Seeing God’s Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving week! 

I hope you can see and feel how God is blessing you.  I don’t pray that God “might” bless us or simply thank God for the ways he has already blessed us.  Instead, I’m trying to be watchful for how God is blessing us now.  Because he is.  Always. 

James 1:17 says that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights…” (ESV).  If that’s true (and I believe it is), and if it applies to us (and I’m convinced that it does), then God is blessing us right now as we think and see and breathe.  Sometimes we forget those “little” blessings like thinking, seeing, and breathing.  😉

But there are “big” blessings that we sometimes forget, too.  If we read our bibles we learn stories about how God did amazing things for people like Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Mary and so many others.  We read those life-changing and history-impacting stories and feel left out.  Which is too bad, because those events are part of the fabric of life into which we, too, have been woven by God.  His fingerprints are all over our lives, but sometimes we have to look closely and intently to see them.

So I hope you’ll do that today.  I hope you’ll look closely at your life and see how God has been a blessing to you even if you didn’t notice until now.  Because he has. 

And once we realize that truth, then we begin to learn how to live a life with more joy, more hope, more peace.  Because if God really notices us, then that’s an incredible reason to remember him and give thanks.

I preached about these themes yesterday at the East Point Church of Christ in Wichita, Kansas.  If you’d like to hear that sermon, click here: Seeing God’s Blessings.

Have a great Thanksgiving week.  God bless,

Patrick

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It’s Not the End of the World–just America as we know it

At least, it’s going to feel that way for a lot of us.

Yesterday’s election results were surprising and disappointing to a majority of those who were close observers of the campaigns.  Clearly there are multitudes within the country who don’t pay attention but still vote.  I’m not complaining about that; I’m simply observing the growing trend.  And once things begin to slide downhill, rarely are they stopped, and even more rarely are they returned to a higher position.

For the liberal political agenda, that’s good news.  For the economic and security futures of the country, it’s likely to be bad news.  For Christians, it’s going to be tough.

I’m not predicting that we will lose our right to assemble or worship as we wish.  Those are fabulous blessings protected by the Constitution.  But we’ve long made the mistake of thinking of our Christianity as primarily what we do when we gather together for worship.  Real, living Christianity–serving God by following Jesus–is a way of life.  And our way of life will grow more difficult as our society grows in its unbelief.

Our challenge is going to be similar to that of the first few generations of Christians who found themselves in the vast minority within an empire full of violence, corruption, and rancid immorality.  There is good reason to lament and mourn the death of a culture that once made it comfortable to be a Christian.  But we are not called to be a people of anger, resentment, worry, or surrender.  Scripture calls us to be a people of faith, hope, love, and endurance.

Can God’s people survive in a land of oppression?  Ask Daniel who grew up in Babylon, lived through a night in a den of lions, and was still “greatly loved” by God (Daniel 9:23).  Or ask Joseph whose whole life was turned upside down when he was sold by his brothers into slavery, carried into a pagan land, spend years in prison, but finally was raised to a place of honor by God.  Joseph looked back on all his misfortunes and calamities–as we might define them–as part of God’s good plan to  save many people (Genesis 50:20).  Or ask Naomi who became so heartbroken and despondent that she wanted to be called “Bitter” but later learned that she was not forgotten or forsaken by God (see Ruth 4:14-15).  Or ask Paul.

Paul was willing to give up all the honor and trappings of life lived by the rules of the world in order to be a faithful servant of God.  Even though Paul had experienced countless hardships–far more than almost any of us have every known–he could still say, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).

What we need today is a clearer perspective of who we are, what the future likely holds, and how we prepare to meet it in a way that glorifies God.  Because if we do that–if we glorify God–he will preserve, sustain, and exalt us in his time.  He has made that promise to us.  So the challenge is to continue to find ways to engage a rapidly decaying culture without being overcome by it.

