February 1, 2015 Preacher: Bart Box Series: Church Matters

Passage: Colossians 2:8–8:15

Sermon Transcript:

This morning we are going to continue in our series called “Church Matters”. We’re looking at things in the church like worship, baptism, Lord’s Supper, church discipline and giving.

This morning we are going to consider the idea of baptism. It is ironic and tragically so that one of the things that is intended to unite us in the church has been over the years, historically, and even recently, the source of so much confusion and division. In fact, when I think of baptism, many of the stories that spring to mind are of the controversial or, sometimes, just weird sort.

Years ago controversy erupted when a leading Southern Baptist church installed a fire truck baptistery in their children’s area complete with sirens and a confetti cannon that went off when children were baptized. Somewhere in Europe our Baptist forefathers were turning over in their graves with each blast of the cannon. In fact, just last year I read of one church that was reported to have spontaneous baptismal services, only all the baptisms, or at least all the respondents, were not so spontaneous. Ten to fifteen “responders” were planted throughout the congregation to walk forward during the call for baptisms. They were instructed to walk the longest and most prominent paths to the staging area so that others would come forward. A written guide even encouraged the baptism of the young and energetic first so that more baptisms could be incited. And then there is the practice of one church (I thought it was just one church but I was talking with Nick [associate pastor], who told me this is a practice of more than just one particular congregation) which pours small amounts of Jordan River water—the river where Jesus was baptized—brought back from Holy Land tours into the baptistery before baptisms, because clearly the water from that river is more sanctified, more holy, and therefore more effective than city water.

Mark Dever rightly summarizes the disturbing trends and practices. He says, “Baptism is the discarded jewel of Christian churches today—even Baptist churches. Confusion, ignorance, and prejudice all beset most churches today in their [attitudes toward] baptism…. Even if the theology of baptism held by baptistic Christians is correct, our practice seems far from correct.” Well, I’m not entirely convinced that our theology is normally correct, but Dever is right to sound the alarm when such confusion surrounds something so critical as baptism.

So, this morning I want us to look to the Bible, particularly Colossians 2:8-15 as well as other passages, so this is not an exposition like we normally due of one passage. But dealing with an issue like baptism and trying to get a 30,000 foot view of that means we need to bring in some other texts regarding baptism to see what the whole Bible has to say. We’re going to ask three related questions:

i. What is baptism? What is it’s meaning, what is its significance, what is happening when we baptize in the church?

ii. Who is that should be baptized? Obviously a very contentious question, potentially.

iii. Why does it matter? What is the significance, particularly in the church, and what are we saying to the world?

We are going to look at what the Bible has to say. Now, when I say that, I realize that some listening might say “Well, Im looking at the Bible too.” I realize I am not the only one who is looking at the Bible. This is obviously my understanding and that of our church and confession of faith. Others disagree on some of the details but they still believe the Bible. I grant that and they would grant the same to me. I understand we have different perspectives on this issue.

So, my admonition to you as a listener regarding this issue is to hear what I have to say and ask charitably but critically, is what he saying what the authors of Scripture are saying and meaning? Because, ultimately, this preacher is like grass and the flower of the field…the grass, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever. This morning, we want to look and ask what does God’s Word have to say about baptism.

I. What is baptism? What is the meaning of baptism at its most basic level?

- Baptism is gospel speech and testimony.

Another way of saying that is that baptism is a summary of our faith, n particular of our union with Jesus Christ. In every place where baptism is treated in a doctrinal fashion in Paul’s letters (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:8-15; Gal. 3:26f), the leading or foundational idea—the context—is the believer’s union with Christ. What does that mean? It means that what we have as believers we have because we belong to Jesus. I want to show you, particular from this passage and also from the Romans passage and just a bit.

Look first at Colossians 2, beginning in verse 8. We’re going to set the context and then walk through it pretty quickly. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (2:8). Apparently, the Colossians are being led away from Christ and the sufficiency of Christ by some false teachers. They are saying, basically, that Jesus isn’t enough. They argue, as we see in the rest of the letter, you have to abstain from certain food and observe certain days on the calendar. If you do all of those things, then you will be holy, sacred, and following Christ.

So, Paul is answering that “Christ plus something” theology here in Colossians. So, he says in v. 9 something that begins to answer that. So he says, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (2:9). You may ask, “How does that answer Christ plus something?” Paul is arguing that Jesus isn’t just a prophet, a great man, or an exalted teacher. He is God. In Him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily. How does that make a difference when Paul is saying that He is enough? Because of verse 10. Notice what he says, “And you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority” (2:10). In other words, now you have in Him everything you need for life and godliness. I would encourage you to circle those words “in Him.” Highlight it or get a tattoo. If you do that, make sure you get it in Greek because it wouldn’t be cool otherwise. “In Christ” is the same idea as being “with Christ”, “by Christ”, etc. I would argue these words are the key to Paul’s theology, from Romans to Philemon Paul establishes this idea of union with Christ. When we are in Him we are with Him and we have everything we need for life and for godliness.

