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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
 www.bethelurc.org
 
Title:The Truth About Baptism
Text:Matthew 3:1-17 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Baptism
 
Preached:2020-09-06
Added:2020-09-08
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

   Welcome and Opening Prayer

 

Service of Praise and Confession

  

* Call to Worship

 

* Declaration of our Dependence upon God

 

* God’s Greeting  

                                                                                                                                                                                                 

* Song of Praise:  “We Praise You, O God, Our Redeemer, Creator”                      # 247

 

  Reading of the Law 

  

   Assurance of Pardon

 

   Song of Response:  “How Blest Is He Whose Trespass”                                      # 32 B

 

   Congregational Prayer

 

* Song of Preparation: “O God, to Us Show Mercy”                                               # 67 A

 

Service of God’s Holy Word

 

   Scripture Reading:  1 Peter 2: 13-17

 

   Sermon:  “Our Witness through Submission”    

   

   Prayer of Application

 

* Song of Dedication:  “Lord, Speak to Me, That I May Speak”                               # 501

 

   Offering: Mid-America Reformed Seminary - Collection basket located in foyer

 

* Benediction 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

* Doxology:  “Now Blessed be Jehovah God”                                                          # 564

 

  “Now blessed be Jehovah God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous works, in Glory that excel; who only doeth wondrous works, in glory that excel”.  

 

 “And blessed be his glorious name to all eternity; the whole earth let his glory fill; amen: so let it be; the whole earth let his glory fill; amen: so let it be”

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


The Truth about Baptism

Matthew 3:1-17

Preached by Rev. Keith Davis at Bethel URC on 9-6-20

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, in our sermon last week Sunday night we discussed that sacraments are visible and holy signs and seals, given to us by God, specifically by Jesus Christ Himself, and they have been given to us -- that is – to the church on earth, so that by our use of them we might more clearly see, understand, trace, and believe the Gospel promise – that all our sins are forgiven us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

 

Now, that’s a great comfort – that’s certainly Good News to every sinner who has ever been baptized. That in spite of all we may have done, in spite of the fact that we may have been baptized as a child and not lived as a believer for most of our lives, still the promise of God holds true. Christ’s blood washes away my sins just as water washes away the dirt from my body.

 

And of all the baptisms that we read about in the Bible almost every single one of those baptisms were the same – they were a baptism unto repentance. Those baptisms were a sign that the one who was being baptized needed to undergo a cleansing which only Jesus could provide – a cleaning of the soul from sin and guilt.

 

But there is one baptism in the Bible that was different. There is one baptism in the Bible that was totally unlike any other. Only one ever came to the water whose soul was unstained by sin. Only one ever came to the water needing NOT to be cleansed. And yet, that very person demanded to be baptized, nonetheless.

 

That man, of course, was Jesus, and why he demanded to be baptized is one of the most blessed and beautiful truths of the Gospel. That’s what we are going to consider this evening in connection with Lord’s Day 26-27. Jesus Sinless Son of God Submits Himself to a Sinner’s Baptism. Notice:

1) The Humble Submission of the Son

2) The Symbolic Consecration of the Spirit

3) The Loving Affirmation of the Father

 

1) The Humble Submission of the Son

In the opening verses of chapter 3, Matthew shows us the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. In his preaching and in his baptizing, John made it very clear to the crowds that he himself was not the Messiah. John was only the ‘way-preparer’, the messenger and forerunner of Jesus Christ.  His job was but to announce and herald the coming of the Christ.

 

And John also told the crowds of the greatness of the One who was to come. He is “more powerful that I”, John said. He is the One ‘whose sandals I am not fit to carry (os Mark:1:7 put it: He is One whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie). It’s interesting that John possessed the same spirit of lowliness and humility as the One he came to announce.

 

Later Jesus would take on the role of a lowly household servant as he the Master would wash the feet of his own disciples; here, too, John sees himself as lower than the lowest servant in the house compared to Jesus. And yet Jesus would say of John in Matthew 11:11 among those born of women none have risen who is greater than John the Baptist.

 

The reason John the Baptist makes those distinctions is to call attention to the glory and the honor and the surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son – as well as the surpassing greatness of the New Covenant which the Messiah would initiate with his appearance.  

 

Yes, John may have been greatest among all those born to women, but after Jesus began his ministry, it was John who said of Christ: He must become greater; and I must become less! From the time he first met Jesus while he and Jesus were still in their mother’s womb, John knew who Jesus was!  He knew He was the Messiah!

 

And yet, in our passage, this glorious Messiah comes to John, in the Judean wilderness to be baptized by him. And John sees the incongruity of this. He senses that something about this seems wrong, it seemed backwards to him. Matthew records how John tried to deter Jesus. He argued that it was he who should be baptized by Jesus. But the Lord insisted that John baptize him in order to fulfill all righteousness

And in those words we find the reason Christ had to baptized. To fulfill all righteousness means to do all the work necessary for the redemption of lost sinners. In this case, with His own baptism, Jesus would identify with us sinners in desperate need of spiritual cleansing, of the forgiveness of our sin and guilt.

 

Again, let’s put this into context: John was baptizing in the wilderness. He was preaching and practicing a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Yet Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, came into this world without a sinful human nature. He never committed a sin his entire life. Yet he received John’s baptism – which was our baptism – a sinner’s baptism. 

