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Babies, Baptisms, and Burials (2)

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In the Christian Faith we have different ceremonies. Baptism, baby dedications, last rites (for Catholics), Communion, Weddings, etc.
WHY? What is the “411” on these things. Do I need to do them?
In some churches your entrance to HEAVEN is dependent in your participation in some of these events. For others it is an occasion to throw a party.
Did God ask us to participate in these things???
I would like to take this week and next to talk about some of these things.
In May, we are having both a water baptism day and a baby/child dedication Sunday, but what is the difference and why should I join in.
First let me preface my entire message today and say that NONE OF THESE CEREMONIES GUARANTEES MAKING IT INTO HEAVEN, and ONLY ONE presents a danger - not an absolute, of missing HEAVEN.

1. BABY DEDICATION

Matthew 19:14 NLT
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”
Why do we dedicate babies ---
We do not baptise infants for a reason --- we believe that baptism is a PUBLIC PROCLAMATION one makes that they have CHOSEN to follow Jesus Christ --- an infant does not have that ability, and following Christ is an independent decision every person must make APART from their parent’s choice.
However, dedication is really a commitment upon the part of the parent to present their child to God, surrender their child to God, and commit to raising their child in the ways of God to the best of their ability.
That is then partnered with the church who commits to being that “Village that raises a child in the ways of Christ”
We see Hannah in
1 Samuel 1:26–28 NLT
“Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.
Hannah was unable to conceive a child and had wept out to the Lord, making a promise that if God would grant her a child, she would give that first child back to the Lord for His use and glory.
We replicate that same commitment recognizing that children are a gift from God, and we give this gift back to God to use as He wills — if He wants to call that child into ministry, or however God might want to use that child for His glory.
It is recognizing that life comes from the Lord, and we ALL exist for His pleasure.
Revelation 4:11 KJV 1900
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
In the same manner, when we dedicate a child, we are committing ourselves to teaching and training that child in the ways of God!
Proverbs 22:6 NLT
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
The Israelites were called to teach the commands of God to their children...
Deuteronomy 11:19 NLT
Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
We believe that a child who has not come to an age of understanding or accountability will be held innocent by God if death should occur before they were capable of making this decision to follow Christ.
Judaism placed this age at 13, however, we do not see it as a specific age, but an understanding and that by this age of 13 all have come to the ability to make that decision.
We do not believe that an infant baptism would redeem anyone - that is putting faith in an act of works by the parents — not in the surrender of one’s will to God.
Children gain understanding, and that understanding increases as they get older, even as adults we are responsible to put into action our obedience as our understanding of Scripture grows.
Dedicating our children is a commitment to teach them the ways of God’s Word and Christ, and yield their lives to Jesus and as they grow they must continuously make those choices to follow in His path.
Kids, as you understand right from wrong - God wants you to choose to obey Him, to follow Him, and to surrender your life to Him. You cannot get into heaven on your parents’ faith, but must surrender your heart to God as you understand.

2. WATER BAPTISM

Water Baptism does NOT SAVE YOU!!! and just because you take the plunge - you are not guaranteed HEAVEN.
You are saved because you surrendered your heart to Jesus and by FAITH received His free gift of life!!! It is his GRACE that saves you.
The Biblical pattern we see in the New Testament after Jesus ascension was proclaimed by Peter...
Acts 2:38 NLT
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
An infant or young child is not capable of the portion of repentance!!!
This Baptism in water is an identification with Jesus and His church and following after His example He gave us when he walked the earth.
Mark 1:9 NLT
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River.
Now, we who are baptized do so to identify with Christ’s death and resurrection....
Romans 6:4 NLT
For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
So as we go down in the water we are identifying with the sacrifice Christ made and we leave the old man behind and rise up to NEW LIFE in Christ --- walking in a different way!!!
This was the practice of the early church, and any who were saved identified with the church through baptism...
Acts 8:35–38 NLT
So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus. As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
Acts 8:35 KJV 1900
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
Acts 19:1–6 NLT
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked. And they replied, “The baptism of John.” Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.” As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied.
Being baptized in the Name of Jesus is to go PUBLIC with our faith, and make it known that we have decided to follow Jesus!!!
NOW, if you have surrendered your heart to Jesus and REFUSE to be baptized, than your are directly disobeying a command Jesus gave...
Matthew 28:19–20 NLT
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We are commanded to be baptized and to baptize those who believe…
To refuse would be an act of rebellion against God, and where only He can judge, I would have to ask myself how can I follow Christ if I am unwilling to obey this simple command.....?

3. BURIAL

Why do Christians bury their dead???
If you look in Scripture, burning of the dead was often a practice by non-Christian and non-Judeo peoples.
The practice of burial comes out of Judaism, but is rooted in this main fact --
The expectation of RESURRECTION!!
We have just come through Easter and are very familiar with the resurrection of Christ,
That same resurrection is an expectation to all who have died in Christ --
we know our spirits go immediately into the presence of God, but one day they will be reunited with our bodies.
1 Corinthians 15:1–50 NLT
Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed. But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere. If the dead will not be raised, what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again? And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesus—if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all. But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory. It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.
1 Corinthians 15:1–58 NLT
Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed. But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere. If the dead will not be raised, what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again? And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesus—if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all. But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory. It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
This Resurrection is our anticipation, our hope, our DESTINY, and for generations Christians have buried to keep their bodies in tact for that day we will be raised incorruptible.
That brings up 2 questions...
What about cremation...
Where the Biblical pattern for dealing with the body after death is clearly seen as burial, that does not mean that God cannot raise ashes out of the earth, or dirt from the sea to bring forth a resurrected being in that great day.
If we are ashes to ashes and dust to dust - than those who are deceased the longest will still be resurrected, and God who made all things and can raise the dead in the twinkling of an eye - can certainly bring into being those cremated or lost at sea.
2. What about last rites...
The Catholic church performs a last rite on those who die, to ensure they will be accepted into heaven or at least on their way from purgatory (a practice that we cannot even find in Scripture).
For the Christian, we pray with the believer before they pass to comfort their hearts and remind them of the great hope that is before them - graduation into God’s presence.
2 Corinthians 5:1–9 NLT
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.
We also remind the believer of HEAVEN and all that Christ has prepared for us...
John 14:2 NLT
There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
Then at burial we commit the body to the ground in hope of resurrection.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 NLT
For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
What amazing hope - our spirit returns to GOD!!!!

CONCLUSION

Hebrews 6:1–6 NLT
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.
SO,
There is why we dedicate babies, baptize those who have repented and want to go Public with their faith, and Bury those who have died in anticipation of our great hope - THE RESURRECTION!
What should we take away from this...
Parents and Church - we have a responsibility to every child in our midst to train them up in the way of the Lord, to be an example before their lives of what it is to follow Jesus, and parents, we need to surrender our children to God’s plans for their lives...
Every believer needs to obey Christ in following HIs example in water baptism - making that public proclamation that I have decided to follow Jesus, and REALIZE that when we come up out of that water - we are to WALK in newness of life… the baptism is not getting us into heaven, it is our repentant life lived out in surrender to God who by HIS grace has made us new creatures
If we do not live until the Rapture, death will come to all of us, but it is not the end, our spirit lives on in the presence of God, and our bodies are buried awaiting the day of RESURRECTION when He comes back to restore and make us whole!
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