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What is Water Baptism?

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Baptism is, if not THE most, ONE OF the most controversial topics within Christianity...
It seems that virtually every aspect of baptism is HIGHLY debated...
Who should be baptized, infants or converts?
How should baptism be done, sprinkling, pouring, or immersion?
What does baptism mean?
Is it symbolically identifying yourself with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?
Or, is it when the Holy Spirit is received?
Or, is it the initial act of obedience, after faith, that God requires?
Should baptism be done in Jesus' name or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Each of these questions, ACTIVE QUESTIONS that have made their way into the Christian arena...
BUT WHY?
WHY ALL the confusion?
WELL - there’s confusion in this matter - BECAUSE - there are verses in Scripture which SEEMINGLY teach that water baptism is necessary for Salvation...
WHILE AT THE SAME TIME - there are other verses which clearly TEACH that SALVATION comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone...
Let’s look at a quick example...
SLIDE: Pic 1 - Acts 16:31 - Mark 16:16
So on the surface we see this, and we say - OK, so which is it?
Is it NECESSARY for salvation (Mark 16:16)....or is it NOT necessary for salvation (Acts 16:31)??
WELL - thankfully, we have 31,100 other verses in the Bible to help us with this...
And it’s very clear in fact…which is a good thing!
Today we’re going to see what Water Baptism is…and what it is not...
And so let’s get started...
Today we’re going to focus in on the story of the Eunuch, found in Acts 8...
Let’s look at the entire passage...
Acts 8:26–40 ESV
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
There are quite a few verses here, but what we see is it all starts this way...
Acts 8:26 ESV
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.
So - we see the LORD here guiding Philip by telling him where to go...
God had a plan - so let’s see what it was...
Acts 8:27–28 ESV
27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
NOW - these verses here are going to CATAPULT us to another part of Scripture...
This Ethiopian was a Eunuch...
What does that mean?
A Eunuch was a MALE servant or supervisory official in the court of a ruler...
And he was often one who had been - Castrated
SO - another point to catch here is that he had gone to Jerusalem to - WORSHIP...
This points to him having been a proselyte...
What’s a Proselyte…?
A Proselyte is a RELIGOUS CONVERT… especially TO Judaism...
So this term (proselyte) was the primary term used to describe a gentile who had converted to Judaism...
So this Ethiopian Eunuch had come to Jerusalem to worship...
OK - so why does this guy being a Proselyte (one converted to Judaism) important to this idea of WATER BAPTISM...
Let’s jump to Matthew to see:
Matthew 3:1–6 ESV
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ ” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
So, if you remember, John the Baptist came with a purpose...
He came - to prepare the way for Jesus...
And he came - with a call for - REPENTANCE
And with this call - came a call to be WATER BAPTIZED...
Now, this call by John the Baptist - went out to - Israel…to the JEW
We know this based on Scripture...
John 1:31 ESV
31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
So think about it - WHY would God usher water baptism to the 1st century Jews, and with it, CALL FOR REPENTANCE…?
Why did God set it up this way??
Think about Jewish Culture…Jewish Traditions…about Judaism...
Within Judaism - you had:
Circumcision - Physical circumcision
Dietary Laws - rules
Water Ritual Cleansings - Physical cleansings
Proselyte Water Baptism - Water Ritual of passage
So let’s just LOOK at those...
The Jews, at this time…they RELIED upon...
They FOUND SECURITY in their LINEAGE!
Meaning - they were Jewish (ethnically), and thought that BECAUSE they were Jewish, they were RIGHT with God - BASED on that!
Not only that, but they felt secure in their:
Adherence to these Physical Regulations
Circumcision: check
Dietary Laws: check
Water Ritual Cleansings: check
They felt like their ASSURANCE before God was GROUNDED in their adherence to these things...
So think that thru!
They felt like THEIR ASSURANCE was GROUNDED in the SIGN of circumcision!
They felt that if they were physically circumcised, then that meant they were RIGHT with God.
SO GOD - sends John the Baptist - to the JEWS - to tell them that THEIR ASSURANCE…(circumcision) - DIDN’T EARN them a place with God...
To tell them that they needed to REPENT of their SINS
And that there was a NEW SIGN on the scene - a sign that called for REPENTANCE of SINS
And so - IN A REAL SENSE - Water Baptism BEGAN - as a way to ELEVATE where REAL ASSURANCE rests - and that’s in FAITH and REPENTANCE...
See - initially, water baptism came to the JEW to TEAR DOWN all the Self-Righteousness of men…and in it’s place, put faith and repentance.
SLIDE:
Water baptism came to the Jew, in order to tear down all the self-righteousness of men, and in its place, put faith and repentance.
And so they would have done well to understand the following truths about water baptism...
FIRST up....
So i think a good way to figure out what something IS...is to first understand what it's NOT...
So what I'd like to do is - In understanding what water baptism is NOT - i want to have in view what it is.
SLIDE:  Water Baptism: Not A Goal But A Response

