April 25-26, 2009
I want to welcome everyone to Fellowship Church today at all of our campuses. You know, we have a phenomenal security force here. We have police officers all over the place. We have undercover officers. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could get some of these men and women to arrest some people at all of our campuses for impersonating Christians?”
Do we have anybody at any of our campuses who are possibly impersonating followers of Christ? That would be interesting. (That’s sort of some pastoral humor, you know?)
Have you ever heard of Louis Vuitton? Pretty much all of us have. Louis Vuitton is a major designer. And when you talk about Louis Vuitton, you’ve got to talk about the real thing and the fake thing.
There have got to be more phony Louis Vuitton purses and luggage and shoes and everything else; there’s got to be more fake Louis Vuitton stuff than the real stuff. And there’s got to be more fake Louis Vuitton stuff than any other knock-off of any other designer. Yeah, there’s Gucci. Yeah, there’s Prada. Yeah, there’s Kate Spade, with the different sunglasses and stuff like that. But Louis Vuitton is number one. And people with a keen eye can spot it and say, “Oh, that’s fake. That’s not real. That’s a knock-off.”
And a lot of us here, I can tell you’re getting convicted right now, have bought knock-off Louis Vuittons, fake Louis Vuittons. And people who really know can tell by the zipper, by the lining.
Do we have any knock-off believers? Seriously. Do we have any fake and phony people who say, “Yeah, I’m a believer,” but in reality you’re just a cheap imitation of the real thing? That’s a very convicting, a very in-your-face question that we need to ask ourselves. Because Jesus said that most people who think they’re believers aren’t. Did you hear that? That’s what Jesus said. Jesus said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, I did this; I did that.’ But I will say, ‘Depart from me. I never knew you.’”
The Bible says in Galatians 3:26-27 something about clothing. It says, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus….”
Let me stop. We become believers by a faith decision. We become believers by choosing to clothe ourselves in Christ. That’s what happens when we make this commitment to Jesus. We’re clothed, we’re enveloped in him. And as we’ve been saying around here, becoming a Christian is all about clothing.
Jesus laid aside his seamless, righteous garment and on the cross, put on your garment and mine of unrighteousness; that garment that is stitched with sin and ripped with rebellion. And this affords us the opportunity to lay aside our sin and put on his garment. It’s a faith decision. We’re saved, the Bible says, by grace through faith. Period. Selah. End of discussion.
But this continues, this thought. The Apostle Paul, in Galatians, says, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
So in a real way, the first fashion statement we make is to get baptized. Really, the first step on the runway of life is to get baptized, is to put on a wet suit. Isn’t that something?
We’re not shy about advertizing designers. On pretty much everything we wear—shoes and pants and jackets—there’s a designer label somewhere. Even if you’re into fishing equipment or camping equipment or boating or skiing, or whatever it is. There’s that designer on whatever you have. And we’re very proud to wear the designer.
Like this suit right here. This designer is awesome. Neil Barrett. Made in Italy. I like Neil. Man, Neil is good. I like Neil! And I’m not ashamed to tell you, this is Neil Barrett. Wow, ohh, ahh.
Are you ashamed of Jesus? You call yourself of follower of Christ; you call yourself a believer. But are you ashamed of him? Are you kind of covering up his name? Or are you sort of wearing him in a clandestine fashion?
Baptism is the first fashion statement that we make. We’re displaying the clothing of Christ. We’re displaying the ultimate designer.
How about the baptism of Jesus? Have you ever wondered about that? I’ve often wondered that. Why was Jesus baptized? Isn’t that kind of strange? I mean, why did he make this step on the runway of life? I mean, back in the day, why was he dunked? Why?
Because you know, Jesus wasn’t a sinner. I don’t think. He was perfect; fully God, fully man. Why was Jesus baptized? That’s a great question. Let’s chase that down for a second, because it’s all about clothing.
If you have your Bibles, turn to the book of Mark 1. And I’m going to read a section of Scripture and then go back and unpack it.
Mark 1:1-11. “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in Isaiah the prophet…”
Now Isaiah had penned this hundreds of years beforehand.
He says, “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way…”
Say the word “prepare” with me. Prepare. Alright, that’s very important. Put it right there in your brain.
“‘…a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him…’”
“Prepare.” Say it again, “prepare.”
