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2008-05-11_Make Disciples - Part 3 - The Visual Gospel_Matthew 28.19-20_SL

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The Visual Gospel

Make Disciples: Part 3   |   Shaun LePage   |   May 11, 2008


The Visual Gospel

Make Disciples: Part 3   |   Shaun LePage   |   May 11, 2008

I.       Introduction

A.    Symbolism is all around us; strong emotions—Why? Communicates a message; exs:  swastika, Confederate Flag, Cross

B.    CPS: Baptism is a powerful symbol; exs: 12/30/07 Malabar, India, house-church demolished after word leaked out they had baptized 8 children and 6 adults; 1/25 Bangladesh, muslims attempted to burn 70-yr-old woman planning to be baptized; 4/22 Pakistani girl in England “Sophia” being baptized, mother tried to pull her out of water saying “the punishment is death”

C.    “Baptizing” was commanded by Jesus in the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20); been controversial ever since. Jesus left, disciples argued? Only partly joking—1 Cor 1:10-17

D.    Disagreements center around 3 questions: Why, how and whom? Silly religious disputes? Often. But, Jesus commanded baptism in the Great Commission! How we answer 3 questions+1 other directly related to how well we will fulfill the Great Commission

II.     Body—4 Questions

A.    Why should we baptize? If we get the “why” right, everything else falls in place.

1.     It was the command of Jesus. (Mt 28:19) Almost all that needs to be said. Why in GC? Later—But first “why” is simply: Jesus commanded it; Big deal, reason enough.

2.     It was the practice of the early church. Ac (2:41, 8:12, 18:8, 19:1-7, etc.)—early church took Jesus’ command literally—physical baptism. Holy Spirit and water.

3.     It was the assumption of the New Testament. Writers of NT took for granted that all believers had been baptized (e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:13-17; Galatians 3:27).

4.     Perhaps most important to “why?” is to understand the meaning—3 main views

a)     Some say: Necessary for salvation; few verses seem to, but not after close exam.

(1)  Ex: Mk 16:16: 1st half seems to say yes; 2nd half does not mention baptism.

(2)  Ex: Ac 2:37,38: baptism in name of Jesus necessary to receive forgiveness? Context (Acts & NT), early church did not teach baptism imparted salvation, but at the same time did not teach baptism was optional; Peter’s next sermon Ac 3:17-20—no mention of baptism.

(3)  So, few passages confusing, but NT is clear: salvation by faith alone; do not stand in judgment of any person, but we must judge teaching and doctrine, comparing it to Scripture, to see whether it is true. This must be rejected—teaches salvation is by works; must be condemned as false and destructive.

b)     Some say: Substitute for circumcision; circumcision→Abrahamic, baptism→New

(1)  This is why those who hold this view of baptism baptize infants.

(2)  Rom 2:29: NT teaches “that circumcision is to be replaced, not by another external act (e.g., baptism), but by an internal act of the heart. Paul points out that Old Testament circumcision was an outward formality denoting Jewishness, but the true Jew is one who is a Jew inwardly” (Erickson, p.1100).

(3)  Not necessarily gospel of works, but confuses, misinterpretation to be rejected.

c)     Our view: outward symbol of inner reality; It is the demonstration of our faith. The Visual Gospel

(1)  Rom 6:1-11 (1) question: Continue in sin to get more of God’s grace? (2) response: Paul condemned; Don’t you understand symbolism of baptism? (3-5) illustration: baptized into His death, also in likeness of His resurrection! the reality water baptism pictures; immersing symbolizes spiritual burial; bringing a person up out of the water symbolizes our spiritual resurrection; (11) exhortation: answers question of v.1. Continue in sin? No! “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive in Christ Jesus.” When baptized declare to witnesses now dead to sin because of death of Christ; brought out of water, declaring to witnesses you are alive in Christ because of His resurrection.

(2)  The meaning of baptism helps us to answer “why?” To praise! To declare publicly what God has done for you is “praise.” Praise is bragging on God. Baptism is an act of praise for what Jesus has done—a demonstration of faith.

(3)  Baptism of King Aengus (Ireland) by St. Patrick in fifth century. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff, stabbed king’s foot. After, Patrick saw blood, begged king’s forgiveness. “Why did you suffer this pain in silence?” Patrick asked. “I thought it was part of the ritual.” (Knowing the Face of God, Tim Stafford, p. 121ff)

(4)  Jesus shed His blood so our blood would not be spilled; died for us so we could live. Baptism is a demonstration of our faith in what Christ did for us.

