8th May 2016

And Be Baptized

By Steve Bones


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We must build on a firm foundation if we are to grow to maturity in Christ. After repentance and faith in God, the next brick is baptism in water. Is this optional and, if not, what is its purpose?

We are continuing with our theme this month of teaching the elementary teachings as listed in Hebrews 5:7 - 6:6. However, would like to give you a bit of background to Hebrews. We don't know exactly who wrote it, but do know it was written to Jewish believers who were suffering persecution (though not bloodshed at this stage) and were tempted to return to Judaism. If they did, and denied Jesus, their persecution would end! This letter was written to encourage them to persevere, as Jesus is so much superior to the Old Covenant under Judaism, and even angels!

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation ofrepentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (NIV)

Remember, this was written to Christians who were being encouraged to deny Christ!

Background

Before I start on the elementary teachings, I want to set some background. As Steve said last week, some of you may be asking why are we covering this? The issue is fruit, or rather the lack of it. I believe the Lord wants to build a church like in Act 2:42-47:

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (NIV)

However, this can only happen if we have the right foundation to build on. So what is that foundation? The elementary teachings! In fact, Peter stated it earlier when asked what to do after they were challenged by his word:

Acts 2:38-39 Peter replied, "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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call. " (NIV)

Three key steps to salvation stated here:

· Repentance towards God

· Baptism in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness for your sins

· Baptism in the Holy Spirit

And all on the first day!!

Interesting that Peter did not ask them to raise a hand and repeat the sinner's prayer!! Saying the sinner's prayer will not save you if you have not repented! Believing is not enough - even the demons believe (James 2:19)

Last week Steve shared on this initial repentance, but how can we know we have done it? John the Baptist stated it succinctly:

Matt 3:7-10 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. (NIV)

What fruit are we producing to demonstrate our repentance?

Sin & a Holy God

In case you didn't know, God hates sin! Why? Because it cost God his son to send him to die, it cost Jesus separation from the Father, and the Holy Spirit pain! Steve shared on this last week, so I won't go into more detail. However, I think sometimes we love sin, not 'big' sins like murder or stealing, but smaller sins like pride, white lies, unforgiveness, unbelief, disobedience to God. Still a problem to God!

Example of lying:

· If I lie to my children, may be not much consequence, other than they may not trust what I say if they find out.

· If I lie to my wife, could end in divorce!

· If I lie to my boss, could end in me being sacked.

· If I lie to a judge, could go to jail.

· If I lie to God, ……….

Ps 51:3-4 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. (NIV)

We have to remember that God is holy, and no sin will be in his presence. He is also love. In the past preachers emphasised God's holiness, today more his love. Which is correct? Both you say, which is correct, but in the Bible what did preachers emphasise when speaking to unbelievers - God's holiness! We need to understand God's holiness to come to a place of repentance, if only his love, no need as God will forgive me!

But we're Christians, so…..

Heb 10:26-31 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (NIV)

Remember, this was written to believers!! In case you think this is tough, listen to what Jesus said on the Sermon on the mount:

Matt 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (NIV)

It is not enough to try your hardest if you haven't repented!

What is an evildoer? [in Greek 'anomia'] In the NKJV it is translated 'you who practice lawlessness'. How does this help?

1 John 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (NIV)

['Lawlessness' is in Greek, 'anomia']

Hebrews 1:9 it says of Jesus: You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness (NIV)

[Wickedness in Greek is, you've guessed 'anomia'!] Translated lawlessness in NKJV.

Wow! If we willingly habitually sin after being 'saved', could we still go to hell?? After all, are we not the 'practicing lawlessness'?

Perhaps that why it says in Proverbs:

Prov 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. (NIV)

In the Bible, they did not have bold or underline to emphasise points. Hence they often repeated a word e.g. verily, verily.. However, only one word appears 3 times to describe God - not love, but holy (Revelation 4:8).

God is holy, and to see God we need to be holy. But how can we if we keep on sinning! Not our fault as we were born sinners so 'cannot help it'. After all the Bible says:

Romans 7:14-25 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (NIV)

The good news! Jesus Christ has set us free from sin, which is why he came. We even sung about that this morning in the song 'Lost in wonder (you chose the Cross)'. A line in the chorus is 'I am forgiven, I am restored'. Restored to what?

Matt 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (NIV)

Jesus came to set us free from sin,

John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (NIV)

Everything to do with our salvation is to set us free from sin, the good new! - repentance, baptism in water and baptism in the Holy Spirit:

· Repentance so God can cleanse us from our sins and give us a new heart (faith required) Jeremiah 31: 33, Ezekiel 36:26 (new heart) vs Matt 15:19 (old heart)

· Baptism in water so we can be set free from our old man, and no longer be a slave to sin (faith required) Romans 6:4-7

· Baptism in the Holy Spirit (faith required). Galations 5:16

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are involved in our salvation from sin! As a consequence, we are a new creation! 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Jer 31:33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ezek 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Similar to Ezekiel 11:19-20 )

Matt 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Rom 6:4-7 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

2 Cor 5:17-18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (NIV)

Sinners saved by grace vs saints

Are we sinners saved by grace or saints? Show of hands.

The Bible only refers to us as saints! Occurs 45 times in the NIV, in Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, most of Paul's letters & Revelation. Peter did not use saints, instead referring to us as 'a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God'! 1 Peter 2:9

Eph 1:1 To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Phil 1:1 To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

2 Cor 1:1 To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia:

Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15)

Water baptism

Suppose I had better start talking about water baptism! However, we cannot grasp the importance and significance of water baptism if we don't fully appreciate what Christ has done for us on the Cross, hence my preamble!

Are we commanded to be baptised, or is it optional?

Matt 3:13-15 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

Mark 16:15-16 He (Jesus) said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "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 16:29-34 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds;then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God-he and his whole family. (NIV)

Is it optional? I think not! It is a critical step of our salvation.

NB. When the Bible refers above to 'baptism', is this just water or also in the Holy Spirit? Jesus refers to both, as does Peter and the writer of Hebrew in 6:2!

But I thought water baptism was just a sign I believe? It is, but to God not man! And so much more!

I hope already I have provided enough evidence from the Bible that this is not the case:

· Why did the jailer get baptised at night?

· Why did the Ethiopian eunuch get baptised along the road, the same day as he heard the gospel (Acts 8:36)?

· Why did the disciples who had been baptised by John get baptised again in the name of Jesus if it was just a sign? (Acts 19:4-5)?

So what does happen when we get baptised in water?

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)

This happens when we get born again - by faith we are crucified with Christ, so now we need to bury that dead sinful nature and rise again a new creation in Christ! Then no longer a slave to sin.

Rom 6:3-8 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (NIV)

Col 2:11-12 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. (NIV)


Conclusion

To conclude:

· By Repentance - we get forgiven for our sins

· By Water Baptism - we get freed from our sins

· By Baptism in the Holy Spirit - we can live a life where we increasingly experience that freedom from sin, as the Holy Spirit teaches and guides us

Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Romans 6:11-12 Reckon yourselves dead to sin but alive to Christ. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies…..

I appreciate that today I may have said some things that have shocked you, or even that you disagree with. That's fine! If you want to talk to me afterwards, that's fine too, I'll stay as long as needed. What I have talked about involves our eternity, so we need to give it proper consideration and grapple with those difficult verses in the Bible.

I have deliberately given you many verses to substantiate what I have said, as it is not my opinion that counts but Gods! We must listen to the whole counsel of God, not just the bits we like and understand!