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Christ Our Captain

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
December 29, 2021 3:00 am

Christ Our Captain

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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December 29, 2021 3:00 am

Jesus wants you on His team! But what kind of a captain is He? And what does it take to “make the cut”? Hear the answers when you join us for a special message titled “Christ Our Captain.” That’s our focus on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Jesus Invites Us on His Team But have you ever wondered what kind of captain he is?

And what does it take to make the cut? We'll find out today on Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. We're in Acts 2, verses 36 to 47. Now before we turn to the Bible, let's turn to God in prayer.

Let us all pray. Our gracious God and loving Father, we bless and thank you for the way that you have ordered our steps this day, and that we have, in your providence and goodness, found our way to this place in this evening hour. We're glad because of the promise that the risen Jesus is among his people as we gather in this way.

And we're glad also because other people who love Jesus are around us. And on the first evening of this new week, as we anticipate all that is before us—the unknown as well as that which we are aware of—it is a terrific encouragement to each of us to be reminded that in the journey of Christian living we are not alone. But indeed, we are surrounded in many ways by a great cloud of witnesses—those who have gone before, their portraits, as it were, hanging in the gallery of our memories, their example something to emulate, the courage and fortitude that they showed in the face of their losses and their failures and their illnesses, reminding us that you are sufficient in every circumstance of life. And so tonight we pray that as we gather in this way, we may be aware of your presence among us, that when we turn to the Bible that it may be in the acknowledgment of its truthfulness and of its relevance to our lives, that we may not seek to avoid its implications but that we might bow down before its dictates. And indeed, as we listen to others tell us of how Jesus has saved them and made them new people, we might examine our hearts to see if we are of the faith, whether we too have been made new, and whether in that newness of life we are also equally committed to following Jesus as our Master and our King. Help us to this end, we pray, and bless all who gather similarly in our nation and throughout the world in order that Christ may be exalted in all things. For we ask it in his precious name.

Amen. It's years now since, back in our old building on Fairmount Boulevard, at about this point in the evening service, I would invite all of the children to come and gather with me at the front. There is a measure of nostalgia in that many of those children are now the parents of children who are this evening and kids of the kingdom.

And one of the things that we did for the opportunity of interaction was to go through the alphabet—at least, I remember, on a couple of occasions. And one of the series through the alphabet was to ask the children to come back week by week with the word that would describe what Jesus means to his followers in the letters of the alphabet. So, for example, they would come back on the first evening, and some would say that Jesus is our advocate with the Father. On the second evening, that Jesus is the bread of life. And I would need to check, but I think from memory, that of all the suggestions on the third evening, the one that we chose on that occasion for C was that Jesus is the captain of our salvation.

It's a very interesting picture—a picture of his lordship, a picture of his reign and his rule, a picture of a team that he assembles and that he captains and he guides. I want to have that thought in each of our minds. I'm actually going to ask a little later on for some of you to consider seriously becoming members of Jesus' team, and some who profess to be members of Jesus' team to take seriously what the captain asks of you. We begin by recognizing that Jesus as the captain of our salvation has blazed the trail for us—not least of all, in the issue of baptism. You will recall, if you know your Bibles at all, that when Jesus came to be baptized in the Jordan by John, it really put the cat among John's pigeons. Because John could not understand why it would be that Jesus would be baptized by him. Ought it not to be the other way around, he said to Jesus, I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me? And Jesus replied, Let it be so now.

It is proper for us to do this, to fulfill all righteousness. The captain of our salvation committed to doing what is right. And in his baptism, Jesus was first of all identifying with those who were to become members of his team. He recognized that as the promised Messiah, he was called to identify with those he had come to deliver. And although he in every realistic sense needed not to be baptized, he chose to be baptized as a means of identification. At the same time as our captain, his baptism was an expression of his own personal consecration.

You realize what he says to John? It is right for us to do this, to fulfill all righteousness. Which simply means this is the proper and right thing to do before a holy God. And Jesus, as our perfect example, as our pattern, and as our captain, is baptized as a consecration to the will of his Father. After his resurrection, he then dispatches his disciples to go out into all the world and to do what he has done.

He, in some instances having baptized them, in other conditions others were baptized, but they were to tell this good news—the good news that Jesus had died as a Savior, that he had paid the penalty for the sins of men and women, and that in his resurrection God the Father had accepted the offering of his Son as an atoning sacrifice for sin. And interestingly, in this initial sermon by Peter, you will notice that the appeal is not given by the preacher, but the appeal is given by the congregation. It is not the preacher who finishes his sermon and says, Now what are you going to do? But the preacher finishes his sermon, and the people say, Now what are we going to do?

