There are a number of reasons you might “want” to be baptized, or not want to be baptized. But what are some reasons you really should be baptized? Having trusted in Christ alone and being aware we are all sinners in need of a savior, you want to declare that Jesus is your Lord and Savior. 1 John 5:3 "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome."
Death to Self: the Truest Fruit of All the Disciplines
Baptism: Why You Should Why You Shouldn't and What it's For
The Discipline of the Lord's Supper
True Test of Being a Servant
The Secret Place as the Secret to Christlikeness
The Activity and Attitude of Prayer
The Spiritual Disciplines: Spending Time in God's Word
The Key to Knowing and Serving the God Who Loves You
Good morning! Welcome, Dallas. Welcome, Fort Worth. We are glad to be with everybody this morning. We're going to learn something. We're going to start with a little history lesson, and then I'm going to tell you what you do if you're part of his-story. Let me pray.
Father, I thank you for a chance to be together today and to be with friends, as I said, in Dallas and in Fort Worth. I pray you would grab all of our hearts and would teach us what it is you want us to learn from your Word and that we would respond to it fully that we might be blessed. You tell us in that Word how blessed is the man who walks in the counsel of the Lord, so we want to do that.
I pray for guests who are here today that somebody just said hello to for the first time that they, Father, would hear what you want them to hear today that they might be encouraged, comforted, and drawn to you, the Author and giver of life. I pray for those of us who have known you for a long time, that we might be more equipped and ready for service to teach others or to respond as you would have us do in all things. Thanks for the privilege of being here today and what you're going to teach us. Amen.
All right. Are you ready for a little history lesson? I'm going to put up a picture of a guy, and if you know who it is, you might want to keep quiet. I doubt very many of you will. It looks like he is a descendant or a predecessor to Gene Hackman, doesn't it? This guy is a character. His nickname was "Big Drunk." He lived to be 70, and he is a fabled man. He is the only guy in the history of our country to be elected by popular vote as governor of two different states.
This guy's story is amazing. He was born to Scottish-Irish immigrants and was the fifth of five sons to a family with nine children. His daddy died when he was 14, and they moved from Pennsylvania, where he was born, to Maryville, Tennessee, which is where my wife's descendants are from, right outside the Smoky Mountain National Park in Maryville.
This guy lived there. When he was 16 he didn't like being a store clerk in his brother's home, so he bolted. He took off, like most 16-year-olds do, and ran away. He got adopted by a Cherokee Indian chief. Americans called that Cherokee Indian chief John Jolly. He gave him a nickname, Colonneh, which means "the Raven."
He'd go back and visit his family in Maryville every now and then, but this guy became fluent in Cherokee. At the age of 19 he went back home and founded the very first schoolhouse in the state of Tennessee. He then got conscripted into the War of 1812. He fought nobly there. He was hit in the groin (ouch) with a Creek arrow, and he bandaged himself up and went back into battle, where he was quickly shot in the shoulder and the arm. As you could imagine, people were rather impressed.
He became friends with Andrew Jackson and another guy by the name of James K. Polk. He would go back. At 26 he studied law and got his law degree. He became a congressman, married a young lady, and became governor of Tennessee. She called TMZ and reported a rather scandalous series of things that were going on. He resigned his governorship in shame and basically lived in that Tennessee region right there for a while. He was a prosecutor in Nashville.
He goes up to Washington basically as a lobbyist for Indian rights. While he's up there he gets slandered by a congressman from Ohio. He writes him a letter saying he wanted him to correct it. The congressman decided not to, so he took a hickory stick and nearly beat him to death on Pennsylvania Avenue. Congress charged him with assault.
His attorney was Francis Scott Key. How about that?! The Johnnie Cochran of the day. You get the celebrity defense attorney. Well, he was still charged and found guilty. Because he had friends in high places, namely presidents, he was lightly charged, but he was sued in civil court. Since he lost there and didn't want to pay the fine, he did what most men do: he fled the country. All this is happening before the brother hits 40.
