Good morning church! I know, I’m not usually preaching this early in the service, but we are changing things around a little today!
First off, if you are new here, we are thankful for you! In fact, we have a gift for you! If you will fill out the Connect Card from the back of the seat in front of you and drop it by next steps on your way out today, they will hook you up with your very own Lindsay Lane East shirt and some info about our church. Make sure that you do that today!
Today is a special day! Today is BAPTISM SUNDAY! We had such a move of God at VBS among our kids, we didn’t want to have to space them out leaving them waiting for a long period of time to be baptized, so we decided to do it all in one day!
We started talking about it and inviting others to consider their walk with God, their faith, and their obedience in baptism. And God continued to work and we saw 2 teenagers and 3 adults added to our baptism service. That third adult, I got to lead to Christ over the phone yesterday afternoon!
And I’m just crazy enough to think that God might have brought you here today with a longing in your heart for God or a desire to get your baptism in order. So, we have decision counselors, t shirts and shorts on standby just for you! We will talk some more about that in just a moment.
Let me read to you a few verses from the book of Ephesians that we are studying this summer...
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
We looked at this passage when we were talking about God’s nature on week one of this study. But now, I want to hone in on verse 5...
one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Last week we talked about how we can be saved and what that means. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. To receive the salvation that he purchased, God works with us to lead us to two responses: repentance and belief.
Here in Ephesians 4:5, we see those two ideas again. One Lord. Lord is the word Kurios which is also translated as Master, Owner. Paul uses it as a name for Jesus and in doing so declares that Jesus is his boss. And not just his boss, but is actually the boss of the universe as the Lord God himself!
To declare Jesus is Lord is to turn from your own sinful way of life and surrender to living a new way according to Jesus. This is repentance!
Paul then says, One faith. If you are a believer, we share a faith! We all believe that Jesus is the only one who can right our relationship with God. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are saved through faith!
So Paul says that we have ONE LORD (repentance) ONE FAITH (belief), but he also says ONE BAPTISM.
One thing that bonds us with other churches around the world is the “One Lord, One Faith” part of this. But if there is one thing that is more debated between churches it is the “one baptism” part of this!
There isn’t much else said in Ephesians about baptism, so we will look at a couple different books of the Bible today to discuss this in depth. But I couldn’t think of a better way to talk through the idea of baptism than by taking a look at 3 frequently asked questions about baptism.
So Baptism FAQs as you see on the handout.
1. How should we baptize?
1. How should we baptize?
Today, there are three types of baptism that are practiced in Christian churches...
Aspersion: this is sprinkling
Affusion: this is pouring
Immersion: this is dunking
Some churches will practice more than one of these, but we practice only one: immersion. We believe it is THE biblical method that is practiced in the Bible.
Because of the word itself.
The Greek word that gets translated into English in our Bible literally means to dip or immerse or to put under. That seems clear enough to me, but there is more evidence than that.
Jesus was immersed.
When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him.
Jesus was in the Jordan River and came UP OUT OF THE WATER.
But immersion is also what we see throughout Acts.
Here is the first baptism by someone other than the Apostles. Philip is placed into a evangelistic opportunity by the Holy Spirit and he converses with a man from Ethiopia. And we see this...
As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look, there’s water. What would keep me from being baptized?” So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
Notice this… They went DOWN into the water. It would have been simpler in this moment to simply pour or sprinkle, but they got down in it!
But the most important evidence is in the picture of baptism itself.
Baptism is an example of Christ’s death and resurrection.
What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection.
Paul says that baptism is a way in which we align with the death and resurrection of our Savior. We are put under the water to symbolize death. Just as Christ died FOR sin, we too in christ have died TO sin. Then we are brought up out of the water to symbolize a resurrection to new life. Just as Christ was given new life on the 3rd day, we too, experience new life in Christ.
Dunking just symbolizes that so much better than sprinkling or pouring!
Another question I get...