What are we to do? And Peter replies, of course, under the guidance of his captain, and he says, You should repent and be baptized, every one of you. Next Sunday evening, we will celebrate together, if God spares us, the celebration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper—tonight, the sacrament or ordinance of baptism. Not everyone who is here will be prepared for what is about to take place.

For some, this will be the first time you've ever seen somebody do such a thing. And just in case you may find it to be rather confusing, let me say a number of things concerning what baptism really is. First of all, and straightforwardly, it is a confession of faith in Jesus.

Jesus is the object of our faith and the object of our trust. And when a person comes to understand who Jesus is and what Jesus has done, the command of the Bible, the instruction of the Bible, is to follow the pattern of our captain and to be baptized. Baptism, then, is an indication, too, of the fact that the life of the individual is now interwoven with Jesus.

I suppose we could use the picture of marriage and say that in much the same way as before you're married, you were single, you come down the aisle as a single, you go back interwoven with this individual in a way that marks all that is still to follow. And when a person becomes a Christian, their life is, if you like, in a realistic sense, married to Jesus. And one of the great indicators of the fact that our lives are interwoven is that we have been buried with him in baptism, and we have been raised with him, as Paul says, in newness of life. In other words, on the cross, Jesus as our captain died the death that we deserve, and when by faith I am united with him, then I too die with him, dying in his death and being raised in his resurrection, therefore allowing us always to be able to look forward. Thirdly, baptism is also an indication of our willingness to follow Jesus. If baptism was for Jesus a consecration to the Father's will, so baptism is for us a consecration also. It is, if you like, a promise of loyal obedience. And I think it is for that reason that some stay back from it, thinking that somehow or another you need to be very, very obedient before you can begin to be obedient. But it is a great mystery as to how we could ever be very, very obedient when the initial call to obedience is to be baptized, and then we put significant obediences before the initial obedience.

This is not an honors course. This is Christianity 101. This is foundational Christian living—believing in Jesus, united to Jesus, consecrated to Jesus, and looking forward to all that Jesus has in store for us. Next Sunday evening, when we come around the Lord's table, it takes us inevitably backwards to Calvary. And then it takes us onward to heaven. That's why the Reformers referred to these two ordinances of the church as being visible words of God.

Visible words of God. They were portraying, symbolizing, expressing in an outward fashion that which would be explained by turning to the Bible. That's why we never want to engage in baptism without turning to the Bible, nor in the celebration of the Lord's Supper either. Well, if that's what baptism means, who's supposed to get baptized?

Well, those who have found in Jesus a Savior and a Lord and a King. I could tediously take you all the way through the Acts of the Apostles, starting where we were in Acts chapter 2, and it really would be rather tiresome, and I'm not going to do it for you. But if you are concerned to examine these things for yourself, then if you read the Acts of the Apostles and simply go through and make a little note in the margin on every occasion that you discover baptism taking place, you will notice that it follows upon the individual's professed desire to know Jesus as their Savior. It is not preceding it.

It is following it. And if you're prepared, irrespective of your background, to set aside any prejudice and tradition and look clearly at the Bible, you will notice that the practice of the New Testament was to baptize those who profess faith in Jesus. And then you will notice that those who had professed faith in Jesus and who were baptized were then gathered into the company of God's people. That's why I read to the end of Acts chapter 2, because you will notice that it says, And those who accepted the message were baptized, about three thousand were added to their number, and then they devoted themselves, and they were immediately caught up in the fellowship of God's people.

In other words, a response to Jesus in faith, followed by baptism, brings a person in the New Testament inevitably, structurally, into the fellowship of God's people. And so, as the pattern unfolds, and as it is easy to comprehend, and with the thought that Jesus is the Captain of salvation, the inevitable question is, Am I on his team? And is he my Captain? And if he is my Captain, I will be prepared to do everything he says.

And if he is my Captain, I will be prepared to play in any position he asks, because he is the Captain. And so, on an evening such as this, when we have the opportunity of the Word visibly portrayed, tied to the Word that we have in the Bible, we have the opportunity, then, to answer in a way that demands inevitably, ultimately, some kind of public response. And I may even ask yet this evening for some to make that response. One final word that may be helpful, just to anchor the notion in our minds, is the word that Peter employs—the same Peter who's preaching here in Acts 2, when he writes his first letter and he refers to baptism in 1 Peter chapter 3, and he refers to it as a pledge. As a pledge. And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you, not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience towards God.

