MATTHEW 3:13-17: “Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires. ” So John agreed to baptize him. After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (NLT)
OBSERVATION: Am I ready to be used by God? What are the prerequisites for living a dynamic Christian life? In all of life there are prerequisites. If you want to go to college, you have to graduate from high school. If you want to find employment, you must have the right qualifications and pass the prescreening and physical. If you want to go to the fair, you need to have a ticket. Life is filled with prerequisites. Why should our Christian life be any different?
However, the prerequisites of the Christian life are not the same as those of our everyday life. First, the Christian life is a gift, not something we earn. Paul reminds us in the book of Ephesians,
- “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT
Jesus died on the cross for our sins while we were still positioned as enemies of God. He rose from the dead victoriously, and now offers a new life of forgiveness and right standing before God to all who believe. This is not something we earn, it is something that is given to us by God’s Grace. Yet, having received by grace through faith, we are now called into a new life of obedience and service. This is where the prerequisites begin. The first one is an answer, the second one is a gift.
The answer to our salvation is water baptism. Jesus, perfectly sinless, and without need for repentance, went to be baptized by John the Baptist. At first John pushed back. He said – “I have need to be baptized by You.” Yet, Jesus insisted saying – “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” Jesus was showing us the initial answer of the believer to God’s call of salvation. Having believed, the first prerequisite to living a dynamic Christian life is to follow Jesus Christ in water baptism!
- “Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins….”. (Acts 2:37-38a NLT)
Many today have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, but they have not answered God’s call of discipleship with water baptism. This is both a public confession of our new found faith, and the beginning step of discipleship. If we want to continue on the pathway of a dynamic Christian life we need to follow Jesus in water baptism.
There is still one more initial prerequisite. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit in power! It is very important to note that Jesus did not begin His ministry and works of miracles until He fulfilled all that God required by entering into water baptism, and then by receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit in power! This is the same call that Jesus gave to his disciples before His ascent into heaven.
- “Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5 NLT)
They were all believers. They had the Holy Spirit living within their hearts (see John 20:22), yet they had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in power. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives was necessary to live a dynamic and sacrificial life in fulfilling God’s call. Without out it they would be spiritually anemic at best. However, with it – they would turn the world upside down!
- “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT)
The same is true for us today. We need to follow Jesus in water baptism, and we need to be baptized (immersed, filled to overflowing) with the Holy Spirit. This begins our walk of the dynamic (dunamis) power filled Christian life. It lifts us up from our inabilities and filled us with God’s power and possibilities. And once filled – we need to come to the Lord each day and ask to be refilled.
In other words, we need to live in the stream of God’s power – the river of His Spirit!
Each day we have a choice. We can live within the restrictions of our human strength and limitations (wading in the river), or we can live in the unlimited potential of God’s Holy Spirit (diving into the river until we are submerged!).
- “The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway. Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.” Ezekiel 47:2-5 NLT
Lord, I don’t want to live my life wading in the kiddie pool – I want to be submersed in the river of Your love and power. Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon me anew in an overflowing way. Help me to enter into the deep resources of Your Grace through obediently walking in Your footsteps and fully relying upon the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life. And let me always proclaim this wonderful promise to all –
- “Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away —all who have been called by the Lord our God.” (Acts 2:38-39 NLT)
In Jesus Name!