Summary: In this passage Jesus teaches us: 1. The Importance of Baptism 2. The Transformational Nature of Baptism 3. Our Baptismal Identity. This is a message that speaks of the sacredness of Christian baptism.
Scripture: Matthew 3:13-17
Title: Do we still need baptism?
Proposition: In this passage Jesus teaches us: 1. The Importance of Baptism 2. The Transformational Nature of Baptism 3. Our Baptismal Identity
Grace and peace from God our Father and from Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world.
Christian baptism. It's a sacrament that many of us have witnessed dozens of times over the years. A pastor invites those who desire to be baptized to come forward. At that time some statements concerning Christian baptism are read along with some scripture. Usually, the scripture is either our passage this morning or Romans 6:3-5. Following the reading, all believers are encouraged to recite the Apostle's Creed. Finally, those who have come forward are asked if they agree to be baptized into the Christian Faith. Do they desire to publicly testify that Jesus Christ is their Savior and LORD? Do they commit for the rest of their lives to obey God's Holy Will and keep His Commandments so help them God?
Those that agree are then led into the water where the sacrament of baptism is experienced. Sometimes the sacrament is by immersion, pouring or sprinkling. In each case the person is baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Afterwards, people join in by celebrating and praising the LORD. Some churches even have a fellowship meal following the sacrament of baptism to celebrate a person's new life in Christ.
Baptism can be a very moving and beautiful experience. But one of the questions that is being asked today is this - IS THIS SACRAMENT STILL VIABLE? In the 21st Century Church does baptism mean anything today? Does it have any power or any significance or is it simply an anachronistic ritual of a bygone era? Is baptism like the Gregorian chants of the 9th and 10th centuries? Every now and then we want to listen to one but who is dying to once again have Gregorian chants as part of our main praise and worship time? Is the same true of baptism?
Now, before you think me sacrilegious or some liberal who wants to do away with tradition and the sacraments let me give you some back fill. Let's take a moment and reflect on some of the baptisms that we have recently witnessed over the years. More often than not we all have watched an individual or two go into the water and come out the other side with no more change in their lives than having wet clothes.
I remember a few years ago rejoicing in a young person's baptismal service. Everything appeared to be perfect. This individual joyfully witnessed that Jesus was their Savior and LORD. From all appearances it looked like they would become a powerful witness for Jesus at school, at home and one day at the office. However, in less than two years after that baptismal service this same individual was cursing, drinking ( they were underage), spreading malicious gossip, ranting racial slurs, accosting the LGBT community and debasing women in general. They were living the polar opposite of the life of a Christ follower. Instead of bring honor and glory to the LORD they were bring shame and dishonor.
Now, I think I know what you are thinking right now and you are 100% right. That is one reason why we must look at this passage this morning. The problem isn't with Christian baptism. The problem has never been with Christian baptism. In fact, the problem can never be with baptism. The problem lies in us human beings. We need to get a clear Biblical view and understanding about Christian baptism. With that particular individual the problem was never with baptism but with their own spiritual life. As difficult as it is to say, the truth is, they either never came to faith or they have allowed the Devil to enslaved them once again into a life of rebellion and sin. That person needs our prayers this morning.
It is therefore imperative today that we need to honor and respect baptism for what it truly is - it is a Holy Sacrament. We need to understand it's importance. We need to understand it's transformative nature. We need to understand it is a sacrament of grace. And we need to understand our baptismal identity. We need to understand what it means to live the baptismal life.
This morning, I believe that the Holy Spirit would like for us to take some time and look at the sacrament of baptism. We do so because it is vital that we make sure that each and every generation understands it's sacredness, transformative character and fundamental importance. Therefore, let's look at how Jesus viewed baptism and by doing so I believe we will have a better understanding of its nature, its meaning and message today.