Baptism Sunday 2016

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I’m going to invite you to turn to Luke chapter 17. That’s where we’re going to be this morning. And I’m going to just let you know ahead of time. If I just pass out, just let me lay there. I do not feel the best. You’re getting about 30% of me today. If it were not baptism Sunday, I would not be here. But because it’s baptism Sunday and this is a special day for us as a church family, I just want to be here to celebrate people in their lives as they may continue to make their journey in Christ and what it means to follow after Jesus and surrendering their lives to him. And so if you’re visiting with us the first time, if I sound like I’m going crazy, it’s probably because I am. I just got off a plane last a little over 24 hours ago, and when I left, my heart was messing up and get back and just getting over something now. And I feel a little an outer space today. So I apologize for that. But we’re going to study from Luke chapter 17 and beginning in verses one down to verse ten and just give a little backdrop into this text for us as we look at this together in Luke chapter 17, I’m going to have to just go ahead and stand up. I think Luke 17 is a beautiful passage of Scripture and what it lays into leading into this section of the Bible.

And the reason is I think Luke chapter 15 is such a beautiful background to the attitude of the Lord towards people in general. This is the famous lost chapters of the Bible. The lost sheep, the lost Coin, The Lost Son, or what we call sometimes is the prodigal son carries with it the attitude of Christ towards this world. It paints for us a picture of what God’s desire is for people around him. Not to reject them, but to love them, to care for them, to minister to them, to to save them, to rescue us. That’s Luke. Chapter 15. Luke 16. Jesus talks about the religious leaders of the world. He comes against the Pharisees and very dogmatic in his stand against them. And then in Luke chapter 17, he then begins his story with the disciples. They begin to ask questions. He begins to share with them. So 15 shares the heart of of the Lord, 16 shares the heart of religion. And it’s kind of like, So now what? What’s your response to that in Luke chapter 17? As a follower of Jesus, how would you respond to what Jesus just presented in the first two chapters? When you study Christianity around the world today, if I’m just being blunt and frank with the where Christianity came from in Europe, how it traveled across to North America, if you study European nations today, Great Britain, they actually put a timetable table.

The death of Christianity in Great Britain Missiologists are saying now by the year of 2067, Christianity, if it continues on the rate of its decline in the Great Britain region, it will it will experience its death. That is its death date 2067. Christianity in America today, a similar thing is on the decline. They studying the millennial generation between the ages of 20 to 35, that age demographic, about 20% of that age demographic are involved in a local church. A third of that generation hates church altogether. And how you choose to respond to Christ in your life right now, I think is more important today than it’s ever been for the state of the American church, for the state of of Christianity. And what Jesus means to us is what makes Baptism Sunday so important for us as a church family as well, because it’s a demonstration of our desire to want to walk with Jesus regardless of the circumstances around us. And when Jesus begins to share in Luke 17, he on that backdrop of his heart for the world, his love for people, his desire to rescue people, have a relationship for eternity with mankind. It’s portrayed in Luke 15, Luke 16. This discussion of of the religious leaders. Then he gets into Luke 17 and it says, Now he’s talking to his disciples, his followers.

He says to his disciples, It is inevitable. That stumbling blocks come. But woe to him through whom they come. It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And then he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. And you see, that’s that’s a pretty shocking statement for Jesus, right? I mean, hang something around your neck, throw in the bottom of the sea, then to distract someone from Christ. And when he’s talking about one of these little ones, there is actually a debate among commentaries as to what exactly he’s referencing to these little ones. Luke 716 He’s just talked about the Pharisees. Oftentimes, though, when Jesus is speaking, the little ones are referring to the children around him in either either regards whether Jesus is talking about the Pharisees in reference to being the little ones or the children. I’ll tell you why he’s debating that in just a moment. But either way, in regards to who these little ones are, Jesus approached desire for us is is to serve and to use our opportunity to encourage them closer to him. In Jesus’s time, children were not given names until they were later in life because the mortality rate of children was so, so large that parents didn’t want to name their kids until they knew that their kids were going to make it through early childhood and beyond that.

