Sermon on 2 Timothy 1:3-14
Title: Washed and disciplined
Theme: Baptism reminds us of the full truth of the human condition.
Goal: to encourage people to consider the full truth of the human condition.
Need: We often ignore the full picture of the human condition for the sentimental untruths.
1. The truth about sin.
2. The truth about God.
3. The truth about life now.
This morning has been one more of those special mornings where we have the opportunity to have a child from our church baptized.
I am a sucker for the sentimental parts of life. Some of us are just wired that way. For some reason. I can’t explain it. Maybe some of you can. Some of us are just soft.
Did anyone here cry at their own wedding? I was bound a determined that I was not going to cry at my wedding. I didn’t even make it until Ang was walking down the aisle. At my wedding, we wanted to have a reminder of the grand parents of ours that had passed away. So we had a candle display on the organ that represented our grandparents that had already passed away. I lit those candles and instantly was crying.
Stop the wedding. Grooms having a moment. It was a touching moment.
Its good to be sentimental from time to time. Its good to think and reflect on the transitions in life. Its good to stop and remember. Its good for us to cry over how life changes so quickly. Sentimental is okay.
But we have to be careful as well. If we let it, we can often allow our sentimentality become our reality. And that just doesn’t work. Sentimentality cannot become our reality.
How do we know if we have fallen into that pit, where our sentimentality trumps our reality? Well we probably will have a head on collision with true reality. I wonder if parents do this pretty quickly. I love that commercial where a seven year old girl is asking her dad for the keys to the car because she has a date with a boy. The dad finally gives the keys over to his seven year old daughter, who suddenly is a 17 year old young lady. Reality hit.
Young Adults have that to. What’s it like to come home from your year at school and find out your parents turned your old bedroom into real guest bedroom. Mom’s and Dad’s are never supposed to change. Reality confronts sentimentality.
Baptism ought to be a moment of confrontation between sentimentality and reality. Wham right here. Did you see it happen? Maybe not. You see when Jesus Christ, the son of the living God came down to earth and gave us the sign of baptism, he did it in such a way that it ought to give us a glimpse at reality again. The action of baptism that we all participated in this morning, if we allow our selves to really think about it might just confront some of our sentimental feelings that aren’t based on the truth.
Baptism reminds us of reality about three things that we are going to stop and look at again this morning. In baptism we are reminded of the reality about sin. In baptism we are reminded about the love of Jesus Christ. And in baptism, we are reminded about the reality living a truly fulfilling life.
The first thing baptism reminds us of is the reality of sin.
How so? We are reminded when a child is brought up here for baptism that it isn’t just adults who participate in this broken reality. Even the littlest ones of the human race are active participants. We are born with a sinful nature.
I was listening to the radio earlier in the week and there was a study done on infants dealing with behavioural problems. Dr. Tremblay set out to see if there is any correlation between childhood violence and a propensity toward violent behaviour as a teen or as an adult. The results of the study were quite interesting. For one the study found that children who are more violent as toddlers are not any more likely to have more violent behaviour as a teen or as an adult.
As a parent I right away thought “There is still hope that I won’t be visiting my children in prison.”
A violent child is no more likely to become a violent adult as one who was less violent.
But the other item that the researchers doing the study highlighted was that children are not born with any sort of sense of innocence as far as their behaviour is concerned. They said that every child has in them the innate sense to be violent and self serving.
Its amazing when science starts pointing out what God has been telling us all along. As children, we are not innocent of bad behaviour. We have the tendancy toward sinful behaviour from our youngest years.
Listen to what the Bible says in Psalm 51. It’s a song where David sees the sinful things he has done and asks for forgiveness. 1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Sinful at birth. Sinful from conception by our parents. That’s the reality that we are reminded of here at baptism. Sin is the condition of humanity today. Sin and rebellion against the ways of God are more natural to us than doing what is right.
That’s the reality that we see what we bring our children up here. Doesn’t that halt some of what we might tend to sentimentally think about a child? Their perfect smooth skin. The smell of their hair. The little bundle of love and joy that they can be for us. But they are not free from the basic human condition. Sin. At conception. The moment life is created for a child. Sin clings.
