Server Outage Notice: TheSeed.info is transfering to a new Server on Tuesday April 13th

Statistics
2129 sermons as of July 2, 2022.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Mark Chen
 send email...
 
Congregation:First Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore
 Singapore
 ferc.org.sg
 
Preached At:
 
 
Title:The Three Degree Extension of God’s Promise of Salvation
Text:LD 27 Genesis 17:1-14, Hebrews 11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Baptism
 
Preached:2021
Added:2022-05-23
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Trinity Hymnal Revised 1990, The Psalter 1912

Psalter 15 - God's Glory in His Works
Psalter 190 - Trustful Entreaty and Praise
TH 413 - Our Children Lord, in Faith and Prayer

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


The Three Degree Extension of God’s Promise of Salvation

LD 27, Genesis 17:1-14, Hebrews 11:8-19, Acts 2:38-39

Today we’re looking at a difficult topic - impossible to address in one message. But hopefully it helps you dig deeper. The topic is - whom do we baptize? Some churches like ours baptize believers and their infants; many churches only baptize believers. And the reason why we baptize believers and their children is because we believe they are in covenant with God. They have a relationship with him.  

Now, most churches are familiar that God wants a relationship with all nations. That’s why Jesus commissioned his disciples to preach the gospel to the world - not just the Jews. To Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world. To the Jews, half-Jews, and non-Jews - a three degree extension. And this was not a new idea. When God called Abraham into a relationship with him, he said in Genesis 12, “in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.” God had just punished man and dispersed them to the four corners of the world in Genesis 11. But God said that one day because of Abraham, he would have a relationship with these nations. He would save them. 

But how about Abraham’s own descendants? His children? Did God have or want a relationship with them? Did he promise to save them? The answer is yes. God isn’t only interested in the various nations, but he’s interested in the children of believers. That’s why in Acts 2, Peter told the Jews, who were Abraham’s descendants, that the promise of salvation is to you and your children. Yes, we believe that God wants a relationship with those nations which are afar off. But we also affirm that God has a relationship with believers and their children. God promises salvation to believers, their children, and to those afar off. This also is a three degree extension of God’s salvation.

This evening, we will examine this promise of salvation. Those that believe are saved. They and their children are in a relationship with God. And God promises to save these children, if they believe. They’re special. And we’ll see how God symbolizes his promise to them. So firstly, we see what this promise is; secondly, the sign of the promise.

Firstly, the promise of salvation. In Genesis 17:1-14, God spoke to Abraham when he was 99 years old. He told him he would enter into a relationship with him, where he would bless him and multiply his descendants. And God promised to give him and his descendants a land, where they would live forever. Now, this doesn’t sound like salvation. It sounds like real estate. But I’ll show you that God’s promise to Abraham was more than just the physical land. The land pointed to a heavenly land. Just like the temple foreshadowed Christ, the land foreshadowed heaven.

How do we know this? We read Hebrews 11:8-10. God called Abraham to go to the promised land. When he was there, it didn’t belong to him yet. But it didn’t bother him. Verse 10 says that Abraham looked for a city whose foundation was God - not a physical city - but a heavenly city. And how Abraham would enter that city was by faith. Genesis 15:6 says that Abraham believed in the Lord, and God saved him.

When he believed, God entered into a relationship with Abraham. God promised to bless him and his descendants. And this promise of salvation was also given to his descendants. Genesis 17:7 says, “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” God made a covenant - I will have a relationship with Abraham and his children. And this was before any of them were born, before any of them were saved. He entered into a relationship with them.

Because of this relationship, he extended the same promise of salvation to them. I will give to your seed the land to be an everlasting possession. Now, again, the land pointed to heaven. Many of these descendants - Isaac and Jacob - didn’t own any land. But ultimately it didn’t matter to them. Verse 13 says they were strangers and pilgrims on earth. They were looking forward to heaven. Verse 16 - “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”

So God was in a relationship with them before they were born, before they were saved. But because of his covenant with Abraham, he extended the promise of salvation to them. Now, this salvation was not automatic. Abraham believed and God saved him. These descendants of Abraham may have been in covenant with God, but they also needed to believe. Galatians 3:7 says, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” Which is why, in Acts 2:39, Peter told the Jews that the promise of salvation is for you and your children - even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And in verse 38, Peter told them to repent - “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Salvation is not automatic. A child may be in covenant with God, by salvation comes by faith. 

Esau was a covenant child. He had every opportunity to believe. But he rejected the promise while Jacob received the promise. Being in covenant doesn’t mean salvation is automatic. But why Peter extended the promise of salvation to the children of the Jews was because they were in covenant with God. 

But there’s a wideness in God’s mercy. There were those not in covenant with God. They had no relationship with God. Like Ruth - the Moabitess. Her people were cursed. But she believed and became part of the people of God. And that’s why we see the same in Acts 2:39; Peter said, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Even the non-Jews, the Gentiles, those far off who had no relationship with God - they could receive the promise of the Holy Ghost, verse 38. If they believed, the Holy Ghost would wash them and save them. 

Yes, in this passage, Peter was speaking to Jews - those in covenant with God - they grew up in the land. He preached the gospel to them, this was their birthright in Abraham. And if they believed, they would be saved. But if they rejected like Esau, they would not be saved. But this promise was extended to the non-Jews, even as Abraham was told by God that many nations would be blessed. 