Now he's out of our country, living in Mexico, and a felon, if you will, who did not pay his fines. He is baptized into the Catholic church in order that he might become a land owner, which was Mexican law at that particular time. Are y'all cluing in yet? This guy is starting to run around Texas.
He's been in a common-law marriage to a Cherokee bride, and that didn't work out so well. She eventually left him and chose not to follow him to Texas. He becomes commander-in-chief of the Texas forces. He signs, on his 43rd birthday, the Texas Declaration of Independence. The Alamo goes down. He starts to fight Santa Anna forces.
He gets here. He gives a false profession, basically, to become a land owner. He becomes commander-in-chief. He becomes a senator for our state and then becomes governor. The largest city in our state is named after him. This is "Big Drunk," one of our state's forefathers, Mr. Sam Houston.
Now, that's Sam's story, but what you don't know about Sam's story is when he was 47 he married a 21-year-old from Alabama. He was known as a brawler, a fighter, and a drunk. He fought politically, he fought militarily, and he fought maritally, but he married this young little Christian woman who apparently did not live in biblical community or she never would have married this chump. Nonetheless, she did.
I think he sired eight kids from the time he was 51 to 68, most of whom probably didn't have a great relationship with drunk ol' Dad, who was governor, US senator, and basically on the road a lot. She prayed faithfully for him, and out of consideration for his wife, when he was home he would attend church with her.
He lived in Independence, Texas, which is just south of College Station. Late in his life, "Big Drunk" finally came to know Jesus. He had a real conversion, not one to get land. In some sweet little Baptist church he kept hearing the gospel, and finally through the pleadings and prayers of his wife this man was going to get baptized.
Three different ministers who had been involved in his life were a part of his baptism service. When they brought him down there a bunch of kids played a prank on this little baptismal area this church used. They filled it with stumps, sticks, and mud. When they went to baptize him they couldn't get in there because the baptismal hall was filled up, so they moved it to another creek. It's still marked today. You can go find it just south of College Station.
Legend has it when this guy was baptized the pastor said, "Mr. Houston, you are wearing your watch." He took his watch off. Then he said, "You might want to give them your wallet too." Sam replied, "No, my wallet needs to be baptized." So he went down, went under, came up, and all his friends celebrated and said, "Sam, your sins have been washed away," to which he famously said, "Well, then God bless the fish."
That's Sam Houston, and he was a man who understood his depravity. He was a man who came to understand the graciousness of Jesus Christ. When he was buried a few years later… You can go find his little tombstone down there. His tombstone doesn't say, "A Big Drunk." It says "A Brave Soldier. A Fearless Statesman. A Great Orator—A Pure Patriot. A Faithful Friend, A Loyal Citizen. A Devoted Husband and Father. A Consistent Christian—An Honest Man."
That's the story of Sam Houston. That man's life was changed, and when his life was changed he quickly went and got baptized, not so in that moment his sins could be washed away but as a sign that his sins were washed away.
I want to talk to you this morning about why if you're a consistent Christian you ought to be baptized. I'm going to tell you what baptism is, I'm going to tell you what it isn't, I'm going to tell you why should not be baptized, I'm going to tell you why you should not not be baptized, and I'm going to tell you why you should be baptized. Y'all ready? Here we go. Let's just start and be very simple with this thing.
1._ Why you should not be baptized._ You should not be baptized because your friends are being baptized. Everybody else you're kind of in community with is going along, and you go, "I think I want to do that."
In fact, in the Wagner household we've always had a rule that when somebody says, "I think this is my time and my day when I want to be baptized," then immediately, in that moment, no one else can go, "Well, that sounds like a good idea." I've also told my kids I don't want them to come to me and tell me they want to be baptized when everybody around here is getting baptized.
Four of my kids have been baptized now, one of them at 14 just this year. I think he's known Christ for some time, but I've always told my kids, "You need to, in your own personal study in God's Word, having been convicted that you are not living as God would have you live, doing what he would ask you to do, come to me and say, 'Dad, I want to get baptized.' I will say to you, 'Why would you want to get baptized?' to which they would say, 'Because this is what God's Word says, I love Jesus, and God's Word is my authority, conscience, and guide. I want to do what it says I should do, and it says I should be baptized."
