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Baptism 洗礼

All of the Bible is God’s Word. All of it is “God-breathed”. All of it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. All of it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. Understanding that, there are certain specific events and revelations within the Bible take us right to the heart of God’s message for mankind. Christmas, Easter, Pentecost are three prime examples.

Today, on the day of Yonan’s baptism, we’re going to look at three other Biblical events and revelations that take us the very heart of God. They are world-changing revelations. They are self-changing revelations.

i. The Revelation of God Himself 神ご自身の啓示
ii. The Call to return to God 神に立ち返るようにとの召し
iii. The Means of answering that call その召しに答える手段

i. The Revelation of God Himself

Exodus 34:6,7
6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Laord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.

This revelation of the character of God is repeated for emphasise numerous times throughout the old testament and runs like a golden thread throughout all of scripture.
What’s God like?
This passage reveals to us the essence of God’s character: holy, compassionate, gracious, patient, loving, faithful, forgiving and just.
This is what God is like. This is the God who created us. This is the God we worship. This is the God who calls us.

ii. The Call to return to God

Joel 2:11-13
The day of the Lord is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?
“Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.

We find here a repeat of the character description of God and with it a call to return to Him from our waywardness. But our returning to God can never be token or half-hearted. It must be total and it must be uncompromised. Look at verse 12 again – we return to God with “all our hearts”, with “fasting and weeping and mourning”.

This is a profoundly inward change. これは深い内なる変化です。
We “rend our hearts and not our garments”. In a similar way, Paul in Gal 6 says that circumcision of the flesh – an outward sign – counts for nothing. What counts is a new heart, a new creation.
It is at the same time a profoundly practical change. This is why the apostle James said that faith without deeds is dead. Because there is no such thing as true faith without deeds.
The change is whole.

This is the heart we need to return to God. But what is the practical means of securing this return? Is it demonstrable? Can there be a physical means of expressing the inward change in our hearts? Is there an outward sign of the inward work of God in our hearts?

The answer is yes! And we find it in Acts 2. We read it just last week! Do you remember it? (Open Q)

iii. The Means of answering that call その召しに答える手段

Acts 2:37-38
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Today, Yonan is going to be baptised in water to demonstrate physically the return to God that He has committed to in his heart through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son and sole mediator. He will be baptised in water as an outward sign of an inward work of grace of God in His life.
That inward work is
the forgiveness of sins which Yonan has repented of,
the salvation of his soul
the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Today is a day of great joy. We celebrate with the angels in heaven as Yonan demonstrates his love for God and his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.