According to Luke: The Beauty of Baptism

The year was 1969.  The world was watching.  Chances are if you were around then, you immediately associate that year with one event.  That’s right, the moon landing.  You were glued to your television set as Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon.  He traveled some 252000 miles to make that one step.  

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ We all know the quote.  It was a great line for a great moment.  In that one event, mankind leaped forward and became space travelers.  It gave hope that with teamwork and resources that mankind could do anything or go anywhere.  It was a very important step in a direction that would change the world forever.  

Can you think of some of the biggest steps you’ve ever taken?  I can think of several in my life.  Even though I don’t remember my first step as a child, my parents did and they tell me it was quite impressive.  Then there was my first step into kindergarten.  I actually remember that first step.  Then there is the first step into high school.  Then there was my first day at Samford.  I can still remember my Mom and Dad leaving me there all by myself.  Scary.  What a step.  Then there was that first step into marriage.  Then fatherhood.  Life is marked by steps.  

Do you remember your first step into faith?  That day you heard the Holy Spirit’s call was strange, emotional and unforgettable.  That is by far the most important step anyone can take.  That leap of faith into the arms of a loving Savior.  It’s scary because you are not really sure of where He might direct your steps next.  

Perhaps one of the most memorable steps after that initial salvation experience is the step towards baptism.  Many of you have made that step.  Now I want to give you a clear vision of today’s sermon.  Many of you come from different denominational backgrounds.  Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians and Presbyterians all have different modes of Baptism. Perhaps you have a background in one of those denominations.  I celebrate that with you today.  Maybe you were sprinkled.  Maybe you Christened.  Maybe you have been Baptist all your life and you were dunked.  All of that is great and is a part of your journey of faith.  I am not talking to you about which mode is superior.  

Obviously I am a Baptist. I have always been a Baptist.  I believe in believers baptism through immersion and that’s what we practice here at Eastern Shore Baptist Church.  I have been baptized myself and I have personally baptized lots of people people in my ministry career.  So, yes, I am passionate about baptism.  

I will discuss the the modes today, but I am going to argue the importance of baptism today.  I believe that baptism is a giant leap for the believer and can impact you spiritually and inspire others to a deeper level of faith.  

Baptism Can Impact You Personally and Inspire Others Powerfully!

Luke 3:15-18, 21-22 ESV
15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Baptism Explained…

A. Introduction 

Most people believe that baptism originates from the New Testament.  Specifically baptism is closely tied to the character of John The Baptist.  Yet, hints of baptism are seen throughout the Bible including the Old Testament.  Here are a few examples:

-Look at the story of Noah.  The world was sinful and God cleansed the earth under the flood of water.  Noah entered the flood and then was brought out of the flood.  

-Ancient Levite priests were commanded to perform symbolic cleansing in water before and after performing their priestly duties.  (Leviticus 16:3-4, 23-24)

-What about Naaman the Syrian being cured of leprosy by a baptism in the Jordan River.  He finally listened to the words of Elisha.  It was not the water that healed him but his obedience and faith that made him well.  (2 Kings 5:11-15)

The terms bapto and baptiso, the verb, and baptismas, the noun, could have been translated immerse, and probably solved a lot of problems. But the translators chose to transliterate the Greek baptiso into baptize. They transliterated it rather than translate it, because it had become such a technical term for immersion. And so, they just transliterated it across. But that doesn't change the meaning. It means to immerse.
In fact, the Greeks had a different word for sprinkling, and that word Raintosantiis used of sprinkling or splattering with water. It's a different word all together. We're not talking about sprinkling. There's no such thing as a ceremony of sprinkling in the Bible, or pouring, or any application of water to the individual. Whenever you find baptism in the Bible, it is the word immerse or submerse, and it means putting the person under the water. Every New Testament use of these terms requires or permits the idea of immersion.
This is so obvious, that even John Calvin, who basically came down on the side of infant sprinkling, or infant baptism, says this. He writes, "The word baptize means to immerse. No linguist can come up with anything else." Calvin says, "The word baptize means to immerse. It is certain that immersion was the practice of the early church." There really is no argument. There's no debate at that point.
Although the act described in these Old Testament passages was not specifically called “baptism,” it does highlight how important and holy ceremonial (and practical) cleansing is to God. John’s “baptism of repentance” (Luke 3:3, Acts 19:4) followed this paradigm of cleansing, although the final cleansing from sin is only available through Christ, and John’s baptism was the foreshadowing of that.