We bring our children to be baptized because we don’t believe in a magical sort of age where suddenly you have to be baptized. When we experience baptism we stand and have to face the unsentimental truth. Our children are not innocent, but are part of the sinful human condition.
Sin. That’s the reality.
But there is more to the reality. The next point of reality that we are reminded of at baptism is the amazing love of Jesus Christ.
The water of baptism symbolizes what we know happens through the blood of Jesus Christ. It’s a washing away of that sin.
When the apostle Peter preaches in the book of Acts he says to the crowd there. Be baptized for the washing away of your sin. The promise is for you and your children.
The reality is that God hates sin. He can’t stand it. Through the history of the Bible which covers more than 3,000 years God has said that he is going to punish sin. The reality is that in the state we are born in we have no chance at real life. And we sense it pretty clearly when we are living in a way we know we shouldn’t be. We feel unfulfilled. We know we are far from God.
Have you ever noticed that when you enter into a Christian bookstore you can’t help but feel like you have walked into a hallmark store instead. All the trinkets and the nic-nacs and the figurines… The sentimental understanding of God would convince us that God we made God so that we good feel good about ourselves. But the reality is that God hates sin. He abhors it. That’s a great word isn’t it. He abhors it.
But God is not going to abandon us. He says he plans to prosper us. He says he will not forsake us. That’s the reality we are reminded of in Jesus Christ. Christ is the one who gave us the symbol of baptism. The water that dripped down Hayden’s forehead this morning is a reminder that Jesus’ innocent blood was shed so that believers and their entire families can belong with Jesus and have a true father. No dead beat. But a father that would do anything for us.
Isn’t that great then. Baptism makes it all good. And we are all happy because baptism fixes sin and makes us all better. Right?
I sure hope we don’t actually think that way. I promise you that what is in that baptismal font is not secret magic potion. Its not the makes you better than everyone else water. Couple of drops then presto, you are magically going to live a fulfilling life with God for all eternity.
That’s the third part of reality that we need to face up to at baptism. Baptism is not an end. It’s a beginning. When Christ was baptized it wasn’t because he accomplished all that god had sent him to the world to do. When Christ was baptized it was before anyone even knew of this 30 year old Galilean carpenter. The baptism was the beginning of a not so comfortable life. Being ridiculed. Persecuted. Falsely accused. And crucified.
Baptism is the beginning of a journey for each and everyone of us that includes taking the desires of God and accepting them as our own.
We read from the book of II Timothy. Its actually the second of two letters that Paul wrote to his young apprentice named Timothy. It shows us some beautiful things about faith. Paul talks beautifully about faith being passed on from Grandma Lois, to Mother Eunice and on to Timothy. Faith is something taught through the generations. Incredible.
But this faith is not just a generational guarantee. It is something that takes blood sweat and tears. That’s what Jesus had to go through. When Paul talks to Timothy, the pastor of this church, he doesn’t celebrate that he has arrived in the faith. He challenges him.
The reality. You have not arrived. We have not arrived. We have been given the free and undeserved gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. But listen to challenge from verses 6-7. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 
It says go for it! And go for it with power, love and self discipline. Could it be that there is not a single person in this room that those words don’t challenge us to rethink the way we have been living? I doubt there is a person of any age group that.
Melissa and Noah, that study that was done about violence in kids, do you know what conclusions they came to in the study? They concluded that there is no way to truly predict which child will grow up to have violence issues when they are older. But the patterns that they saw were that parents who trained their children how to deal with their anger in the right way had far fewer cases of violent teenagers.
Is it any wonder why the book of proverbs says, “train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not stray from it.”
Real life. Fulfilling life begins with a disciplined life. Parents train your children.
But the reality of what we see in baptism is way way way way bigger than something cutesy that for only parents. Teen agers today: Fan into flame the faith that Christ freely gave you.
College kids: enough being timid about your faith. We haven’t been given a spirit of timidity. We have been timid too long. Live the truth.
Empty nesters, seniors, singles, widows, Children of God whoever you are… you were sinful from the moment you were born. Its reality. Jesus Christ loves you and died to give you a fulfilling life. It’s reality. Because you have been given the spirit of God: CONTINUE EVERY DAY TO TRAIN YOURSELF. BE BETTER THAN YOU EVER WERE BEFORE! LIVE IT NOW!
 The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 2 Ti 1:6-7