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Baptism Journey into Joy

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									Shalom Baptist Church                                             Rick Stapleton, D. Min.
August 22, 2010                                                           Romans 6:1-13


                            Baptism: Journey into Joy
Testimony of Polly Kerkvliet:
      In a few minutes, Pastor Rick is going to talk about baptism. As some of you
      know, Tim and I were baptized this past weekend and had an awesome, awesome
      experience. I had first given my life to Christ when I was 9 years old. I stayed
      with the church and was involved a lot in the church up through high school. I
      met Tim and we got married. I was Seventh-Day Adventist and he was Catholic.
      There wasn‘t a lot of religious issues that were the same. We went to the Catholic
      Church at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and once in a while in between. His
      mom would call once in a while and say ‗we‘re getting together as a family are
      you going to join us?‘ Sure. But it wasn‘t a big deal. Life was good and we lived
      that way for a while. Then after being married 11 years we found out we were
      going to have a baby. It was like, wow, we need to make a couple of changes. We
      should probably clean up the language a little; we don‘t want the 2-year-old
      swearing. We should probably start going to church again. We still didn‘t go a
      lot…it‘s kind of cold out today, ah, we‘ll skip. We‘re camping this summer so
      we‘ll wait until this fall. Life was still good. We prayed once in a while but a lot
      of times they were not real meaningful. ‗Ooh, I passed a cop going 66, please
      don‘t let him give me a ticket. Or ‗rain, we‘ve had it for five days.‖ But every
      once in a while I‘d pray, ‗Lord, please let my family share the same religion.‘ We
      bought Tim‘s parent‘s house and we met the Stapletons and what a blessing. We
      started to watch them, we aren‘t snoopy so don‘t get the wrong idea, but there
      were different things that we saw that were really neat. The kids and the family
      seemed to really enjoy spending time together. I‘m sorry, but when I was their age
      being with parents wasn‘t a popular thing. But they just had a different demeanor
      about them. So Tim decided to find out a little more about Shalom Baptist Church
      and he went on the Internet and did some research. Pastor Rick was preaching his
      Toxic Assets series. The service we looked at going to was Sex and What God
      Has Planned for Your Family. Tim said ‗there is no way he is going to pull that
      off.‘ He called Pastor Rick and said, ‗you know I have a little kid, can I bring
      her?‘ He said, ‗absolutely.‘ So Tim said, ‗we‘re going ‗cause he‘s not going to
      pull it off.‘ Well, he did with flying colors. We have been coming ever since. It
      has brought my family to a wonderful point in our lives. We have made
      wonderful friends that God has sent us. And we now share the same religion and
      enjoy coming to church and worshipping God together. And for that I want to
      thank him.

Thank you Polly. It‘s pretty cool what God has done in the neighborhood. You never
know when God brings you different places what God is going to do. It‘s all a God thing;
I‘m going to give the glory to God. They are great neighbors to have across the street as
well. It‘s a big privilege to be a part of that story.


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1. Baptism symbolizes our belief that Jesus’ death and resurrection saves us.

Paul is dealing with a problem. His claim that God forgives all our sins when we trust in
Jesus Christ, has been twisted by his enemies. They have misquoted Paul by saying that
we should ―go on sinning so that grace may increase.‖ So Paul begins this passage with
their objection in verse 1:

       What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

He points out that this is impossible. The person who knows Jesus has gone through an
experience of death to sin. Verse 2:

       By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Very quickly, the topic of baptism is addressed. Verse 3:

       Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were
       baptized into his death?

When we remember our baptism, we remember that it is more than just immersion into
water. That water baptism symbolizes what Paul calls being ―baptized into Christ Jesus.‖
What does that mean to be baptized into Christ Jesus? It means that we trust in Jesus to
save us. It means that all the benefits and blessings of the cross and resurrection of Jesus
belong to us. We put our confidence in Christ. He saved us. This is what baptism
symbolizes.

Two illustrations from your home help us understand what it means to be ―baptized into
Christ Jesus.‖ First, when your clothes are dirty you baptize your clothes in the washing
machine – they are immersed in water and detergent. That way your clothes get clean.
We believe that, as we learn in Ephesians 1:7, ―in Christ we have forgiveness of sins.‖
We are forgiven when we trust in Jesus Christ. That‘s what baptism symbolizes. Second,
when you need power for a machine you plug it into the socket in the wall. Why?
Because your vacuum cleaner will not run without that power. So you trust the socket to
provide the electricity. When you are baptized into Christ Jesus, you believe that He has
the power to help you glorify God. Our water baptism symbolizes the salvation we
receive by faith in Christ Jesus – forgiveness and empowerment to live for God.

