* these are mainly notes, so bear with the brevity. ??
Acts 19.1-7While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.??2He said to them, ???Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers???? They replied, ???No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.?????3Then he said, ???Into what then were you baptized???? They answered, ???Into John???s baptism.?????4Paul said, ???John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.?????5On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.??6When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied???7altogether there were about twelve of them.
So what's the this business of a baptism of John and a baptism of Jesus? ??The short version is simply this: that John was the one who was preparing the way of the Lord to come. ??John's baptism was one that proclaimed and enabled repentance in people's lives, repentance being a turning away from sin. ??But for the sins we turn away from to actually be forgiven is a job for a divine power, a power that was only going to come through Jesus Christ. ??To use a metaphor: John's baptism was one of water, while Jesus' baptism was one that included a germ-killing, antibacterial agent. ??That agent is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is that all-empowering force that allows us to live inside God's forgiveness. ??In the Spirit we are able to seek after God, finding relief from our sin through God's mercy that is proclaimed and received through baptism. ??A baptism in Jesus' name associates us with the One who came to free us from bondage to sin and slavery; it associates us with a Counselor???the Holy Spirit??? who from now on will be our advocate, growing us in grace and in the likeness of Jesus Christ. ??These disciples were able to realize their need for Jesus through John's baptism of preparation but they lacked the power to live out faithful and obedient lives as disciples.
Someone at this time who was baptized by John was capable of understanding what the Christian life entailed. ??Intellectually it made sense. ??But without the Holy Spirit, John's baptism wasn't capable of transforming a heart from one callused by sin to a heart freed from the guilt and shame that comes from a life lived without God.
Each of us should understand that baptism is both a sign of obedience and of rebirth, meaning that we have been born from the inside???out into a new way of life. ??
So, what does this mean for us today? ??It means that if you are sitting here today and you have been baptized in Jesus' name, then you have at your fingertips every resource you need to grow in your faith and become an outstanding disciple. ??Because of your association with Jesus Christ and your fellowship within God's Holy Church, you are rich with the means to live a life of freedom from guilt and shame. ??You have within you the ability to usher in change in the hearts of others. ??You can be a miracle of transformation in this world, living proof of what God has and is doing in Jesus.
If you are here today and you have not been baptized and you have a desire to do so, then I want you to talk with me. ??Fellowship in the church isn't something we do on a whim. ??It is a serious and life-changing decision that we want you to be ready for. ??
REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM
When I say 'remember your baptism', I'm not asking you to try and remember the church or the water or the family present that day. Many of us were children when we were baptized, or even infants. The remembrance is calling to mind that you are washed in Jesus mercy, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and are a member of Christ's Holy Church. You are equipped in Jesus' name to do the work of a disciple. Therefore, let us remember who we are and whose we are…
* here, we entered into the liturgy from the UM Hymnal (pg. 50) for a reaffirmation of the Baptismal covenant. Bless you all this week!
Rev. Whit R. Martin??
Pastor,??New Liberty United Methodist Church
Devotional Blog – http://devoblog.posterous.com
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