Sunday, May 02, 2010

Romans 6:1-10 - The Ordinance of Baptism

A baptism in Jawajeh, Liberia, West Africa-CRCA
Pray and Read:  Romans 6:1-10.

Contextual Notes:
In order for an activity to be an ordinance, it must fulfill two requirements.

  1. It must be an outward sign of truth of the gospel.
    1. An ordinance is first a sign pointing to Christ Jesus. It is a prophetic act demonstrating some truth of the message of the good news of Jesus.
  1. It must have been instituted by Jesus himself.
    1. Because it is initiated and ordained by Christ, it holds the authority of Christ.
Ordinances, however, did not start in the New Testament. The idea had been around for a long time. In Exodus 12:14, God instituted the Passover as an “ordinance forever” for the people of Israel. In 1 Corinthians 11:2, Paul picks up this idea to remind the church of its “ordinances” which it practices.

Authority to administer lies with the church, not with any government, judiciary, or individual, including the pastor. Therefore the efficacy of baptism or the Lord’s Supper lies not in the character or person of the individual ordained to perform the service, but in the church, the Body of Christ. (Acts 10:46-47)

An ordinance is not a sacrament. There is nothing of saving grace in an ordinance. It is an outward demonstration of truth instituted by Jesus Christ. Superstitious veneration accompanied baptism and communion in the days after the early Church. The idea of sacramentalism became a powerful tool of control to wield over the people. The threat of excommunication and damnation through withholding the sacraments was the church at its worst.

Key Truth: Paul wrote Romans 6:1-10 to teach believers that baptism is a sign of having died to sin, raised to eternal life, and victory over sin and death forever.

Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about the ordinance of baptism.

Sermon Points: Believers baptism is a
1.   Sign of having died to sin (Rom 6:1-3)
2.   Sign of having been raised to eternal life (Rom 6:4-5)
3.   Sign of having victory over sin and death (Rom 6:6-10)

Exposition:   Note well,

1.   BELIEVERS BAPTISM IS A SIGN OF HAVING DIED TO SIN (Rom 6:1-3).

a.   Believers’ baptism is the immersion of a professing believer in water as an act of obedience, signifying that the saving transformation of God has occurred. The baptism of the believer is the first and important act of obedience for the believer. Through their baptism, believers declare their allegiance to Jesus Christ and to His people, the Church.
b.   The Meaning of Baptism: Baptism is the way believers publicly acknowledge their total commitment to Christ and powerfully state their belief “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

c.   Baptism is a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our participation with him in it. (Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). We have died with Christ. We are dead to the world. We have been buried with Christ. The power and temptations of the world no longer reach us. We are raised with Christ to a new, resurrected, triumphant life in Christ.

d.   Many people assume that Baptists got their name from a particular view of baptism. That isn’t the case. Baptists believe that the church is a body of believers, and of believers only. This is the starting point. Our insistence on believers’ baptism is a corollary of our view of the church, and our view of the church comes directly from the New Testament.
e.   When a believer comes before the people of the church to make a public profession of faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, s/he is presented to the church as a candidate for baptism (Acts 2:41; 8:36-39; 11:47). You don’t come forward to be baptized in order to be saved. That is backwards.

f.    When someone is baptized, he or she means that he has given himself to the Lord in faith for the forgiveness of his sins and the regeneration of his soul. When the candidate lays back into the water, trusting the pastor, it signifies the trust and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that you and I have when we choose to follow him, dying to our sins and trusting him for the regeneration of our souls.

g.   ILLUSTRATION: In many countries, especially in the Islamic world, public baptism is a major event. It is a bold statement that one has become a Christian and quite possibly is signing one’s own death warrant.

h.   Why We Baptize: We could not abandon the practice of baptism without ignoring both the example and the command of Jesus. Jesus’ personal example—When Jesus came to John asking to be baptized, John balked, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” (Matt. 3:14). But Jesus insisted, saying, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). In so doing Jesus symbolized His death, burial, and resurrection.

i.     Jesus’ explicit command: In the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20), Jesus commanded His followers to go into all the world making disciples. Making disciples is the church’s main business. But two things must follow: baptism and teaching Jesus’ commands.

j.    Therefore, baptism is commanded by Christ in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). It the first public act of a believer in confession of his faith in Christ. It is usually the door into the visible, local church. Baptism is only a symbol of a reality and is not required to be saved. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone.

k.   The act of baptism is a personal obligation of obedience on the part of the believer to promote the cause of Christ and state one’s own public confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

l.     ILLUSTRATION: Baptism comes from the Greek word baptizo which means “I immerse” or “I sink.” Ancient Greek manuscript histories describing naval battles use this word to describe the sinking of a vessel. The boat was baptized. It sunk. It was not sprinkled. It was not poured. It was sunk. Sprinkling and pouring are pictures of priestly activities in demonstrating the sprinkling of blood on the altar for the remission of sins or the washing of sin away from one who has been made clean. These are priestly exercises. Immersion suggests a reliance on Christ, lying back in the water is a sign of submission to the Lord Jesus. As the pastor must bring the convert up out of the water, so Jesus must do the work of raising one from the dead.

m. APPLICATION: Have you asked the Lord to forgive your sins? Have you given him your filthy rags of a life and trusted him for your salvation? Today is the day of salvation. You can have eternal life today.

