This morning we have the special opportunity to witness a baptism of Mahkila Glazier. But before we administer the baptism, I thought it would be good to take a second and ask, “What does baptism do?”
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting down with Eric and Sheila and that was one of the questions me. So I thought it might be good for all of us to reflect on that for a moment.
I’d like to point out 5 things that happen in a an infant baptism.
1. Baptism sets her apart unto God and designates her as one who belongs to Him.
In Ezk 16:20 God says that the children of the Israelites were “born unto Him.” That just reminds us that our children are ultimately God's children. They belong to Him. And by applying this sign we show God's ownership of her.
One of my seminary friends once received a seal for his birthday —one of those things that you squeeze & it makes an imprint on paper. It was a seal bearing his name. Every time he got a new book, he would put his seal on it. So every book he had showed exactly to whom this book belonged.
That’s what will be happening to Mahkila today. She is going to be baptized into the Name of our Triune God. She will be marked out as one who belongs to him. And contrarily, she is marked as one who does not belong to Satan or to the World.
2. Baptism makes her an official member of the visible church.
Note that I said the visible church and not the invisible church. It is important to make that distinction. The invisible church consists of all of the elect (i.e. those who are truly believe and are saved). And you can only enter it by being baptized with the Spirit.
But the visible church is a mixed body; it consists of both believers and unbelievers. And water baptism is the ceremony that indicates one’s membership in it.
So today we are publicly recognizing that this covenant child is a part of God’s visible church.
3. It puts her under a solemn obligation to love and serve the Lord.
This logically follows, doesn’t it? If she belongs to God, then she is under a solemn obligation to live like it, right?
We don’t want to downplay this: The blessings of being a part of God’s covenant come with a great deal of responsibility. And if she does not grow up to love and serve the Lord, then this baptism will be used against her on the Day of Judgment, making her punishment more severe.
It is our hope though, that this little girl will make good on her baptism and seek to love and serve the Lord all her days.
4. It seals God’s love and favor to her.
Or, to put it another way, baptism confirms the reality of God’s love in a distinct & powerful way.
We know that God loves our children. After all, they are His children, as we mentioned earlier. And in baptism God’s further confirms his love through this visible act.
Think about it this way: A man can look at his wife and say, “I love you.” And if he does that, it probably will mean a lot to her. But a man can also kiss his wife, can’t he? And if he kisses her he doesn’t just say he loves her, but he actually conveys his love to her. She can be more deeply assured of his love by the physical demonstration of it.
Just as that kiss is a visible demonstration of his inward love, this sacrament is a visible demonstration of God’s love for Mahkila and to all of God’s people.
5. It reminds us of our baptism & our covenant relationship to God.
This baptism also serves as something as a Post-it note to us. It is a reminder that God has promised to be our Savior and to wash away our sins.
Now, let us hear the covenant promises that God makes in Scripture...
"For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your seed after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto you and to your seed after you. Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your house."
Call to Confession
“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breaths out lies will not escape.”
This past week Brian Williams, a man who usually reports the news, was in the news. It came out that Williams had completely made up a story about coming under attack while in Iraq.
Yesterday NBC announced that Williams will be stepping down from his position. Not only though has this man lost his job, he has become the butt of many jokes and many of his news reports have come into question. All in all, this man’s reputation has, in a matter of days, completely bottomed out.
Brian Williams stands as a vivid example of what this Proverb states: God will not allow a liar to go unpunished.
Moreover, these events remind us of our need to be honest about the lies we have told. He who breaths out lies will not escape, and for this reason we must seek the mercy of God for all the ways we’ve been dishonest.
Prayer of Repentance
We come before you confessing that we have not dealt honestly with the truth nor given the it its proper regard.
We admit that we are quite fluent in the devil’s language. It is our native tongue. We cannot even begin to recount how many times we have exaggerated the truth, embellished it, and inflated it in order to gain some advantage or make ourselves out to be better than we are. Yet, at the same time, we have twisted it, minimized it, and withheld it so that we might advance our own reputation or fortune.
We confess this because we know that no liar will enter your presence or inherit the kingdom of God. But every one of them will find their place in the lake of fire. Knowing therefore that we deserve eternal damnation we plead for your mercy and ask that you would pardon us for the ways we have cheated the truth.
We know that we have lied to others. But we acknowledge that we have first and foremost lied to ourselves. We have deceived ourselves into thinking that the truth is not important. We have tricked ourselves into believing that we could create our own reality and fabricate a world where we are exceedingly great.
But the greater deception is that we have thought that we could deceive you. We were foolish enough to actually think that your all seeing eye would not take notice of the ways we have misrepresented ourselves and others. We believed that our shams could be hidden from your sight and that you would not hold us accountable for having broken your commandment not to bear false witness.
God, we acknowledge the depth of our evil and the greatness of our depravity. And we know that we would only be furthering our doom if we did not come forth and admit the truth of our lies.
Here now, in this time of repentance, we know that our only hope is in the gospel and the God of all truth; the one who continually holds forth the promise of grace and salvation. We know that you will not take back your word, but you will fulfill it to the very end.
And to that end we trust in Christ for our deliverance, and it is in His strong name that we pray, Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: John 6:47
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.