And so kids often were looked at as property as as less than as the importance as the adults. And so they were treated as lower or least than those around them. And oftentimes when you see Jesus interacting with children, he’ll he’ll tell the disciples, don’t hinder the kids from coming to me. The kingdom of heaven is as such that faith of a child is the way that you are to receive me. And while humanity during this time didn’t see the value of children to the degree that Jesus did or the degree that we should, Jesus is saying the least of these, it could be in reference to kids or it could be saying to the to the religious leaders at the time they they need encouragement towards Christ. And so don’t don’t think that you’re better than them. Don’t hinder them. But instead continue to encourage them to me. And so he says in verse three, Be on your guard. If your brother sins rebuke him and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day and returns to you seven times saying I repent. Forgive him. And Jesus in these opening lines just shares with the disciples. If you want to have the attitude that that sees this world can conform to Christ or transformed in Christ, this is the approach I want you to take to the environment around you.

Not religious, but the attitude Jesus has in Chapter 15, where he’s seeking after the lost, he’s he’s loving. Even even in the illustration of chapter 15, even a penny that’s that’s lost under the couch. Jesus sees the worth of a penny and pursues. He cleans the whole home just looking for. And so he says to us the attitude and approach here. Forgive. And serve. Be willing to use your opportunity in Jesus to get beneath those in need of Christ and serve. Forgive. I think for us in our culture, this sometimes meets us counterintuitive to the way that we tend to think. Like the way that we think is if we’ve been wronged or something bad has happened to us, we give ourselves permission to respond and behave however we would choose until things are meet restitution and things are good again. And when things are good again, then that’s the place where I love and serve. But what Jesus is actually saying in this position for us is in in regardless of circumstance, the place that God has called you to in him and making a difference for him is to serve the least of these. They’d be willing to forgive. We like saying this as a church family. Make it hard for people to hate you. Make it hard for people to hate you, especially if they disagree with you. Your love for them. So unconditional because of Jesus’s love for you has been so unconditional that that God has called us in his his love towards us to then demonstrate that love towards others.

Can say, next week we’re going to do our annual message called the State of the Church, where we just give the vision of what we’re going to be focusing on for the next year and beyond for us as a church family. But we also lay out what our DNA is and how we’re structured as a as a church. But can I tell you, just big picture what we’re about here on Sunday, every time that we gather, we understand the importance of what it means to have a church in Lehi, Utah. To be alive. Let’s not focus on religion, but focus on relationship in Christ. To realize outward conformity is not what is after. What God’s after is our heart’s. And to let Jesus have his way in us to transform our lives from the inside out. And so we say this We want everyone to experience a transforming relationship in Christ. That transforms their relationship with others. Because the whole purpose of life is found in relationship and loving God and loving others. And so every time that we have our doors open, we have an opportunity to make an impact and an impact, quite frankly, that can endure for eternity. And so everyone that you see on a Sunday morning is our opportunity to to love and to share the truth of who God is, to serve as, as Jesus says, to serve in this passage and to forgive, as Jesus says, to forgive.

He’s saying to the disciples, You want to make a difference and you want to be what I’m about and you want to see a kingdom thrive. Here’s here’s what it takes. And I love the response of the disciples in verse five. Because they say in this next verse they recognize that it’s not it’s not possible. Or at least in their present condition. Right? The apostles or the disciples said to the Lord, increase our faith. Jesus, if what you’re calling us to is to love the Pharisees or to love the least of these, or to love the children and to elevate them above us and to forgive when it’s hard to forgive if if that’s what you’re calling us to. I do not have the ability within myself to do this. And so. Increase our faith. Let me think. Apart from the supernatural working of God, how ridiculous it is to assume that anywhere the gospel goes, that is in a place of darkness, that it should thrive. Apart from the grace of God, is an impossibility. And Jesus. They say in this verse, Increase our faith if this is what you’ve called us to. And so Jesus in verse six, I love the way he responds.

Out of all the the translations of Scripture, I would tell you, I think the one that gets this the best what Jesus is communicating here is actually the message. But this is Jesus’s response to the disciples. And the Lord said, If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to the mulberry tree, Be uprooted and be planted in the sea and it would obey you. We have a tendency when we discuss faith to make it about us, right? I mean, we do that in American culture today. We say things like it’s not what you believe in, but really how much you believe it. As long as you have faith, that’s all that matters. When I was in college, I used to lead these college groups to inner city Baltimore, and we would do these work. Works in these streets of inner city Baltimore, helping out kids in need. And and for some reason, at one point during my time there, they decided the city decided to devote money to put these stickers out to encourage people towards hope. And and maybe it did, but all it said was believe. Like just that word believe is black with white letters. Black background white letters believe like in what? Believe in. Believe and believe like. Believe in what mean Having faith. Faith is a wonderful gift from from God. But. But if what you believe in can’t sustain is not dependable, it’s not worth believing in.

