You are Here - Follow Jesus and receive the blessing
The Blessing of Baptism
Shoot B Ball - Over the years I’ve had people ask me some interesting questions about this church or what WE believe about God. But one of the funniest questions was at a wedding when a man leaned into me and asked, “Do you dunk?” I’m thinking, do you mean a basketball or a donut so I ask, “come again?” He asked again, “Do you dunk – you know…?” I said – do we baptize? Oh yes – we do indeed baptize. Not like this. (Baptism leap clip) OR THIS (Greatest slide stunt ever clip) but yes we baptize at Westerville Christian. And here’s why… Turn in your Bibles today to Ephesians chapter 4. If you do not have a Bible raise your hand real high and a super nice person will bring you one! Last week we began a new series called “You are Here!” I love maps like this. (IMAGE) This is actually a map of Case Western Reserve University located in Cleveland. The goal of any “You Are Here” map is to pinpoint where you are so you can determine where you want to go! Now here we are today. All of us are sinners, but some are forgiven sinners – it just depends on what you’ve decided about Jesus. Is Jesus the Son of the Living God whose shed blood has forgiven you all your sins? OR are you still searching for that someone or something that will help you make sense of this thing we call life? I have personally decided that Jesus is who he says he is and because of that decision I’ve received blessing. And blessing is “God’s tangible touch on your life!”[i] Speaking of blessing – Paul writes in Ephesians 4 that the church (which is the living, breathing body of Christ) is a blessing to the world. A healthy church helps people see Jesus. An unhealthy church creates barriers preventing people from seeing Jesus! One of those barriers is that we just don’t get along! We are not unified – we might say we love God but that’s not evident because we don’t love each other. So Paul does this wonderful HS driven thing – he shows us what we have in common. What unifies us rather than what divides us! Look at God’s word through Paul’s heart and pen. Read Ephesians 4:1a. I confess to you – I don’t like that. I think it’s completely unfair that a man gives his life to God and then experiences suffering. But Paul knew what Jesus said. In Galatians 1:12 Paul says he received revelation from Jesus. Part of that revelation had to be Jesus’ words in Luke 9 where Jesus says, “Lose your life and you’ll save it.” Make your life my life and when suffering comes you’ll be able to endure it – you’ll be able to recognize God’s tangible touch on your life. Paul writes – read Ephesians 4:1-3. In verse 4 Paul starts three sets of three first referencing the Spirit, then the Son and then the Father! Verse 4 - (One body – church) (one Spirit – the Holy Spirit of God) (One hope – that one day we too will see Jesus and be like him – that is sporting a resurrected body) Verse 5 - (One Lord – who would that be?) (One faith – faith is taking God as his word and includes knowledge, trust and action.”[ii]) (One baptism) Put those three together and the verse literally says, “One Lord in whom we all believe and in whose name we are baptized.”[iii] Verse 6 – (One God) Now – please go back to verse 5 – six words - one Lord, one faith, one baptism… Paul wants us to be reminded of what we have in common. Of what unifies us. That baptism was never meant to pull the church apart. It was meant to pull the church together. Just like last week, I will ask you again. Do you want to receive blessing in your life – God’s tangible touch? Then be baptized! And when I read the Bible I find allot of references to baptism. These references all create in my simple mind two questions? What & why? What is baptism? Why be baptized? What in the world is baptism? Don’t make it hard – let’s use Paul’s word in Ephesians 4:5. Using resources like www.e-sword.net you will see this word for baptism - Βάπτισμα – baptisma. “Baptisma” and “baptizo” all come from the word “bapto” which means immersion or submersion. The word means to dip, dunk or immerse which is why that man asked me, “Do you guys dunk here? Yes, emphatically we dunk basketballs, donuts and people here at Westerville Christian! Thanks to Dan Rasar we have a sprinkler system in our building in case of a fire, but we don’t sprinkle people here with water because that’s not what the word means! There is astonishing freedom when you just do what the Bible says! In my opinion that question – “what is baptism” is much easier than why be baptized. And here’s why! Over the years some people have created a casual opinion of baptism while others have made it extreme. Neither of those views are healthy. Baptism has to be something more than just “oh I’ll get around to doing that someday.” But baptism can’t also be seen as the ultimate end goal. If I can just get my kids baptized – if I just get wet that’s all I have to do. Once I’m baptized I can live my life my way and God will just have to be good with that! NO – he’s not good with that! I think way too many of us just don’t realize what kind of trouble sin has created in our lives. I love church marquee signs. I’m not sure what people are thinking sometimes, but many are just plain funny. One sign said - "Have trouble sleeping? We have sermons--come hear one!" "God so loved the world that He did not send a committee."
