Renewing Our Vows

Date: 01/03/2004 
Just as it is good to occasionally renew our marriage vows, so those who have committed their lives to Christ ought to renew their baptismal vows. Pastor Doug reviews the essence of the basic biblical teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. These are foundational truths.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. Happy Sabbath. Happy New Year. I’m glad to see you here and I want you to pray for me right now in your hearts that God will give me wisdom how to say in about forty-five or fifty minutes that which I wish I had about ninety minutes to say. I want to tell you what we’re going to do this morning. Immediately following the message this morning we’re going to have a baptism. We were supposed to do it at the beginning but the water wasn’t deep enough. I won’t figure out why that is, but in any event it’s filling as we speak and we’re very excited this morning that Tori and Stephen are going to be baptized and I’ll be able to participate in that. I have a concern as a pastor, an evangelist. Denominations sometimes go through an evolution over a period of time where people can be part of something and forget what that means. It can happen to citizens of a country where they don’t even know what their constitution or history is. It can happen to people in a denomination where they have no idea what their church stands for and why, and I thought it would be a good idea at the beginning of this year for us to review our baptismal vows.

You know I’ve been to several weddings lately. Some I simply was invited to others I participated in and periodically the minister will ask as the bride and the groom are going through their vows, he’ll invite them to renew their vows and he’ll say, “Reach over and take the hand of your spouse, and why don’t you renew your vows as I say these vows for the first time with the happy couple.” And that’s our message this morning. It’s dealing with renewing our vows. Now a few months ago I remember I talked about the baptismal vows in a different context and for our regular Central members I hope you’ll bear with me as we look at this again. When a person is baptized they go through some baptismal vows. Now some people might think that’s legalistic, but there are promises that you make when you commit your life to Jesus that we should not be embarrassed about or ashamed of and I’m almost certain that as a bride and groom stand before the minister and they recite these vows and the minister says to the groom, “Are you promising to take this woman as your lawfully wedded wife, forsaking all others and take her only…” I don’t ever recall a groom saying, “Hey, let’s not get legalistic. What do you mean, ‘forsaking all others’? I love her. That’s enough.” There’s commitments that are made, right? And we shouldn’t expect to make less of a commitment to Jesus.

There’s a summary if you’ve received, if you’re a Seventh-day Adventist you should’ve received a baptismal certificate and there is a summary of what the beliefs of the church are. We don’t understand everything, but the foundational teachings are summarized in about twenty-seven points and on the baptism certificate, on the back, you find it in about a dozen, twelve, thirteen points, just the essence of what a person should believe before they’re baptized. Part of the reason for this is there must be harmony in certain points and you’ll understand this better as we go on. And then in the certificate you’ve got you know another, the other twenty-seven that are outlined with the scriptures there. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church there’s a book called What Seventh-day Adventists Believe and you can get this from your local ABC or some of it may even be available online where you can review these things. There are churches and sects that have secret ceremonies that they go through where people make these vows and secret symbols and they are inducted into the church. We don’t go for any of that. We believe it’s based on the Bible. It’s all in the open.

We have nothing to hide about what we believe and we should be able to defend what we believe. Amen? Well, this morning I would like to review with you what those baptismal vows are. I decided in the interest of saving time not to go through the twenty-seven, but the thirteen and I’ve inserted one in your bulletin if you have it. It would be nice for those of you who are members to look over these and remember what your promises are and if you have failed in some area as no doubt we all have to renew your vows. Amen? And then we have people here who have not yet made decisions to commit their life to Jesus through baptism, some who will be watching this program and that’s part of the reason we’re doing this. We would like to redefine what does it mean? What are these vows? Now what I’m sharing with you this morning is not something that I have written. These are really the official teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and I thought it would be healthy for us to look at these. You’ll often hear me compare baptism to a marriage because that’s really what it is. It’s our marriage to Christ. Baptism is typically something that’s done publicly like a marriage.

We shouldn’t be ashamed of someone when we’re getting married to them. We want everyone to know. We want them to rejoice with us. And so it is with baptism. It was usually done at a river at a public gathering so people could participate. Now before a person is baptized they should be able to say yes as a minimum to these thirteen points of faith. That does not mean that all Seventh-day Adventists must agree on all points of doctrine. I mean, within the church there is room for lots of different views and I can guarantee you there are lots of different views on things like the 144,000 and who will comprise them and who is the King of the North and understanding the seven trumpets and the list goes on. But there are certain crucial, foundational truths that a person must from their heart believe before they’re baptized and they join this church family because otherwise it doesn’t mean anything any more. We don’t stand for anything any more.

I remember hearing about when the 9/11 attacks took place. There was a man wearing a turban in Central Park watching the Trade Centers burn before they fell and he was dancing and celebrating and some of the people were so outraged that this man was celebrating this terrorist attack. He thought this was wonderful and the natural question is, what are you doing in America if you feel that way? Go home if this is your attitude. In the same way if people are going to be part of a church there should be some unity in our faith so that it means you stand for something. Jesus said, John 17:21, that we should be one. It doesn’t mean God has a big cookie cutter and everything must be identical but on these foundational principles we should be united. John 17:21, “That they all may be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I am in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world might believe.” Our unity has a testimony that has an influence for the world to believe. Now I know there’s going to be a lot of questions about some of these things and that’s okay, but if I was preparing someone for baptism I would say something similar to the things I’m going to be sharing with you this morning. Why don’t we begin by looking at the first vow and you’ll understand better as we progress.

Vow number one, this is the one out of the thirteen: I believe in God the Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. Now let me ask you, should a person believe that before they’re baptized and join the church? I mean if you get people joining the church and they say, “Well, I believe in the Holy Spirit but I don’t believe in Jesus.” Or “I believe in the Father and the Son but I don’t believe in the Holy Spirit.” Wouldn’t that create problems in the church? You’d lose your identity as a people. And so there are certain foundational things that there must be an understanding on we’re going to look at. Now people often have questions about this; who is God? And I like to review simply that the Bible tells us that there is one God.

