Concord UMC Baptism and Membership 101
I am glad to see you all in this baptism and membership 101. Let me ask you this question for your basic orientation.
Which one takes more time, Wedding Service or Marriage Life?
Baptism is like Wedding Service and Membership means Marriage Life. Once you are baptized, you want to grow in faith and enjoy the abundant life in Jesus Christ. Wedding Service does not guarantee happy marriage life. You need to learn how to love each other and how to grow into a husband and a wife and parents. Baptism 101 will help you to make up your mind to marry Jesus and Membership 101 will help you to enjoy the life as the bride of Jesus.
If this sounds good, you are in the right class.
If you do not have any intention to marry Jesus, you are in the wrong class.
If you are not sure yet, you can stay and find out who is God, who is Jesus, and who is the Holy Spirit. Then you will decide what would be your relationship with the Trinity and we will go from there.
I hope that we can be help to each other. May God be glorified!
- God’s original blessing.
God wants us to have a happy life. Let us just check the Bible.
Jeremiah 29:11. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
John 10:10 (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Romans 8:26 (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
The Third Letter of John verse 2. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Matthew 7:11 (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Genesis 1:28 (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
- Original Sin
Then, why do people have suffering and hardships in life?
Why can’t we enjoy a peaceful and abundant life?
There is a thief in our life. The thief stands between God and human beings. We already read about the thief. Do you remember John 10:10?
Please, re-write the purpose of the thief.
We are used to this thief. We now have perpetual worries about the thief. Actually, such worry and fear are the channels through which the thief comes into our lives.
See, how Job in the Bible invited the thief!
Job 3:25. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
The thief is called “Satan,” which means in Hebrew “Accuser.” It can also mean “divider” or “liar.” So, the basic characteristics of Satan are to lie, divide, and accuse people. Do not worry, my brothers and sister, however, the Satan cannot come into our lives unless we invite him.
Do I invite the Satan into my life?
Yes, many times we invite him into our lives. Don’t you remember the last time you had worries, fears, complaints, accusations, divisions, and lies? Oh, yes, we invite the Satan into our lives.
Without those channels, Satan cannot come near to us. So, in a sense, Baptism 101 teaches us how to block the channels. We have to close the leaking pipe with the “top-kill” method!
Let us see where the leak started first.
Genesis 2:17. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Ah, there is the first leak!
Did Adam and Eve actually die after they ate the fruit?
Yes___ No___ (Please mark your answer!)
God said they were going to die. Did they die or not?
Genesis 3:10. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
They were still moving around and talked back to God!
Imagine that a mother told her boy, “You can do whatever play that you want to do. You can run and scream. However, just do not do one thing! Do not jump from the top of the Sears tower! You will die!” The boy felt that he was a Superman. He watched cartoons a lot. So, he jumped from the top of the Sears tower (by the way, it is in Chicago, where I was from.) shouting proudly, “I am Superman! I am flying and still alive! Mom lied to me! Look, I am not dead yet!”
Let me ask you again. Is he alive or dead?
Alive___ Dead____ (Please mark your answer!)
Is the boy alive? You are funny!
He was dead when he jumped off from the top of the building! Yes, you are right! He is biologically alive until he landed on the ground in a little gross form. However, do you call that life a life? Our human life is like that. We are falling down since the first “Fall,” which is called “Original Sin.” Unless somebody intercepts us and saves us, we are dead already. The falling takes somewhat 100 years maybe. Do you call that a life?
The Bible describes our situation in this way:
Genesis 3:23. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Ephesians 2:2. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
- God’s Grace and Plan to Save Us.
We humans have no solution in this falling. However, God graciously gives us a solution.
The hint is found in the ritual used in the Old Testament.
Leviticus 17:11. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Hebrews 9:13-14. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Galatians 3:13-14. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Hebrews 2:14-15. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Romans 5:19. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
1 Corinthians 15:45. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
In the Old Testament times, when we sin we bring a bull (if you are rich), a ram (if you are a middle class), or a dove (if you are poor), with other grains and oil and wine and make a sin offering and/or a guilt offering with a peace offering. Those animals die for our sins. We have to die but we want to live more. So, we transfer all our sins unto the animal by laying our hands on the head of the animal. Then the priest kills the animal and pours the blood of the animal on the altar and burns the animal. Yes, it is gross and smelly. Aren’t we glad that we don’t do that anymore? At least I am glad because I do not have to kill any animal and burn them! (Thank you, Jesus!)
