Saturday, July 8, 2017
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
Believe and be baptized, Friend .
As a pastor, I get to do many wonderful things. I love to teach the Word of God. Speaking life into lives is a glorious privilege. I love to do memorial services for the departed. It is a chance to speak to people whose minds are, maybe for just one moment, set on eternal things. Tomorrow, I get to do my number one favorite things: baptize believers in water. To me it is the most powerful moment in the Christian life. It speaks of so many wonderful things that are ours in our identification with the Lord. It is an opportunity to take action that releases faith to receive all the benefits that are ours in him. Some of the benefits in baptism include:
1. I make a total, public commitment to follow Jesus. It says “goodbye” to the old and “hello” to the new. Without that commitment, that crossing over from death to life, there can be no real discipleship. The early church never separated believing from being baptized. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” For the people in that day, it was all one act of believing. Matthew 28:18-20 / Mark 16:16
2. I identify with Him in His death and resurrection: old person buried, new person raised. Sin has no more power over me than it does over Him. I am delivered. I offer my body to Him for service. Romans 6:3-4, 11, 16-19
3. I am marked in my heart as part of the covenant. My confidence is no longer in me, it is in Him. I am marked! Colossians 2:11-12 / Philippians 3:3 / Romans 2:29
4. I put on Christ. The term means to put on a cloak or a robe. My new coat marks me as a son of God, a member of the family of God, endowed with a new identity. My relationship to God will never again be based on performance, but on blood. Gal 3: 26-29 / Luke 15:21-24
Somebody Said: Rituals, anthropologists will tell us, are about transformation. The rituals we use for marriage, baptism or inaugurating a president are as elaborate as they are because we associate the ritual with a major life passage, the crossing of a critical threshold, or in other words, with transformation. Abraham Verghese
Scripture Reading: ” Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:36-38 NKJV)
Baptism is not just a symbol. According to Peter, baptism is, first of all, “the answer of a good conscience toward God (I Peter 3:21).” The faith-filled step of water baptism has spiritual power and personal significance. It is the first step in a lifestyle of obedience: If you won’t obey Him in this simple thing, how will you obey Him when you face life’s difficult choices? Let’s do this!!!
Pastor Virgil L. Stokes
Faith Christian Fellowship of Tucson
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745