Overcoming in the Blood of the Lamb
22 Nov 2003, Pr George Porter
(George is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
TITLE: OVERCOMING IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB
THEME: Baptism and the Christian's Fellowship with Christ
SCRIPTURE READING: Romans 6:1-4 Newness of Life
A Short address to the Baptism Candidates with a focus on them and their special day.
There are many memorable milestones in our life time. Some we remember and some are remembered for us, while other we have no recollection of at all. For instance, child dedication (some call it baptism), is one milestone that most of us never remember because we were less than a year old when our parents had us presented to the Lord. The decision was made for us. There is no memory of the occasion on our part at all. Parents have memory but not us.
Today it is a different story. You are here today to be baptized into fellowship with Jesus Christ, because you have made a personal decision to make Him Lord of your life. You love Jesus because He loved you first. You have repented or changed your mind about Him. You want a relationship with Him. You have overcome you natural tendencies to oppose God and have decided to live with and for Him. Today is decision day.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE PROCESS
The Christian's life with Christ, is an ongoing process of salvation. Today I would submit that this process is outlined in the issues presented to the seven churches of Revelation. These are found in Revelation Chapters 2-3. I will today, use Pastoral license and apply these messages to we Christians and you the baptismal candidates in particular, in the personal manner in which God intended.
Basically the seven messages are structured around God's appraisal of His people. That is you and all of us here today. God itemizes the righteous characteristics of each. He then lists any of the unrighteous facts of His people. Then with love and grace He calls for a decision of repentance and obedience to His word. Finally, He offer overcomers eternal rewards for accepting His loving rebukes. In other words Christians are people who need continually to repent of deviations from God's commands outlined in His word. You will need to continually review your life and repent of sins pointed out by His word. It is continual overcoming for successful Christian living in Christ. Please do not for one moment think that baptism today will absolve you from the decision of repentance in the future. Baptism must not keep you from overcoming. It is the beginning of a life of repentance and overcoming in fellowship with Christ and the Father through the Holy Spirit.
DECISIONS AND OVERCOMING REWARDS
Notice the list of rebukes and promises for overcomers who decide for Christ.
1. Revelation 2:2 "I know your deeds." There are good things and bad issues dealt with. Then comes the call to "repent" verse 5. Then the promise of reward to overcomers -- "… The right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." Wow! What a promise. To have eternal life from the tree of life and to live with God.
2. Rev 2:10 carries a promise of persecution, suffering and possible death! The reward is, "the crown of life." That is literally eternal life. In verse 11, the promise is more explicit to overcomers. "…overcomers will not be hurt at all by the second death. There is the promise of life everlasting without death or any other sinful or worldly impediment currently our lot.
3. Rev 2:16 is another call to repent after the positive and negative characteristics of His people have been reviewed. Again there is the promise to overcomers. People who decide to obey God's requests. Repentance is decision. Overcoming is decision and in this case rewarded with "hidden manner," spiritual nourishment from God. It also gives eternal life to the recipients. Also, a new name to match the new character of the overcomer.
4. Again, God lists the good characteristics and the evil deeds in verses 18-23. Then in verse 24-25 Christ says, "Now I say to the rest of you…. Only hold onto what you have until I come." Those "who overcome and do my will to the end , I will give authority over the nations," verse 26. If faithful, you will at Christ's second coming receive the authority to rule the universe with Him. He makes this clear in the seventh message. Christians who continue at overcoming in Christ's power have authority in this life to overcome the ruler of this world , Satan and his angels.
5. The fifth message follows the pattern with the promise for those who, "walk with me." That is Christians. They are "dressed in white for they are worthy," Chapter 3:4. White clothes represent righteous living as found in Christ. It is given us from Christ. (see Revelation 19:8). Christ promises overcomers that he, "will never blot out his name from the book of life." This is a glorious promise. Think of it. Today your name is entered in the book of life in recognition of your decision to follow Jesus and be baptized into His fellowship. While you continue to decide for Him and overcome in His power He will keep you "acknowledged before the Father and the angels. In other words fellowship with the family of heaven. What a reward here and now and finally forever.
6. Again the good and evil characteristics are outlined. Then in verse 10 the commendation for remaining and enduring as Christians is garnished with the promise, "I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test," you all. You will have trouble even after baptism. But he has promised to support you. The urgency for this solid Christian living is outlined in verse 11. "I am coming soon. Hold onto what you have." Soon the battle of Christianity will be over. He will come back personall to collect overcomers personally. In verse 12, He promises the ones who overcome that he will make them "a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it." Wow! This is a promise of permanent residency in the new Jerusalem. Authority to live with Him and rule with Him. It is a sobering thought. It is a genuine promise and certainly will be honoured . It is Christ's promise and invitation to all baptism candidates as well as every living soul on earth.
7. The final is a message to people who think they are good when in fact they are not the Christians that God expects them to be. In verse 18, God's counsel is that we, "buy of me", meaning we get our resources for righteous living from Christ. Christ in verse 19 offers us His "love" and "discipline," urging our earnest decision to repent. He offers to live with us and promises overcomers, "the right to sit with me on my throne." Just as He has overcome while on earth for and on behalf of us. Just imagine. Grace we do not deserve. But grace gives us what we do not deserve - joint authority with Christ to rule the new earth and the universe. Baptism is a solemn matter. It gives us great joy. It brings us into fellowship with the Trinity. It is a public declaration of our belief in and love for our Lord Jesus Christ. It shows your desire to be part of the family of God.
Jesus promised in John 14:23 that , "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode (live with) him." The context of John chapters 14-16, makes it clear that this promise includes the person of the Holy Spirit by whom the Trinity's presence is a reality. Baptism is a symbol of this human occupancy by God.
Ellen White made some very inspired statements about this whole ceremony of baptism. The following are recorded in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol 6, p.1074-5.
WHO IS PRESENT
"The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, … are present at every baptism, to receive the candidates who have renounced the world and have received Christ into the soul temple. These candidates have entered into the family of God. Their names are inscribed in the Lamb's book of life."
"The waters cover the candidate, and in the presence of the whole heavenly universe the mutual pledge is made. … buried with Christ in baptism, and raised from the water to live the new life of loyalty to God."
"Christ made baptism the entrance to His spiritual kingdom. He made this a positive condition with which all must comply who wish to be acknowledged as under the authority of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost…. Those who receive…make a public declaration that they have renounced the world, and have become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King."
In fact it is a most solemn ceremony and a time to rejoice as well. The reason your names are entered into the Lamb's Book of Life. You officially become a citizen of the heavenly kingdom. A member of God's family.
"We are not to think that as soon as we are baptized we are ready to graduate from the school of Christ…..the three dignitaries and powers of heaven - pledge themselves that every facility shall be given to us if we carry out our baptismal vows …."
Baptism is the commencement of a life with Christ. A life of continual battle with evil and the world. It is continuing overcoming in the power of Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith in God's determination to save us into His eternal kingdom when Christ returns. Baptized Christians share this glorious Gospel of Good News with everybody they meet. Every success with your Christian living.
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