Paul says there is one true God. Moses said, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one.” But then the Bible tells us about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, sounds like three gods. God is not talking when he says “one” about numbers. It’s talking about unity not really quantity. In other words, Jesus makes that statement in Matthew 19:5-6. He says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and those two become” what? They become “one flesh.” That’s for this reason, a man leaves his father and mother, he cleaves to his wife, the two become one. Was he talking about numerical quantity when he said one there or unity? God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are perfectly united in saving man. I just quoted you a minute ago in John 17 where Jesus said, “Father, I pray that they might be one as You are in Me.” Here Jesus is talking about God the Father and himself and the twelve apostles being one. Well, there’s several there being one. That’s talking about unity of purpose. And so some people have been confused about this but the Bible is simply telling us that this means there’s to be unity in our faith.

Another place where you can see the Trinity is in the concept of the statement of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus told us to baptize in those three. He also tells us “there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word” who is the word? That’d be Jesus. “…and the Holy Ghost. These three are one.” It’s like a rope has three strands, but it’s one thing. And this is how God is. There is one God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three separate distinct persons, one unit that are united in their purpose of creation, sustaining and redeeming man. And finally the baptism of Jesus and we’ll talk more about that. The voice of God the Father is heard above. You’ve got God the Spirit coming down like a dove and you’ve God the Son there in the water. You can see all three there.

Let’s look at the second vow. I accept the death of Jesus on Calvary as the atoning sacrifice for my sins, and believe that through faith in His shed blood I am saved from sin and its penalty. Now wouldn’t you think that it’s important before a person is baptized that they agree and they say, “I have accepted Jesus as my personal savior, his sacrifice on the cross in my behalf and I have faith that through his shed blood I am saved.” Some have mistakenly believed that because of Seventh-day Adventist’s desire to be obedient that we believe we’re saved by works.

That is categorically untrue. We believe we are saved by grace. We obey because we do believe and because of our faith in the Lord. Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you are saved through faith, not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” We believe we’re saved by faith and through a gift. Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin are death,” that’s what we deserve, “but the gift of God is everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Now Christ illustrating this used a parable. He said, “For as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of man must be lifted up that all that believe in him might not perish but have everlasting life.” You remember the children of Israel were bitten by these deadly poisonous serpents that were crawling around in the desert there and as they’re dying they come to Moses and God instructs him to quickly fashion this bronze serpent and put it up on a shepherd’s staff because when a shepherd killed a snake they used to move it with their staff and that serpent lifted up on a pole is a symbol of a defeated enemy and those that looked in faith were healed from the venom of the serpent.

You and I have been all bitten by the serpent. We’ve got this deadly toxic, Paul says, “in my flesh warring against our members” sin in our natures, but as Christ was lifted up on the cross, when we look at Jesus it’s there he defeated the serpent. We look and in faith in his sacrifice through his shed blood it’s the anti-venom for the sin of the world, and that’s how we’re saved, believing in his sacrifice in our behalf. You know one of the stories in the Bible that I love that helps to illustrate this is the parable of the Good Samaritan. This man falls among thieves who rob him and beat him half to death and leave him, a priest and a Levite pass by and finally a Samaritan comes along, someone you would not expect and he goes to him. That Samaritan is a type of Christ. The man who fell among thieves that’s left stripped, broke, naked, beaten he represents us. We fell, the human race fell. And the Bible tells us that the Samaritan goes to him, has compassion on him.

He bandages his wounds, probably tears up his own garment a symbol of Christ’s righteousness. He pours in the oil a symbol of the Spirit, the wine a symbol of the covenant, sets him on his own beast a symbol of the strength, takes him to the inn a symbol of the church, and then he says, “I’ll pay for his healing.” And this is what Jesus has done. That man was helpless to save himself. Jesus takes the initiative to save us. We simply must receive what he offers. And you know the last thing that the Samaritan says to the innkeeper, “and when I come again I will repay you.” We, like the innkeeper, the Lord has committed people to us that have been beat up by the enemy and he’s going to come again and pay us for our faithfulness and our love. And so this is a symbol of salvation. We must believe this. The Bible tells us that God loves us a thousand times more than we love our own children.

The next one is question number three. I renounce the world and its sinful ways, and I have accepted Jesus as my personal Savior, and believe that God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven my sins and given me a new heart. Now here is the one where I am going to spend the most time. Take a deep breath. First of all, not everything in the world is sinful, but this vow in particular is an area where people have a big struggle. What does it mean to renounce the world and its sinful ways? Well, we know there are a lot of things in the world that are sinful. When we come to Christ there should be a willingness to repent and to confess of our sins and that repentance and confession means a turning away. The Bible says we become new creatures. Old things are passed away. It’s not like the bumper sticker that says, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” We are not “just forgiven”. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds.

We are to be different than others. There should be a new power that drives the life. We’re new creatures. See, baptism is a symbol for death, burial and resurrection and the old man must be dead and buried and we are raised as a new creature, a new individual. It says in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we’re buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Jesus was raised by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in a newness of life.” Baptism represents the death of the old and the birth of the new. I remember back in 1968 I was living in Florida and the headlines were dealing with this young lady Barbara Jane Mackle, 20 years old, who was abducted in Atlanta and she was buried alive by her kidnapper under, in a coffin like box, had a little bit of food, some candy and a straw with some water, a fan. She was left there for three days. Can you imagine being buried alive for three days wondering if anyone was going to come for you?

She finally was, of course, rescued and her kidnapper was put in prison for life, but I heard he’s out now and he’s working as a doctor in Indiana. It’s amazing, isn’t it? When they excavated some of the pyramids in ancient Egypt they would periodically find evidence that some of the servants of pharaohs were buried alive and you’ve all heard stories about scratch marks on the inside of coffins when they’ve relocated cemeteries. Wouldn’t it be awful to be buried alive? If a person is baptized before they’re converted it’s the equivalent of being buried alive. You want to be dead to sin. The hardest thing for anyone to do is to join Jesus in that prayer, “Not my will, thy will be done.” And so many people are miserable in their Christian experience. They feel like it’s a bunch of rules and a bondage because they’ve not surrendered to Christ. When we are crucified with Christ, when we take up our cross and we’re buried with him then all that becomes easy. It’s a struggle. I mean, even Jesus had to pray that prayer three times. It was only the third time when I believe he felt the total satisfaction that he was completely surrendered and it’s a struggle for us to say, “Lord, not my will, thy will be done.” Once a person is surrendered to Christ the things I’m about to share are not very much of a struggle. It’s a whole lot easier.

