OAKRIDGE BIBLE CHAPEL

Living a Baptized Life

It occurred to me that someone wandering into our service today would be very confused about what just happened here. Hot tubs are for back yards or for spas, but in a church? “What is going on?”, they would ask in their confusion, and understandably so.

But it also occurs to me that some believers who should know what is going on have a shaky understanding as well. They might know that all believers are commanded by Christ to be baptized, and that is true. They might have some idea that it is tied in with declaring your faith publicly, but the rest is kind of sketchy. To help clear away some of the confusion I want to give you 5 words about baptism. Baptism is symbolic of great truths and is rich in meaning.

SERMON MANUSCRIPT

It occurred to me that someone wandering into our service today would be very confused about what just happened here. Hot tubs are for back yards or for spas, but in a church? “What is going on?”, they would ask in their confusion, and understandably so.

But it also occurs to me that some believers who should know what is going on have a shaky understanding as well. They might know that all believers are commanded by Christ to be baptized, and that is true. They might have some idea that it is tied in with declaring your faith publicly, but the rest is kind of sketchy. To help clear away some of the confusion I want to give you 5 words about baptism. Baptism is symbolic of great truths and is rich in meaning.

Commemoration of my death to sin

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Romans 6:13 NIV

Death you say? Did we just witness a death? I think both candidates made it through alive. Did we do a head count? It is not a death we witnessed but the commemoration of a death. Indeed the celebration of it. Let me illustrate.

Some of you may have noticed my sweater. It says, Toronto Blue Jays repeat world series champions 1993. I realize many of you weren’t around that far back. Some of you were but didn’t care what happened in the sport of baseball, but for those who cared, we won the world series. I say we, not because we were on the team, but because they, the Blue Jays, represented all our hopes, and they came through for us. So, when Joe Carter hit his famous homerun, we won. So we celebrate the victory as ours and we commemorate it. This is what is happening here. We are commemorating how he died for us on the cross and rose again.

When did this death happen? Well, it happened 2000 years ago. That is when Jesus died as our representative, our substitute. And by dying he won a mighty victory for us.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

We know he died to pay for our sins, but this is another idea. He did not just die for us, he died as us. That’s because in our very nature we are flawed, corrupted, sinful, right from birth, like some terrible birth defect that no medicine or surgery can correct, and that birth defect is lethal.

 For as in Adam all die

1 Corinthians 15:22a NIV

 The only way to rid ourselves of it is to die. Well, Jesus died that death for us. He died that death so that we could live. And the bonus part is that when we die, we get that old, corrupted part of us removed forever.

Christians aren’t perfect but we have a perfect Saviour. So, we commemorate the death of the one who took our place and we affirm we are his. That’s what these baptized ones have done today. They are saying, “I’m a Christ follower. His death was my death. His resurrection, my resurrection.”

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Galatians 3:27 NIV

New recruits to a baseball team signify it by putting on the team sweater. This is what our candidates have done. They have put on the sweater for Jesus’ team. Maybe we should have some sweaters made up, not with the Jays logo, but with Team Jesus. But there is more.

Commitment to holiness for Christ.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

Romans 6:11–13 NIV

Notice that the writer is appealing to believers to make a choice. Five times in this passage he indicates a choice needs to be made. Let’s count them. There must be an act of the will, a commitment, to stop living according to the desires of that sinful nature. This should prove to us that that old sinful nature is still alive and active as ever. It is not dead yet. So we still have to wrestle with it. That’s why he started the passage with the question, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may increase?” You see, there is a choice to make.

We must choose to stop doing something and start doing another. Now that we belong to Jesus, he does not want us to live according to the dictates of that old sinful nature. He wants us to learn to say no to its rebellious desires and to live for him in holiness. This process begins by commitment of our bodies to God. We stop operating under the old premise that our bodies are ours to do with as we please. Now we surrender the right of government of our bodies to God in order to do his will.

You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19b–20 NIV

If this sounds like a loss of freedom to you, then you are understanding it right. We are choosing to submit to a new master and give him total allegiance. The passage puts it this way.

 Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.

Romans 6:19b NIV

Yes, it is a loss of personal freedom, but the reward is that we enjoy true freedom and that comes from being a slave to Jesus Christ. And we surrender every part. Notice he repeats this for emphasis in verse 13. That is because we tend to fail in one area or another. A part of us rebels.

Maybe it is our mind. We start to think evil thoughts. We need to surrender that part again. Maybe it is our sexual desires. We need to surrender that part again. Maybe it is the emotional parts of us. We lose control of our anger or we give way to fear. It means that that area needs to be surrendered again to our baptismal commitment. And we surrender on an ongoing basis. Commitment on a daily basis becomes part of the devotional life of the believer. I don’t know about you, but I know my own rebellious heart. So I practice a daily commitment to God, to do his will. It keeps me living a baptized life.

This was the prayer of commitment of our Saviour when faced with the awful expectation of the sufferings of the cross.

