Titus 3: 4-7 (Baptism of Our Lord Sunday – 2015)
“Baptismal Security is Yours”
Life is full of uncertainties. A New Year anticipates them. Family planning, national security and economy; church and congregation ministry; end of life issues; beginning of life issues; these all present the human reality that our lives are full of uncertainty. One thing is certain, and that is your life in eternity. No matter what is happening in your heart and life right now, no matter what the uncertain issues existing in your world, your relationship with God and eternity with Christ is a certain secure. Salvation is secure. That certainty is found in the Grace of our loving Heavenly Father who planned that salvation from eternity. That security is found in the Baptized Jesus who fulfills all righteousness in your behalf. That security is found in the Holy Spirit who has washed you spiritually in your Baptism.
Upon his Baptism Jesus is anointed as the Son of God and the promised Savior. Upon his Baptism we see the Trinity on a public stage. The Father’s gracious prominence booms from his heavenly voice. The Son’s perfect obedience stands in the Jordan for the public to witness. The Holy Spirit in the form of the dove gives ratification of his Baptism. In the entire event we see the certainty of our eternal life. We see that same Trinity at work in Paul’s words to Pastor Titus.
- 1.Because of The Grace of God
“When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,
not because of righteous things that we have done, but because of his mercy.”
The appearance of God normally is frightening to human beings. We see that is so many stories of the Bible account. We only have to rewind to the night the shepherds saw the glory of God through the angels and became terrified. We have not done righteous things. Our sins are cause for terror before a righteousness God. Paul told Titus in the verse before: “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.” We do not deserve to stand in his appearing. We are born without fear of God and faith and God and are condemned to eternal death (CW p. 12).
But this appearance of God is quite different. In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ Baptism we hear of no terrified crowds. At the very least we see the humble confession of John: “I need to be baptized by you and do you come to me?” This appearance of God is with the presence our Savior. His wrath is hidden in mercy. His wrath in cloaked in the presence of Jesus’ humanity. His glory is revealed in his Words safely to us. God is present in the humanity of Jesus. God is present in the Baptisms of the crowds that day. God greeted sinners with grace and mercy and they were welcomed into this place with no need to fear him. “He saved them and us, not because of righteous things that we have done, but because of his mercy and kindness and grace!”
- 2.Through The Washing of the Holy Spirit
“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us generously.”
Christ’s Baptism is the foundation of our Baptism. Paul reminds Pastor Titus, and us, that our Baptism is a generous outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Many in the crowds were already baptized by John. Many more would be. Baptism does two things: it washes us spiritually and gives us new life – “rebirth and renewal.”
Baptism is a deep spiritual cleansing. Peter tells us: “Baptism now saves you, not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21-22). Baptism removed the guilty stains in our hearts. Baptism unites us with Christ’s death and resurrection. Baptism reconciles our relationship with our Holy God, by washing away our sins by the power of the Holy Spirit. Baptism saves us!
The Holy Spirit brings us to faith through Baptism. The rebirth and renewal in Baptism is the gift of the Holy Spirit to live in obedience to God.Paul had already mentioned this to Pastor Titus in the chapter before: “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11). Baptized children of God have the power of the Holy Spirit to resist the devil. We have the strength of faith to seek and do what pleases our Heavenly Father, something we had no power to do when we were born into this world.
That is true because we are motive in Baptism which gives us the righteousness of Christ.
- 3.By The Righteousness of Jesus
“Through Jesus Christ our Savior … we have been justified by his grace,
we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Paul had said that this was a generous outpouring. The Holy Spirit did not just drip a teensy weensy bit of Jesus upon us. He showered us with the fullness of Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:10). When Jesus came to John, John acknowledged his unworthiness. Jesus answers with the reason he came to the Jordan that day: “To fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).
We could not have done what Jesus was asked to do. If our heavenly Father came from heaven and demanded any one of us to “fulfill all righteousness” we must confess with John, “I need you and do you come to me?” Our confession mimic’s John’s confession: I need you! I need you because every day I find myself in need of forgiveness. Every day I know of my personal inclinations, temptations, and evil commitments.
Jesus says: “Let it be so now to fulfill all righteousness.” His mother and father took him to temple. He was presented as the perfect Lamb, the young Israelite baby in whom there was no guile or sin. He was named Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). He showed integrity at the teaching of the Word as a 12 year old boy.
“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature before God and men.” (Luke 2: 52). “He was tempted in every, just as we are yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He never felt shame. He never needed to speak an apology to his Father, or to anyone. He was without sin. He lived a full life to the age of 30 and beyond. Not once did he have a moment of regret over any kind of sinful thought, word, or action. His Baptism was one more stamp of his Father’s approval of the absolutely perfect things Jesus did, which we could not.
When he went to the cross he went holy and blameless. He offered the perfect sacrifice for our sins. In our Baptisms we receive the righteousness of the Anointed Christ, “having been justified by his grace we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” That hope is safe and secure.
Some things are not very certain for you and me in the New Year. Some things lead us to pray and plan and think. All things lead us to lean on the LORD rather than on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). But one thing is for certain. Christ’s Baptism assures you that your Baptism makes you an heir to eternal life in heaven. Because Jesus has fulfilled all righteousness, “you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27). For life now and into your eternal inheritance you have Baptismal security forever! Amen.