At that point we can then move into a conversation about what baptism means, but I didn't want my kids, who were going to be around this idea of baptism for a long time, to get baptized just because others in their small group were getting baptized, because they had heard me talk about the importance of baptism, or because a brother or a sister had been baptized. It is a bad idea to get baptized because your grandmother is coming to town next weekend. You should not get baptized for that reason. You should not get baptized because your parents want you to be baptized.
In fact, let me just show you something in Scripture. In John, chapter 1, verses 12 and 13, it speaks about how we even become a person who is in relationship to God, and it's never going to be because your friends want you to be, it's not going to be because your parents want you to be, and it's not going to be because your parents are believers. It's going to be because the grace of God has opened the eyes of your heart and you have chosen to believe in the gospel that has been made evident to you.
John 1:12 says, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…" Now watch this. It says those who became children of God were grafted into, born into, his family. "…who were born, not of blood…" That means there are no grandchildren of the faith. In other words, God is my Father, and because my kids are my kids they are, therefore, grafted in.
No, that is not at all what the Scriptures teach. We are all sons and daughters of God. You are not born into faith by blood. It is the blood of Christ you have faith in that has you born into the family of God. "…nor of the will of the flesh…" The truth is no friend can will you into heaven. You can't even will yourself into heaven. "…nor of the will of man, but of God."
When God in his prevenient grace opens the eyes of your heart and you see there's nothing you could do that would ever earn his love for you… No matter how much of a big drunk and a brawler you were, he loves you still. No matter how much of a saint you were and how hard you followed after him, you were still desperately in need of the grace of God.
When you understand the grace of God is available to all men and, specifically, it is needful in your own life and you cry out to him to receive that grace, by faith and trusting in him you are born of God.
It's a bad idea to get baptized because your parents or friends want you to, because your parents or friends, who hopefully will model for you the goodness of walking with God, can't lead you to faith in the sense that your faith would be genuine if you believe because they want you to. Your faith is genuine because you follow the leading of the Spirit, who convicts you of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
It is a bad idea to want to get baptized because you think it would be cool if you, your siblings, and your parents got baptized together. This is not a family moment; this is a time when you as an individual stand before God. Let me just stop right here and define the word baptizo. The word baptize, in our language, is borrowed from the Greek. It is transliterated. It is a word that is brought across, like taco. That is not an English word; it is a transliteration from Spanish.
The word baptize in English is borrowed from baptizo. It means to be identified with. It was often used in Greek writings of a cucumber that was dipped in vinegar and spices. That cucumber would be totally identified with that vinegar and those spices, and when you pulled it out that cucumber was now pickled, so we would call it a pickle. It had become one with that which it was marinated in.
It was used of shirts that were dipped in dye. You baptized the shirt in dye so when you pull that shirt out it is identified with that red dye. Does that make sense? The idea is that when we come to faith in Christ we are spiritually baptized, we are identified into Christ's death, burial, and resurrection to new life. We are dead to our trespasses and sins because the life which we now live we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and delivered himself up for us.
We are saying to ourselves and to others, "I believe Jesus died for me. I want to be identified that his payment for sin was my payment for sin, that the power of God which delivered him from death is the power of God which will deliver me from death. To give you an outward picture of my inward faith I'm going to publicly identify myself with Jesus Christ."
I don't want to argue with you a lot about different modes of baptism, but what I do want to do is let you know there is one mode of baptism that is clearly the clearest picture of your identifying with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, where you go under and you are raised to newness of life.
The Scriptures are very clear. You are not saved when you're baptized in the water; you are saved when you're baptized by faith into relationship with Jesus Christ. I'm going to show you in just a moment that having been saved into relationship with Jesus Christ means you love him; you seek to live according to his commandments, will, and Word; and you choose to follow him and do what it is he wants you to do.