Our youngest generations are the most at risk.  They will not grow up in a country like we, or our parents and grandparents have known.  In some ways that’s a good thing; in other ways, it’s not.  But it will be different, and we who are faithful to God must prepare ourselves and our children to be light in a world of darkness.  To be salt in a culture on the brink of decay.  To be grace and truth in a nation that has been nearly overcome by hatred and lies.

Our task is enormous.  But our God is soooo big…

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Dreaming Again

Do you remember the story of Moses leading God’s people out of Egypt?  Do you remember how he gave them God’s law and became their great leader and helped bring them right to the brink of the Promised Land that they’d prayed for for generations?  Moses allowed himself to be used by God in a way that advanced God’s vision, God’s dream, for his people.  Interestingly, Moses didn’t want to go back to Egypt when God called him from the burning bush (Exodus 3).  He was eighty years old.  Married.  A father.  He was a shepherd, not a great commander of men.  And he had forgotten his dream.  In Acts 7:20-36, we read about how Moses, when he was 40, shared God’s dream.  He wanted to liberate his people from bondage.  He wanted to do something incredible for God and God’s people, but his plan failed, and his dream died.  And it took a lot of prodding from God to convince Moses that he was still useful in God’s mission.

We have had dreams, too, haven’t we?  Haven’t we dreamed of giving our lives to God and serving our neighbors in ways that please the Father?  But since we’re human, our dreams sometimes fail to become reality.  We can’t see the big picture in the same way God can.  Sometimes our timing is wrong or our focus is out-of-focus or God has a different plan for us.  But the worst thing we can do is consider ourselves to be failures and sit out the rest of this race on the sidelines.  God still has plans for us.  God’s dream for us and for all the world is still coming true!

At East Point we’ve started a process that will help us dream again about who we can be as a church and as individual people of faith.  I outlined this process in my sermon two weeks ago, and you can download it from the “sermons” page on this site (or just click here to find it).  It is called “Dreaming Again.”  But even if you’re not a part of the East Point Church of Christ, I hope you’ll remember that God’s plans for the future are really more than dreams.  They are realities that have yet to happen, but they will, because God is God of heaven and earth.  And the beauty of it all is that he wants us to be part of his mission to bring hope, healing, and salvation to the whole world. 

If that stirs your soul and piques your interest but you don’t know how to be part of God’s great work, contact me (patrick@eastpointchurchofchrist.org) and I’ll help you find your place in God’s plans.  God DOES have a plan for you!

God bless,

Patrick

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Transition Time Again

A year and a half ago, my family moved from Searcy, AR, to a new ministry in Wichita, Kansas.  I remember how hard it was to leave a church we loved and a place we’d been comfortable in order to take on a new ministry challenge in an unfamiliar place.  We had all kinds of mixed emotions, but we rested in the faith that God was leading us and would take care of us–just like he always has.  And he did.  And he will.

Now I get to watch a co-worker go through the same kind of thing.  Trevor, our youth minister at East Point, announced that he and his family are moving to Oklahoma to pursue a new path.  My own transition being so fresh, I understand what this must be like for Trevor and his family.  I’m sure they are excited about their new opportunity, but I imagine they are also in some ways hesitant and sad about the changes that transitions bring.  We cannot grow without change, and so growth is often painful for a time.

So, keep Trevor, Brittany, and their children in your prayers.  God has plans for them, as he does for all of us, that we might not even imagine yet.

We’ll miss them because we love them and have been blessed by being church with them.

Also pray for East Point.  We’re preparing to begin a search to find a new man who will come and lead our youth ministry.  We will need wisdom and courage and maybe even patience to find someone who is the perfect mix of youthful energy and wisdom, love for kids and respect for parents, open to God’s new challenges while appreciative of the old paths.  You know, the perfect youth minister who can turn water to wine grape juice and still not stain the youth room carpets…. You know.  That guy.  😉

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Parable of the Rich Fool

The parables of Jesus are tough.  Tough to interpret.  Tougher to apply.  And this Sunday (July 22, 2012) at East Point Church of Christ in Wichita, Kansas, we’ve got a hard one to hear.  It’s the familiar story Jesus tells about a rich farmer who had such a great harvest that he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger barns so that he might live in luxury for many years to come.  Luke records the parable in Luke 12:13-21.

