Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 5 Study # 2
Thesis: Jesus was baptized.
Introduction: Last week we saw that Luke was at the point in his communication with Theophilus where he intended to introduce John's "Mighty One", Who was to baptize with either the Holy Spirit, or with fire. In that study, it was our intent to focus upon the implications of the transition from John to Jesus. John did not gently fade from the scene. Instead, the evil one was permitted to cut his ministry off abruptly by having him arrested and imprisoned. It is this reality -- that it is a semi-regular revelation in the Bible that the servants of God meet with the appearance of a terrible divine defeat once their service has accomplished its purpose -- that causes a lot of turmoil in American Christians who have never jettisoned the American Dream of serving God and Mammon and ending up retired and fat and sassy with an anticipation of glory at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The truth is, however, that it has never been possible to serve God and Mammon (Jesus told us that pointedly and without ambiguity -- Luke 16:13 -- so that it is not His fault that we ignore the fact) and there will not be much glory at the Judgment Seat for those who tenaciously hold on to the Dream. Luke knew this. It was his intent to reveal Jesus Christ so that we would learn it.
So, this morning we come to the first thing we are told by Luke about this adult Jesus Who taught the necessity of a single loyalty: He Who was to baptize had been baptized by John. What did he want us to learn from that fact?
May 14, 2006
- I. What Did it Signify That Jesus Was Baptized?
- A. This is a problem for those who see John's baptism as "effectual" for the obtaining of forgiveness.
- 1. There is a huge block of visible "Christendom" that declare the absolute necessity of water baptism in order to obtain the grace of forgiveness.
- a. This doctrine of "baptism to obtain" has several shades of explanation.
- 1) Some teach "baptismal regeneration" so that those who are baptized are born again into God's family.
- 2) Some hesitate to go there, so they teach "baptismal remission" so that those who are baptized are "forgiven" by God at the point of their baptism so that they can then be "born again" by "faith" after forgiveness.
- 3) Then, there are those who teach that though one can be forgiven and regenerated before water baptism, if one then refuses to be baptized, the "salvation" that was given is "revoked".
- b. But this doctrine has one bottom line: baptism was commanded by God as a means to salvation.
- 2. The obvious implication of this bottom line is that anyone who was baptized by John needed it in order to be saved.
- 3. So, when we are told that Jesus was baptized by John, we are immediately confused -- for Jesus was not in need of either forgiveness or regeneration.
- 4. The fact is this: there are multiple "gospels" out there and only one is the truth.
- a. These "multiple gospels" easily divide into two camps.
- 1) One camp teaches that salvation is the result of human endeavor at some level.
- 2) The other camp teaches that salvation is the result of divine endeavor at every effectual level.
- b. There is only one Truth: salvation is either a grace-based gift of God, or it is a humanly-earned reward for the "proper response required of God".
- 1) The actual "truth" is not hard to determine.
- a) John was sent by God under two basic realities.
- i. He was named "Yahweh is gracious" so that he would be the Harbinger of Grace.
- ii. He was "filled with the Spirit of the gracious Yahweh" before there was any possibility that he could "earn" salvation by means of any so-called "proper response". [I tossed a grenade to my class last week by asking them, "If John was filled with the Spirit before he was born, when was he 'saved'?" It has created quite a stir for all of my students who have all been taught that salvation is "up to man's exercise of his free will"]
- b) This pre-birth argument is not unique to John: Romans 9:11 uses the very same argument and deliberately ties it to "election" which is deliberately tied by Romans 11:5 to "grace".
- c) And not only this, but Ephesians 1:4-6 directly ties "predeterminism before individual existence" to "grace" so that it is impossible to not see that "grace" is all about God's unilateral action on the behalf of those who are "saved by grace".
- 2) Nor are the "reasons" men have created other gospels hard to understand.
- a) In the first place, the "election of grace" terrifies men whose concept of God is that He is both arbitrary and mean -- for they are certain that such a God would not choose them and that means they are forever doomed -- and their terror drives them to attempt to get into a position before God where they can force Him to give them eternal life instead of eternal condemnation.
- b) And in the second place, the "election of grace" is as point-blank of an elimination of man's fundamental demand that he be allowed to "boast" of his superiority over others as can be imagined; and, men yield their "right to be superior" only with great difficulty.
- B. This is a very hopeful truth for those whose experience has driven them to the very edge of total despair of any hope of eternal life.
- 1. There is only one type of person who can be saved.
- a. This type of person has absolutely no hope of salvation based upon any level of legitimate personal response to God's commands.
- 1) This person has had enough experience to know that no matter what level of personal determination he/she has "put in place" regarding the commandments of God, it has never been "enough" to actually carry the ball.
- 2) This person has been brought, by experience, to complete despair of being able to satisfy God.
- b. This type of person has some level of hope that God is neither arbitrary nor mean -- that the promise of "salvation into the eternity of a purposeful and good God" is real.
- 1) Why would anyone wish to be "saved" into the "heaven" of an arbitrary and mean God?
- 2) Salvation is no "promise" if God is either arbitrary or mean.
- 2. Jesus' "baptism" was as potent a statement of the "issue" as could be made.
- a. All who were baptized by John were doing the same thing: they were subscribing to his doctrine that God will forgive any snake who is willing to come to Him in the snakiness without excuses and simply receive His cleansing and regeneration.
- b. That Jesus was "baptized by John" means one thing: the doctrine is so true that the very Son of God's first adult action was to publicly declare His absolute commitment to it.
- c. This is not a "demand" that you "turn from your snakiness" and start to serve the Holy God: it is a promise that God's love for you will not allow your snakiness to keep Him from saving you if it does not keep you from letting Him.