June 10, 2001
I think we all agree there is nothing like the taste of a Krispy Kreme donut. In fact, I have never had any donut that even compares to a Krispy Kreme. Have you checked out their stock? Their stock has gone through the roof. I’m talking about Krispy Kreme Donuts, those things that have affected the waistlines and taste buds of so many Texans. I have a good friend who is a personal trainer. Yes, I can tell you like them too. I have a friend who is a personal trainer and, every time he trains one of his clients, here is what he says, “Say, ‘No,’ to the KK, okay?” He won’t even call them Krispy Kreme, just KK.
A while back, I was on a speaking assignment in the Deep South. My flight was late and I had to rush to get there. I brought along my son, EJ, with me. As we were driving from the airport to this place, I said, “EJ, we are not going to have enough time to stop and eat at a real restaurant. We are going to stop at a place you will love, Krispy Kreme donuts. That will be our dinner. We are going to run in, scarf down a couple and that is going to be our dinner, okay?” He was like, “Yes!” Because at that time, Krispy Kreme had not made its way out west yet. So we pull into the Krispy Kreme. I run in, and we eat eight donuts. When we are walking out the door of this establishment together, EJ looked up at me and said, “Dad, what’s for dessert?”
(Video shown of Krispy Kreme donuts on the conveyor belt being iced and boxed. Ed makes an analogy in video to new believers being baptized in the sweet waters of baptism, being boxed in the local church, and then going out into the world to nourish others with their faith.)
When it comes to Krispy Kreme, I think we will all agree that timing is critical. You want to get those donuts when they’re hot, just after they’ve come down the conveyor belt and been doused and dunked in that sweet warm icing. When the “warm donuts” sign lights up in the window, you know it’s time to stop for a couple of fresh, melt-in-your-mouth Krispy Kreme donuts.
The Apostle Paul, I’m talking about St. Paul, was a very strategic person. He set up his preaching station in a friend’s house by the name of Justus. This house had a wonderful location because it was next door to the place in the community, the synagogue. As Paul shared the good news of Christ, as he reasoned with Jews and Gentiles, someone prominent bowed the knee, the ruler of the Synagogue, his name, Crispus. It rocked the community. When Crispus became a Christ-follower, he shared it with his household and the Bible says this in Acts 18:8, “Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household, believed in the Lord. Many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.” Crispus is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, specifically verse 14, because Paul says, “I baptized Crispus.”
Notice the flow. You have got a brand new believer, Crispus, someone who is hot, someone who is going down the conveyor belt. He is immersed in the sweetness of baptism, and then hopefully and prayerfully–we are not sure, we don’t know–he got boxed up in a local church. And from there, hopefully he understood the fact that his life could nourish others. That is the same progression that we need to understand, the same process that we need to download here in 2001.
Many here need to become Christians. You need to quit kicking tires. You need to quit hanging out on the docks and just looking at bait. You need to start fishing. You need to start buying in. You need to start getting serious about it and step over the line and become a Christian. Once you are hot, the faith test, the first thing you are to do is, you are to go public. You are to be immersed in the sweetness of baptism. But it doesn’t stop there. From there, you are boxed into a local church. You become a part of that church. You become connected with that church. You don’t just sit there with the other donuts and rot. You share your life with others. You share the bread of life, because you have the bread of life if you know Christ.
Several months ago, we felt impressed to teach this weekend on two ordinances of the church. The first is baptism, the second, communion. These ordinances reflect the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. This message is basically for three groups. The first group are those people here who don’t know Christ personally who need to make the faith decision and get baptized. The second groups are those who have maybe made the faith decision but you have not been baptized Biblically speaking. The third group would be those of us here who have been Christians for a while yet we need a refresher course on the power of the ordinances. We need a refresher course in baptism and communion.
Every time I talk about baptism, every time we deal with it, questions abound. I want to hit some of the popular questions, but before I do, listen to the words of Jesus: Matthew 28:19, here is what Christ said, “Therefore go,” he is talking to his disciples now, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” What was going on here? Jesus was simply challenging his followers to challenge new believers to get baptized and to get boxed up in the local church. That’s a disciple, someone who shares their bread with others. That’s what Jesus was doing.