One of the things he wants you to do is not get baptized because Grandma's coming to town, because Daddy wants you to get baptized, or because other family members are going to get baptized and it will be a great family memory. Get baptized because you personally believe it's the right way for you to express your faith in Christ because you are convicted by his Word which is authoritative in your life to follow him.
In other words, you don't get baptized because it would be fun or because everybody will pay attention to you on that day. That's not why you get baptized; you get baptized because you seek to be faithful. You don't get baptized because it was someplace cool to be baptized in. For example, I just took a group of friends over to Israel in March. Everybody talked about how awesome it would be to be baptized in the Jordan River. It's kind of the place… Jesus was baptized there.
He identified himself with sinful humanity and the need for sinful humanity to have their sins wiped away. John the Baptist was baptizing people to have them repent for the coming kingdom of God. Jesus went to him, not because he had sinned. Jesus did not have believer's baptism, but Jesus was identifying his great desire was to only live for the kingdom of God.
There were many people who were baptized by John the Baptist, including Pharisees who at the baptism he said not, "Your sins have been washed away," but, "Hey, you brood of vipers. What are you doing going through this external statement when you're really not preparing yourself in humility for the coming will of God."
Jesus said, "I want to do the will of God in all things." John replied, "I shouldn't be baptizing you; you should be baptizing me. I'm not even worthy to untie your sandals, if you want to know how worthy I am compared to your worthiness." Jesus said, "Let me do this as part of my faithful expression of love and affection for the Father and my desire that his kingdom would be established. I am identifying in my humanness with all men. It was not believer's baptism that Jesus went through.
When people go to Israel it's a big deal. There are tourist trap spots where you'll go in there and they'll film you. It's kind of a pretty part of the Jordan. The Jordan is not a pretty river. The Jordan is a muddy river. In fact, if you'll go back and look in your Bible sometime, in 2 Kings, chapter 5, there was a Syrian general whose name was Naaman. He was a leper. Naaman could not get healed from leprosy. God, in his providential kindness during one of the Syrian raids in Israel, had a little servant girl taken back captive.
She became a steward in the house of Naaman. The household knew he had leprosy. He could cover himself up in all the garb of the glory of the world, and the world didn't know who he was, but that house knew he was a leper. That little girl loved Naaman and said, "I wish you would know there's a God in Israel who could save you." Eventually Naaman caught wind of that and made his way down there.
He showed up at the house of the king of Israel and said, "I heard you can heal me." Now, the king of Israel, because he wasn't following God at the time, said, "What? Have you come to declare war on me? Like, if I don't heal you from leprosy you're going to have a reason to fight me? I can't heal that." Elijah the prophet heard about it and said, "You go tell Naaman to come to me, and I will show him there is a God who, in fact, heals leprosy."
Naaman went to him. To cut that long story short, since I'm not teaching on that today, Elijah told him to go baptize himself in the Jordan a specific number of times. In other words, strip himself, show himself for who he is (a leper desperately in need of God's grace), humble himself before all his people and any who would dare to look at him as he showed the death that was on him, and to appeal himself to the Word of God and the mercy available in it.
He got ticked off and walked away. He said, "What am I doing? Is this a joke? Is he trying to show what a fool I am to my enemies and around the world? Are there not rivers in Syria?" One of them up in Syria is called the Golden Stream. It specifically mentions Abana and Pharpar, two beautiful rivers. He said, "Aren't those better rivers? If I'm going to go wash myself with my open wounds, shouldn't I do it up there? What am I going to do in this dirty, muddy Jordan River?"
He went storming back to Syria angry, but his servant reminded him, "Look. If he'd told you to climb (if they'd known about it at the time) Mount Everest you'd have done it. If he'd told you to walk on your hands and knees for 10 years you'd have done it, but because all he's asking you to do is show humility and faith you're storming off angry? Why don't you put yourself under the authority of the one you're trusting can heal you?" He went back in humility and did it, and he was healed.
All that to say, the Jordan isn't a pretty river. There was nothing redemptive and beautiful in it. The redemption and the beauty in it are that God chose to use it. His faith expression and dependence upon the word of the prophet led him to life. I've been over in Israel, and I've just told folks, "Being over here is a bad reason to get baptized." In fact, let me just tell you something.