Notice how this plays out here in Colossians in verse 11. “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ” (2:11). This simply means by God, not an earthly circumcision or something done by human hands. It is entirely from God. What this means that the lusts and habits and attitudes and affections of the flesh have been dealt a death blow, circumcised, cut off in us. You may say, “How is that?” In the rest of the verse we find the answer: “by putting off the body of flesh.” And how does that happen? “By the circumcision of Christ”—the cutting off of Christ, the death of Christ. If I could summarize what Paul is saying it is that there is something that is monumentally real and important that has happened in every believer’s life: every believer has died! Every believer has been killed. There is an old man, and old woman in you that has been dealt a death blow. You may say, “ I have not died!” Paul would beg to differ because of those words “in Him.”

In Galatians 2:20, Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” That is what it means to be united to Christ by the Spirit, namely, what has happened to Jesus, has happened to you. That’s why there is no condemnation left for you, no wrath reserved for you, no judgment coming for you. You have already been to the cross. You have experienced God’s judgment. You have already undergone His wrath. All of that is “in Christ.”

All that remains for you are all the benefits that Paul lays out in verses 13-15. In Him you have been raised to live, all of your trespasses have been forgiven, that the record of debt that stood against you has been cancelled because it has been nailed to the cross, and there is a devil who had power and authority over you who has been defeated in Christ. All of that is true of you “in Christ.” And guess what? Baptism testifies to all that! This is what Paul says in verse 12. Did you notice the connection there? It’s the same idea. And guess what? Paul says there is an internal reality in v. 11—you died with Christ—that is now communicated by an external sign, showing that to the world. Verse 12 says, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead” (2:12).

To put it succinctly, baptism is our confession that we are worthy of hell—worthy of the cross upon which Jesus died-- But I am—because of Christ, because of His resurrection life—bound for heaven and that our lives are hidden in Jesus Christ. That is what baptism says, what baptism means. It is the exact same point Paul makes in Romans 6, in another text. Turn to Romans 6:3-5, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Notice the “all” language. Romans 6:11 sums it up, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God (notice those three precious words!) in Christ Jesus.” How is this the case? Because God reached down and zapped you with life? No. You are dead to sin and alive to God, and there is only one way that is true of you. It is only if you are “in Christ Jesus.”

Friends, that is the gospel! If you are not a Christ, I want to speak with you for just a moment. It is that phrase, “in Christ Jesus”, that ultimately separates believers from unbelievers. We are sinners just like you, we have done the same things you and we still struggle with the same things you struggle with. But the difference is that we are in Christ Jesus, and that ultimately is the difference between heaven and hell, because you’ll do enough to earn salvation. You can only have salvation granted to you by Jesus Christ, his death, burial, and resurrection, and union with Him in faith. If you don’t know Christ, I want to plead with you this morning. Not ultimately to be baptized, for baptism is not going to save you. It is an external sign of an internal reality. I would plead with you this morning to have faith in Jesus, to abandon faith in yourself, your goodness, your heritage, and cast yourself on the mercy of Jesus Christ. That is how we are saved.

I think there are points of application for us as a church. I have two applications that immediately spring to mind, one doctrinal and one that is very practical.

- Immersion best communicates the drama of salvation in Christ.

Now, I want to say from the outset that “who” should be baptized is far more important than “how” we should baptize. That is not to say that either are unimportant, but simply to say that who is baptized (as we will talk about in the next point) says far more about the nature of the church and salvation.

But, it is worth pointing out that that immersion, submersing in water, is the biblical example. John goes to the Jordan River to baptize and they come up out of the water. The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 is converted and finally found enough water. Clearly they were carrying water with them but they wait for a place with sufficient water to baptize. Even the Greek word, baptiz?, refers to the idea of dipping, plunging, or immersing. But beyond those particular reasons, we immerse because immersion better captures that anything else the essence of baptism: our death, burial, and resurrection with Jesus Christ. Again, I would not attach as much significance to the mode as to the subject, but I do want you to understand why it is we baptize this way and what it signifies. If baptism is an illustration of the gospel drama, then immersion is the most accurate representation of that drama, a dying and a rising again.

- Baptism is a beautiful reminder of what has happened to you as a believer and everything you have in Christ.

