Baptism: Where We Have Been Silent
Over the past two weeks we have been looking at Baptism. I believe we have a lot to offer in the wider discussion. But before we get into that discussion we must have a better understanding of what Baptism is and what it isn’t. That’s why today I want us to spend some time looking at an area we have been silent on. The scriptures we use to point to the necessity of baptism, usually has a two fold promise: the cleansing and the empowerment. It’s the double cure, the water and the spirit.
We understand because of the tie to the cross and the resurrection that we can be buried and resurrected with Him. But we seem to forget that at our baptism we were empowered by the Spirit to live a life that we could not live on our own. We like to talk about the water but are silent about the Spirit and in scripture you can’t have one with out the other.
There is a thought out there that Jesus came to this earth, lived a perfect life, died a cruel death, and ascended back into heaven. He leaves the Holy Spirit to inspire the disciples to write the Bible and then at the end of the first century, just like Elvis, the Holy Spirit left the building. And now God looks at His children and says good luck. I made sure you have got the manual, just follow the 5,000 easy step-by-step instructions and you will be okay.
God has promised us much more than that. We claim that we want to be just like the church that we read about in the Bible; to live and worship like our brothers and sisters that we read about in Acts. We want to be as loving, and powerful, and dynamic as they were. But how can we be that church if we ignore the power that made that church what it was? That’s a difficult position to put ourselves in. We can only be that church if we use the same power they used; the Holy Spirit.
We think that if we build churches that are well organized, have great staffs, and have a lot of good programs then we will be a first century kind of Church. I have heard folk say if it works in the business world it will work in the church. What happens is that we are left with folks who want to be Christlike so they are looking for the right program and after bouncing around from program to program for a couple of years they finally give up, and quit trying or even worse quit God all together. The only thing that can build the right kind of Church is a family that learns to tap the power of the Holy Spirit and receive the double cure.
Lets look at a few scriptures and see what the Bible has to say about this double cure. The first place is in John 3:5
Jesus links the two elements: Water and Spirit; you cannot have one with out the other. It parallels what Peter says in Acts 2:38: And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; Now for to many of us that is where we stopped. We forgot to read the rest of the verse. “and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Some of us were taught that this was just for the first century, and for the apostles. But we forgot to continue reading: For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.
I like that little word ALL! This is not an old out of date promise that was just for the first century. It’s a promise for God’s people throughout the ages. But many of us grew up teaching the first part of these verses and ignored the last part. Not only can God handle your past, He will make you secure in your present, and give you power for the future.
Look with me at Romans 8:9
Here Paul answers the question about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I have a copy of the Woods - Nichols debates where they discussed the Holy Spirit and whether or not He lives in you. Paul answers the debate; if you are a Christian then you have the Spirit living in you.
The Holy Spirit is not optional equipment. It’s not like when you are picking out a car and you say, I think that I would like to add a sunroof, and a MP3 player on this car so that it will be a little nicer. It comes standard, on all Christians. Paul says if you don’t have the Holy Spirit you don’t have Christ in your life.
The Christian life is not just hard; it’s impossible on your own. Unfortunately either through inferred teaching or by direct teaching we left the impression that you need to go out there and live for Christ on your own. God cleansed you at your baptism but from here on out you understand it the best you can, do the best you can, and if you are good enough you can make it. That is a denial of Scripture. I can’t find a verse where it says that the Spirit stopped working or that only a few people got the Spirit.
Since God promised us His Spirit, we need to understand exactly what we get so we can see it as a beautiful gift. There are a lot of strange teachings out there. A lot of weird stuff that people give the Holy Spirit credit for today. There is this one group that says they are giggling in the Spirit. The get together and just start giggling. It starts with one and then pretty soon 100’s of people are all giggling in the Spirit. I don’t see that in the Bible and there is a lot of weird stuff out there. So let’s go back to the Bible and see what God says the Holy Spirit is doing for you.
The Holy Spirit Sanctifies us 1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.
Being sanctified means to be set apart, to become holy, or to become like Jesus. You say I would like to become like Christ, that’s what I committed to at my baptism, but I can’t do it. You’re right. You need some help, and that help comes through the Holy Spirit who is doing work from the inside out to help you become like Jesus. When we have the Spirit we are able to walk like Jesus walked, we can fulfill His mission on this earth. Without the Spirit the best we can hope to do is live a moral life.
The Holy Spirit Strengthens us Ephesians 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;
There is a power that we can only have through the Holy Spirit. We cannot do the Lord’s work with out the Lord’s power. To think you can is fleshly, human, vain, and egotistical.
We need to remember that the Kingdom of God is upside down from what the world considers right. We are called to out love, out forgive, out serve one another. We are called to think about others before we think about our self, we are called to sacrifice for one another. And these are not things we can do under our own strength. We need to be strengthened with power through His Spirit.
The Holy Spirit Empowers Us to Overcome Sin Romans 8:13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Living like Jesus requires the power Jesus offers through His Spirit. The truth we all know is that the Devil is good at his job. He knows how to get at you no matter where you are walking.
I love the story of the young couple and the woman wants to go to the mall and her husband says baby you can’t we don’t have any money to spend and it’s going to be tight paying our bills this month anyway. The wife says I just want to go window shop and try clothes on but I won’t buy anything. The husband says if you write a check it will bounce. She assures Him it will be okay and she goes off on her way.
6 hours later she walks in the house with a new dress. The husband is irate and says I thought we had a deal that you wouldn’t buy anything because we couldn’t afford it. And the wife replies well I was trying this dress on and while I was looking in the mirror Satan told me how good I looked in this dress and how proud you would be to walk in to church with me wearing this dress. The husband says why didn’t you say get behind me Satan? And the wife replies I did and he said you look better from back here.
