Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 7 months ago

The Holy Help of Baptism

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"The Holy Help of Baptism" 

1 Corinthians 7:12-14

Well, please remain standing with me as we hear God's word. Going to read from two passages this morning, first from First Corinthians and then from titus three. So if you would please turn with me to First Corinthians, Chapter Seven, versus twelve through fourteen. I've been preaching through First Corinthians section by section and we come to the next section in our passage, I'm going to be focusing on one particular part of it and then we'll probably return to this passage again next week. That's the plan for now. First Corinthians, Chapter Seven, verses twelve through fourteen, I'm going to be thinking about you'll will get to that. So it's first Corinthian seven, verse twelve. Let's hear God's word. To the rest, I say, I not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever and she consents to live with him, he should marry not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him, for the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband, and otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases, the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband, and how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? So, as we consider the holiness that the Lord speaks about here, let's turn to titus. Now, titus chapter three. I'm here we have a great summary of the Gospel, one of the many great summaries that we find in scripture. So this is titus chapter three, beginning at verse. For but when the goodness and loving kindness of God, our Savior, appeared, 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, whom he poured out on US richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, so that, being justified by His grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. I'm in you may be seated. So in Titus, Chapter Three, the Apostle Paul speaks to this pastor and he says to titus, Pastor Titus, if you if you want, as you should, for your people to devote themselves to good works, here's what you need to do. Right. So here's what you need to do if you want the people to devote themselves to good works. He says, you need to insist on these things, and the things that he insists on are the things that we read, beginning in verse four, and other things that he mentions in this book. When the goodness and loving kindness of God, our Savior, appeared, he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy. The Gospel...

Right, the good news, the promise of God that we have forgiveness, salvation, regeneration, renewal in Christ through the Holy Spirit. The language of baptism is here, of course, the language of washing, of regeneration, the language of pouring out, the Holy Spirit being poured out richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior. As they think about the work of Christ, as they think about that which their baptisms pointed to. They are reminded of the Gospel, they're reminded of the hope and the promise of God. And as we consider the Gospel, as we consider the promise, the scriptures tell us that it is that good news that the Holy Spirit uses to strengthen us, to change our hearts. In his EECHIEL, Chapter Thirty six, God promises through His prophet that when he comes in the new covenant, he will change our hearts so that we will no longer be walking after foolish things, but we will be devoted to the heart, to the things of the Lord. That's the promise of that is there. Now, when we consider First Corinthians, Chapter Seven, from Paul's talking about some particular questions surrounding marriage and divorce. But as he's doing that, he he makes this comment about holiness, and it's an interesting one, isn't it? He says that the UN that the believing spouse, the believing spouse in some way a makes the unbelieving spouse holly through their relationship. So, verse fourteen, the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Now, clearly we see that holiness is being used in a particular way the hut, the because we're talking about an unbeliever who is marked as holy, marked as as separated, as sanctified in some way. Now, to understand that and why that happens and how that happens, we have to understand something about the nature of baptism, which I want to talk about with you today in light of these passages and in light of the baptism that we get to enjoy and and benefit from together. When we think about baptism, there are a lot of different understandings about what it does and what it doesn't do. I'm according to some evangelical brothers and sisters, baptism is important, but it could be easily replaced by any number of things. Charles Ryery, for example, ponders whether or not we could just construct like a closet on the stage in which we would go into, change our clothes and come out of as a way to you represent a new change, a new way of life, and it's not a crazy idea. It would symbolize that and it uses biblical, scriptural language of putting on and putting off that we find in Colossians three. He suggests that baptism is good, and of course I'm we see it in scripture, but could we not do other things? I'm WAIM GRUDOM Popular Baptist systematics professor up at Phoenix Seminary. He wonders why our means of grace list is so short. Is Baptism such a major doctrine? Right? The Westminster Confession of faith tells us that it is a great sin to not to withhold baptism from someone that it belongs to. When gruden would say, I'm not really. It's not a major doctrine in a sense that it should divide the people of God. Perhaps God uses lots of different things,...

...and then of course in some ways he does. But why is baptism so important? Why do we make such a big deal out of it? What does it do? How does it help us? In the Roman Catholic view, baptism is important because it infuses Grayson to you, put you into a state of justification. However, if you sin, that state can be lost and then you need new infusions of grace. Under this view, baptism can fay conveys grace as a substance, and it does its work, but it can be lost, it can be done for a time and then you need penance and other things to sort of fill you up again. Is that what happens? I think scripture points in a different direction than both of these views and others as well. Baptism, as one person put it, is not the cause of our salvation, nor merely the testimony of our salvation, but it is the means of our salvation and in a very particular way it baptism works as an act of God and act of of proclamation, whereby he confirms and he seals and he assures his promise to us that he makes in his word. And as such, it is a very helpful to us for throughout our lives, even though we may be baptized as an infant, baptism continues to bless us in this way as the confirmation of that word. Well, how exactly does that work? How do we make sense of that? Well, if we think about baptism as the sign and seal, to use language from Romans for that Paul Talks about with Abraham and circumcision, you have to ask what is it signifying in what is it ceiling? In other words, there's something else there behind it. In that is the Gospel that we read in Titus three. The Gospel, the promise of the Gospel is that Jesus comes under the wrath of God as a substitute for God's elect if you call yourself a Christian, it's because you believe that God's wrath is no longer on you because God, The Sun, took it for you. You believe, if you were a Christian, that you are not going to face God's penalty on Judgment Day because Judgment Day is already passed, because Jesus died on across so that God would would take that death as your own. Paul uses the language of circumcision and Old Testament sign to speak about the cross. He speaks of the cross as a kind of circumcision and that Jesus, in the body of flesh, was cut off, that wrath and judgment for sin was removed. We remember this even not only as he cried out God, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me, but he was crucified outside the city on an instrument of of curse and condemnation. But through all that cutting off, because Jesus was who he was, because he was not only fully human, representing us, but he was also God with us, securing our salvation. When Jesus was cut off, he was cut off not forever, but he overcame the curse by the virtue of his life, by his perfect sacrifice. He was accepted as righteous before God for us, and in that a new covenant was formed, a new covenant, a covenant of Grace,...

