Vernon Advent Christian Church
Friday, December 06, 2019
A Unique Church of Understanding People

062313_The Power of One, Pt.1

 
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TITLE: House of God: The Power of One – Ephesians 4:1-6 AIM: Focus on the purpose & significance of baptism. INTRO: They say there is power in numbers, meaning I suppose, that the more you have of something the better it is. That’s true in many things. Theoretically, in a battle, the more weapons & troops you have the better. It is certainly the world’s thinking that the more money one has the better (may be true as long as it doesn’t own you). That’s even true of the church – we always want to add more people to the Church, because each person is someone who needs a Savior, & if come to faith in Christ as Savior/Lord, then he/she is brought into the Church & hopefully will find their way to a church. But in the Church worldwide & the local church such as we are, the most powerful number is one! That’s true in a couple of ways: 1)Jesus is the One in whom we believe & who we all follow, if we are true disciples; 2)In Christ, we who believe, tho many, are one. Theme: Household of God – understanding by God’s word that we are the HofG & seeking thru Scripture to understand what it means to be the HofG. In Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians 4:1-6, the apostle makes it clear that members of God’s household are one: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God & Father of all. Let’s turn our attention today to that passage of Scripture. [READ] Having spent the 1st ½ of the epistle teaching the Ephesian believers (& us) what God has done for us in Christ, reminding us who we were, but what God has done to save & bring together under Christ all His Church, then praying for us to get it & embrace the truth by faith, now Paul turns his attention to how we ought to live knowing/believing what we know/believe. He reminds them again, perhaps to put emphasis on the importance of listening to what he is saying, that he is a prisoner for the Lord. He admonishes us to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called…” If we are members of God’s household, it’s because we have been called by God into relationship w/Him thru faith in Christ. We were invited by the Spirit of God to embrace salvation thru faith. What a glorious grace God has poured out on each of us who believe! Now Paul is saying, “Don’t take that lightly, but walk worthy of it.” “Walk” – “make one’s way, progress, make due use of opportunities, regulate one’s life, conduct one’s self” (Strong’s). We are to pay attention to how we live, having come to faith in Christ & into relationship w/God our Father. Paul is not saying, “Now it’s up to you to live right.” He makes it clear in chap.6 & elsewhere in his writings that we desperately need God’s help & rule in our lives if we’re going to successfully live the Christian life. But we do bear responsibility to yield to God’s rule & pay attention to how we conduct our lives. And, note that it involves our relationships w/others. Walking worthy of our calling involves rightly relating to others who are also called by God. Paul exhorts us to relate to our bros/sis in Christ w/humility, gentleness, patience, love & unity. Then he zeroes in on this matter of unity, emphasizing that it is the “unity of the Spirit,” meaning the Holy Spirit. Next, he points out that which unites us in Christ: We are one body, the body of Christ, the Church; we’re inhabited by one Spirit, the Holy Spirit, w/& w/in us; we’re called to one hope – the hope of eternal life w/Christ; we’re servants of one Lord, Jesus Christ, who redeemed us for Himself by His sacrifice for us on the cross & thru the empty tomb. And, we have one faith, in Jesus, believing that in Him we are indeed saved, forgiven, given new & eternal life, & brought into relationship w/God. We have one baptism, immersed in Christ, infused w/the Holy Spirit & brought into the Church. And, we belong to one God – Jehovah, who has called us to Himself. Now, we will look more intently at each of these elements of our oneness in Christ in weeks to come, but today, because of our privilege of celebrating w/Deb Tyson in her baptism, I’d like to focus the rest of this message on baptism, considering what & why it is. Most of us have been baptized, some of you may be considering it, & today Deb is doing it. It is significant that thruout the history of the Church & today all over the world Christians have practiced this rite in celebration & declaration of their faith in Christ. There are different modes of baptism & tho I/we believe that immersion is the Biblical mode, I don’t think the mode is as important as the meaning behind it. The word actually comes from the Greek, “baptisma,” which literally