Now I’m going to talk a little bit about some of the standards that are in the church and this is an area where people struggle sometimes, but I believe that if you’re going to be a Christian and a Seventh-day Adventist Christian it is a high standard. I mean, what would it do to you if you saw some news footage tomorrow on the news and they’ve got a camera at the Indian Casino and you see Pastor Doug sitting at one of those chairs pulling the one-armed bandit? Be honest, would that trouble you? Because you don’t think that a pastor should do that. It’s okay if the members do that, but not a pastor, right? Should Christians be different? Should we be different in the way we spend our time, the way we spend our means, our entertainment, our appearance? Everything we do should give glory to God and we believe this in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And while, you know, we don’t want to publish a list that has five hundred rules on what you should and shouldn’t do, and you could produce a pretty long list, there are some things I think it’s healthy in our culture to more specifically mention. The Bible says John the Baptist taught when people were being baptized, he said, “Repent and bring forth fruits meet for repentance.” In other words there was to be not only a confessing of sin but a turning away from it.

It does say of course in 1st John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But in addition to that Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes…” When you come to the Lord he gives you power to turn your back on these old ways, and I just don’t have patience for people who say, “Ah, it’s not possible,” because God has helped me so much and I’m so different. We should be different, amen? And so you know everyone is into the politically correct Christian correct attitude of just grace, don’t expect any difference in the behavior. That’s not Biblical. God expects us to be different. Now when the prodigal son came to his father he came just like he was. You can come to Jesus just like you are, but he loves you too much to leave you just like you are. He’ll accept you just like you are, cover you with his robe of righteousness, but then there’s sanctification and that means a confessing and forsaking, a turning away from the life of sin. There should be some differences. I Peter 1:16, this is New Testament, the Bible says, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” God wants us to be holy and that means there’s to be a difference in the life. Let me tell you a number one area where I think that we’re really challenged in this way.

Through overexposure to television and videos and movies the standards of the church become so eroded that they cease to exist. The Bible tells us that we should be beholding those things that are good and true and pure. You may think that I’m a fanatic; I don’t believe Christians should go to movies. Now there may be, first of all, what I’m telling you is not a new doctrine according to Doug. This is an old teaching. There may be occasionally something good that is produced by Hollywood. Let’s face it, it is the rare exception when there is something produced that does not have nudity or profanity or using God’s name in vain or promotion of a variety of vices such as lying and living together before marriage. Let’s face it; don’t television and the movies try to normalize what the Bible calls sin? And through our constant exposure to this don’t you think for a minute it doesn’t have an affect on your values. It does. We will gradually morph into those values that we behold; we are changed by beholding. Now, I started saying something. Occasionally there may be something produced a video, I mean you know you see the cameras around you.

We do TV here which is wholesome. There are some good things out there. We need to apply those principles that you find in Philippians, “Whatsoever things…” this is Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, honest, noble, just, pure think on these things.” Use that criteria to evaluate; is it good, is it valuable, is it true, is it honest? And even if there is something like that, I wouldn’t go to the movies. Let me tell you why. You can get orange juice at the supermarket and you can get orange juice at a bar. How many of you buy your orange juice at the bar? You wouldn’t admit it if you did, would you? Why wouldn’t you do that? Well, several reasons. One, I wouldn't want anyone to see me going in there because typically people don’t go in and get orange juice. Is that right? Two, it’s going to be very expensive orange juice if you get it at a bar. Would you agree with that? Three, it’s not a good environment. You’ll be drinking orange juice with people around you who don’t appreciate orange juice. It’s usually used for screwdrivers. I know. I’ve been around. And it may not even be fresh.

There may be an occasional good movie at the Cinedome or the Universal Studios, but typically they’re R-rated movies, you’re going to pay way too much, most of the people there are not going for Bambi and I just think that Christians are better off if they don’t make that a habitual means of entertainment. Would God, we could find our entertainment in doing things that are good. We are just, we’re so used to just being entertained by these things and so that’s one area. The Bible says in Psalm 119:37, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things.” You ought to write that one down. Psalm 119:37, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things.” Psalm 101:3, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes.” Well, that’s a criteria that we should evaluate. Let me talk about something else now and while I’m dealing with some of these standards. Now we’re still underneath the vow that says I’m going to renounce the sinful things of the world.

I believe that Christians should look different. I think that we should try and keep our homes up and our yards up. I try to every now and then plant flowers in the yard and keep it manicured so that the neighbors will know I believe in Jesus. What you see in my yard he’s done to my house or he’s done to my heart, he’s done in our family, right? Shouldn’t it be a reflection? If you go by a house and there is garbage everywhere and then you find out that the people there are Seventh-day Adventists is that a good witness? So do appearances matter? Not only in our homes what about our bodies? Not only do I think that we should be clean and neat and this goes without saying you would think, but I think Christians should avoid ostentatious, flamboyant dress for the purpose of attracting attention. Doesn’t mean we need to be so far behind the times that were wearing burlap so we can make some kind of an obnoxious fashion statement, right? You want me to keep going? These are the things I say to people when they’re preparing for baptism. What about the ornamental adornments? You’ll find that Seventh-day Adventists traditionally do not wear jewelry.