...was made in which we would not have to face our own deaths, but we would have his. We would know that judgment has perfectly passed for us because it is passed in Christ. And more than that, we would also have the very life of Christ, eternal and glorious. To think about these things in connection with baptism, I want to turn with you to one of some other scriptures I'll read this morning. This is from Romans, chapter six. Listen to what Paul says Verse Fifteen. He says what then are we to sin? Because we are not under law but under grace. By no means do you not know that if you present yourself to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or obedients which leads to righteous steps. And then he goes on to say we must present our bodies, we must devote ourselves to use the language of Rightus three at to God, as instruments of righteousness. Well, where does that come from? How does a person who is dead and sin, how does a person who can't do anything, all of a sudden become this living creature that is able and active and heart is beating for the Lord? Well, happens because of what Paul says at the beginning of chapter six. He says in verse two. How can we who died to sin still live in it? How can we who died to sense to live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, we're baptized into his death. We were buried, therefore, with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, we too might be a might walk in the newness of life, for if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like is she you see what baptism does. One of the things it does is it's God's way of marking a person in a very particular way. When we baptize a person, we in the Act at warding to the scriptures. We are not, we are changing the view that many people have of human nature and of even babies. We are not saying, and we are declared to the world, this baby is not sweet and innocent. This baby is born in sin. This person is born in sin. There's a problem here, a big problem. It's so big that they need to be baptized into death. Baptized into death. That's a very striking thing, isn't it? It's a very harsh even marking of a person. But why do we do that? We're not baptizing them into death in general. We're not placing a curse on them in general. What is God doing? God baptizes them in his name into the death of his son. Why that death? Why The death of Jesus Christ? Why the death of that particular person and not the death of a grandparent or a great grandparent or some important famous person in history? We baptize them into the death of Jesus Christ, because only he died and overcame death. We baptize them into the death knowing that that sinful nature needs to die in order that they might receive the Holy Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit of Christ, and walk, as Paul says, in the newness of life. God is marking them...

...with this promise, a promise that is received through faith as they come to believe it. Baptism to take a step back. Then is then a marking of that promise. It's a marking of that gospel of death and of life, of death and crucifixion, but also life and resurrection, all of it had only through Christ alone. The Promise of the Gospel is that those who believe this are saved. How do we know that? How do we know that those who believe will be saved? Because a word is preached to us to that effect. Because God speaks to us. And how does he speak to us? Well, as Paul says in Romans, faith comes through hearing and hearing comes through the word of God. God uses external, weak things like me to preach his word, word in an external way. Right you're hearing it right now. You're hearing the Gospel, you're hearing these promises right now in your ears. And then God uses that external word by the Holy Spirit to bring about internal regeneration. The word in itself is not powerful to save. Think about it this way. If God had not promised it, human beings couldn't just assemble the words of the Gospel together, assemble a kind of testimony together of what God had done, and then force God into action. Does that make sense right? If we took the words of the Gospel and just kind of put them together, God wouldn't then be forced to act? It's not the words that have a kind of magical power in themselves. The words are powerful to save because God is the one who speaks them because, ultimately it's a promise from God, as he talks to us, as he tells us, if you believe in this salvation, if you trust and receive these things, you will be saved. That's the word that is promised. He makes this promise. Well, how does baptism relate to that? Baptism is the conformation of that promise. We have a great old testament example of this. A God makes a Gospel Promise to Abraham. He says, I will call you out of this place, I will establish you, I will make you a father of many nations. Through you, all the families of the earth will be blessed. And Abrasam here's that promise and then says how will I know this will be true? And then God ratifies it, he testifies, he assures it with signs. He puts Abraham in a vision, he gives him the sign of circumcision, a sign that is passed down from generation to generation to generation. That says the promise is true. In some ways, baptism is like a it's a visible form of the audible word. It's another form of preaching. In a way. We hear the word preached and then we see the word preached, and this is one of the ways that God confirms these promises to us. We do something similar, and you've heard some of you have heard me say this before. We do something similar like this when we get married right, with this ring. I v WED right. We give this token. Sometimes it's used in wedding ceremonies. We give a token as a pledge, as a promise that we might look on that and remember, yes, that promise is sure. It's a visible...

