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Baptism Series: Part 2 January 17, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Baptism, Discipleship, Great Commission, Matthew, Trinity.
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Matthew 28:16-20

John 4:1-2 tells us that the Pharisees heard that Jesus was baptizing more disciples than John the Baptist was. The writer of the gospel clarifies that Jesus actually was not baptizing anyone personally but rather that his disciples were the ones baptizing new disciples. In fact, we have no knowledge of Jesus ever baptizing anyone with water.

It is interesting then that the last command of Christ recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, the Great Commission, includes baptizing new disciples. The actual command is to make disciples of all nations as we go throughout the world and there are two parts to fulfilling that command: baptizing and teaching Christ’s commandments. Since this last command of Christ includes baptism, we need to look more closely at this command.

A. Jesus commands us as His disciples to baptize other disciples (verses 19-20).

1. To become a disciple is a public profession. That is what Romans 10:9-10 teaches us. To believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord God as proven by His resurrection from the dead is to be accompanied by a confession with the mouth. The picture here is of someone at the time of baptism confessing that Jesus is their Savior, their Lord, and their God.

2. To be a disciple is an eternal commitment (verse 20). Stanley Grenz calls baptism and the Lord’s Supper commitment acts. Jesus makes it clear that this commitment into which we enter with Christ is an eternal commitment. It is not limited by our location, the time in which we live, or even the state of our being, that is, whether we are dead or alive. Of course, this commitment although we enter into it is not dependent on our strength or ability to keep it.

Often those who come to Christ are not ostracized by their unsaved family and friends until they take the step of baptism. Why? Because the unsaved recognize the commitment that is being made to Christ. We knew a family once who were saved for two or three years before they were baptized. They shared a house with the man’s mother. Although there were discussions and questions about their new faith in Christ, they were unprepared for the ostracism they experienced when they were baptized. For months the mother, who lived on the first floor, refused to communicate with her son and his family, who lived on the second and third floors. The reason was simple, they had taken a true step of commitment, baptism.

B. Jesus commands us as His worshipers to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (verses 18-20). Certainly it would be impossible to explain the Trinity. To explain God fully would be impossible. Yet this verse helps us to understand the significance of God for our lives. We are to be baptized in His name, that is, we recognize that each person of the Trinity is God, to be worshipped and to be obeyed.

1. We recognize the God of Israel as the God of the nations (verse 19). Deuteronomy commands “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” This verse confirms that there is one God at the same time emphasizing that He is not just for Israel to follow, to worship, and to obey but for each man and woman in the world. While not all will believe in His name and be baptized in His name, He alone is God, there is no other.

2. We recognize the universal authority of His Son (verse 18). God became man when He was born of a virgin, but at His resurrection and ascension He revealed that He had been exalted to the position of authority as the Divine Messiah of God.

“Jesus is Lord!” may be the earliest doctrinal statement of the church. When we are baptized, we are proclaiming our allegiance to Jesus as Lord. When an immigrant is naturalized in this country, they are not asked if they have kept all the laws of this country perfectly. That might be impossible. We do ask them, however, to proclaim their allegiance to the United States of America, that is, to submit to our lordship. The difference is this; there are some areas of our lives in which our government is not Lord. With Christ it is different. He is Lord of all!

3. We recognize the eternal union with Jesus through the Holy Spirit (verse 20). Shortly after this commandment was given, Jesus ascended into heaven to the right hand of the Father. “The ascension [however] did not inaugurate the absence of Jesus. On the contrary, in accordance with [this commandment/promise], this event made possible the continuing presence of the risen Lord with his people everywhere, a presence mediated by the Holy Spirit” (Theology for the Community of God by Stanley Grenz, page 355, edition from 2000).

Has anyone ever said that you are filled with the Holy Spirit? When you are baptized with water you are testifying to the fact that the Holy Spirit lives within you and that you are going to serve God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I read a piece recently written about one of our ladies by her daughter. She wrote that her mom was filled with the Holy Spirit and then she listed the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. When you are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are recognizing a union with Christ through the Holy Spirit that is life transforming.

C. Baptism identifies us with God, with Christ, His people, and His commandments. Baptism is a rich ritual full of meaning. That is why we do it publicly. Through we submit ourselves to God, we proclaim Christ to the world, we enter into the fellowship of God’s people (Acts 2:38ff), and begin a life of obedient discipleship of Christ.

Are you a disciple? Have you forsaken all to follow Christ? That is both the prerequisite to baptism as well as the lesson taught through baptism. Will you become a disciple today? He died on the cross for you so that you might take up your cross and follow Him. Will you commit yourself to Him today? Yes, it is an eternal commitment but He will make sure that the commitment is never broken by uniting you to Himself and to His body through the gift of the Holy Spirit of God.

Next week: A Commitment to Spiritual Life – Romans 6