Summary: The Meaning of Baptism
Acts 2:38-39 October 3, 2004
Last Easter we baptized 3 young adults & if you remember I preached about the meaning of baptism that Sunday. You may not remember what I said, but you may remember these little vials of water. They have the verse from Acts 2: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”- Acts 2:38 I asked you to take one of these as a promise to yourself and to God that one day you will be baptized. I hope those of you who took one put it on your dresser or your bed stand as a reminder to do the things that you need to do to bring yourself to a place when you will be baptized. And then on that day, as a mark of completion, you can pour the water out into the baptistery.
In today’s sermon I want to once again deal with the issue of Baptism by looking at the verses in Acts 2 and other scriptures that call us to baptism and teach us what baptism means.
When I was the pastor of Humber Blvd. Baptist Church, our people were not that expressive in worship, so in order to help them open up, I did a little exercise… we were about to pray for something to God and I asked them to hold their hands out as if they were about to receive something from God. And then I asked them how they felt with their hands like that. Lets try it here. Put your hands out with your palms up as if you are about to receive something from God. How do you feel? Tell your neighbour. How did you feel?
That was just a warm up for what I want to do today. I’ll need a volunteer – hopefully a smaller person. Get some one and “baptize” them without water at the front of the church. While they are “down,” ask them how they feel. Respond to those feelings.
Is that a good way to feel before God?
Baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality – we are surrendering to God, helpless in his arms…
Washing your sins away
You may remember the story of Paul’s conversion. Paul (or Saul) was the writer of the majority of the New Testament, and the main reason for the spread of Christianity throughout the then known world. Befor he became a Christian he was a persecutor of the church. He had gained permission to travel from Jerusalem to Damascus to search for Christians their and arrestet them and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial. In Acts 22 he tells the story again and says…
6"About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ’Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
8" ’Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
9" ’I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
10" ’What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.
11" ’Get up,’ the Lord said, ’and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
12"A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13He stood beside me and said, ’Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
14"Then he said: ’The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’
Baptism is this great image of being washed clean of every thing that we have ever done wrong.
You might remember I told the story of how When my daughter was just 2, we baptized a man named Chuck. Hayley went around the house saying, “Chuck had a bath! Chuck had a bath!” for weeks after that. The image of baptism is symbolic of many things, one of those things is the forgiveness that Jesus gives us. He washes us clean so that all the things that we ever did wrong are removed from us.