By the way, Paul‘s reminder of their baptism into Christ means that they were old enough
to recall their baptism. When the Bible records stories of baptisms, the baptisms are
always of believers. Infant baptism, a practice that didn‘t start until centuries after Christ,
offers no hope of remembering our baptism. Paul‘s whole point is that our baptism
reminds us of our commitment to live for Christ. This is reinforced in verses 4-5:

       We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just
       as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may



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       live a new life. 5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will
       certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

As we read verses 1-5 there are two primary themes. First, there is the theme of what
Jesus did. He died on the cross, was buried in the tomb, and was raised from the dead.
That is why the Bible describes baptism as an immersion. In fact, that‘s what the word
―baptism‖ means – immerse. When you are baptized, you are laid down into the water
and brought back up again. This symbolizes what Jesus did for you in His death, burial,
and resurrection.

Our trust is in Jesus, His death and resurrection. He died on the cross to take the
punishment for our sins and He rose again to give us the hope of the resurrection.

Have you put your trust in Jesus? 1 Peter 2:24:

       He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and
       live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 3:18

       For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring
       you to God.

Notice that Jesus did all the work to bring you to God. The simple response that God calls
for is not your own effort; not your own works; not going through religious motions; but
simply faith in Jesus Christ. ―Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved‖ (Acts).
God‘s call is to you. Listen to Isaiah 55:1, 6-7

       Come, all who are thirsty; come to the waters;
       And you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
       Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
       6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
       call on him while he is near.
       7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.
       Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
       And to our God, for he will freely pardon.

[Invitation]

2. Baptism symbolizes our commitment to holiness.

The second theme that emerges in our passage is explained more fully in the verses that
follow. Up to this point, we see that our baptism into Christ Jesus – or, to say it another
way, our personal relationship with Christ Jesus – means that we experience a
transformation in our lives. We died to sin (verse 2). We live a new life (verse 4). So the
second theme is that baptism symbolizes our commitment to holiness.



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Our commitment to holiness is featured in several ways. First, we read that holiness is
actually possible. Verses 6-10:
       6
        For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin
       might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because
       anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
        8
          Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we
       know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no
       longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but
       the life he lives, he lives to God.

The ―old self‖ or ―old man‖ was crucified with Jesus, verse 6. That means that we are no
longer enslaved to our sinful nature. That was crucified with Jesus. Therefore, we no
longer need be slaves to sin. So we are transformed. Holiness is actually possible.

Before we came to trust in Jesus Christ, we were dominated by our sinful nature. That
sinful nature or ―old self‖ came with a whole way of thinking. For some of us it meant
that we just wanted to party. 1 Peter 4:2-4:

       As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but
       rather for the will of God. 3For you have spent enough time in the past doing what
       pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing
       and detestable idolatry. 4They think it strange that you do not plunge with them
       into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

For others of us, the sinful nature convinced us that somehow we could prove to God
through our own effort that we are good enough to go to heaven. So we trust in ourselves
and not in Jesus. That‘s why Paul wrote Ephesians 2:8-9:

        For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from
        yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.
Have you ever been out to eat with a friend and your friend pays for the meal? What is
your instinct? You want to pay! Or, you promise you‘ll pay next time. That‘s like what
we try to do with God. But the problem is that the debt that we owe even for one sin is
greater than we can pay back in our own goodness.

Still others are dominated by their sinful nature in such a way that they know they have
disobeyed God and truly believe they have no chance of making it to heaven and are in
despair. This can result in all kinds of negative activity and may lead to addiction or self-
destructive episodes like cutting.

But baptism symbolizes a transformation that makes holiness possible. The old self was
crucified with Christ. We are no longer under the power of our sinful nature but now we
can be free from sin.




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The rest of this passage directs us to make a personal commitment to holiness. Verse 11:
       11
            In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

We see in verse 11 that we are to ―count yourselves dead to sin‖ and ―alive to God in
Christ Jesus.‖ In other words, we see ourselves in a whole new way. We really are made
new; transformed. We‘re different than we were. We‘ve changed. We need to recognize
with our minds what is true about our salvation by faith in Christ – we can live a new
life!

