THE STORY — IT’S ALL ABOUT BAPTISM
by Pastor Mike Fortune
April 5, 2008
Introduction: America's Funniest Home Videos: Baptism Cannon Ball
That clip reminded me of something I tell my kids every chance I get. Because it’s something I hear God telling us through the pages of Scripture every chance He gets. And that is this: I love you, I love you, I love you. I love you when you’re good. I love you when you’re bad. I love you when you’re happy. I love you when you’re sad. There’s nothing you can do, to make me love you more. There’s nothing you can do, to make me love you less. Even if you cannon ball into the baptistry at church and electrocute Pastor Mike. Which hopefully, nobody will try here today. Right Chad? Brendon? Tyler? Today, we’ve got balloons. Bubbles. And WTG’s after each baptism. In honor of the monumental decisions being made here today. In honor of the celebration that is going on in heaven as we speak. Luke 15:1-7 describes that celebration.
“Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such despicable people—even eating with them! So Jesus used this illustration: If you had one hundred sheep, and one them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you have the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away.”
So when people get baptized, you need to know baptism is the joyful result of what happens when one lost person is found. It is what Jesus, though He was sinless, modeled for his followers by precedent in Matthew 3:13 and by precept in Matthew 28:19. It is the normal response of people who believe the story of Jesus. We know this is true because of how Peter concludes his sermon in Acts 2:36-38. He said, “Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ. When all the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said ‘What shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized.’”
So that’s what these folks have done and are doing here today. But none of these folks here today are getting baptized because they know it all. 1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “It’s like this: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. Now we see thing imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.”
And none of these folks are getting baptized because only baptized people go to heaven or because once they do, life will be easier. In fact, I straight out told them the same thing Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world!”
So don’t be naive people. Life will not always be good. Even after you’re baptized. We too quickly forget that every faithful disciple of Jesus except John was martyred for their faith. But Romans 8:28 says all things will work together for good that love God.” And these people getting baptized today love the God who first loved them [1 John 4:19]. And are publicly confessing their need of Him. They’re not perfect by any means. But neither was Peter after he got baptized and denied Jesus three times. Like Peter, they are holding onto the promise that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” [Philippians 1:6].
In the meantime, as they sincerely serve Him, they know they may crash and burn. Fall and fail. But that none of that will stop Jesus from loving them or continuing to work in them. Jesus said it this way in John 6:38-39 says, “For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me and this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me.” They know God will never let go of them and that He washes away their sins. Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit.”
So if baptism isn’t about making ourselves more worthy of salvation, what is it about? Well, Romans 6 tell us the answer. Verse 3 says, “Have you forgotten that when we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Christ Jesus, we died with him? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”
Now unless you are really really old, you weren’t literally there when Jesus died. So obviously, baptism is symbolic. It’s meant to symbolize or re-enact what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross. And was buried in the tomb. And was resurrected back to life. That’s why Paul asks “Have we forgotten that when we became Christians we died with Him?”
But just as Christ was raised from the dead, the second part is now we also may live new lives. Because we were also resurrected with Him. And those lives are lived the same way everybody else that loves Jesus lives theirs—by faith. Paul says it this way in Galations 2:19-20. “For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God’s approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
And if the bottom line is: Christ lives in you, that’s worth celebrating isn’t it? I hope you think so. Because that’s what we’re going to do today. In a minute, I’m going to go back there and get ready. All the candidates have selected a favorite song they’d like to hear. They’ve written a short bio about themselves that will be read. And then right after they’re baptized, together we’ll congratulate them and commend them with our familiar Toledo First response: “Way to go!!!” You’ll catch on as Pastor Aly and Nathan lead you through it. And at this time, Pastor Aly would like to introduce to a few of our guests who happen to also be some very special friends of hers as well.
|Shaelyn — I’ve enjoyed getting to know Shaelyn. It’s appropriate that she is the first person being baptized today because she is the first person who approached me about wanting to be baptized months ago. She lost and found her baptismal class workbook numerous times, but was always prepared to discuss the things we were learning about Jesus. She has asked Jesus to come into her life, she believes the truth about Him, and has confessed her need of Him, and because of that, it’s my privilege to baptize her now in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.|
|Brendon — I met Brendon when his parents, Troy and Cindy Leibengood, started coming to church here in Toledo months ago. Like the fellow in Acts 8:36 who became familiar with and believed the story of Jesus, Brendon wondered: “Why can’t I be baptized.” His mom and dad wondered the same thing. So here we are today. I’ve enjoyed Brendon’s willingness to look up and read the Bible verses we studied putting them in his own words. And I think he knows more than he says. If you get to know Brendon, maybe you’ll come to the same conclusion. He has asked Jesus to come into his life, he believes the truth about Him, and has confessed his need of Him, and because of that, it’s my privilege to baptize him now in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.|
|Tyler — Tyler may be younger than his brother Brendon, but he’s just as bright. He had his Bible and workbook with him every week we studied. He easily rewrote the words of the Scriptures in his own words. And asked good questions. He has asked Jesus to come into his life, he believes the truth about Him, and has confessed his need of Him, and because of that, it’s my privilege to baptize him now in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.|
Craige — Acts 16 tells the story of when Paul and Silas were in prison. Around midnight, while they were singing in their shackles chained up in prison, an earthquake shook the prison opening all the doors and shaking loose all the chains of the prisoners. Thinking everyone had fled and he’d lose his life, the jailer prepared to take his. But instead, when he got there, he found Paul and Silas and everyone else still there. Waiting for him. Which blew his mind. Paul told him the same things Craige now understands about Jesus and that it is Jesus who makes us good enough. And you know what happened after that? The Bible says his entire household rejoiced and they all got baptized. Well, Nicole is already baptized. But Cody and Chad are following his example today. I’m so proud of Craige for modeling what it looks like to be a man after God’s own heart. He has asked Jesus to come into his life, he believes the truth about Him, and has confessed his need of Him, and because of that, it’s my privilege to baptize him now in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.
|Cody — I had no idea Cody had been thinking about getting baptized. But I am really glad he was. Because I see God at work in his life. He listens well during chapel on Fridays. He participates in all the crazy outreach things we do. He takes good care of those younger than him. Even those not related to him. I see Jesus in Him. And I wanted him to see Jesus in Him too. So that’s why I asked him about getting baptized. He has asked Jesus to come into his life, he believes the truth about Him, and has confessed his need of Him, and because of that, it’s my privilege to baptize him now in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.|
|Chad — One the key factors for me in determining whether someone understands what baptism is all about is if they can think in abstract. Can you ask them a question and can they answer it in their own words based on evidence that makes sense. And that is what Chad can do. I really love his authenticity and enthusiasm. As you can tell from his bio, he is not getting baptized today because his dad is getting baptized or because his brother is getting baptized. He is getting baptized because he wants to get baptized. He wants to follow Jesus. And sincerely serve Him. Because it’s a decision he made. And I think it’s a great one don’t you? He has asked Jesus to come into his life, he believes the truth about Him, and has confessed his need of Him, and because of that, it’s my privilege to baptize him now in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.|
|Stephanie — It has been a joy getting to know Stephanie the last few months. She just showed up at church one week and became a fixture overnight. God used her aunt Nicole to bring her here. And we’re glad He did. Because her love of Jesus is contagious. She is easy to talk to. And willing to listen. Reading all the books I can give her. She’s growing by leaps and bounds and God has big plans for her life I’m sure. She has asked Jesus to come into her life, she believes the truth about Him, and has confessed her need of Him, and because of that, it’s my privilege to baptize her now in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.|