“And so John came…”
That’s John the Baptist; that’s right, the cousin of Jesus, the contemporary of Jesus.
“And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River….”
Now the Jordan River is not the most beautiful place on the planet. I think sometimes we get this romantic view of the Jordan. “Oh, the Jordan!”
Think, if you’re here in Texas, Trinity River. If you’re in Florida, the Miacca River. The Miacca River is prettier than the Trinity, but I personally love the Trinity River because I like to gar fish. That’s just me. A lot of people don’t appreciate the beauty of it. But I think it’s a gorgeous body of water. The Trinity River.
[The passage continues] “The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist…”
I mean, John was dressing. He had it going on!
“…he ate locusts and wild honey.”
Now, he ate wild honey, but his sermons were not like honey. They were tough. It was five miles of garlic.
“And this was his message: ‘After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.’”
Now check this out. This is John, the cousin of Jesus, talking about Jesus. So if anybody, if any man would have known that Jesus was a sinner, John would have known it. I mean, if you can’t say something bad about your family, who can you say something bad about? You know what I’m saying? He knew that Jesus was sinless.
“I’m not worthy to stoop down and untie his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Verse 9. We’re reading a lot, but I’m telling you there’s a point to all of this, a major point.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
And then in Mark 1:14-15, man, I’m getting tired reading this, but I’m telling you this is awesome!
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near…”
What was the message of Jesus? It’s right here, here we go. Say it with me, “Repent…”
“I thought Jesus was all about love, dude. Unconditional love.”
Yeah, he is.
“Repent and believe the good news!”
The two sides of the garment of God. Repentance and faith. Repentance infers faith; faith infers repentance.
The baptism of Jesus. Why was he baptized? And how about this. Why should you be baptized?
I’m going to talk to you about three things rapidly from this text. And you’d better understand this because it is so wonderful and so life changing. It can alter who you are and how you live your life.
Number one, notice the prerequisite for baptism. What is it? What’s prerequisite of baptism? What does it mean to be prepared for baptism? You know what it is? There’s one word. Repentance.
Only those who have repented (in the Greek, medanoaia); only those who have made an about face and turned from their sins are eligible for biblical baptism.
So, if you’ve repented; if you’ve changed your mind, changed your direction, if you’ve done a 180, you, my friend, are eligible for baptism.
But I think it’s fascinating how John the Baptist, or John the Baptizer, used the word “prepare.” I had you repeat it. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. He said, “I have come to prepare.”
What does it mean to prepare? The picture behind this is something that is so rich and so deep that it just blew me away.
Back in the day when a king or an Eastern monarch would travel, people would go before this person and if the roads were too high, they would make them level. If the roads were too low with potholes, they would level them out. If the roads were crooked, they would straighten them out. Because, they wanted to prepare the way for the king.
Repentance is like a D-9 dozer. Repentance prepares the way in your life and mine for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be active and living; it prepares the way for baptism.
Because when you repent, or when I repent, what happens? Those mountains of pride are crushed and they’re leveled. Those potholes of pathetic failure and guilt are leveled. Those crooked paths of condemnation are made straight. Why? Because of repentance.
Baptism is simply representing. If you’ve repented, you represent. If you’ve repented; if you’re truly clothed in Christ, you’re going to put on a wetsuit and get baptized. Have you repented?
I’m not talking about feeling sorry for yourself or feeling sorry that you’ve sinned. That’s not repentance. Repentance is not just saying, “Ok, you caught me, God. I’ve sinned.”
That’s not it. It’s having godly sorrow, the Bible says. Because godly sorrow leads to repentance. It’s understanding that you’ve hurt the heart of God and your heart is hurt. And not only have you sinned, but you say, “God, I am a sinner. I confess my sins to you.” And the Holy Spirit does what? The Holy Spirit convicts you and me of our sins. There’s no conversion without conviction. And if you’re convicted over your sins, it’s time to repent and to go the opposite way.
How do you get baptized? And why should you get baptized? And what is the precursor to baptism? Repentance.
What was Christ’s message? Repent and have faith. Repent and believe. The two sides of the coin.
Have you repented? Because if you’ve repented, you should represent in baptism. And a lot of people who have repented have never been baptized. And it is that blockade that is keeping you from really going to the places God wants you to go, because if you will not walk on the runway of faith and advertise the fact that you are clothed in Christ, you think God is going to show you all the stuff he has for you?
