Baptism is not only at the forefront of Christian history, it is at the forefront of the individual Christian experience. Baptism allows us to have a closer relationship with God. It is a requirement for salvation. Whether we are already baptized, or considering it, it is important for us all to examine this essential Christian practice.
I have a question for all of you, whether you be here in this hall or whether you be listening to the cybercast this afternoon and that is, oftentimes when we are going through life, big things come our way and at times, things that we’re just not prepared for, so sometimes when those big things come our way, we ask questions, What should I have done? Or what can be done? Or whatever am I going to do? Now those are three questions that basically cover past and present and future and maybe right now some of you have those questions staring you right in the face, whatever am I going to do? I didn’t plan it this way, I didn’t mean to get here, but now I’m here and it’s a ride and I’ve got to come to some decision making. Such questions were asked at the very beginning of the Christian era. In fact it’s very interesting that the first compelling question mentioned in the book of Acts goes this way. Join me if you would over in Acts 2 and lets take a notice and frame work this question, of what should I do? It’s found in Acts 2 and the story begins in V. 37 actually much further up, but for sake of time, let me cut into the thought where the apostle Peter is speaking to the Jews that are there in Jerusalem on Pentecost Day.
Acts 2:37 Acts 2:37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?
American King James Version×— And now when they had heard this, they were cut to the heart…those Jews that were hearing this…and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
They had come to realize that they had put Christ to death. They had in a sense, had really blown it and there were no answers. And then Peter, without even a beat or even a drop of a hat, comes back and says, under the inspiration of God’s spirit:
V. 38 — "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit. For the promise…" what promise?
V. 39 — "For the promise is to you and your children…to those that would come along…and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."
So what we find here in the very beginning of the book of Acts are two things that I want to bring to your attention today as a Christian audience and that is:
#1 - Baptism is at the forefront of the Christian history. It is at the forefront, it is right at the beginning. It is the first answer of the first compelling question that is asked and that is, the statement regarding baptism.
#2 — To draw you into the message this afternoon, it is in the forefront of the individual Christian experience. It is not only about history, it’s relevance is today in your life and in my life and in the life of those that are going to come to the very end when Jesus Christ comes back to this earth, baptism is going to be essential for an individual to understand and go through in order to be saved. That is it, it is that important. Baptism is a requirement for salvation. And I’ll come back to that a little bit later at the end of the message regarding that and why I state that so strongly.
Let’s talk about baptism for a moment. I’ve maybe already answered my question but does it really matter whether you are baptized or not? Could you imagine getting a telephone call — Hello? And you hello back and you say, "You have just been given a gift, you have just been given a brand new car, you’ve been given a Cadillac, a beautiful baby blue Cadillac, spoke wheels, fully loaded, comfortable seats, wonderful stereo system, gigantic engine and it is all yours, you’ve got it. You’re ready to ride, you’re ready to go." But there’s something missing, you don’t have the keys in your hand, you don’t have something to switch on the ignition to be able to enjoy that wonderful beautiful gift that has been given you.
Brethren, baptism is the key that turns on the ignition to the kingdom of God. Baptism is not the back door to God’s kingdom — it is the front door to God’s kingdom, it is the front door to having a relationship with God and we need to talk about it today as a church family, as far as how important it is, #1, to be baptized and #2, for us that are baptized, to truly understand the wonderful wonderful gift that our God has given us. Some of you today out in this audience are considering baptism and that’s wonderful and that’s good and I want to talk to you about that and in the months ahead, I’d like to get together with you, in fact we’re going to have a baptism class. I don’t want to wait until February or March, right before the holy days, then people want to get baptized as Passover is coming up. I don’t want the rush crush. I want to be able to take time, I want to get to be able to share the wonderful things of God with you and for you in a more deeper way. So some of you want to be baptized and we are going to have that class.
Some of you have not considered baptism, lets talk about that for a moment. Some of you have not considered baptism, for some it seemingly is no big deal, grew up in the church, know the truth, believe in God, keep God’s laws, pretty moral person — isn’t that enough? You know, one day when I kind of get around to it and when I have time and when I feel up to and when I feel good about myself and I think I’m ready — what’s the rush — I’ll get around to it. Kind of in this L.A. mood we’re in, I’m O.K., you’re O.K., I’m cool, you’re cool, what’s the big deal, can’t we all get along? So what’s the hurry and what’s the rush? Some, unknowingly and unwittingly, even those that have grown up in the church, treat baptism as if it’s an elective course in the kingdom of God, rather than the fundamental basic number one class that we start with, that we move through together in the birth canal towards the kingdom of God. Again, baptism is not the back door, it is the front door to what God wants us to enter upon.