B.    How should we baptize?

1.     The “why” (meaning) dictates the how; pictures death, burial resurrection of Christ. Immersion is the most effective way to communicate the meaning behind baptism; Also, “baptize” is a transliteration of Greek “baptizo”; means “immerse or dip”.

a)     Every NT instance of baptism allows for immersion; exs: Mt 3:16, Acts 8:38-9

b)     Good Greek word for “sprinkle”, but it is never used in connection with baptism.

c)     The early church immersed. 3rd century first record of baptism by other method.

d)     How? We should immerse; not legalistic (piranha infested waters), but if physically able, enough water, break through ice, why not demonstrate our faith?

2.     One other point—“in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

a)     “Name” is singular; One God who exists eternally in three Persons; doctrinal statement unique to Christianity; Ground new disciples theologically.

b)     Constable: “Jesus placed Himself on a level with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The early Christians evidently did not understand the words ‘in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’ as a baptismal formula that they needed to use whenever they baptized someone (cf. Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; Rom. 6:3). Jesus apparently meant that His disciples were to connect others with the triune God of the Bible in baptism.”

c)     Formula OK, but original point much bigger—to connect “in the name…”!

C.    Whom should we baptize? We hold to “believer’s baptism.”

1.     Scripture clear: believers; personal, conscious faith in Christ prerequisite to baptism.

2.     All NT persons identified by name as having been baptized were adults

3.     Don’t condemn those who baptize infants, but they are confusing the issue; Some admit it is a baby dedication—wonderful! Why sprinkle water, a) creating confusion over what baptism is and b) making the child madder than a hornet?

4.     We choose to dedicate children through simple prayer—much as Jesus apparently did.

5.     We ask, “Are you trusting in Christ and Christ alone for salvation?” If he/she can answer, “Yes!” (known language, sign-language, nod), he or she should be baptized.

D.    Why is it part of the Great Commission?

1.     Answer: Baptism represents assimilation. More than just a one-time photo-op ritual; a transition—a pivot from one direction to an entirely new direction; represents responsibility of disciple-makers (i.e., The Church) make sure a believer gets off to a good start—out of the water, hit ground running as a disciple—not just wet Christian; beginning of a life-long journey of taking up cross daily and following Christ.

2.     Church membership is good “2nd Baptism”—identification with God’s people

3.     The goal of the church is to make mature disciples (next week).

III.   Closing: 3 different categories of people—do some self-evaluation (back of handout)

A.    Have you never been baptized? believe! the point! gives baptism its meaning—nothing but a brief dip in the pond if you don’t believe; trust in Christ, then be baptized

B.    Have you believed but never been baptized? Be baptized! Trusting in Christ alone for salvation? I say with Peter: “Be baptized!”; my personal story: baptized as an infant,  believer at 19—5 years later baptized (immersed) as demonstration of my faith; Perhaps, like me, no one ever invited/encouraged you to be baptized; maybe a Christian for many years now, feel time for first act of obedience has passed—just obey, publicly praise Him.

C.    Have you believed and been baptized? Consider yourself alive to God in Christ Jesus! think of your baptism in terms of Great Commission—crossroads; pivot toward new life, Lordship decision, first step being a disciple—taking up your cross daily and following Jesus; pay the high cost of discipleship; recommit yourself to becoming a mature disciple; recommit yourself to God’s people

IV.  Closing Military Honors—Demonstration of Gratitude

A.    Write: “initiate, invest and invite” under “serving” then “to God and His church” under “connecting”

B.    Uncle Frank: Several years ago, my uncle, Frank LePage, died of cancer. He was a highly decorated officer in the Air Force. He received Military Funeral Honors in the Alton National Cemetery in Alton, Illinois. I attended—with my extended family—and I will never forget the experience.

C.    If you have never witnessed Military Funeral Honors, I strongly suggest you take the next opportunity. There is symbolism in abundance. The 21-gun salute, the flag draped over the casket, the jets flying over, the bugler playing taps—all symbols which communicate honor, respect and gratitude.

D.    The Air Force publishes this explanation of military funerals: “Military Funeral Honors (MFH) is the ceremonial paying of respect and the final demonstration of the country’s gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended our Nation…” (Air Force Reserves, http://arpc.afrc.af.mil/xp/MilfunHon.htm)

E.     Just as the honor guard meticulously folded the flag, and in perfect unison fired the 21-gun salute, and beautifully played taps to demonstrate the belief that my uncle’s service to his country was honorable and important, we should carefully and respectfully observe the ordinance of baptism to demonstrate our belief that what Christ has done for us was infinitely honorable and eternally important.

F.     Then we should live lives that demonstrate the reality behind the symbolism. We should take up our cross daily and follow the One who took up a literal cross for us.

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