Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Baptized into Christ
Today is the first Sunday in Advent, and it is the first Sunday in the Church Year. Is is approximately a month before Christmas and the celebration of God coming in the incarnation, or in human form. Isaiah prophesied that it would happen in His writings and Matthew referred to that which Isaiah had written, saying now it is going to be fulfilled in his time. The word Advent means arrival or coming. It has been tradition for many years to have such things as Advent calendars, Advent colors, Advent candles, and so on for the purpose of taking the time to reflect on the humble beginnings of Jesus Christ as He came into the world the first time as well as to look to the time when He will return in great power and great glory for the last time.

Again I want to remind ourselves of the meaning of the church year and of its signficance for us. As humans we tend to get caught up in the rush of the life of the world and because of those forces we can lose focus on the real meaning of life as it is revealed by God through His Son Jesus Christ. We can easily forget who God says that we are in Him. The further we get away from what God says is real. eternal and fulfilling, the easier it is to be duped by the world's philosophies, by our own sinful flesh and by the liar of all liars, Satan. As we gather not only on Sunday's but on Wednesday's as well during this Advent time, it gives us opportunity to devote time to again be renewed and refreshed as to the significance of the meaning of Christ coming into the world. He did a makeover!

Today we had a baptism, as Palyn was baptized in front of our congregation. She has been united unto Christ from before the foundation of the world and today God poured out His grace and blessing upon her through water and the Word. As we participated in her baptism, perhaps we reflected back to our baptism. Most of us were most likely baptized as infants even as Palyn here was. And perhaps we wondered, what really is that all about anyway? I don't recall a thing about it, but only know that which I was told, that on a certain day in my infancy I was baptized. What was that all about? Do you, do I ever wonder what was the meaning of our/my baptism? What was this all about today? What does that mean for Payln?

These are questions that have been discussed and debated for years and today continue to be discussed and debated. As I spent time in preparation for this Sunday's baptism and sermon, I read many understandings which are contained in the books that I use in my study and after so much reading and pondering stuck them back on the shelf, thinking to myself: "Even though in some ways, the concept of baptism became more clear to me, I am more confused then when I started reading these books." I thought, what is the starting point to understanding baptism in its simplest and clearest meaning? What Scriptures could I present today on this occasion which would bring this message across.

There are two main points of contention, the first is by far the most signficant divide, in understandings of baptism: Infant baptism or believers baptism? Sprinkle or immerse?

First let us look at what the word "baptism" means. It means to dip, to immerse, to unite, to join, to wash. As one can immediately see, the definitions carry huge weight in this topic. Here are some Scriptures which give definition to the Greek word "baptizo."


Joined/United
KJV 1 Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

Identification/Union
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.

Baptism of union and identification with humanity
Matthew 3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

So we see that the word is used to refer to being dipped in, washed by water, but it also means to be joined unto something, to be united with something/somebody in identification and purpose.

Having established a basic meaning to the word baptism, let us look at our text that we will use to come to a basic understanding of baptism. From John's Gospel we clearly recognize that God made the first move to save us.

KJV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

So now, in relation to baptism, I would like to make two statements, the first of which is:

1. Baptism is God's act toward us. Matthew 3:13-17

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

It is no surprise that John the Baptizer hesitated at Jesus' request that he baptize Jesus as according to John's Gospel he had an indication that Jesus was truly greater than he.

John 1:32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

But our Lord told him that he must baptize Him for it was the will of His Father for the purpose of fulfilling all righteousness: He would be joined unto the human (Adam) and become the One who suffered and atoned for the sin of the first Adam (human) The word Adam actually means human and by this we understand why Paul in his letters only referred to humanity as Adam. When we understand this it brings chapters 5 and 6 of Romans to life as we see how when Christ entered into Adam "the human," He became a life giving spirit. Paul wrote of this in reference to the resurrection in 1 Cor 15:

1 Cor 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; (breathing being) the last Adam (Christ) was made a quickening (life giving) spirit. We need to understand the resurrection to be able to understand what happens here. In John 20:19-21, Jesus breathed into the disciples. God had breathed into man with his breath, but man died. In John, Jesus breathed into the disciples and breathed upon them with the Holy Spirit. When God breathed into man, he breathed into them the breath of life. When Jesus breathed into the disciples, He gave them the Holy Spirit. Christ has the power to make alive. In reality in the end of the world, there will be only one Christian, that is Jesus. We still think that we are all separate and that we are doing things in a separate manner. There is only one body, we are always one, there are not many bodies. We are all joined together in the last Adam

2. All rituals and practices point to the Greatest Baptizer, Jesus Christ.
Luke 23:39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

Here we see a last minute conversion of one was united into Jesus Christ just before he died a natural death. He died a natural death which came upon all humanity because of the curse, but by being baptized unto Jesus Christ by faith, this criminal lives in eternity. He received the gift of life from the last Adam, the life giving spirit. The man realized his guilt, He saw the relief for His guilt on the middle cross and he asked for the grace to be given to Him. This was his baptism, his union. He now was in Christ Jesus by faith, through God's act of Baptism. The Greater Baptizer had given him the Greatest Baptism!!