I’ll preach it, but I’m not sure that I want to.  I’m not sure that I’m fit to preach it.  I think about my life and my desires, and I’m afraid Jesus is talking directly to me with this parable.

Am I rich?  Do I accumulate luxuries?  Well, maybe not in comparison to some.  But in comparison to most?  Well, yes, compared to most people in the world I am exceedingly rich.  And to be honest, I’d like to have more.  But this parable warns me that a constant hunger for more can be deadly if, that is, we hunger for the wrong things.

Does this hit home for anyone else?  Anybody else struggle with the desire to always have more?  If so, then go ahead and read Jesus’ teachings for yourself.  Read his parable in Luke 12 and the teachings that follow it.  There’s a lot to digest there.  It gives me a lot to pray about and think about–and to preach about.

If you’re in the Wichita area Sunday morning, I hope you’ll come and worship God with us at East Point as we challenge ourselves to seek his kingdom and his righteousness.  May the Holy Spirit convict us and lead us into real, abundant life.

God bless.  See you Sunday!

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Living Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

Theologian and professor Randy Harris has a new book and film series on the Sermon on the Mount called Living Jesus: How the Greatest Sermon Ever Will Change Your Life for Good.  It’s pretty good.  Now, it can’t match the actual content of Jesus’ sermon.  But then again, what can?  As Randy rightly says in his material, Jesus’ great sermon is the key teaching that directs real Christian living.  Jesus wasn’t sharing ethereal theological concepts so that the crowds would have something to debate over dinner that night.  He wasn’t showing off his unmatched ability to summarize and prioritize the Law.  He was telling us what it looks like to live like God.

If you think that Jesus’ words are impossibly lofty or somehow out-of-touch with the realities of life in an amoral culture, then you don’t yet understand what Jesus is really calling us to through the Sermon on the Mount.  It isn’t simply new thoughts or deeper understanding; it is action.  It is doing.

And it is possible!

Starting tomorrow night at 7:00, we’ll be working through the Sermon on the Mount with the help of Dr. Harris’s materials at the East Point Church of Christ in Wichita.  Our time together can change your life if, that is, you’re willing to be an authentic disciple of Jesus.

I hope you’ll choose to join us!  God bless.

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Lord, if you had been here…

The title of this post comes from the lips of Martha and later from the lips of her sister Mary in John 11.  Independently of one another, these sisters both say, “Lord, if you had been here our brother would not have died” when they go out to meet Jesus as he approached their hometown.  They had sent messengers to him days earlier in hopes that Jesus would come immediately and heal their brother or at least speak words of healing from where Jesus was.  They knew of Jesus’ power.  They had heard of, or possibly even witnessed, his miracles of healing.  But beyond that, they knew Jesus as a close friend, and they knew Jesus loved their brother Lazarus as they did.

But Jesus didn’t come when they called.  Instead he waited, and Lazarus died.  And Jesus did all this on purpose.

Life is so hard when, as faithful disciples of Jesus, we feel like God is being faithless.  But Jesus would show Mary, Martha, and all who were there as witnesses that God is even more faithful than they could have ever imagined.

Sunday morning at East Point, we’ll talk more about the incredible message of Jesus– he who is resurrection and life.

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The Mission of God–Following the Father

Here are my sermon notes from last week sermon, the second in a series on “The Mission of God.”  If you ever want to hear the actual sermon, which deviates at multiple points from my notes, you can find it at http://eastpointchurchofchrist.org.  God bless!

Text: Psalm 146

Scripture Reading: Luke 4:16-21

We are part of the mission of God.