2.   BELIEVERS BAPTISM IS A SIGN OF HAVING BEEN RAISED TO ETERNAL LIFE  (Rom 6:4-6).

  1. Baptism is not the way to be saved. It is a statement that you have been saved. That statement is in the clear picture of coming out from under the water and standing, just like Jesus did on the third day, with eternal life. The candidate does not stand on his or her own. Someone has to help him or her back up. In the same way, none of us could overcome sin and death on our own, but we needed the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in order to be raised to eternal life.
  1. ILLUSTRATION: When the English translators of the 1611 King James Bible came upon this word, they elected to transliterate the word instead of translate it. So instead of saying, “all of us who were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into his death?” Why did the translators take the coward’s way out and not translate the word? Because the politics of religion at that time were so raw that translating the word literally would have shown the Anglican (England) and Presbyterian (Scotland) churches to be baptizing inappropriately, and the dissenting groups who were being persecuted, like Baptists, were in fact more biblically accurate. They were sprinkling instead of immersing. To translate baptizo as immerse or sink would have cost them their heads and perhaps launched civil war. So instead of translating baptizo as immerse, they translated that Philip baptized instead of immersing the Ethiopian.
  1. APPLICATION: Have you been raised to eternal life? Perhaps you came here today because you wanted to honor one of those who were baptized, but you are not so sure about your own heart. You don’t know if you died this afternoon where you would wake up. You don’t know if you would wake up in Paradise because Christ has given you eternal life, or if you would wake up in Torment with no way out forever. Did you know you can settle your future? Did you know that you can know that you are saved, that an inward contentment and understanding will come to you when you turn your life over to Jesus Christ? Continue to listen to this text. Those promptings you are feeling inside you are the workings of the Holy Spirit drawing you to salvation. Listen to Him, and I will give you an opportunity to respond in just a few minutes.
3.   BELIEVERS BAPTISM IS A SIGN OF HAVING VICTORY OVER SIN AND DEATH (Rom 6:6-10)

a.   The purpose of dying to sin and being crucified with him is to have victory over sin so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. Did you know that you do not have to be a slave to sin? You don’t have to keep feeding that habit. You don’t have to submit to those fears. You don’t have to walk under that weight. Christ came and died so that we might have freedom from sin.
b.   And not only sin but death. Once you become a Christian, a cancer diagnosis loses its power. A terminal illness has lost its strength against you. You have power over death. Yes, right now, as the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is already here but not yet fully present until he returns, our bodies do waste away and finally expire, but our spirits and minds move on. Once separated, they go to be with Christ in his presence and await the final fulfillment of things so that in the Resurrection, even the bodies are restored and recreated to handle an existence beyond natural laws of science.
c.   Baptism is a picture of this glorious reality – that you can stare death in the face and know your Savior has already defeated him. Baptism then becomes a witness, a tool of evangelism, to announce to everyone, humans, angels, and demons, that you have been redeemed, and all mankind should come running to this opportunity you have found.
d.   W.A. Criswell: “The true New Testament church is a soul-saving, baptizing, teaching, preaching, evangelistic institution and the baptized believer is now a part of that great missionary world-wide ministry. We are united by the Spirit in the worship of God in praise, in thanksgiving, in prayer, and in the diffusion of the saving message of Christ to every creature. We are joined together in the body of our Lord for instruction, for spiritual growth, and for mutual helpfulness. It is a great, glorious, mighty, significant day when we are baptized into the body of Christ, the bride and church of our Lord.”[1]

e.   APPLICATION: Do you have victory over sin and death? Can you point to a time in your life when Christ took over your life and became your Lord and Savior? If you do lack clarity about your relationship with the Lord, call me or email me. My number and email address is on the front of your bulletin. Perhaps you want to become a follower of Christ today. You can do that in a few minutes when I will invite you to respond at the end of this message.

f.    What about infant baptism? If one has been baptized or christened as an infant, is that enough? The answer is no. Here’s why. Your infant baptism was a wonderful dedication by your parents of you to the Lord and his care. The Scripture does not command us to baptize infants but to be baptized or immersed as a public statement of our conversion to Jesus Christ.

g.   Some would take offense by asking, “Is what my parents did for me not good enough?” It was good at that time to dedicate you as a new member of their family to the Lord. It does not fulfill your obligation as a believer to announce publicly your allegiance to Jesus Christ through immersion, through the picture of death, burial, and resurrection.

h.   Some would say, “Well, it is just not that important to me at this point in my life. I’ve been a Christian for many years now. I’m still going to heaven. I still have a relationship with Christ.”  Yes, you are still going to heaven. Baptism does nothing to enhance or detract from your salvation in Christ Jesus, but just because baptism is not important to you now does not change the command that Jesus gave to be immersed as a witness to your faith. To resist immersion after your conversion is blatant disobedience to your Lord.

i.    Some women would say, “I just cannot bear to be seen with my hair wet in front of a whole congregation.” Well, then you are saying that your personal vanity means more to you than your public allegiance and obedience to the command of Jesus Christ to be baptized as a believer.

j.    Some people marry spouses who are Baptist and attend the Baptist church with them but never submit to immersion. Those who do this show forth an incongruency in their marriage. Will you marry someone, yet refuse immersion, not only in disobedience to our Lord Christ’s command in Matthew 28:19-20 to be baptized, but you also do not follow the command in Ephesians 5:21 to married couples to submit one to another out of reverence for Christ? There seems to be more than a disobedience problem here. There seems to be a deeper attitudinal problem as well. What kind of picture of marriage and submission to Christ are you giving your children when you do not unite with your spouse and be baptized also?

Invitation:
For salvation
To submit to Christ in public baptism
To join this church

Sources:
Lucien Coleman, Why Baptism? Baptist Faith and Message, http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/rd_article_content/0,2815,A%253D157811%2526X%253D1%2526M%253D200812,00.html
W.A. Criswell, Criswell’s Guidebook for Pastors, (Nashville: Broadman, 1980), 199-213.
Herschel H. Hobbs, The Baptist Faith and Message (Nashville: Convention Press, Rev. 1996), 72-75.


[1] Criswell, 203.