Summary: A sermon suitable for May and graduation time that likens baptism to a spiritual graduation.
Text: 2 Timothy 4:6-8
This morning I want us to return to the basics which is really our theme this year. One of the basics is what we must do to be saved. We’ve had sermons on faith and repentance and confession in 2014 – all things that the New Testament says are necessary for salvation. In case you missed those lessons, let me just mention a couple of scriptures for each. I suppose we can all quote John 3:16 which demands that we believe in the Son of God. Another would be Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Not only must we have faith, but we must also repent of our past sins. Notice Luke 13:3 and 5 both contain the same words of Jesus: “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” And, 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Finally, we had a lesson on confession on the last Sunday of April. Jesus made it very clear in Matthew 10:32 that we must confess Jesus as our Lord if we want Him to confess us before His Father in heaven. Of course, Romans 10:10 removes any doubt about the necessity of confession: For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. All three of these are essential to our salvation but there’s more. However, first I want to mention how graduation is such a significant step in our academic lives. About this time of year, there is a graduation for King’s Kids and Sonshine School. To tell you the truth, we have graduations for almost everything. I must confess I didn’t graduate from Kindergarten because they didn’t have it when I started school. Like Jethro, I gradiated 6th grade. And I think I graduated from the 8th grade and then high school. I also graduated from junior college, the university and then again with a masters’ degree as well as several military schools. All of these just coincided with the attainment of a higher level of education or training. But, in our reading this morning, the apostle Paul is giving his valedictory address. Valedictory simply means a farewell. At graduation, the highest ranking student in academics is named the valedictorian and gives the farewell address. The apostle Paul would certainly not claim to be the best Christian who ever lived but he knew he was about to graduate into eternity. Sitting in a Roman prison most likely awaiting his execution by Nero, Paul wrote his farewell: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. Paul was not looking for a cap and gown to wear to receive a diploma. He was just waiting for a crown. Death transports us to our final spiritual graduation – Hebrews 9:27 – And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. But along the way of our spiritual lives, I believe we graduate several times. Isn’t that what 2 Peter 1:5-11 teaches as we add the Christian graces? But this morning I want to address a specific level of our spiritual growth that is critical to our salvation. So I hope you’ll open your Bibles as we study together for just a few minutes on one graduation we don’t want to miss in our spiritual lives.