Summary: Baptism is not just the beginning, it is a life of faith that is required
Swanton Novers 14-04-02
2 Tim. 3:10-17 and 4: 6-8 - Baptism of Joshua
Paul, in this morning’s reading, is writing to Timothy who is a Bishop in Ephesus, in modern day Turkey.
He encourages Timothy to remain faithful to the Christian faith. He reminds him how important being immersed in the Scriptures is - for nurturing that faith.
And he then goes speaks about the faith that he, Paul has now completed. He writes:
“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7)
It is not just the starting of faith that is important; it is the finishing of it that counts.
Today, we have come here to witness a new beginning for Joshua - as he starts the race that Paul has now faithfully finished.
Darren and Nathalie have brought Joshua here today, because they want to commit him to God.
They also have come here because they want to commit themselves to help him to grow up in the Christian faith.
Although Joshua’s parents and family will have the primary responsibility of bringing him up in the Christian faith - there are ways that we, as Christians, can also help.
All of us can pray for Joshua. We can pray that he will take up his baptismal vows - when he is old enough to decide for himself. That he will turn to Christ and come to know Jesus as a personal Saviour.
Story: My Aunty Molly was a Roman Catholic nun. She used to pray regularly for others and me in the family.
For 17 years of my life, it seemed as if her prayers were unanswered. Yet at the beginning of Jan 1972, I had an encounter with Jesus and decided to become a Christian. And later on my sister Sue followed suit.
I would like to encourage you to pray and not to give up. Prayer is extremely important because God has chosen to work through prayer.
2. Bring him up in the faith
Paul at the beginning of the letter known as 2 Timothy writes about the formation of Timothy’s own faith.
I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. (2 Tim 1:5)
Timothy’s mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois were both committed Christians. They probably taught Timothy the Christian faith, from his earliest years.
Here we see the importance of Christian parents passing on their faith to their children.
Darren and Nathalie, I would like to encourage you to bring Joshua to church regularly.
But it is not enough just to be “involved” in church. If this ceremony is going to have a lasting effect, it is important for Joshua to find his own Christian commitment.
What is the difference between involvement and commitment you might ask?
Story: Perhaps I use the analogy of bacon and eggs to explain what I mean
In bacon and eggs, the hen is involved but the pig is committed.
In our reading today, the apostle Paul reminds Timothy of the importance of the Scriptures. He reminds Timothy
“how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
(2 Tim 3:15-17)
If you want Joshua to be committed to Christ, it is important for you to bring him to church.
But it is also important that you read and discuss the Bible with him as he is growing up.
Because it is in the Bible that he will learn how to live the Christian life.
Vows will be made today on behalf of Joshua. In them we speak about
i. Renouncing the works of evil and
ii. Turning to Christ
We live in a Post Christian culture, where to be a Christian is to swim against the current. Yet God calls each one of us to live a godly life.
It is this Christian life that Paul described in this morning’s reading as a race. Like a race it requires full commitment –ask any marathon runner.
Story: Last Tuesday many of us here will have watched the Queen Mother’s funeral.
It was extremely encouraging to hear the Archbishop speak of the Queen Mother’s Christian faith. She had a keen Christian faith. She has finished the race and kept the faith.
I found the poem that the Queen Mother asked to be put into the Order of Service at her own funeral on Tuesday 9th April 2002 very thought provoking. Let me end by reading it to you.