Series: The Cross- Over: Let’s talk about death so that we can know how to live
Text: Rom 6: 1-14
Burial sites or grounds are some of the infrequent places we think of visiting. We do not just wake up to go to a burial ground. Too often we are compelled to as a result of the loss of a loved one. So today we thought of bringing one to you. It’s not a common place to visit, may be because of memories of loved ones or we are still to come to terms with the reality of Death. It’s even more chilling if you have ever come across a burial ground with someone who bears your name.
But today- more than the pain, fears and emotions around physical death, see yourself here spiritually dead.
Today we conclude this Easter Series on the Cross, and as we have said let’s talk about death so that we can know how to live. Today we look at part two of what Rev. Clement started last week, A living Sacrifice and particularly the subject on Baptism.
What is the meaning of Baptism and what does it do for us as believers? Because spiritual truths are more real than physical truths, how can we experience the blessing of Baptism as a testimony of what Christ’s death and Resurrection has done for us?
Last week, we looked at Rom 12:1-2 which encourages us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. There is something interesting about this term- A Living- Sacrifice, It implies something or someone that although is living is at the same time- dead or dieying. Rom 12:1-2 starts with ‘Therefore’ or in some versions it starts with ‘so’. This is a summary of what Paul had been talking about earlier.
Read Text and Pray
In this passage Paul addresses to the believers a new way of living as a result of Christ’s death, what to do with the old and how to live with the new. He confronts what we used to be with what we are now, we used to conform to the patterns of this world that brought about sin. As we said earlier, when we are born in this world, sin is not just a choice- something we do, but who we are. We are constitutionally sinners. And as we said if we entered this world as sinners, then the only way out is to die.
Paul emphasizes that through the cross, they are now saved from the grip of sin of this world by the reminding them about their baptism in Christ. Vs 2
Literally Baptism means Immersion- In early church, new believers were completely immersed in water to symbolize that they were immersed in Christ in His death. In today’s term this would probably be ‘niko ndani ndani ndani’ Baptism therefore symbolized the death and burial of the old way of life/or the old man or burial of Adam, and coming out of the water symbolized resurrection to new life in Christ.
First– Just as surely as Christ died, we also died. Look at your hands again- When Christ was crucified, we were crucified with him. That we have died in Christ is not just a doctrinal position it is a fact. Let those marks in your hands remind you of this fact.
This is a reality we need to understand- That in Christ I died to this world. I died to its patterns of thinking, I died to its rule and power over me? I died to its pressures and pleasures. I am dead. Christians are people who are dead to this world.
In which reality are you more alive – this world or in Christ? We give in to the things we are alive to and not the things we are dead to. Dead things do not respond to anything,
(Examples- You know the answer especially when we lose things)
No matter the beauties of ‘life’ portrayed in this world, we are dead to them.
Do you believe in the death of Christ? When he died two robbers were also crucified alongside of him, Now what about your own death? Your crucifixion is more intimate than theirs. If you believe in the death of Jesus, then you must also believe in your own death in Him.
But why this important process of Baptism?
In Mark 16:15-16- Jesus instructs his disciples- Go and preach the gospel to all the world, He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but He that does not believe shall be condemned.
Please note, it says He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, NOT He that believes and is saved Shall be baptized. This should eliminate any doubt about whether baptism is optional for our salvation. And we will see why?
He that believes and is baptized shall be saved,
Lets be clear- When scripture speaks of Salvation – it refers to the world. When we are saved we are saved from the grip and power of this world. We are saved out of this world for as long as we are of this world- we are in a state of Sin.
The world is already condemned or stands judged before God, it is an enemy to God. What is wrong with the world is not just what they do before God that is bad but their position is against God. So salvation deals with deliverance from an improper relationship with and position in the world.
Salvation is to be saved out of the world not merely out of hell, for the world is under the judgment of God. When someone says I am saved- it meant I have been cut off from this world.
Baptism follows believing
There is no doubt that whoever believes has eternal life, but scripture is clear here that believing without being baptized is not yet salvation.
Indeed you have believed and have received eternal life, but the world still does not recognize you as a saved person, because you have not declared your termination of your relationship with the world. When you believe you have eternal life, when you are baptized you know you are saved. Baptism is a public renunciation of the world.
Baptism as a testimony to the world.
Perhaps this is why our testimony is as weak as believers. We want to believe quietly in the Lord, because Baptism exposes us to the world.
Did you know
Judaism persecutes the baptized- It was possible to be a Jew and secret Christian without being baptized. Many Jews indeed believed in Jesus, but refused to be baptized for fear of persecution and being disowned.
Hinduism ostracizes the baptized- they find no problem with you being a Christian but as soon as you are baptized you will be ignored or banished.
In Islam they murder the baptized- the surest way of conversion from a Muslim to Christianity is highlighted in that baptism as soon as you do, you become a target for execution.
In brief Baptism is a public announcement that declares, I have come out of this world. I have severed my relationship with the world.
There is no place for secrecy- You can become a Christian without being baptized, but the world still recognizes you as one of it’s own. Baptism is therefore the best way of separation.
Baptism as a testimony to myself
As in the days of Noah, Only those who were in the ark were saved from the floods. The world and everything in it were swept away in death. Whatever cannot pass through the water is not saved but is drowned. The water became God’s wrath of death to all others except those in the ark.
Today, the whole earth is under the wrath of God, Yet when I am baptized, I have passed through the wrath of God and have come out from the Condemned world.
Having made that Clear
What follows Death is burial. Like Joseph of Arimathea after Christ Death- He begun planning for His burial. Burial is the first human reaction to death. The Gospel says I am dead in Christ, then the first thing to do thereafter is to prepare for burial.
In baptism, you ask people to bury you because you believe you are dead, I am sure- You would not want to be buried before you died. Even if you cannot speak- you will do everything possible to resist before you take your last breath.
Death is therefore the prerequisite for burial. It is on this basis that we are required to be buried in the water, but Just as Jesus was raised from the Dead, we too shall be raised through the same working power of resurrection in us. In coming out of the water we are resurrected to new LIFE. His LIFE. Ours was buried in the water.
In baptism- we are being immersed in and emerging from the water, we declare that we are now on the other side of the grave.
This then is the way of being a Living Sacrifice- Read Vs 12-14.
But first- Who is this that has been lying here in your place- (De- role)
But Now what do we do? You may ask- what do we do to the businesses, concerns and even more challenging the consequences of our past, How do we conclude our past, now that I am dead to it
To some God – says
Go burn all idols- the images of this world that became alive to you, put to death. Stop breathing life to them. Reject former idols.
Burn the memories- Clean up your past- Clear your life of these things. Books, magazines, technologies that used to take you back there?
Reimburse all debt- Pay back what you took from the world, confess past faults.
If they are dead- seek peace with those affected as much as possible- Not taint your testimony (The story of the man who killed the son of neighbor)
Let the dead bury the dead- There are some things that feel like they need your attention for the last time- Just walk away and see that they will stop on their own.
Transition to Baptistery
This then is the way that Ronny and Kip have made a choice to begin. You too can be part of this?