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and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

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
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- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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