Summary: This is a message before a baptism service. It includes a standard 'congregational renewal of Baptismal Vows" at the end of the message.

October 15, 2017 sermon - Baptism - Ephesians Series – Part 1 – Ephesians 1:1-6

I speak to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

And I speak to you today, on a joyous day that marks the baptism of 6 adults and the dedication of one infant in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism is a sign, a symbol, and an important marker of the life of a follower of Jesus. It is a sign of a person’s inclusion in the Body of Christ, the church, which is the hands and feet of the risen Saviour.

Baptism is a rich symbol of following Jesus down to the depths, the grave, and rising from the grave to new life in Jesus, rising to resurrection life in Christ our Saviour.

Now this transformation, this conversion does not occur at baptism. It occurs when we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ and when we accept Jesus Christ personally as our Lord and Saviour.

That’s when we are born anew, born again in the language of Jesus, the language of Scripture.

A seismic shift occurs in our life when this happens, and the pathway, the future, the trajectory of a person’s life is altered when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

And a mark of belonging to Jesus is that we live our lives with Him as our Lord and our Saviour. He is our King and we are His people. Amen?

And as His people we love Him. We focus our lives on Him. Jesus said: “If you love me, you will obey what I command”.

And what was the commandment that Jesus gave to His disciples after He rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father?

He said to “Go into all the world and make disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. Mt 28:16-20.

Since that was first spoken by Jesus, His Church has done just that.

So today Karen and Muriel and Faith and Kibari and Sharon and Dave will be baptized.

Muriel will also dedicate Emmanuel to the Lord, promising to raise him in the love of God, the knowledge of God, the fear of God.

This promise too contains a blessing for Emmanuel’s future. That he will grow to know Jesus personally even as he experiences what the life of a believer looks like and feels like, as he is raised and loved by Muriel and her family.

So, this is a joyous day. It is a day that brings honour and glory to Jesus, even as many are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit today. (Pause)

Message on Ephesians:

And so we look at our Scripture today, which marks the beginning of a new series on the Book of Ephesians that we will be looking at together over the fall.

Verses 1 and 2

Paul speaks to the church at Ephesus with tenderness and love.

There was generally one church in towns scattered throughout what we call the middle east, most of them Paul had planted himself.

It would be like Paul writing: To Church at the Mission in Toronto if we were the only gathering of believers in this city.

It is a letter from Paul. More importantly it is God’s message through Paul to all churches and all followers of Jesus. So we should take it as such.

And Paul identifies himself and addresses the letter to the “Saints, the faithful” that are in Ephesus. That’s a curious phrase that we can bump into and wonder what he means.

Was he speaking only to the best of the best? Was he speaking only to the super-Christians in the church?

History has altered the meaning of the word ‘saint’ to mean an especially holy person through whom miracles were done by God, and some traditions even pray “to” those called saints that those people, who have passed on to glory, might pray to the Father on their behalf.

That’s what history has done to the word “Saint.

But that is not at all what Paul means. What does Paul mean by the term “Saint”?

In fact the term “Saint” appears to have been an ordinary way to refer to a genuine believer and follower of Jesus. It does not mean a person who is especially holy.

It does mean a person who has been made holy through the blood of Jesus Christ, through the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son.

The word “Saint’ does mean the people who make up the church as they live out their lives in love and obedience to Jesus, by His grace.

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