Some of us may be running away from baptism, some of us may look around and say, Well, you know, if this person is baptized, I don’t want to be baptized, my dad was baptized, my mom was baptized and I remember what they were like — or my uncle was in the church and he was baptized and I remember what he was like, or I remember what this person was like, and what we do when go down that street is we are looking at everybody frankly that cannot save us — and remove our eyes off of the One that can do something with us and that’s God the Father and Jesus Christ. And we allow a lot of people to get in our way, between us and God and brethren we’ve got to stop that, that’s not Christianity, that’s humanity, that’s not God’s nature, that’s human nature and we’re running away from the call that God has given us.
Some of us might say, Well you know I don’t know if I have what it takes. Well that’s exactly why you need to consider baptism, because you don’t have what it takes, you don’t have what it takes until you are baptized and you receive the loving power of God. God Himself, God’s essence, God is holy, God is spirit and He grants that to us at baptism. Some of us have said, Well you know, I frankly don’t want to get involved in organized religion, had it up to here with organized religion — been there, done that, been a part of church all my life and I’m just not going to go there, I don’t want to attach. I say to you, what does baptism have to do with organized religion? Baptism has nothing to do with organized religion, it has everything to do with your salvation, it has everything to do with God’s wonderful and glorious gift that He wants to give you. Some might, in this audience, need to consider further unlocking the spirit of God that is in them at baptism. Some of us, even to this day, and even on this Sabbath day, may be reeling from trial to trial, trauma to trauma, event to event. We mark our life by trial or trauma or event, rather than, and this is the consideration that I want you to have, rather than marking time by our baptism.
At our baptism, BC and AD, at baptism, the ageless kingdom came into our life. We were joined with the family of God, God is the Father, Christ is the Son, the holy spirit dwelling within us — and there’s something very special that happened. I find oftentimes, having been in ministerial work now for nearly 30 years that people want to kind of tell me about trial to trial, person to person, event to event, rather than talking about what God did with them in the beginning, when they were in that pool, when they were in that pool of decision, when they were in that pool of vow, when they were in that pool before their God and the minister asked them, "Have you repented of your sins?" And you said, "Yes sir." And then the minister asked you, "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?" And you said, "Yes sir." And then the minister said, "Because you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and because you have repented of all of your sins, which is the breaking of God’s holy and righteous law, I am going to baptize you, not into any church, sect, creed or denomination…" Baptism has nothing to do with an organization, it has everything to do with God and salvation, that is what was spoken at your baptism, do you remember that? For what? For the remission of your sins. And then the minister, if he was a good one…(all ministers are good!)…said, "And do you understand?" And you said, "Yes sir." And he said, "Amen." And then he took you and just like in this baptismal trough, and he put you underneath the water, held you there…no, just teasing, put you underneath the water, which pictures the death of the old man and he brought you up which is a type of the resurrection, and of newness of life and then you had hands touch put upon you by a human instrument, a human instrument of God, setting you apart for the gift of God to come into you.
Now all of us, whether we’re running in fear, running away, not thinking it’s a big deal, wanting to be baptized, needing to be jettisoned with what is already in us, all of us may approach this subject in many ways but there is only one approach that God has for each and every one of us brethren, our loving heavenly Father wants us to appreciate the gift of baptism and what He has done for us. He wants us to be His children, He wants us to be in His family and He wants us to be on the inside looking out, not the outside looking in, and that can only begin with baptism.
So I want to talk about this Christian experience, one of the core doctrines of the church, of the bible and that is baptism. To allow some of you, that perhaps for one reason or another have not considered it, to consider it. And for us that have been baptized, to fully grasp what our God has given us. Before we ask any further about why baptism, we need to ask ourselves, what is God doing? Join me over in Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×. It is fundamental to understand what God is doing and at the very beginning He shares the gospel message. You don’t have to wait til Matthew to get to the gospel, the specific purpose statement of all of scripture and of the gospel starts in Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×.
Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×— Then God said, "Let us make man in Our image and according to Our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
God, from the very beginning created out of the dust humanity in type, not in fullness, but in type, after His image and after His likeness and/or similitude. And what He did with that first man and with that first woman, having done that, He offered the tree of life. We find that in Genesis 2 where it says that:
Genesis 2:8 Genesis 2:8And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
American King James Version×— The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there He put the man whom He had formed and out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food and the tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
He offered — it’s very important to understand He offered the tree of life. The reason why He offered the tree of life was that that tree of life represented the sufficiency for humanity of everything that God offered. It would have given and it would have established in humanity’s heart, a right relationship with God, a right relationship with his fellow man and a right relationship with the environment around. But Adam rejected that relationship. Why did he reject that relationship? Why did he disobey? Did he obedience get him in trouble? How many think his obedience got him in trouble? Did his disobedience get him in trouble? What got him in trouble? Keith? What do you think? His disobedience. Did I say obedience or disobedience? Did his disobedience get him in trouble; did his disobedience get him knocked out of the Garden of Eden, right? O.K. But what preceded that disobedience? What preceded the disobedience? Why did he feel like he had to take everything in his own hands? Why did he all of a sudden begin to feel like, Well you know I’m knocked out of the loop of opportunities, God has passed me by, God isn’t telling me everything, I think I have to begin taking matters into my own hand. You know whenever you sin, you are basically taking matters into your own hand, it’s like the cookie jar. You think your mom isn’t letting you into the goodies, so you do it yourself.
What happened brethren is simply this, Adam and Eve did not believe God. They did not have faith in God, they did not believe that God would perform what He promised and that God’s word was insufficient, therefore the tree of life was insufficient, therefore they were cast ultimately out of the Garden of Eden for not believing. Because their belief was transformed into their actions of disobedience and they went out.
Brethren, what I want to share with you today is that we come to God in faith, we must come to God in belief, that is what you stated when you were baptized. For those of you considering baptism, baptism is based upon your belief and because you believe in God then, and you believe that He is a good God, and you believe that He gave His only Son for you and you do believe that He has a purpose for you and you come to believe that His law is holy and righteous and good, therefore then, you do it. Now let’s understand Adam did not do it. Adam rejected what God said. What does God say He wants for us, long term? Join me over in Ephesians 3. This is what we are being called to brethren and you simply do not want to miss it, you want to be there, you want to be a part of this, this is what we’re being called to.
Ephesians 3:14 Ephesians 3:14For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
American King James Version×— For this reason I bow my knees…for this reason I believe…to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.
God is developing a family, God is in the process of creating and establishing a family of children, after His likeness, in His similitude. God is not creating spiritual pets, God is not creating deitific blips on some spiritual radar out there, He is not creating shadows for the kingdom, He is in the process of creating Himself and giving what He is and naming His name on us and being able to live forever. God’s got enough angels, He’s not creating angels, He’s expanding His family.
V. 16-19 — That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with might through His spirit in the inner man, that Christ might dwell in your hearts through faith, that you being rooted and grounded in love, maybe be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and the length and the depth and the heights — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Adam could not, would not, did not, comprehend what is the width, what is the length, what is the depth and the height of God’s love. He did not approach God in faith, he approached God in fear. Love cannot be perfected in fear. This verse then must be linked with Hebrews 2, if you’ll join me over there for a second. In Heb. 2 it allows us to comprehend the great love of God and the love of Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×, lets notice what it says here:
Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×— For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, and to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
V. 11 — For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one…it’s very interesting, the New International Version says this: Who are being sanctified are all of one family, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.
Now brethren, this is one of the hallmarks of understanding the gospel and that is to understand that God is establishing a family. Sometimes you and I can hear that so often within our Los Angeles congregation or our Garden Grove congregation or wherever you grew up, that after awhile, it can kind, well, you know, God is calling a family. Brethren, that is mind-blowing, that is heart-growing, that should just make us so excited, so turned-on as to how this works, to recognize as it says in John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×, Jesus Christ speaking, that "No man can come unto Me unless first the Father draw him." We have an invitation from God the Father. You know why He’s called the Father? Because the Father has the seed and the Father decides where the seed goes and He’s decided it goes to you. You have an invitation to be a part of His family. Have you gotten any better deals recently?