Yet not my will, but yours be done.

Luke 22:42b NIV

We need to pray this prayer on a regular basis.

Cleansing for holiness

Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.

Acts 22:16b NIV

In Jesus’ day people were very familiar with baptism. The pious Jew would ceremonially bathe as a sign of purification from the sin and defilement of the world. When John the Baptist came, he announced a baptism of repentance, and the people who were baptized were confessing their sins so as to be purified from them. It wasn’t the water that washed sins away, it was the desire for a spiritual cleansing from God. This idea of cleansing carries over into Christian baptism as well. Peter expresses it this way:

This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.

1 Peter 3:21a NIV

The idea of a pledge of a good conscience can also mean an appeal for a good conscience. The person being baptized is saying, “Lord, whatever it takes, I want to have a clean heart. Please cleanse me.”

An old hymn goes this way,

So cleanse me now, without within. Or purge with fire if that must be. No matter how, if only sin, die out in me, die out in me.

The person being baptized is celebrating how Jesus has washed their sins away, but also committing to a life of cleansing on a regular basis. I don’t need to take a ceremonial bath for this as the Jews did. I do need to pray and ask the Lord to cleanse me. Psalm 51 describes this cleansing process.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:1–2 NIV

One day Jesus washed the disciples feet and Peter said, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you have not part with me.” Then Peter said, “Then Lord, not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well.” Jesus replied, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not ever one of you. “

Jesus was teaching Peter the value of cleansing. The whole body cleansing is like the first cleansing I receive from the Lord when I ask him to save me. But subsequent washings of the feet are necessary to remove the defilement of our hearts on an ongoing basis. Christians need to be aware of the contamination of heart and mind on a daily basis and seek this cleansing regularly. “Lord, wash me!”

Conflict in life

Baptism is a symbol for trouble. We use the word even in modern English to describe a difficult time in life, a trial. Jesus was one day asked by his disciples James and John if they could sit beside him on his throne in glory. Jesus replied in this way:

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

Mark 10:38 NIV

The cup Jesus drank was nothing less than the pain of his cross. The baptism was the suffering he endured there. And believers who want to follow Jesus will face conflict as well. In many parts of the world this is obvious. Those in communist countries are often persecuted for their baptismal commitment. Those in Muslim countries may be shunned by their families and friends. But even here in Canada, there is the very real possibility of conflict after baptism. Jesus himself was baptized by John the Baptist. Immediately after that it says,

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.

Mark 1:12–13b NIV

Satan does not like it when Christians get serious about their faith and choose to be baptized. He will attack in various ways and believers need to be ready for it. But you see in tis verse that the Spirit led him into the wilderness. God himself will test our faith not to destroy it but to strengthen it. Because a faith that is not tested is a faith that can’t be trusted. God is giving us opportunity to show our love for him as we seek to serve him. We don’t ask for trials, but they will come and when we choose to live for Jesus we can expect opposition.

Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted

2 Timothy 3:12 NIV

Therefore, conflict is an integral part of the baptized life. And we learn to accept it because it leads us to glory. And that takes us to the last word to describe baptism.

Consummation which means victory, achieving the final goal of life

Those who are baptized today have started on the path to true glory. They have taken hold of that which is life indeed.

I talked with a young Christian who was going through some hard times. He was having some health problems and had recently been laid off from his job. “I am going nowhere in life. I’m a failure”, were his words. I reminded him that he had recently trusted Christ and was baptized. And I told him. This is God’s view of your life. You have become a child of God, a son of the king of kings. That already has made you a winner. Also, You are in the school of God, the most prestigious learning institution in the universe, and you are learning to follow the Lord of heaven and earth. One day in glory you will rule and reign with Christ.

Does that sound like failure? No. That is the recipe of success in God’s book. That is true victory in life. Every day that you endure for Jesus’ sake will result in

…praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:7c NIV

Because,

 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him

2 Timothy 2:12 KJV

So there we have it, 5 words to describe baptism.

Commemoration: I’m celebrating the fact Jesus died for me, and I’m identifying with his team.

Commitment: I’m choosing to live for Jesus, to die to my old ways and to do what the Lord wants me to do.

Cleansing: This ceremonial washing is a commitment to a life of being cleansed spiritually. My constant prayer will be, “Lord, wash me.”

Conflict: I know this road will not be easy. There will be trials and conflicts as I walk counter to the ways of this world and seek to serve the Lord. But I am willing to bear the pain of this for the Lord because I know it will result in his honour and my blessing.

Consummation: All the while I am keeping my eye on the prize, the day when I stand before my Lord and hear him say, “Well done.” I want the reward he gives. I have made that my life mission and I know there is no better way to live life.



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Jim Rennie is an elder at Oakridge Bible Chapel and an occasional speaker. He is a medical doctor with Christian counselling practice. Shortly after graduation from medical school he and his wife, Kathy, spent 14 years in Zambia as medical missionaries.

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