What Water Baptism is All About

Matthew 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”

But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus came to John to be baptized. 

  • He identified with John’s message:  Repentance is necessary.
  • He identified with John’s message:  Take a stand for what is right.
  • He identified with John’s message:  Live a life of repentance and righteousness.
  • He came to be baptized:  To give us an example.
  • He came to be baptized:  In the form of sinful flesh.
  • He came to be baptized:  To fulfill all righteousness.
  • He came to be baptized:  To show humility.
  • He came to be baptized:  To show need.
  • He came to be baptized:  To show submission.

In this passage of Scripture there is an example of two baptisms.

  • John’s Baptism – repentance/water
  • Jesus’ Baptism – power & authority/Holy Spirit & fire

Historical significance

  • Washing with water
  • Anointing with oil

Exodus 29:4-7 – And Aaron and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall wash them with water. Then you shall take the garments, put the tunic on Aaron, and the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the intricately woven band of the ephod. You shall put the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban. And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him.

Lessons from Jesus’ Baptism

  • Need of repentance and a life of righteousness.  Every man should repent and live the life of righteousness, and every man should proclaim such a life to other men.        

Acts 8:22 – Repent of these evil thoughts and ask God to forgive you.

Isaiah 55:7 – Give up your crooked ways and your evil thoughts.  Return to the LORD our God.  He will be merciful and forgive your sins.

1 Corinthians 15:34 – Be sensible and stop sinning.  You should be embarrassed that some people still don’t know about God.

1 John 1:3 – We are telling you what we have seen and heard, so that you may share in this life with us.  And we share in it with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

  • Righteousness.  Every man must determine to “fulfill all righteousness” just as Christ did.  God’s commands must be fulfilled in the life of each believer.

1 John 3:23 – And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another.

  • Sacrifice.  Every believer should be willing to give of himself for the cause of Christ – even to the point of death.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world; but transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Luke 9:23 – And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.

  • Humility.  Every believer should show a willingness to serve others. 

1 Peter 5:5 – All of you younger people should obey your elders.  In fact, everyone should be humble toward everyone else.  The Scriptures say:  ‘God opposes proud people; but he helps everyone who is humble.’

  • Identification.  Every believer should be as one with others, excluding no one from his life or from his service.

Romans 15:1 – We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please ourselves.

Galatians 6:2 – Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Hebrews 4:15 – For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

  • Ministry.  Every believer should minister to others.

Luke 10:36-37 – Then Jesus asked, ‘Which one of these three people was a real neighbor to the man who was beaten up by robbers?’  The teacher answered, ‘The one who showed pity.’  Jesus said, ‘God and do the same!’

John 13:14 – If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

Galatians 6:10 – As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all amen, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

The Unexpected

Matthew 2:1-23

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Unexpected Circumstances and Events

Unexpected place of birth – Bethlehem.   Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth.  God used a Roman government to get them to the right place for Jesus’ birth.   Romans 8:28.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Unexpected question – “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?”  They thought they could find the answer in the king’s house.  (Can the world find Jesus in His house – the Christian – today?)

John 1:10-11 – He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

Unexpected disturbance – Herod and religious leaders all disturbed. 

He had not come as they expected.

His coming threaten their authority.

Unexpected commission – “search diligently for the young child.”  The wise men (the world) were forced to seek for Jesus themselves because his own people (the church) did not know where he was. 

Matthew 13:15 – For the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.

Unexpected sign – the star once again appeared to them.   They had searched diligently, had come to the king’s house.  They had done all they could do.  Yet, God once again sent the star. 

Deuteronomy 4:29 – But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Jeremiah 29:13 – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

 Unexpected King – in a simple house with simple parents.  Although this was not what they had expected, they bowed down and worshipped him.         God’s   ways are not our ways. 

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Unexpected Danger

Herod plotted to find Jesus.  God warned the Wise Men in a dream.  God will protect those who seek him and obey him. 

2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.

Psalm 34:7 – The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you,
yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

2 Timothy 4:18 – And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen

Herod attempted to kill Jesus.  Again, God warned Joseph to flee in a dream.  God continued to lead Joseph in his efforts to be a protecting earthly father to Jesus. 

Psalm 31:23 – Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!  For the Lord preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person…

Psalm 37:5 – Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Herod’s son reigned after his father.  Again, God gave Joseph guidance.

