Common Yet Divine - When ordinary turns extraordinary
Water - a moment! Baptism
I hope you picked up a hand out as you walked into the Family Life Center today. You might have noticed a few changes. For one thing – it’s much more concise. I will forewarn you. This means of communication is going to change again starting next weekend. I won’t tell you what the change will be because I want to surprise you, but I promise the change will be helpful. Over the years a ton of bloopers have appeared in bulletins, newsletters or handouts just like these. Here are some classics: Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands. // Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help. // For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs. // Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get. // At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice. // Potluck supper Sunday at 5pm - prayer and medication to follow. // This evening at 7pm there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin. My goodness. Just what kind of church is that? I think that’s a good question. A question we should answer today! What kind of church is Westerville Christian? Let me begin to unpack that for you. (WEBSITE) WCC has a vision. Our vision is “Changing lives through Jesus Christ one person at a time!” WCC has a mission. Our mission is to Love God - Love People and Make Disciples. We have six core values which direct us as a church: #1: The Bible is our final authority // #2: We are set apart for God’s purposes // #3: We are guided by the Holy Spirit // #4: God answers the prayers of His people // #5: We are members of the Body of Christ serving our community // #6: We give because God gave first. We follow two practices otherwise known as ordinances.[i] Communion & baptism. They are common yet divine. They are ordinary yet extraordinary! Take communion. It’s just food – a meal. A piece of unleavened bread and some juice. We call it the Lord’s Supper. We remember Jesus’ torn body and poured blood every single weekend. And then there’s baptism! It’s common yet divine. It’s just water - sometimes cold sometimes just right! But in that moment something (of God) divine happens! What kind of church is Westerville Christian? We are a Jesus centered/Bible teaching church! The Bible says to baptize and we do just that! But why? Look at this list of 13 scriptures.
Matthew 28: 19-20, Mark 16: 15-16, John 3:3-5, Matthew 3: 13-17, Acts 2:38-39, I Peter 3:21, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:3-4, I Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:26-27, Ephesians 5: 25-27, Colossians 2:11-13, and Titus 3:5. What’s up with these 13? They all discuss baptism. Now who are the main teachers in these 13 verses? SURVEY SAYS! The big three - Jesus, Peter and Paul. We have teaching concerning baptism from Jesus, Peter and Paul. What did they teach? Jesus taught that baptism is a future command of his church. In speaking with Nicodemus he said that baptism is being “born of the spirit.” Matthew 3 records Jesus’ own baptism. Jesus was baptized as an example and to fulfill all righteousness. He was baptized by john the baptizer. John baptized for the forgiveness of sin. Why Jesus then? Because prophets often repented on behave of the sins of the people and not their own. Peter’s words give us one of many examples of conversions. Do you see your Team Haiti Prayer Bookmark on your chair? Mark Stier will be leading a team of 16 to Grand Goave, Haiti from January 17-26. Here’s what will happen. Someone on this team will teach someone about Jesus Christ. Might be a testimony, lesson, sermon or a casual conversation. Just like in Acts some Haitian will hear the message of the gospel and respond to that message by being baptized. All the rest of these passages are from the letters of Paul. “They are statements made primarily to Christians who have already been baptized.” They are meant to increase our understanding and appreciation of baptism. A miracle happened when we went down in the water and came back up! I want us to look at one. Open up your Bibles to Romans 6:1. Do you need a Bible today? Now why is this letter called Romans? Paul is writing to primarily Gentiles living in Rome. He is anticipating seeing them in person, but time is of the essence, so he writes these believers to build up their knowledge, faith and fellowship” in Jesus.[ii] Dr. James Smith sums up Romans: “We are saved by faith, not by the Mosaic Law or good works.”[iii] And baptism is an act of faith! Find Romans 6:1. (Read 1-3 - who were baptized (/the word means to dip repeatedly, to immerse or submerge[iv])/ A family has three boys 11, 9 and 8. All want to be baptized. They talk with their parents. For their age they understand sin! Sin is willful disobedience. We all like Adam & Eve have bitten fruit that was not meant for us to touch! So all three boys want to get their sins washed away. As they make their way into church Mom notices that her 9 year old seems to be a little anxious. She asks him if he’s ok. He replies, "Mom, I want to go first." I want to be baptized first! "Why do you want to first?" "Because I really don't want to be baptized in water that has my brother's sins floating on the top."[v] I promise you! That won’t happen!
Let’s keep reading. Finish 3 & 4. So what’s the miracle of baptism? Read verse 5! We are united with Christ! By united I mean attached, linked together with Jesus in his death and resurrection!
