Last week, we talked about how in our movement, it helps for us to stop every now and then, just to impose checkpoints. In these checkpoints, we ask ourselves primarily: Are we still going the right direction? We need to constantly check where we’re headed, even if we say we know we’re moving forward… and we do our checking in the name of ensuring that we avoid moving in the wrong direction. We established that it’s far better to stand still and assess our situation, instead of continually moving forward, only to realize when it’s too late that we’re headed the wrong way. It takes more time to trace and backtrack, than it is to start moving again from a prone position.
As an example of us imposing checkpoints as a congregation, I presented our recent baptism outing. It was a checkpoint – sure, more of a starting point for those of us who were immersed in water that day, but for everyone in attendance, it served as a reminder of the salvation we have in Christ, straight from the Scripture; and, well, a little help from ChatGPT. Through John 3:16 we were reminded of how we were saved as an act of everlasting love from our Creator, and no less that His Son was to ensure that we were saved. When we believe Jesus Christ, then we shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
But what does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ? Well, first of all, as the famous verse implies, we believe that He is the Son of God; and Romans 10:9 is clear as to what details we can keep in mind when we tell ourselves and others that we believe in Jesus: If we confess with our mouths that He is Lord, and if we believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we shall be saved. I firmly believe that if we really take in these Truths of who Christ is – that He is the Son of God who is also our Lord, it is inevitable that we would overflow in awe and worship, that we would not be silent, and our mouths would proclaim it.
And, sure. I’ll admit, those kids we baptized were younger, and probably unable to understand said goodness of God for themselves. It would have been ideal if they came to us of their own volition, but I see another verse at work here: The one that mentions that we train up a child in the way he or she would go, and when he or she grows older, he or she will not deviate from it (Proverbs 22:6). I essentially said, in that last paragraph, that the words of our mouth do not come out without our beliefs at work; However, in the case of these children, I think the other way around holds true: That the words of our mouth reinforce or establish the beliefs of our heart. Imagine, I’m saying all this, in an approach to sort of make sense of that first ‘condition’ as stated in Romans 10:9.
Speaking of words to reinforce belief, I suppose it’s no accident that our confession of Christ as Son of God and Lord comes before our believing that God raised Him from the dead. Is it perhaps sequential in nature, for us to proclaim Christ’s Lordship, and as a result, come to believe in His resurrection, in our hearts?
It’s no Sinners’ Prayer, sure; but us delving into all this – it’s a start. But let’s keep going. We’ve believed in Christ – We’ve proclaimed that He is the Son of God, He is Lord, and we’ve established in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. Therefore, we are saved. But what does it mean to be saved? Well, for starters, we go back to John 3:16 – For us to be saved means we shall not perish, and it means we have everlasting Life.
But for purposes of baptism, I believe it’s essential for us to know that Christ not only brought us into a salvation that sets us free from death, but it’s also a salvation that made us new. Once, we were in sin. We were sin. But 2 Corinthians 5:21 mentions Christ became sin, in order for us to become His righteousness. Furthermore, it says earlier, in verse 17, that the old (sin) has therefore passed away, and the new has come. So to sum it all up, our salvation means that we died with Christ, and because death could not hold Him down, He rose again, and we rose again with Him, saved, new, and righteous.
We immerse believers in water with their consent because they wish to make it publicly known that their old being has died, and we raise them back up to join them in proclaiming that by Christ they have been saved, they have been made righteous, and they have been made new.
What a checkpoint, huh?
But it doesn’t stop there. I openly admitted to the congregation that I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be, considering everything that’s been going on last week leading to Sunday.
Now that I think about it, I think that’s another lesson and another sermon, or another message on its own.
See, for the final months of 2022 we’ve had a pretty hard time driving around our fair city, considering all the tourists that made their way up. And we all braced ourselves – on top of dealing with the influx of cars, we were waiting for people to complain about it on social media… and in fairness, we didn’t seem to complain as much as we used to. And I think some of it is because, I didn’t have to point it out as much as, apparently, people already had it in their minds. Rather, the citizens of our city were already as patient as can be, because we knew that we asked for it. We asked for an acceleration of our local economy, but it was not going to be without its caveats – say, traffic.
And I point this out, because I was so enthusiastic in telling people that this was going to be a Year of Movement… 2023 has barely begun, and boy… With so much happening, between the application of new systems immediately as this year started, paired with people passing away, and ministering to those who have been left behind, as well as, again, bringing people to checkpoints of belief… I mean, I could complain that all of it is happening, with no sign of slowing down, and lesser to no time to write all about it!
Or, I can say to the influx of movement, the same thing I say to the traffic – I asked for this.
And I could adjust – sure, by not complaining and changing the way I think about it… but it seems as if I need to make adjustments. I mean, just as I would take alternate, lesser known routes to avoid heavy traffic, so I see that there’s a need for me to make similar changes, to address the increase in movement.
I can’t stop it. The next best thing is to flow.
Flow. More than movement, it was an underlying theme in my head as I was personally transitioning from one year to the next. All this time I thought it was all about movement… but perhaps it’s more about us flowing. Our being overwhelmed by the love of God has its potential to propel us into movement, sure, but it’s not the only way that water moves.
That’s the point for me in all this. I mentioned a couple of checkpoints to prove my point last Sunday, but I find myself in a bigger, more relevant checkpoint here; Sure, we’re still bound to move forward, higher, and wider… but instead of pointing out that we’re being flung into better places on our own, I think I’m being moved towards proclaiming, that just as boats move with the river, so we’re being brought to places – not only with Christ at our side, but in front of us, behind us.
He’s our River, our Current.
I just thought I’d let out a little more in my head before I continue down this evening. To be honest, I was going to make all of this an introduction, a recap to what I plan on talking about next Sunday… but apparently, I was in need of my own checkpoint.
Until the next post, God bless you.