Summary: This sermon considers Paul’s statement that there is ONE baptism. It focuses on the concept of spiritual union, with Christ and with Christians. That this is a spiritual reality in the baptism of the Spirit, and a physical proclamation of a spiritual real
READ Ephesians 4:5 . . . “There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.”
Sometimes as pastors we can be susceptible to rare gaffes. So its no surprise that the story is told about the baptism of a King by St. Patrick in the middle of the fifth century. Sometime during the ritual, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the king’s foot. St. Patrick was totally unaware. After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down at all the blood, realized what he had done, and begged the king’s forgiveness. Why did you suffer this pain in silence, the Saint wanted to know. The king shrugged and replied, "I thought it was part of the ritual." *Unknown Source taken and adapted from sermonillustrations.com
Sometimes when we approach practices of the church we may have little understanding of what they are all about. What they mean? Or if we’re new to a church we may wonder what that church teaches and so today, right off the top as we get ready to focus on the topic of baptism in our series through Paul’s exclusive statements in Ephesians 4, I want to try to read your mind, and answer four questions quickly, if you want a longer more high falutin’ Reverend style answer, check with me later.
4 quick questions re: baptism . . .
Which baptism is Paul talking about in Ephesians 4:5? (Spirit or Water) I believe both. I don’t believe we should seek to split the intent of the whole passage. Both the baptism of spirit and the physical sign of water baptism are exclusive elements of the Christian faith and as I have shared before, modern Christian practice has done a poor job in holding together the experience of Spiritual conversion and the outward sign of that conversion in water baptism.
Is water baptism needed for salvation? No, salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Christ and what he accomplished for us in his death and resurrection.
Do we baptize infants? No we practice what I like to call confessional baptism.
Do we require confessional baptism in order to be a member or to accept you as a Christian? No. I hope.
You know, Paul stating that there is ONE BAPTISM probably doesn’t tell us a lot and so let’s look at how Paul unpacks baptism in . . .
READ: GALATIANS 3:26-29
There are two things I want us to focus on in regards to baptism this morning. Paul communicates that baptism, Spirit & water accomplishes the job of and communicates the reality of spiritual union. Listen to what I said. Spirit accomplishes the job of spiritual union. Water communicates the reality of spiritual union. As there is Spirit & water there is also Christ & Christians. Two spiritual unions!
Spiritual union with Christ.
Spiritual union with Christians.
The off-season of your favorite pro-sport can be a confusing time figuring out who is going to be playing for what team in the coming season. And we have major league baseball and 1976 to thank for it. In 1976 baseball players signed a collective bargaining agreement with baseball owners that allowed them to be the first professional athletes to have the opportunity for free agency. Until that point, players were drafted or signed by a team . . . and players stayed with their team unless they were traded . . . players were a commodity. They were owned by teams. Until 1976, when a player’s contract ended, the team had the exclusive right to resign the player always. Players couldn’t just decide that they would go to another team that would pay them more money. From this point on, players would get to make a decision as to who would own their rights. This has begun a most interesting sports ritual, the free-agent signing press conference. Beyond talking about the millions of dollars a player will be making or the speeches about how athletes want to take care of their families and promises to bring a championship to their new city, there is something that always happens at a free-agent signing press conference. The free agent always puts the jersey of his new team on. He wears the new logo and clothing of his owner. He becomes a marked man. Most of the time that jersey that a player also pulls on also has a number on it, recognizing that the player is not the exclusive model of the uniform. He is but one of many players that wears the uniform, beyond the number, they all look the same.
Paul tells us that baptism is an expression of a spiritual union with Christ. Verse 27 states, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” What is Paul trying to communicate to these his readers when he says that baptism has clothed them with Christ? What is the clothing of Christ?