The Baby Question
Well, let’s look at some frequently asked questions, FAQ’s, about baptism because people always have questions about baptism. The first question is, and we have already heard it expressed by the baby crying, it’s the baby question. It goes like this: Should we baptize infants or is it more appropriate to baptize those who are mature enough to make the faith decision. That’s a fair question. That’s a good question. I respect people on both sides of the fence. I know some churches baptize infants. There are bright intelligent church leaders who do so. On the other hand, I know some churches, like this one, who choose not to baptize infants and I think they are bright intelligent people here and there.
That’s a cool thing. However, when we have a question at Fellowship, we don’t say, “What does the culture say?” We don’t say, “What’s the most convenient thing?” We don’t say, “What’s the coolest thing?” You know what we ask: What does the Bible say? The B-I-B-L-E. That’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E. I didn’t make that up. That is an old saying. We baptize those who are old enough to make a faith decision.
Ten days ago, I attended a church service in another state. While at this service, I watched an infant baptism. After the infant baptism, with the family and friends standing, the pastor took this little baby boy, beautiful baby boy, in his arms and walked through the isles of the church singing, “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world,” a moving moment, a great moment. As I looked at this little baby, I thought to myself that he was cute, he is cute. I prayed that he would become a Christ-follower one day. But I said to myself, “There is no way this little baby understands the fact that he is a sinner, separate from God. There’s no way he understands the fact that God through his grace sent Christ to die on the cross for his sins and rise again. There’s no way that he is old enough to make a faith decision.”
Then I thought about the Bible because here is what the Bible says about infant baptism. (Silence) It’s not there. Every baptism in the Bible occurred when someone was old enough to make a faith decision. Matthew 19, you can read it this afternoon, Jesus talked about children. He blessed children, he nurtured children, he loved children. Jesus never baptized a child, nor did he ask someone else to baptize them. We have baby dedications here every Mother’s Day. We pack the front of this church with parents and their babies. The parents are saying, “We are going to do whatever it takes to rear our children to follow Christ.” Yet, we don’t baptize infants.
Now, if you have been baptized as an infant, my wife was baptized as an infant in the Lutheran church, if you have, and I know many of you have, good for you. That’s great. I’m not saying your baptism didn’t take. That’s great. Biblically speaking though, I would challenge you to get rebaptized if you’ve made the faith decision. If you have come to the point in your life where you have received Christ as an adult or a teenager, then get re-baptized. We baptize many people here and a lot of them have been baptized as an infant. We have never had one who has been baptized come up out of the water and go, “I wish I hadn’t been re-baptized.” We have never had that. You know why? Because it is a biblical thing.
The Clorox Question
Here’s another question, the Clorox question. Some say, “Well, baptism is kind of like spiritual Clorox. You are a sinner. You are a moral failure. You’re baptized and you come out completely clean.” Well, if we could invent some kind of baptismal technology and baptize all of us twenty times a day, that would still not constitute our forgiveness and cleansing. There is nothing special about the waters. The waters don’t forgive me or cleanse me or you of sin. It doesn’t happen that way. The book of Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith.” There is not a drop of water mentioned here, friends. “This is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works, so no one can boast.” I meet people who sometimes say, “You know, Ed, I have been baptized.” Just because some religious leader baptized you, sprinkled you, or poured water on you, or dunked you, does not mean you are a Christ-follower. That mindset does not hold Biblical water. It doesn’t.
My wife and I have been married almost twenty years. This is my wedding ring, right here. How many people are single in here? If you are single, lift your hand. This man right here, would you stand up for me? What’s your name. Okay, Chris. What if I toss this wedding ring to Chris and Chris puts it on his ring finger? I have a question for you. If Chris did it, would Chris be married? No. Thank you, Chris. That is how ludicrous it is to say that you are a Christian if you have been baptized. The wedding ring is an outward symbol of an inward commitment. Yet, when I take it off, I am still married. You become a Christian, the Bible says, by grace through faith. That brings us to the third question.
