Oct 7 2018 - Baptism - for Those of Every Tribe, Tongue, and Nation
7th October 2018
Lord, today, we will have a picture of Your death, burial, and resurrection – as those who are baptized go under the water and are raised to the newness of life.
So, this is the only time of the year that we are diverging from a year of Wisdom – because I wanted to talk about Baptism.
In Acts 7, Stephen is martyred and Saul begins his terror on the Christians – so the Christians had to flee…
Acts 8:4 Now those who had been forced to scatter went around proclaiming the good news of the word. 5 Philip went down to the main city of Samaria and began proclaiming the Christ to them.
This is a key moment in the development of Christianity. Before this, Christianity was exclusively Jewish. Samaritans – there was a mixture after Babylon came and took the Jews captive, but some remained in the land and there were those who intermarried, and those who intermarried were excluded from being part of the faith. When we think of the Good Samaritan, we think of a nice guy helping people with their tires. When Jesus used the example, it would have been terribly offensive – those people who could never be good – this is the example I want you to follow.
Philip went to Samaria and many were baptized.
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road--the desert road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means "queen of the Ethiopians"). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
This is a wonderful passage we are going to get into. As you listen to The Bible Project guys, there are many ‘hyperlinks’ back to the Old Testament. The Ethiopian is reading a scroll of Isaiah – they didn’t have cars, buses and trains – so he was reading in a chariot and Philip was a cross-cultural evangelist. The Eithiopian was a ‘God-fearer’ – a Gentile who worshiped Yahweh. He would have been excluded from full participation in God’s family. There are a few reasons for this – first – he was a Gentile – if you go back to Deuteronomy, Gentiles were not allowed … they had an outer court that was called the Court of the Gentiles – so excluded from going into the actual temple. Second – as an Ethiopian, he would have been black – and this would have shown racial exclusion. But the most important thing is – He was a Eunuch – Leviticus 21 and Deuteronomy 23 – Eunuchs can’t enter the temple – including the blind and lame – and that sounds really harsh and not right. But understand that those books were written to ancient people in ancient times – to people who had cultic worship practices – but this was not part of God’s ultimate plan.
Isaiah 56:3 Let no foreigners who have bound themselves to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely exclude me from his people." And let no eunuch complain, "I am only a dry tree." 4 For this is what the LORD says: "To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant-- Put yourself in his shoes – it doesn’t say he read this – but it doesn’t say he didn’t! But put yourself in his shoes – “I am not allowed to enter – there is a glass ceiling” – because of my status and race and ethnicity.
5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.
God’s eternal purpose from the beginning of time – was that all people – in every condition – to be included into His family – and THAT was ultimately and once and for all accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If you read Ephesians 1-3 – this is fully explained. Before time began – God had this eternal purpose to bring people of every tribe and tongue into one family.
The problem of the Jewish people – and in humanity in general – we want to divide up and get into silos. Page 1 – grab a Bible and turn to page 1!
Genesis 1:26 – 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the [ak]sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
LET US MAKE…these words are critical…
V 28 – God blessed them and said to them – fill the earth. That was God’s original plan – that we would fill the earth as His image bearers – little icons of God representing Him to creation.
Represent Me to all of Creation.
Then jump to Chapter 11 – the Tower of Babel.
3 and they said to one another – Come, let us make … - not an accident – not a coincidence! …
And they used brick for stone – Come, let us build… Let us make…
From the beginning, humanity rebels against God’s plan to fill the earth and they try to pull it all together.
Acts 8:30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. 31 "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth."
Hyperlink back to Isaiah 53…
Now, we sit here 2000 years later and we know exactly what this verse is about. No one saw this coming – no one understood this back then. You could read Isaiah 53 and it is like the Gospel of John, it is so clear!
And the eunuch’s eyes were opened. You know what it was like when you came to Christ. When I came to Christ, there was so much I realized I hadn’t understood – a life transformed by God and coming into relationship with Him.
34 The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?" 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
I like the Eunuch’s phrase. When I (and others) have used this verse – they say – it is important to be baptized as soon as possible. There is a lot more here if we put ourselves in the eunuch’s shoes. He knew he was almost there but never there. For them, baptism was different – not a ceremony as such – but even if someone adopted someone, there would baptize that child into the family. When someone acquired a slave – they would baptize that slave to say this one belongs to us now. The king (one of the Caesar’s) baptized Augustus – and said – this is my heir.
So what I am a eunuch? So what I am an Ethiopian? I have free and complete access to God.
You could just hear him saying – now that Jesus has come and died (he didn’t say that here, exactly, but you can imagine it) – what prevents me from being baptized.
Matt 28: 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
First, Baptism is a critical part of our discipleship experience. As followers of Jesus Christ, we get baptized and we baptize others. We’ll see today people obeying this verse both ways.
Second – Baptism is a public demonstration of a private reality. We know we are saved by faith – and Baptism is a pronouncement to the world that we have come to faith in Christ.
Third – this might get downplayed or ignored – it is an initiation into God’s people. There are those who become members and get up front in some churches – but it is baptism where we really enter the family. It is a visual demonstration of someone being fully brought into the family of God.
Fourth – it is a demonstration of our unity with Christ in His death and resurrection.
Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
When we came to faith in Christ – our sinful life died – and just as Christ was buried – we are raised to new life.
Baptism is our Red Sea crossing – God has taken us out of bondage to slavery in sin and taken us to the promised land. The water is a grave to our old life, and when we come out of the water, we are given a new identity – citizens of God’s world – cross shaped and resurrection people.
37 And 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."