It doesn’t matter how much you choose to believe if what you’re believing isn’t true. It doesn’t serve. Any good. The idea of believing and believing, and the idea of making faith just about us is secondary to what Jesus is saying to the disciples in this passage. Because they say in verse five, Lord, increase our faith. In verse six what Jesus is saying to them. It’s not about it’s not about the depth of your faith. But the object of your faith. It’s what you’re believing in. In the past. We’ve compared it to this. If we were to take a journey together on ice. And you were to walk on two inches of ice with all the faith in the world. And you were to walk another journey. 20in of ice with just a little bit of faith. On two inches of ice. When you’re taking that journey, once you hear the ice crack, this is what happens to your faith. It just diminishes. It falls to the floor. But if you take that journey on 20in of ice, as you are taking those steps of faith, this is what happens within you. Your faith continues to grow not because of anything within you. But the object through which you have put your faith upon. It’s not about you. And that’s exactly what the disciples are learning in Christ here in these moments. Look, some of us come to the positions of Scripture because we are at odds ends and we’re in a place of desperation and we’re thinking, crying out and God, how are you going to do this? How can you fix this? How can you give me the strength to endure this? God, where is this going to take place? Increase my faith.

And Jesus’s response to the disciples and looking at the adversity in front of them and the challenges they might face, he’s saying, Listen, it’s not about the depth of your faith. But the object of your faith. You know, sometimes when I preach here on Sunday, I like to boldly proclaim the certainty that we have in Jesus. And I don’t want to mistake my confidence in Christ for arrogance. But if there’s something you could ever be confident in. It’s the security of who Christ is. It doesn’t take a superhero. But rather super God. You know, when you read within Scripture. I love how Jesus prepares people for for the journeys in which he calls them to. It’s kind of like a trial by fire in a lot of ways. But but for me, when I when I when I came out to to Utah or let me just back up, when I first became a Christian, there was a lot of hesitancy in my life to want to follow after Jesus. Because I knew what it meant. And then I began to read through the Old Testament.

I got this desire just to I wanted to just blast through the whole Bible. I’d never I’d never done that before. And the Bible is pretty foreign to me. And so I decided to just read through all of the Bible. I get to the story of Moses, and I realize as I’m reading the story of Moses, when he has the burning Bush experience before he goes into Egypt to to tell Pharaoh, let the Egyptian let let the Israelites go, that when he comes to this burning bush, it’s this place of recognizing his God. Is that 20in of ice? And he’s so hesitant to want to go after what God has called him to, that he even says, okay, God, can my brother do it? Can can Aaron jump on board? Can can they help me out? Can can you send someone else other than me? And then God brings that that experience. The burning bush for Moses calls him out to to Egypt and then carries the Israelites through. When when Moses dies. The same thing happens with Joshua. Joshua Chapter one God encourages him to to read the Word of God. And he says this to Joshua. Joshua is shaking in his boots in the sense he’s afraid to follow after the Lord. And he says in Joshua one nine, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage. Be not afraid.

Don’t be dismayed for the Lord. Your God is with you wherever you go. And it was after that verse that then Joshua calls the people of Israel together to declare what God desires for them to do. Even Jesus himself, when when Jesus is beginning his his, his public ministry, Jesus gets baptized and is anointed for the work of the ministry. That baptism, I think, symbolizes for us. He’s laying down the carpenter tools and he’s picking up his ministry as rabbi to the nation of Israel, savior to the world. And so he’s baptized and his anointing and to identify himself. And the father comes down and affirms who Jesus is or he declares and the spirit descends on him. This is my this is my son, in whom I’m well pleased. This is my beloved son, in whom I’m well pleased. And then after that, Jesus is carried into the wilderness for His temptation. But in that God is affirming, affirming His his position before him in Joshua and Moses and Jesus. So the most important point about faith. Listen how wishfully desire for something to be true. But rather how true something is. No matter how little your faith may be. It’s not how great your faith is. It’s how great your God is. It’s not the depth of your faith. It’s the object of your faith. It doesn’t take a superhero. It takes a super God. Or how do we continue on? We’re going to think about declaring you to the world.