Now when I joined the church it was just a very simple thing. It’s almost like you need to apologize to present that anymore but last time I checked are doctrine has not been changed and the Bible hasn’t been changed. The things I’m sharing with you from the baptismal vows are based on scripture. Let me give you a few. I Peter 3:3, “Who’s adorning, do not let it be the outward adorning--the plating of the hair” they used to weave gold in their hair “and the wearing of gold, or putting on of apparel--but let it be the hidden manner of the heart.” The hidden man of the heart. I Timothy keep looking 2:9, “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold,” he says, not with “gold or pearls or costly clothing.” There should be some simplicity in this. Genesis chapter 35; Jacob when he was preparing to meet with the Lord he said, “‘Let us arise and go to Bethel; and I’ll make an alter there to the God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way that I’ve gone.’

So they gave Jacob the foreign gods that were in their hands, and the earrings that were in their ears; and Jacob buried them under a tree which was by Shechem.” You know typically you’ll find that a lot of paganism is associated with the external adornment and the common body piercing that you so often find. Exodus 33:5, you remember the story of the golden calf? Was that a good point in the history of Israel or a bad one? What did they make the calf out of? Their jewelry and they made a god out of it and some people still do today. They say, “Oh, Doug, you’re making a big deal out of a little thing!” If it’s a little thing then why not let it go? I can guarantee you I will not stand before the Lord in the Judgment Day and God is going to say, “I can’t let you in.” “Why not, Lord?” “You didn’t wear enough jewelry.” I’ve never heard a person say, “You know, I don’t think they’re a Christian.” “Why not?” “They don’t wear enough jewelry.” But I have heard the opposite and something I want you to know, I’ve traveled around the world and I understand very well there is a strong connection between body piercing, jewelry and devil worship that you may not recognize.

I went to India and the Hindus there you’ll see them piercing themselves here and there and everywhere and you see it sometimes is south Pacific, in south America, in Africa every part of the world I’ve been to in devil worship there’s body… in North America too. And you might be saying, “Pastor Doug, that’s an extreme.” Well at what point do you say it’s too much? If our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit are we supposed to be putting holes in our bodies? The prophets of Baal are the ones who pierced themselves. Remember the demoniac, chapter 5 of Mark, took sharp stones and cut himself. The mutilating of our bodies is not God’s plan, amen? Now you may have… Wait, let me give you some more scriptures for this. You know the Bible also talks about tattoos. Isn’t that getting popular? Is it just me or has there been a comeback? It’s not just the marines anymore is it or the sailors? But in every conceivable part… and if you’ve done this I mean God will forgive you. I can’t always erase that stuff. You come to him just as you are, right? But he doesn’t want us to mutilate our bodies. It says were not to make cuttings in our flesh or be tattooing ourselves especially for the dead and that’s what they did in these pagan cultures. Overcome evil with good. I’m going to read something. In Philippians 4:13 the Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Amen? We can make these changes and stand out for Jesus as holy. John 15:5 Christ says, “Without Me you can do nothing.”

All right let’s move on to number four. I accept by faith the righteousness of Christ, and I realize Him as my Intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary, and I claim His promise to strengthen me by His indwelling Spirit, so I can have power to do His will. This is an important vow because it tells us that we believe Jesus is in heaven, he’s alive, we can approach him, we can come boldly before his throne through faith, and he’s there interceding for us now. Hebrews 4:14, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold faster confession. For we don’t have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but he was an all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we might obtain mercy and find help in time of need.” The Bible tells us that the Lord has written these things that we might not sin but we have an advocate. I John 2:1, “My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” He’s our advocate.

He’s in heaven; he’s our defense attorney. When we accept Jesus we accept his righteousness. Now very quickly I would like to take you through the sanctuary because this tells us something about the plan of salvation. The sanctuary is a summary of the gospel. I’d like to put up on the screen here in the church that picture I’ve got, Sherle, of the temple. Of course they had a temple in the Bible times. When you first went through the gates of the sanctuary you saw that there was the alter, the laver were they would wash, and then they had the sanctuary building itself. We’re going to look inside the building with this next chart here that’s going to give you an inner view. The way of salvation is in the sanctuary. The altar is where we accept Jesus, justification. Then you enter through the laver which is baptism. Baptism is the last thing before you go into the holy place where it’s sanctification. Three things in there: candlestick, shewbread, incense.

There are three disciplines in the Christian life: candlestick, let your light shine, you are the light of the world; bread, Jesus is the bread that came down from heaven, that’s the Bible, we are to read the bread of life; and the incense is prayer, it ascends up before God. If you’re going to grow as a Christian you need to breathe, you need to eat, you need to exercise, you need to pray, you need to read your Bible, you need to share your faith. And this is probably, if I could put my finger on the secret button the most important thing that we could do to have a revival in our lives it would be a revival of our personal devotions. The beginning of the year is a good time to renew that commitment. Amen? And have a revival in our devotional lives. And so here in the sanctuary you can see a picture of the plan of salvation. The Bible says in I Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you might proclaim the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” We are a priesthood that operate in this spiritual temple with Jesus as our High Priest.

Number five. I believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word, and that it constitutes the only rule of faith and practice for the Christian. Don’t you think that a person should believe that if they’re going to be baptized? The Bible is the foundation for what we believe and I believe the Bible tells us about Jesus. 2nd Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God might be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” You remember at Jesus’ baptism he was tempted by the devil, right? How did Jesus meet every temptation? It is written, it is written, it is written. This is why when I go through the baptismal vows with people I tell them, “You need to have personal time with God and his word because this is the armor, this is the sword of the Spirit that you’re going to use to fight temptation when it comes. And so we need to have time every day with God and his word. What time of day did the manna fall on the children of Israel? Early in the morning they would go out and they would gather it.

