Baptism

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

- Romans 6:1-5

WHAT IS BAPTISM?

“Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.” (The Baptist Faith & Message, Article VII. I)  

Christian Baptism is important for multiple reasons. It images the story of the Gospel to all who see it and communicates the following truths:

  1. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. 
  2. The Christian’s union with Christ in His death and resurrection.
  3. The Christian’s new life received by the Spirit. 
  4. The cleansing and washing away of sin.

Baptism also plays a role within the life of the congregation by:

  1. Initiating the one baptized into the full life of the church family.
  2. Calling the one baptized to submit to the leadership of the church.
  3. Calling the church to love, encourage, and exhort the one baptized.

WHY SHOULD A PERSON BE BAPTIZED?

First, a person should be baptized in order to obey the commands of Christ. Baptism plays an important part in the Great Commission where Jesus instructs his followers to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 

Second, a person should be baptized as evidence that a person is a disciple of Jesus (Acts 2:37-41). Similar to circumcision, which was the sign of the covenant in the Old Testament, the sign of the covenant within the body of Jesus is baptism. Those who are immersed in the baptismal waters are marking and associating themselves with the crucified and risen Lord, as well as his bride. In the early church, baptisms weren’t observed in private baptistries, but in public bodies of water. This was highly scandalous and often led to the believer’s persecution. 

Finally, when a believer is immersed, he or she imitates and follows in the baptism of Jesus. Romans 6:3-4 says, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 

WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?

Any one who has believed on the name of Jesus Christ—his life, death, and resurrection—and received his grace that is freely offered should be baptized. Again, we confess that baptism is not a work of man that makes up something that is lacking in the cross, but is an act of faithfulness to the command of Christ. R.C. Sproul writes, “I [assert] that baptism is not necessary for salvation. However, if you were to ask me, Is baptism necessary for the Christian? I would say, ‘Absolutely.’ It is not necessary for salvation, but it is necessary for obedience, because Christ, with no ambiguity, commanded that all of those who belong to Him, who are part of the new covenant family, and who receive the benefits of His salvation are to be baptized in the [name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] .”

HOW SHOULD A PERSON BE BAPTIZED? 

We practice baptism by immersion the following reasons:

  1. The Greek word baptizo literally means to plunge, submerge, or immerse. 
  2. The act of immersing most vividly depicts the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. This is important because we believe that upon believing in and receiving Jesus Christ, the Christian is now united with Christ—He receives our sin and the blow of God’s wrath, and we receive his righteousness and sonship. In addition, water serves as a method of God’s judgment on sinful men (see the story of Noah’s Ark in Genesis 6-7). When a believer passes through the waters, he or she expresses that God’s judgement has been satisfied by Christ. 

WHERE SHOULD A PERSON BE BAPTIZED?

We do not prescribe a specific location for baptism. Our hope is that you might share in your baptism with the rest of our church family so that you might have the opportunity to boldly declare your faith in Jesus, and that we might share in celebrating God’s work of grace in your life. 

If your baptism takes place offsite, we prefer that pictures or video be taken so that we might share in the occasion.

RELEVANT PASSAGES AND RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

Matthew 3, 21, 28
Mark 1, 6, 7, 10, 11, 16
Luke 3, 7, 11, 12, 20
John 1, 3, 4, 10
Acts 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, 19, 22
Romans 6
1 Corinthians 1, 10, 12, 15
Galatians 3
Ephesians 4
Colossians 2
Hebrews 6, 9
1 Peter 3

BOOKS
What is Baptism? by R.C. Sproul (free electronically for Amazon Kindle & iBooks)
Understanding Baptism by Bobby Jamieson
Believer's Baptism by Tom Schreiner and Shawn Wright  

ARTICLES
"Waters That Unite: 5 Truths About Water Baptism" by David Schrock
"Baptism Is A Church's Act" by Bobby Jamieson

 

Grace So Glorious

This Sunday we will be introducing a new song called Grace So Glorious. I'm really excited about the Gospel truth that is presented in this song and as we sing together, you have the opportunity to not only proclaim the truth of the Gospel over your own heart, but also into the heart and life of those who will be singing along with you. Corporate worship isn't complete in singing alone, but singing is actually commanded in Scripture as a vital aspect of the gathered people of God (Psalm 95:1; Psalm 33:2-3).

The reason I chose to introduce this song is because this Sunday Pastor Tim is teaching on Ephesians 5:18, which instructs us to live filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is another way of saying living in light of the grace and glory of God. In our minds, we tend to separate the ideas of grace and glory. Grace is God's unmerited favor toward us and glory is something ethereal that speaks of God's power and perfection. The reality is the relationship between these two concepts is inseparable. The Puritan Pastor Thomas Brooks said this:

"Grace and glory differ very little. One is the seed,  the other is the flower. Grace is glory militant. Glory is grace triumphant."

We often ask God for grace so that we can live for his glory, as if grace is given to us so that we are then able to "make God proud." But grace isn't simply a means for us to live for God's glory. Grace IS God's glory actualized in our lives.

Ephesians 1:5 says, "In love he predestined us for adoption as songs through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of His glorious grace. 

What is the Gospel?

 

One of the worst things that could possibly happen in the church is for the people of God to forget the centrality of the Gospel, not only in our justification (right standing before God), but also our sanctification (process of becoming more like Christ), and ultimately in our glorification (the finished work where we are perfectly conformed to Christ image). The most beneficial thing for the people of God to do is to constantly meditate on the Gospel, viewing all of life through the lens of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Even still, it is of the utmost importance that the church continues to remind herself of what the Gospel is and what it is not, because slipping into error at this point can result in a faulty view of God, people, and the rest of creation.

