Friday, June 08, 2012

Baptism


(Notes taken by parishioner of sermon preached before the baptism of an adult)
Text: Acts 2:37-39

Reading: Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:14-41

What is baptism? It is something Jesus commanded in Matt 28: 18-20 where he told the disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to do all that I have commanded you.”  

So the disciples began to do so.  On the day of Pentecost 3000 people responded in faith and were baptized after Peter’s sermon. 

Theme:  Peter’s sermon evoked a conversation that got to the fundamental issues of life.  In this conversation we hear

1.       an anxious question,

2.       a gospel answer,

3.       a generous promise.

1.An anxious question. When you’re at the end of your rope, you ask, “What shall we do?”  These people were Jewish pilgrims who did not know much about Jesus. When the Spirit was poured out on the 120 believers, they went out to preach the gospel in many other languages –the pilgrims were from  many language groups—and caused so much commotion that some said they were drunk. 

Peter explained what was going on in his sermon.  He summarized Jesus’ life, ending with his resurrection and ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Fifty days earlier some of these pilgrims had participated in a mob event, calling for Jesus’ death.  Now it turned out that this Jesus had been made Lord and Christ by God! Naturally they were cut to the heart and filled with fear, leading to the question, “What shall we do?”

Jesus was put to death by sinners and for sin, for our sin.  Perhaps you’ve never heard much about Jesus or perhaps you’ve forgotten him.  And perhaps your reaction is the same as these pilgrims, “Wow!  What shall I do?”

2.A gospel answer.  The answer for every person alive today, is “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Note that the order of these happenings is not rigid. 

After all, repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Repentance is being sorry for sin, and it is a gift of God to those who look to Jesus Christ.  Acts 11:18 shows that God grants repentance as a proper response to the preaching of the Word.  Baptism brings one into the possession of Christ.  In Matthew it says to be baptised into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all three persons of the Trinity at once.  The Holy Spirit is also a gift.  What do you do to get a gift?  Nothing.  You just get it. Repentance, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit are the free gifts, and baptism is a sign of it, a sign and seal of the Holy Spirit.

3.A generous promise.  We get this three-fold gift, and the only thing we need to do is…nothing.  For whom is all this?  It is for you, your children, and all that are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God will call.  These pilgrims likely had children at home, and the disciples were sent to people who were far off. 

So the question is, how does God call people?  Through the preaching of the gospel. Thus the promise is for all who are in church right now listening to God’s call, visitors as well as members.  The gospel promise is for you.  God will grant to you freely, as a gift, that which baptism seals.  Those who are called should come to God.  He wants you to come to him to repent, believe, and accept his generous promise. 

Sermon by Pastor George.  Notes, errors, and omissions by NPS.

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