Baptism Matters, Romans 6:1-11

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  • Date: Sunday, July 31, 2016
  • Speaker: Titus Green
  • Category: Sunday Sermon
  • Scripture: Romans 6:1–6:11
Various Scripture

A lot of people have at least a little confusion about baptism.

Here’s how we are going to start: I want to quickly tell you what baptism isn’t.

Do you remember when your kids were little? One of the things we first did with our kids was teach them animal sounds and then have them look at pictures of different animals and make the sound that went with that animal. Early on, for many kids, there is a time when they think everything is a cow. If it has four legs and a head, it’s a cow. So, you can show them a picture of a horse and expect a “moo” every time. That’s because in order for them to really know what a cow is they have to learn what a cow isn’t.

That’s why we are going to Ephesians 2 first. I want you to see what baptism isn’t so that you can be crystal clear on what it is.

Baptism is not…What makes us right with God

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Titus 3:5
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Romans 10:9-10
9 …if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [remember this, we’ll refer to it later] and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Baptism is not…An empty, religious ritual

It would be wrong for us to conclude that water baptism is an empty, religious ritual simply because it is not what makes us right with God. I’m concerned that there are many people who would identify as evangelical Christians who have never been baptized. That isn’t something you would find in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, in the thousands of people who are said to have trusted in Jesus in the New Testament, there’s only one person who wasn’t baptized. Anyone know who that would be? The thief who died on the cross beside Jesus. It’s understandable that he didn’t get baptized. But, the normal response in the New Testament, over and over again, is that someone who believes in Jesus responds with faith and expresses that through baptism. It’s a big deal.

There is a powerful, spiritual dynamic at work within baptism when the truth about baptism is properly understood. You’ll gain a greater appreciation for baptism when you understand what it really is. It isn’t what makes us right with God and it isn’t an empty religious ritual. So, what is it? That’s the question.

And let me give you 2 positive statements concerning baptism that I hope will help all of us leave with a better understanding of what it is and why it matters so much as a follower of Jesus.

1. Baptism is an expression of faith and obedience to Jesus

Matthew 28:19-20
19 "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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Jesus commanded His disciples to make more disciples, or followers, of Him. And within that command is the command to baptize them. And that isn’t commanding us to baptize people against their will. We aren’t called to sneak up behind people in the ocean or in a pool and drag them down into the water…” I baptized 23 people at the beach today! Woohoo! They didn’t even see me coming!”

Obviously, there’s the command to baptize people which is connected to the command for people to be baptized. For instance, in Acts 2, Peter is speaking to thousands of people who were gathered in Jerusalem just a few weeks after Jesus had been crucified and rose again. Now, remember that Peter was present with Jesus when He gave the command to make disciples by baptizing them. So, Peter heard that command…and when Peter was preaching in Jerusalem, He tells them about Jesus and what He did on the cross and that He rose from the dead. And the people cry out “What should we do?” And Peter responded with “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…”

Peter says they should repent. Which means to have a change of heart and mind. It means to turn away from something to something. Namely, to turn to Jesus as your Lord and Savior and turn away from sin and a life that is destructive for you and displeasing to God. That’s the link between Peter’s command to repent and be baptized and what we read from Romans about confessing Jesus as your Lord. The word “lord” means “one who is in charge by virtue of possession, owner.” So, confessing Jesus as Lord means saying “Jesus owns me. I belong to Him and He has the right to tell me what to do.” And the outward expression of that inward belief is obedience. And the first act of obedience after repentance and faith is baptism. So, Peter isn’t saying that baptism forgives our sins. He’s saying that baptism is your outward expression of turning to Jesus…and that’s what forgives our sins…receiving Jesus as the one who lived the perfect life we haven’t lived and died the death we should have died and rose again to show His powerful, victorious life.

Baptism is a person’s outward expression that they believe Jesus is who He says He is and that it’s their joy and desire to bow before Him as Lord.