May the Lord give us the eyes to see that which He has done for the world. May we remember this as we reflect on the meaning and purpose of Palyn's baptism today. As we remember our baptism, may we thank the Lord that He has baptized (joined) us unto Himself through cross and has given us faith to believe this union is for us. May we not confuse our response of faith with His initiating action of love towards us as we consider the meaning of baptism. When the onslaught of the accusations of the devil attack us, may we respond as Martin Luther did when he was being attacked by Satan: "Get thee hence, I am baptized by Jesus Christ."

May we be like John the Baptizer at the time that Jesus came to be baptized of him. John thought it backwards to baptize the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, but at the insistence of Jesus, John baptized him. It is doubtful if John understood the whys of the baptism, but he obeyed the Lord and baptized God. Often times in our Christian life we have struggles in understanding the whys of the Lord, but may we be obedient in those clear areas that He has left with us. Therefore, in relation to baptism, the last instruction that Jesus gave to His disciples at the end of Matthew's Gospel is good instruction for us today.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Greatest Baptizer, be with you all, now and forever, Amen!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala



Posted on 27 Nov 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Come Ye Blessed of My Father! 11/20/2011
Today is the last Sunday of the Church year and it is celebrated as Christ the King Sunday. Today's Psalm reading is a jubilant shout of praise to the King, our King, the King of the Universe who is second to none, for there is no other god to be second to. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!! The Psalm could be outlined in the following manner:

The call to and the reason for worship of the LORD
KJV Psalm 95:1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.
5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

Worship is expressed outwardly
6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
7a For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Counsel and warning against not worshipping the LORD
7b To day if ye will hear his voice,
8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation (contention) and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
9 When your fathers tempted me, proved (tried) me, and saw my work.
10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

Our text of meditation today will be from Matthew 25:31-46 and 26:1-:2, we recognize that even as it is the last Sunday of the Church Year, and we are brought to a text the speaks of the end of all things: The return of Jesus Christ and the final judgment of all humans beings which He will preside over. Humanly speaking, this eventual reality brings fear to our hearts. This portion of Scripture starts out with the setting for the dividing of the sheep and the goats, the sheep to eternal glory and the goats to eternal torment.This is the final part of His discourse concerning the events of the last time and must be interpreted and understood in light of that background. Here is the text that is before us today.

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left."

Then the King, our King, shall "say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?


40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.


44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.


KJV Matthew 26:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

At first glance and being understood independent of the remainder of the Scriptures, one could get the understanding that the final judgment will be based upon works. If we are honest with ourselves, that is a fearful thing. For if we are to be judged according to God's righteous demands of perfection, none of us would stand a chance.One of the songs that our predecessors sang on their way to their trip to the Holy City, Jerusalem clearly outlines that folly of going down the road of maintaining our own righteousness.

ESV Psalm 130:1 A SONG OF ASCENTS.Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Through the Word and from experience we know that we cannot stand in the presence of our King on our own. What to do? What is this text about?

Let us make some observations concerning this text. Firstly, we see that He spoke to the righteous first, telling them to "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

The beautiful word, "come," which Jesus so often spoke earlier in His ministry is spoken to those who already have passed from death to life in the time of grace. They responded to the invitation to "Come unto the Me who is meek and lowly of heart" here in the time of grace so that they would hear one day the words that are spoken here before us today. This jJudgment Day is not an invitation to come to Jesus for salvation, for at this judgment there is no longer opportunity to enter into the salvation which was offered in the time of grace. That decision has been made in the time of our life on earth, for this final judging is the separation that has already been done in time. There is no appeal at this throne of justice. All those who have responded to the invitation of Jesus to come unto Him have in their hearts a similar prayer to the words that John the Apostle of love spoke at the end of the Bible: " Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

They/we are told to come, for we are the blessed of His/our Father. What are we called to come to receive? The kingdom that has been prepared for us from the foundation of the world!!! This is an inheritance, something that is given to us from the hand of the Great Benefactor. It is not a kingdom that has been earned by us, but it is one that has been prepared for us by our Father. A Hymn written by a Ken Bible gives us a sense of this joy that is awaiting us.