You know the other day I got a note from this gentleman in India named Hubert and I got all excited and I’m at my keyboard, you know when you’re at your keyboard at your computer you never know what’s going to happen next, you push a button, all of sudden, You have mail. Bud’s laughing because he’s my computer man. Wow! It says somebody has sent you a letter, have you ever had one of those where somebody sends you a letter, am I the only one? Am I the only that has a computer here? Nobody writes you? You need love, they need a test Paul! I’ve got a letter, you know one of those letters that came on, it’s got color and all of a sudden it comes up, Thinking about you, I thought wow, I’ve got a letter, somebody was thinking about me. Then all of a sudden the music comes on, did you ever get one of these letters that has music? Wow! They took a lot of time, wow, this is something I can’t do, so I think, Wow, this is really great. And there I am, I’m all excited at my little desk because somebody thought of sending me a card of thankfulness or greetings and I get all warm and fuzzy inside and all excited. And brethren that is paled into infinticimy of what God has done for us from the sovereign heights in the northern kingdom, in that great space that is out there, our God has reached down in this day and in this age and He says, I want you! Not because of what you are, not of where you have been, but because of what I am and what I want to do with you. I want to clean you up and I want to put a part of Myself in you. But We can’t do it until you have done something else and that is to accept My Son as your sacrifice, it has to be that way, that’s how God did it. That’s what it’s about. Join me in Romans 5. Let’s understand how salvation works.
Romans 5:6 Romans 5:6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
American King James Version×— For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, and yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love…and it is a demonstration brethren, it is out there every second…that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were still in sin, when we did not even know what we were doing or we were proud of what we were doing or we had no intention of being a Christian before we were even a gleam in our Father’s eye, Christ died for us, we had never even met Him, we had never even talked to Him. He was an acquaintance that we didn’t know. As it says in the book of Isaiah…we passed Him by and we did not look upon Him. You know different people come at different levels of acquaintance, I’m sure you’ve found that on the sidewalks sometimes, you’re going down the sidewalk and people pass you, ever done that before — people pass you and they say things to you. Ever run into what I call the "hello people" — you say hello to them and what do they say to you? "Hello." That’s why we call them the hello people, just walking down, hello, hello. And then there are people that, you know you walk down the street, "Nice day…no clouds today." Kind of what we call the weather man. Then you have the next round of people, you’re walking down the street, "How are you?" You just kind of want to grab that person and say, "Do you really want to know today how I am? You really want to know? Do you have the time?" So none of you are going to say "How are you?" from now on! You’re just going to give a holy kiss! We had not even said hello, we had never just said, Nice day, we had never even asked Christ or inquired, How are you? And yet at that non-juncture, our Father, His Son, God, determined a plan that would go into effect, that they would die for us while we were yet in sin.
This raises an important point. We often suffered, and this is sometimes what puts people off from baptism, we suffer from the human misapprehension that we need to wait to be baptized til we are right with God or more perfect or more God-like or read more scriptures or counseled more or done this or this. Something that we need to understand my friends is simply this — that baptism is not for the sinless. Baptism is for sinners, it’s not for the perfect, it is for the fallen. It is for those who have fallen and know they are no good and time is of the essence. When you look at Acts 2:36-39 Acts 2:36-39  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.  Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?  Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
American King James Version×, these men are in pandemonium, panic, they do not know what to do, they know they have literally stepped in the cow pie of life, they know they have slain the Savior and they say, Men and brethren, what can we do? And without a skip of the beat, the holy spirit inspires Peter saying, Repent, be baptized and receive the holy spirit. Why is that line so important brethren? Because it shows from the very beginning that the gospel is not about condemnation, but it is about salvation. It is not about putting down, it is about lifting up. Peter was an agent of hope, inspired by the holy spirit.
A question to each and every one of us. Are we an agent of hope? How long do we allow our mates, our children, our co-workers, our brethren, our parents to linger without hope? How long do we hold them at bay? You see in that fantastic line between Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×and 39, God’s spirit is on the spot. God’s spirit is a spirit of hope, it is a spirit of growth, it is a spirit of enthusiasm, it is a spirit of expansionism, it’s not, Well, we’ll get to you someday. And at the same time, those men that sought that baptism then, were men that didn’t say, Well, I want to go back and visit my friends or I’ve got a dying father, or I’ve got this or I’ve got that or I’ll put that off.
Brethren, may I speak plainly? I think at times for some reason or another, we have not totally understood the total significance of baptism and held it up to the very high, high, high reality that it is. It is the marker in our book of life, it is our beginning, it is not our end, but it certainly is our beginning, it is the anchor that should moor us. When we are having trials and when we are having troubles, rather than looking at a person, we need to go back to basics and go back to our baptism and how we started, out of the starting blocks, of our experience and our relationship with God. When things seem dismal and no hope, we need to go back to our baptism and recognizing that baptism is about hope when there is no hope, it is about resurrection from the dead, this should be our marker, this should be our understanding, this should be our call that we go forward and not backwards and not out of the calling of Christianity. You and I, wherever we were, whether we were baptized in a river, in an ocean wave, in a pool, in some deacon’s basement with that old galvanized trough, metal canister, whatever it was, you took a vow.