Psalm 48:14 – For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.

Palms 73:24 – You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Isaiah 30:21 –  Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.

The Earthly Family of Jesus

Matthew 1:1-23

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Jesus came by way of the virgin and the power of the Holy Spirit.  He was the Son of God incarnate. 

The earthly part of Jesus’ ancestry is traced back from Joseph to Abraham.  Not all of these were godly men or women. 

There was a prostitute, those guilty of adultery and a king who desired another man’s wife.  His sin of adultery led to his causing her husband to be killed.  These are not the most likely candidates to be included in the line of the holy Messiah.

To list all the crimes of many of these kings and their spouses would be a major undertaking.  There were godly kings among the list also but sadly the ungodly were more than those who followed God’s Law.

The fact that his earthly family line was not perfect shows us that regardless of our own family’s history, God can and will use us.  He truly became one of us – born into a imperfect family.  Interestingly, four women are named in this genealogy.  The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible suggests that the common thread between all of these women is that they have associations with Gentiles.  Rahab was a prostitute in Canaan, Bathsheba was married to a Hittite, Ruth resided in Moab, and Tamar had a name of Hebrew origin. This clearly shows that Jesus came for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  The fact that three of these four women also were guilty of sexual sins again points to the fact that God can and will use anyone that is willing to be forgiven and cleansed. 

Christ came to save those of his own earthly family.  He came to save our own family.  He came to be Immanuel “God with us.”

Purification

Acts 24:17-18

Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult.

Purified

The Greek Word “Hagnizo”, a verb (action word) means pure (chaste), to purify, cleanse from defilement, is used as follows.

Ceremonially – In the ceremonially cleansing spoken of in John 11, the Jews were following the Levitical law when anyone touched anything considered unclean.  See Leviticus 11 – 17 for the various kinds of cleansing.

John 11:55 – And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves.

Acts 21:24, 26 – Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.  Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.

Morally – the heart

James 4:7-10 – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Morally – the soul

1 Peter 1:22-23 – Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

Morally -oneself

1 John 3:2-3 — Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Purification for All

To the Gentiles as well as Jews. 

Acts 15:8-9 – So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

  • All Men:

Titus 2:11-14 – For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 

Sanctification

Sanctification, like purification, is an act of divine grace.  We may ceremonially go through some ritual but it is the act of God’s divine grace that purifies or sanctifies.  The rituals do not do the work, but it is an internal spiritual work done only by God.  It is the Word of God and the Spirit of God which purifies and sanctifies.  The basis on which God performs this act of grace is the blood of Christ’s atonement

Psalms 51:7 – Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

John 15:2 – Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

I Corinthians 6:11 – And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 

What we fail to understand, many times, is that when we are saved, we are forgiven from “past, former” transgressions, and the work of the Spirit in our life is a purifying and sanctifying agent to set us apart to new works, a new life style, a changed mind, a new man.       

Psalm 51:10-11 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Your presence

Paul’s Citizenship – Our Citizenship

Acts 22:22-30

And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!” Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air, the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.” Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.” The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.” Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him. The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

Paul’s Citizenship, Paul’s Persecution  & Claim to Legal Rights

  • He was rejected by the mob.   At hearing the word “Gentile” they reacted violently.  Furious, they demanded Paul’s death.  They were apparently getting ready to stone him because they removed their outer garments.  The Jewish mob here did not object to Paul reaching out to the Gentiles because there were Gentile converts to Judaism.  Their objection was that the Gentiles were being given the privilege of following God without becoming Jews first.  They were not being required to be circumcised and accept the Jewish Law.  
  • He was rescued again by soldiers.  This time, those in charge of the situation were fed up with the entire situation.  They simply did not understand why the crowd was so violently opposed to Paul and they were determined to find out by beating him.
  • Paul’s claim to legal rights as a Roman citizen was listened to very carefully.  No Roman citizen could be beaten.  It was the law.  If you were found guilty of beating a Roman citizen you might lose your own life.  A Roman citizen was a privileged person of the Empire and literally had the protection of the Emperor.
  • Paul verified his citizenship before the commander.  His claim to citizenship was greater than that of the commander. 
  • Paul’s rights were respected.  In fact the commander was afraid because of Paul’s claim.  The soldiers had over-stepped the law and he might be held accountable, since he was in charge. 
  • In his search for the truth, the commander called the Sanhedrin Court for an official meeting to get to the bottom of the matter.   

