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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

How God reveals Jesus to us through the Holy Spirit August 19, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, John's Gospel, Religion, Sermons, Special Revelation, Trinity.
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John 16:12-15


I must confess that I get bored easily. If I preach very long about a subject or from a book, I find myself struggling to get excited about it. This week in my regular Scripture reading, I came across a passage in Isaiah that the Holy Spirit used to wake me up and renew my conviction on the importance of the subject which we have been dealing with this summer, the Word of God. It is Isaiah 29:13-14. Jesus quotes verse thirteen in Matthew 15:7-9 when He criticizes as hypocrites those who elevate the traditions of men over the Word of God. The last part of the quote is, “And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” That is the difference between hypocrisy and reality. Hypocrisy claims to follow God but follows man. I do not know about all of you but I know in my life, that is a daily struggle. Sometimes I get very discouraged by my tendency to follow men rather than God. 

Jesus knew that these eleven men with whom he was spending His last night before His crucifixion would have similar struggles. He knows that even the leader among them, Peter would be tempted in his maturity to give way to the traditions of men rather than following God’s Word whole-heartedly. Although they cannot imagine this, He knows their weaknesses and that there is so much that they do not yet understand.


You would think these men would have a complete knowledge of Christ. They have walked with Him, eaten with Him, they were by Him 24/7. Yet when these disciples were told by Jesus that He would be executed and buried and raised from the dead these disciples could not bear the truth because their understanding was incomplete. Christ tried to reveal their weakness to them but on the last evening before His crucifixion they all denied that they would forsake Christ.

The situation will soon change, however, and Jesus will die, be buried, rise from the dead, and ascend to heaven. Who will guide them then? Who will teach them? Who will give sense to all of these events in their lives? In our Scripture reading today, Jesus assures the disciples that even though He is leaving them, they will not have to fly blind but will have a guide, a teacher, the Spirit of truth to lead them in the way of truth.

Jesus is telling them that the day is coming when they will have access to all the spiritual knowledge and wisdom they need to honor and please the Lord and they will have that knowledge and that wisdom through the Holy Spirit. That is what Christ means when He says in verse 13, that the Spirit will tell you of things to come. He is not strictly referring to prophecy but to all truth past, present, and future that is built upon the truth of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. These are the events that must happen before the Holy Spirit can come and begin to teach them.

It is important to understand what we mean when we say that the Holy Spirit is our teacher. We do not mean that He cannot or does not use human or other means to teach us. What we mean is that the Holy Spirit is our guide. When I prepare a lesson or sermon, there are a lot of different teaching methods and materials that I may use. In the same way, human agency is one of the methods through which the Holy Spirit teaches but the subject matter comes totally from the Father through Him.

When I was kid, we had some preachers who refused to study the Word of God in preparation for preaching because they wanted to be led by the Spirit of God. This resulted in an attitude of spiritual superiority that said, “Listen to me, I am getting my subject matter from the Spirit of God.” Often part of 1 John 2:27 where it states, “…the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you…” would be taken out of context and quoted. In fact, there were even ways to determine if someone got there message from the Spirit of God. If there was great emotional excitement, if the style of delivery fit the local culture, if (back in the days before there was air conditioning) the preacher’s shirt was totally soaked through with sweat, then you knew the message was from the Spirit of God.

We laugh but this danger shows up in many different ways. This is one of the main reasons that I am preaching this series on the Word of God. There are many who say, God has given me a unique experience, God has given me a dream or an impression, God has revealed this to me. If someone says, God has revealed something to them, you know one of two things must be true. Either they do not understand what it means to have something revealed to them and they are using the wrong word or they are crediting the Holy Spirit with something that comes from within themselves or, which is even worse, from Satan.

Here is a quote from Spurgeon on this same subject. (HT: carefulthought.wordpress.com)


The Holy Spirit declares truth. He is called here the Spirit of truth. In fact, three times on this same evening Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth. Two weeks ago we saw that it is possible to discern the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Jesus is saying that what the Holy Spirit reveals is always true and truth. This does not necessarily mean that He reveals something new. In fact, the words “tell” in verse 13 and “declare” in verses 14-15 mean that the Holy Spirit simply announces, reports, clarifies, and explains what is already known. He does not speak anything original. He does not “speak on His own authority.” (Jesus uses this same phrase to speak of His own words in relationship to the Father in John 12:49; 14:10.) The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit speak with one voice and both the Son and the Spirit have their message from the Father. Why? Because they are one.

(From Calvin’s commentary on these verses.) “Now arises a question, what were those things which the apostles were not yet able to learn?” What is it that was necessary for the Spirit to declare? Those things which are revealed in the New Testament.

Let me give you a few examples. One of the earliest epistles is the book of James. What happens in that book, is that James the brother of Jesus takes portions from the Sermon on the Mount and applies them to the everyday lives of Jewish believers. There are those who say that the Sermon of the Mount is not for believers today, that the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is for the millennial kingdom and technically they are correct, I suppose. (As a good dispensationalist, I am supposed to say that J .) James in his little book under the inspiration of the Spirit says, “Wake up! Just because Christ has not set up an earthly kingdom does not mean that the way you live is not connected to the way you believe. The principles Christ taught while here on earth still apply. Where did James get that? By revelation from the Holy Spirit.