You took a vow before God and you accepted the most precious thing that ever occurred in the history of God’s kingdom and that was the death of His Son and you accepted that, therefore you are to be committed, therefore you are to lend credibility to the name of God in your life. Therefore you are to be a different person, therefore you should not be tossed back and forth, back and forth between person and person, event and event, trauma and trauma, because you recognize that the kingdom of God, in that sense and in that type and in that part, has now come into your life and that your life is God’s and that nothing can ever be the same again. Brethren, do you feel that way, do you have that credibility, do you have that commitment? We’ve been through a lot, been an exciting 15 years around here, have you noticed? But what you were called to is not about men. You have been allowed, I have been allowed the ability to peek into the keyhole of eternity and to have that turned by God’s gift of baptism and the giving of His holy spirit. That makes your life different, that makes my life different. As it says in the book of Ephesians 1:13-14 Ephesians 1:13-14  In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.
American King James Version×— we are now…sealed with the spirit of promise. That means God has made a down payment on our lives.
Have you noticed recently, you know the housing market in LA is kind of going that way and so you know what a lot of people are doing? They are getting their offer right in, but you know you don’t take an offer because talk is cheap, so what do you have to do when you buy a house? You have to put some moola down, you have to put down what we call earnest money, you have to put down some money, you quote your price, you put your check down, that says you’re no longer a lookey loo, you’re no longer a tourist in the neighborhood, you are dead serious, you want that house. That is what God is saying in the book of Ephesians, that when He seals us with the earnest of the spirit, He’s put a down payment down. He says, I want Anne Veara, I want Doug Hall, I want George Mayer, I want Bud Carlson, and Tony, He wants you too! He wants us, He loves us, He wants us to be a part of His family. Before that happens, something has to happen. Colossians 2, turn with me over there please. In the book of Colossians, it gives us the symbiology of baptism and tells us to a degree how it works out to that point.
Colossians 2:11 Colossians 2:11 In whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
American King James Version×— In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ…now there’s something different happening here, there’s no longer what is occurring to the outward person, but now there is a circumcision for the Israel of God that occurs without hands and once that has occurred, then notice, we are:
V. 12 - …buried with Him in baptism. As Christ was buried, we are buried…and in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead.
And so you are buried in baptism and that’s why, following the example of the bible, that’s why we literally immerse people totally in water. It’s very hard to get buried in a drop of water, have you ever tried that one? The sprinkling style, it’s very hard to find a coffin out of a sprinkle, the baptistery. No, you’re buried. God, who is the master educator, understands exactly the lessons that we need to take home to point. So we’re buried and then we’re raised, but it says that there’s this circumcision without hands and that’s the point that I’d like to just share with you as we begin to conclude brethren, is to recognize that God goes to work on us even before we begin to actually recognize it. It’s God’s call, it says it’s God the Father that calls, but let’s notice Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×and I think sometimes this is what stymies people from coming fully into baptism or appreciating their baptism or even exactly what God has done in the process. In Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×notice this about what God offers.
Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×- For by grace you have been saved through faith…through our belief…and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God.
Sometimes brethren, what we do humanly we don’t mean to, perhaps unwittingly or unknowingly, we try to develop faith on our own. I do believe, I do believe, I do believe, I do believe, or you know you get the rose, get the little petal, I believe, I don’t believe, I believe, I don’t believe. Then finally when you get two believes in a row, I’m ready for baptism. That’s not how it works brethren. The faith that you need comes from God, it is not earth-bound, it is heaven-sent, it comes from God, it is God’s gift. God is so much already in the process that sometimes we don’t even recognize it, but as He gives that gift to us, we need to embrace it, we need to use it so that when He does offer us the gift of faith, He’s going to create situations where, will we exercise faith? Like Mr. Armstrong used to say, God doesn’t just put a feeder on the top of our head like a goose and just start pouring stuff down our heads saying, Here’s a whole bunch of faith or here’s a whole bunch of this or that. God is going to allow certain situations to come into our life once He’s given us that gift — and it is a gift — He creates situations as to whether or not we’ll do it.
I want you to understand firmly and confidently brethren, and take joy in the aspect that believing faith, the same faith that Jesus Christ had, the faith of Christ, not only the faith in Christ, but the faith of Christ can be ours and God wants to put that into your life. Also, let’s go over to Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
American King James Version×.
Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
American King James Version×— Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance.
