A Baptism Sermon

Preached at my daughter’s baptism, 2007.

  1. If you could have anything in the world
  2. what would it be?
  3. I know that’s a loaded question
  4. But I want you truly to search the depths of your soul
  5. and answer it
  6. If you could have anything in the world
  7. what would it be?

PAUSE FOREVER…..

  1. Would you like to know the answer?
  2. There is only one answer, you know.
  3. If you could have anything in the world
  4. anything…
  5. PAUSE
  6. you would choose to have LOVE
  7. Was that your answer?
  8. No?
  9. What were your answers?
  10. Happyness?
  11. A new Nintendo DS game?
  12. Control over your OCD?
  13. A job you could be happy with?
  14. For the pain to go away?
  15. More text message minutes?
  16. If you answered anything less than LOVE
  17. you really haven’t lived yet
  18. because those of us who have lived
  19. know that houses, money, cars, clothing
  20. can’t love us
  21. Not even our pets can love us
  22. Not the way we want to be loved
  23. Sure, Felix the cat can snuggle up on your lap
  24. and make you feel special
  25. But Felix doesn’t know who you really are
  26. Your pet goldfish doesn’t really know
  27. that you know how to erase your website history at work
  28. Your little budgie can’t see
  29. that you stand in front of the mirror
  30. and want to break it…
  31. You see,
  32. All you want is LOVE
  33. All you want is to be LOVED
  34. to be LOVELY
  35. to be LOVEABLE
  36. and you don’t even feel liked sometimes,
  37. do you?
  38. Why wouldn’t I like you?
  39. Why are you petrified of someone knowing
  40. that you think about leaving your husband?
  41. What if you knew what I think?
  42. What if you knew that I think I’m better than you?
  43. Does that help you LOVE me?
  44. You see?
  45. We really do want only one thing
  46. We want someone to tell us
  47. that we are LOVED
  48. more deeply and truly and completely and forcefully
  49. even though we are thoroughly UGLY from the inside out
  50. And if you’re like me
  51. you LOVE to hear that you are LOVED
  52. that you are LOVELY
  53. that you are LOVEABLE
  54. That you’re even LIKEABLE
  55. And if you are like me
  56. that’s why you come here
  57. that’s why you are here this morning
  58. you come here to hear something
  59. something that’s only for you
  60. CHEER UP!
  61. YOU’RE A WHOLE LOT WORSE THAN YOU THINK
  62. BUT CHEER UP!!
  63. JESUS LOVES YOU A WHOLE LOT MORE THAN YOU ARE WORSE
  64. I’d like to see a show of hands
  65. (are you listening closely?)
  66. How many of you are adopted?
  67. Hmmm?
  68. OK,
  69. How many of you belong to the familia dei (family of God)?
  70. How did you become a part of that family?
  71. adoption
  72. When did that adoption take place?
  73. At your baptism, that’s right.
  74. Our word from God today is about our adoption as God’s children in our baptism
  75. and we will be answering this question:

So what’s the Big (or)deal about baptism?

    1. in baptism God declares to us that the same love with which he loves his son belongs to each of us by faith
  1. Let’s listen to God’s word on the matter of our adoption
  2. Turn with me to Eph 1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.

  1. Let’s note the gist of the Apostle’s heart here:
  2. We have adoption as sons through Jesus
  3. this is according to the kindness of God
  4. we have his grace bestowed freely
  5. in the BELOVED
  6. we have redemption through His blood
  7. the forgiveness of our trespasses
  8. according to the riches of His grace
  9. lavished upon us
  10. We could camp out here forever
  11. Our becoming God’s children is called adoption
  12. To those who take Jesus in he gives the privilege to become sons of God
  13. Our adoption into God’s family is an act of God’s grace
  14. whereby we are received into his family
  15. and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God
  16. as God’s children we are assured of his love
  17. for us as he is now our heavenly father
  18. and this adoption takes place in the celebration of baptism
  19. and in the celebration of baptism
  20. God gives to us his pledge of undying love for us
  21. Baptism is for us
  22. Baptism is a sign given to us by God
  23. Baptism is a visible sign of God’s proclamation of love for us;
  24. a visible sign of promise;
  25. something we can see;
  26. it is God’s preaching to us.
  27. Not in the negative sense of, “Oh, no. Here comes my boss again.
  28. Gonna preach our company’s vision to me.”
  29. Sacraments are all about what God does to us
  30. and for us and in us and through us;
  31. despite us and in spite of us.
  32. Think of baptism as God’s preaching to you his love in this way:
  33. you are a small child who has found his way up a tree;
  34. so high up in fact you cannot get back down.
  35. Now the thing we most want to hear from our rescuer is,
  36. Haven’t I told you not to climb this tree?
  37. How many times is this?
  38. What am I going to do with you?
  39. I have half a mind to leave you up there this time!!”
  40. Isn’t that what we want to hear?
  41. Now that’s love.
  42. No. No, that is not what our aching hearts want to hear.
  43. Hear what God shouts to you when you’ve gotten stuck again in the same sin.
  44. I know you think I’m mad at you, but I’m not.
  45. (climbing and grunting) I’ve kind of gotten used to this tree by now.
  46. I know all of the branches;
  47. where to step (where not to);
  48. You’ve gone a little farther this time, haven’t you?
  49. Child, I love you. I will always come for you.
  50. Why are you crying?
  51. Did you think I would stay with your brothers and sisters who like to stay inside?
  52. I could never leave you or forsake you.
  53. Here, take my hand.
  54. Climb onto my back.
  55. Here we go, ready?”
  56. Actually, that is what God says to us in communion,
  57. but in baptism he promises always to rescue us from our own sloughs of despond.