Then of course we come to John the Baptist.  A man of distinction in the New Testament.  He was cousin to Jesus and led a tremendous movement of faith until he stepped aside for Jesus’ ministry. Why did John baptize his followers?  Great question.  John baptized people as a call to repentance and faith.  John, like all good Jews, would have understood the importance of spiritual cleansing.  He read the same stories from the Old Testament and knew what the law commanded in the way of cleansing.  However, John understood that the greatest act of worship didn’t come from a physical activity.  Meaning that washing with water never truly cleansed a person.  Yet, performing a physical act often opens a door to something spiritual to take place.  When he called people to be baptized, he was showing them the importance of the cleansing of one’s soul through faith and obedience.  

Matthew 3:1-2 (NASB)
Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 
A. Introduction 
B. Identification (Church)

My father in law is a retired serviceman.  Actually he retired as a full bird Colonel. Ill never forget his retirement ceremony some 20 years ago.  He walked down the aisle and was presented his retirement papers and several other awards.  It was a tremendous celebration. One of the things that struck me was Chuck’s uniform.  He was wearing his Air Force Blues.  He was sporting all sorts of medals and and pins.  It was quite impressive.  As I was thinking about today’s message, I was stuck by all the different uniforms in our military.  All have unique colors.  All have unique looks. When you look at the uniforms of our service men and service women, you know immediately what branch they serve it.  

The same goes for police officers.  They have a distinct uniform that lets us know who they are and where they serve.     

Firemen have uniforms. 

Doctors are identified easily because they wear scrubs.  

We like uniforms because they identify the person, their job and how they serve. 

Identification is a powerful tool.  Think about how important it is to identify with something.  Friendship are born out of identification.  Acceptance and encouragement take place when we have similar interests and hobbies.  For those of you who have served in the military, you immediately have a bond over where you served, what you did, and certainly the uniforms you wore. For those of you who served in the Marines, don’t you feel a since of pride when you see a fellow service man wearing the uniform.  Identity and identification is important and valuable.  

It is no different with the church.  Baptism was installed as a mode to identify believers with each other and bond them to the church. When a believer experiences a public baptism, he or she is forever linked to the Christian faith.  He or she has access to encouragement, discipleship, service and accountability.  Peter knew and understood this truth.  He preached his first message in Acts 2 and encouraged the new believers in Christ to identify themselves with the church by baptism.  

A public baptism is like wearing a uniform for your faith.  You are letting the world know where your allegiances lie.  You are unashamed of your faith and you are unconditionally loved by a Savior.  By being baptized you let people know where you stand.  You are waving the flag of your faith proudly.  

Acts 2:41 (NIV)
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 

A. Introduction 
B. Identification (Church)
C. Illustration (Death, Burial and Resurrection)

Illustration: A Picture of Jesus
I love baptizing people.  It truly is a passion of mine because I love to see people take that next step in their faith with Christ.  Have you ever thought about what is really going on in the baptismal waters?  

Baptism is a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  When someone is baptized here at Eastern Shore Baptist Church, I always remind them they are a living illustration of Jesus’ life.  They become a picture of Jesus.  Let me show you.  As the candidate for baptism enters the pool, he or she steps down into the water.  Much in the same way that Jesus stepped down into the world.  The candidate is then nearly submerged.  Similar to Jesus submerging Himself in this world with all it’s problems.  

If you remember, Jesus died on the cross and then his body was removed and prepared and then buried.  When the candidate is placed under the water, it is symbolic of Jesus dying and being buried.  Notice when I baptize someone, I don’t force them under or hold them under.  Jesus was not forced to dye.  He made the conscious choice to die.  In the same manner, no one can be forced to into baptism.  It must be a choice.  

Yet, Jesus did not stay dead.  He rose.  The brother or sister being baptized doesn’t stay under water long.  They rise out of the water.  This symbolizes Jesus’ resurrection.  Furthermore, the person doesn’t stay in the pool.  They exit the water in the same manner they came.  Remember, as Jesus descended into the world by way of birth, He leaves this world by rising out of it.  He was victorious.