We talked last week about how God’s mission began in the beginning and how it is his mission that drives the life of the church.

We also looked at the prophesies surrounding Jesus’ birth and the testimony given by John the Apostle in John 1 where he clearly located the ministry of Jesus in the ongoing mission of God by echoing the opening of Genesis:  “In the beginning….”

One of the great things that stands out in that testimony of John is when John says, “Jesus has shown us the Father.”  One reason for God taking on flesh was to complete the part of his mission that no other person could do–live a perfect life and become the perfect sacrifice for sinners.

In the process of living that perfect life, Jesus showed us and taught us, in word and in action, what it looks like to live in the mission of God.

So how would you define God’s mission?  The Bible talks about it in a number of ways.

Isaiah 11:1-9

Habakkuk 2:14

Luke 19:10  “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”

2 Corinthians 5  to reconcile the lost back to their Father

to recreate a place where He will be our God and we will be his people without barriers

That’s God’s vision for the future.  Here, I’ll show you.  Turn with me to Rev. 20:11 (through 21:8)….

This is God’s great vision for what is to come.  But we need to know how to be a part of His plan.

And I’m talking about more than knowing the gospel–that Jesus is Lord and Christ who died and was raised to reconcile us to God.

And I’m talking about more than knowing how to respond to the gospel–by putting our trust in Jesus for salvation, by repenting of our sins, confessing him as our Lord, and being baptized into him for the forgiveness of sins.  These are all things the Bible teaches and that I believe.

But surely we agree that being baptized isn’t the end of our journey.  For Jesus, being baptized was the beginning of his ministry, and so it is with us.

We need to know what that ministry is supposed to look like.  We need to know how we are supposed to live in a way that advances God’s mission.

Thankfully God shows us.  He shows us his nature, he shows us what he loves, he even shows us the kind of ministry he does to bring people back to him.

Look at Psalm 146 with me….

this is a vivid illustration of God’s mission

We don’t put our trust in ourselves or in our ability to lead, because our plans have a shelf life

We put our trust in God because…

He is Creator

His faithfulness is absolute and certain and unending

He is and will forever be Lord and King

Between the first creation and the new creation to come, God does all this!  Why does God do these kinds of good deeds?  Toward what end?  To reconcile us back to himself so that we might share in his glory and his blessings.  This is what God does because of his faithfulness and his love for us.

There’s a book by Eric Swanson and Rick Rusaw called The Externally-Focused Quest, and it contains this quote, “Good deeds create good will, which becomes a platform for good conversations about the good news.”

That’s a pretty good description of how God ministers to us.

And when Isaiah the great prophet spoke of a coming Servant of the Lord, the Messiah, listen to how that Servant’s mission was described in Isaiah 61 starting in verse 1 (through 3).

That’s the same mission as the King!  The same concerns, the same practices, the same goals–even the same vision shared with John in Revelation 20-21!

And it gets better for us, because this Messiah, prophesied by Isaiah, has come!  Jesus is the Messiah whose ministry shows us what God would do if he was in our skin.

Luke 4 says, beginning in v.14 (through 22a)….

these are ways God comes near.  And they’re not just words.

And they’re not just metaphors for spiritual cleansing and renewal–as if there is such a thing as spiritual renewal without incarnate acts.  Things that we do here and now in real life.  How do I know?  Because I’ve read the rest of the gospel.  The NT writers have testified about what Jesus said and did.  And he genuinely loved people.  He followed in the footsteps of his Father, and he met people where they were in life, and he touch them.  He healed them.  He fed them.  He taught them.  He forgave them.  And he offered them a clear path back to the Father.

And remember, all this was the will of the Father.  Jesus said so.  See John 5:19, 30.  “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.  For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise…. I can do nothing on my own.  As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

So what about us?  We can connect these dots, right?

If our mission is God’s, then shouldn’t our ministries also be the ones we find God doing?

I say they should.  The Bible says they should.  And Lord willing, we will see that more clearly next week when we come together to hear from the word of the Lord.