It doesn’t matter what direction you are traveling in Satan can meet you there and tempt you. Hasn’t that been the truth in your life? So when we think that we live under our own power and defeat Satan we get in trouble. But if we understand that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to say no to sin, then we have got something really, really special. And we need to embrace that.
The Holy Spirit Helps Us In Our Prayers. Romans 8:26 And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
This is probably my favorite work of the Spirit. Have you ever been upset and didn’t know what to pray for? Have the prayers just not come? Are you just hurt so bad and you don’t know what to say?
The Bible says that the Holy Spirit speaks up for you, He intercedes for you. Since He is in you He knows intimately what the struggles are in your life and helps you make those struggles known to God the Father.
The Holy Spirit Produces Fruit Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
I used to teach that these were things that we were supposed to work towards. If you want to show love then here are the 4 things I needed to do. Peace here’s your 4-step plan. That is not what Paul is saying here. He is saying it is not something that you produce in your life. It is something that the Holy Spirit produces in your life.
This is the Fruit, the result of the Holy Spirit living in you. You are going to be more loving, have more peace, be kinder, more self-controlled. It’s not by human effort but by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit Guarantees us Heaven Ephesians 1:14 The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God.
The Holy Spirit is our deposit, our pledge guaranteeing our inheritance. Think about it like an engagement ring. When God is looking down here to find His bride, Who’s he looking for? The folks with the Holy Spirit. When God’s looking for who’s going to heaven, He is looking for the people that have the Holy Spirit living in them.
The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do ministry like Jesus. John 14:12 - Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
Jesus is not saying through the Holy Spirit you can take your lunch at work, bless it, and then feed all 5,000 of your coworkers. What Jesus is promising here is that when we walk alongside of the poor, spend our time with the sick, and let our lives be wrung out we are doing the works we were created to do. This is where we live. This is where we love. This is where we preach. This is where we engage. This is who we invite into our homes. This is how the ministry of Jesus is multiplied.
John 14:26: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. I love this one. I need to be reminded over and over again that Jesus is my treasure, that He's better, He's the goal, He's the greatest treasure I could ever have. I need to be reminded over and over again, because the pattern of my life is to move away from risky things and go toward things that are safe and don’t matter.
Think about it this way; I’m 41. When I was in my 20s, I wasn't afraid of anything. If you were to ask me to free climb up a canyon wall, I would have told you to step back and off I would go. But now I realize that I can actually get hurt, and that when I get hurt, I don't heal as quickly. When I was 23, I was like Wolverine. I'd just grow it back and keep going. It doesn't work like that anymore. Things nag. They just don't go away. I'm like, Why won't my shoulder work? It's just that kind of life now.
As a result, now that I’m older, I have started to pull back on risks or quit taking them at all. And while there is an inherent wisdom in that physically, we get into trouble when we start to think like that spiritually. God wants the church as a missionary organization. Not always looking inward and entertaining, but looking outward. John Piper said that the church was designed to be a "Battleship, not cruise ship." We need to engage the world around us for the glory of God.
Finally we see that The Holy Spirit gives us the courage to do the will of God. John 15:26-16:3 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. "I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me.
Everyone of us would say we want to do God’s will, but very often doing is much harder than saying. I’m sure there are times in your life when you have thought this is out of my comfort zone or why in the world am I having to do this? Or I have no experience with this. In my own life I know that there are times when I allow my fear of the mission to cloud God’s plans. And to be honest, taking the message of Christ outside these walls opens us up to some opposition.
It’s unrealistic to think that as a Child of God you won’t encounter opposition. Of course you will. Jesus said, In this world you will have trouble. In this world you will have tribulation. In the Sermon the Mount Jesus said, Blessed are you when people insult you, when they persecute you, when they falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. We need to be honest enough to admit that there will always be people who differ with your Biblical worldview. I’m not sure why we are surprised since the Bible tells us that we’re gonna be ridiculed.
People are gonna take opposition to our beliefs. 1 Peter 4:12 was written at a time when Christians were being martyred; and yet Peter writes: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
We are going to face difficulties and trouble when we choose to walk like Christ. Believers in every country and in every generation have faced persecution in one way or another because of their desire to follow God. Having the Spirit in us, allowed us to boldly do the will of God in our hostile world.
The question we must all answer today is: What will you do with the Holy Spirit?
Biblically we have two options: We can cooperate with the Holy Spirit in your life or you can quench the Holy Spirits work in your life.
You can cooperate and walk in step with the Spirit that you received at Baptism. You can let God do mighty things through you by staying in step with the Spirit.
Or you can quench the spirit. There are passages in our Bibles that say you can grieve the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew writer says you can insult the Holy Spirit. So if you are a Christian today you’ve got the Holy Spirit. The question is do you say in step with the Spirit or do you neglect the Spirit.
I used to think that all of this Holy Spirit stuff didn’t matter, that it didn’t make a whole lot of difference. but now I understand that it makes all the difference in the world. When the Holy Spirit moves to live with in me how can I act like He’s not there. If I ignore Him or deny Him, do you think that He is going to be at work in my life? This doctrine that we have taught, that He’s not working, has some awful ramifications. To ignore His work is certainly to quench His work.
This morning are you in step with the Spirit? Or are you quenching the Spirit by trying to live by your own power. I know that there are some here this morning that need to come before this church and say everything is not right. Personally I am asking for you to pray for me that I will get in step with the spirit.
Then there may be some here today that have never experienced the cleansing or the empowerment that only comes through a burial in baptism with Jesus Christ. If today you can believe that through faith, you can have all of your sins washed away and you are ready to be clothed in Christ and receive this awesome power. Then today is the day of your salvation.