Fairmeadow Community Church of The Nazarene
January 9, 2022
  • Luke 3:15–22 NIV
    The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them. But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison. When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

    Baptism with Water

    Baptism is a sacrament. That means it’s on a short list of things we can do as Christians that embody what our faith is about. God meets us in a special way in sacraments. Things happen that don’t happen any other way. So baptism is important. It’s not just a ceremony. It’s a gateway to encounter the living God in a new way.
    Here’s what it says in the manual:
    We believe that Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement [of Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers and declarative of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and full purpose of obedience in holiness and righteousness.
    Baptism being a symbol of the new covenant, young children may be baptized, upon request of parents or guardians who shall give assurance for them of necessary Christian training.
    Baptism may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, according to the choice of the applicant.] and incorporation into the Body of Christ. Baptism is a means of grace proclaiming faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. It is to be administered to believers indicating their full purpose of obedience in holiness and righteousness. As participants in the new covenant, young children and the morally innocent may be baptized upon request of parents or guardians. The church shall give assurance of Christian training. Baptism may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.
    It’s really important, so we’ve given a lot of thought to all the situations where it might be called for. Baptism is essential for believers. We don’t say that it’s absolutely required for salvation because some might not have the opportunity to be baptized. But Christians should take this step in their journey.
    John’s baptism was one of repentance to prepare for Jesus. It had been a long time since the great prophets had spoken. Nearly 400 years. People had seen worldly powers come and go. The Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks and now the Romans. The faithful were still looking for the Messiah. But plenty of people had become jaded. Many had compromised with the Romans. Many people were no longer living according to God’s covenant, no longer believing, no longer expecting anything to happen.
    So John came with a clear prophetic voice, calling from the wilderness for people to repent! It’s time to come clean, wash away the past and begin again. God’s about to show up and y’all not ready! That was John’s message. You need a bath, people. So he called Jews to do what previously only gentiles had to do, go through a washing, a cleansing to make a fresh start with God. And the reason John was doing this was to prepare the way for Jesus.
    Now that Jesus has come we believe the Holy Spirit is involved from day one in the lives of believers. When a follower of Jesus is baptized today, they have already committed to following Jesus. The Holy Spirit is already very present in the life of that person. But as I’ll say more about in a bit, he’s just getting started in our lives. But what a wonderful beginning to our faith journey. Whether you’re an infant who later makes a profession of faith, a child old enough to commit on their own, or an adult making a mid-life choice that changes everything, baptism is beautiful and wonderful.
    Stories:
    Ron D- story begins in loss. but really it started long before. Moved 5x and every time they moved he got baptized again. He didn’t understand what it meant. But that didn’t mean God wasn’t working in his life. God did his part the first time, lol. But in the process of his grief, as the church ministered to his family, Ron came to a place of true repentance. Now he really wanted to follow Jesus. It wasn’t necessary for him to get wet again, but he made his public profession of faith—it was kind of like an old man finally making confirmation class. It was great and we celebrated like it was the greatest thing that ever happened, because for his family, it was. Ron became a church member, a team member, a church board leader. He even went to a Cubs game with me so we know he was saved.
    Severine G— she lived in france. But she got involved in a Bible Study. An online Bible Study. It was being led in Dyer Indiana. This was nearly 20 years ago. One day I got a phone call. She was coming to America and wanted to get baptized with the group she was studying the Bible with. They asked if we had a baptismal they could use. I said we did. I met with her and a young man she had met through the bible study. It was so wonderful to see how God’s grace could reach across the ocean, my first glimpse at the possibilities for online ministry. It was amazing as she was dipped in water for a fresh start to her whole life. The smile on her face I will never forget.
    I became friendly with the couple. They knew I had studied French in high school so they asked me to participate with their pastor in the wedding. I said part of the service in French with some coaching from Severine. They eventually went to live in France and want to share Jesus wherever they are. She actually got elected to office and now serves her district. I still still keep in touch with the couple from time to time. God’s grace reached across the ocean bringing new life, literally starting a whole new life in the waters of baptism. God is so good!
    When we get baptized its into a new life and he’s just getting started.

    With the Holy Spirit and Fire

    John is speaking of a baptism that transforms the inner life of the believer. Only Jesus could inaugurate this. John’s baptism was like our part of full Christian baptism: we repent and demonstrate that we want our old sins washed away. We want to start fresh with God. But now there is more to it. After the crucifixion and the resurrection and pentecost God can work more deeply in our lives. Jesus is making all things new and includes us.
    So, we go on in our journey. But it begins the moment we believe. In the waters of baptism something begins that becomes as Jesus described—streams of living water welling up within us. It sustains us through the seasons and changes of life. But it calls us deeper and deeper into the holy love of God and the way of Jesus.
    A few years later at the Pentecost festival in Jerusalem, the church was introduced to the full power of the holy spirit to transform lives and help us communicate the gospel.
    But even here at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, while he is still dripping wet from the waters of baptism we see that God is always calling us forward.

    One Who is Greater than Me

    John had to admit that as exciting as it was for people to be interested in and following his ministry, it wasn’t about him. It was all about paving the way for Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. In another place, John would say: I must become less, that he become greater still.
    Jesus is only Son of God. The Messiah of Israel. The King of Kings and Lord of lords. He is our beginning and end.
    Give your heart fully to him. If you’ve never been baptized, consider taking that step very soon. If it’s been a long time and your life of following Jesus has lost its edge, get back in touch with the firey presence of our sanctifying savior.
    The issue is that our lives are surrendered to his glory. The old life is left behind. We become part of a new family. We join a new way of life; a life of love and service. Have you been baptized?
    Let’s pray.
      • Luke 3:15–22NIV2011

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