So what’s the Big (or)deal about baptism?

    1. in baptism God declares to us that the same love with which he loves his son belongs to each of us by faith
  1. Looking back in Ephesians
  2. Here we have a key word that connects what Paul is saying
  3. back to the baptism of Jesus
  4. that word is BELOVED
  5. In Jesus’ baptism
  6. God says of Jesus,
    1. This is my son
    2. Whom I love
    3. With him I am well pleased
  7. These are words we all long to hear
  8. These are words of acceptance and blessing and safety
  9. Wives, how much do you long to hear from your man
  10. Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone….
  11. and children
  12. how do you feel when you know you have disobeyed your mom or dad?
  13. There is a fear of rejection and distance
  14. Do you know what one of my children does when he knows there is trouble
  15. between him and me?
  16. he comes close to me in order to know that he still belongs
  17. All we want is love
  18. And we see God the Father lavishing out words of love to his son here
  19. Let us look to the three OT passages from whence this benediction arises
    1. Psalm 2
    2. Gen 22
    3. Is 42
  20. In the words, “This is my son”
  21. we are reminded of what God says in Psalm 2
  22. to the King of Israel when he takes the throne
  23. In the term “beloved” we are taken back to the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham
  24. For Abraham God called him to slaughter his “one and only son”
  25. his “beloved”
  26. In the phrase “with whom I am well pleased”
  27. we are taken back to the Prophet Isaiah
  28. when he tells of God’s anointing his chosen servant for the service of ministry
  29. In Jesus’ baptism, we see God putting his stamp of love upon Jesus
  30. as he is being set apart for the work of salvation for his people
  31. The meaning of Jesus’ baptism
  32. is his being anointed by God’s spirit
  33. to do his work as God’s chosen prophet, priest and king
  34. God says of his one and only son
  35. I delight in you
  36. I love you
  37. You are my son
  38. When I was reflecting on this some years ago
  39. it hit me
  40. have you ever had something profound hit you?
  41. Think about this
  42. Israel, the nation is called God’s son
  43. Israel’s King is called God’s son
  44. Israelites themselves were God’s sons
  45. and every single one of them rebelled against his father in heaven
  46. there was not one single instance of God’s children in the OT
  47. not ever rebelling against him
  48. since Adam
  49. God had always wanted a son
  50. a true son
  51. a faithful son who would never turn away
  52. a son whom God would not have to discipline
  53. a son who would not have to die
  54. And here he is
  55. Jesus
  56. It’s as if God cries out in his baptism
  57. I finally have a son who loves me
  58. heart, soul, mind, and strength!!
  59. Finally a son whom I do not have to punish
  60. You are my one and only, true son
  61. My soul delights in you!!
  62. Remember our earlier question

So what’s the Big (or)deal about baptism?

