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Baptism: The Declaration of a Life Transformed

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Scripture Reading

1 Corinthians 10:1–14 NIV84
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. 6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.



1 Corinthians 10:1-14
Baptismal Service - sense of awe; excitement; anticipation; wonder at God's grace etc.


Who is Paul writing to?
1 Corinthians 1:2 (NIV84)
2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:
1 Corinthians 12:13 (NASB95)
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:27 (NASB95)
27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
Church was marked by pride, selfishness

Big Idea

Our baptism into Jesus Christ is a public declaration of our identification with him, which should be evidenced through a life of humble submission and obedience to Him, as we trust in God to enable us to live in this manner.

1. The Christian's Identification Through Baptism (vv.1-4)

1.1. A Picture of Baptism

1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;
The picture here is one of deliverance
Paul is reminding the believers in Corinth of the deliverance of the Israelites
Theirs was a glorious deliverance
Beyond what any person could fathom, God took the Israelites out of bondage through miraculous means.
Plagues on the Egyptians
The Cloud that is referred to is the means by which God led the Israelites
He led them by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night
2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
Notice that Paul deliberately brings in the aspect of baptism here
Why does he do this?
Clearly, he wants to point out that they were engaged in an experience of God's profound grace and kindness.
God enacted a great deliverance for this people
Used his servant Moses (Elaborate)
Exodus 14:31 (NIV84)
31 And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
The point that Paul is drawing is that the Israelites recognised the one that God used in order to bring their deliverance, and they trusted in him as God's servant.
Beyond this... notice....
“The experiences of being ‘under the cloud’ and ‘passing through the sea’ both related to the identification of the children of Israel as a people now separated from Egypt, and under God’s protection.” In short, by means of the cloud and the sea God separated to himself a people."
3 and all ate the same spiritual food;
Paul now speaks about the food and drink of the Israelites as they were delivered.
The food here is quite clearly a reference to the manna that God provided them in the wilderness.
The fact was that God was demonstrating a powerful work of his gracious provisions for them.
In the wilderness context, provisions of basic necessities of life was impossible apart from a miracle
And yet, God provided. He was showing them that He was trustworthy, that He was a gracious provider of all that was needed, and that He would care for them, irrespective of how their circumstances may have looked.
4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
Not only did Christ provide food for them, but he provided drink for them.
On two occasions, God provided water from a rock when the Israelites were thirsty.
Consider this - absolutely no water around... that precious resource that is essential for life...
Without God's provision in this manner, they would have died.
But God is faithful to His people.
This is the reality and the emphasis... God is a faithful God, and for those whom he has redeemed, he will provide for their every need.
Notice the emphasis on the "spiritual.."
Notice further in this verse the fact that Paul calls this a spiritual rock.
"The material substance of food, drink, and rock points to a spiritual source. Through his Spirit, God actively engages in providing for the basic needs of his people. As the elements of the Lord’s Supper point to the spiritual significance of the presence of Christ, so the elements which Paul describes with the word spiritual ultimately point to Christ."

1.2. The Link to Christian Baptism

Our Greater deliverance
We need to recognise that Paul is speaking here of a deliverance that was great indeed, but not nearly as glorious as our redemption from sin.
The Exodus from Egypt was a picture pointing forward to the glorious deliverance for believers out of bondage and slavery to sin
And sin is a far greater enemy than the Egyptians were.
The consequences of sin are eternal.
The redemption price is of incalculable value.
Our Baptism into Christ
For the Israelites, being “baptized into Moses” signified that they were members of the covenant which God had made with his people (Exod. 24:4b–8). Moses served as mediator of that first covenant, which became obsolete, but Christ is the Mediator of the new covenant (Heb. 7:22; 8:6; 9:15). Just as God’s people became a nation with Moses as its leader, so God’s people today are incorporated into Christ, who is their spiritual head (Eph. 5:23) [Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W.]
Our baptism into Christ is a declaration that we have come to know and experience this glorious redemption.
It is a profound and moving reality that God has chosen to deliver us, despite our utter unworthiness.
Elaborate on our salvation
Today's Baptisms
Those being baptised today are declaring an understanding of God's work in Christ.
They are declaring that God has miraculously delivered them.
They are declaring that God has shown them mercy, and that
To All believers...
Every member has been baptised...
This is our declaration.

