Why baptism and communion?

Why Church?   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:04
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Good morning, Gateway Chapel!
Scripture…Psalm 100:1-4
Psalm 100:1–4 ESV
1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Have you ever been invited to a roofing company Christmas party? Anybody?
If you haven’t, you’re missing out. It’s a blast. I used to work in sales and one of my clients was Tekline Roofing…if you’ve watched a ton of cable TV you’ve seen their ads that say “Trust Tekline” with such Seattle sports stars like Mitch Haniger, Chris Carson, and Walter Jones…they’re very corny and I was to blame for some of those.
When you’re in sales, or any marketplace job, it’s hard to know sometimes where you stand with clients. The nature of the relationship is what…money. I ask them and they put money from their wallet into mine. It’s a weird friendship. I may think we’re friends but we’re also business partners so it’s this weird blurred line.
One year, the owner of Tekline, my friend Scott, invited me to the Tekline Roofing Christmas party. It was a blast. There was a massive BBQ, a lot of Corona’s because the party was essentially four dozen hispanic guys and then skinny white Chris…Scott did a huge raffle for his employees, gave out something like 5 TV’s, Seahawks gear, gift cards, told everyone how thankful he was for their work and their presence in the company…and I got to be a part of it. I wasn’t an employee, but I felt like I belonged and I was able to receive and be blessed by that time with them.
While I imagine most of you have not gone to a roofing company Christmas party, have you experienced something similar?
Maybe you felt like you belonged in your spouse’s family when someone important in the family gave you a big hug and told you they loved you. Maybe you participated in the love of a friend group when you were in school when you got invited to a birthday party, or you got asked to skate night, and you were able to identify with that group and enjoy them because of what happened. Maybe you felt like you belonged at your job because you got invited to lunch by someone further up the organizational and social ladder. Maybe you felt like you belonged in your neighborhood when a neighbor exchanged phone numbers with you and your kids started playing together. Maybe at church you began identifying with that community and not another local church because you got invited to dinner, or to some event, and you began to participate in the love of that community.
Or maybe there are areas in your life where those things haven’t happened and you feel the void. In any of those major relational spheres…work, marriage, friends, church, if there hasn’t been some relational moment, or sign, you feel like you don’t identify or belong to that group and you don’t want to participate in those relationships.
In any group, there are certain practices, signs, rituals, ceremonies, that mark out that we identify with and participate in the relational glue of that community. As Christians, what is it for us?
As the church, we have two special practices often called sacraments or ordinances to use fancy Christianese: baptism and communion. And we’re in a sermon series called, “Why Church?” And basically I want God to give us a renewed joy for the basics of church life as we clarify why we do the things we do. So why baptism and why communion?
Before we jump in I want to identify an issue with this question: we’re dealing with mysteries. Baptism and communion are sacraments and sacraments comes from a word that means ‘mysteries.’ People across Christianity disagree with these mysteries of baptism and communion, why? Because they’re mysterious!
John Calvin said, “I would rather adore the mystery than explain it.” So our hope this morning in asking, “Why Baptism and Communion?” is more than explanation it is adoration.
Romans 6:1–4 ESV
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans is a letter written by Paul, one of many people who saw Jesus risen from the grave. It’s a Christian manifesto on the good news of Jesus. We talked about it a few weeks ago when we did a sermon on “What is the gospel?” All of Romans is the gospel, and certainly specific texts within it.
What’s the occasion of Romans? There’s differing opinions but he’s writing to a Roman church that is divided. It was both Jewish and non-Jewish. Paul, a Jew who has met the risen Jesus, is arguing throughout Romans that because Jesus rose from the grave and has made a way for all people to belong to the family of God, the Mosaic law, food laws, circumcision…they don’t matter anymore.
It’d be like someone getting up in congress and saying the Constitution is irrelevant.
Then he makes this scandalous claim in Rom 5:20
Romans 5:20 ESV
20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
You can hear his Jewish opponents screaming...”You’ve given people a license to sin!!”
And if you’re paying attention, you’ll note that they’re not talking about baptism…but Paul uses baptism as
Two assumptions Paul seems to be making:

Paul assumes we know a lot about baptism.

Rayce has pointed out that I frequently use illustrations in sermons from the TV show The Office. It’s true. I assume that many of you know what I’m talking about, and maybe that’s a bad assumption. Last week I used an illustration about Daniel Tiger the kids TV show because I assumed at least 5 of you knew what I was talking about and you didn’t so here I am bringing it up again and it’s a bad idea.
Paul uses baptism as an illustration to make a point because he assumes we know a lot.
We do and we don’t. Paul doesn’t say, “Dear Reader, let me remind you that baptism is full immersion by a believing adult and let me give you a diagram of what that looks like.”
When we say baptism and communion are sacraments - the word itself means mystery. John Calvin said regarding the sacraments, “I would rather adore the mystery than explain it.”
While the Bible may not be perfectly clear on the practice of baptism, it is perfectly clear on the importance of baptism and its place in the people of God. People who love Jesus and love their Bibles practice baptism differently, but we can agree based on this text and others that Paul assumes we know a lot.

Paul is assuming the church is baptized.

He’s writing to the church. Not just people who attend, but the church. And he says, “Dear Church, remember when you were baptized?” In Paul’s mind, if you’re a part of the church, you’ve been baptized. They go hand in hand. Why? Because they follow Jesus and Jesus asked all his followers to be baptized. We read that passage last week in Matthew 28:18. Mark Dever, a pastor in Washington DC said, “The first command of Jesus is to get wet, it only gets harder after that.”
For a Jew like Paul, baptism was connected to the Exodus story.
God’s chosen family, the people of Abraham, were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. They worked non-stop making bricks under evil Pharoah.
But God sends Moses, and he leads the people out of Egypt through what? A body of water, the Red Sea. As the people go through the water on dry land, Pharoah and his army are defeated.
Israel is free. They don’t have to make bricks anymore because they’re not in Egypt anymore. Now they’re in a new land where God is their King and he gives them good commands and guides them towards wisdom and life.
In the same way, baptism is the practice of identifying with the new Exodus. Jesus, the new Moses, died on the cross, entering the chaotic water of death itself, but God gave him new life.
Jesus himself viewed his death and resurrection as baptism.
Mark 10:38 ESV
38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
For Jesus, baptism pointed to his death and resurrection. Jesus went under, and then came up. Again, Jesus loving people and Bible loving people disagree on the exact practices of baptism, but at Gateway we see the Bible teaching full immersion by a believer is the intended form.
If you were baptized in a different way, did you sin? No. No! Did you do something wrong? No. And we also ask that members of Gateway Chapel respond to trusting Jesus by being baptized as believers by going under the water. We’ve got a tank here! Or we’ve got lakes.
Why baptism?

It identifies us with the people of God.

Romans 6:3 ESV
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Following Jesus is a team sport. The jersey Paul sees connecting the people of God is baptism.
We all have a need to belong. Baptism lets us know we belong in the people of God.
If you notice, we have people in different life stages at Gateway. Single people, married with kids, married without kids, empty nesters, people who like my jokes about the Office and people who would like it if I threw in a few Cheers references.
And it can be hard to relate across these life stages, but baptism unites us.
Knowing that you belong can feel different than feeling that you belong. Our role as the baptized people of God is to help include people. So how can you help other baptized believers experience the reality that they belong?

It identifies us with Christ’s death.

Romans 6:3–4 (ESV)
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death...
When you are baptized, you go under the water and are identifying yourself with the death of Jesus. What does that mean?
Christ’s death saved us from slavery to sin.
Why did the Israelites not have to make bricks anymore? They’re not in Egypt! Even after God saved them, remember how they complained and even told Moses, “If only we were back in Egypt!!”
Similarly, if you’ve been baptized, you identify with Christ’s death and you’re saying, “I’m not a citizen of that old country anymore!” Do you still sin? Sure. Do you still clamor to go back to that old place sometimes. Absolutely. But you have a new citizenship. A new king. A new life. And baptism identifies us with the defeat of sin and our new identity in Christ.

It identifies us with Christ’s new life.

Romans 6:4 (ESV)
4 ...in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Baptism is the practice of going under the water and identifying with Christ’s death, and coming out of the water and identifying with his new life.
Jesus died…on the cross. And then he rose again, and lives an eternal life where he will never die again.
If you’ve been baptized, you’re saying “I died! The old me is gone....and now I’m living an eternal kind of life.”
If you’re a believer, your core identity is in the resurrected life of Jesus. And I find that I don’t always feel that way. My identity is more in line with my fears than my faith.
But I was reflecting this week and thinking, “How does my baptism inform the biggest concerns of my life?”
I was baptized when I was 14. I trusted Jesus when I was much younger, but in middle school I went through a rough patch of depression…which in some sense, who doesn’t because middle school is awful. Some of you are like, “Speak for yourself I was king in middle school!”
But God made himself very known to me in that stage and baptism for me was a way of saying, “If God is like this, I want to be with him.”
And as I think back on the junk I’ve done, said, and thought, and the shame I’ve felt since I was 14…my identity from my perspective has shifted and curved and changed whenever the wind blows. But God sees my identity as it truly is…when he sees me he sees Jesus’ new life.
So for you…what’s troubling you right now? What voices are accusing you in your mind? How does your baptism speak to those things? Because your life is with Christ.
And if you’ve not been baptized…God is inviting you to identify with his love, with his people, with his Son. What’s stopping you?
Baptism is the beautiful sacrament, the practice of identifying with the people of God, with Christ’s death and resurrection. And Communion is another practice of the church which allows us to participate in the love of God.


Every Sunday, we participate in a family meal we call communion.
Why do we do this? Clearly it’s not about calories.
Meals are highly symbolic for us. They are where big things happen in life.
My opening story…I shared a meal with the folks at Tekline Roofing and I knew I was in. I was a part of the crew. Sharing BBQ with those guys, having a beer…I was no longer just the sales rep I felt like a friend.
What are memorable meals in your life? Maybe the dinner you had after your wedding, maybe a weekly family dinner is special to you, maybe your dad makes something you just love…sharing a meal with people is participating in friendship, love, family.
The Bible is bookended by meals. There’s a robust garden at the beginning with all sorts of food, but the dinner guests choose the wrong menu option, and things go horribly wrong. The Great Chef works tirelessly to restore the dinner and is preparing a new meal with new wine for all of us at the end of history.
Jesus himself was accused of being a ‘glutton and drunkard.’ Some commentators have said Jesus literally ate and drank his way through the gospels. You can read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and map them out by seeing when Jesus was at a meal, leaving a meal, or going to a meal.
It’s not just because Jesus burned a lot of calories racking up miles in sandals, jesus was allowing others to participating in the love of God.
Meals in Jesus’ time were highly symbolic. The food that was served, the manner in which it was served and by whom, carried coded communication with significant social ramifications. For the people of God, meals were where highly symbolic and became ways of experiencing and enjoying God.
No meal was more important than the Passover meal.
Every year, the Jewish people celebrated when God ‘passed over’ them and saved them from slavery in Egypt. Pharoah was evil personified, and yet God was gracious to him, giving him 10 chances to change his ways. Let my people go! You won’t? Okay, here’s 10 plagues.
The final plague was the most convincing of all, resulting in the death of all firstborns in Egypt. But the Israelites were supposed to take a young innocent lamb, kill it, and put the blood of that lamb over the doorposts of their homes. God would see the blood of the lamb on their home and PASS OVER them, not giving them the judgment reserved for Pharoah’s hard heart.
Exodus 12:12–14 ESV
12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. 14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
So for Jews, this Passover meal - or feast - was incredibly symbolic. And in our text in Matthew, Jesus comes along to give this meal new meaning.
Matthew 26:26–28 ESV
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Why communion?

Communion is receiving the love of Jesus.

The Passover meal for Jews was about receiving the love God had shown them in the past. The meal helped them remember what he did to save them. God graciously removed them from a hopeless place of death and took them somewhere they could grow, raise families, and live fully and healthy lives.
In our text, Jesus is reshaping this meal that was about how God used Moses to love the Jews and save them, now it’s going to be about how God used Jesus to love the Jews and every nation and save them from an even greater enemy.
And he gives this meal out and the disciples receive it in the same way that he will shortly after this give his own body and give his own blood as a sacrifice to buy back people who were enslaved to sin. So Jesus says, “Eat and drink and receive my love. Receive my forgiveness.”
One preacher recalls the first time he was asked to teach a seminary class about Communion. He went to an older colleague and said, "How shall I begin? What should I do?"
The older colleague said, "The first thing you must do is go to a kitchen and learn how to cook."
The preacher said, "Why should I learn how to cook if all I want to do is to teach the meaning of Communion?"
"Ah," said his older colleague, "you must know this. You will never be able to understand the meaning of Communion until you know the love of cooking and the joy of those who are satisfied."
Maybe you know the dynamic of being invited to dinner…your friend says “Come over for dinner tomorrow!” And what are you supposed to say? “What can I bring?” It says a lot!
Jesus prepares a meal of his own life for us…I am the bread of life. Come and eat! And we say surely I’m supposed to bring something!! And Jesus says ‘Just come. Just receive.’
Communion is about receiving the love Jesus has already shown us, and...

Communion is receiving the hope of Jesus.

Matthew 26:29 ESV
29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
The Passover meal was founded upon what God did, but it also pointed forward to what God will one day do. Ultimately, it pointed forward to Jesus. And now, as Jesus takes the Passover meal and makes it his own, he does the same thing and uses the meal to symbolically point ahead to his return.
When we receive communion, we are not just receiving the love Jesus has shown us, we’re receiving the hope that he will return as Judge and King and Redeemer of all things.
Revelation 19:11–16 ESV
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Jesus came in weakness, lowliness, and gentleness, and when he returns he’ll return in power, authority, and everything will be made right.
I had coffee with Rosie and Emily Ray this week and we were talking about how life just doesn’t turn out like you want. And Rosie looks at Emily and says, “You know what we say in our family? Sometimes the plan stinks.” And what communion does is say, “And it won’t always be that way.”
Think of what these disciples are about to endure. They’ll sing a song together, go straight to the Mount of Olives, and the plan begins to stink. Judas and the army comes. The disciples flee. Peter denies Jesus. Jesus is arrested and accused of heresy and treason. And their Rabbi is ultimately killed. But Jesus didn’t stay dead, he rose again. And this beautiful mess was all a part of the plan so that those who have faith in Jesus could identify with Jesus and those who trust Jesus could receive the love and hope of Jesus that one day he will come and serve up the best meal and best wine.


How does your baptism inform the biggest issue you’re facing today?
How can you take communion differently today to receive the love of Jesus?
Many of you have been baptized. Consider meditating on that moment, that day, and think about the symbolism of your unity and friendship with Jesus and your unity in the family of God.
Maybe you haven’t been baptized. Consider Jesus’ love for you and we’d love to help you respond to his love through baptism.
Take communion together after the first song
2 Thessalonians 2:15–17 ESV
15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
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