 

The waters of baptism signify not only the sinner’s need for cleansing, but they also signify death, and God’s wrath and condemnation against our sin. Yet Jesus humbly and willingly submitted himself to a sinner’s baptism.  Why?! 

 

All so that Jesus might take his place beside sinners, so that He might identify himself with us. So that as Hebrews 2:17  says:  He might be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people.

 

And on this particular event, commentator William Hendriksen notes: The demand of Jesus to be baptized by John signified his solemn resolution to take upon himself the guilt of those for whom he was going to die.  In a sense, by means of baptism Jesus was fulfilling part of his task of laying down his life for his sheep.

 

Long before Christ was ever nailed to the cross, he made it very clear what He had come to do. He was not afraid to shame himself, to humble himself in this manner. Jesus had came to be the great sin-bearer – to bear my sin, your sin, and to carry that burden upon himself even from the beginning. What a wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord -- from the very beginning he came to fulfill all righteousness for our sake. 

 

2) The Symbolic Consecration of the Spirit

Next we see the symbolic Consecration of the Spirit.  Here we look to verse 16 where we read that as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open (literally, ‘rent asunder’), and the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus like a dove.

 

Notice the text says the Spirit descended as/like a dove because the Holy Spirit is true and eternal God and He has no physical form or shape. Yet the Holy Spirit was pleased to take upon himself this form, the appearance of a dove to indicate His Holy presence that all might see and know that Jesus the Messiah had received the anointing and equipping of the Spirit of God!

 

The coming down of the Holy Sprit and lighting upon Jesus is a sign of Christ’s consecration into the Office of Prophet Priest and King.

 

We think of the many passages which speak of the Holy Spirit’s anointing – like Psalm 133 where the image of precious oil running down (and that phrase is repeated for emphasis) the beard of Aaron the High Priest, like the dew of Herman falling down upon Zion, that is the blessed anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the prophets and priests and kings of God’s people.

 

And then there is the prophet Isaiah who spoke multiple times of the anointing of the Christ: Isaiah  11:2  The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him.  Again in Isaiah 42: 1, where the Lord says, Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whim I delight;  I will put My Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations.  We hear it in Isaiah 61, words that Jesus later quoted: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor."

 

And the sign of the Spirit’s anointing was a sign that the Spirit was with Christ and equipping and empowering Christ. It’s no coincidence that right after Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit that he went out into the wilderness to be tested by Satan.  This was a sign that Jesus was ready to begin His mission; he was ready to overcome the evil one, the world, and the temptations of the flesh. 

 

He was prepared to march into the strong man’s house, tie him up, and set the captives free!  And what a blessing it is for us to hear and to know that when our children are baptized, they are anointed by the Holy Spirit as well.  This is what John the Baptist said.  After him would come One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Q and A 70b).

 

Now, before that moment, the Holy Spirit was also active in the hearts and lives of God’s people – however with the coming of Christ marked a new day -- the beginning of the New Covenant when the fullness of the Holy Spirit would be poured out, and all God’s people would know the joy and the fullness and the purifying power of the Holy Spirit.

 

So as the Form for baptism states, in baptism we are sealed with the Holy Spirit signifying that the Spirit will sanctify us (burn away all the impurities of sin) and He will impart to us that which we have in Christ, the washing away of our sins and the daily renewing of our lives.

 

What a joy and comfort for us and our children – to know that the same Holy Spirit who anointed and indwelled Christ, who empowered Him for His task, to complete His mission, is the same Spirit that will enable us and empower us to live and walk faithfully before the face of God each day. That is God’s promise to us in Baptism.

 

We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, consecrated for service to God, therefore let us act on these promises of God, accept them by faith, and live our lives to God’s honor and glory.

 

3) The Loving Affirmation of the Father  

Thirdly and finally we see the Loving Affirmation of the Father. In verse 17 the Trinitarian presence of God is complete as the Father Himself speaks from heaven in words which echo Isaiah 42:1:  This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.

 

Here the Father not only identifies Jesus as His own Son but He lavishes upon the Son all His divine approval and infinite love and affection.  The Father expresses His love for His eternal only begotten Son who willingly, humbly, obediently came into this world to do his Father’s will. The Father proclaims His inexhaustible love, His divine delight and approval.

 

Not only does this passage indicate the Father’s love for His only begotten Son, but indirectly, it reflects the Father’s love for all his people. For this is how dear the Son was to His Father, and yet the Father did not spare His Son but he gave him up for us all!

 

I’m reminded of the lyrics to the song How Deep the Father’s Love.  How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.  Behold the Man upon a cross, my sin upon His shoulders.  Ashamed I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers.  It was my sin that left Him there until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life; I know that it is finished. 

 

And that’s why baptism is a means of grace, beloved. That’s why every baptism proclaims the Gospel loudly and clearly!! That’s why Jesus gave this command along with the Great Commission – to go to all the nations, preaching the Gospel, proclaiming the good news, but to go baptizing – to baptize all repentant sinners in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

 And now having heard from the Word of God, we should all be more aware of that that means; of all that our Triune God has done to secure our salvation, to secure for us a place in His eternal Kingdom.

 

And now, having heard this good news, having heard of God’s grace and love once more, it should compel us to dedicate ourselves to the Lord each day. So let us show our sincere gratitude to God by following His will and ways, all the days of our lives. Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://bethelurc.com/index.php?sermonPage

(c) Copyright 2020, Pastor Keith Davis

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