It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who's gone into heaven, and so on. A pledge was the word that was most commonly used in the sealing of a business contract. And the question that would be asked in the finalizing of a business contract, at least from one perspective, would be, Do you accept the terms of this contract? Are you prepared to sign this contract? And will you bind yourself to observe the terms to which you're going to sign?

In other words, will you pledge yourself to do this? Now, that's what Jesus as our captain is asking. He is the one who takes the initiative.

He is the one who comes and, as it were, taps us on the shoulder, stirs within our hearts, uses people, circumstances, a variety of things, to say to us unmistakably, Sister, brother, hey, I have died for you. I want you on my team. But I want you to understand the terms of being on my team. If you're going to be on my team, you're going to have to say no to yourself every day, you're going to have to die to yourself, and you're going to have to bow before me as the captain of your salvation. And so, as your captain, let me ask you, says Jesus, Do you accept the terms of my service? Do you accept the privileges and promises?

And are you willing to undertake its responsibilities and to face its demands? No matter what it means, no matter what it costs, no matter where it takes you, no matter. You see, it just may be that within earshot of my words now, there are one or two individuals for whom this evening represents a significant crossroads. You know, and God knows.

I don't know. You may be, in the privacy of your own mind, wrestling with the whole notion of Christ as captain, as the implications of resolute discipleship dawn upon you, and you realize that this is no walk in the park following Jesus. Indeed, the pressure upon you is so great that a significant piece of you longs to run away and hide. And now you find yourself confronted, as it were, by the captain of the salvation you profess, asking you to step up from anonymity, to come out from behind potential cowardice, to get off that rather uncomfortable fence on which you have been sitting, and by life and by lip and by word and by deed, to make a serious commitment to being on Christ's team.

Those of you who know me know that I've started now in my dotage to tell the same stories over and over again. But if you will forgive me, on Friday afternoons at school in Scotland, I would go, as some of you will recall, to the science lab—not because I like science, but because it was in the science lab that we met with the schoolmaster who was the coach of our soccer team. And it was in the science lab that he would give out the jerseys, calling the names of the individuals that he had chosen to play on the following Saturday morning. And because I was okay but not great, and there were many very, very good soccer players, I would go there on Friday afternoons desperately hoping that my name would be called. And there were Fridays when it wasn't called, and there were Fridays when it was called. And I can guarantee you that when he called and tossed the jersey, nobody jumped out of his seat faster and quicker to grab hold of it than me.

And frankly, I didn't care what number was on it or what place he wanted me to play. I was just so amazingly thankful to be running out on that team. I just think for a moment of Jesus as the captain of your salvation.

And imagine that now here is your science lab, and Christ who has died for you, who lives to intercede for you, who at great cost has given everything for you, calls your name. Says, I want you on my team. I have your jersey for you. I'm gonna give it to you. And I want you to be baptized. And when you come out of the water, I'll give you your jersey.

Any takers? If you're a professing Christian this evening that is unbaptized, the New Testament doesn't know what to do with you. It is inconceivable.

Don't look at me. Look at the New Testament. All I am is a finger pointing—pointing to Jesus, Jesus is the one who holds the jersey with your name and number on it. And he's the one who asks you to step forward and do what obedience demands. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg and a message titled, Christ Our Captain. And Alistair is here with us today with a few words.

Alistair. And thank you, Bob. Here we are by God's grace at the conclusion of another year of ministry. How quickly time has gone by and how grateful we are for the way you've partnered with us throughout.

It is on account of your prayers and your giving that Truth for Life is able to teach the Bible in the way that it does. And we have been discovering this year, as in previous years, the impact of God's Word on the lives of men and women throughout the entire nation, and indeed the world. Your donation will help us enter 2022 with the resources that we need in order to be able to press on, in order to continue to proclaim the good news of the gospel. So please get in touch with us before the day is out. And we will look forward to hearing from you and continuing to use the resources you provide in a way that commends Christ and the gospel. Thank you very much. And I'll just add that giving a donation is easy to do online at slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884.

And if you'd prefer, you can mail your donation to Truth for Life at post office box 398000 Cleveland, Ohio 44139. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Alistair and spend some time talking about his life. Be sure to join us tomorrow when Alistair will tell us a bit about his formative years and about his call to pastoral ministry. You won't want to miss this conversation. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-03 20:45:37 / 2023-07-03 20:53:40 / 8

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