One of my first times over to Israel I thought that just for fun… We'd just finished that part of our campus and we put that little water feature, which obviously we use to baptize folks. I had an empty little 5-Hour Energy bottle like this, and I filled it up with a little piece of the Jordan. I just thought, "I'll just dump that in there, and we'll tell folks they basically got baptized in the Jordan."
Now here's what I need to tell you. On my way home, at one point late in the trip I was tired. I decided to grab one of my 5-Hour Energy bottles and down it, and I grabbed the wrong one. Not only do you not want to be baptized in the Jordan, let me assure you, you don't want to drink about 2 ounces of it, because it will cleanse you in a different way…for a long time…painfully.
We did bring back another bottle of water from the Jordan and dump it in there, so if you want to get baptized in the Jordan there's a little bit of it out there for you. That's a bad reason to get baptized: because Watermark's baptismal feature has been identified with the Jordan. You get baptized because you are identified with Jesus.
It is a bad reason to get baptized because you are more excited about who might baptize you than whose name you are being baptized in. It is a bad idea to get baptized because you will be excited if this guygets to baptize you in this moment and you can tell people, "So and so baptized me." That's a bad reason to be baptized.
Let's just look at God's Word together, shall we? I've quoted it to you a few times. Let's read it again. First Corinthians talks about this. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 10 and following, Paul says, "Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment." I want you to be unified. I don't want there to be divisions. Watch this.
"For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people , that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, 'I am of Paul,' and 'I of Apollos,' and 'I of Cephas,' and 'I of Christ.' Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"
If you ever wonder if baptism is essential for salvation, do you think if it were essential for salvation the primary missionary to the entire non-Jewish world would say this? "I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other."
If you ever thought baptism was necessary for salvation, would the leading missionary in the history of the church, who was writing at this point in what the Scripture says is under the authority and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who cannot lie.Would he ever say this? "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…"
Baptism is not the gospel; the gospel is not baptism. They are two separate things. He said, "I didn't come, and wasn't sent, to baptize; I was sent to preach the gospel. When I preach the gospel and you respond to the gospel there are certain things you do. Baptism is one of them. But Paul says he's coming "…not in cleverness of speech…" but he's coming to let you know about the goodness and sufficiency of Christ alone. "…so that the cross of Christ would not be made void."
Gang, listen. Some of you guys at times have asked me (or other people) to be a part of your baptism. I'm always humbled that you would want me to be, but if you're more excited about your baptism because I would baptize you or because Billy Graham would get up off his deathbed and baptize you or because Paul himself… That's not a good reason to get baptized.
One of the things that is completely appropriate is that you invite people who have been a part of God's redemptive grace to that great and amazing moment in your life. Nothing thrills me more than to know I could be a small part of what God did to help you understand the beauty of the cross of Christ.
Because of my silly role here a lot of people say, "Todd, God's Word through you, was part of me coming to clarity about who Jesus was and what my need was." I'm always thankful for that, but people who have prayed for you, people who have shared with you, people who have sat with you and clarified things are just as much a part. Amen?
I might have sown, some might have planted, and others might have harvested, but none of us care, if we're consistent with what Jesus wants, about anything other than you knowing who Jesus is, your desperate need for him, and his gracious provision for you. You should not get baptized if you can't explain the gospel clearly to other people.
You might go, "Wait a minute, Todd. Are you telling me I shouldn't be obedient unless I'm really, really a committed apologist and evangelist?" That's not what I said. If you don't understand what it is you're identifying yourself with, how can you be sure you've identified yourself with it?
There's a reason we gather people together and have them tell us. We let them know it's not a quiz or a test and we're not there to make them fail. We're there to help them be effective and faithful in what God's called them to do. What we ask them to be able to answer is simple. "If I wanted to come into relationship with this God you say you're identified with, tell me how I could do that."
It's an open-book quiz, and we want you to be able to clearly articulate to others why you're doing what you're doing, who you're identifying yourself with, and what he's done for you. If you can't do that, then… You're not a believer in that what you don't know, so you shouldn't get baptized.
