If you heard Sunday’s sermon on children and baptism, you might be wondering how in the world it could lead to level-three discussion in our Life Group meetings this week. I wondered the same myself.
But the topic of baptism touches on so many things that are relevant to our everyday lives. For this week’s discussion questions, we’ll end up just scratching the surface of what some of those areas are. In case you missed the sermon, I’ve tried to provide enough content to get everyone on the same page (you can also listen or read the entire sermon online). As you’ll see, the questions are set up in clusters and subdivided by bullets, each as a follow up to the one before it, moving from theoretical to practical.
As usual, I’ve also thrown in some bracketed asides specifically for the Life Group Point-Person. These are meant to help you guide the discussion. Feel free to throw in any extra questions that come to mind, or skip what seems out of place. The plan for these questions is that they help guide your time together, not consume the entire thing. So, as always, I encourage you to use the questions as they are helpful, and then fill in the rest.
Pastor Joe explained about baptism,
We believe that God speaks and that we speak. In baptism, God is saying to us, “If you will trust in me, I will wash away your sins. If you believe in Jesus, I will give you eternal life.” In other words, in baptism God gives us a visual promise, just like he does in the Lord’s Supper. But, we also believe that in baptism, we speak to God and to the world. In baptism, we publicly declare our allegiance to King Jesus.
If God is making promises in baptism, then we are believing those promises in baptism.
So there is a dual expression in baptism. First, God is saying something to us — that Jesus died and was raised to save us from our sins. In this way, we are entirely passive in baptism. We are receiving what God has promised. What do you think about that? How does it effect human pride to hear such a promise from God? Why?
Again, baptism is a dual expression. As Pastor Joe notes, God makes a promise and we believe that promise. We are saying to the world that we identify with Jesus in his death and resurrection. We are saying that we died when he died, and that, spiritually, we were raised when he was raised (see Galatians 2:20).
A friend who was new to Christianity once asked me how Christians say that they’re Christians. He joked that we obviously don’t carry around cards that say we are. What is the thing that publicly demonstrates that you are with Jesus? The answer is baptism.
Why do you think this is important? Why are both expressions essential?
During the Q&A Sunday afternoon we talked a little about the implications for parenting. Pastor Joe said that, after his believing sons are baptized, when it comes to correction he plans to “grab them by their baptisms.” Others have used that phrase, and I love it..
Joe explained, in other words, that he will use the episode of baptism to remind his sons that they have aligned themselves with Jesus — “Hey, buddy, when you were baptized, you said you were trusting Jesus and following him. Well, when you do _____, you are going back to the old way. That’s not who you are anymore.”
I was speaking with Pastor David Mathis on the phone to fill him in about Sunday (his family was out of town), and when I mentioned this part to him — which was a highlight to me — he remarked that we adults need to start grabbing each other by our baptisms! It’s not just a parenting tactic, it’s central to all levels of discipleship. Baptism is that moment where our union with Jesus is dramatized and demonstrated, and it is useful in helping one another trust and follow Jesus.
How could you imagine using baptism in this way? What are some potential scenarios in discipling relationships where you think the episode of baptism would be a helpful?
As covenant members at Cities, we each have a story about baptism. What’s yours? How did you background influence the way you thought about baptism? When were you baptized?
[Ask each member in your Life Group to share the story of when and why they decided to be baptized.]