In That Morning
Praise God, our Jesus came to die,
And soon our ransomed souls will fly.
We'll all shout together in that morning.
Yes, we'll all shout together in that morning.
In that morning,
In that morning,
Yes, we'll all shout together in that morning.

The Risen Lamb will take His throne
With joy and praise from all His own.
We'll crown Him together in that morning.
Yes, we'll crown Him together in that morning.
In that morning,
In that morning,
Yes, we'll crown Him together in that morning.

No sun or moon will light that place
But all the glory of His face.
We'll see Him together in that morning.
Yes, we'll see Him together in that morning.
In that morning,
In that morning,
Yes, we'll see Him together in that morning.

Secondly, we see that both the righteous or the unrighteous were not aware of the things that Jesus spoke to them about. In the case of the righteous, they did not remember ever serving Jesus in the way that He told them that they did. In the case of the unrighteous, they did not remember ever having the occasion to serve Jesus in the way that Jesus said they should have served Him. How are we to understand this? Here is the key verse:

KJV Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Jesus makes this statement in the middle of this discourse and it addresses both the righteous and the unrighteous. What He seems to be saying is that when the righteous ministered to another human being in need, they were ministering unto Him and when the unrighteous did not minister unto another human in need, they were in effect not ministering unto Jesus Himself. Wow, I am thinking, I do not get it, for it still sounds like a judgment based on works, on obedience, faithfulness and so on. And I find myself wanting. Weighed in the balance of my faithfulness vs God's requirement, I find the scales tipped sharply with my unfaithfulness and sin causing me to be on the bottom. Yet it is true, it is a judgment based on obedience, but what is key is this question: Whose obedience? Mine, yours, or Jesus Christ's? That is the big question!!!

The other day I read this text in the midst of a group of people and after I read it, I asked them what they thought. One man told me: "There is more to it than that, for it is by grace that we are saved." Wow!! He understands the context of this text and basically told me that if I stop right there, it is not the whole story. So let us read a little more into the next chapter:

KJV Matthew 26:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

It is His obedience that was unto death and by which our guilt was taken away from us and placed upon Him so that God does not impute our sins either of omission or commission upon us. The question is: Do we believe that He has taken away our sins? If we do not understand that God has removed our sin debt from us and placed them onto His Son on the cross, we will never be able to understand this text that we have considered today. For without the enlightening and illumination of His Spirit, we will be left looking inward so as to determine where we fall on the scale of faithfulness and obedience to Christ.

These two Scriptures will give us insight as to what I have written here: God sought us while we were estranged from Him solely because that is who He is and He wanted to save us. He did it through Christ, in a way that Paul details here.


The Apostle Paul wrote of this seeking love in the fifth chaper of Romans when he wrote:
Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. {in due time: or, according to the time}
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
We have reason to praise our Great God and Our King Jesus Christ, for He has served us because He wanted to do so.

The Apostle John wrote of the love of God, but from another angle. He speaks of the origin of love, the action of love, the effect of love upon us and the marks of love in our lives. Reading this reference and the one above should help us to see that we are Christians because we have been loved by God and therefore we love Him as well as all others. We are not Christians because we have loved, but because we have been loved.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. {is born: or, has been born}
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. {our love: Gr. love with us}
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

In closing, since we are partaking of His Body and Blood today in our congregation. I leave you with this song that is a new song to us, but which tells us through music of the grace and forgiveness that we have recieved and yet recieve from His Hand. May these words which explain the truth of God's grace toward us minister to us today.


Lord, From Your Hand

Lord, from Your hand I take the bread,
And from Your cup I drink the wine.
You serve forgiveness for my need.
You serve Your holy life for mine.

Now from Your lips I hear the words:
"This is My body and My blood."
I see the mercy in Your eyes.
I see the pain. I see the love.

I see the cross. I see Your face.
My God, what agony and grief!
I see You suffer as You die.
I hear You pray. It is for me.

O Jesus, Savior, Holy God!
I live and breathe in Your embrace!
Lord, every moment draw my heart
To love and serve You face to face.


Jesus says to us today: "Surely I come quickly. " We say, "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

Rev 22: 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala









Posted on 20 Nov 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Baptized into Christ
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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Carol Fischer and her family as they grieve the loss of Bob
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