2. Who should we baptize?
2. Who should we baptize?
This is one that we talk about on a regular basis with people. I have been told, “I want to be baptized.” Well, that’s awesome, but just because you want to be, doesn’t mean we will do it! Only those who understand its meaning and have experienced what is required should be baptized.
If you are a notetaker, jot this down...
Baptism is an expression of our faith.
Baptism is an expression of existing faith. This means that to be baptized, you need to have faith. You should already be a believer!
Paul speaks in the letter of Colossians of baptism...
when you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
You see, he says that we are buried with him and raised up through what???? FAITH! The one seeking to be baptized should be a believer before stepping foot in this Madison County Water.
I started in ministry as a youth pastor. So most of my baptisms were teenagers and kids early on. I believe it was the second adult I baptized, she was a senior adult lady from the community whose husband had just passed away, and she came to the church hungry for God!
She had never been in church much, but relatively quickly trusted in the name of Jesus to save her. I was talking with her before the baptism as I always do, she had brought the lady who had led her to Christ back with her, and I told her, I could dunk you 100 times in the water and you won’t be any more saved than you are when you go in. And I believe that 100%. After I went to get ready, she asked the lady who was with her, “How many times is he going to dunk me?” Praise God her friend assured her only once!
So, I need to stop saying it that way, but I stand by the statement. Baptism will not save you (we just looked at that), you need to be a believer before you get in the water!
That’s why I ask three questions in the water...
Have you repented of your sin?
Are you trusting in Jesus alone to save you?
Do you commit to follow him the rest of your life?
That’s their testimony before their church family! They are saved if they are saying those things from a pure and honest heart.
This touches on a couple issues that we get to celebrate this morning.
I don’t believe babies should be baptized.
They are not professing faith. They may have parents who are professing faith that they will raise that child for Christ, similar to how we do our baby dedication, but the baby hasn’t been changed in that moment by the Holy Spirit that would constitute them being baptized.
That being said, if you were sprinkled or poured as a baby, that’s OK! It isn’t a hole in your spiritual life that you have to overcome first before you can be saved.
In our first service, we will baptize Ms. Alissa Phillips. That’s her story! She was sprinkled as a baby, but has in her life now professed faith in Jesus Christ and knows that she should be baptized, because baptism is for believers.
The second thing that believer’s baptism means for us...
We will always counsel with those who seek baptism.
We want to make sure to the best of our ability that the person who steps into the waters of baptism is a believer in Jesus. Even this morning, if you want to be baptized, we would love to do that today, but we want you to first talk with one of our decision counselors.
This is important for adults, but especially kids. All 6 of the kids we are baptizing today sat down with one of our VBS volunteers or church staff to talk through what it means to be saved. And we believe, to the best of our ability to discern, that these six kids have had a true conversion of their heart and are believers in Jesus.
This morning, Matt Tribble will be baptized in the second service. That’s his story! He got baptized as a child for the wrong reasons. He wasn’t a believer then and he knows that now. It wasn’t until later in his life that he trusted in Jesus. So he has been baptized, and is now trusting in Jesus. He’s good right?
I will argue, “No.”
But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added to them.
You see, it is those who have believed in the Good News of Jesus who are baptized.
If you are like Matt, you were baptized as a young kid but you recognize that it wasn’t until later that you truly came to know Christ, we would love to help you walk through that. We would love to baptize you as a believer in Jesus!
But some of you may be like Matt too in that you need to chew on it for a while: wrestle with whether you were saved as a child or not, I have a book I would love to give you. I have several copies at Next Steps they will be first come first serve. If we are out, they are really cheap online $6. You can even get a Kindle version for $7ish if that’s your thing.
Who should get baptized? Only those who have trusted in Jesus to save them!
The last Baptism FAQ...
3. Why should we baptize?
3. Why should we baptize?
Maybe heard this as a statement more than any other… “If baptism isn’t essential for my salvation, can’t I just skip out on that? I ain’t all about getting up in front of people if I don’t have to.”
