Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Am Baptized!


ROMANS 6:1-10

6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self [1] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free [2] from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God

In the name of Jesus:

Tiger Woods has been in the news lately, because of his marital unfaithfulness. He made news of a different sort last Sunday on the Fox News Channel. Brit Hume, a retired news anchor, was asked while serving on a panel of experts, what the biggest sports story might be for the year 2010. Hume responded:

"Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it's a tragic situation for him. I think he's lost his family, it's not clear to me if he'll be able to have a relationship with his children, but the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal -- the extent to which he can recover -- seems to me to depend on his faith. He's said to be a Buddhist; I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'"

This response caused an uproar, a news anchor calling on a “star” to turn Jesus Christ in faith. Hume was asked the next day about those comments and he went on to further explain:

“And my sense about Tiger is that he needs something that Christianity, especially provides and gives and offers. And that is redemption and forgiveness. And I was – I was really meaning to say in those comments yesterday more about Christianity than I was about anything else. I mentioned the Buddhism only because his mother is a Buddhist and he has apparently said that he is a Buddhist. I'm not sure how seriously he practices that. But I think – I think that the – Jesus Christ offers Tiger Woods something that Tiger Woods badly needs.”

Hume was right in his call to Tiger Woods to repent and believe in Christ. Hume caught a lot of flack for those comments, some are even calling on Hume to resign. But Hume said something else that was right on, later, in his interview, something, that I believe, is just as important. Hume said:

“It has always been a puzzling thing to me. The Bible even speaks of it, that, you know, you speak the name, "Jesus Christ," and I don't – and I don't mean to make a pun here, but all hell breaks loose. And – and it has always been thus. It is explosive.”

Let me repeat that: Speak the name Jesus Christ and all hell breaks loose. Think about that. Christ has broken the shackles and power of Hell. We live in a world which is on a fast track to Hell. Humanity is conceived in sin. The Old Adam is something that everyone is born with. A person’s entire being is enslaved to sin. We are controlled by sin. Everyone is controlled by sin. By nature the sinner rejects God and His wisdom and help. By nature, the sinful soul is on the road to death and Hell. The Bible says that the soul that sins will most certainly die. Death is the ultimate pay off for sin. Look at it this way, if there was no sin, there would be no death. Everyone dies because EVERYONE IS A SINNER. No one can escape this fact. We may try to ignore it, postpone it, but we cannot deny it. Mankind is lost and condemned because of sin.

Is it any wonder, then, why people try to blow up airplanes in mid air? How can a person think like that? When we understand the doctrine of sin, we can understand it well, for every human being is corrupt to the very core of his or her being. We can shake our head in amazement and astonishment at the destructive nature of people today, but when we understand the fall of humanity from God’s grace, well, these news events and cases of the depravity of man only goes to prove that the Bible is absolutely correct.

Brit Hume should not be surprised at the animosity he receives over his comments of this past week, for natural man doesn’t know the things of God. And we are all in this sinful state, from the moment we are conceived until the time we die. Each of us are in bondage to sin and deserve Hell and damnation.

And yet, Hume is right when he says that all hell breaks loose at the name of Jesus Christ. But, how do we receive this power over sin, death, and Hell? We receive it by grace, as a gift. We can’t earn nor do we deserve it, because of our sinful state. It is given to us as a gift of God in Jesus Christ, in the waters of our Baptism.

The secular world looks at Baptism the very same way that the comments of Brit Hume are looked at: with scorn and distain. But Baptism is not just plain water. It is God’s word combined with simple water, given with and under the command of God Himself: “Go and make disciples of all people baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” This Sacred washing, called Baptism, brings all of God’s gifts to the sinner, for it works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and brings salvation to all who believe, for God says in His Word that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. It isn’t just the water that does this, but it is God’s Word in and with the water which does this, along with faith which comes from Baptism itself. Listen to what God says about Baptism in Titus chapter 3:

“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy,’

God has done this, it is a work of His mercy, showered upon us in our Baptism, all on account of His Son Jesus Christ. You have new life, you have new hope, you have forgiveness of your sins, you have God’s mercy and grace, you have eternal salvation on account of Jesus’ birth in a manger, His Baptism, His innocent life, His suffering, and His death, all so that you can become God’s child in Jesus Christ.

This new life has been given in your Baptism. Your relationship with God, the almighty God of heaven and earth, has been given to you in your Baptism. God has moved heaven and earth in Jesus’ life and death, to give you new life in Baptism. God has drowned your sinful self in your Baptism so that by God’s power and Spirit a new person emerges, rises from the death of your self, so that you might live for God in the life you now have.

And what an opportunity this is! To live out your Baptismal calling is your greatest privilege. God has poured out His gifts to you in your Baptism, He literally gives victory to you over sin, Satan, and death, hell is literally replaced with heaven for you, so that the life you now live you live for God. Martin Luther explained that the Christian life is nothing less than living out your Baptism. That being the case, we have to keep at it as Christians, always and daily repenting of our sins so as to drown the Old Adam, so that a new person comes forth to live by the power of God in Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake about it: living the Christian life is difficult. Satan is alive and well and seeking to destroy God’s kingdom and His people. The Christian life is not a life marked by victorious living and success, as some in our culture would explain it. Rather, the Christian life is one marked by carrying one’s cross. Jesus says to take up the cross and daily follow Him. In the face of sin, death, temptation, and struggle, we need to remember our Baptism and what God continues to do for us in our Baptism. Luther said: “ we must regard Baptism and put it to use in such a way that we may say: 'But I am baptized! And if I have been baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body'. . . . No greater jewel, therefore, can adorn our body and soul than Baptism, for through it we become completely holy and blessed, which no other kind of life and work on earth can acquire."

A new year brings with it hopes and dreams, but in reality, it will be filled with temptations and struggles. How can we live for Christ in these struggles and difficulties? We do so by remembering our Baptism. When struggles and trials come your way, say I am baptized, for in Baptism has given to you and continues to give to you what you really need: the blessings of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen

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