The Attorney Question
How many lawyers do we have, men and women who are attorneys, lift your hands. If you are attorney, lift your hand. Don’t be shy. I love lawyers. A lot of people don’t. They are great. One of my best friends is an attorney. This is what I call the attorney question. Attorneys trip me out because they can ask some great questions, can’t they? They can really ask questions. They can trap you in questions, get you in this or that, argue this side and that side. You are going, “Wow, questions.” The attorney question. Sometimes people say this about baptism, “Technically speaking, Pastor Young, I mean, do you really have to be baptized to be a Christ-follower, technically speaking?”
When people ask me that question, I always wonder where they are coming from. I am thinking, “Now why would you ask that question?” Technically speaking, you become a Christian, as I just said, by grace through faith. Ephesians 2, it just takes that. Remember when Christ was dying on the cross for our sins and one of the criminals became a Christ-follower there on the cross. Next to him, Jesus didn’t say to the thief on the cross, “You know, wait a minute, you better jump down and get baptized, then you can go to heaven.” He didn’t say that. He said, “From this day forward you will spend eternity with me in paradise.” Technically speaking, we are saved by grace through faith. It’s a gift from God, but if we are able physically, we should get baptized. When we get baptized, we are going public. We are coming out of the shadows and saying, “Here I am. I am walking to the beat of a different drummer. I am a new person. I am on Christ’s team.”
I can’t believe someone would balk at the first faith test. You are going to trust Christ with your eternity and your forgiveness, grace, strength and power over weakness, yet you are going to turn your back at the first obedience test? If someone is balking at baptism, yet they claim to be a Christian, I have got to wonder if they really know Christ personally. Because he lovingly challenges us through his word to be baptized. Don’t put it off. For many here, that baptism can be a major spiritual breakdown. Baptism is symbolic but it doesn’t stop there. It is packed with spiritual meaning. That brings us to another question.
The H2O Question
I call it the H2O question. “How, Ed, should I be baptized? How should I do this deal? Should I be spritzed, sprinkled, poured, turn some flips in the pool, immersed? How?” If you do your church history work, you will notice that immersion, being totally dunked, was the universally accepted practice in the early church. A Catholic historian, you can read it, named Brenner said this, “For the first 1300 years of church history, baptism was generally and regularly immersion of the person under water and in only extraordinary cases a sprinkling or pouring of water. The latter were disputed modes of baptism and often forbidden.” There you go.
Martin Luther started what church? The Lutheran Church. Luther said, “Immersion.” John Calvin started which church? The Presbyterian Church. He said, “Immersion.” So there is no doubt about it. The whole thing was by immersion. That’s the way we baptize. “Well, Ed, how did sprinkling come into vogue? How did that become hip?” Basically, it was a convenience thing. But if you really want to get a little bit deep, there was an offshoot of Christianity that distorted some things in the Bible. And I want to share these things with you because they are not Biblical.
The first is original guilt. This group said that when a child is born, not only are they sinners, but God holds them guilty and accountable for their sins. Thus, this group says, if a child dies, the child will spend eternity separate from the Lord. Now, the Bible says that is not true. There is an age of accountability that only God knows. There is an age when a child gets old enough and mature enough to understand what it means to know Christ. They can make that decision and only God knows that. If a child passes before that time, they are going to heaven. I truly believe the Bible supports that.
Yet, with this original guilt going on, people started going, “Whoa, we better start baptizing babies.” So they began to immerse infants and many infants died because of it. There was a shortage of water around, so people started sprinkling because it was convenient. Then another distortion took place called Baptismal Regeneration. This group said, “When we baptize these babies, they are saved. That’s it. They are Christians.” Distortions. You won’t find them in the Bible.
The Mechanics Question
That brings us to the final question about baptism, the mechanics question. How do you do it? Next weekend, we are going to have a baptismal celebration. Some of the most powerful services in the history of Fellowship Church have to do with baptism. I believe hundreds in this place right now need to get baptized. You are kind of nervous about it. You are kind of wigging a little bit. You are kind of fearful. You need to get baptized. You need to say, “I am going to stand up and be on the Lord’s team. I am going to go public.” In the Bible that was your public confession of faith.