But before we quit this morning, I want to say again to you that God sent Jesus so that we might be brought back home.  His mission, in part, is to save us from judgment and condemnation.  He wants us to live with Him forever.  And so I have the honor on God’s behalf to offer you a place in His Kingdom.  God has plans for you.  He has created you for good works (Eph. 2:10).  He wants to bless you and to bless others through your life.  So why not join ranks with God?  Why not put your trust in His faithfulness?  Why not turn and live in His ways?  You can begin right now by being baptized in Jesus.  God will forgive all your sins, give you His holy Spirit, and you will be with Him forever!

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The Mission of God… In the Beginning

Sunday morning, I began a sermon series at East Point on the “Mission of God.”  I think I’ll post my sermon notes each week for those of you who are interested.  Here’s part one:

 

Do you know why we’re here?

Abraham did.  Joseph did.  Moses did.  Jesus did.  Paul did. 

God had a plan, and all these people are examples of people in Scripture who fit into that plan and knew it. 

Do you know why you as a person are here?

Do you know why East Point as a congregation is here?  What is our purpose?  What is our mission?  What, as a church, are we trying to do?  Do we have a unified vision of where we fit in God’s plan?  In case we aren’t sure, today we’ll start looking at what our mission should be according to the Scriptures.  And when this series is over, we should be able as a congregation to begin talking in detail about what our mission looks like in our community and how that gives great meaning, purpose, and direction to each of our lives.

Knowing your mission is critical.  You’ve heard the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time,” right?  So we know that we need a purpose, goals, an idea of what we want to become and achieve.  But it isn’t enough to start with what we want. 

“Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission–God’s mission” (Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God, 62).

God isn’t just giving us something to do to keep us occupied.  In Lk 19:10, Jesus said, that he came to seek and save the ________ [lost].  He didn’t come to babysit the saved.  Now, it’s true that he did spend a whole lot of time with those we might call the saved, but what was he doing?  Was he babysitting them?  No!  He was preparing them, training them.  And for what?  For a mission.

Here, at the very beginning, as we work through a process of understanding what our mission is, it is essential that we hear this point clearly:  our mission is not church-centered; it is God-centered.  That’s a huge difference.

That means that we don’t set a course and pursue a mission like companies, corporations, and civic groups do.  We don’t pick a goal based simply on our wants, needs, or even our strengths.  Someone else plots our course for us.  And who do you think that is?  [God]

We the church are not a corporation, a civic club, or a sports team, even though we have some similarities.  The bible more often describes us as a family.  And that is helpful, because in the days of the bible, families had leaders.  And God is the Father of our family.  And He anointed a leader who sets the agenda and maps out a path for his family.  It’s not me, it’s not the elders.  It is Christ who God made head of the church.  (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:18)

And why did God do that?  Why make Christ the head of the church?  So that we’d be led in the right direction.  So that we will reach the goal.  Isn’t that what a leaders does?  And what is the right direction?  Not just toward heaven but toward God.  It’s not just about a place to go, but it’s about the created rejoining the Creator.  It’s about being part of God’s new creation when he shares his richest blessings with all his faithful children.  It’s about being part of the great victory of God at the end of days. 

We know there will be a great victory by God over sin and death.  We have faith in his power to do what he’s promised, in large part, because we believe that our God is the Creator of all things.

God defines the mission for his people.  And if we want to understand God’s mission, then we must begin by understanding what it was that God was doing “In the beginning.”  Look with me at Genesis 1:1-2:3 (read vv. 1-5, summarize the rest, and then read 1:26-2:3)

Why did God create the cosmos?  Why did God put us here?

If you read the next two chapters in Genesis, you learn that God walked and talked with the people he put in the Garden, in that great paradise.  God wanted to live with us and to share his blessings with us.  Many people think that God wants people to fall down before him for eternity singing his praises.  And so they have this unfortunate, incorrect view of what would be a self-centered, ego-centric God.  And that’s not our God.  Our God is the one who walked and talked in Eden with his people.  He knew them, he loved them, he provided for all their needs. 