So, baptism is totally symbolic. There is no saving powers in the water in our baptistry.  Now there are some that say in order to be saved, you must be baptized.  Let me refute that point.  First, that statement cheapens the death of Christ on the cross.  I am not a believer that Jesus’ death plus something else will save me.  Jesus’ death was plenty.  Using the same logic, I could just get baptized over and over again thus preventing the death of Christ and gaining my salvation.  

Secondly, what about the thief on the cross?  Jesus told him that he would be in paradise with Jesus upon his death.  The thief was not baptized.  So, do you believe the words of Christ?

Illustration: Something In The Water

Now I like Carrie Underwood.  She has a beautiful voice and I highly recommend looking up her and Vince Gill’s “How Great Thou Art”.  It is powerful and moving. However, recently she came out with a song entitled Something In The Water.  On the surface it is a great song.  Good beat.  Shows off her vocal range.  As a Baptist pastor, I get a bit excited when any person sings positively about baptism.  However, she if you can spot the flawed theology in the song. 

He said, "I've been where you've been before.
Down every hallway's a slamming door."
No way out, no one to come and save me
Wasting a life that the Good Lord gave me
Then somebody said what I'm saying to you
Opened my eyes and told me the truth."
They said, "Just a little faith, it'll all get better."
So I followed that preacher man down to the river

And now I'm changed
And now I'm stronger

There must've been something in the water
Oh, there must've been something in the water

Now I am not going to give Carrie a hard time.  She is no preacher or theologian.  Saying that, Carrie and all of us need to understand that that there was absolutely nothing in the water.  It was just water.  That’s it.  

The water is a symbol, pure and simple. Because it is symbol, we don’t even have argue so much about the modes of baptism. What matters it the person’s heart. Was that person repentant? Were they contrite?  Were they seeking God? 

Romans 6:3-4 (ESV)
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. 

A. Introduction 
B. Identification (Church)
C. Illustration (Death, Burial and Resurrection)
D. Indication (Obedience)

It must be understood that baptism is an outward proclamation of an inward conversion. In other words, baptism is a ceremonial act undertaken after a person accepts Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior. This is usually done in the presence of the church body as a public proclamation of one’s faith.

Baptism is an indication of three things.  

First, it’s an indication that something spiritual has happened in your life.  It is pointless for a person who has not been converted to be baptized.  At that point, he or she is just getting into a bath tub.  

Second, it’s an indication of ministry and service.  When you are baptized it means that you are either ready for ministry or that you will begin to prepare yourself for ministry.  In Jesus’ case, His baptism was the start of His earthly ministry.  Can a person serve or minister who has never been baptized, I suppose but I am not sure why you would want to.  

Thirdly, baptism is an indication of obedience.  Did Jesus need to be baptized?  No.  He was baptized because His Father demanded it to fulfill all righteousness.  He had to be cleansed in accordance with the Levitical law.  He had to be obedient.  Being baptized is saying “God I will obey you like Jesus obeyed you.”

Matthew 3:13-15 (NIV)
Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *permitted Him.
A. Introduction 
B. Identification (Church)
C. Illustration (Death, Burial and Resurrection)
D. Indication (Obedience)
E. Invitation

When I baptize someone, I remind them that they are preaching their very first sermon.  Sure, they are not speaking, but the act is more important than the words anyway.  Being baptized calls others to repentance.  I will never forgot the very first person I ever baptized here at Eastern Shore Baptist Church.  Her name is Olivia Mitchell.  She was a little girl.  However, her baptism opened the floodgates and countless others have been baptized since her simple act of obedience.  

Let me invite you today.  Not to baptism but to salvation.  What good is baptism without being saved.  Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior?  Do you know where you would go if you were to die right now?  Let me help you know Christ.  It’s so simple.  

Admit that you are a sinner, and in need of salvation from sin. All persons need salvation. Each of us has a problem the Bible calls sin. Sin is a refusal to acknowledge God's authority over our lives.

Romans 3:10 – Since none of us is perfect, all of us are sinners

Romans 3:23– “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death..”

Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He is the only way to obtain salvation – to get to heaven. Although we have done nothing to deserve His love and salvation, God wants to save us.

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”

John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”

Confess your sin and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to others.
I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us all unrighteousness”

Romans 10:9-10– “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved”

John 3:23 (KJV)
And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

Remember, There’s Plenty of Water…Even For YOU!


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