We have made it easy for you. Just take this little insert out of your bulletin. It says, “Special Baptismal Celebration,” and simply fill it out. I don’t care who you are, what you look like, where you are from, just fill it out. Write your name, email, day phone, evening phone, your age group, check that off. “I would like to be baptized during one of the following services,” well, Saturday, Sunday 11:15, 9:30. After that, you can just write a brief story about how you became a Christ-follower. And then at the end of the service, we pass the offering bag, just fold this and drop it in. We will get back to you this afternoon or tomorrow to tell you the details of it. But basically all you do is show up here about fifteen minutes before the service begins, and we will tell you what clothing to bring. We will have two baptismal Jacuzzi type things down front and we will baptize. You do not want to miss next weekend. It is a powerful weekend. Many here need to get baptized. “Well, Ed, I have been sprinkled before.” Get re-baptized if you have trusted Christ. It’s a great blessing, baptism.
Baptism is a lot like Krispy Kreme. It’s that sweet. So do it. Get baptized. Get immersed in God’s icing. Get boxed up here at the local church and give your life away as spiritual food. It’s a sweet deal. Let’s pray together. God, you are so awesome and we thank you so very much for the opportunity that we have to go public with our faith. God, I ask right now that you inspire many here with your holy spirit to come out of the shadows and get baptized. I pray that many will sign up Saturday night, many in this service, many in the 11:15 service because, Lord, I look forward to seeing hundreds in all these services who will follow you in New Testament Baptism. God, thank you for this time. For Christ’s sake, Amen.
The Lord’s Supper
You know human beings are crazy. Let’s face it. We are a little bit weird. We like to remember stuff, milestones, markers, memorials. I’ve had some big ones in my life recently. One of the major ones recently was when we celebrated our tenth anniversary at Fellowship. That was awesome, wasn’t it? The tenth anniversary of Fellowship Church was a cool deal. I’m sure you were here. Maybe some of you weren’t. If you weren’t, you missed it. About a year from now, Lisa and I will celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary, a great thing. I married way over my head if you know Lisa. It was something special when I was in the delivery room when my four children were born. There’s nothing like seeing that.
We can all go through those anniversaries and those milestones, memorials and markers. Why are we like that? We just love to remember stuff, why? Plants and animals don’t. When one of my houseplants dies, the other houseplants in the neighborhood don’t come over to the house and cry and mourn. When I forgot my dog’s birthday, Brute didn’t start crying. He didn’t get upset and sulk. Plants and animals just don’t remember stuff. Yet we do. Why do we? I’ll tell you why. God has put it in our spirit. We have it in our being. We have it there for a wonderful reason.
Jesus, the night he was arrested, brought the disciples up to the upper room. They were having a meal, reclining. After the meal, Jesus took two common elements, bread and wine. He said, “This bread is my body. This wine is my blood.” At that time, the disciples were probably wondering what he was talking about. Because remember, it was a time of Passover. Passover was a celebration that the Jews really got into, because they were celebrating their deliverance from Egyptian slavery and they were celebrating with expectation what God was going to do in the future. Now Jesus puts an entirely new spin on it. He goes, “This is the ultimate now. This is not Passover. This is a new thing, a new covenant. This is it. I am going to be the sin sacrifice for the world.”
Then Jesus said this in Luke 22, “Remember me with the bread and with the wine.” Again, the disciples are probably saying, “What? How could we forget you, Lord? You are the Savior. You are our Lord. We are not going to forget you.” Jesus, though, knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows we have this tendency to forget, not to remember what we should. We need reminders. That’s the whole thing about communion. That’s why Jesus tells us to remember him.
Communion has a very interesting history. In the early days, it was centered around a meal. Before the meal, the host would take a loaf of bread, break it into pieces, have a prayer and that would be the body of Jesus. At the end of the meal, he would take a glass of wine, everyone would take a glass and that would be the blood, and that was pretty much it. This was occurring during the PM hours in people’s homes because the church met in people’s homes back then. If you do your history, around AD100, the Roman Emperor Trajan said, “The Christians have got to stop doing this communion stuff. Some weird stuff is happening.” Rumors are flying, “What are they doing? That’s weird. That’s crazy.” So at that point, they moved communion from the pm to the AM because the Christians said, “Okay, let’s just go ahead and get real, so everyone can see what we are doing now. This is it.” I thought that was pretty interesting.
