Sermon – August 1, 2021
This morning we have the great privilidge of baptizing two young men, Nate LaBo and Isaac Wallaker. Both young men not only are baptized today, but therefore have the opportunity to take the Lord’s Supper for the first time. While we often speak of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, this is a good opportunity to speak about what baptism means, why we at Crossway handle it as we do, and how it relates to the Lord’s Supper. As we approach thinking about baptism, let us ask some foundational questions:
1. Why baptize?
While wonderful reasons exist in the symbolic nature of baptism to continue the practice, the easiest and most important answer is simple: Jesus commanded us to.
2. What is baptism?
A public confession
It was always a public event, and a public event that united you to the message proclaimed in the baptism. John’s baptism, an early forerunner of ours, is a good example of this.
A public symbol
It was not just a confession, but a symbol made publicly, concerning at least four realities:
Of following Christ
The one being baptized follows the very example set down by Jesus, who was baptized by John. He also follows the isntructions that Jesus left for his disciples to obey.
Of being washed by Christ
Water is a symbol, in many religious traditions, of being washed, and Christianity is no different. By going into the water, they are symbolically showing that Christ cleans them thoroughly and completely of their sin.
Of trusting in Christ
The immersion in water also speaks of their trust in Christ. Entering into a place of judgment and death, they are truly placed into a medium where they cannot live. Yet, just as they trust us to pick them up out of the water, they are also stating their trust that Jesus will one day pick their bodies up out of the dead.
Of our union with Christ
We die in baptism the death of Christ that we might be raised in a resurrection like his. We are united to Christ by this act, and symbolize that our death and resurrection are already assured in his.
3. Why do we baptize this way?
Why in a public worship service, and why with the church’s participation? In Matthew 16, the keys of the Kingdom are given to Peter, not as an individual, but himself as a symbol of the church. Those keys are used later in Matthew 18 to loosen or bind people to the church by the church. The church, not the members individually, nor the elders, have the authority to bind or loosen people to the church. So, baptism is not just a symbolic act, but is an act whereby the church acts to bind people to herself, through their good confession, and places upon them all of the privileges and responsibilities that come with that authoritative stamp.