You might be out there going, "Todd, I love Jesus. Everything I hear… My life is not perfect. I get that. My life is not full because I'm separated from God. I get that. I want to come back into relationship with God. I believe Jesus is the way I can come back into relationship with God, my faith in him. Help me explain that clearly." Great.
We'll sit down with you and show you verses you can walk through. We'll show you the entire gospel in one verse. We'll show you the entire gospel through one book. We'll give you words. We'll give you questions. We will teach you and train you so you can go, "Yes. That is exactly what I believe, and that's what I want to declare to others," so when you're baptized you wouldn't make the terrible mistake of having trusted in Christ alone to stand up and give some testimony about what you have done, because it will confuse people.
Anything you do at your baptism other than give glory to Christ is going to confuse people, even if you're genuinely saved. If you don't know why you're saved it's a fair consideration to think you may not be. It is a bad reason to get baptized that you would get baptized because you think you have to be baptized to be saved. You shouldn't be baptized if you think you have to be baptized to be saved, because that means you don't understand the gospel.
There are hundreds of verses, over 200 of them, that talk about salvation and never mention baptism. There are a couple that have baptism identified with repentance and salvation, but when you study your Bible you want to let the Bible interpret itself. Let's just go back again to 1 Corinthians. If you needed to be baptized to be saved, would Paul have said, "I'm glad I didn't baptize any of you"? If you needed to be baptized to be saved, would Paul have said, "I didn't come to baptize but to preach the gospel," if baptism is the gospel? Of course not.
Paul couldn't have made it any clearer in Romans, chapter 10, verses 9 and 10, when he said, "…if you confess with your mouth [that] Jesus [is] Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." There's nothing in there about baptism. He says, "…for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
Then he goes on to say in verse 11, "He who believes in God will not be disappointed…unless you don't get baptized." He didn't say that. It is a mistake to believe you have to get baptized to be saved. It's a mistake to believe you need anything other than the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and your absolute complete and full dependence on that to be saved.
I'm going to tell you, having believed all that, you should believe and be baptized, and I'm going to tell you why, but before I tell you why I want to start by just simply giving you some reasons you should not allow yourself to not be baptized. I don't want to be a double negative here, so I'll say it positively.
2._ Why it's wrong to not get baptized._
A. It is wrong to not get baptized because you were baptized as a baby. Okay, now we're stirring it up. You ready? Let me just say this to you very simply. The Bible talks about repentance and faith always preceding baptism in Scripture. People come to me and say, "Todd, I was baptized as an infant. Do I need to be baptized again?"
I say to them the same thing every time. "If, as a child or infant, you became aware of your deep depravity and sin, heard the preaching of the Word of God, repented of your dependence on self, saw your own depravity, and cried out in desperation for the grace of God to be availed to you in faith, then no, there's no reason to be baptized again." Baptism is something you do once.
I'm going to explain to you why some people baptize their children, and I'm going to tell you why we don't baptize children, because it's so confusing. Some people call it christening. Some people call it dedicating. Ok, listen. You should dedicate your child to God, because if you're a believer everything you do is dedicated to God, including your parenting, shepherding, loving, praying for, and hoping your child will one day have the same faith you will have.
The best chance for your child to have that faith is for you to live in gladness with that Savior; to honor him; to love those closest to you; to live sacrificially with their mama and to cherish, honor, and give yourself away to her; to be tender toward them; to make your decisions based on the goodness of God's Word and your absolute dependence on it; and to surround yourself with other believers who love you and will admonish you if you don't, encouraging you when you're scared to, will help you when you're too weak to do it, and will model patience because of God's dwelling in them.
That child who was raised up in that home is like, "How can I get in with that God you know who is such a blessing to me?" I see my friends' families, and they're nothing like this one. "What's the reason again? Jesus? Give me some of that Jesus." Do you know why so many of our kids don't want some of our Jesus in the church? It's because they see a lot of people who are part of an organization where those things I just described, that should be true of those who are related to God, aren't doing those things.
