Un-believe-able!  I couldn't wait to blog about this weekend until tomorrow!  We had a tremendous morning at Live Oak as God showed up in awesome ways!  We spent the morning talking about what seems to have been a "hot button" issue for some time, back to before I came as Lead Pastor - baptism.  the question that has come to me more than any other is, "What does Live Oak teach about baptism?"  There is a misconception in the community and among the churches in the area that LOCC teaches that if someone is not baptized they are going to go to Hell.  Let me give you some highlights from the message and then let's celebrate what God did this morning at Live Oak:

  • There isn't enough water in all of the world to take away a single sin from anyone!
  • As clear as I can say it, baptism does not save you.
  • We are saved by God's grace alone, through faith - nothing on our own so that we can't take credit for it (Ephesians 2:8).
  • When we believe with our hearts and confess with our lips that Christ is Lord, we are saved (Romans 10:9).
  • With that out of the way, we spent some of the morning talking about the history of baptism, from it meaning (immersion) to biblical examples of baptisms - the Hebrew Micva, John the Baptist, Jesus baptism, many of the baptisms in the book of Acts, even into the words of early church leaders like John Calvin, John Wesley, and Martin Luther.
  • The questions around baptism center less around the history or definition of baptism and more around the "why" of baptism.
  • Here are a few reasons why baptism is important for everyone who is a follower of Christ:
    • Jesus exemplified it. (Matthew 3, Mark 3, Luke 1)
    • Jesus commanded it.  (Matthew 28, Mark 16)
    • Baptism celebrates what God is doing in our heart.  It is a memorial experience with our friends and family that celebrates externally what Jesus has done and is doing internally.  Think about a wedding.  You can get married by going to the Justice of the Peace and signing a marriage license - like a business transaction, or you can invite everyone important in your life to witness the two of you becoming one in a covenant relationship - like a memorial celebration.  So it is with baptism.
    • Baptism is a chance for us to identify with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.  (Colossians 2:12)
    • Baptism is a chance for us to identify ourselves as a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:4)
    • Celebration and Identity - two HUGE reasons for us to be baptized!
  • To me this discussion is best answered with a return question:  Why wouldn't you be baptized?
    • We should WANT to follow Christ's example.
    • We should WANT to obey Christ's command.
    • We should WANT to celebrate what God has done in our hearts.
    • We should WANT to identify with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.
    • We should WANT to be identified as a new creation in Christ.
    • We should WANT TO BE BAPTIZED!
  • The baptism we are talking about is a BELIEVER'S BAPTISM.
    • The scriptures show in the New Testament that everyone who believed in Jesus was baptized.
    • Baptism was ALWAYS a part of a person's spiritual transformation (with the single exception of the thief on the cross).
  • Baptism is a big deal, and every Christian should do it!
  • I believe God sits in heaven with a broken heart over the disunity in His Church surrounding baptism.  How could something that He created as an act of unification between Himself and other believers have become such a divisive issue?
    • Because it is the first command we are given as His disciples.  Think about it.  Baptism is the first thing we should do when we are completely surrendered to Christ, and it is the first command that Satan confuses us about.  From the get-go Satan wants to sew discord, disunity, and confusion into the hearts of God's followers.
  • After the teaching the Spirit was moving in our church.  I saw many in tears as God was speaking to people's hearts.
  • We set up a pool outside the entrance to the auditorium with a live video feed to the auditorium so everyone could celebrate people's baptisms DURING our service.  (Isn't baptism one of the biggest acts of worship we can give?!)
  • 9 people came out to the pool and were baptized.
  • Several others are considering baptism in the near future.
  • Hopefully we can put the question of baptism to a unified rest at Live Oak.

Next week we continue with the F.A.Q. series as we take a look at questions around salvation.  My prayer is that we would continue to follow hard after God's leading according to His Word and that Live Oak would not only grow up in our faith, but grow up together.

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