How does it happen? It’s the God you believe in. It’s not the belief itself. Our tendency in trying to highlight our faith above the depth of the God that we trust in. Our tendency is to make it all about moralism in a sense. As long as you’re good, that’s all that matters. And what Jesus is saying in this passage is counterintuitive to that. It’s not about whether or not you’re good. It’s about your God. Jesus goes on from this passage and he shares a little further in his illustration. He says, Which of you having a slave plowing or tending sheep will say to him when he has come in from the field, come immediately and sit down to eat. But will he not say to him, Prepare something for me to eat and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink? And afterward you may eat and drink. He does not think the slave because he did the things which were commanded. Does he? So, you two. When you do all the things which are commanded, you say, we are unworthy slaves. We have done only that which we ought to have done. What’s Jesus saying here? Jesus. And a summary statement is saying, this is a slave and this is what a slave does. This is a servant and this is what a servant does.

And he’s describing that to us or ascribing that to us or prescribing that to us. All of it. A servant should do what a servant does. Now, why would Jesus be saying this on the backdrop of a statement in verse six, The reason Jesus is saying this in the backdrop, lest the disciples get to a place where they’re saying, Oh, well, it’s all dependent upon Jesus, I’m just going to kick back. Then in Jesus, you just do your thing. What Jesus is saying to the disciples in this place, the way, the way in which God desires to express his faith and to move by his power is through his people that reflect His glory in the world. Servants do what servants are made to do. Related to us. We’ve said this in the series together. Let me tie the dots to this passage and the series that we just left in and believe. God is the only being that finds the purpose for his existence in himself. Everything else finds the purpose for his existence outside of itself, which means everything that’s been created outside of God is purpose for existence is to give glory to God. And we being created in God’s image, aspire, worship to Him. Were created for worship. To reflect the goodness of who? God is. And to display that. As as creatures. It is impossible for us not to worship something.

Whether it be yourself, something made in this world, you will worship something. But what God has ultimately created us for is to recognize that every good thing in this world that we sometimes sub subject from from creator creator to to creature and worship the creature rather than creator. What God has called us to is to recognize all good things as coming from His hand and give him glory and praise for it. That is our design. In a practical way. Related to this passage, Our Lives. I mean, let’s not let’s not beat around the bush here. Sports season is about to start again, right? I mean, football is some of you got it marked on your calendar kick off day, right. How does this look for us? Well, when you relate it to the idea of a sports fan. Right. How ridiculous would it be for you to say, you know, you’ve got a favorite team? But you don’t like to share that. You just want to keep it private, right? You would celebrate that team. But but any, any any jersey you bought, any shirt that you have any you just you only wear it in your bedroom because you don’t want to make that public. It’s very personal to you. Right. I mean, that’s kind of what we do with faith today. Faith is a very it’s a it’s it’s a personal it is personal. But rather than public, we tend to think it’s private.

And so it’s something that we just hide to ourselves and we just associate that with anything else in this world that we give worship to or aspire praise to. It would just seem ridiculous for that to transpose, right? If you’ve got a favorite sports team, people know. You cheer. You even talk to the TV when it can’t hear you. You aspire worth to it. You aspire praise to it, and to suggest that that should ever be private to you as a foreign concept. But because you’re your passion for it needs to be public. And that’s what Jesus is saying in these verses. Listen, faith in me is what matters. I am the one that makes it secure. It’s not about the depth of your faith, but the object of your faith. And listen, it is a personal thing. But it’s not private. It’s public. Servants are made to serve. Worshippers are made to worship. Display. So here’s what’s so good about this church family when it comes to praise and worship and aspiring that worth to God. We don’t care where you come from in life. But we know what God has called you to is greater. And so we want to encourage everyone on that journey, no matter where you are in that relationship with God, because it’s worth it and you’ve been created for that. I mean, we’re so gracious in that that we even let Raiders fans in to worship with us, right? For fun.