Water Baptism

*Anyone in here have a Bucket List?
some typical bucket list items might be:
skydive
eat seafood
swim with a dolphin
run a marathon...
But what came to your mind when I said "Bucket List"?
Whenever I hear that phrase...my mind always pictures:  
A List (with checkboxes on the left)
And WHAT DO YOU DO when you accomplish an item on a bucket list...?
You check off an item - right?
It's like having a list of goals right?
And when you accomplish a goal - you mark it off!
Think about the Bucket List - You don’t pursue those things IN RESPONSE to anything..
You just want to be able to say - I ACCOMPLISHED THAT!
That’s a GOAL!
Water Baptism should NOT be - your goal... It's NOT a Goal! - - Here's why...
When we make something a GOAL...What we're doing is - we're ELEVATING the ACT itself......to a degree that our satisfaction becomes ROOTED in the very ACT itself.
That's dangerous...
Luke 18:9–12 ESV
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
is FASTING a good thing?
Yes - Fasting is meant as a way to heighten our AWARENESS of our NEED for God......AND therefore cause us to EXALT Him - knowing we HAVE Him as our satisfaction
Matthew 9:14–15 ESV
14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
So yes - Fasting is a good thing...
How about Tithing?
Yes - Tithing is a good thing...
1 Corinthians 16:2 ESV
2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
Tithing is a good thing (ministry, needs)
So these things could be GOALS of ours...correct?
Look again at how the Pharisee viewed these acts in his life:
Luke 18:11–12 ESV
11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
What was this man's SATISFACTION grounded in?
It was grounded in the ACTS themselves...
"I fast twice a week....i give tithes of all that i get"
What did v11 say?  - "God, I thank you that I am not like other men"
"I thank you - that (I)...
"This man's satisfaction is ROOTED in - his DEEDS (even good ones at that!)
Water baptism should NOT BE your GOAL!
Goals are things - WE strive for! Things EMPOWERED by US!
Things that WHEN ACCOMPLISHED - our joy rises...and the JOY is TIED to the ACT itself!
When i said this is dangerous - i meant it...
What ended up happening with that man...
If you keep reading you see that this man remained an UNBELIEVER...
Luke 18:13–14 ESV
13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Its a dangerous thing to make Water Baptism - your goal.
Even a GOAL for your kids...What are we setting them UP FOR?
Water baptism should NOT be your GOAL!
INSTEAD 
SLIDE:  Water Baptism:  Not A Goal But A Response-

Water Baptism

it's - A RESPONSE.  (Not a Goal But a Response)
Back to our text today...
Acts 8:29–31 ESV
29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
So - from this we know that the Eunuch wasn't really sure about the meaning of the Scriptures...
And so what does he do?
He asks Philip to - HELP him...To explain the truth to him...
At this point here - is WATER BAPTISM on the mind of the Eunuch?
No - at least it doesn't seem so based on the text...
So Philip helps him...
Acts 8:32–35 ESV
32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.
SO Philip here begins proclaiming the gospel to this Eunuch.  
Let's see how the Eunuch responds...
Philip - tells him the good news about Jesus...and
Acts 8:36–38 ESV
36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
Had this been - a GOAL - of the Eunuch?
No - he clearly didn't understand the Scriptures...at least when it came to the text that pointed to Jesus Christ...
No - Water baptism was not his goal going into this...it ended up being a - RESPONSE!
A response to the good news of Jesus Christ...
"See, here is water!" "What prevents me from being baptized?"
The Eunuch's water baptism was a RESPONSE to all that Christ had done for him...
And in it BEING a response...
It ended up PROCLAIMING (Christ) to the world
Remember the Pharisee who fasted and tithed...?
BECAUSE those acts were GOALS of his...and because his satisfaction was ROOTED in the acts themselves......when he performed those acts - Christ WASN'T proclaimed.
No - that Pharisee was proclaiming the greatness of himself - in his own eyes.
Seeking glory for himself...
SLIDE:  
If we want our deeds to proclaim Christ to the world, then our deeds must arise in response to the greatness of Christ.
If Water Baptism is ever going to proclaim Christ, then it must, from within that person, FLOW FROM:
gratefulness to God
adoration of Christ
praise of Christ
exaltation of Christ
reverence
love
DELIGHT in Christ
Remember the Pharisee we read about earlier - What did he say - "I thank God...THAT (I'M) not like other men"...
That guys adoration didn't terminate on God - His adoration terminated on "himself and his deeds"!!
Water Baptism should not be A GOAL...but instead - A Response!
And so - if in your mind....it's a GOAL...you need to RETHINK it!
You need to RE-FEEL it!
But that's not all we see in our text today!
SLIDE: Water Baptism:  Does Not Save or Secure

Water Baptism

Acts 8:36–40 ESV
36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Philip's focus - in his teaching was - NOT baptism...but, the gospel.
And Paul himself made this distinction as well...
1 Corinthians 1:17 ESV
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Do you see - how water baptism - IS NOT the gospel.  
Paul's priority in his ministry was to - SAVE PEOPLE...
1 Corinthians 9:22 ESV
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
Romans 11:13–14 ESV
13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.
And listen to this from the Amplified Version... Romans 9:1-3
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For [if it were possible] I would wish that I myself were accursed, [separated, banished] from Christ for the sake [of the salvation] of my brothers, my natural kinsmen,
Paul's MISSION was to SAVE people...And with THAT as his MAIN MISSION, he says...
1 Corinthians 1:17 ESV
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
The Good News of Christ - SAVES.
Water Baptism does NOT...
What have we've seen today... SUMMARY:
Water Baptism
Not A Goal But A Response
Does Not Save Or Secure
And since water baptism DOES NOT save...and that it IS a Response to Christ...Then that means...
Water Baptism is reserved for those who have already experienced Ephesians 4:5
Ephesians 4:5 ESV
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
if you've experienced the One Baptism of Ephesians 4:5...
If you've experienced THIS - Spiritual Salvation...
In other words - if you've BEEN SAVED...
If you've SUBMITTED to Christ
If you've placed all of your sins at the foot of Christ's cross..THEN...and only then...
Could your water baptism glorify God....
...In response to ALL that God is for you in Jesus Christ
*Sign Up Sheet
- Will you PUBLICALLY profess Jesus Christ - in response to ALL that He is for you?
To save you? NO!
But as a testimony of faith
Let's Pray
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