It’s not my goodness, it’s not my preaching, you already know that, it’s not my preaching, it’s not your goodness, it’s not goodness, it’s not necessarily written material that is in front of you, this is man’s doing. It is the goodness of God that leads you and me to repentance. To real change, to desire to stop what from what we’ve been doing, which has been opposite of what God is doing to turning around. But simply turning around 180 degrees is not repentance, that’s just spiritual paralysis. Repentance is not only turning around 180 degrees, it is now moving forward in faith that you really do believe. It is that understanding the life, understanding the death, understanding the resurrection of the Son of a Father whose has given you an invitation, who is presenting you eternity in His kingdom as a member of His family and that He will give you the provisions, that He gives us the promises, and yes, there is that process in between, of character building, but it is theirs. There is nothing between you and the tree of life other than yourself, the invitation is there, the Savior is there, the book is here to guide us and God says, Come forward, God says, I want to work with you and I want you to be a part of My kingdom.
Why then be baptized? As Christians under the New Covenant, we are baptized because our Savior was baptized. Jesus Christ not only taught but He practiced what He preached. Jesus Christ was baptized in the River Jordan. In Matthew 3:16 Matthew 3:16And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him:
American King James Version×, you can go over there to check it out, it says that He came up out of the water. He came up out of that water, He was baptizo, which is, in the Greek, meaning immersed. He was baptized to validate the ministry of His cousin John. He was baptized to set all of His follower’s for all time an example — when He says, Follow Me, you know exactly what to follow.
#3 - A thought that I’d like to share with you, that He was baptized as a matter of the washings of becoming and qualifying to be the High Priest for Israel and all humanity. When you look at Leviticus 16:4 Leviticus 16:4He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches on his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen turban shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
American King James Version×, the Day of Atonement, the high priest was washed before he made atonement for the people. Jesus Christ came to this earth and He was washed so that He could make atonement for the people.
Why then do you and I need to baptized? Because Jesus Christ will always and forever only be one High Priest to all humanity, but you and I are being trained to be a part of a kingdom of priests. You and I are being trained to be a kingdom of priests. Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×. Therefore we are washed and in that washing and that submergence, we say that we are no longer, we’re no longer there, we no longer want to be that way. That’s a beautiful feeling brethren. That’s a wonderful feeling that we need to understand, we need to remember what it was like and we need to hold to those things.
In baptism, God offers you and me a new identity; He offers us a new life. You cannot buy that, you cannot buy a new identity. Oh you can, but how far does it get you in California? And all of your sins are forgiven. What can that possibly mean? All of your sins at baptism, when I or another elder take you to this baptismal pool and we put you underneath the water and you come up and we say, "All of your sins are forgiven." What does that mean? That means that all of your sins are what? Yes, they are forgiven. In that sense, in a typology, Jesus Christ has taken those sins of ours, covered them with His blood and submerges them in the deepest ocean, the deepest trench. There’s a trench out in the Pacific Ocean called the Marianas Trench, it’s over 36,000 feet deep, that’s almost six times as high as Mt. Wilson…and then they go to the bottom and then Jesus Christ takes a sign and puts it right there on top of that wave and it says, "No fishing allowed." Can never be drudged up again, can never be pulled up, can never be trolled up.
Why is Jesus Christ in that sense, allowed to put that sign up? I’ll tell you why, because He’s the one that died for you and for me. He is the one that that makes the difference. His Father in heaven wants Him to be the one that makes the difference. The Father is not jealous of the Son for the Son is subservient to the will and to the role of the Father. But He loves His Son, but beyond that great love that He has for the One that was the Word that became Christ, He also has an incredible love and desire for you to be a part of His family and to not only live life but to live life abundantly. If you’d like to live life abundantly, if you’d like to talk more about baptism, I would appreciate anybody in this room giving me a call in the next week or two, I’m going to be setting up a series of two or three brief baptismal counseling, that will be with a group, that’s kind of fun because we’re all learning the same thing at the same time and then we would basically then have a private counseling after that because there may be certain things you may want to discuss on your own before we proceed.
But brethren, I feel that this is where we need to be as a congregation, I think we need to be more than ever, in the United Church of God and the body of Christ as a whole, to understand the great miracles of the bible, the great stories of the bible, these bookmarkers that God puts in our life. There is a lot yet to do brethren, on this earth, we need to be about our Father’s will and our Father’s will begins by your submission to Him, by following the biblical injunction of repenting, of being baptized and then receiving the holy spirit.