But we also know for those first chapters in Genesis that those first humans sinned.  They were cast out of paradise and out of the presence of God.  And it looked for awhile like God’s mission to live in an intimate relationship with his people, sharing with them his great blessings, like that was all over. 

But God wasn’t finished.  God was just getting started in his mission.  He wasn’t willing to give up on us.  He loved us too much.  He’d made us, and we were his.

And so the great narratives of the Bible tell us about how God continually fought this battle to bless us and to overcome our failings.  How God’s promises weren’t always believed, how humanity was all too often faithless, and yet how God was always faithful.  How he never forgot his covenant promises to people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, and then to a teen-aged girl named Mary.

He promised Abraham that through his seed all nations would be blessed.  He promised Moses and Joshua that he would gather together a people for himself.  He promised David that his descendents would forever rule on his throne.  And he promised Mary that these great covenant blessings would be fulfilled through the baby that would soon be growing in her womb.

The bible tells it like this… Luke 1:26-33

Do you hear that?  It’s the mission of God!

And after Jesus was conceived and then born, “And when the time came for their purification…. (reading Luke 2:22-38). 

Here he was, the Messiah!  The one who would save his people and bring the Gentiles into the household of God!  The one who would bring to completion the covenant promises of God.  The one who would save us and give us hope and purpose and mission.

A mission that John, the gospel writer, knew had begun long before Jesus was born into the world.  John knew that even Jesus’ mission was not his own but one that had been initiated by His Father in the beginning.  And so like the opening verses of Genesis, the book of beginnings, John begins his gospel like this…

            “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

            There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

            The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

            And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”  (John 1:1-18 ESV)

Jesus came to bring God’s mission closer to completion.  His coming has brought us one giant leap closer to a full, unhindered life with God as it was intended in the beginning of creation.  And in his life, his ministry, his death, his resurrection, and his current reign at the right hand of God, Jesus indeed shows us the Father and helped make clear while in the flesh the purpose and mission that he entrusts to us and to all people who follow God. 

In the upcoming weeks, we’ll flesh this out and see what specifically it means to carry on a mission initiated by God for the blessing of his creation.

Jesus came to us and died so that we could go to God and live.  If you want to join God’s mission, you must begin by being born again.  You must have a new beginning, and you can have it by faith in Christ.  Come and repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.  Come now as we stand and sing.

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Baptism

Last week at East Point, I preached on baptism.  The New Testament writers, led by the Holy Spirit, describe baptism as the time and place that we are united to Christ by God’s grace.  Here are my sermon notes.  If you have additional questions about baptism and how we submit to God, please contact me.  God bless!

 

Baptized

Jadyn’s “No, I don’t wanna get baptized!” statement in the swimming pool….

She knew that the word “baptize” means going under the water.  Our English word “baptism” is an anglicized version of the Greek work baptisma which does mean to immerse, to dip, to plunge, but the practice of baptism in Christ’s church involves a lot more than someone simply getting wet.

Christendom at large has taken a rather simple, straightforward practice and really muddied the waters, and there are all sorts of misunderstandings taught in various churches today about what baptism is, what it means, what it does, and who it’s for.

I want to take our time this morning to give what I hope will be a clear overview of what baptism really is.  I’ve wrestled all week with how to present this material, and I’ve settled on a pretty simple approach.  I’m going to read to you a number of NT passages about baptism, and I want you to listen and think about what they mean.  And as we look at these, I’ll put a list up on the screen summarizing what these Scriptures tell us about baptism.

As I go, at the risk of distracting myself, I’m going to invite you to text your questions to me (200-7780) or to write them on the back of a white card in front of you so I can read them later.  And I want you to come and talk to me if you have additional questions or want to study more about this critical element of coming to faith in Jesus.

