DYING TO LIVE

If you were living in the Century One – the days of the Book of Acts – and you heard the Gospel of the Kingdom and believed
Encountering Jesus as your Lord and not just your Saviour
You would have been immediately baptized by immersion in water…
The first day of the Church – Acts 2 – Peter is preaching
The Holy Spirit moves n the thousands who are listening to his words

The Holy Spirit convicts them of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-10)
“…they were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37)
They respond with godly sorrow and cry out, “What must we do to be saved?”
Peter says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38)
Baptism … seriously important to a new believer in the early Church
Here is what they were saying when they were publicly baptized by immersion
“I am a male (female). I’m a citizen of Canada. I am addicted to this or that. But here I am. I’m about to die. And the person I am now will cease to exist. It is not that I am going to change and give up my associations. It’s that the person I am right now is going to die.”
You would also be saying…
“I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. I believe that He died for my sins and rose again from the dead. I believe that He is alive and that He ascended into Heaven, and He is now the Lord of the world. The Lord of the universe that He created and has now redeemed – including me. So, I am finished with the old world and the old ways. Take me out to the graveyard and bury me. All of my allegiances will be buried with me, and I will rise out of the waters of baptism as part of a new creation, a new nation, a new Kingdom where Jesus is King.”
Once you emerged out of the waters of baptism – your watery grave …
You came up as a new creature
You no longer belonged to the old creation
You are now a new creature in Christ and a part of the new world order established by Jesus through His death and resurrection
Out of the waters of baptism emerged a citizen of the new people of God
Colossians 1:13-14 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
We are now citizens of a new nation called “ekklesia”
The gathered ones
Those who follow the way
The priesthood of all believers
A holy nation within the nations
The Church
Ekklesia is a new nation entered through salvation and baptism
The physical and visible headquarters of the new order – this new empire (kingdom) is the Church
In the first century…
Those who repented, believed, and were baptized in the Name of Jesus belonged to this new world order
A new order with a totally different set of values and morals from the old world
Their life as they knew it – and as others knew them – had ended
They were as those who had died and risen again from the dead to live for the new King of a new world order – the Kingdom of God / Heaven
Jesus is the Leader – the Lord – of all those who enter this new world order
Lord – title of the emperor / ruler of the Roman Empire
Lord – the title given to Jesus who is now the ruler of the new “empire”
So, being baptized in the name of “Jesus” and declaring that “Jesus is Lord” was treason and worthy of death in the Roman Empire
Romans 6:3-4, 13 “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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….Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”
The baptized believer / disciple…
May still be involved in the political process – but politics no longer defines him
Nor does his race or social status – all are equal in God’s sight
May still be involved in the educational system, but no longer influenced by it
May still be involved in the business world, but with new motives and objectives
The new believer and newly baptized disciple of Jesus no longer pays allegiance to any other
His heart is totally in love with Jesus and he is totally committed to the Kingdom of the King
Does not pay allegiance to any other system or order in the world
They are totally sold out to Jesus and His Kingdom and willing to die for the cause
This is how the early Christians understood being born again and baptized in water
It was a total and final ending to the old life
It was a burial of the old life with no resurrection wanted
Their past was gone – forgiven and forgotten – as they moved into a new life / His life
“For too long we’ve called unbelievers to ‘invite Jesus into your life.’ Jesus doesn’t want to be in your life. Your life (before Him) is a wreck. Jesus calls you into His life. And His life isn’t boring or purposeless or static. It’s wild and exhilarating and unpredictable.“ (repeat)
When a person accepted the Gospel of the Kingdom in the first century
They repented from their old allegiances
They believed the good news about the new world order that was being established
They made Jesus their Lord and not just their Saviour
Lord – King and Ruler of the new world order .. the Kingdom
They were baptized in water in His Name – publicly declaring that they no longer bowed their knee to Caesar as Lord but were now citizens of Heaven where Jesus is Lord
Baptism meant death to your old world order
Baptism meant a new birth into a new world order – His Kingdom
Baptism was the act of switching sides
A renunciation of the world system
A renunciation of the principalities and powers who run the world under Satan
To enter and enjoy the Kingdom and the new world order – you have to start new and be new
This is what baptism is for
It is your new beginning when you put everything else (everything that was the old you) behind you
You renounce it
You bury it
You put your hand to a new plough and don’t look back
Luke 9:62 “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
And, you take a loyalty pledge that you have changed “kingdoms”
That is why in the Book of Acts, the message of the apostles was:
“Repent, believe, and be baptized”
It was not,
“Believe and say the sinner’s prayer”
In this regard, baptism has a very deep meaning that we have, in many ways, lost today
If you were baptized in the first century Church, you were signing your death warrant
You were publicly separating yourself from the world’s systems
You were breaking all ties to the old Kingdom
To your old ways
To your old life
You were publicly declaring that your were embracing a ‘new you’ and a new way of living life
Not new management – new ownership as Jesus “redeemed” you
“For too long we’ve called unbelievers to ‘invite Jesus into your life.’ Jesus doesn’t want to be in your life. Your life (before Him) is a wreck. Jesus calls you into His life. And His life isn’t boring or purposeless or static. It’s wild and exhilarating and unpredictable.“ (repeat)
So, in Bible times, the world of non-believers looked upon a first-century Jesus follower as someone who had renounced everything in life and in the world for another Kingdom and another way of life
A Kingdom that laid claim to the entire planet and is out to defeat all other empires
You were renouncing Caesar for Jesus
You were renouncing their world and it’s ways for the Kingdom and it’s ways
You found the pearl of great price, sold everything to obtain it
Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a [very precious] treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field [securing the treasure for himself].”
Matthew 13:46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, and upon finding a single pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
In baptism, you are no longer part of the world’s order- the world’s system
You are dead to the world’s ways
You no longer belong to the way the world does things
We are a counter-culture and not a sub-culture – radically different than…
In baptism, you announce to the entire universe that you have been made a new creation
That you have become part of a new Kingdom, a new nation, a holy priesthood
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Old things – have and are passing away
New things – have and are coming
Old things … they are there still only if you allow them to be (have not died – killed them)
If you bring them back from the grave (baptism) and truly did not die before being buriedin the waters of baptism
New things … all are there in you
You have “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)
The key is: You need to release these “all things” that are within you
BUT, You can’t do so if you still have your hands and heart on the ‘old things’
So, I believe Jesus wants us to have an altar call…
If you have not fully “died to self”
If you are still hanging on to the old ways
If you have not fully embraced all that God has given you pertaining to life and godliness for whatever reason
If you seem anchored to the old ways and are tired of fighting and never winning
If you have never really made Jesus Lord – renouncing the ways of the world
If you once made Jesus Lord but have drifted and taken back control
If you have lost the “joy of the Lord”
If you are walking in the flesh and not in the Spirit
If your flesh and your feelings are controlling you and this Jesus is not Lord
If inside you are dying and simply want to experience life – His life – once again
If you are still thinking of your ministry
If your focus is on you – your feelings, thoughts, needs, opinion
If you are concerned about what people think about you
If you are drawing attention to yourself
If your reputation is important to you
If you want people to notice you / remember you
If you still believe that you have “rights” (dead people don’t have any rights)
Ley go of you
Grab hold of Him
Let go of the old
Release the new
Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”