2. The Christian's Submission and Obedience in Light of Baptism (vv.5-11)

2.1. God Not Pleased (v.5)

5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
The argument here by Paul is that despite this glorious deliverance, and despite having been baptised into Moses, they failed to live in a particular manner.
Elaborate... what ought they to have done?
To show the extent of the seriousness..
In graphic terms, Paul writes that the bodies of the people were scattered over the desert floor (Num. 14:16). Funerals were the order of the day, and when pestilence struck, thousands perished (Num. 16:40; 25:9). Taking the total number of men who were twenty years and older, 603,550 (Num. 1:46), and assuming that there were an equal number of women, we divide the total, 1,207,100, by 38 (the years Israel spent in the desert after the curse [Num. 14:23]). We calculate an average of about 90 deaths per day for that entire period. A grim and daily reminder of God’s anger!

2.2. Important Examples (v.6-11)

6 Now these things happened as examples for us....
Paul is explicit that the events that happened with the Israelites have relevance to Christians
These things happened as examples for us in the church.
The Israelites were delivered from bondage and slavery, underwent a type of baptism in Moses.
Because of the glorious working of God, they had responsibility upon them to trust in God, and walk in joyful obedience before Him.
To a far greater extent, given not only the glorious reality of our own deliverance, but also the fact that we are enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit, we as Christians are called to abstain from the cravings of evil things.
As we consider this, we need to recognise the weightiness of our declaration of union with Christ.
As we have been baptised into Jesus Christ, we are declaring this transformative work in our hearts.
We are declaring that we know and understand the power of the working of God to deliver us.
Therefore, we have a responsibility to now live in accordance with this declaration!
Five examples are given from the Israelites for the instruction to the church.

2.2.1. Craving Food that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.
Numbers 11:4 (NASB95)
4 The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat?
Cravings that God, in His wisdom, and not given them.

2.2.2. Idolatry (v.7)

7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.”
Incident in Exodus 32 - Give details...
Corinth - Pagan temples... definite risk of idolatry
However, the NT speaks of idolatry in broader terms than bowing down to a statue.
There are certainly heart idols - those things that we set our affections on, and that tend to captivate the worship of our hearts.
Question we must ask...
Has something or someone besides Jesus the Christ taken title to your heart’s trust, preoccupation, loyalty, service, fear and delight? It is a question bearing on the immediate motivation for one’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings. In the Bible’s conceptualization, the motivation question is the lordship question. Who or what “rules” my behavior, the Lord or a substitute?
What drives our hearts? What fuels us?

2.2.3. Immorality (v.8)

8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.
Next, Paul warns against the lure of sensuality and immorality.
Again - something very relevant in Corinth
It is the account from Numbers 25, wherein the Moabites led Israel astray.
The Moabites lured the Israelites into immorality and the worship of Baal.
The entire situation involved sensuality and immorality as part of the worship.
What about our day?
Marked by perversion and immorality.
The warnings in Scripture in this regard are extensive.

2.2.4. Testing the Lord (v.9)

9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.
The account that Paul refers to is that from Numbers 21
In this account, the Israelites grumbled against God because of their perceived lack of food, water and comfort in the wilderness.
Numbers 21:4–5 (NASB95)
4 Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. 5 The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”
They were dissatisfied with the provisions and mercies of God, despite his hand rescuing them.
God had demonstrated his redemptive grace towards them.
He had promised them that they would be delivered, and carried into a new land - a promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Instead of believing in the promises, and therefore enduring the struggles and hardships in the time of wilderness wanderings, they rebelled.
What was the nature of their rebellion?
They voiced their anger to their leader.
They complained that He had brought them out of a wonderful land to die in the wilderness.
What did God do? He sent serpents among them.
The serpents went out among them and killed large numbers. All because they were trying the Lord. They were testing the Lord.
For Christians, Paul is sounding a warning against rebellion against God in the form of complaining against Him for life's circumstances.

2.2.5. Grumbling (v.10)

10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
This warning is along similar lines, but refers to different incidents.
Paul refers here to the time that the people complained and rose up against God's chosen leader, Moses.
Numbers 16:41-49
The point was that despite their "baptism" into Moses, they rose up against this man Moses through a rebellious spirit.
We should keep in mind the fact that as the people grumbled against Moses, they were in fact grumbling against God himself.
This grumbling against Moses caused the wrath of God to be aroused. This is clear from
Numbers 16:45 (NIV84)
45 “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.
Following this, God sent a destroying angel among the people, resulting in the deaths of 14,700 people.
This was a very serious turning away from God, and from His chosen servant.
Once again... notice why Paul is speaking these words...