means “immersion or submersion,” & Strong’s Concordance adds this: “of Christian baptism, a rite of immersion in water as commanded by Christ, by which one after confessing & professing his faith in Christ, having been born again by the Holy Spirit unto a new life, identifies publicly w/the fellowship of Christ & the Church.” I don’t remember anywhere in the gospels that Jesus commanded baptism, tho His disciples baptized others as John the Baptist did – a baptism of repentance from sin. John the Baptist said of Jesus (Luke 3:16), “I baptize you w/water, but He (Jesus)…will baptize you w/the Holy Spirit & w/fire.” When we come to faith in Christ, we are indeed baptized w/the Holy Spirit – He comes to dwell w/in us, to lead & sanctify us. Baptism w/fire either means the fire of new life in Christ or the fire of judgment, w/which all who do not believe will incur. But thru His apostles Jesus did command baptism: Peter exhorted his listeners on the day of Pentecost to “Repent & be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, & you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). And in Acts 10:48, when Cornelius & his family/friends responded to Peter’s message by faith in Christ, we read that “…he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” It’s obvious from Scripture that baptism is a follow-up/thru of one’s faith in Christ. It points to what has already occurred in the believer’s life. Baptism doesn’t save anyone; it is a witness to God’s saving grace in a life. Baptism doesn’t wash away our sins; it celebrates the washing away of sin by God the Father based on the atoning work of Christ. Baptism symbolizes new life in Christ, the old self dying w/Christ, being buried w/Christ, & the new being raised up w/Christ, but it doesn’t give us new life. I think it very important that a person being baptized understands all that it means & makes the choice to be baptized because he/she believes/receives Christ as Savior /Lord. You who were baptized as infants should consider that thought. Before baptism, one must come to an understanding of the truth of the gospel – the truth of our sin & need of a Savior; understanding what Paul wrote in Rom.3:23 & 6:23 – “All have sinned & fall short of the glory of God.” We’ve missed the mark & fallen short of God’s standard (perfection); therefore we not only cannot know God, but we deserve His wrath/punishment. “The wages of sin is death…” But we also must understand that God has made a way for us by sending His Son to pay the penalty for us. So we confess our sin, need of a Savior & turn from the sin of unbelief, dependence upon ourselves, to God, looking to Him for salvation, new life, relationship w/Him, for which we were created. We must be convinced of the truth of the gospel (that’s what faith is) & so commit ourselves to God’s saving grace, to following Christ as Lord, that He might take charge of us, live His life in us to the glory of God. He will transform our lives, giving us new direction & purpose, fitting us for His kingdom, making us part of His Church, calling us to His work. At baptism one makes a public confession of Christ, declaring to all who see/hear his/her faith in Christ & commitment to Him. In baptism we are identifying w/Christ – we believe in Him, belong to Him. He is our life, our hope, our all in all. And, in baptism we also identify w/the Church, the body of Christ. Baptism doesn’t make us members of the Household of God – that happens when we believe/receive Christ; but in baptism we recognize that we are making the same confession of faith in Christ that millions thruout history have made. We’re taking the same stand that others have taken, making the same commitment others have made – the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, your forefathers, grandmothers, bro/sis. It’s no small thing to stand in the waters of baptism! But baptism is not an ending, it’s a beginning of sorts. Being baptized marks a line in the sand, so to speak. As said, it’s a confession of faith, a declaration of commitment. We are to go forth from baptism & live out what we have professed. After baptism, we’re to live committed lives, to Christ & to His Church. As Paul said, we’re to “walk worthy of the calling to which we’ve been called.” We’re to conduct our lives in a way that agrees w/what we have confessed. We’re to pursue spiritual growth, continuing to follow Christ & become more like Him, little by little. All too many people have been baptized & then practically forgotten what they’ve said they believe & the public commitment they’ve made. Deb, don’t let that happen to you! And by the way, how are the rest of us doing w/that? We desperately need God’s help, which He supplies by His Spirit, but we must follow thru. After all, we are the Household of God!