Bryan Donnell, a locksmith from Bend, Oregon, found himself facing an ethical dilemma. Last month he purchased a 1,000-pound safe from Dale Parkinson. Not a problem, except back in 2007 Mr. Parkinson and his wife hid $50,000 into a secret compartment within that very safe. Apparently they forgot about their cash stash until Bryan Donnell opened the safe and found their secret compartment with neat stacks of $100 bills all wrapped in rubber bands. Donnell turned the money over to the family and refused a cash reward. Donnell said, "I have to look at myself in the mirror in the morning”[vi] Now here’s my question? How could someone forget $50,000? Have WE forgotten the life changing implications of our baptism? United in his death! United in his resurrection. We make a promise to God and God makes a promise to us! Take Jesus’ death first! I believe that Jesus died on the cross. It’s a historical event. Dr. David Faust said, “All of history is based on faith.”[vii] GREAT GREG! Fantastic, but what does Jesus’ his death have to do with my Tuesday afternoon struggles or Saturday Night temptations? Is there anyone in this room who struggles with sin? Do you want help? Remember your baptism! Go back to Romans 6:6. The one benefit of death – you cannot sin anymore. Jesus died on the cross. We die to ourselves.
Tell me, what do you think is my greatest temptation? Better question? What do you think was Jesus’ greatest temptation? Isn’t it true for all of us? It’s to be selfish. I will live my life for myself. But the promise we make to God when we’re baptized is – I’ve live my life for you! Soooo.. The next time you’re tempted! Tell Satan – I’ve been baptized. My heart has been cleansed. My sins have been washed away. I don’t belong to you anymore. I’m no longer guilty. I’m no longer condemned. I’m not under your power but God’s very spirit. You don’t know who you’re dealing with here. So you back off.
We make a promise to God (I’ll live for you) and God makes a promise to us! (You’ll live forever!) It gets better. We are united in Jesus’ resurrection. A lady attended our church for quite some time. Her name was Melissa Rone. She woke up on Nov. 12, 2012 thinking it was an ordinary day. She got in her car and was struck and killed by a drunk driver. She woke up on earth only to end up in heaven. Since Jesus rose from the dead we will too! Don’t you want that assurance?
Have you ever heard of a man named Naaman? He was
Commander of the army of the King of Syria. He was brave. God used Naaman to bring victory to the King of Syria and the king was most appreciative. Naaman had one problem though. He was a leper.
On one of his raiding parties he captured an Israelite girl who told Naaman’s wife that a prophet in Israel could heal his diseased skin. Naaman’s wife told him and Naaman told the king. The king said, “Go! Make the journey. I’ll even write you a personal letter vouching for your character. Take with you 750lbs of silver, 150lbs of gold and ten sets of clothing. You might have to give to before you get!
Naaman arrived and gave the king’s letter to the King of Israel who was not happy at all to read it! He tore his robe and said, “Who does this man think I am – God? God is the only one who can heal diseases. Naaman’s king just wants to pick a fight with me!”
Word made it to Elisha that the king was upset, so he told the king, “don’t worry, be happy, just send Naaman to me!” Which the king did. Naaman arrived at Elisha’s house in grand style – chariots and horses. Since Naaman was treated royally he thought Elisha should treat him with pomp and circumstance. But he didn’t. Elisha did not even come out of his house. He sent a messenger to Naaman with guess what - a message. “Go to the river Jordan and dip yourself seven times. And your skin will be restored. You will be clean.”
Naaman was not happy with Elisha’s response. He wanted more. He wanted some flash. Some “shazam.” He wanted hocus pocus - some magic. He wanted Elisha to perform a miracle which would instantly take his leprosy away. But Elisha didn’t. Naaman sulked, “I’m not going to the Jordan – the rivers of Damascus are better than that dirty Jordan River!” So he left in a huff.
But Naaman’s servants were wise and they said to him, “Father, if the prophet told you to do some great thing – wouldn’t you have done it? How much more than if he tells you to do something simple – like wash and be cleansed, why wouldn’t you do it? So Naaman did. He dipped himself seven times in the Jordan River and walked out of the water a changed man!
So what about you? What is preventing you from doing something simple as being baptized? Is it pride? Author John Fischer said, “You go down guilty, but you come up forgiven. You go down dead but come up alive. You go down alone, but come up in the family of God.”[viii] The water is ready! Come! Change happens at baptism. What are the two most common New Year’s Resolutions? Lose weight – save money! [ix] If you really want change – if you want 2013 to be better than 2012. Take seriously your baptism! Be baptized.
[i] Brad Dupray, Christian Standard Interview: Joe Grana, March 1&8, 2009
[ii] James E. Smith, The New Testament Made Simple, 61
[iii] James E. Smith, The New Testament Made Simple, 61
[iv] Logos Bible Software, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Romans 6:3
[v] Good Clean Funnies.com
[vi] PreachingToday.com, News that Illustrates, December 31, 2013
[vii] David Faust, Honest Questions, Honest Answers, 173
[viii] John Fischer, The Big Splash, The Catch email, June 11, 2008