So yeah, the good news is good news. That’s the gospel. But we have to hear the bad news before we get in on the good news and realize that we’re sinners in need of a Savior. And too many people just emphasize one aspect of the gospel. “Let’s talk about the gospel in encouraging ways and helpful ways and loving ways and positive ways.”
That’s great. Hey, give it up. Good for them! However, you can’t talk about that unless you talk about sin and condemnation and judgment and wrath. That’s just half of the gospel.
Have you repented? Have you repented from your sins? If you have, guess what? You are eligible for baptism. But you have to be old enough to understand, “Wow, I’ve messed up. I’ve missed the mark.”
What’s the prerequisite for baptism? Repentance. But notice something else. What’s the pattern of baptism? There’s a pattern.
Think about Jesus, the ultimate designer. Think about designers; they have patterns. Think about our boy Neil Barrett. Neil had a pattern for this suit that I bought last year. And all the people had this pattern. And maybe you’re a 42 long like I am or you’re a 38 short or a 53, whatever. They have patterns for it.
What is the pattern for baptism? Or better yet, who is the pattern for baptism? Jesus. Jesus is the pattern for baptism. Well, how was Jesus baptized?
He was baptized by submersion. No. Not submersion. When you submerge something in water, you keep it down. We don’t do that. We’ll drown somebody. No, no, no.
Immersion. Under the water and out of the water. That’s the pattern of baptism. First you have repentance; first you have faith; first you have this grace reception, then you go public with your faith and you wear the designer on your sleeve.
Illus: A while back, I’ll never forget this, I had a chance to sit down with someone who is a well-known personality. And this personality had a lot of endorsements all over the place. And this personality was, and is, in magazines. This personality is on television and billboards all over the place. In fact, everyone here would know his name, every single person. And we were talking about the things of Christ, and here’s what he told me. I’ll never forget it. He said, “I don’t want to wear Jesus on my sleeve. Ed, I’ll be honest with you, I’m a follower of Christ, but I’m just not going to wear him on my sleeve.”
And I thought to myself, “Is that the height of hypocrisy? I mean, is that the definition of a knock-off, a person impersonating a Christian or what?”
Here this guy was and is making millions advertising and endorsing designers. Everything he has, he makes money off of it. And he’s telling me he’s trusting Christ for his salvation, for his eternity, for his forgiveness, for his power, for his clear conscience. Yet, he will not humble himself and get baptized? Come on!
I’ve got to wonder if you’re a believer, theologically, biblically. Just read the Scriptures. Jesus emphasized baptism, friends, all the time. Dare we de-emphasize what he emphasized? He talked about it often. He was here in his teaching ministry for what, 36 months? Baptism.
Do you realize when you are baptized you meet Jesus under water?
“Ed, are you saying baptism saves me?”
No. We’re saved by grace through faith. Period. Selah. End of story. I am saying, though, when we get baptized; when we identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, what happens? We meet him there; we’re connecting with him. It’s the first step of obedience when we repent. The pattern of baptism.
John the baptizer was baptizing. Why did he choose this part of the Jordan River? Because as you read Scripture, you’re going to realize that Jesus had to travel 60 miles just to get baptized. And I thought about that, “What’s he doing walking 60 miles to get baptized?” I’ve been to the spot where Jesus was baptized; it ain’t that pretty! Think Trinity River. And the Jordan River doesn’t even have alligator gar, so I wouldn’t even fish there. It’s not that pretty. People think it’s the gorgeous, crystal clear stream cascading over the rocks and mossy oaks hanging over the banks…
No, no, no. It’s u-g-l-y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly! Why did Jesus walk 60 miles to get baptized? You know why? Well, I’ll tell you why. You don’t know. I don’t think. I didn’t know until several days ago. Maybe you do, I don’t know. Maybe you’re a biblical scholar. Don’t turn there, but write this down. John 3:23. John was baptizing in the spot where Jesus was baptized, in the spot where Jesus had to walk 60 miles because, the water was deep enough for baptism! That’s the reason. The other places is was shallow. There were sand bars everywhere, I’m sure water moccasins and all this junk. He baptized in the depth so he could totally immerse someone.
We’re clothed in Christ; it’s a complete outfit. We’re clothed in Christ from top to bottom, from bottom to top. You get dressed, you get dressed in a full outfit.