Note:  First of all, God used Paul to be a witness of God’s grace.  He faced opposition but was not concerned about saving his own neck as much as he was to publish the good news.  He was committed to Christ.   Secondly, God will use us in various situations if we will be committed to Him.  If we are truly committed, he will use us so that He might receive glory.   All too often we approach God and want to be used of Him first, and then we will be committed. 

Our Citizenship

  • In this passage of scripture, Paul quickly points out his citizenship status, his relationship to the Roman State, the condition of his citizenship.  His was that he had been born a citizen.  The commander had purchased his.  There were privileges as a citizen of Rome. 
  • As a child of God we have dual citizenship.  One is our citizenship of this country and the greater of the two is our citizenship in heaven.    We were physically born of woman to this earthly citizenship and spiritually born of the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit at our confession of sins into the citizenship of heaven. 
  • We, the family of God, are fellow citizens of all God’s children throughout the world.  Like it or not you are brother or sister to red, brown, yellow, black and white.  You are brother or sister to Spanish, Colombian, German, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Angolan, Cuban, Egyptian and every other nationality under the sun if they have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ.  Get used to it!  You are a multiracial family.  If you have a problem getting around to that kind of understanding perhaps a bit of confession regarding your bigotry is in order.  God’s Word says we are neither Jew nor Greek but have all been made one in Christ.

Philippians 3:17-20 (The Amplified Bible) – Brethren, together follow my example and observe those who live after the pattern we have set for you.  For there are many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, who walk (live) as enemies of the cross of Christ (the Anointed One).  They are doomed and their fate is eternal misery (perdition); their god is their stomach (their appetites, their sensuality) and they glory in their shame, siding with earthly things and being of their party.  But we are citizens of the state (commonwealth, homeland) which is in heaven, and from it also we earnestly and patiently await (the coming of) the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) (as) Savior, who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subjecting everything to Himself. 

  • If our citizenship is in heaven, then we have a pattern to follow after.  God must be first in every area of our life.  If we are going to be members of His church (the Body) then we must be pure, holy, without spot, without blemish, an example to those about us.  Our citizenship is not to be taken lightly or for granted.  If we are His representatives here on the earth we must walk according to the Word of God. 

Philippians 1:27 (The Amplified Bible) — Let your conduct (citizenship) be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. 

What Have I (You) Done for God Lately?

Acts 21:10-13

And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”  Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

  • GO!!!

Matthew 28:19 – GO therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 7:22 – Jesus answered and said to them, “GO and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.

Acts 1:8 – But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and YOU SHALL BE WITNESSES to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

  • PREACH!!!

Romans 10:14-15 – How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:  “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”

Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

  • TEACH!!!

Matthew 28:20 – teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.

1 Peter 2:2 – as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

  • B – Basic
  • I – Instructions
  • B – Before
  • L – Leaving
  • E – Earth

Focus on Mission

Acts 20;24

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Gospel – Good News

  • G – God’s
  • O – one and
  • O – only
  • D – declaration for
  • N – North
  • E – East
  • W – West
  • S – South

Paul’s stated mission was “to testify of the grace of God.”  Grace is at the center of our mission.  The essence of the Gospel is the declaration of God’s free grace to a guilty world.

God’s amazing grace had swept Saul of Tarsus (Paul) into fellowship with the Christ he had sought so hard to discredit.  It was also God’s amazing grace that brought each of us into the fold.  Do you remember where you were when God’s amazing grace rescued you?

We are appalled when we look at the sins of the world.  But as inventive as he is the devil has not invented one new sin since you and I were redeemed.  The mission of the church is rescuing sinners from the depths of sin and from the wrath of God’s judgment.  This is the immense message of the Gospel to the entire world.

We focus on sins; God focuses on grace.  We focus on success; God focuses on obedience. We focus on competition; God focuses on unity.  We focus on independence; God focuses on interdependence.  We focus on money’ God focuses on mission.

Do we really know our mission?  Do we really know what God has called the Church to be?  Do we really know our role in it?  What does it mean to be a church community?   Do you know why your church is here?  Why you are here?

Do you know what your church’s mission statement is?  “Mission”, not as in missionaries and exotic lands, but “mission” as in job, task. 

God’s mission for the church is to ‘win the lost at any cost” and the “good news of the grace of God.” 

The church is not built in one generation.  It requires the passing of fortitude and faith from one generation to another.  How well are you and your church doing?

The good news cannot be passed to the next generation in a weakened condition.  The future of the church depends on how well we finish, and how well we hand off the baton to another generation.

Perhaps we have been too preoccupied with whether our churches are growing, when we should have been preoccupied with whether our mission is dying.  We are a missionary fellowship.  Without sustained mission, there will be no lasting fellowship.

Our calling is to reach the lost and disciple believers!  Nothing is more useless than a church that has lost its mission.  It is a poor substitute for mere entertainment.  God’s Word says “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Matthew 28:19-20.

Thomas Aquinas said, “If the primary aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.

My greatest fear is that we will lose sight of our mission and move into insignificance.  I fear we may use our energies and resources to fine-tune our programs, trim our organizational edges, put higher steeples on our churches, deeper padding on our pews, and more stain in our glass windows.  I fear that in the process, we will fail to pass this mission on to a new generation.

Brothers and sisters, please hear me and hear me well.  If we violate the purpose for which we have been called, we will not survive.  And what’s more important, we should not survive.  Some people have paid a high price to bring the church to where it is today.  We cannot stop at mid-course.  Where do we go from here?  The choice is ours.  Do we continue business as usual, or do we make a move toward greatness?

We are either facing our finest hour or our most disappointing failure.  The choice is ours.

Sydney Harris said, “People are fond of saying ‘the past is dead,’ but it is actually the future that is dead – and we make it come alive only by applying what we have learned from the past to the present.’

Hebrews 12:1-2 – we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Church at Corinth

Acts 18:1-18

Corinth was a major city of Greece.  It was on a peninsula at the southern tip of Greece.  The land at this point was only about five miles east to west.  Bordered by two harbors on either side, all traffic north and south passed through the city.  It was known as the lookout, the guard, the eye of Greece.  Made up of Greeks, Romans, Jews and adventurers who dwelt in business transactions during the day and parties in the night clubs by night, the city was a pleasure-made city.  The goddess of fertility, Aphrodite, had her temple here.  It was home to the Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympic Games.    It was to this sophisticated city that Paul came to spread the gospel. 

Paul was apparently discouraged when he came to Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:3).  He had been run out of the three previous cities where he had ministered – Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea.  In Athens he had seen little success.  In Corinth he was facing a proud, intellectual, busy and immoral populace.  Silas and Timothy had remained behind in Macedonia to minister, so he was apparently alone on this part of the trip. 

God met Paul’s need.  He appeared to Paul in a vision and assured him of His presence and His protection (Acts 18:9).  He led Paul to the path of two believers, Aquila and Priscilla (husband and wife team), who were also tentmakers like Paul.  Expelled from Rome along with all the other Jews by Emperor Claudius, they had just recently arrived in Corinth.  Paul was able to live with them and work alongside of them to provide for his needs.  Later Timothy and Silas joined him, bringing news of the strong faith of the believers in Thessalonia. 

Strengthened by God, Paul remained in Corinth for 1 1/2 years with great success in sharing the gospel.  The chief ruler of the synagogue became a believer along with a great number of Gentiles.  The Gentiles of that time were often attracted to the Jewish religion, especially the well-to-do women.  They lived in an immoral world that gave no rights to women.  Thus, they found great security in a religion of high morality. 

There were wealthy converts also.  Gaius was Paul’s host (Romans 16:23).  Erastus was the chamberlain (treasurer) of the city.  Chloe was probably a lady of extreme wealth with business interests in both Corinth and Ephesus (1 Cor. 1:11). 

But it appears the majority of believers were average people who came from very sinful backgrounds.  Paul clearly says, “…not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble were called:  But God has chosen the…base things of the world and the things which are despised…” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Evangelism and Discipleship

  • Paul left Athens where his reception was unproductive to go to another area to preach the gospel. 
  • Matthew 10:14 – And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
  • Matthew 7:6 – Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Paul found and developed people. 