They're saying, "What did you guys say you are? Christians who follow God? Well, I can scratch that off the list of things I need." It's because of the rancor and the leprosy that's in this home, though everybody else thinks we're just clothed in general's garb. We look good out there. We look good on Sunday. I just know there's leprosy here, and there's no God who heals that…apparently.
The reason some people do this is because of confusion between what is called in some branches covenant theology. It's a hermeneutic, which is a way to explain the Scripture. There are people who believe in this idea that Israel was the church and the church really is Israel. Just like circumcision was the sign of being related to the covenant community that is Israel, baptism is the sign being related to the covenant community which is Christ.
Here's the problem. Not everybody who was circumcised was really saved in relationship with God, so circumcision itself wasn't even a means of salvation. It was a sign that you were associated with those who said they knew God, but let me tell you something. Saying you know God and not knowing God is even worse than not knowing God and knowing you don't know God.
I think everybody who says they know God when they're 2 weeks old or 3 months old can't know God, so thinking because you went through this thing it put you in right standing with God is a really dangerous thing to do. In fact, the craziest thing you could do is say because you were baptized as a baby you don't need to be baptized right now.
I would tell you that every time the Bible talks about baptism it talks about believer's baptism. Every single time the Bible talks about baptism it is preceded with repentance and faith. So, "As a small child, did you repent and have faith in Jesus?" "Well, Todd. I couldn't even talk. I couldn't even think." Great.
Let's not be mad at Mommy and Daddy. Let's go to them and say, "Why did you put me through that christening (or that baptism)? I think it's because you loved me and you wanted me to know the God of your salvation. Right? Guess what? I do, so I hope what you're going to see me do right now is not disrespecting you; it's a celebration of your intention in my life. Here's what the Scripture says."
You don't need to go tell your parents that they were raised under poor theology (even though they were). What you need to do is go show them from God's Word, which if they love theology they will love God's Word. They'll take you to places like Acts 16 with the jailer where when Paul was let out he was like, "Man, don't leave me here. I'm going to be killed." Paul said, "Come with me. We'll go to your house," then it says he and all his household were saved and baptized.
At that particular moment, what was going on right there was it says, specifically, in the Scripture… In the text it says, "And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his [household] ." So let me ask you a question. It's an argument from silence that babies were baptized, but no matter what, it says they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and all his household. Who in that household would have heard it? Those who can hear and cognitively process the Word of God. It's a total argument from silence, confusion, and proof-texting.
It is wrong to not get baptized because you were baptized as a baby. In fact, you ought to bless your mom and dad and fulfil their intention for you.
B. It is wrong to not get baptized because you don't like to draw attention to yourself or speak in public. I recently had a very dear friend who just said, "Do you know why I've never gotten baptized? It's because I don't like to draw attention to myself. I don't like to speak publicly. I realized I was making my life about me, and that's the very first thing that when you become a Christian you say you don't do any longer."
Galatians 2:20 says that. "I have been crucified with Christ…the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.""I have been crucified with Christ. It's no longer I who live but Christ lives in me." I'm dead, so if I don't like to speak publicly what does "I" have to do with it? You might not be somebody who wants to draw attention to yourself, and you might not be somebody who wants to speak publicly, but what does that have to do with your surrender to Jesus?
By the way, you may not much feel like stepping out in faith and telling your friend that Christ alone is the answer to their problems, but what does "you" have to do with it? Are you his ambassador? Are you his servant? Or are you your own king and will pay tribute to the true King when you want to? That's not what a follower of the King does.
One of the reasons so many of you guys are not sharing your faith as actively and intentionally as you should is because you have not shared it initially as you should, because you still make it about you.
C. It is wrong to not get baptized because you are a private person and think faith is a private matter. Here's the truth. Faith is a very personal matter, but there's nothing in the Scripture that ever says it should be private. Jesus says, "If you don't confess me before men I won't confess you before the Father." Part of being his is you're glad… I wouldn't want my wife to go, "Todd, I'm going to marry you, but I don't want anyone to know." Well, with great sympathy I'd say, "I get that, but we probably ought to deal with the problem first."