...representation of a word that has been promised. That's what God is doing in baptism. God Use as baptism as a means to confirm and to ratify and to assure us that the preaching of the word is true and that when we believe the preaching of that word, we are saved. And so when Abraham received circumcision, Paul says in Romans for eleven, he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith. Paul goes on to make the point that he said he received that righteousness by faith before he was circumcised. All right, Paul didn't, or a Paul doesn't say Abraham became righteous and justified because he was circumcised. The circumcision was the seal of that promise that he had before him. So, with all that said, I'd like to think with you, as we close now, about how baptism then helps us. Right. So, if God is using this sign and seal to a confirm, to ratify, to testify to the promises that are preached to us, how is that a blessing to us? Well, there are all kinds of ways. The one one way we might mention is that as we look around us and see these other people who have been baptized, these other people who have been marked, we are reminded of the life that we are brought into in the body of Christ. In First Corinthians Thirteen, we are told that we are baptized into one body. Jews and Greek, slaves and free male and female, we all belong to one bad body and our baptism marks us as that, just as wedding rings in a way mark a person, as these two people is belonging to one another. Are baptisms remark mark us as those who belong to God. And as we look around and as we see these other people, these aren't just random people with individual relationships with with God. These are brothers and sisters around you are members of one body, a body of Christ. Baptism, also in Pitt depicts our ingrafting into Christ, not just our union with one another, but our union with one another in him. That language that we read earlier, I'm from Ephesians, is language of being strengthened by his strength, by walking, by his life, or the language are those things that we heard from Roman six. It's language in which we are empowered to move because of who we are in him. Baptism reminds us of that. Baptism points us to that as we think about our BAPTISMS, we remember I'm not my own, I am marked by the by the God who saves. Baptism, of course, portrays to us that we and our children are conceived and born into sin. We need not just to be marked by God, we need to be cleansed by God. We don't just come into into the church like members into a club. Right, if you, let's say you wanted to get into sorry for getting the word, pottery, right. You wanted to get into pottery and you looked up on the internet, you looked up pottery clubs and Tucson and you go and you show up and you say hey, I can I be a member and they say yeah, as long as you're interested in pottery, that's great. Just come and join us and we'll practice together and we'll teach you and we'll have fun. There's nothing that really needs to change in you to join this club. You just show up and start doing your work...

...and doing the thing. The Christian life is really different. The Christian life says you need to die and be born again, you need to be marked by God in a new way, you need to be washed, you need to be cleansed. That word is a good word. That word, that Gospel that is both preached to our ears and to our eyes, is a good word. It's a holy word, whether we believe it or not. Right the Gospel doesn't, isn't isn't good only if you accept it. The Gospel is good because it's good because God promises it. Baptism, likewise, is good because it's good because God ratifies, he seals those promises. And so when we receive these things, when we see these things, we don't, we don't determine their goodness based on whether we like them or not, whether we believe them or not. We believe them because they are good. We believe them because God is good. We see in the sign, we see in we hear in the promise that a lie, that our lives need to be changed. How do we respond to that? How do we respond to that good holy word that is preached to us, that Good Holy Word that marks us? Do we bought? Do we do? We does it? Do we do we walk on and say well, I guess it doesn't matter. Of course not. We respond in faith. We hear the word and we believe, and as we believe the word, the scriptures tell us we are saved, we receive Christ and all his benefits, and that's another thing that the Gospel promises to us. That's another thing that baptism shows us. This poor haring out richly of the Holy Spirit and all his blessings are union with Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, our adoption into the body of Christ is and into the family of Christ, the promises, Paul says and in an Ephesians, that we become heirs right the we are no longer children of Wrath, but children of the Lord and heirs of the promise of life, the promise of Resurrection, the promise of walking, the promise of renewal. What more could we want? Beloved, we're so lost and so many ways, and here are as God promising and sealing that promise to us in a very visible way. The washing with water in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit reminds us of these things. God puts his name on us and calls us his own. That's a very helpful thing. In Our world we find ourselves constantly struggling and pressured to struggle about questions with identity. Who Are we? Who Am I? How am I supposed to be? How do I fit in baptism? Preach us, to us all of those answers. You are the Lord's you fit into the body of Christ. Your purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. It's received through faith alone, in Christ alone. That's who you are, that's who we are, and that's what baptisms testify to. And so, as God blesses us this morning, as we and blesses, of course, a Bennett, let's all receive the Lord's Word Together, as we welcome the presence are that a presence in the action of God among us. Let's give thanks and let us believe. These promises that are for believers and their children,...

...these marks of the Covenant of Grace, promised in the Old Testament and the new as well, should be received not with a whatever. or well, that's kind of cool, or isn't that cute, although it might be all those things, but not the whatever part. There are nice things about what we see, but remember what is meant, not by US primarily, but by God. They're not baptized into the name of Jalpka or covenant, but in the name of our triune God. That's who marks us as his own, and so let's praise and rejoice him and put our faith all in him. Let's pray now.

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