So we have to make a plan. Specifically, Paul writes in verses 12-13:
       12
         Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil
       desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness,
       but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to
       life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

There are two sides to this plan. First, the ―do not‖ part: ―Do not let sin reign in your
mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.‖ Don‘t get caught up in the undisciplined
desires of your body. Specifically, we read in verse 13, do not offer the parts of your
body to sin. That is, make sure that you are not making intentional decisions with your
eyes, your mind, your hands, your tongue, your feet to offer your body to sin.

Do you have a plan of what you are not going to do? If you do not have a plan then you
are going to surrender to evil. Alcoholics who are victorious have a plan to stay sober
each and every day. One friend of mine plans never to go into a bar or a liquor store
where he is vulnerable to temptation. Dating couples that have no plan for the physical
aspect of their relationship usually fail to retain sexual purity. If you struggle with gossip
you need a plan to control your tongue. We need a plan!

The second side of this plan is the ―do‖ part. Do ―offer yourselves to God . . . and offer
the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.‖ That is, do offer your
eyes, your mind, your hands, your tongue, and your feet to God as instruments of
righteousness. Do you have a plan for that? Let‘s come back to that in a moment.

Baptism, you see, symbolizes a personal commitment to holiness. We are so changed that
when we wake up in the morning we actually are free from the power of our sinful
nature. And second, we realize that we have an offering to make every day. We choose
either to offer our bodies to sin or to God as instruments of righteousness. So we have to
have a plan.

Do you wake up in the morning with a plan? Do you count yourself dead to sin? Do you
decide to offer your body to God as an instrument of righteousness? (Hallowed,
Kingdom, Will be done . . . with my body)




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The children‘s Sunday School song used to emphasize the ―do not‖ part – ―oh, be careful
little eyes what you see . . . for the Father up above is looking down in love so be careful
little eyes what you see.‖ As I remember it, though, it never emphasized the other part of
the plan – to offer your body as an instrument of righteousness. That absence of doing
right; of serving others; of sharing Christ‘s love; of speaking the good news; of thinking
hard about truth; of making an impact on someone‘s life – the subtraction of the positive
side has come to define Christianity for those inside and outside the church as what we
are against; or what we cannot do.

This is crucial because it only reinforces the confusion around us. To so many people,
Christianity is perceived as a straitjacket. A straitjacket is a strong garment with long
sleeves that can be tied together to limit the activity of the person. Some people think that
Christianity takes away freedom and limits what we can do.

Additional reasoning only reinforces the negative perception of Christianity. For
example, there is the skeptical thought that Christianity’s claim to truth is only a
power play. Nietzsche originated this view and if you claimed that ―everyone should do
justice to the poor‖ Nietzsche would question whether you really loved the poor and
justice or whether you just wanted a revolution that would give you control and power.

This kind of thinking transfers to the confusion about Christianity. People – some people
and not all – think Christianity is a straitjacket that prevents you from expressing your
freedom. Additionally, they view Christian claims that the Bible is true as the way that
Christians try to gain control over them. So now we have added layer upon layer of
confusion.

This makes it extremely difficult to help someone understand that we are talking about a
powerful spiritual change in which we actually are freed from the power of sin and seek
to love God with how we live our lives. How do you explain to a fish what it‘s like to live
on dry land or to watch the birds fly through the air? The spiritual transformation is so
great that it‘s quite a challenge to explain– and then we have to deal with all kinds of
objections to the faith.

What is missing so often in the conversation is the amazing new life that happens through
Jesus Christ. One key word in our text to describe that new life is the word ―offer.‖ You
can offer the parts of your body to sin or to God. They can be instruments of wickedness
or instruments of righteousness. Offerings, in other words, happen every day by every
person. We give ourselves to all kinds of activities and thoughts and relationships:
        We work. We eat. We play. We relate. We read. We watch. We text. We get help.
        We have sex. We think. We seek truth. We wonder. We enjoy beauty. We marry.
        We love. We parent. We sleep. All these engagements are our offerings.

The key to our offerings is that we always do them because we believe that they have
value to us. This is true in much of life. What we choose is what we believe is valuable.
That‘s interesting because the definition of sin in Romans 1 has to do with how much we




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value God. Watch for the value statements seen in the exchanges made in Romans 1:21-
25:

        For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to
        him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
        22
           Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory
        of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and
        animals and reptiles.
         24
            Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual
        impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged
        the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the
        Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Sin, at its core, is an exchange. We think that God our Creator is not as valuable as
created things. So we offer our bodies as instruments of wickedness. We exchange the
glory of God for mere images; for creatures; for things and activities and people that are
of far less value. That is what God calls ―sin.‖

So if we offer the parts of our bodies as instruments of righteousness what is
righteousness? It‘s the opposite of sin. Righteousness is the act of valuing God for His
infinite worth. Righteousness comes from a desire for ultimate joy in God while sin
comes from a desire for a joy that ultimately is poisoned.

So when we say that baptism symbolizes a commitment to holiness, we are really saying
that baptism represents an incredible relationship with Jesus Christ in which we find our
joy and purpose and meaning and satisfaction in following Jesus. Instead of being
branded as a straitjacket the reality is that a true relationship with Jesus Christ is a pursuit
of unparalleled joy that nothing in this world can match.

Response

    1. Backsliding?

1 Kings 11:9

        The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away
        from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.

Psalm 125:5

        But those who turn to crooked ways 
          the LORD will banish with the
        evildoers. 
    Peace be upon Israel.

1 Timothy 5:15

        Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.



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2 Timothy 4:10

       for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to
       Thessalonica.

Revelation 2:4

       Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

Prompted by . . .

Proverbs 16:18

       Pride goes before destruction, 
        a haughty spirit before a fall.

2 Peter 1:5-9

       For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to
       goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control,
       perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly
       kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in
       increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive
       in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them,
       he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his
       past sins.

Psalm 106:14

       In the desert they gave in to their craving; 
      in the wasteland they put God to
       the test.

1 Timothy 6:10

       For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for
       money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Matthew 13:20-21

       The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the
       word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a
       short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly
       falls away.

Have you turned away from God?




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   2. Baptism?

Believe that Jesus died and rose for us.
A commitment to personal holiness. Make a plan daily to follow after Christ. Maybe you
were baptized as an infant and don‘t remember. I just want to encourage you that every
baptism in the Bible was a person who was a believer and who made a choice to follow
Christ and be a witness to the world around through that baptism. That‘s what you need
to do and what God is calling you to do.

Questions: Talk with Pastor Rick or Pastor Adam.


Romans 12:1:

       Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as
       living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.




By instinct I feel I must do something in order to be accepted. Grace sounds a startling
note of contradiction, of liberation, and every day I must pray anew for the ability to hear
its message. Eugene Peterson draw a contrast between Augustine and Pelagius, two
fourth-century theological opponents. Pelagius was urbane, courteous, convincing, and
liked by everyone. Augustine squandered away his youth in immorality, had a strange
relationship with his mother, and made many enemies. Yet Augustine started from God‘s
grace and got it right, whereas Pelagius started from human effort and got it wrong.
Augustine passionately pursued God; Pelagius methodically worked to please God.
Peterson goes on to say that Christians tend to be Augustinian in theory but Pelagian in
practice. They work obsessively to please other people and even God.
Yancey, What‘s So Amazing About Grace, Zondervan, 1997, p. 71




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After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church's pastor once again slowly
stood up, walked over to the pulpit, and gave a very brief introduction of his childhood
friend.
With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit to speak, "A father, his son, and a
friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific Coast," he began, "when a fast approaching
storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even
though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the
three were swept into the ocean."
The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were,
for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story.
He continued, "Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating
decision of his life....to which boy he would throw the other end of the line. He only had
seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian, and he also
knew that his son's friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the
torrent of waves. As the father yelled out, 'I love you, son!' he threw the line to his son's
friend. By the time he pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared
beyond the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered."
 
 By
this time, the two teenagers were sitting straighter in the pew, waiting for the next words
to come out of the old man's mouth.
"The father," he continued, "knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, and he
could not bear the thought of his son's friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus.
Therefore, he sacrificed his son. How great is the love of God that He should do the same
for us."
 
 With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled
the room. Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man's
side. "That was a nice story," politely started one of the boys, "but I don't think it was
very realistic for a father to give up his son's life in hopes that the other boy would
become a Christian."
 
 "Well, you've got a point there," the old man replied, glancing
down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, and he once again looked
up at the boys and said, "It sure isn't very realistic, is it? But I'm standing here today to
tell you that THAT story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to
give up His Son for me. You see....I was the son's friend.




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