3._ Why you should be baptized._
A. You should be baptized because you are aware you are a sinner in need of a Savior and you want to declare Jesus is your Lord.
B. You should be baptized because you have trusted in Christ alone as the means to which you can be reconciled to God and you want to identify yourself with that inward commitment.
C. You should be baptized because you desire to be obedient to Jesus in everything, and this is the first thing the Lord says you should do. Some of you guys might have been true believers for years, and to that all I simply say is, "Hey, now you're coming to a place where you see from God's Word that the very first thing he tells you to do is to be baptized, to have a moment when you sing solo before you profess God through the chorale of the Lord's Supper. Sing a solo.
"That's my King. Jesus died for me. That resurrection power that brought him back because sin's debt had been paid has paid my debt, and the life which I'm now going to live I'm going to live according to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ that lives in me. Easter happened; therefore, I live. That's why you're going to see this transformation from being the big drunk to being the big lover and a committed Christ.
I want you to know I'm part of your community. I want you all to admonish me, encourage me, come after me when I drift and run away. I need your love. I want you to know I'm part of your family now. You have a commitment to me. Gang, that if there's any change in me that's God glorifying, I want you to know why it happened. It's because of what Jesus has already done. I'm not building a life résumé to impress him; I am surrendering my life to the one who surrendered his life to me."
There is a biblical take on baptism. We baptize folks here all year long. Next week we're going to baptize hundreds. Don't get baptized because you want to be part of the masses and the party about to happen like you saw last year; be baptized because it's your time. Come tonight at 5:30 and get equipped and understand, articulate the gospel. Come tonight if you don't know the gospel, and we can articulate it to you that you might respond to Jesus. There's no time that has to pass; there's clarity that has to come.
Father, I pray for my friends that they would understand the joy of their salvation, that they would depend upon you, that they would glory in your provision, and that they would want to be identified with it in every way: in personal baptism, in daily living, in corporate sacrament through the breaking of bread, and most of all in the surrendering of their lives on a daily basis in honor of the one who gave himself for them.
I pray if there's anybody here who's a disobedient lover of yours that they would align themselves with you now in all obedience. For the glory of your Son, the good of those who will hear, and the joy of their hearts. In Christ's name, amen.
We're going to celebrate everybody who by faith has trusted in the grace of Jesus Christ and wants to declare to a watching world and invite every friend they have…at their office, in their neighborhood. "I want you to come see something about me. I want you to see my faith in Jesus. I want to explain to you. I want to look you in the eye. If you love me, would you come? I'm asking you to come. I'm going to tell publicly the most important thing in my life. Okay, you can't make it? That's okay. I'm going to tell you now what I'm going to do then."
But invite them. Tell them to come. Let them see. This is what this is. This is our moment to invite family and friends to watch us profess our love for Christ. We don't profess our love for Christ because family and friends are coming, we do that all the time, but there's a moment when we say, "Come and see me identify with what Jesus has done for me and the affirmation and power of God in my life that I hope you hold me accountable to and encourage me for every day going forward."
If you're here this morning and think God's trying to get you to clean your life up before you come to him… No, there's a reason he's used this picture of cleansing and washing. You come to him, and he washes you. What you're saying is, "That's what cleansed me." You don't need to get your life together to come to Christ; you come to Christ because you acknowledge that apart from him you can do nothing and your life is anything but together, and you've received his mercy and expression of love for you.
Christ died for you. Will you trust him? Having trusted in him, will you declare to others what he's done for you? If you've been baptized, you keep preaching. It's not a private matter. It's very personal, but it's supposed to be public. If you've been baptized, would you improve upon your profession on that day by making your life evermore a life of surrender to Jesus so all will see the power of your God, not just in some ceremonial moment but some consecrated life?
If you've never, ever trusted in Jesus would you come now and believe in the unmerited favor of God, wholly yours? This is a message of God's rest. That will be a proclamation of God's love and your faith in him. Let us serve you.