It is significant that over and again, in Romans, Galatians, and Colossians, when Paul wants to call Christians back to basics and offer them genuine hope and promise, he refers them back to their baptism. Why is that? I think it is because everything that we require to stand before God and by holy like God is found in Christ. As John Calvin said so profoundly regarding this idea of union with Christ,

“There is a great danger in the Christian life of seeing Christ and our being in Christ as sufficient for some but not all of our heavenly treasures. But if we seek innocence, it will be found in His virgin conception; if we seek mortification of the flesh, it will be found in His tomb; if we seek power for living, it will be found in His resurrection.”

That is what your baptism is saying to you and to the world. I have nothing on my own but I have everything in Jesus Christ. So when we celebrate baptism let me encourage you along a number of lines. When we celebrate baptism next week, I would encourage you to remember your own baptism and God’s grace to you in Christ. When we baptize the intention is not for us to look up at the stage at the one who is being baptized and say “Oh, that is so good for him.” That is absolutely true. We celebrate the grace of God to anybody and to everybody. But, at the same time, it is intended for you in that in the same way that this message is intended for you to hear the gospel, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are intended for you to see the gospel.

Second, when you’re struggling with sin, go back to your baptism and what it means. There is this phrase, it’s from an old Scottish theologian named Henry Scougal, “The Christian life is the life of God in the soul of man.” And that is that baptism communicates, that you have the life of God at work in you, that you are no longer a slave to sin but a slave to righteousness. As Romans 6 says, “You are dead to sin and alive to God.” As Galatians 3:26-28 says, that you are a son or a daughter of God by faith. All of things are communicated. And so as we fight with sin, one of the strategies that Paul gives us is to remind ourselves of what is true. Remind yourself of what is the case. Who am I really? What is my identity? It is in Jesus Christ! In His life, in His death, and in His resurrection.

Third, when you fear death and the future, go back to your baptism and remember your real future, that death has no dominion over you because death has dominion over Christ. He got up on the third day and He walked out. He was alive forevermore. Your baptism is not just pointing back at a decision. Your baptism is pointing forward. You have a destiny with Christ, and you will live forever with Him.

Brothers and sisters, don’t minimize the meaning of baptism. John Piper has a chapter in a book called “Magnify the Meaning of Baptism.” Baptism does not save you but it does say everything about your salvation, that you have died with Christ, were buried with Christ, and have been raised with Christ.

II. Who should be baptized?

1. Baptism is intended for those who have trusted savingly in Christ.

It is safe to say that few doctrines, maybe no doctrine, has so divided the church in the last 500 years as baptism. Namely, divisions have occurred over the question of infant baptism vs. believer baptism. There are a number of terms used that you may see. There is the idea of infant baptism, sometimes called “paedobaptism” and then there is the idea of believer’s baptism, sometimes referred to as “credobaptism”. That’s why you go to seminary—to learn those kinds of words. But these differences, the idea of who we should baptize, is essentially the sticking point Baptists and Presbyterians. I recognize there are other groups that have different views of baptism. For simplicity, I want to focus on the difference between Baptists and Presbyterians because we are closer and because I know a lot of you come from Presbyterian backgrounds. This is an important question for a number of you. Both groups are more than this issue, but this is at the heart of the divide. There is more to the conversation, but I want to simplify the issue as we ask “Who should be baptized?”

I want to say a word also about charity and humility in this discussion. As advocates of believer baptism, I want to clearly say that we should not question or doubt the motives of those who differ from us on this issue no matter how strongly we believe in believer’s baptism. In fact, I love Presbyterians! There are days when Baptists are acting stupid that I want to be a Presbyterian. Many of my current favorite contemporary authors are Presbyterians. And I would encourage you to read them… just not on baptism. Men like Tim Keller, Kevin DeYoung, Michael Horton, all Presbyterian and lovers of the gospel. My top-shelf theological heroes include the members of what I call the John Mafia—John Calvin, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards, all of them baptized infants. So, this is not at all of question of heaven or hell, orthodoxy or heresy, or anything on that top level. But at the same time it would not be honest nor would it be helpful to simply paper over differences and act like we don’t have genuine differences. This is the Bible and all of us, Baptist and Presbyterians, want to give good, credible testimony to the gospel and want to be faithful to the Bible. And so I want to outline for you the bigger picture of why it is that Presbyterians baptize infants and why we, as Baptists, think that is a misunderstanding of God’s Word and advocate for believers only.