I just want to say Broncos fans to. Yes. Look at that passion. The point of what Jesus is saying in this passage is this. Faithful. To those that are baptized today. Can I just encourage you in one way? You know what Jesus wants. You. He just wants you to be faithful. If you flip in your Bible for just a moment, I want to turn over to John 13. I think I’m going to end with this. This isn’t going to be up on the screen. I love John. 13 to John, 17. In the Bible, Jesus has just spent three and a half years of ministry on this earth. With his disciples and in the last six hours of his life on Earth. Starting in John 13, he brings his disciples in. And he just shares with them some of the most intimate, important lessons. I think that a disciple or follower of Jesus should know. What I love is that this this is personal. But it’s not private. It’s become public because it was written in scripture for us to see to. And this is a moment where we can dive in and worship with the disciples on what’s happening here. When. Jesus. In chapter 13 comes with the disciples. They celebrate what’s the what’s called the Last Supper. And this last supper, he he then, after they eat, partake of the supper together they have communion which the church continues to celebrate from this point forward in history.

He then washes the feet of the disciples. One of the disciples feet that he washes is also Judas, the one who’s about to betray him. Jesus is willing to even lay his life down for his enemies, taking the lowest form of a servant to wash their feet. And then in chapter 14, Jesus gives an important statement. And I just want to rest in this For those that are getting baptized today for you, maybe you’ve been baptized in the past. Something just to to reflect on. Jesus is about to pay what we call a dowry for your life. And this is this is what it says. Let me read the context of this verse. Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me and my father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself. That where I am there you may be also. And you know that the way where I am going. Well, Jesus is saying here, we may not always get completely in our language today because we removed so far from the culture at the time.

But when? Two people were married during Jesus’s time. The son would meet with the father of the bride and he would agree to a dowry that he would pay for her. When he would make that payment, the bride and the groom would partake of communion. Together, they would establish a covenant. Together they would drink from the same cup to honor that connection that they now had. And legally in Jewish culture, they were considered married. The marriage had not been consummated yet, but they were legally considered married to the point that if the husband at that particular moment that was betrothed to this lady had died, she would have been considered a widow during that time in which that dowry was agreed upon, the husband would go prepare a place for his bride, come back, receive him to himself. They would consummate the marriage and they would celebrate that union together. Jesus in this passage is demonstrating his faithfulness to us. He’s looking to his bride and saying. Don’t let your heart be troubled. Don’t let your heart be troubled. He’s going to prepare a place for you that where you are or that where he is, you may be also. Jesus is going back to John 13 and he’s referencing the dowry that he just paid for your for you. That dowry was his life. Within Christianity. Today we have two what we call ordinances. And I don’t want to make them sound like it’s some sort of institutionalized statement because for us it’s an artistic expression of celebration of what Jesus has done.

It’s deeper than just artistry, but it’s not this rigid system of thought that Jesus has established for us two ways to express our faith in him together. And I love those the expressions he set up for us because it involves really, in most most cases, the five senses, all five senses of us when we take communion. It’s a reminder of of the groom who gave his life for us, paid for a dowry for us that we may enjoy his presence for all of eternity. It’s not because of us, but because of him. But what he desires and expressing his faith towards us or his his love towards us is for us and that expression to be faithful back to him. To be a worshipper that worships. And in the same way, baptism represents the same thing. I often refer to it as the Christian wedding day because Jesus is the one that that in betrothal to us gave his life. Communion represents everything that Jesus gave to us. But baptism. Baptism is our response in saying that we want to follow after Jesus with our lives, and Jesus compares our relationship to that of marriage and everything. Dealing with baptism rests in the confidence of who God is. Being that 20in of ice. It’s saying we go into the water, the old man, we we are buried in the old man, but we’re raised to a new man because of what Jesus has done.

We take the old self that that was marred in sin and were buried and cleansed. And the beauty of who Christ is, all of it symbolic of the salvation which Jesus has brought us. All of it demonstrating his love that he has given to us. We partake of those things. It’s not because we’re worthy. But because he’s worthy. We do nothing to avail ourselves of that. But Christ himself has done everything by paying for our dowry with his life. And so when Jesus shares with his disciples on Luke chapter 17, God, how can we make a difference? God, how can we stand in this world? Jesus’s command to them or statement to them is found in in forgiveness and serving one another. Not not because of your super strength. Because of his. And while Jesus’s desire for you. Is to be a worshipper that worships. To be faithful. And to those that are baptized today. I just want to say, as a part of your church family, we are thankful for you. Thankful that you put your faith in Christ. Thankful that you want to demonstrate that with your life and thankful that that we get to be a part of your desire to want to walk with Jesus as we desire to walk with Jesus with you.

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