Baptism: Where We Have Been Silent
We are in the middle of a series on baptism because I believe we have a lot to offer in the wider discussion. But from time to time I think we should all get back into the Scriptures and take a fresh look at our core beliefs. That’s why today I want us to spend some time looking at an area we haven’t spent a lot of time talking about. The scriptures we use to point to the necessity of baptism, usually contain a two fold promise: the cleansing and the empowerment. It’s the double cure, the water and the spirit.
I think we are pretty comfortable how God ties the empty cross and empty tomb to our baptism, or burial and resurrection. 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 spend a lot of time talking about the water, and at the same time we are silent about the Spirit. Maybe this is one of those areas we felt needed to be corrected and we over-swung the pendulum. Maybe when we saw this false teaching out there about the Holy Spirit, so overcorrected and began to teach our own false doctrine.
There is an implied teaching that Jesus came to this earth, lived a perfect life, died a cruel death, and ascended back into heaven. He promised it would be better when He returns to the Father, because the Holy Spirit will come and dwell among us, dwell within us. The Holy Spirit inspired the disciples to write the Bible and advance the borders of the church. And then at the end of the first century the Holy Spirit leaves. 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.
That’s not the promise Jesus made. Jesus said in John 14: I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you (16-17) Jesus said it would be better for us, if He were to return to the Father so that we can have the Spirit living within us, forever.
Every Church of Christ says they want to be just like the Church 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.
Building churches that are well organized, have great staffs, and have a lot of good programs won’t make us a first century kind of Church. We have created an atmosphere where people who want to be Christlike spend their lives 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.
Jesus talked often about this double cure, John 3:5 - But Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born from water and the Spirit, you cannot enter God's kingdom. Here we see that Jesus links the two elements: Water and Spirit; you cannot have one with out the other.
I know that most of you have memorized Acts 2:38: "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; But we forgot 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 we forgot to keep 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 talking about the first part of the passage and ignored the last part.
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 heated seats so that it will be a little nicer. It comes standard, on all Christians. Paul says in Romans 8:9 - And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
The Christian life is not just hard; it’s impossible on your own. Unfortunately, either through inferred or direct teaching we left the impression that you need to go out there and live for Christ on your own. We believe that God cleansed you at your baptism but once you get out of the water you need to 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 get back into the text and see what actually God promised. There are a lot of strange teachings out there. A lot of weird stuff that people give the Holy Spirit credit for; so let’s consider what God says the Holy Spirit is doing in His people today.
The Holy Spirit Sanctifies us 1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit,
Being sanctified means to be set apart, to become holy, or to become like Jesus. At your Baptism you were committing to growing to be more and more like Christ. So how are you doing? You have been a Child of God for 5, 15, 50 years, are you struggling to be like Christ? If you need help, then you need to realize that it’s only through the Holy Spirit’s power that we can 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;
Paul says that there is great power through the Holy Spirit. But very often we want to try to accomplish God’s work in our communities through our will, intelligence, planing or cunning. We need to admit that trying to the Lord’s work with out the Lord’s power is fleshly, vain, and egotistical.
We can never forget 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.
Thirdly, 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 is impossible without the power He offers through His Spirit. Everyone of us understands how good the Devil is at his job, He attacks us from every side until he finds our weakness. It’s like the story of the young bride who 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 swipe that card we won’t have lights. 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 can’t believe it. He says I thought you said 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 WOW! you should see it from back here.
It doesn’t matter what direction you are traveling in Satan can meet you there and tempt you. 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 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? Have you ever been in so much pain that you don’t even know where to begin? 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.
Paul says, 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;
I have had to do a bit of repenting here. There was a time when I would teach that these were characteristics 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. Those are not traits you can 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 if the Spirit is living in you. 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.
The Holy Spirit is our deposit, our pledge guaranteeing our inheritance. Think about it like an engagement ring, it’s a promise that God is going to bring us into His family and His home. 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.
Finally we see that The Holy Spirit gives us the courage to do the will of God. John 15:26-16:3 I will send a great Helper to you from the Father, one known as the Spirit of truth. He comes from the Father and will point to the truth as it concerns Me. But you will also point others to the truth about My identity, because you have journeyed with Me since this all began. I am telling you all of this so that you may avoid the offenses that are coming. The time will come when they will kick you out of the synagogue because some believe God desires them to execute you as an act of faithful service. They will do this because they don’t know the Father, or else they would know Me.
I need constant reminders of God’s courage because the pattern of my life is to move away from risky things and go toward things that are safe and don’t matter. I’m 44 years old. 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 as I once did. 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 knee 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 to focus out there, to be light in dark places, not always looking inward, entertaining and playing it safe. 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.
Everyone of us would say we want to do God’s will, but it’s hard to get from talking to actually doing. 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, 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. 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.