So, how do we do arrive at such different points and which one is biblical? In short, those who baptize infants see a greater continuity between the Old Testament and the New Testament, especially as it relates to the people of God. They see a greater continuity between what we would call the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. And probably the simplest way to illustrate that would be using my own children. If I were an Israelite, I would have circumcised Jonathan and Isaac on the eighth day. This would have been, according to the Law, their entrance into the covenant community, but into a community that was always mixed with believers and unbelievers. In other words, circumcision was not about saving them. It never was, and in fact all sides agree on that. Circumcision was not about saving them but rather placing them in a community where they would hear the Law, the promises of salvation, but it did not guarantee their salvation. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, especially in the prophets, you begin to see a very prominent discussion of “the remnant”. Paul even says in Romans 9:6, “Not all Israel was Israel.”

Think about that pictorially. You have all of ethnic Israel, everybody who has been born a Jew and come into this covenant family. Paul says that there was a slice of that big circle that was true Israel. Not all Israel was really Israel. And this is where baptism come in in this argument. Those who argue along the lines of continuity view this mixed community arrangement, believers and unbelievers, as essentially continual. The church is, like Israel, a mixed community; only the sign has changed. So, I now baptize Rachel, Jonathan, Abigail, and Isaac, they are part of the covenant community, but their conversion is still another matter. Like the Israelites of old, they need to believe savingly upon Christ at a particular time.

Now, this idea of continuity in the people of God, we think that is a misreading of the Bible for a number of reasons. We do see continuity. We would happily agree that there is one God, the Old Testament points forward to Christ, and the New Testament points back. We see continuity but, at the same time, we see discontinuity in the people of God. To put it simply, the church is not simply a replay of Israel but an improvement upon Israel, and in two particular ways.

a. In the New Covenant community everyone knows the Lord.

This is not a mixed community where some know the Lord and some don’t. We take that mainly from Jeremiah 31. Loo at what is said, starting in verse 31, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:31-34). Now this doe not mean that everyone will be perfect in the new covenant community, but it will means they will all know the Lord and have new hearts. I think that is part of what Paul is getting at in Romans 6, Colossians 2, and Galatians 3.

This assumption is clearly at work in the New Testament. I would encourage you to look at Galatians 3:26-29, where Paul says, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.” There is a knowledge of the Lord that is throughout the covenant community.

b. In the new covenant community everybody trusts the Lord.

I want you to listen to the one of the most critical passages on this subject, especially since this is the transition from old covenant people of God to new covenant, Acts 2:38-41. Recognize, by the way, that both traditions read this differently. This is a matter of interpretation, but remember that we are trying to holistically understand the Bible. Acts 2:38-41, “And Peter said to them, ‘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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’ And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

We would argue that this connection plays itself out all throughout the book of Acts. In Acts 8, the Ethiopian eunuch believes and he is baptized. In Acts 9, Paul is converted and baptized. In Acts 10, Cornelius believes and he is baptized. In Acts 16, Lydia is converted and she is baptized. In Acts 16, the Philippian jailer believes in Christ and he is baptized. In Acts 18, Crispus believes and he is baptized. Even in places where there is the idea of a household being baptized, we would say that there is no explicit evidence of infants or children being baptized in those homes. Furthermore, in all of those contexts (3 or 4 of which are in Acts), you see the idea of believing, hearing, repenting, something that indicates that it is adult faith that is at work. I’m not saying kids can’t be saved, but we’re speaking here of the idea of hearing, repenting, and believing.

Now I want you to hear me very clearly and I pray that there is appropriate humility as well as conviction in this. The reason that we hold to believer baptism is not because we love being Baptist and want the “Baptist badge”, whatever that means. But it’s because we’re persuaded that believer baptism is taught in the Bible and we’re convinced that believer baptism accurately reflects the nature of the new covenant community and the precious promises of God. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” To put it simply, we believe that believer baptism upholds the glory of God that He intends to display in the church. That these people, indeed are different. Not that they are perfect but they have been changed by God, that the life of God is at work in the souls of these people.

Now, what about those of you here who have been baptized as an infant and then later been through a confirmation of some sort? What do you do with this particular message? I pray, first of all, that you receive it as it is intended. I don’t want you to think we are talking about how Baptists are right and everyone else is wrong. That is not at all our heart. We want to say what the Bible has to say. Even if we have to correct our theology in any way, we want to be submissive to the Bible in all respects. I want you to know that you are always welcome at Christ Fellowship. We don’t not consider this an issue of salvation or regard you as a second-class Christian in any sense. We genuinely love you and thank God for His work in your life. And we understand why you may have come to different conclusions. We absolutely understand that and respect that. But I would urge you to consider what I’m saying and ask the question, at the very least, “Is this biblical? Is this what the Bible says?” Are there examples in the Bible that we can go on? What is the church? And, if baptism ultimately portrays union with Christ—death, burial, and resurrection with Christ—how can that be true of anyone who has not savingly believed upon Christ? Now, for some of you, that may mean a lot of questioning after today. I would be glad to have that conversation with you as well or any of our elders. We would like to pray with you about that. We mean that sincerely. For others that are convinced that this is biblical but may have never seen this before, I would urge you to be baptized, to follow upon those convictions. I know that it could seem in some cases like a rejection of your spiritual heritage. I would encourage you not to see this as a rejection of anything but as the reception of your true spiritual heritage in Jesus Christ. You have come to faith in Christ. You are His son or daughter; you know the Lord by His grace. And you now have opportunity to declare that to the entire world. I would humbly encourage you to be baptized.

