Baptism, when accompanied by a faith commitment to Jesus, is a one time act; however, we will spend the rest of our lives working out its meaning and implications. This series of lessons is designed to help us live out our baptism by examining NT theology related to baptism.
N.T. Wright’s observation, “the Christian gospel seems to have no meaning, no power, no relevance to their lives,” is, unfortunately, an accurate description of many Christians. Understanding our baptism is the proper corrective for this. (1) Baptism is a new exodus for God’s People. Christians are delivered from sin to live holy lives. (2) Baptism is a re–enactment of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Christians die to sin and rise from the water to live new lives free from the slavery to sin. (3) Baptism is a new birth. Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Baptism is the outward sign of the inward grace of spiritual re–birth and the means by which that grace is given through the working of the Holy Spirit.
Sunday, we begin the last two lessons of this series – Living up to Your Baptism: Justification and Sanctification. Today our emphasis will be justification. Our key text for both sermons is Acts 2:37–39.
Acts 2:37–39 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off— for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
In response to their question, Peter told his audience to repent and be baptized. Two promises were offered with baptism – forgiveness of sins (justification) and the Holy Spirit (sanctification).
Before we examine the part baptism plays in justification, we need to lay the proper foundation for this discussion. First, justification (salvation or forgiveness of sins) is entirely by God’s grace. It cannot be earned by any amount of good works. Second, the basis upon which salvation is offered is faith.
Ephesians 2:8–10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Titus 3:4–6 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior….
Romans 4:5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
However, having laid this foundation, it is the unequivocal testimony of Scripture that water baptism is the initiating rite through which faith becomes saving faith. I’ll say more in my lesson.
Colossians 2:12–13 Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faithin the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.
He forgave us all our sins….
Are you living out your baptism? Joey