That’s the way Jesus wants to dress you. The prerequisite of baptism; repentance. The pattern of baptism; the life and ministry and ministry of Jesus. I mean that’s a pretty good example.
Let me go back to Mark 1:9. “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” Not sprinkled, not spritzed, not a pouring. In the Jordan.
[The verse continues] “As Jesus was coming up out of the water…”
If you come up out of the water, you’ve got to be underneath the water, in the water, right? Right. And when he did that, you have the three parts of the Trinity.
You’ve got the Father saying, “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased.”
You’ve got the Son being baptized.
You’ve got the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus in the form of the dove.
So when he was baptized, Jesus was identifying with us. And when we are baptized, we are identifying with him. Jesus didn’t have to be baptized, but he did it as our example. It was a foreshadowing of his death, burial and resurrection.
If I’m going to give you a picture of a death, burial and resurrection, I’m not going to sprinkle some water on you. My wife was sprinkled in the Lutheran church. Good for her. Maybe you were sprinkled in the Catholic church. Good for you. God bless you. I’m not saying it didn’t take.
However, the picture of baptism is the baptism of Jesus. And if you want the good picture of it, what is it? It’s immersion. It’s after you have repented. That’s the pattern. It’s the picture of baptism.
Illus: Now, what if I had my wallet with me, I don’t have my wallet; but what if I had it and said, “Hey, I want to show you a picture of my wife.”
And what if I pulled out a picture and showed you a picture of a horse. You’d say, “Wow.”
“Oh, no, no. I’m sorry. Forget the horse. Let me show you a picture of the Trinity River.”
You’d say, “Ed has lost his mind.”
To show you my wife, I would have to show you a picture of my wife! In baptism, if we’re going to have a picture of what Jesus did for us, it’s got to be death, burial, resurrection. It’s got to be by immersion.
And if there’s one picture that the devil himself wants to rip out of the church, it’s the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Did you hear that? If there’s one picture that Satan wants to rip up and burn, it’s the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. There’s one thing that Satan does not want me to emphasize; it’s baptism. Why? He hates the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus? Because there, the game was and is over. It’s over. It’s over. It’s over. It’s over.
Have you repented? Are you following the pattern of the ultimate designer? Have you been baptized? Have you been baptized?
What is baptism? It’s just representing. Think about it this way. If I repent and don’t represent, I’m a knock-off, a phony, a fake Louis Vuitton.
If I represent and don’t repent, it’s a knock on the work of Jesus Christ; his death, burial and resurrection.
If I repent and represent, I’m a knock out on the runway of faith! Do we have any supermodels in the House? Do we have any people in the House who need to get baptized? Have you been baptized by immersion? Have you been baptized after you repented? Have you entered the waters of New Testament baptism? Have you been baptized like Jesus?
Every times we talk about baptism, being clothed in baptism, putting on the wet suit, questions abound like the infant question.
Maybe you’re like my wife. “Hey, I was baptized as an infant!”Again, ra-ra-ra, go team go! Babies, though, can’t dress themselves. Are you tracking with me? Are you listening to me? Babies can’t dress themselves. So at Fellowship, we only baptize those who are mature enough to get clothed in Jesus. Galatians 3:27. Because when we have a question, we say not what does Ed say or what does tradition say? We ask, what does the Bible say? And the Bible says, read it, after someone is old enough—look at all the people who became believers—after they were old enough to make this decision to be clothed in Christ, then they were baptized. They were baptized as soon as possible.
We dedicate infants; we pray for infants; we have these special ceremonies for infants. We do not, though, baptize infants. And I have had the opportunity to baptize many, many people who had been baptized as an infant, and once they understand it’s after repentance, after I’ve baptized them I’ve never had one come up out of the water and say, “Wow, I wish I hadn’t done that!” I have yet to meet that person. And we baptize tens of thousands of people right here over the last twenty years. I’ve never met that person yet.
Here’s another question people ask me. “Hey, Ed, does baptism have the power to make me a believer?” Answer. Well let me put it this way. What if I bought a Brioni suit, put on a red tie, did the comb over and said, “You’re fired!” Question: am I Donald Trump? Answer: no!
Just because you’ve been baptized, baby, doesn’t make you a believer. It doesn’t. You’ve got to repent, then you are baptized.
