Summary: The final message of our Spring Life Series deals with the importance of baptism in a believer’s life. We will look at the who, why, when, where and the how of baptism.
Spring Life 2008
Part 9- Be Baptized
Pastor Ryan Akers
*parts of this sermon where borrowed with permission from Pastor Joe Colaw of First Wesleyan Church in Bartlesville, OK.
Matthew 3:1-17- Amazing transition in people’s lives, beginning of Christ ministry, proof of the trinity(3 distinct persons)
“The practice of baptism is actually connected to the Old Testament practice of Jewish purification. They did not use the word baptism but they called it “mikvah”- ritual immersion. In the Jewish Bible immersion in water for ritual purification was established for restoration to a condition of “ritual purity” in specific circumstances. For example, Jews who became ritually defiled by contact with a corpse had to use the mikvah before being allowed to participate in the Holy Temple. Immersion is required for converts to Judaism as part of their conversion. Immersion in the mikvah represents a change in status in regards to purification, restoration, and qualification for full religious participation in the life of the community, ensuring that the cleansed person will not impose uncleanness on property or its owners. This change of status by the mikvah could be obtained repeatedly. But, Baptism as we know it is seen as creating a definitive change of status and is thus not repeatable.” Wikipedia
The baptism John is giving is a baptism of salvation in that people were repenting and believing that the time of the Messiah was close. His message had to be strong and the Spirit had to be with him because his look and lifestyle were not that attractive. (Camel hair clothes, ate bugs). Not exactly like modern day’s preacher’s who wear 3 piece suits and drive Mercedes.
John’s baptism was a serious event of salvation and purification of sins. A rebirth from an old life to the new. His message was dead serious and the people took it very seriously and they took baptism very seriously. I think we have lost the power and understanding of the importance of baptism in our lives as believers. It might be because we just don’t have a very good understanding of it.
Chuck Colson once said, “Most westerners take baptism for granted, but for many in the world the act requires immense courage. In countries like Nepal it once meant imprisonment. For Soviet or Chinese or Eastern bloc believers, it was like signing their own death warrants.”
Water baptism is a symbol designed by God Himself to identify a person as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Just like a wedding ring is an outward sign that a person is married. A uniform is an outward sign that a person is involved in a particular branch of service, job, or school. Baptism is not to be taken lightly and not to be seen as just a “symbol” but is to be seen as a major step in any new believers life to show the world in a very public way exactly who they now belong to.
How many of you can remember your baptism like it was yesterday?- My baptism
Like all other biblical rituals baptism has had its share of being abused by “christians” through out history.
The famous Roman Emperor Charlemagne became a Christian and felt it was his responsibility to make the world Christian. While the idea sounds quite admirable, the method was deplorable, “Charlemagne chose to force all those he conquered to become Christians. Into the rivers and lakes near the battlefield he drove his defeated enemies to be baptized. Thus thousands of Saxons were made to profess the Christian faith. Naturally it did them little good for they did not know what they were pledging and they had no desire to accept it.” “One scheme Charlemagne hit upon to persuade the Saxons to be baptized peacefully was to give every convert a clean, white shirt. So numerous were the requests for these shirts that the supply ran out, and the newly-baptized began receiving instead a coarse yellow shirt. This was not so attractive, as we gather from the disdainful remark of a Saxon chieftain who was offered a yellow shirt: "I have been baptized already twenty times and received white shirts. I refuse to be baptized any more and will have nothing to do with a religion that is so stingy with its clothes."
Christians are not made by marching them into rivers and lakes—the marvelous work of salvation happens by the work of the Holy Spirit changing hearts. We never intend to use tactics similar to the Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, but we do want Christians to understand the Who, Why, When, Where and How of Baptism. Because this is not just a symbol but it is an incredibly important act for every believer in Christ to participate in. If you have never been baptized or maybe you have been baptized but didn’t understand why then I hope this will speak to you today.