  • I’m actually going to begin with the kinds of things you will often hear me say about baptism:

Baptism is something we submit to in faith because Jesus did it and he specifically commands us to be baptized to become his disciples.  Baptism is a work of God that, through His mercy and grace, indentifies us with the death and resurrection of Jesus, cleanses us from our sins, seals us with His Spirit, and joins us to His bride—the  church.

  • Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3 all say that Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River.
  • Matthew 28:18-20… Baptism is commanded for all who would be Jesus’ disciples
  • Titus 3:4-7 and Colossians 2:11-12… Baptism is not a human work that earns salvation!  We put our faith in “his own mercy” and in “the powerful working of God”!
  • Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 2:11-14… Baptism is an identification with and a joining with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
  • Galatians 3:26-27… Baptism is putting on Christ through faith
  • 1 Peter 3:20-21… Baptism is a vehicle which saves us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • 1 Corinthians 6:11… Baptism results in sanctification (God makes us holy, purified, consecrated) and justification (God declares us free and renders a favorable verdict)
  • Acts 2:1-41… Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
  • Acts 22:6-16… Paul was told to wash away his sins in baptism, calling on the name of the Lord
  • Acts 19:1-6… Baptism must accompany our belief in Jesus in order to receive the Holy Spirit
  • Ephesians 4:1-6; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13… Baptism is a marker of our unity in the body of Christ.
    • notice Peter’s application of Joel’s prophecy about “calling on the name of the Lord”
    • even John’s baptism was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3)!

But, some will object based on Ephesians 2 and Romans 10.  Let’s see what Paul, who himself was baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, said in his letters.

  • Ephesians 2:1-10… I fully agree and preach that we are saved by grace through faith as a gift of God.  But as I’ve already said, being baptized is not a work.  It is not something I do to earn my salvation.  It is a passive act of faithful obedience.  God does the work, I just allow myself to be buried in and then raised up out of the water.
  • Romans 10:5-13… notice that this is the same letter where Paul already said that we are united with Christ and receive his grace in baptism.  Here in chapters 9, 10, and 11, Paul is emphasizing that we do not earn our salvation according to works of the law.  His emphasis is on belief and confession that come from the heart rather than simple law-keeping.  But Paul would never say that obedience is unimportant.  And belief/faith must be active to be real according to James 2.  And even Jesus said that those who love him will keep his commandments!  And what did Jesus command just before he left the earth to join his Father in heaven?  To “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [he commanded us]” (Matt. 28:19-20).

I know that there are others who focus on Romans 10 or Ephesians 2, but they sadly fail to recognize that overwhelming evidence that even Paul who wrote those passages was himself baptized and himself taught that baptism is what unites us to Christ.

I don’t agree with only a part of what Paul said.  I agree with all of it.  We are saved by grace through faith.  But we don’t receive God’s gracious forgiveness of sins until we’re in Christ.  And the way into Christ is to join him in his death, burial, and resurrection.  And the way we do that, according to Scripture, is by being baptized in water.

The time comes when every one of us has to respond to God in faith–not the faith of our fathers or mothers or grandparents, but our own faith based on our own reading and understanding of Scripture.  If you have questions, please ask so we can study this together.  We’re talking about salvation.

And if you’re ready now having heard the truth from God’s own word, then come and repent of your sins, confess Jesus as Son of God, and be baptized into him for the forgiveness of your sins.

 What does the Bible say about baptism?

  • Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3
  • Matthew 28:18-20
  • Titus 3:4-7 and Colossians 2:11-14
  • Romans 6:3-11
  • Galatians 3:26-27
  • 1 Peter 3:20-21
  • 1 Corinthians 6:11
  • Acts 2:1-41
  • Acts 22:6-16
  • Acts 19:1-6
  • Ephesians 4:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
  • Ephesians 2:1-10
  • Romans 10:5-13

What do you say? 

Should you be baptized into Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures?

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