    1. in baptism God declares to us that the same love with which he loves his son belongs to each of us by faith
  1. Look at that key word God uses for Jesus
  2. BELOVED
  3. And see how it gets transferred over to us in Christ
  4. This term here, BELOVED is a deeply rich word
  5. the root of this word in the Greek is agaph
  6. Has anyone heard of agape before?
  7. To what does it refer?
  8. this word has the power of meaning
  9. THE ONLY ONE I LOVE WITH ALL MY HEART
  10. At Jesus’ baptism, God says, this is my favourite boy.
  11. I am so delighted in him.
  12. That’s what it means when used of Jesus
  13. For you and me it takes on a different connotation
  14. because of our fallen nature
  15. for us
  16. God’s love
  17. is a love that loves when the one to be loved is most unlovable (REPEAT)
  18. You know what this looks like, don’t you?
  19. You’ve been in this situation before like me, haven’t you?
  20. What is your natural reaction when you see someone else’s child
  21. with that lovely display of green mucous violently running down the face?
  22. Not only that but that child is headed right for you…
  23. That’s what I thought, me too.
  24. Now, imagine the child is yours…
  25. Awwww, c’mere Johnny
  26. let me get that for you
  27. Not only that, but if you had no tissues,
  28. you’d use your bare hand
  29. because you love your child that much
  30. The person who does not belong to Christ is like that other person’s child
  31. in God’s eyes
  32. undesirable
  33. unhealthy
  34. unlovable
  35. And that’s why BEING IN CHRIST is so vital for our relationship with God
  36. God’s love for Jesus is natural and immediate and primary
  37. God’s love for you and me is unnatural
  38. He cannot love us according to our nature
  39. He must change who we are before we are loved
  40. God’s love for you and me is mediated
  41. We are not natural children of God
  42. This change comes about through being clothed
  43. in the sonship Jesus
  44. God’s love for you and me is secondary
  45. We cannot be loved of God in and of ourselves
  46. God’s love for us must come to us through his love for another
  47. You and I stand in the place of Christ when we are united to him.
  48. Whatever the Father says to the Son, he says to us.
  49. And it is only through the act of baptism into Christ
  50. that we are made lovely to God
  51. Those who are not God’s children by faith
  52. are snotty-nosed, germ spreading little grubs
  53. It is only through the washing of regeneration
  54. by God’s Spirit that any of us are made clean in God’s eyes
  55. without Christ a person is the enemy
  56. with Christ he is a child
  57. without Christ a person is rejected
  58. with Christ she is made a BELOVED CHILD
  59. And this transformation takes place in baptism
  60. The scriptures teach that baptism is a sign and guarantee for us
  61. that that which makes us naturally unclean in God’s eyes
  62. has been taken away in the washing of rebirth
  63. Before baptism a person is unclean
  64. After baptism she is clean
  65. Without baptism a person has no assurance of God’s love
  66. with baptism there can be no doubting the love of God
  67. Listen to God’s word to you because of your baptism

Gal 3.26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ…And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Romans 1:1 you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are LOVED LIKE CRAZY of God…called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom 9.24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

As He says also in Hosea, “I WILL CALL THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, ‘MY PEOPLE,’ AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED, ‘BELOVED.'” AND IT SHALL BE THAT IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, ‘YOU ARE NOT MY [CHILDREN],’ THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF THE LIVING GOD.”

Eph 1 In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.

So what’s the Big (or)deal about baptism?

    1. in baptism God declares to us that the same love with which he loves his son belongs to each of us by faith
  1. How do you know God loves you?
  2. Let the weight of that question sink in
  3. How do you know God loves you?
  4. We might give answers that reflect things we do:
  5. I know God loves me b/c I believe in Jesus
  6. or
  7. I know God loves me b/c I made a profession of faith when I was 19
  8. But where do you go when you have fallen again?
  9. Where do you go when you have wandered from the God you love?
  10. In those times, it’s easy to doubt your previous faith
  11. But the whole point of God’s love for you
  12. is to direct your gaze away from yourself to the promises of God.
  13. So that, so many times we doubt our salvation.
  14. So many times we flop and flail in our assurance of God’s love:
  15. (whining) “How can God love me after what I just did?
  16. There’s no way…there’s no way he can love m…”
  17. NO! Listen, How do you know God loves you?
  18. There is no stronger, biblical answer than,
  19. I know that God loves me b/c I am baptised.”
  20. PAUSE
  21. Why? B/c the sign of baptism is so powerful;
  22. not b/c of me and my faith
  23. but b/c of him who promised his unending love in the sign.
  24. You are my BELOVED child and I am your loving heavenly Father
  25. In the sign, he promised to lavish us with his love;
  26. his affection and devotion;
  27. his entire being into being your heavenly Father.”
  28. So that to doubt the sign is to doubt God.
  29. Do you doubt your faithfulness? Remember your baptism.
  30. Do you doubt your salvation? Look to the visible promise.
  31. Do you doubt your heart? Trust God. He loves you.
  32. (sniveling) “But I don’t feel like…”
  33. AH! Listen! He was washed away your stain. Look to the sign.”
  34. I don’t think he…”
  35. Look to the sign. Do you have the sign?”
  36. Yes.”
  37. God loves you.”
  38. That’s all you have to remember.”
  39. Do you believe that?
  40. It’s true.
  41. Beloved, God loves you.
  42. He delights in you.
  43. Because you have been baptised into Christ
  44. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more
  45. Because you are baptised into Christ
  46. there is nothing you can do to make God love you less
  47. If you are baptised
  48. God says to you this morning,
  49. You are my favourite child,
  50. my beloved
  51. with whom I am well pleased.
  52. I promise.
  53. And this promise is for you and your children.
  54. God, help us to believe in your promises, Amen.
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