Now we segue into some words from our man, Paul. Because, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11, was talking to the Corinthians. The Corinthians were having some serious problems. There were divisions within the church. Some people were treating the church like a snobatorium. The wealthy people were looking down their noses at the poor. They were being selfish. Well, Paul, he just rares back and wacks them. Listen to this, he is talking about communion: “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you. The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way after supper, he took the cup saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant of my blood. Do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
Now remember that word “proclaim.” Just put it in your frontal lobe, proclaim. When we take communion, we are proclaiming the Lords’ death, burial and resurrection until he comes. Okay. “Therefore, whoever eats the bread, and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner…” Paul was getting in their faces, wasn’t he? He was so close, he could smell their cologne. He was getting in-between them and their make-up here. “Whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord.” Now this body refers to the body of Christ. “A man ought to examine himself.” We will stop there and circle that phrase and put that in your frontal lobe. We have got “proclaim” and we have got “examine” right there in the forefront of our minds.
“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks the cup, for anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick and a number of you have fallen asleep.” That is a nice way of saying they are dead. Am I risking my life when I take the Lord’s Supper? I have read this verse before and I am thinking, “Am I?”
Ask yourself what was going on here in the church. The wealthy people were abusing the Lord’s table. They were getting drunk. They were hording all the food for themselves at the expense of the poor. They had all these conflicts, riffs and divisions, yet they were doing nothing about it. They said, “We can just kind of flippantly and casually come to the Lord’s table. If we drink a little wine, eat a little bread, everything will be a-okay.” Paul is saying, “Get that weak stuff out of here. That is not going to do it.” Some of you are weak, some of you are sick, some of you are dying because you are treating the Lord’s body in that manner.
When we take communion, it should be a time of PE. Now when I say “PE” what do you think? You think physical education. In a real way, Jesus was into the PE thing when he instituted the Lord’s Supper, physical education. He took two physical common elements, bread and wine, and put serious meaning behind it. “P” stands for in this context, “proclamation.” We are to proclaim, we are to connect with the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection. We don’t just camp there in the agony and the torture of it. We think of the joy and the power we have now that we know Christ.
The “E” stands for the examination piece. The Bible says we should examine ourselves. Self-examination? Yes. But the bigger picture here with communion has to do with the body of Christ. Communion should not be a thing we do individually. It’s for a group of believers. It’s for the church. It’s for the body. If you are a part of Fellowship Church, and if you have a problem or a conflict with another person here at Fellowship, you should examine that and get that right, and treat it seriously and lovingly before you even think about taking the bread and drinking the cup.
That is what the Apostle Paul was driving at. That is what we must do. Communion is only for those people who have trusted Christ personally. If you are not a Christ-follower, don’t take it. It is only for those who know the Lord personally, but it’s also only for those who have a clean account relationally speaking within the body of Christ before God. So it is serious business. For the life of me, I don’t understand how so many people here who are connected with Fellowship Church kind of balk at communion. We serve communion once a month during our First Wednesday. Yet, many of you don’t show up.
If you really know Christ personally, you are not going to turn your back at the opportunity to come to his table, because we are remembering what he did for us, the joy and power. We are remembering the opportunity to relate and connect with other members of the church. We are remembering if we have a problem with someone else. Do you have a problem with someone else here at Fellowship? If you see someone from Fellowship at the grocery, you look at them and see that they are looking at you, and then you kind of snub them and go the other way, you might have a relational problem. If you’ve gotten into a business dealing with someone else here, you might have a relational riff. Get that right. So some of you need to allow the communion plate to pass by because the Bible says don’t take it until you have made that relationship right.
If you let the communion plate pass, we are not going to say, “Oh, she let it pass. He let it pass.” Because we are all sinners, aren’t we? We are all saved by grace through faith. Communion is a wonderful experience. We look back at the cross what Jesus did for us. We look forward to what he is going to do for us and his second coming, and living in eternity. It is a great thing. But it is really about PE: proclaiming and examining. Right now, our ushers are going to come down and pass out the elements. They are going to pass out the bread and they are going to give you the cup. I want you to pray a prayer of joy and thank God for this indescribable gift and just think about your relationships. Think about the opportunity we have to be in this box called the local church, to give out the bread of life. Hold the elements in your hand during this time of worship. Then I will come back and instruct you when to take the bread and the cup.