Today at Gathering Point Church we celebrate the baptisms of six teenagers who are ready to publicly confess their faith in Jesus Christ and to be claimed by God as His very own.
We believe baptism is a Sacrament – a rite that was commanded by Jesus and that is a means of grace in our lives. The Global Methodist Church recognizes two Sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion. Both are commanded by Jesus.
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19 NIV – emphasis added)
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV – emphasis added)
In Holy Communion the grace of Jesus Christ is lavished on our lives as we receive His broken body and shed blood for the remission of our sins. Each time we receive the Lord’s Supper we receive more grace!
In Baptism we make a public confession of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We acknowledge that we have put our faith in Jesus, and that we are trusting Him for redemption and eternal life, and we publicly promise to serve Him as Lord of our life. It is a holy moment when we make this public profession, and God’s Holy Spirit is present to receive our confession and to claim us as His own.
You see, Baptism is more than something we do to profess our faith. Baptism includes a very important thing God does to make us part of His covenant people, adopting us into His family and making us His. When we confess Jesus as Savior and Lord it is both a statement of who we are and whose we are. We claim our identity as followers of Jesus Christ and He claims us as His own beloved children.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:2-13 NIV – emphasis added)
This action by God in claiming us in our baptism is a gift of grace and an act of deep love. When Shirley and I found out we could not conceive a child naturally we explored adoption. Eventually we adopted six-day-old twins. We chose Peter and Rachel to be our own beloved children. We made them family in our hearts and legally through adoption. God has done that very thing by our faith in Jesus Christ, and baptism is the public expression of this claiming – this adopting us as His children.
That is the reason most denominations, including our Global Methodist Church, do not do re-baptisms. We do not need to be claimed again by God, because He is faithful no matter how far away we wander. Think of Jesus’ story of the prodigal son. The son had disowned his father and left home for a life on his own. But the father never disowned his son. And when the son came home, his father restored him to his place as son and heir. God is faithful, and so one baptism is enough. In baptism, grace is given for a lifetime. In Holy Communion, grace is given over and over as often as we need restoration and forgiveness and joy.
So today we celebrate baptisms. Those being baptized will, of course, have the most joy as they experience the grace of this holy moment. Their families will also have great joy as their loved one takes this important step of faith and commitment. And the whole congregation will celebrate the joy of six young men and women who commit themselves to living for Jesus for the rest of their lives. We will all remember our baptisms and recommit our lives to live with Jesus as Lord and King.
Thanks be to God for the grace and joy of baptism!