “If you a chance and you don’t forget, encourage the congregation to be thankful about the peace and freedom that we have to be able to celebrate openly as a church.” He continued, “I remember how difficult it was in Russia. You always had to watch your back, and you never knew if someone would squeal on you if you confessed to be a Christian.”

Indeed, we are fortunate for the freedom and the peace in the land. And we need to fear no persecution for the sake of our faith at the moment. But that is something we cannot take for granted. The day may come for us and our descendents as it did for many of our ancestors, that we may be persecuted or ridiculed for our faith. When and if that day comes, may God grant us strength and faithfulness to the commitment that we have made to Christ in our baptism.

1. Acts 2:37-38

37 When the people heard this [Peter’s message], they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 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 New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

 

Today we celebrate baptism, and we have in a sense a wonderful “teachable moment” since  we have our Sunday School students with us as well. We ask, “What do we believe about baptism?”

2. We believe that the Baptism...

n     … of believers with water is a sign of their cleansing from sin.

There is no magic in the water. Rather, the baptism of water is a symbol of coming clean before God and washing our sins in the blood of the lamb.

n     … is a pledge before the church

–  of a believer’s covenant with God

–  to walk in the way of Jesus Christ

–  through the power of the Holy Spirit

 

3. Baptism is ...

n     … a sign of repentance from sins

n     followed by the question “What must we do?”

n     is a free choice of the adult believer

n     … a sign of dying to sin

n     and being born anew in Jesus Christ

 

4. Baptism is...

n     … a Pledge made in the context of the Christian Community

–  a pledge of a believer’s covenant with God

–  to walk in the way of Jesus Christ

–  through the power of the Holy Spirit

n     … a pledge to membership in the community of faith

–  baptism & membership are inseperable

– mutual accountability and responsibility

 

5. We are Baptized into:

n     Christ & His Body by the

–  Water: Sign of cleansing from Sin.

–  Holy Spirit: sign of the renewing and quickening power of God in the believer’s life.

–  Blood: commitment to faithfulness even unto suffering and death.

Today we are here as witnesses to the question that Tammy, Crystal and Eldon have asled: What must we do? And so we say with Peter, “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.

6. “What must we do?”

Christian Baptism is for those who confess their sins, repent, accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, and commit themselves to follow Christ in obedience as members of his body.

As we move towards the baptism ceremony, we want to wait upon the Holy Spirit. We want to sense his moving in our midst and his stirring in our hearts.

Let us Pray

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