III. Why does baptism matter?

1. Baptism is commanded by Christ Himself as the identifying mark of membership in God’s new society, the church.

We’ll close with the Lord’s words on baptism in Matthew 28. He has been raised from the dead and gathers the apostles who are given, by virtue of Christ’s command, authority in the church. “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’” (Matt 28:19-20). There is one great command there. It is not “Go”. It is “make disciples.” We do this as we are going. And the way we do that is by baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe everything that Christ has commanded.

I want you to leave you with this: baptism utterly transcends our debates, our preferences, and our traditions. Jesus did not come to establish a new religion but to make a new people. A people who are alive to God, who’s sins have been forgiven by His cross and who’s hearts have been changed by His Spirit. And the way that demonstrate that, the way you testify to that, the way you identify with Christ. It is not by showing up at a church or a small group or a college ministry—as helpful as all those things may be. The way you say you say you are a disciple, the way that you say you are with that guy and not with the world, is through baptism. Andrew Fuller, an 18th century Baptist theologian, said that baptism is “the boundary of visible Christianity.”

From this, I want to leave you with two implications.

a. If you trust Christ but haven’t been baptized, obey Christ’s command and be baptized.

I don’t want anyone to be baptized purely at my suggestion or simply because as a church we require baptism for membership. But I also want to stress that a refusal to be baptized is indeed sinful. Now, I recognize there is indeed a difference between unintentional sin and intentional sin. The Bible recognizes this as well. But I have in mind particularly those who have trusted in Christ, have never been baptized, and yet refuse still to be baptized.

For some years I was in that category. I was converted as a young child, about 6 or 7 years old. I was not baptized until I was 18. A lot of churches actually do that. They don’t allow, for example, someone to be baptized at a really young age. That was not the tradition I was raised in. I’m not saying that such an approach is helpful or unhelpful. There are arguments on both sides. I will say that I remember that from about the time I was 14 or 15 until 18 I went to churches where at the end of the service there was the typical altar call. I remember that every single week I would, in some sense, dread that time because I knew that I needed to be baptized but I was unwilling to do that because I was scared, didn’t like being in front of people, a whole host of reasons in my heart. But I knew that baptism was the way to identify with Christ and His church. But I was too scared to do that. I regret that, and I would urge you not to have those kinds of regrets.

If you know that you need to be baptized I would urge you to not live in sin. Jesus says to be baptized. All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Him and what flows from him is to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach. You would not, as a disciple, refuse to listen to the Bible or to learn from Christ or to be taught the second part of the Great Commission. To be a disciple is to be baptized. It would have absolutely been a non-category for the early church to affirm being a Christian but not to be baptized. I would encourage you, if you have trusted Christ and never been baptized, to be baptized in obedience to the Lord’s command.

b. If you have been baptized, obey Christ’s commission and pray, work, and witness for more baptisms.

It is somewhat of a chore for us to baptize in this church. If you don’t know, our baptistery is a horse trough. It’s heavy, because we immerse it takes a lot of water. We have to us a hose. But I know I speak for the elders and this church when I say that we would love to go to that trouble every single week.

Friends, baptism should provoke in us a response of greatest gratitude. We are reminded be the very voice of the verb: “we were baptized”. That is a passive verb. We have done nothing. We were hell-bound and rightfully so. But God, in His loving kindness and out of His great mercy, interposed the precious blood of Christ His Son for our sins. He died that we might live—forgiven, justified, delivered, and one day raised in the likeness of Jesus Christ. How can we not worship Him for that and pray, work, and witness for that experience for others?

Andrew Fuller, once more, said, “The sign (baptism), when rightly used, leads to the thing signified (namely, Christ).” Brothers and sisters, may that be said us as a church. May our understanding and practice of baptism lead us to worship Christ, to walk in the newness of life Christ makes possible, and to witness about Christ faithfully as individuals and as a church, even in baptism.

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