  • Matthew 28:19-20 – Go and teach (make disciples of) all nations.
  • 2 Timothy 2:2 – And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Ministry vs. Secular Labor

  • Minister should be supported in his labor. 
  • 1 Corinthians 9:13 – Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar.  Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
  • Bottom line:  word of God must be given. 
  • Acts 4:20 – For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:16 – For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me, yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

Preaching-Teaching-Witnessing

  • Like Jesus, Paul was in the house of God on the Sabbath.
  • Paul “reasoned” – presented sound, thoughtful, logical points, answered and settled questions in a reasonable way. 
  • Paul “persuaded” – prevailed, urged, induced, pleaded, begged, sought to move and bring about a change of heart and mind. 
  • 1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify (set apart) the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Sharing the Gospel May Bring Rejection – Requires Effort

  • Paul was “compelled” (sunecho – to grip tightly – describes affliction of pain or fear, being held fast).  The love of Christ leaves us no choice but to live our lives for Him and share the gospel with others. 
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14 – For the love of Christ compels us because we judge thus, that if One died for all, then all died.
  • Paul was rejected.  When the message we share is rejected, we are not to give up.  We are to simply try another person.  Rejection does not feel good – but we must press on and share with others.
  • Matthew 10:12-14 – And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
  •  Acts 13:51 – But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium

The Lord Will Always Encourage His Servant

  • Do not be afraid.
  • Speak.
  • Do not keep silent.
  • I am with you.
  • No one will harm you.
  • There are others on your side.
  • Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
  • Isaiah 43:1-3 – But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned.  Nor shall the flame scorch you.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
  • Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:6; Psalm 28:7; 2 Peter 2:9; Isaiah 54:17

He Rejoiced

Acts 16:25-34

About midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the (other) prisoners were listening to them, suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened.  When the jailer, startled out of his sleep, saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself, because he supposed that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!  Then (the jailer) called for lights and rushed in, and trembling and terrified he fell down before Paul and Silas.  And he brought them out (of the dungeon) and said, Men, what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved?  And they answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping) and you will be saved, (and this applies to both) you and your household as well.  And they declared the Word of the Lord (the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God) to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and bathed (them because of their bloody) wounds, and he was baptized immediately and all (the members of) his (house-hold).  Then he took them up into his house and set food before them; and he leaped much for joy and exulted with all his family that he believed in God (accepting and joyously welcoming what He had made known through Christ).   The Amplified Version

HE REJOICED

  • He rejoiced.  He believed in God.
  • He rejoiced.  All his household believed in God.
  • He rejoiced.  His sins were gone.
  • He rejoiced.  No more condemnation.
  • He rejoiced.  His family was saved.
  • He rejoiced.  His name was written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
  • He rejoiced.  His family’s names were written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
  • He rejoiced.  There was a change in His life.
  • He rejoiced.  There was a change in the life of His family.
  • He rejoiced.  He opened His heart to receive the Word of God.
  • He rejoiced.  He received peace everlasting.
  • He rejoiced.  Peace had come to him.
  • He rejoiced.  Peace had come to his family. 
  • He rejoiced.  Peace had come to his home.
  • He rejoiced.  He had no more guilt.
  • He rejoiced.  He had no more sadness.
  • He rejoiced.  He had no more sorrowing for wrong doing.
  • He rejoiced.  He followed in obedience and was baptized.
  • He rejoiced.  His family followed in obedience and was baptized.

LET US REJOICE

  • Let us rejoice.  Our lives are changed.
  • Let us rejoice.  Our hearts are made anew.
  • Let us rejoice.  Our attitudes have been reprogrammed.
  • Let us rejoice.  Our family is different.
  • Let us rejoice.  Our job is different.
  • Let us rejoice.  Our walk is different.
  • Let us rejoice.  Our names are written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
  • Let us rejoice.  Our family’s names are written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life.   
  • Let us rejoice.  We are different.
  • Let us rejoice.  There has been a change.
  • Let us rejoice.  Let us rejoice.  Let us rejoice.

The Forgiveness of Sins

Acts 13:38-39

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

  • The Message is preached unto you.

Acts 13:38-39 – Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

  • The Source – Jesus, a Prince and Savior.

Acts 5:31 – Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

  • The Ground – for His name’s sake.

1 John 2:12 – I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.

  • The Means – through His blood

Ephesians 1:7 – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

  • The Condition – if we confess our sins.

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

  • The Extent – all trespasses

Colossians 2:13 – And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.

  • The Measure – the riches of His grace

Ephesians 1:7 – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.