God says that life is in blood. So, if you want to live more, at least some animal has to shed its blood! (They die because of our sins! It is not fair!) So, repent your sins! However, it stops the falling a little bit but cannot stop it completely. Like the many ideas tried at the BP oil leak, they are actually failures.
Then God decided to carry out the Top-Kill plan that God had already in Genesis to save us.
Genesis 3:15. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
So, Jesus came as a human (we use the word, “Incarnation”) and died for us on the Cross (we call that “Atonement” like at-one-ment with God) and came back to life as the first example of eternal life (“Resurrection” and “Eternal Life” are rather easy words.)
The Bible proclaims the following truth:
John 3:16. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
First letter of John 5:12. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Ephesians 2:1. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
So, if you accept this truth and profess that Jesus is the Savior, you are ready to be baptized.
Now, let us summarize what we have discussed so far.
1) God had Original Blessing for us.
2) To keep the original blessing, we had to keep the boundary that God had set up.
3) We crossed over the boundary and lost our original blessing. (It is like these: if you have an affair then you lose your happiness in your marriage; or if a river runs over the bank, we will have a flood in town. We should keep boundaries.)
4) So, in our lives, we are falling, falling, and falling.
5) So, Jesus came down to us and shouted us to stretch our arms! If we put our arms out, he can catch us! Why are you just staring at him and fold your arms like that? I know what you are thinking. You think that if Jesus really loves you, he will catch you anyway and save you! It does not work that way. God gives us “free will”! That was the beginning of the problem actually. God did not make us a robot. God did not force us to follow God’s commandments even though he could do that. Instead, God gave us free will. We could choose to follow God or to reject God! So, in this falling, still you are the one who have to make the choice.
6) Do you believe that God loves us so much and sends Jesus to save us? Please write down what you believe.
I think you are ready to be baptized. Pastor Sungho Lee
- Growing in Faith
Now, we are born again! We have different status! We need to grow as a member of God’s family. That is totally different stage.
2 Corinthians 5:17. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
John 5:24. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Now what do you do when you are born? You eat, you pray, you love, right? Eat, pray, love, those are basically what we do when we have a perfect life! However, sometimes we eat something that we should not eat (drugs, alcohol, sugar-too much!). Sometimes we do not pray but become a prey (Beasts do not lose any chance!). Many times, we do not love but hate and fight (even with ourselves!).
Romans 7:21-24. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Is that you who are talking?
So, many times, born again Christians feel that we are not born again! We feel that we do not deserve God’s grace & unconditional love! Non-Christians constantly call us names. And we ourselves accept that we are not worthy!
Remember, however, that a prince and a princess should grow before they rule the kingdom! Do you know Paris Hilton? She is a news maker. She will inherit the Hilton Hotel, though. It is not fair, right? When God’s grace works for me, I am thankful but whenever God’s grace works for other sinners, I feel it is not fair. (As if I am a better sinner!)
Have Confidence, my friends! We are born again! We just need to grow. We are heirs of God’s Kingdom and children of God! Our status has been changed! Now we are citizens!
I am Korean-American. I used to say to other Korean folks that you should get the green card or citizenship. They don’t care how smart/diligent/nice/honest/well-educated you are. If you do not have a green card, you are an illegal criminal! They say “It is not fair!” Status matters. First, we have to change our status, and then we can talk about our character.
Character building matters also. Because we want to spread the Good News to as many people as possible we should be good examples of the so-called “moral and ethical” life even though it does not save us. All good deeds we do here on earth look like one dot from the heaven up high. Have you seen 100, 000 dollar car and 10,000 dollar car side by side from an airplane window? They all look same, right? Still it matters when you come down on the ground. When we discuss their “theological” significance, good deeds do not save us. However, when we talk about our life on earth, they matter.
So, how does it work? Simple! We take out weeds and nurture good crops till we have harvest.
