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Summary: In explaining the role of baptism in the faith of Lydia, Acts 16:9-15 shows how this ordinance acts as a call to community. Through this baptism we see: 1) The Proclamation for Community (Acts 16:9-10), 2) The Place for Community (Acts 16:11-13), 3) The P

Baptism Service for Mark Bothwell

At his private Mass in the chapel at his residence Saturday, Pope Francis mentioned the example of an unwed mother coming to Church to ask for baptism for her child to exemplify the error of allowing protocol to distance people from the Lord. He said: “Look at this girl who had had the courage to carry her pregnancy to term” and not to have an abortion. “What does she find? A closed door,” as do so many. “This is not good pastoral zeal, it distances people from the Lord and does not open doors. So when we take this path...we are not doing good to people, the People of God.” (http://www.lifesitenews.com/blog/pope-francis-says-baptize-babies-of-unwed-mothers-because-they-chose-life-o)

Baptism can be quite a contentious issue. How we define the particulars of baptism is relatively simple however. If we look at scripture, the final and ultimate authority to determine all things of faith and practice we see one thing: the baptism of individuals based on a profession of faith. Baptism, as the sign and seal of the covenant of grace, ought to be recognized as the visible dividing line between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. While it is certainly true that we do not belong to the Lord because we are baptized, but are baptized because we belong to the Lord already, it remains a fact that baptism is the point at which the church, in the name of the Lord, recognizes what God has done and will yet do for the person receiving baptism. Baptism is not what we do to ‘join the church’: it is what the church does to seal what God has done in his everlasting mercy in Jesus Christ.

In the testimony of Lydia in Acts 16, had she professed faith in Christ and not submitted to baptism, she would have been in effect denying her own profession of faith. That is surely why Luke mentions her baptism, but never records her words in professing Christ as her Saviour. Why? Because, without baptism, her words would have been empty. It was baptism which sealed the credibility of her confession of Christ! (Keddie, G. J. (2000). You Are My Witnesses: The Message of the Acts of the Apostles. Welwyn Commentary Series (186). Darlington, England: Evangelical Press.)

In explaining the role of baptism in the faith of Lydia, Acts 16:9-15 shows how this ordinance acts as a call to community. Through this baptism we see: 1) The Proclamation for Community (Acts 16:9-10), 2) The Place for Community (Acts 16:11-13), 3) The Person in Community (Acts 16:14), and 4) The Proof of Community (Acts 16:15).

1) The Proclamation for Community (Acts 16:9-10)

Acts 16:9-10 [9]And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." [10]And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (ESV)

This vision that appeared to Paul happened while awake, for it is not called a dream (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Ac 16:9–10). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.).

For Paul to receive a vision, we must understand that visions and dreams were a recognized means of divine communication in ancient times, as they are in many eastern contexts today (see 9:10, 12; 10:3, 17; 18:9; 22:17). However, in the total record of Acts, such visions are rare and unexpected by the characters concerned. We should therefore conclude that this is an unusual form of divine guidance (Peterson, D. G. (2009). The Acts of the Apostles. The Pillar New Testament Commentary (456). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.).

Paul and his companions immediately interpreted this visionas a divine calling to take the gospel to Macedonia. This was the one kind of help that they knew that they could bring to the people. Paul would have deduced that the man in the dream was a Macedonian from what he said. We do not know why this form of divine guidance was adopted at this point (Marshall, I. H. (1980). Vol. 5: Acts: An introduction and commentary. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (279). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).

Macedonia was across the Aegean Sea on the mainland of Greece. In it were located the important cities of Philippi and Thessalonica. More significant, this would be the first entry of the gospel into the continent of Europe.

Quote: G. Campbell Morgan captures the spirit of the obedient Christians and the excitement that must have been in those four missionary hearts as they sailed west across the Aegean: “Oh, to go, not where I may choose, even by my love of the Lord, but where I am driven by the Lord’s command. Circumstances of difficulty are opportunities for faith, and the measure of our perplexity in service and in Christian life is the measure of our opportunity. Let us follow the gleam, though the darkness threaten to envelop. Let us be true to the inward monitor, and if in being true, suddenly illness prevent, and we cannot follow, then rest in the Lord in the darkness, and know that God’s shortest way to Troas may be athwart our inclinations and purposes. It is better to go to Troas with God, than anywhere else without Him (Morgan, 377, as recorded in Gangel, K. O. (1998). Vol. 5: Acts. Holman New Testament Commentary (269–270). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).

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