Rom. vi. 3-11 * Matt. v. 20-26
“And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon
These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. (Deut. 27:12,13)
Why would our Lord begin his preaching by utterly devastating us? He has, in this sermon, judged and found us guilty, for His very word has judged each one of us. We are all convicted as sinners. If ever we despised our own Prayer of Humble Access, we can do so no longer. For, I know of one man who reacted to the words, "we are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table" with an angry protest: "Indeed, we are worthy!" he said. But, when I read the Sermon on the Mount, I know that, as
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt.5:44-48)
At the Bible Study one Wednesday evening, we talked a bit about the baptism of John the Baptist. When John's baptism to repentance was taking place, sinners repented and were forgiven. But, one Man stepped into the water not to lay down his sins, for he had none. He stepped into the River Jordan to pick up the sins of all repentant sinners everywhere: And so, about Him and Him alone, the Father said "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." The Father is not well-pleased with any other human being, for no man was found worthy, in heaven or in earth, to break the seals and open the book, except the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lion who appeared as a Lamb that had been slain (Rev. 5). God's only begotten Son, incarnate as a man, alone pleased the Father, and that Son, alone of all mankind, paid the penalty and full price for the rest of us.
If you had any doubt that baptism is new birth, today's Epistle reading clears it up. Spiritually, your life began when you were raised from the death of sin by new birth in Christ.