In Matthew 10:32-33, Jesus says, “32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Baptism isn’t the only way to do that, but for most it is the first way to do that. That’s one of the things I most love about our ocean baptism service. We have a big group of people from our church family standing on the shore. It usually draws a lot of other people that are just at the beach on a Sunday afternoon. And then they get to hear that we are followers of Jesus and are wanting to show our community that we aren’t ashamed to be followers of Jesus. It’s incredible.

That’s one of the reasons that we don’t baptize infants. It doesn’t save them and they aren’t expressing anything personally.

So, Baptism is an expression of faith and obedience…that makes it deeply significant.

2. Baptism is a picture of what happens when we trust in Jesus

Romans 6…

The English word baptize is not really an English word. It’s a Greek word that has been adopted into the English language. The Greek word is baptizo. In Greek, baptizo means to immerse or to dip. In classic Greek literature, baptizo is used to describe a sinking ship. Ships don’t sink every time it rains. They sink when they go under the water. So, we don’t sprinkle people, we immerse them.

And that’s extremely important when you think about the reality that baptism is a picture of. So, when you see the word baptize in Romans 6, think of the word immerse.

Romans 6

6 "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?"
(Paul has just explained that the righteousness, or the record of goodness, we are given by faith in Jesus is far greater than our sin, so that where there is a lot of sin there is even more grace. And he anticipates that someone might say, “If Jesus’ righteousness can’t be exhausted by sin and His grace abounds in the face of sin, then should we just keep on sinning so that it shows how great the grace and righteousness of Jesus is?)

2 "By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized [immersed] into Christ Jesus were baptized [immersed] into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism [immersion] into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."

Let’s stop right here for a moment. Paul says that we do not have to continue to sin (or, we don’t have to live a life of continually disobeying the commands of Jesus) because we have died to sin. And notice how we died to sin…by being immersed into Jesus.

Listen, this is the spiritual reality that water baptism is pointing to. When we place our faith and dependence in Jesus, we are immersed into Jesus. We are united with Jesus…so that His death becomes our death and His life becomes our life.

5 "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Through faith in Jesus, we are united to Him. We aren’t just sprinkled with a little bit of Jesus. We are immersed in Him by faith. And when we are immersed in Jesus by faith, we have the power to live in a way that overcomes sin and is able to please God…

You cannot live out the Christian life until Jesus lives in and through you. You have to be immersed in, or united to, the life of Jesus. This is so formative for us that we have defined a disciple as a person immersed in the life of Jesus. The mission of this church is to make disciples and a disciple is a person immersed in the life of Jesus…in every way possible.

Baptism matters because it is an expression of faith and obedience to Jesus and a picture of what happens when we trust in Jesus.

Not all pictures are created equal. Here’s what I mean by that.
Picture of A Family and Picture of MY Family
A picture is more precious when the reality it represents is greater in value to your heart.

Application

1. If you’ve never placed your faith in Jesus Christ to rescue you from the power of sin, then I want to invite you to trust in Jesus today.

Don’t settle for the picture if you don’t already have the real thing…

2. If you would say you are trusting in Jesus alone to save you but have never been baptized by immersion as an expression of your personal faith in Jesus, commit to being baptized.
a. Come speak with one of our pastors at the close of this service
b. Call our church offices to set up a time to sit down with a pastor so that we can schedule your baptism
c. Ocean baptism is upcoming…Aug. 21

3. If you’ve lost sight of the reality that you don’t have to live in a pattern of brokenness and can walk through your day in the powerful life of Christ, then meditate on that truth right now…
a. This is what I was referring to earlier about how baptism relates to our approach to overcoming brokenness in our lives…we don’t just start the Christian life by faith and dependence on Jesus, we live the whole Christian life by faith and dependence on Jesus.
b. What patterns of brokenness or sin need to be overcome in your life?
c. Are you depending on Jesus to mend them?