They would take the initiative. They had to make some effort to collect the manna. They would kneed it. They would bake it or boil or whatever they did and they’d eat it. We need to take effort to spend time in God’s word. And I told you for myself I read the Bible, I listen to Christian radio, I have Bible tapes and they have now the whole Bible on CD and it’s just they have the Bible sort of in a more animated form for the children. We’re up in Covelo listening to the tapes as we were snowed in and it’s just really good for us to surround ourselves with the word of God. You will be influenced by what you’re taking in as you’ve heard me emphasize before. This must be the foundation. Well, sometimes people say, “Oh, Pastor Doug, you just believe what your church believes.” I believe what the Bible teaches and if someone asks me why I believe what I believe I will go to the Bible and I will show you from the scriptures why I believe it.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with reading other Christian authors or inspired material. I read a vast array. I was reading Wesley this morning. I read all kinds of different things. But the Bible must be the immovable guide by which we calibrate every other truth. Amen? It’s the measuring point. There should be family devotions. We should get together in our families. If you’re part of a family of father and mother or mother or single parent have prayer with your children. Before you read your Bible it’s a good idea to pray. Do we pray before we eat our meal? It's a good idea to pray before you open the word and say, “Lord, speak to me. Give me this day my daily bread.” And that means more than food. “Feed my soul.”

Point number six, number six. I accept the Ten Commandments as still binding upon Christians; and it is my purpose by the power of the indwelling Christ, to keep God’s law, including the fourth commandment, that requires the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord. Now do we keep the commandments of God to be saved or do we believe that we should keep the commandments because we are saved and we love him? Jesus said, who said this? Jesus said, John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” If all things that were made were made by Christ then who wrote the Ten Commandments in stone? All things that were made were made by him. When he said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” would that at least as a minimum include the Ten Commandments? I John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not grievous.” Then again you can read in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those that do His commandments, that they might have a right to the tree of life, and to enter through the gates of the city.” I John 2:3, “By this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

He has says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” The tragedy is that we’re living in a day and age where as soon as you talk about obeying God’s commandments what are you accused of? Legalism. Here’s my question for you: is legalism, I’m sorry is obedience, is obedience legalism? Is it a dirty word to say that God not only wants us to be hearers of the word but he wants us to be doers of the word? Now we mentioned here in this vow the Ten Commandments, but you know there’s one commandment that’s more specifically outlined including it says, the Sabbath the observance of the seventh day of the week what we call Saturday as the Sabbath. Before a person is baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist I would hope that they have been attending church. I would hope that they accept that the seventh day is the Sabbath and that they are not working on that holy time because the Bible tells us that that commandment is right in there with the other nine and if a person thinks that it’s okay not to commit adultery… I mean what wife would accept her husband saying, “Well just occasionally when the boss requires it I commit a little adultery.” And some people say, “Well, when the boss requires it I do a little work on Sabbath because after all God understands.”

I don’t know any wife that would understand a little disobedience in the other area. God wants us to be consistently faithful. You know why? There’s a day coming that we’re going to have to choose to obey God for men and the whole world is going to bow down and if we’re in the habit of compromising keeping God’s commandments now we’ll be among the ones who receive the mark of the beast because all it will require is a little compromise. And so is part of Sabbath keeping going to church? Yeah, some people think just as long as you don’t work at your profession you can do whatever you want, but the Bible says Leviticus 23:3, “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord, a holy convocation.” And the word convocation their means convening, assembly, a time to come together corporately and worship God and when we’re able to come together and worship him and we don’t I think we’re missing out on what it means to keep the Sabbath. And so this is something a person should understand before they’re baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist not just that we keep God’s commandments because we love him. That doesn’t mean Christians will never fall or sin but we believe that it’s God’s desire for us to keep the Ten Commandments. Remember they’re not called the ten suggestions, the ten ideas, the ten recommendations, they are the commandments of God and there is no clearer phrase that he can use to explain that.

Number seven. Looking forward to the soon coming of Jesus as the blessed hope in my heart… no, I’m sorry. I’m going to reread this again. Number seven. I am looking forward to the soon coming of Jesus as the blessed hope in my heart, and I am determined to be ready to meet the Lord, and to do all in my power to witness to His loving salvation, and by life and word help others to be ready for His glorious appearing. Do you still believe that? I mean Seventh-day Adventists not only do we believe in the Ten Commandments, but we believe that Jesus is coming back and the imminent advent of the Lord. He’s coming back, we want to be ready, we want to help other people be ready. Now it’s not only important to know that the Lord is coming back, I think it’s important to know something about how he’s coming back. Is there a lot of confusion in the world today about the nature of Jesus’ return? When Jesus came the first time did his people misunderstand how he was coming back?

Is there a chance that could be misunderstood again? The whole nation of Israel was confused when he came the first time because they had been mistaught the nature of his first coming. I want to tell you right now that the Christian church at large misunderstands the nature of his second coming. Many believe in the secret rapture in spite of the fact that the Bible says “every eye will see him.” They misunderstand the nature of the resurrection and hell and the millennium and there’s just so much confusion, but the Bible is very clear “the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout” then “the dead in Christ will rise” that’s the rapture we’re caught up to meet him in the air. It’s not a secret. “The day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night,” 2nd Peter 3:10, “in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; and then the earth and the things in it will be burned up.”

When the Lord comes as a thief does life go on for seven more years here on earth? No, the elements had melted with fervent heat. It’s obvious then that we’re caught up to meet the Lord in the air. He says, “I go to prepare a place for you, I will bring you back to the place I have prepared.” Where are we going when we go? We’re going to the mansions he’s prepared. Conditions here on earth, it’s obliterated. For a thousand years we live and reign with Christ in glory. It’s not the righteous reigning over the wicked. We must believe in this, in the imminent return of the Lord. And if for no other reason, if I was preaching this sermon 500 years ago I’d say the same thing, because you know what, you only have a short life and the more funerals you conduct the more convinced you are how short it is. Jesus is coming soon. What is 70, 80, 90 years compared to eternity? The Bible says it’s like the dew on the grass that evaporates when the sun comes up. It’s very brief. And so we all should believe in the imminent return of the Lord. I also believe as far as the timescale goes he is coming soon, I believe in our lives and so we want to be ready.

Question, I’m sorry, vow number eight. I accept the Biblical teaching of spiritual gifts, and I believe the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church. Now this is telling us that we believe that God gives spiritual gifts to everybody in the family. I Corinthians chapter ten tells us that we are all baptized in Moses in the cloud and in the sea. We need both baptisms, the water baptism and the Spirit baptism. Jesus said, “Unless you are born of both you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” You must be born of the water and born of the Spirit. Children of Israel baptized in the Red Sea, baptized in the cloud. Our world was washed in water in the days of Noah, it’ll be washed in fire when Jesus comes back and then he makes a new earth.

We need both baptisms. God, when people are baptized, gives spiritual gifts. Stephen is going to get baptized a little later today. I’m very excited about it. I had him look at a few scriptures this morning where it talked about “be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is unto you and your children and as many as the Lord shall call.” Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came down. What’s the evidence of the Holy Spirit? He gives different gifts to different people to use in his service as members of the church. I Corinthians 12:4, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” Verse 28, “And God has appointed these in the church: apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues, interpretation of tongues.” All these spiritual gifts I believe are still available in the church today. Do you believe that? And that would include the gift of prophecy.

Now the Bible says in Revelation 12:17, “The dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the remnant of her seed, that keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Principally God’s church is identified as a people that believe in the law and the prophets, the word of God, but that would also mean that the gifts of the Spirit are still evident and since the Bible says, “It will come to pass in the last days I’ll pour out my Spirit on all flesh,” Joel chapter 2, “and your sons and daughters will prophesy.” We also believe that the gift of prophecy is still evident. Most Seventh-day Adventists believe that that gift was seen and evident in the life of one of our founders which is Ellen White, Ellen G. White. Now this is a very sensitive area. That does not mean even by her statement that we base our doctrines on what she said. I believe the writings of Ellen White are very much like an inspired magnifying glass to help us better understand what’s already in the Bible, but the Bible must be the foundation for what we believe. Amen?

And so if you have never read anything written by Ellen White, I’ll tell you, friends, my life, I’ll give you a quick personal testimony. I was visiting a lot of different churches indeed different religions and it just seemed like Babylon, confusion to me. And after reading the Bible and visiting many different Christian churches that all disagreed with each other I said, “Lord, there’s only one Jesus and one Bible, there should be one truth.” And I was living in a cave up in the mountains and I prayed that God would show me the truth. Someone gave me one of her books called The Great Controversy and the reason that I was so excited it was riddled with scriptural references the whole Bible began to become so clear to me. And so it’s really a magnifying glass an inspired magnifying glass that has really had a defining influence on the Seventh-day Adventist Church that I strongly recommend to you. And so we believe in all the gifts of the Spirit including that gift.

Number eleven, vow number eleven. Number nine, oh, I thought I was making great progress there. I grabbed two pages, sorry. Vow number nine. I believe in church organization, oh, you’re going to wish I’d missed this one. I believe in church organization, and it’s my purpose to support the church by my tithes and offerings, and by my personal effort and influence. Now that doesn’t mean in the Seventh-day Adventist church that we have some kind of tithe and offering police. There are churches that do that, that go around and check to make sure everybody’s paying, but we believe before a person is baptized they should make a commitment to believe in this principle. The reason that we are one of the fastest growing protestant denominations in the world is because we follow the Bible method of supporting God’s work which is tithes and offerings. And a tithe is one tenth of your increase and Karen and I just take it right off the top of our check.

We don’t wait until all the taxes and other bills are paid and say ten percent of what’s left over we’re going to give to God. Some of you wouldn’t have tithe if you do that, right? The Lord promises that if we’re faithful and paying our tithe he will bless the other ninety percent and I have seen that is so true that if you are faithful in these things. So obviously the church is like a family it needs a budget to operate. And if you’re part of the family there should be a commitment to support God’s work in this way. Then it also goes on in and says “as well as by my personal effort and influence.” Not only will the Lord open the windows of heaven for us as we’re faithful in returning our tithes and offerings but in addition to that God wants us to use our personal effort and influence in sharing the faith with other people. He’s given you different gifts of service that he wants you to use your energy. It was a wonderful thing to behold last night when we had our communion service, everybody just like a beautifully developed watch working together to carry out their different functions to serve the family as a whole. It was really something that moved me.

Number ten. I believe my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and I will honor God by caring for it, by avoiding the use of that which is harmful, abstaining from all unclean foods, from the use, manufacture, or sale of alcoholic beverages, the use, manufacture, or sale of tobacco in any of its forms for human consumption, and from the misuse or trafficking in narcotics or other drugs. First of all, the Bible is telling us our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God wants us to take care of our bodies. Amen? This is not some doctrinal creed. This is a Bible teaching. God specified way back in the beginning that some things were clean and some things were unclean. Among the animals let’s look quickly at the Bible rules for clean and unclean.

The Bible says that if it’s an animal it needed to have a cloven hoof and to chew the cud, needed both characteristics for it to be clean. Among the fish it needed what? Fins and scales if it was to be seafood for it to be clean. And among the fowl they needed to be the foraging birds, none of the carnivorous or scavenging birds were clean. Things like turkey and chicken and quail and technically pigeons were foraging birds and they were considered clean. Now I think the ideal if you want to take care of your body is the diet that god gave Adam and Eve and all of the modern evidence supports that a vegetarian Bible, uh, diet the Bible says is superior. A vegetarian Bible! A vegetarian diet is superior and the people will have far less incidence of a whole spectrum of diseases if they avoid animal products. We all know that, right? And so God knows what he’s talking about, but beyond that there are couple of drugs that are legal, not only talking about drug abuse which should be clear, but the addiction to cigarettes and alcohol. Those are the two most deadly drugs in the world. More avoidable disease and death and heartache is caused by tobacco.

I thought it was the most bizarre thing, Philip Morris, I think they were forced to do this because a lawsuit, is now publishing commercials telling you not to smoke. I think if they really feel that way why are they making it? Have you some of you heard or seen some of these commercials? Talk about hypocrisy. But Bible Christians should not drink any alcohol. They should not smoke any cigarettes. It represents a new birth. It destroys your witness when you use these deadly, addictive drugs. Amen? Anything that is addictive we ought to avoid. And there are some things and as we talk about health think of it like traffic lights. You’ve got a red light, you’ve got a yellow light and you’ve got a green light. What does a red light mean? Yellow light means go real fast right?

Yellow light means caution. You can eat even some of the sweets and things that technically are called clean food too much of that we now that it’s not good for you and even among the clean foods that’s something that should be done sparingly. I’m talking about the animal products. And then of course you’ve got the things that are green light, your fruits, your grains, your nuts, your vegetables, lots of water, natural remedies and so forth. Follow these things and you’ll live a long time. A person should not be baptized if they’re still smoking. I have heard of pastors who say, “Well, you know, I’ll baptize you now and I know you’ll get this behind you.” Oh, you know, friends, that’s a terrible thing to do to a candidate because for one thing they come out of the water and they’re still addicted to a habit the whole symbol of baptism is destroyed. It’s supposed to represent a new birth and what baby is ever born with a cigarette in his mouth or chewing tobacco? I mean that’s what it really looks like. It’s an awful thing to do. These things should be laid aside. John the Baptist said when people come for baptism they should bring forth fruits meet for repentance before baptism. Amen? And so wait until you get those things behind you. I quit smoking and drinking just two or three weeks before I was baptized. I’ve never done it since, by the grace of God, thank the Lord. But get it behind you before you baptized. We’re almost done here.

Number eleven, now I’m there. Number eleven. I know and understand the fundamental Bible principles as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It’s my purpose, by the grace of God, to order my life in harmony with these principles. Now this isn’t a new doctrine in this vow. This vow is saying I understand the things we’ve just discussed and I want to do them. That’s important. It’s one thing for a man to say to his wife, “I think adultery is wrong.” It’s another thing for him to say, “I am never going to commit it.” See what the difference is? One is sort of a legal loophole. And so we’re saying here I believe these things and by the grace of God I want to live in harmony with these Biblical principles of godly, holy living and these doctrines that guide us and govern our lives. John 13:17, Jesus said, “If you know these things, happy are ye if you” what? “ them.” James 1:22, “Be ye doers of the word and not hearers deceiving your own selves.” Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone that says unto Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom with those that do the will of my Father.” God wants us to be doers of the word. The wise man is the man who builds on the rock and how do you distinguish the wise man? “Whoever hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man building his house on a rock.”

Number twelve. I accept the New Testament teaching of baptism by immersion, and I desire to be so baptized as a public expression of my faith in Christ and His forgiveness of my sins. Now of course we believe in Bible baptism. The Bible tells us that a person should be baptized by immersion that means they’re immersed as Jesus was. That’s why John used a river and not a jar of water to baptize people. It’s a symbol of washing from sin, a burial and a resurrection and all of the symbols connected with immersion. What are the things that a person should do before baptism? Well, I’ve got some points here that I’ve itemized as sort of A through E. First of all, a person, we don’t believe in baptizing infants in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church because the Bible says there are certain criteria a baby cannot understand. A) We should understand the teachings of Jesus and you’ve got the references here Matthew 28:19-20.

A baby can be taught those things. B) To believe the teachings of Jesus. The Bible says we should believe from our hearts, Mark 16:16. C) Repent of our sins. Acts 2:38, “Repent therefore,” be sorry and turn away. We’ve learned what that means. Also Acts 8:37. D) Believe with all of our hearts. It should be something from the heart. People who are buried alive, if it’s not from their hearts they’re not converted. The new covenant is I’ll put a new heart within you and a person must experience that the Holy Spirit is changing their heart as they’re baptized. I’m going to pause here real quick. Does marriage make you love somebody? Does the ceremony make you love? If people get baptized thinking that baptism is going to make them love the Lord that’s a mistake. That’s like a man saying, “If you’d marry me I think I could love you.” Would a wife, would a bride want to do it that way? The ceremony… you need to be converted and love the Lord before you’re baptized, amen? I’ve actually had people think that the water is some magic H20 and you get baptized you’ll start loving and obeying God. You need to love your bride and be committed to her before marriage, right? You need to love the Lord and be committed before baptism. The service doesn’t have any magic hocus-pocus powers in that way. The commitment is there.

Now God promises the Holy Spirit with baptism, but the commitment must be there. E) We must agree to turn from our sins and you’ve got several scriptures here. Romans 6:5-6, Luke 3:7-8 And then to believe from all of our heart. How old should a person be? Well, if they’re old enough to be lost they’re old enough to be saved. They need to be old enough to fulfill these criteria, to understand these things. And finally there are two ceremonies that Jesus gave to the church one of course is baptism and then the communion service. And in the communion service you not only have the… you’ve got baptism, you’ve got the bread and the wine and then in the Seventh-day Adventist Church we celebrate the whole communion service the way the primitive Baptists used to where they not only have the bread and the grape juice but also the foot washing. Jesus washed their feet at the last supper as part of the new covenant and he said, “If you know these things happy are ye if ye do them.” And he specifically said, “If I your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you ought to wash one others feet.” And so we practice that in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Last vow. Number thirteen. I accept that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the Remnant Church of Bible prophecy, and that people from every nation, race, and language are invited and accepted into its fellowship. I desire to be a member in this local congregation of the world church. Now Seventh-day Adventists believe that there are godly Christians in many different denominations and persuasions. Amen? We believe there are good people, heaven bound spiritual people in many different persuasions, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t think that we are a unique movement. We believe we are. I believe the Seventh-day Adventist Church is today what ancient Israel was in the days of King David. We are the people to whom God has committed the oracles of truth. We are not just another denomination. I believe it’s a movement of prophecy and it is an international movement numbering in, oh, I forget what the latest figures are, like 15 million or something like that.

The greater part of them are not in North America and it’s one of the fastest growing churches and I think it’s a movement of the Spirit because it’s based on the scriptures even though it may not be popular in some circles. People from every stripe and type country race are invited into its fellowship and you know what’s beautiful as I travel around the world and I just came back from worshiping with our brothers and sisters in Korea and I’ve been to Russia and Africa and India and many different parts of the globe when people say, “We’re Seventh-day Adventists,” I know what they believe. I don’t have to ask them before I stand up and preach, “I’m going to preach from the Bible this chapter and this chapter. Is that okay with you?” I know if I preach from the Bible it’s okay with them because we’re all believing the same book. There is a unity of faith and teaching that you’ll find on a worldwide basis while we still maintain our individuality.

You know in closing I thought it would be good to review the baptism of Jesus. Take your Bibles and turn please, I’ve been sort of lecturing here and I just want to close, I know I’ve gone a few minutes over. I’m almost done. I’d like to invite you to turn to Matthew chapter 3, verse 13, I’ll actually go to verse 16, “Then Jesus when He had been baptized he came up immediately out of the water and behold the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” Why was Jesus baptized? To wash away his sin? Or was it an example for you and me to follow? I believe he was also baptized so we should know what to expect. What happened at Jesus’ baptism? He came out of the water, the heavens were opened. When you’re baptized the heavens are opened for you. The Bible tells us that the Spirit came down. God gives you the Spirit. How did it come? Like a dove. God gives you peace. He heard a voice from heaven. You’ll hear God speak to you when you’re baptized. He’ll guide you. You’ll hear a voice say, “This is the way.

Walk ye in it.” What does that voice say? “You are now my beloved son, my beloved daughter…” You are adopted into the family when you’re baptized. “…in whom I am well pleased.” God is pleased with you. Look at how much is there in the baptism of Jesus and then keep in mind what else did Jesus do after his baptism? Yeah, he was tempted by the devil. Why? Because now we’re on the winning team. When you’re baptized you change sides and you’re a threat to the devil and he is going to try to oppose you, but Jesus met every temptation with the word of God. And Christ began his ministry at his baptism. No miracles are recorded until the baptism, no sermons until the baptism. God has a ministry for you. The Holy Spirit came down to give him power for ministry. God will give you the Holy Spirit not just to come to church and have your name written on the books. There’s no virtue in that, but he gives you the Spirit so that you could serve with your respective gifts in God’s church. Baptism is as important to a Christian as a wedding is to a marriage. It’s our entrance into the body of Christ. You become part of the church. You become a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when you’re baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist. We don’t just go willy-nilly out there baptizing people without making them part of a body.

We need to be together cohesive. Amen? And as the body of Christ we have varying gifts that we use in his service. Now I would like to just have you be praying in your hearts for several things. We’re going to invite Jan out here. We’re going to sing our closing hymn “Whiter than Snow”. Please don’t rush off because we’re going to conclude this service with a baptism and you’ll hurt my feelings if you rush off before I baptize my son. I’m going to be watching who gets up. What number is it? 318 and those of you who maybe have been in the church for years I would like to encourage you to renew your commitments as we sing. Some of you maybe have not yet made your decision. There is a form inside you might want to write your name and phone number on there and turn it in to one of the pastoral staff at the door and we would like to help prepare you for this service where you can become a part of the body of Christ and be filled with his Spirit. Thank you.

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; I want Thee forever to live in my soul; Break down every idol, cast out every foe; Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow; Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies, And help me to make a complete sacrifice; I give up myself, and whatever I know; Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow; Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat; I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet, By faith, for my cleansing; I see Thy blood flow; Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow; Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Pastor Maury Castro: For those of you who don’t know her I’d like to introduce Tori Fodie. She was part of my baptismal class that I conducted this fall and she’s also a fifth grader at Sacramento Adventist Academy so I see her often over there. Every once in a while as a youth pastor I come across a child or a student, young person who is particularly bright, a brilliant child and that’s true of Tori, and then every once in a while I’ll find a student who is not only particularly bright but a student who is very nice and nice to be around and a joy to be around and helpful and that’s true also of Tori, and then every once in a while and this is very rare I will find a student who is not only brilliant, not only very nice and a joy to be around, but also just loves Jesus passionately and that’s true of Tori and so it’s a privilege to baptize her this morning.

I would like to invite right now her parents and her family, I know there’s some extended family here to stand and also any who know Tori and want to show by standing that you support her in her Christian walk and in her growth and to go ahead and stand at this time. We realize that in order to raise a young person in Jesus Christ it takes good, strong parents. It also takes a community of believers and so do you see all those out there in the balcony too waving and yeah, there we go. We’re very excited about this day. And now, Tori, because you have understood the basic beliefs of the Bible and have chosen to follow Jesus Christ for all of eternity I now baptize you in the name of the Father and in the name of the Son and in the name of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lord Jesus, Thou seest I patiently wait; Come now, within me a new heart create; To those who have sought Thee, Thou never said’st No; Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow; Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

This is a very special day in the Batchelor family. Stephen has been asking about being baptized probably several years now and his mother and I have been watching him grow and develop spiritually and we believe that he’s at the place now where he understands what that commitment means and the last time he asked I just couldn’t tell him no. So it’s a thrill for me as his father and friend to be able to participate. He is here and he has been looking forward to this. I would like to encourage you, please pray for Stephen. I believe the Lord has a special work for him to do and God will fill him with his Spirit and use him in whatever capacity that God designs, but use him to reach others and also to be prepared for Jesus’ return. Of course I’d like to invite our family and others that would like to stand, Stephen’s friends and teachers in support of this decision to do so now. Now, Son, because of your decision to accept Jesus as your personal Savior, to have him wash away your sins and to be part of his people I baptize you in the name of the Father, Jesus Christ his Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

321 My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine; For Thee all the follies of sin I resign; My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou; If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight, I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright; I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow, if ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

Pastor Mike Thompson: Our gracious Father in heaven, we thank you for being with us today as we have worshipped you and for the very special the last thing of seeing Tori and Stephen baptized at the conclusion of this service. Oh, Lord, bless them and keep them and bless each one of us. We thank you for this beautiful Sabbath. And I pray the words we’ve heard this morning will cause us to recommit ourselves to you as Christians, as Seventh-day Adventists looking for the coming of Christ. Dismiss us now with your blessing we pray and we thank you and praise you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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