So after this account, the gospel was preached in Samaria - these half Jew Samaritans believed and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then the gospel was preached to Cornelius and other Gentiles, these non-Jews believed and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. And now being in a relationship with God, this promise of salvation was also extended to their families. In Acts 11, we learn that before Cornelius was saved, an angel told him to get Peter from Joppa. The angel said - “Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words (the gospel), whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” Families are important to God. Then in Acts 16, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas - “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Families are important to God. When God saves a person, he enters into a relationship with that person’s family, and extends the promise of salvation to them, so that when they believe, they will be saved.

So what have we seen so far? God saves a person, like he did with Abraham. He enters into a relationship with him, a covenant. Included in this covenant are his children. God extends the promise of salvation to them. They need to believe. Meanwhile, they have the benefit of being in the land that God gives to them. This land points them to heaven. God also extends the promise of salvation to Gentiles. When they believe, he enters into a relationship with them and their children. They will hear the gospel, they will have the benefit of being part of the church. But they too must be saved.

Now, all of us here believe that the gospel should be preached to everyone. As many as the Lord shall call. But do you believe that the children of believers are special to God? In this church, we do. We believe that God promises salvation to these children because they are in a relationship with him. In Paul’s opening words in 1 Corinthians 1, he greeted “the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.” The word saints is the Greek word “hagios.” Then in 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul speaks about the unbelieving spouses and children of believers and he said, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” The word holy is the Greek word “hagios.” They are set apart, in relationship with God because of the mother who believed. They are in the church, raised in the gospel, hearing the prayers - and when they believe, they will be saved. God wants to have a relationship with people - with his believers, their children, and others yet to believe. This is the three degree extension of God’s salvation.

And this leads us to the next point. The sign of the promise. When Abraham believed, God gave him a symbol to show he was in relationship with God. So closely linked was the relationship with the sign, that God called the sign the covenant. For example, you have a contract with someone, you can point to the paper with the signature. Now, is the paper the contract? No, it’s a piece of paper. But the words of the agreement are written on the paper so that the paper is called the contract. Likewise, do you know why wedding rings are called wedding bands? Because it’s the symbol of the binding vows made. So Abraham was saved. He was in relationship with God. So God gave the symbol of the promise. Like you’re married, you have a ring. You’re in a gang, you have a tattoo. And this sign was circumcision - the sign of the first covenant. Genesis 17:10-11 - “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.”

Now, here’s a million dollar question. If God gave Abraham the land as a sign of the promise of heaven and salvation, then why did God give circumcision? Because it symbolized something else. Same same but different. The land symbolized the heavenly land above. Circumcision, which was the removal of the foreskin, symbolized the removal of sin that blocked eternal life. You need to be circumcised inwardly from sin to enter heaven. That was the message. And this teaching was symbolized to Abraham in Genesis 17:14 - “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.” If your child is not circumcised, he cannot live in the land. 

Abraham believed before he was circumcised. His male children were circumcised after they were born. And then, the land and their circumcision, would point them to the need to be saved from sin to enter heaven. But this circumcision was also extended to non-Jews. If any non-Jew wanted to be part of Israel, they had to be circumcised. It was a symbol of them forsaking the world to be part of God’s people.

In the New Testament, the sign was no longer circumcision but baptism. Acts 2:38-39 say, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Salvation was no longer described as cutting away sin - it was now described as washing or forgiveness of sins. 

And so closely was the outward sign related to the inward washing, that baptism is called the washing of regeneration. That’s why in verse 38, Peter said, repent and be baptized. The outward washing doesn’t save - just as our catechism says. But it symbolized the inward washing of the Spirit. You agree with the terms of the contract? Now sign the paper contract. You believe and are washed from sin? Now get baptized. 

Who was to get baptized? Those who believed and therefore became part of the church - but the extension of the promise was given to the children. Why? Because the children of believers are special to God. They have a relationship with him - they are in the church. They are different from the children of unbelievers. So we baptize them to show they have a relationship with God, to distinguish them from other children - just like the Jewish children were circumcised to distinguish them from the world. And just as circumcision taught them the need to be saved from sin to enter heaven, baptism teaches them the need to be washed from sin to enter heaven, as our Catechism teaches.

And this promise of salvation and the sign of baptism was extended to all that are afar off, as many as are called. So after this, the gospel was preached in Judea, and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world. And when they are in relationship with God, so are their family members. This is why when the gospel came to Cornelius, the angel told him - you and your house; and Paul and Silas said to the jailer - you and your house. 

What are some practical applications of this? It tells us that while God calls people from every nation and he has a place in his kingdom for those who profess Christ; our children have a place in Christ’s arms. And they are brought to him by their believing parents, so he would bless them by his grace. We baptize them not because the waters save, but because they are in covenant with God because of us. They are in church, special to God, listening to the gospel, learning to pray, to sing, to look to Christ. And so we pray that the Lord would save them, cleansing them inwardly as they have been washed outwardly. God’s grace extends 3 degrees -  to Abraham, his descendants, and all nations; to us, to our children, to those afar off. All receive the sign. Never forget that when you remember the Great Commission - that God promises to save our children. And therefore, raise your children in the faith, to trust in Jesus, pointing them always to their baptism. They must be washed to enter heaven. If the Lord so leads, purpose to get married. Marriage is a good thing. Have children, as enabled by God, to add to the kingdom of God, because the Lord is gracious to save them.

Sermon Outline:

1. The Promise of Salvation through the Spirit

A. The promise to Abraham

B. The promise to his seed

C. The promise to those far off

2. The Sign of the Promise

A. First covenant circumcision

B. New covenant baptism




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Mark Chen

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner