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RAISED TO LIFE Part 1


Here are links to listen to or watch the full message.


This week has been TOUGH! And not just for Liverpool fans.... The headlines have been tragic, like the school shooting in the US and the GBV and corruption stories back home. Many in the community are dealing with loss, sickness and all kinds of challenges.


"Where is God?" "Is he in control?" "How can he let this happen?" "What have I done to deserve this?" These are common questions that surface. One of the ways the Bible answers these questions is through the theme of Kingdom.


A few weeks back, we began to dig into this theme. Here's a quick recap, using this image that we shared before.



  • The top half of the image presents a relativity common view of what many people think the Bible teaches. Heaven is somewhere out there, in the clouds, perhaps. And hell is somewhere else. If you pass the test after you die, you will go to heaven. And if you don't, then.... This idea of going to heaven (or hell) when you die is not the main focus of the Bible narrative. You won't find the phrase "go to heaven" in the Bible.

  • The bottom half of the image is a more accurate representation of the Biblical narrative.

  • Heaven in the Bible can refer to the sky, but also to God's space - his dimension, the place where he is. Heaven is a present and future reality, and from what we see in Revelation 21, this dimension coming here, to earth - which is our space (dimension).

  • Humans created in the image of God, and this is linked to ruling and reigning (Gen 1:26)

  • Heaven & Earth were made to be united and will be united again (Rev 21)

  • Sin is rebellion against God's Kingdom, a powerful force. (Gen 3, Rom 7:8) Sins are the actions/consequences that flow out of sin. We focus a lot on "sins" and therefore behavior management, but the core issue is sin. This caused a fracture between God's space, and our space. The cross deals with both sin and sins, and is central to the way that God is bringing these dimensions back together, under the reign of the true King - Jesus.

  • What you think Jesus talked about most tells you a lot about how you see him. Jesus primary message is Repent, for the Kingdom of God/Heaven is at hand (Matt 4:17)

  • Christ means Messiah, the Anointed King

  • Gospel (Gk euangelion) means the good news of a King

  • Kingdom (in the Bible) is not a geographical place but an encounter with the King; a yielding to His rule and reign

  • On the cross, Jesus deals with sin and sins, defeats death, takes God's wrath upon himself, inaugurates the Kingdom, and in his resurrection begins the new creation

  • We live in the Now and the not yet. In this age, the Kingdom has come, but is not complete. Hence the Kingdom is here, but not everywhere yet.

  • Christ will return again to complete the Kingdom (Heb 9:28) to judge the living and the dead; we will all stand before God one day to give an account

  • So, the goal is not to “go to heaven when you die”, but to repent, accept the invitation to be part of the Kingdom now, into eternity. (Rev 5:10)

  • In this age, the Church - called out ones, are God’s choice to carry the Gospel, the evidence of the Kingdom

  • To turn the world upside down then, is not to start a riot, but to set things right, according to the rule and reign of the good King. (Acts 17)


Your view of all of this is so key. If you see that the theme of the Bible narrative and the Kingdom is one of restoration, redemption and a new creation, that everything is moving toward a resolution, that brings hope. And as many have said, what you hope for shapes what you live for.


WHAT YOU HOPE FOR SHAPES WHAT YOU LIVE FOR

Right back to the time of the New Testament authors, baptism was a way for followers of Jesus to declare what (or rather who) they live for. Paul - the one who was accused of "turning the world upside down" wrote about baptism in this way.


Romans 6:1-5

What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection.


This pattern of coming through the waters links right back to Genesis.

An image of order being established from chaos, with the Spirit hovering over the waters.


Genesis 1:9 Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.”


Then to Noah - the heavens opened and the earth flooded. A remnant rescued in an ark, out of the water. The old washed away.


Genesis 7:18 The water surged and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.


Next to Moses - but not the Red Sea just yet. A rescue from genocide in an ark - yes the Hebrew word for his basket {ta-va} is the same as Noah's ark.


Exodus 2:5 Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds, sent her slave girl, took it,


Now to the Red Sea - people being set free from slavery, passing through the water, and the water closing over their oppressors.


Exodus 14:16 As for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.


Interestingly, this just after this is the first time God is recognized as king (Exodus 15:18)


Forty years later, time to cross over the Jordan river from the wilderness into the promises land. It's a replay of the Exodus.


Joshua 3:16 The priests carrying the ark of the LORD’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.


Then, the very people chosen to be God's people, bringing his rule and reign, reject God as king, and chose their own. Eventually, things spiral and Israel splits. Both North and South end in exile. In the midst of exile, Isaiah looks ahead to a day when the remannt will be rescued, brought through the water. Notice the language.


Isaiah 11:11 On that day the Lord will extend his hand a second time to recover the remnant of his people who survive ​— ​from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the coasts and islands of the west


Isaiah 11:15-16 The LORD will divide the Gulf of Suez. He will wave his hand over the Euphrates with his mighty wind and will split it into seven streams, letting people walk through on foot. 16 There will be a highway for the remnant of his people

who will survive from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt.


Skip ahead to the start of the New Testament, and we meet John the Baptist. He is fulfilling Isaiah's prophetic announcement of Israel’s restoration and deliverance. He is calling people to renew their covenant with God, by passing through the water. And not just any water - the Jordan river. It speaks of crossing the Jordan, a symbolic re-enactment, 1200 years after Joshua. A revival is underway. The Kingdom is here, and this time, for good.


Matthew 3:1-6 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near! ” 3 For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said:

A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

Prepare the way for the Lord;

make his paths straight!

4 Now John had a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins



Then Jesus arrive on the scene, and is baptized by John, not because he had sinned and needed to repent, but because this is the beginning of his entry into the land, where he would drive out the enemy and take possession - like Israel was supposed to do 1200 years before.


And in the baptism of Jesus, all the threads come together. The Spirit is there from Genesis. The voice of God too. The open heavens and dove from Noah, the went up immediately from Exodus and Joshua.


Matthew 3:16-17 When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”


None of this is co-incidence. It is a developing story. Israel’s Messiah, the king is here, the old is being done away with, and a new era is tarting with this new-exodus.


From here, Jesus is led to the wilderness, some say a picture linking back to Eden, but unlike the first Adam, Jesus overcomes temptation and emerges victorious.


Matthew 4:17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”


Later on, Jesus speaks about another baptism - this time the water is death itself.


Mark 10:38 Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup I drink or to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? ”


As Jesus’ is raised to life, he launches start of God’s new creation through the water of death. He Inaugurates the kingdom, and invites sinners, by grace through faith to be part of the kingdom through his self giving substitution, and God's forgiveness.


Then, he charges his followers, soon to become the Church, to spread this good news, to make disciples, and baptize them


GREAT COMISSION

Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20



The New Testament authors, like Paul (who links baptism with the Exodus story (1 Cor 10:12)) and (who links baptism with the flood), would understood the significance of going through the waters all the way back to Genesis.


It's why we read about people coming to faith and then getting baptized right away.


It's why baptism is linked not just to Jesus’ own baptism, not just to the Exodus and to Genesis, to Jesus’ own death and resurrection. (Rom 6:1-5). Baptism is an identification: the old was crucified with Jesus , and now followers of Jesus raised to life - new life! It's going through the waters of death and following Jesus on the other side and into the new creation.


It's why very early on, baptism was seen as the way into the Christian family, the new life of the church in the world in the now and the not yet. Baptism is DECLARATION that says, I am on this journey with you, part of God's story. in the church, this is our story, and it is your story and we are figuring it out together.


It's why we celebrate baptism, as it profoundly says: This is who we are, this is what we hope for, and that shapes what we live for.


People often ask Do I HAVE TO get baptized to go to heaven… i.e. is it a requirement for salvation? Technically no, but I wonder if the question is missing the point. Remember the top of half of the image right at the start?


Think of it like this: You can go to watch a sports game at a stadium, without a supporters jersey. No one can tell which side you are supporting, and you can shout for whichever team you prefer. When you put a supporters jersey on, you are marked in a sense. Baptism takes it one step further. It's like getting your players jersey, and getting on to the field. You can mess up. You can make mistakes. But the story is moving to a resolution and this team has already secured the victory. It's better get out there and standard play your heart out, rather than sit on the sidelines and watch. Baptism is like that. It's saying, I'm all in.


Our next Baptism Sunday will be coming up in a few weeks. Perhaps it's time for you to take this significant step? If so, please do get in touch?




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