What the Gospel is Not

The first common misconception of the Gospel is that it is simply submission to a moral code of conduct. One of the great difficulties in interpreting the biblical text is how to understand the moral imperatives. Jesus was often asked the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” What is interesting is Jesus never gave the exact same answer, and what is revealed in that is Jesus wasn’t interested at all in what that person could, or would do, but rather He was after their heart. Perhaps the best example is seen in Matthew 19:16-30, in the story of the rich young man. After the man insisted that he had obeyed the law without fail, Jesus then said, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The young man’s reaction is evidence that what he claimed to be true about himself, namely that he was a righteous man, did not extend from an intrinsic reality or renewed heart. He was resting his justification solely on the belief that he had kept the entire law. However, Jesus clearly instructs us that our righteousness can do nothing in regards to our standing with God (Rom 3:10-31; 4:5). 

A second misconception that is often made about the Gospel is that it is a ‘get out of hell free card.’ Now, there are few that would actually be so bold as to define the Gospel this way, but if we would simply examine how we often describe the Gospel, or how we share the Gospel with others, perhaps we would see that too often it gets boiled down to escaping hell. The intention behind sharing the Gospel this way does not originate from a wicked place, but rather a place that understands the reality of hell and how awfully it truly is. However, what tends to happen is a type of ‘one-and-done’ evangelism, whereby we share that Jesus came to die in order to forgive our sins so that we can spend eternity with Him and not go to hell. There really isn’t anything particularly wrong with that statement. As a matter of fact, Paul wrote essentially the same thing, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures (1 Cor 15:3b-4).” However, if we make our escape from hell the point, then it can lend itself to being primarily man-centered (Christ died ultimately for you) and fear based. Perhaps, this method of sharing the Gospel is not far reaching, but Christians should always remember that heaven is not for those who are afraid of hell, but for those who love God and respond to Him in faith (Eph 2:8, 9).

A third misconception that has been made about the Gospel is that it is to be understood as social liberation. It is clear from the lives written of in Scripture that the Gospel has definitive results on society as those redeemed live, work, and play within a specific social structure. However, movements have arisen from within Christianity that emphasize the immanence of God, the structure of society, human companionship, and Christ as a model of correct ethics as the central focus of the Gospel. Thus, the emphasis is not on the person and work of Jesus Christ, rather man’s responsibility to alleviate oppression. The command to ‘look after widows and orphans (Jas. 1:27),’ is clear and Christians are called to impact the culture. No true Christian would contend that social concern is a responsibility of the church, but it simply is not the Gospel as it is biblically defined. 

What is the Gospel?

    First and foremost, the Gospel is rooted in the nature of God and is made known and accomplished for us by the person and work of Jesus Christ. In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the attributes of God were on display. Christians profess that God is both just and merciful in that, because He is holy, sin must be punished in accordance with His justice. However, God desiring to show mercy to sinful men, offered to us His Son, on whom His wrath was poured so that He might extend mercy to us and not give us the punishment we deserve (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2, 4:10; Eph 2:1-9). In his crucifixion on our behalf, Jesus assumed our sin and became sin for us, so that in his death we might be made righteous before God (2 Cor 5:21). However, the Gospel not only centers on the death of Christ, but also on his resurrection. As a matter of fact, Paul writes that the work of salvation is impossible and incomplete without the resurrection (1 Cor 15:12-17). Therefore, at its core, the Gospel is rooted in God’s nature and is accomplished by the work of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, which justify those who believe (Rom 5:9).

    Secondly, the Gospel is the story of Scripture. In the previous section it was mentioned that a Gospel that is just concerned with the forgiveness of sins and escaping hell is ultimately man-centered and fear based. Here is why the Gospel that Paul is describing is different from that Gospel. In 1 Corinthians 15:3b-4, Paul writes, “For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. Paul does not simply have a ‘forgiveness of sins and escape hell’ view of the Gospel, and that is clearly seen by the phrase, “according to the Scriptures.” In Paul’s mind, Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, was the totality and summation of all that was written about in the Old Testament. Paul knew well that a summary of the Gospel, much like what is written in 1 Corinthians 15, does not make sense divorced from the whole of redemptive history. Thus, the Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ as written about in the Gospels, but it is also the broad narrative of the entire scope of Scripture—to put it simply, the Gospel is the story of God.

    Finally, the Gospel is the restoration and reconciliation of creation to the Triune God. The Gospel is often presented as it has been presented above—that Christ bore the sins of humanity, received the blow of God’s wrath on our behalf in order that we might stand justified before the Father and spend eternity with Him. However, the Gospel also has a broad cosmic scope, whereby all of creation will be renewed. In Revelation, John writes that he saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first had past away. Then he said that the one that was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new (Re 21:5).” Now, it is important to note that describing the Gospel as it is described above is not wrong, but there is an important element to the recreation of all things that reminds us that God is seeking to set right all that went wrong in the fall (Gen. 3). If we neglect this, then we are in danger of missing out on a glorious aspect of the Gospel and we are in danger of robbing God of the worship that is due Him.

Conclusion

    Remembering the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the role of every believer. We not only begin with the Gospel, but we also walk according to it and will ultimately end in it. Proper understanding and meditation upon the Gospel will guard the church from losing sight of its mission, which is to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that [Christ] commanded (Matt 28:19). Let it never be said that we have forgotten the Gospel that we once joyfully received. May we never believe we have matured beyond it, and may we never be deceived into believing it is something that it is not.