How can you identify Christians? They have been baptized, and 1 Peter 3:18-22 uses some strong language to describe what your baptism means. We need to take Biblical language seriously. What does Peter mean when he speaks of “baptism that now saves you”?
Christ died for you. Once for all the righteous died for the unrighteous. Christ’s death is unique. It cannot be repeated. Christ died once for all. His death is sufficient. It accomplished what it set out to do. Christ died because of sins. It was your rebellion and disobedience that made his suffering and death necessary. He died in your place. The substitutionary atonement is at the heart of the gospel. You baptism is a seal of your union with Christ as he died in your place. You were buried with him in baptism, Romans 6. Your baptism is not only your expressing trust in Christ. It is God declaring that you belong to him.
What purpose did Christ have in dying for you? Christ died to bring you to God. Salvation is not just a matter of relieving you of the consequences and punishment of your sins. It has as its goal fellowship with God. The idea of a “carnal Christian,” saved, but uninterested in serving God, is a myth. Continue reading “Who Are We? A Baptized People”
Parents expect their children to listen when they speak. But they also encourage them to speak back to them. The heavenly song in Revelation 5 teaches you how to speak to God in the way he wants you to speak.
Speak to God. Speak in prayer and song. God speaks to us. Because he has made us in his image, he has given us the ability to speak, and he expects, he desires that you speak to him. You can do that privately as you pray to him, whether in a carefully thought out prayer or in one breathed in an urgent moment. As a church we speak to God together in prayer. Avoiding the confusion that Paul warned the Corinthians against, corporate prayer is led by a person, often the pastor, but speaking on behalf of the whole congregation. Make these corporate prayers yours. Pray with the congregation during the various prayers in the worship service. Whether public or private, learn to reflect the breadth appropriate in prayer. Don’t let them narrow to requests alone. One of the ways to grow in prayer is to model your prayers after the Psalms.
Speak, because God is God. The God who made you in his image speaks with you and listens when you speak. Appreciate the sovereign power of God. To a church suffering under persecution, faced with the claim that Caesar is Lord, Christ gives John (and you) a glimpse of the throne room of heaven. It is clear who sits on the throne. You need that reassurance as you face a world that is unfriendly to the gospel. Don’t get the impression that the church has suffered some massive defeat if bad laws and regulations are passed. The world around you may be in blatant rebellion against God, but he hears your cries Creatures in the presence of God must worship. Continue reading “Who Are We? A People Who Speak to God”
Is worship our singing praise to God, contrasted with teaching, where a pastor or other leader expounds the Word? Public worship is a much more reciprocal affair, alternating between God speaking to his people, and the congregation responding in song and prayer. Acts 3:17-26 focuses on God speaking to us.
God speaks. God spoke through the prophets. God spoke to create. God’s Word continues to sustain his creation. God spoke to his people in Eden and then even after sin entered the world. “Thus saith the Lord” is used over 1,100 times. Look at the function of the prophet in Ex. 4:16, as Aaron is assigned to be the spokesman for Moses. Marvel that God has spoken—and that he has spoken to you. Although a wonderful miracle triggers Peter’s message, the focus of his words is not on the formerly lame man but on the Savior who continues to speak the good news. Continue reading “Who Are We? A People to Whom God Speaks”