Baptism Devotion and Testimonies - August, 9 2020
Welcome! I am pastor Rob. Today is one my favorite Sunday of the year, Baptism Sunday. We get to celebrate God at work in people’s lives. God is at work. Today, we get to hear it and see it. We have six testimonies of God’s grace, eight including our other site: Converge Community Church.
We believe baptism is important. Before Jesus’ ministry began, he was baptized. One of the last things he said before he left Earth was for his disciples to baptize. The disciples were followers of Jesus. Disciples follow his example and teaching. Disciples still do that today. Baptism is important for God and His people.
WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?
Why? Why does it matter? What is the big deal about baptism?
How many of you have a wallet or a purse? Raise your hands. Great. In it, do you have this, a driver’s license? If you get pulled over driving, you will want to have one of these. And if you are a parent of a teenager, you know the excitement and work of getting one of these to your up-and-coming drivers. This card identifies you as a driver.
Baptism, friends, identifies us as united to Christ in his death and resurrection.
It is like the flag of our fathers planted on Iwo Jima or the Moon saying this rock is mine. I am here. These young men and women are following Jesus by taking a stand today. They have before, but not like this.
Not only is baptism an identification with Christ, but the Bible says it portrays a union with Christ. Christians are united with Him. We have communion with Him.
So, what is that a big deal? Why should we align ourselves with Christ?
Jesus was more than a teacher, prophet, or religious leader. He was and is fully God and fully man. He described himself as the light of the world, the true vine that we must abide in, the bread of life, the door for the sheep, the good shepherd of the sheep, the resurrection, and the life. He said no one comes to God, the Father, but through him. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus was and is the one and only Son of God. He made a way to the Father by giving up his life, and whoever believes in Him might not perish but everlasting life. He calls men and women, boys and girls to believe and demonstrate their faith in following and obeying.
WHO ARE WE?
The Bible teaches that none of us follow or obey perfectly. We move the goalposts, exaggerate, and lie to make ourselves feel better and look better. We make excuses and justify ourselves. However, in the light of a holy mirror, we aren’t as spiritually pretty as we might think. We have lied, cheated, stolen, lusted, slandered, gossipped, swore, hurt, and rebelled against God countless ways consciously and unconsciously. We have sinned against God. We have carried guilt and shame. The Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit, convicts us of our inadequacies.
Why does that matter? Isn’t to err human? Sin destroys friendships, ruins families, and splits communities. Sin pierces hearts, wounds deeply, and murders. Sin tastes sweet but leaves an aftertaste death. Before too long, we find ourselves paying for our mistakes. Things aren’t as bad as they could be, sure. But even our good deeds have a hint of darkness in them. Sin is bad. When it gets really bad, we want justice.
In America, we love justice. We have a justice system that punishes wrong-doing. Yet no court can bring back the dead; no jury can make whole the abused, no judge can right every wrong. One day God will come to dish out ultimate justice. That is a good thing.
How much error will God tolerate? Could we stay standing at that day of reckoning? The Bible teaches Jesus came to make us acceptable in a way that we can’t. We can’t dress ourselves up or stand before the Holy One unveiled. God is perfect and righteous and demands perfection. We can’t meet His demand. But Jesus can and did. He stood in our place. God satisfied His own legal requirement by sending His one and only Son, Jesus 2000 years ago to the Earth to take our place on the cross. That is why He came and died. Someone had to. Jesus let Himself be killed that He might free us from the wrath of His Father. Why? Why did He do it? Because He and the Father loved us.
Isn’t that amazing! That is why baptism matters. Jesus said, if you love me, obey my commandments. He commands baptism. So we obey and follow. He is worthy, even if it is scary to be in front of you all and make this stand. You might not see things that way. Yet, that is what we at this church believe the Bible teaches. That is what you are going to hear today. And that is why I love this Sunday of all Sundays.
I want to show you one of the passages we talked about when doing our short class in Baptism. The passage is from the Apostle Paul wrote about baptism and our lives in God in Romans 6, starting in verse 1. If you have a Bible, would you mind looking that up now? Romans 6. I will be reading from the English Standard Version of the Bible. Romans comes right after the gospels: Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, and then Acts. Romans 6, verse 1.
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united [there is that united word] with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
These individuals are proclaiming; they are spiritually dead to the ruling power sin in their lives and alive to God in Christ Jesus by faith. They want to follow Jesus and obey His teaching. Jesus promised them that He would never leave them or forsake them. They are not alone. He is with his followers today by His Spirit. And they join the multitude who have gone before them in this personal commitment to God throughout the centuries. They are demonstrating outwardly what God has done inwardly. The leaders of the church have interviewed these candidates and know their faith in Christ. They are not perfect; they would never claim that. But they want to follow Jesus and obey. Let’s pray before they give their testimonies.