2.3. Example Reiterated

11Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Comment on verse...
Let me ask: Have you been delivered by this Great Saviour?!
If that is your claim... And these waters of baptism are that claim... then Paul is calling you to a particular manner of life in which you live in allegiance to this Saviour.
To be delivered, and then to walk in rebellion against the Saviour is a serious offence.
To be delivered, and to publicly profess your allegiance to the Saviour, only to grumble against Him in the life that you now live in this world, is a serious offense. We should not minimize this.
We need to feel the weight of this, and appreciate once again the significance of our testimony through Baptism.

3. The Christian's Dependence on God in Light of Baptism (vv.12-14)

3.1. A Call to Humility (v.12)

12Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
One of the things that marked the Corinthian church was a spirit of pride.
They were contentious, they were rivalling one another in terms of which apostle or leader they followed; they were boastful in the gifts that they claimed to have, pitting one gift against the other.
What Paul calls them to here, in light of the seriousness of these matters, and their identification with Christ, is a life of humility, lest they fall.

3.2. A Call to Trust in God (v.13)

13No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
This verse really provides great encouragement to the Christian, even as they will humble themselves under the hand of the Saviour.

3.2.1. Common Temptations

The first encouragement is that whatever the temptations you may face in this world, they are not unique to you.
In this regard, we may be encouraged that there have been those who have gone before us who have been tempted just as we are.
If anything, that brings us a sense of relief.
We need not fear that we are unique or alone in our struggles.
Rather, we can be greatly encouraged that others before us have been there, that there are those even in this very day that are there alongside us, and therefore we do not suffer alone.
Further to that...
Hebrews 4:15 (NIV84)
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
Not only are there those around us who understand, but even our Saviour, Christ the Lord understands.
More encouraging, He endured the temptations without falling into sin.
Therefore, we have a confidence...

3.2.2. Faithful God

This is another great encouragement... God is a faithful God.
God is faithful to His people.
This is something that Paul had already reminded these Corinthian believers of...
1 Corinthians 1:9 (NIV84)
9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
In other words, it is the very God who called you who is faithful to keep you and guide you.
It is this very God who is present with you to uphold you and to strengthen you through the temptations that will come your way.
Notice what it is that this faithful God will do for His people...

3.2.3. Strength to Endure

He will not allow temptation beyond what you can bear...
He will ensure that the temptations that will come your way are never sufficient to lead you to lose your salvation.
He will ensure that your faith will remain strong.
Now, this does not mean that you will not suffer, and perhaps even suffer to a point where you despair even of life itself.
But it does mean that in a time of temptation, your faith in God will remain steadfast, because you serve a faithful God.
2 Peter 2:9 (NIV84)
9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.

3.2.4. A Way of Escape

Here is the next encouragement for us.
God will always provide a way out for those who are His and who trust in Him.
Part of the Corinthian problem, of course, was that some in the face of temptation were not looking for a way out by endurance, but a way in for indulgence.
And friends, we need to ask ourselves, where are our hearts in this regard?
Do we look for a way to indulge the desires of the flesh, or are seeking the way out of the temptation and into the will of Christ through trust in Jesus Christ?
Paul has very clearly outlined the glorious reality of the believers redemption in Christ, and sounded warnings for those Christians who would continue to live in sin beyond their salvation / baptism.
Now he provides the encouragement to the believer. God is faithful. God will give the means for enduring. God will supply all of your needs in this regard. He will provide a way for you to stand in light of the conflict.

3.3. A Call to Flee (v.14)

14Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
This is really a summary call...
In light of this glorious redemption, and in light of ones identification with Christ, and affirmation that Christ is Lord, flee from idolatry.
Again, as mentioned earlier, this is an idolatry that goes beyond bowing down to wooden or metal statues.
This is a heart idolatry

Application / Conclusion

A.1. Participation doesn't mean salvation

We should not rely on the participation in spiritual activities for our salvation
We should not think that God is pleased merely because......
We do these things - and they are right and proper
The question - as we go about life.... is your life marked by Christ-likeness?

A.2. Live what you claim

Called to live out our faith...
James - particularly 2
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