That’s a good sign. That’s an even better message. God sent one – his name is Jesus. Jesus gave his one life – all his blood, sweat and tears so we might be saved. Being saved resolves our two-fold problem. Guilt and the nasty desire to sin![iv] Sin can make people physically sick, but there’s no doubt sin makes all of us spiritually sick! What is a person to do? Do you remember Paul’s words – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; - “One Lord in whom we all believe and in whose name we are baptized?”[v]
The answer is always Jesus. And the Bible outlines the steps a person takes if they want to be saved through Jesus! It’s called conversion. “Well, Greg, I already know that. It’s just faith! Not according to the Bible. It’s just grace. Not according to the Bible. It’s just baptism – not according to the Bible. Everything in this world involves steps – being an athlete, getting married, finding a job – but not salvation – salvation is this mystical thing that just happens – you’re not sure when or where or how – it just happens. Not according to the Bible. The Bible shows us that to resolve our guilt problem and our constant desire to sin problem – we need to hear the word of God and when you do the word creates faith. Faith is taking God at his word. His word says grace is a gift. Grace saves us. In response to this gift. We repent. We profess with our mouth that Jesus is the Son of the living God and we choose to be baptized. Faith alone does not save you and baptism alone does not save you. This whole process called conversion saves us all! Whoa – whoa – whoa, Greg! Back up the truck. Did you just include baptism in the salvation process? Well, that’s not right. For instance what about the thief on the cross in Luke 23? Turn to Luke 23:39 (Read 39-43) This is your classic death bed confession. His death bed happens to be a cross. The promise Jesus makes to him is that he will be with him soon. Paradise is a place of beauty. Heaven is being in the presence of Jesus and certainly heaven must be beautiful. I have no doubt this man went to be with Jesus yet he wasn’t baptized. Why? Because he was living during the Old covenant. Can I ask something? Did Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Daniel all go to heaven? YEP! Absolutely. Were they baptized? Nope. They did not need to be because they were operating under a different covenant. Howard Silverman – my Messianic Jewish friend researched eight Biblical covenants – covenants at Eden, with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses or Mosaic, a Land, Davidic and the New Covenant. There are times in this world when your whole world changes in an instant – the day you are married, the moment a child is born – the nanosecond when someone leaves this world and the day Jesus rose from the dead. The day Jesus beat death the world went from old to new. Guess which Psalm is the most requested Psalm at funerals? The 23rd Psalm. It’s known as the death Psalm. It’s not. It’s a song of promise. A little girl asked her father, "Daddy? Do all fairy tales begin with 'Once upon a time'?" He replied, "No, a whole series of fairy tales begins with 'If elected I promise...'" Some people do not keep their promises – God always keeps his! The promise of the Old Covenant was you stay faithful to God and you are saved – they looked to the Messiah who was coming. The promise of the New Covenant is stay faithful to Jesus and you are saved. We look to the Messiah who already came. Consider Luke 23 again! Luke 24, Acts 1 to Acts 2. The HS blows in on the church. Peter preaches a sermon he’s not equipped to preach. Peter makes it clear. You Jews killed Jesus, but God raised Jesus from the dead. In my book he’s both Lord and Christ. Peter responds in verse 38. Here’s the answer to our two fold problem and the answer to our question why be baptized? When we repent and are baptized our guilt is removed forever because we’ve been forgiven – forgiveness is like a Tide stain stick. Forgiveness removes the stain of guilt from our life. But not only that. We receive another gift – the Spirit of God himself – the Holy Spirit is the only power strong enough to conquer our sin sickness. The Bible says in Matthew 28, and all throughout Acts, Romans 6, Colossians 2 and Ephesians 4 that baptism is more than just getting wet it’s an act of faith! I love this little yellow book. The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. The book was written with the premise: “You just never know.” How to deal with a charging bull? #1) Do not antagonize the bull. #2) Look around for safe haven. #3) If safe haven is not available remove your shirt. #4) If the bull charges remain still and then throw your shirt away from you.”[vi] We play worst case scenario with baptism. Well, I don’t know Greg – what happens if I get hit by a bus on the way to be baptized? Are you kidding me? Has that honestly ever happened to anyone? What happens if there isn’t enough water? (Zim insert) We have plenty of water here!
I was sitting a traffic light in Sunbury. I thought I saw my neighbor Dawn Palmer. So I start waving as big as you please, but she apparently does not see me. My light turns green so I now drive right past her waving big time again only to notice – it wasn’t Dawn. I have no idea who this woman is. This lady looked like Dawn and she’s like – who are you? Does God know you today? Are you his child? Children of God are known by their actions: They stop sinning. They love each other. They believe in Jesus. They love God by keeping his commands.[vii] What is baptism? It’s a command, but more than that what is baptism? It’s a whopping big time blessing from God. If you have not been baptized – c’mon – you’re here today. Come and receive the blessing!
[i] Hugh Halter, The Tangible Kingdom Seminar, September 16, 2010
[ii] Ken Boa, Conformed to His Image, 260
[iii] Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11, Ephesians, 56
[iv] Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once For All, 360-361
[v] Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11, Ephesians, 56
[vi] The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, 64
[vii] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 23