Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we thank You for giving us the gift of baptism! We thank You for putting Your name, Your holiness, Your grace, and Your eternal deliverance upon us. We thank You for not only making those promises, but delivering upon them with Your life as the payment. And armed with such eternal pledges of undying love, may we never question Your goodness or fear for our souls. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO BOLDLY ANNOUNCES US TO BE HIS CHILDREN AND HEIRS OF ETERNAL LIFE!
TEXT: Matthew 10: 24-33
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Have you ever made promises that you didn’t keep? Of course you have! O, you took them seriously at the time. You never planned on breaking them. But things just happened and you hurt others through your carelessness. Such promises range from large to small on the emotional scale. Maybe you promised to take the kids to the playground, but then a phone call intruded and you forgot.—They were hurt and saddened. But, they will get over it. Maybe you promised to phone a sick loved one, but again you forgot to follow up. If they died in the meantime, you’ll always live with regret. You promised at your marriage to always be faithful to your spouse. But, maybe you hit a rocky patch and had a short-lived affair. Obviously, that scar will take years to heal.
Because we humans break promises so readily, we tend to take a jaundiced view of the promises of others towards us. Think of that old adage: “Never trust a politician’s promise!” So, I guess it is only natural that this disbelief of promises has intruded upon on faith and colored our thinking when it comes to our God. That, my friends, is sad. And it deprives us of comfort and confidence amid a world filled with neither.
When God makes promises to His beloved children, they are better than gold. They are rock-solid. They are eternal reality. For God cannot go back on any promise and He cannot lie. So, as we look at this lesson, I want to remind you of a fabulous promise from God to each of you, His baptized children. In Deuteronomy chapter 31, vs. 6, God makes a promise that He later repeats in Hebrews chapter 13. It is: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So, today I want all of you to etch this truth in your mind:
DON’T BE AFRAID! FOR I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU!
Christ is sending out His disciples to engage in mission work. That is, to take on sin and evil while comforting hurting hearts. He is very blunt about the opposition they will face. He begins by reminding them that they are not above their Teacher. That is, just as evil opposed the goodness of Christ, so it will oppose them as they do His work. They will be mocked, their foibles will be pointed out, and they will be sorely tempted to keep silent instead of confronting sin. Satan, himself, will seek to embarrass them to tears and get them to compromise their confession of Godly truth. But, then He adds some words of comfort.
“So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
In other words, on judgment day all human sin will be revealed. But, the Christian’s sins will be forgiven, covered over by Christ’s holiness while those who reject His truth will wallow in their own shame. Likewise, God can destroy both body and soul. So take Him seriously and stand up for Him and don’t be afraid of what mere men can do to you!
Our weak flesh needs that kind of kick in the pants upon occasion. The disciples obviously needed it, you need it, and I need it. But, Jesus doesn’t stop there and leave us with words of judgment. He doesn’t motivate anyone to acts of love by coercion or fear. No, He wants us to act based on love, respect, and appreciation for His blessings and His help. So, He now goes on to speak of our value to Him. He uses the contrast between a couple of sparrows. God knows every sparrow on this earth and watches over them. Not one of them dies apart from His will. Likewise, He has every hair on our heads numbered. That is, He knows our wants, our needs, our emotional make-up better than we do. So, Don’t Be Afraid! For we are all worth more to Him than any sparrow or lock of hair!
And why are we so valuable to God? Because Jesus Christ, His Son, shed His blood to save our souls. You and I are the crowning glory of His creation. We were created to give Him happiness. We were made to return His honor and goodness back to Him. Christ came to make that happen. Christ came to take away all our fears over the unknown. In Him we live, move and have our very being. In Him we possess the promise of a heavenly life without any kind of fear, doubt, or opposition. All this is ours when we acknowledge Him. When we confess Him. When we bask in His love and embrace His truths.
Today we had a baptism. Little Harrison Tapscott received God’s promise of eternal life right before Your eyes. But, far more happened than what you could see. For God’s kingdom is invisible. It exists in human hearts, born of love and forgiveness. Harry received the gift of the Holy Spirit today. He was implanted with saving faith. God pledged to him that because He was baptized, God would never leave nor forsake him. O, I know that many who are baptized walk away from that promise. That’s because they either don’t think it real, or they think it’s all about them and their emotional response. But, what so many fail to understand is that God never walks away from any of His promises to us! Just like the father of the prodigal son, He is always there waiting, watching and looking for an opportunity to embrace us back into His kingdom. Yes, baptism is His eternal pledge never to leave nor forsake you!
Human life is filled with fear. We fear the revealing of secret sins. We fear being a failure toward our spouse or children. We fear the loss of control that comes from a stroke or the fragility of old age. We fear financial pressure. After 9-11 we fear for our physical safety. The disciples were no different than you or me. They had all these kinds of fear and more. And just like them, we need to have our loving Savior tell us the same thing He told them: Don’t Be Afraid! For I Will Never Leave You!
Baptism is God’s pledge, His repeating of that truth to each of you. It is a reminder that when God makes a promise to help us, He always keeps it. And when we take that reality to heart and really exercise our faith in it, fear gets replaced with confidence, joy, and fulfillment. Yes, that is baptism’s living legacy in each of your lives. Amen