Here’s another question people ask me. “Ed, technically, do you have to be baptized to be a believer?”
Answer: no. You don’t. I’ll give you an example. The thief on the cross. He was nailed to the cross and he had that faith decision, then Jesus said, “From this day forward you will spend eternity with me in paradise.”
The only excuse you have is if you’re nailed to a cross right now. That’s the only excuse. But I don’t see anybody nailed to a cross. And we’ve baptized people at Fellowship who are paralyzed from the neck down. You would not believe some of the physically challenged people who have entered the waters of New Testament baptism.
Technically? I mean, technically, I could wear this suit and just wear one shoe. I could. I could walk around like this. And you’d think, “This guy has absolutely lost his mind.” So technically, I could dress every day like that and you’d think, “Whoa. Crazy pill! Ed better get his series Crazy Pill and listen to it and take notes.”
“How should I be baptized?”
I’ll say it again. Every baptism in the Bible was by immersion. Every one. Sprinkling is not in there. Being spritzed is not in there. Being poured is not in there. It’s not in there. It’s only through and by immersion.
When you get dressed, hopefully you get fully dressed. I do. So we’ve got to fully get clothed in Christ in baptism.
I’ll say it again. If you repent and don’t represent, you’re a knock-off. If you represent and don’t repent, it’s a knock on the work of Jesus. If you repent and represent, you’re a knock out as you walk down the runway of the fashion of faith.
[Spontaneous baptism] I ask you right now, who in here needs to get baptized, I’m talking about right not? Who in here needs to get baptized? If you need to get baptized, lift your hand right now. Don’t put it off. I’ll tell you what we’re going to do.
At all of our campuses, lift your hand if you want to get baptized right now. You’ve made the faith decision; you’ve made the grace reception. It’s time to get baptized like Christ was baptized. I’m talking about believer’s baptism.
The prerequisite, what is it? Repentance. The pattern, Jesus. The proclamation, the picture; we’re identifying with Jesus.
There is someone to my right and to your left at all of our campuses. Miami, Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Allaso Ranch, someone is to my right and your left if you’re watching me. Ok, we’re connecting. And right now, at Fellowship Church here in Grapevine, it’s Doris Scoggins. Put a spotlight on Doris. There she is, the queen of baptism!
I’m going to challenge you; many of you; hundreds of you to stand, only if you want to get baptized and make your way out. Now, before we stand, “Ed, I don’t have any extra clothes.”
We’re going to give you clothes. I think we have some here. Where are the clothes? The clothes are coming out. Uh, oh, a little bit late with the clothes. Anyway, we’ve got some really cool shorts and shirts. Oh, here they come. Thank you Greg. Look at this at all campuses we’ve got these cool shorts, all different sizes. Yeah! And we’ve got this Fellowship Church shirt. Yeah! It’s our gift to you. We have changing rooms; men’s rooms and women’s rooms. Towels. The whole nine.
It’s time to get baptized. Don’t put it off. Don’t delay. The time is now. In the Book of Acts, when people became followers of Christ, the Bible says, 3000 were baptized that day. How can this day become that day? Let’s get baptized right now. So stand to your feet if you’re being baptized and make your way out right there. And Doris will show you. Let’s give it up! Many, many, many people need to get baptized. It’s time. Everyone else be seated, unless you’re standing to be baptized. Everyone else be seated, unless you’re walking to follow Doris to be baptized. At all the campuses. In Miami, Downtown Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Allaso Ranch.
What a harvest! What an amazing moment at Fellowship Church! People who have repented. People who are picturing the death, burial and resurrection. People who are identifying with Jesus Christ. It’s awesome!
If you’re wondering, “What’s keeping me from going to the next level in my faith?”
I’m telling you, if you’ve not been baptized, why do you think Jesus is going to continue to show you the 4-1-1 on the next level. He’s not going to do it until you get baptized. Anyone else? Keep going. Don’t stop. It’s time to do it. I’ll give you a couple more moments. Anybody else? From the back, up front, at all of our campuses I know people are moving and getting baptized, getting advertised.
It’s the prerequisite, it’s the pattern, and it’s the picture that Jesus has for you and for me. We model the ultimate designer. We’re designed to wear the designer. We’ve been clothed in Christ, clothe yourself in baptism. Put on the wet suit.
[Ed ends in closing prayer and leads in offering.]