Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Let’s look to the source of Jesus’ command, found in Matthew 28:18-21
This has been broken down many times before, so I am not going to labor in completely deconstructing this popular passage. It does involve this: Jesus’ power and presence; going (really “as one goes along in life”); making disciples; baptizing, teaching.
I believe that when asking this question of baptism and why we are to do it, it comes directly from this passage and also from Jesus’ baptism found in the gospels.
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,
and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
What I want to direct our attention to is those who say, “We get baptized because Jesus did it?” The question comes in “Why was Jesus baptized and how does it relate to our baptism?”
This is the thrust of this paper.
1. We are baptized to show our new identity, as Jesus was
“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;
My chosen one in whom My soul delights.
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the nations.
The same is said of us. We are now new creatures with a new identity. Instead of being a son of Adam, we become a son of God. Instead of being a servant of this world, we become a servant of the risen King. Instead of being filled with the power of our flesh being sent to fulfill the kingdom of the world, we are filled with the Spirit and become a sent one of the Kingdom of God.
And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.
And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
You could say that he let the cat out of the bag. Luke starts this passage with, “in the power of the Spirit…” For whatever reason, after Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit descended and his ministry of making disciples started.
- We are commanded
- Jesus did it
- It is a proclamation of our new identity
So, yes, we are to be baptized because Jesus was, but if we miss why Jesus was baptized, we miss out on the fullness of us following in the ways and purposes of Jesus.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Before I start, I should begin by letting the reader know that I have always been a believer of credo baptism, or believer’s baptism. Meaning, I believe that baptism is administered only to those who repent and profess faith in Jesus because of his sinless life, his perfect death and powerful resurrection. So, this paper will not involve the discussions that have led to divisions between the paedo (child) and credo baptism crowd. This paper is to discuss the reasons why someone should be baptized and importance of it.
When growing up and seeking to understand baptism I was told many things about baptism and why we administer it within the church. Some of these reasons were this:
It’s a picture to show on the outside, what happened on the inside
We do it because Jesus did it and he commanded it and we want to be like Jesus
It’s to bring someone into the Christian community
I guess I want to question some of these and then add something I believe that has been missing from our thoughts on baptism, or at least missing from the communities that I have hung around in the past.
Many I know of believe that all baptisms should be done in the public of some sorts. What I find interesting is that it’s not public that they desire, but it actually happens within the church walls, where very little of the unbelieving public gather. What I find to be more consistent in the Scriptures is not that it had to happen in public, but it happened immediately with the one who repented and believed. We aren’t sure how much of the “public” were at some of these places (i.e. households, eunuch by his chariot, Lydia by the river with other women), but the seemingly solid stream of evidence points more to the immediacy of baptism, not the place or those present. So, while it may be a proclamation of sorts (so are many other things we do), I’m not sure this is the fullness of the “why” in getting baptized.
It’s A Picture
Although this might be true, there just isn’t a great deal of evidence that points to this fact. We can try and connect some dots between baptism in water with the baptism of the Spirit shown to us in Romans 6, but the actual evidence of this being the reason for water baptism, seems to be lacking. I believe the two are connected, but as you will see below, I believe they are connected much deeper than a mere picture.
We do it because Jesus did it and commanded us to
I don’t believe this is good enough, and as you speak to a postmodern world, they won’t believe this is good enough either. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do what God tells us to do, but as we explain baptism, we shouldn’t merely say, “Do it because God said so.” Our God is one that usually explains things to us, instead of “because I said so.” Now, I know that our parents have conditioned us to just do things because they said so, but this usually isn’t how God operates. There might be times where we do things God calls us to without knowing fully the “why” but most of the time, God operates as a Father who desires for his children to know the reason why he has a command, not merely “do what I say and deal with it.” Because of this, maybe we should ask the “why” Jesus did it and why he commanded it.
It’s to bring someone into the Christian community
I agree to an extent with this statement, but I believe it to be much fuller than this. Meaning, if one believes that you should be baptized so you can be in a new community, this seems to lack in argument for why someone should desire this. If we are dealing with God and his ways, this has to be larger than a particular culture and a particular time we live in. The reason I say this is the mere fact that most don’t have to be baptized to be in community today and most understand within Protestant circles that baptism doesn’t save you. Because of this, if this is the reason why we get baptized, few will be persuaded. Most will show you the Christian community that they are in and have never been baptized. Although they might be kept from some membership rosters, few will care and actually be glad that they aren't considered members of particular churches, because it gets them out of going to business meetings. Not only that, but the Eunuch in Acts 8 didn’t return with Philip but continued in the life and occupation that God had given him to live. So maybe this is deeper than a mere physical community.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
I got the chance to get coffee with one of my buddies and brothers from Soma, Chris Thomas. Chris is a really cool dude that is trying to understand each day what it means to follow Jesus. He brought up this quote today as we were talking...it's money ball.
“The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand it, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. ‘My God,’ you will say, ‘if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world’? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.”
- Søren Kierkegaard
Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard
Charles Moore, ed.
Quoted in Keith Giles’ book This Is My Body: Ekklesia As God Intended, p. 60
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
1. Keep in mind the structure of the whole book of Proverbs as you read any part of it. In particular, make sure you read any passage of the book in the light of the imagery concerning the path and the two women that is developed in Proverbs 1-9 and reaches its climax in Proverbs 8-9.
2. Reflect on the parallelism of a proverb by asking how the second colon sharpens or intensifies the thought of the first.
3. Identify the imagery in the passage, then unpack it by asking how the two things compared are similar and how they are different.
4. Think about the source of the wisdom of a passage. Does it come from observation, experience, tradition, revelation or any combination of these sources?
5. Is the passage an observation, a bit of advice, a warning, a reflection, or some other kind of teaching?
6. Since proverbs are not true in any and every circumstance, ask under what circumstances the proverb may or may not apply to a situation. How can you tell?
7. Does the proverb mention or imply a reward or punishment that will result from obedience or disobedience?
8. If the passage is addressed to a young man, ask how it applies to you.
9. Using a commentary, study the Near Eastern background of the passage you are considering.
10. When doing a topical study, read through the book of Proverbs and pinpoint the relevant verses. Group them together, then study each group.
11. Try to identify biblical stories or characters who may illustrate the truthfulness of the proverb(s) you are studying.
12. Does the New Testament address the topic or teaching of the passage you are studying?
13. Think of Christ as the fulfillment of wisdom and how he might illustrate the wisdom of the passage you are reading.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
We are starting a preaching series through the Proverbs and one of our pastors gave this to us as a topical index for us preachers. It is nice and concise and one that will aid people in after the understanding of the depth and cornerstone of wisdom, namely Christ. I thought it would be helpful to put it here: (If you'd like to hear our sermons on wisdom for the next 10 weeks you can check it out here: Renton; Tacoma; Issaquah)
The Human Heart - Advising the humble versus the fool.
Negative influences pulling us away from wisdom - The compound effect of the fool
Emotional Expression (both positive and negative - anger) - Controlling destructive emotions
Words (Rumors, Gossip, Slander, Lies) - The destructive power of words
Business ethics - Dealing with honesty and generosity
Family Relationships (including the role of discipline in raising children) - The locus for instruction
Conflict (including speaking/listening) - Speaking wisely at the right time
Friendship/Neighbors - The value of friendships
Planning (including hard work) - Planning and working hard as a way of the wise
Illness and Health - The relationship between spiritual health and physical health
Authority - Leading in godliness and wisdom from God
Reliable Messengers (and how this directly applies to us speaking the Gospel ) - Delivering messages with accuracy and in a timely manner
Shame - Praise belongs to the wise and shame to the proud
Wealth and Poverty - The wealth of the fool is temporal; the wealth of the wise is in wisdom itself
An honorable wife - Avoid woman folly and seek woman wisdom