Listen, I sympathize with you so much on this! None of us like getting up in front of this crowd! It makes me nervous too! So I totally get this sentiment.
So let’s walk through it a little.
First off, I will agree that it is not the water we are baptized in that saves us. That’s why Paul can say...
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Baptism isn’t mentioned in this passage as a prerequisite for our salvation.
Baptism does not bring salvation to us, but it absolutely should flow from it! Baptism is part of our obedience and submission to Christ as believers. Meaning, if you have trusted in Jesus, one of the most important steps you can take is to be baptized. Two reasons...
It signifies our union with Christ.
If you have been around East for a minute, you have heard me talk about the New Testament idea of us being IN CHRIST. The Bible is clear that believers are brought into an eternal union with Christ. The verses from last week are full of this language...
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Three “with Christ”s and one “in Christ.” That’s pretty good for four verses! All of the riches of salvation are ours IN CHRIST. We are brought into a union with Christ, and then God spends the rest of our lives making us look more like Christ! Do you see this? You and I are called to look like Jesus!
What better way to look like him than to do what he did? How did Jesus’ intense earthly ministry begin?
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.
Jesus himself was baptized! If you are going to set out to live your life for Christ and like Christ, why would you not begin the same way that he did!? Be baptized! Just like Christ!
The second reason we should be baptized is...
It signifies our connection with HIS church.
Baptism belongs to the church. It’s why we won’t do a private baptism here at East. We believe that baptism belongs to the church and so we believe the church should be present!
Every time I go to a wedding or perform a wedding as a pastor, I am reminded of my own wedding ceremony.
Ours happened at Athens State in front of Founders Hall, while a train was passing by. Not the whole time, but it takes a train a while to get through Athens, anyway.
Every time I hear a couple repeat their vows, I’m reminded of the vows that I repeated. When I see the joy in the eyes of the groom as his bride enters the room, I remember the first time I saw Kelly in her wedding gown. When I see their family and friends celebrating with them, I am reminded that all my groomsmen drank a ton of Sundrops and ate dozens of wings and I didn’t get much...
But that’s why it is important I think to go to weddings as a married couple from time to time. It’s good to be reminded of the commitment you made years ago.
I will argue, it is the same for the church and baptism. Here in a few minutes, we will be moving into the water to baptize. Please don’t zone out. Please don’t check Facebook on your phone or your email. Focus on what is being said before you! These believers are coming before you to align themselves with Christ in his baptism, and are aligning themselves with us, the church! These young kids are expecting a church family to come alongside them and help their parents disciple them!
Are you ready for that? Are you excited for that? I am. I have been so pumped about this day.
So, let me ask you...
If you are a believer here, let the upcoming baptisms serve as a reminder to you of the commitment you have made. Look at the joy in their eyes. See the excitement in their words. Use this response time to ask God to renew your joy, your excitement, and your commitment.
And for those of you who are a believer but one of the situations I presented today hits you, and you realize now that you need to baptized, let us know. You can come talk to me right after I pray in a moment or you can talk with a decision counselor at the back.
And for those of you who are not yet believers in Jesus, let me just say, it’s the most important decision you will ever make! Your sin separates you from God and it is only through the death of Jesus that you can come back into his presence. If you will repent of your sin and believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, you can be saved! We would love to help you make that decision today.
The other adult who is being baptized in our second service is Ms. Sonya Martin. Also known as Kelsi Wray’s mom. She’s been coming for a while now, but knows that she has never given her life to Christ. So, yesterday afternoon on the phone with me, she prayed to receive Jesus. It was awesome.
If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, consider it today. You can use the response time after I pray to take that first step to talk with someone about it.
I’m gonna pray and then we will stand and sing. As soon as I say Amen, you start moving this way. Don’t wait. You move and let’s nail these decisions down today.