Look at the sermons in the book of Acts. Those sermons could not have been preached before Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. The apostles had to be taught by the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 says that the Spirit would give them the ability to be witnesses. You might think that would be no hard thing since they had seen the death of Christ and knew the resurrected Christ and had seen Him ascend into heaven. Jesus points out though that they needed the Holy Spirit to teach them and guide them to tell what they had seen in a way that resulted in transformed lives.

Look at Paul’s letters to the Galatians and to the Romans. Justification by faith in Christ alone could not be explained until Christ had finished His work and the Holy Spirit had come to teach Paul the implications of that truth.

Look at Corinthians and Ephesians and Colossians. Paul needed the Holy Spirit to help him explain the importance of the body of Christ, the church, to the believers in those places.

Look at the letters to the Thessalonians, the book of Revelation, the prophetic sections of Matthew. None of those things were possible to understand, much less teach until Christ ascended and the Holy Spirit put to pen through the authors the truth in those books.

Go through every book in the New Testament and you will see that the men who wrote those books needed two things: the perspective of the work of Christ on the cross being finished through the resurrection and ascension of Christ and the guiding of the Holy Spirit to know how to explain, to declare the affect of that cross in us and in the world.


This now is where we in the 21st century come in. The Holy Spirit continues today to declare truth to our minds. Now there is a difference between us and the New Testament writers. There were some things declared to them that were inspired, God breathed. We do not need the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us as He did to those early prophets and apostles. He has revealed all that is necessary in the Old and New Testaments. We do need Him though to declare to our minds the already revealed truth. This is what 1 John 2:27 means by “…the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you…” He is talking about the Holy Spirit declaring us to already revealed truth.

It is possible to see something and not recognize it, to hear something and not understand it, to feel something and not know what it is. The Holy Spirit is the one who make it possible for you to understand the Word of God. He does this, not by revealing hidden meanings or deeper meanings but by declaring the truth of His Word to us and then opening our minds to understand it. As I mentioned earlier, teachers have a place and the Holy Spirit uses teachers and other tools but you cannot understand the Word of God, you cannot apply the Word of God, you cannot be transformed by the Word of God unless the Holy Spirit who wrote the Word of God teaches it to you.

CONCLUSION: Tim Challies, a Canadian, told this week in an article on his blog entitled “Trusting the Instruments” about “ ‘…a program called ‘Mayday,’…It is a show about disasters, and most notably, plane crashes. It sounds morbid, I admit, but I find it interesting (though I’ll admit that it has made my children inordinately afraid of flying. They are now convinced that every plane crashes)…

…(One) night the show followed the story of a plane that had nearly crashed years before. The plane had been flying along just as it should and all appeared normal when suddenly it began to experience all kinds of strange problems. It gyrated across the sky, plummeting thousands of feet at a time and turning violently to one side. One and then two of the four engines stalled and failed, leaving the plane without the power it needed to maintain level flight. The pilot and copilot responded instinctually, doing their best to right the course of the aircraft. Meanwhile hundreds of passengers waited in abject terror, not knowing if they would live or die. The pilots fought valiantly and eventually found they were able to control the plane. Mysteriously, the engines started again and they were able again to provide sufficient power. The pilots directed the plane to a nearby airport and landed safely. Only a handful of passengers experienced serious injury though the plane sustained heavy damage from the immense loads placed on it during flight.

In the aftermath, investigators found that almost everything that had occurred had been the fault of the pilots. When the plane encountered some turbulence the plane’s flight manual told the pilots how to react. But they relied on instinct rather than the book. And then, when the plane began to experience further complications, they ignored the instruments that should have directed them to the source and solution of their problem. They swung the plane violently from side to side attempting to right it because they ignored the aircraft’s instrument that told them where the horizon was and how to keep the plane level. They ignored the instruments that told them that their engine problem was not as serious as they thought. Blinded by the stress of the situation, they ignored the manual and did things their own way. But for the hand of providence it could have cost them their lives and the lives of hundreds of passengers.”

INVITATION: Are you going to follow the Spirit of God or are you going to fly blind? Some of you are trying to be good enough to go to heaven. You are trusting yourselves, when God has given you the instrument of the Word of God revealed and illuminated by the Spirit of God. The last invitation in the Bible is this, “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)” Jesus paid it all for you on the cross. The Spirit keeps inviting you to come to Jesus for forgiveness of sin. Would you come, today?

Believers, we have no excuse. People turn to dreams and programs and the things and wisdom of this world and all manner of other things looking for guidance. God has given us His Word as the instrument with which the Holy Spirit will guide us. Do you know His Word? Do you read it and study it and memorize it and let it permeate your being? If not, then you may be flying blind. Commit yourself today to God’s Word and to allowing it to transform you by the Spirit of truth.