29 February 2012
Theme: Connecting with God
Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22
For Christ also suffered* for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you* to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for* a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
For the next few weeks, we will be looking at the theme “Connecting with God”. I believe that our ultimate desire as Christians is to be in fellowship with God; knowing and doing His will at all times and in all places thereby serving His purpose. During this Lenten season, we will be discussing strategies that will make our daily work with God what He really wants it to be. We shall also consider certain traditions of the Church that connect us with God; what some people may refer to as sacraments or ordinances. We shall begin this series by first looking at baptism. Baptism is generally referred to as the initiatory rite of the Church through which the baptized become part of the body of Christ i.e. the Church. There are different conceptions as to how and when baptism should be done. We shall be discussing all that but more importantly, we shall be looking at the spirituality of baptism and how it connects us with God.
1. What are the two forms of baptism and why are they spiritually essential?
I baptize you with* water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with* the Holy Spirit and fire.
Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’
And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 17If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?’ 18When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
1 Peter 3:18-21
For Christ also suffered* for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you* to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for* a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
2. Is there any particular time that one should be baptized?
Acts 16:14-15, 29-34
A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us. 29The jailer* called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ 31They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ 32They spoke the word of the Lord* to him and to all who were in his house. 33At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
1 Corinthians 15:29
Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
3. How do we get connected with God through baptism?
This is the one about whom it is written, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” 28I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’ 29(And all the people who heard this, including the tax-collectors, acknowledged the justice of God,* because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. 30But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision,* by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
4. Does baptism guarantee eternity with God?
1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 11-12
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,* that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness. 6 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.
In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this* is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
Through baptism, we outwardly declare our allegiance to God through Christ. Let our inner being also reflect the pledges made during our baptism that through us, God will reach out to others.
Thank you Lord for drawing us into fellowship with you through baptism. Refresh us with Your Holy Spirit that we may live the life of the risen Christ all the days of our lives. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.