Statistics
1556 sermons as of September 16, 2018.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
 send email...
 
Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:The Father's Voice
Text:LD 27 Q & A 74 (View)
Occasion:Baptism
Topic:Baptism
 
Preached:2002-09-29
Added:2008-04-12
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


The Father’s Voice

Sermon by

Rev. S. Bajema

on LORD’S DAY 27c

of the Heidelberg Catechism

Scripture Readings: Exodus 4:18-31; Colossians 2:6-15

 

 

Congregation of Jesus Christ...

The Answer is very clear! “Yes! Of course we baptise our babies! In fact, we have to!”

This is the most emphatic command. For our Father God is most definite as to how our children are also together with us in the household of faith.

Not that we have always understood this so well. But, as our Catechism faithfully sums up Scripture, we hear, first of all, the order, YOU MUST DO THIS.

 

You must do this

The LORD God commands the response of baptism - also with infants - because of His greatest of loves shown in His dearly loved Son. I mean, haven’t we seen that baptism points to, and confirms the work of, Jesus? And it’s no different here. For in faith we see the urgent call of the LORD. YOU MUST DO THIS!

The Apostle Peter’s reply to those desperately needing God’s forgiveness in Acts 2 verse 38 is still true today. As he declared, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven.” YOU MUST DO THIS!

 

Boys and girls, young people, do you remember the last time there was that certain tone in Mum or Dad’s voice, when you were told to do something? It’s times like that you don’t hesitate! And if you do, man, are you going to cop it!

Of course you were always trying to do the right thing, weren’t you? Yeah - right!

When my Mum would call out for me to come, I would say, “Coming Mum.” But if that wasn’t good enough, and she could see it needed some urgency, that tone would change quite distinctly. Then she would say, “Not coming - come!”

Not in a moment, not when I got round to it, not is it suited me after I had finished doing what I was doing, no...now! “Not coming - come!”

 

Our Heavenly Father gets angry when we don’t heed His commands. We saw that in Exodus chapter 4. Suddenly, while Moses was going up to perform the Lord’s will in bringing His people out of Egypt, God attacks him!

Congregation, despite that immensely privileged position we have, we too must obey. You see, Moses had not circumcised his son. He had not done what his ancestor Abraham had been told quite specifically to do, and all those generations after him were to keep on doing. For every male child eight days old had to be circumcised.

After all, Israel was God’s chosen nation. They were His children. And as true children they had to do what they were told. Or else face the consequences! In God’s words, as He instituted circumcision in Genesis 17 verse 14, “Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

A harsh punishment. As Moses found out very quickly, when he nearly died on the way to Egypt. And it took his wife - someone not even a Hebrew - to realise and to respond to save his life. YOU MUST DO IT!

 

This shows us that God’s promise is for children, too. They are very much part of the covenant community. In those words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 19, verse 14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

You see, congregation, what is the basis of our faith? Was it our deciding - or God’s choosing?

Please, don’t misunderstand this. It’s not that we’re robots in God’s hands. We are not fatalists of the worst kind.

But what was first of all? How could it be that we, in our deepest depravity, could see?

 

The Catechism confirms the teaching of the Bible. With phrases like, “as well as,” “ are in”, and “should be”, there’s no hesitation to tell God’s Words after Him. For God’s Word is clear. We have to see that. But that’s exactly the difficulty, though, isn’t it?

When you boys and girls hear your mum or dad with that certain tone in their voice, you get going! The warning’s clear. “I better get moving!”

And spiritually shouldn’t we be just as alert? YOU MUST DO THIS!

 

So where does God tell us in His Word to baptise babies? Could you answer? Would you know that you have to open up your whole Bible? Because there are a number of texts to this answer.

But, then again, maybe you don’t relate at all to what the Bible says about baptism. Well, it’s something that’s always been done. Meanwhile the command YOU MUST DO THIS become softer and softer and softer. Can’t we wait for our family coming in two months time before we baptise the little baby? I’d like to have a baptism where our little girl’s smiling!

With comments like that perhaps we should be asking if we are even hearing God’s command anymore! But our deafness doesn’t change what God says. That we have neglected His covenant doesn’t change Him. For the command given to Abraham to circumcise the baby boys - there at the beginning of the Old Testament - wasn’t all of a sudden done away with in the New Testament! The covenant was the same.

The difference now was that the Old is in the New revealed. Which means that rather than take away the sacrament from baby boys, through Jesus Christ He so fills it that it’s given as well to little girls!