1) Weeds out.
James 4:1. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
So, we have to take care of our “desires.” What are the “desires”? It is our tendency to go beyond our necessities. We need daily bread. God knows that and give us our daily bread. However, we desire more than that. We need one spouse as a warm body. God allows us one spouse. We desire more than that. Then we are in trouble. Do you see the cause of trouble?
Please, write down all your desires! (Woops, I do not have enough space for you!)
James 1:15. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Desires have roots in the so-called “flesh.” In the Bible, “flesh” is different from the sum of blood, skin, and meat. If we can use the term, “realm of Satan” or “world” we don’t need the world “flesh.” Sometimes, however, “flesh” is the best word that can mean the thing that the Bible wants to say.
Romans 7:5. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
1 Peter 4:1-2. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Galatians 5:16-17. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Galatians 5:24. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
2) Nurturing Good Crops.
The word that is opposite to “flesh” is “spirit.”When we are baptized, we actually declared that we are dead to our flesh and we are living now by the spirit (guided by the Holy Spirit).
Colossians 2:12. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Romans 8:14. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
The Holy Spirit will guide us step by step every day. From my own experience, it is a constant conversation and dialogue. If we listen to the Spirit, we will have no problem in growing and bearing fruits. If we stop listening or talk back, we will experience detours and ups and downs. If that happens, believe me, that is just a growing pain! Some of the examples of listening to the Sprit are as follows:
Ephesians 4:29-32. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
1 Corinthians 6:18. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Are there any systematic ways to train ourselves to listen to the Holy Spirit? Yes, actually there are “Means of Grace.” Those means are given us to strengthen our ability to discern God’s will and the whispering voice of the Holy Spirit.
Joshua 1: 8. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
What is the meditation? It is more than simple reading. It involves reading, thinking, and applying to our daily lives. If you can do it in a small group, it would be better because then you can see if your application is within the common sense boundary or not. Some people ask these questions when they read the Bible: Is there any sin that I have to avoid? Is there any promise that I can hold on? Is there any command that I should do now? Is there any example that I should follow?
What kind of questions do you have in your mind when you read the Bible?
Who are in your small group to discuss your applications? When and where are you meeting with them?
First Timothy 4:2. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Write down the names that you want to invite to Jesus.
Write down the ways how to invite them to Jesus.
Actually, invitation takes courage. I am glad that you have the courage and faith in the Holy Spirit. Statistics say that if you invite people, half of them respond with yes! So, invite them.
Hebrews 10:24-25. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
What are the church gatherings that you attend regularly?
I suggest you to join to at least three small groups in addition to the public worship service. Would you name three groups that you will consider to join?
Philippians 4:6-7 (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
How often do you pray?
What do you pray for?
1 Corinthians 11:23-27 (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
How often do you take the Holy Communion?
Malachi 3:10. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
What are the positive experiences for you in giving tithe?
What other offerings do you give? Why and when?
When we follow the guide of the Holy Spirit, we can have many wonderful fruits in our lives. Some are spiritual gifts and some are powerful witnesses for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in the world.
Matthew 6:33. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
What does it mean to seek the Kingdom of God and its righteousness first? Think about it and read the passage here.
Philippians 2:6-8. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Complete obedience to God’s will is to seek God’s kingdom and its righteousness. Do you remember that our first Fall come from the disobedience to God’s commandment?
Genesis 3:17-19. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Well, the first king of Israel, Saul, also made the same mistake.
1 Samuel 15:22-23. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
It happens again and again.
2 Chronicles 26:16-19. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
When people feel that they have power, they tend to go beyond their boundaries. So, we need to be reminded constantly what God wants us to do.
John 14:26. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
That is the way how we grow in faith. That is the way how we bear fruits. Once we grow in faith and bear fruits as God has planned for us, the results do not matter anymore. We have peace and joy in our lives. No matter what, we have this deep rooted meaningful life in Jesus and nothing can take the joy from us.
So, listen to these confessions that apostle Paul and king David made at the end of their lives.
Romans 8:38-39. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
1 Chronicles 29:11-12. (Please, write the Bible verse yourself)
Now, would you make your own faith statement?