 

So there’s this wonderful line of grace which grows from the Old Testament into the New. Acts 2 verse 39 points to precisely this, when Peter declares, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

The various baptisms in the New Testament show how God’s promise if being fully realised. Look at Acts 16 and 17, with the households of the Philippian Jailer and Lydia. Because it’s not a matter of individuals being saved. Although salvation is personal, we’re always a part of God’s covenant family. We have to be in the Church!

You see, God’s grace doesn’t pass beyond normal life. Rather, He blesses that normal life. And as we are always in a physical family, so now, in faith, He takes that family and makes it special! God doesn’t ignore what He has first given everyone by being in a family. Instead, in Jesus Christ, He makes it what it perfectly should be!

Again Scripture is quite clear. Another apostle, Paul, says in 1st Corinthians 7 verse 14, “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.”

That’s a tremendous comfort fellow believer! Particularly for those who struggle with an unbelieving spouse. And whether they are antagonistic or apathetic, listen to this Word of the Lord! He works through you! And if He didn’t how could he conclude this same verse from Paul, with saying, “Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”

 

You must believe this

Congregation, we’ve moved beyond our first point. Now it’s not YOU MUST DO THIS!

Oh, yes, this command still remains. But that’s only half the picture. For YOU MUST BELIEVE THIS. Yes, believe it! The cry has come from heaven itself in that sign and seal of baptism. The voice which says, “You are my child!” And, fellow believer, as we stand in awe at this great working of God, and such a love in Jesus, for us personally, don’t we reply in faith, “You are my Father!”

 

Boys and girls, this is realising what should be most important! By doing this we get the richest blessing. And to show this I want you to think back to when mum or dad spoke to you in that certain tone of voice.

You knew it was serious. You knew if you didn’t obey you were in deep trouble!

But imagine if your responded willingly. How would it be if mum or dad didn’t even have to call out? Things would go much better, wouldn’t they?

Now - let’s transfer this eagerness to please our parents to our response to the Lord’s command YOU MUST DO THIS. For we know that baptism isn’t an automatic guarantee of God’s grace and favour. Rather, it’s a sign that points to the salvation found in Jesus alone. This is something which can only be understood with the cleansing of our hearts. Without faith no one can please God.

             

That’s how it is with baptism. And that’s how it was with circumcision, as Deuteronomy 10 verse 16 says. It’s in that faith that the sacrament shines the most glorious light!

And, you know, it’s really simply common sense! Or should I say sanctified sense because that is true common sense. Because then we have the true sense.

For if God is who he is; and in Christ He did what He did; then who are we, of all people, to try and kick against that? Don’t we know we’ll only get into trouble! It won’t help at all!

So, let’s get with it! The Great Ruler is dealing with a lesser vassal. That’s the type of covenant God has taken with us. For it would never have happened if He hadn’t done it!

So - who are you? Why do you have what you have, anyway? Isn’t it all of grace? His grace?

 

Church of the Lord Jesus Christ - YOU MUST BELIEVE THIS! Don’t be blown “here, there, and everywhere” by every changing wind of feelings and emotions. Instead, take His Word deep into your heart, and rest assured, it is true! In those words from Colossians 2 verse 11, “In Christ you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with the circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ.”

Whatever you do, don’t look to someone else for some kind of reassurance that you are blessed. Don’t depend on the minister to make the moment right. Do that and I will fail you, as surely as we share the same cloak of sinful humanity! Look to Jesus! With the next verse from Colossians 2, verse 12, believe that you have “been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”

Nothing that comes from us gives us God’s promise. Instead, it’s as there’s a complete acceptance of what God has already wondrously done that there comes the blessing. It’s His life that needs to be lived out in ours, and that today, tomorrow, and Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on!

That a baby is baptised shows it’s not from us anyway. Although so seemingly sweet, and definitely cute, there’s no understanding from baby as to what’s going on! Perhaps a cry as the water’s sprinkled on his face. But spiritually there’s nothing there!

Yet, this is God’s sign. And it is this sign, which, according to our confession, isn’t only beneficial as the water is upon us, but for all of our lives.

You see, congregation, since this is of God, it’s meaning goes far beyond all our human signs. Indeed, God uses this sign mightily and mercifully for promise and comfort, for warning and for calling.

And let us respond, as one of our hymns sings it so well, “I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me He has made, nor why my Lord, in seeking love, redeemed me for His own. But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” (378:1) 

Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray...

O gracious covenant God, we have seen again Your goodness to us. For You chose us, and You use us, to be Your people, though that was the last thing we originally wanted to be.

And now, through the sign and seal of baptism, You remind us that it is completely Your work. We can only respond to that. And respond may we indeed do, as we prove Your hand upon us in lives that show Your grace.

In Jesus’ precious Name, we pray, Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2002, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner