Tag Archives: baptised

A LINE IN THE SAND

A LINE IN THE SAND

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:1-4.

Paul did not let the grass grow under his feet. As ridiculous as the counter-arguments may sound, he anticipated and responded to each one before they were even thought of.

If the sinfulness of man resulted in the revelation of God’s grace, and the greater the sin, the greater the grace, why not just go on sinning so that God’s grace may be even more evident? What a crazy argument! It’s like saying, “Let me live as recklessly as I can and do as much damage to myself as I can so that the skill of the doctor who attends to me can be made known!”

We would never reason like that when it comes to our own physical bodies and yet there are people who actually think that it’s okay to carry on sinning because God will forgive them. Like the Israelites of old, who happily disobeyed God’s commands because they offered sacrifices for their sin, there are people who think that God’s forgiveness is the reason for carrying on with their old sinful lifestyle.

This way of thinking completely misses the reason the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. His broken body and shed blood dealt with the guilt of our past, paying our debt and striking all our sins from the record. However, there is much more to it than that. Sin is not only debited to our account, it also pollutes us, making us unclean, like the leper who was excluded from society because he was infectious and his putrefying sores made him look unsightly and smell offensive

We know that a decaying body produces a terrible stench. Can you imagine how bad a dead spirit must smell? And we were dead in our trespasses and sins before God, through the Holy Spirit, raised us up in Christ, washed us clean through His blood and made us sweet-smelling and acceptable to the Father. Why would we even think of living in sin again and smelling like a pig-sty all over again?

Imagine your little daughter playing in the mud just before she is due to attend a birthday party. You pick her up, put her in the bath and wash her from top to toe. Then you rub her dry, powder her and dress her in her party finery. Would she want to go back into the mud just so that she could be bathed again? Of course not!

Jesus’ sacrifice not only remedied the past – it also transforms our present. When He died on the cross, since we are now “in Him”, we also died with Him. We made a public declaration of our identity with Him through our baptism, symbolised by our going down into a watery “grave” and rising with Him to a new life. There is nothing magical about baptism itself; the physical act of being dunked under the water does nothing to us physically, but it is a powerful witness and declaration of what has happened in the spirit and faith in its purpose transforms us on the inside.

Something happens in the spirit realm when we declare, through a public action that we have died with Christ and been raised to a new life. It is a kind of “cut-off” point between our past and present. It speaks to the people who witness it as well as to the unseen realm of angels, good and evil, that we have become new creatures in Christ. It is a declaration of war against those who hate God, both people and devils but, at the same time it brings all the power of heaven to our assistance.

We now have a new Master, a new identity and a new destiny, based on the gift of Jesus Christ’s righteousness which has been credited to us through God’s grace. Would we not then, in keeping with who we now are, embrace the grace of God to live up to our new identity? Our baptism, identifying us as children of God and followers of Jesus, is like drawing a line in the sand.

On which side of the line do you stand?

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – CHANGE YOUR AWARENESS

CHANGE YOUR AWARENESS

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:9-15

There is something of great significance in this story – three phases:

  1. Jesus spent the first thirty years of His life just being the Son; He lived in anonymity and obscurity in a Galilean village in northern Israel. He said and did nothing that was recorded except one incident recorded by Luke when He was twelve, giving us a clue to the bent of His life. At the end of those thirty years, on the eve of His public ministry, He received an audible verbal affirmation of His Father’s approval, and the visible descent of the third person of the Trinity upon Him. Both of these manifestations were assurances of God’s presence in a way a human being could understand.
  2. He was compelled into circumstances by the Holy Spirit that would test His humanity to the limit, both natural and supernatural. Trust in God is not established in ideal circumstances but in any circumstances. The awareness of God’s presence had to be cultivated in every possible human situation. There was no need for Jesus to withdraw to some ideal environment, or have everything in His life running smoothly to be aware of God. Feeling and awareness are not the same thing. Awareness has nothing to do with emotion. It has to do with conviction and response.
  3. Jesus’ announcement, “God is here,” was based on the absolute certainty of who God is, and on the experience and reassurance of God’s presence across the whole spectrum of human circumstances. He could pass on that good news to everyone around Him because He had experienced it for Himself. It was more than a doctrine. It was a conviction.

This awareness changes the whole flavour of our lives. We don’t have to change what we are doing. We need to be aware of in whose presence we are doing what we are doing; learning to do life in God. We need to cultivate that awareness as a process that will never come to an end. This one simple truth changes everything. “God is here!” Relax, rest, shalom. God is here!

THE BOOK OF ACTS – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

“No sooner were these words out of Peter’s mouth than the Holy Spirit came on the listeners. The believing Jews who had come with Peter couldn’t believe it, couldn’t believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on “outsider” Gentiles, but there is was — they heard them speaking in tongues, heard them praising God.

“Then Peter said, ‘Do I hear any objections to baptising these friends with water? They’ve received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did.’ Hearing no objection, he ordered that they be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.

“Then they asked Peter to stay on for a few days.” Acts 10:44-48 (The Message).

Mission accomplished! Finally the door of the gospel had swung wide open for the whole world. With the Holy Spirit Himself authenticating the next phase of Jesus’ mission, the disciples of Jesus were free to take the message to the ends of the earth.

What an experience for a seasoned Jew! God had got His point across in no uncertain terms and Peter had no option but to fall in and obey. God had once again fulfilled His promise that He would confirm His word with signs following.

My journey through Acts thus far had left me wondering why we are not seeing the same powerful acts of God happening through the church today as it did in the early church. What have we missed, lost, changed or forgotten that has left the church relatively powerless, an organization rather than a living organism and another religion instead of a vital and dynamic relationship with the living God?

In His teaching on prayer, Jesus brings our attention to two destructive forces in our lives and in the world — unforgiveness and the evil eye. Most of His prayer focuses on God and puts us and our insignificant concerns into the perspective of who God is and what His agenda is for us in His kingdom. Our greatest need is not for “things”, needs about which God knows anyway, but for the “daily bread” of His word without which we cannot live.

Unforgiveness wrecks relationships and cuts us off from God’s forgiveness, leaving us bitter and alone. Forgiveness is not about making excuses for other people’s behaviour. It’s about cancelling a small debt because Jesus has cancelled a very big one.

The evil eye, not the Evil One, is our biggest enemy. The evil eye refers to our natural bent towards selfishness and greed. Is it not true to say that the entire world has been ruined and destroyed by greed? And yet these two issues, unforgiveness and the evil eye are as rife in the church as they are in the world.

Jesus calls us as His disciples to be learners and imitators of Him. What were the qualities that He modelled? Humble, gentle and utterly dependant on the Holy Spirit were the hallmarks of His human life.

Among the many reasons why the church is irrelevant today, I see two streams that are disturbing. There is the tendency to “use” the Holy Spirit for doing the spectacular. He almost becomes a spiritual “entertainment” which draws the crowds. In the other stream the Holy Spirit is relegated to a doctrine. Priests and ministers have replaced Him as head of the church and individual believers grieve and quench Him into silence and inactivity.

With our relationships in tatters because we refuse to forgive, and with self with its self-will and greed firmly in the driving seat, it is any wonder that the church no longer impacts the world by modelling the life of God and the kingdom of God.

Just a thought….

The Father’s Blessing

THE FATHER’S BLESSING

After that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased (Mark 1: 9-11).

Jesus was about to step out of phase one of His earthly life and into phase two. His public ministry would put Him in the limelight and set Him up against the most powerful religious leaders of His nation. He was God but He was also a man. He had purposefully chosen to put aside the privileges and power of deity and subject Himself fully to His humanity. This made Him as vulnerable as any other human being to all the experiences and emotions of being a man.

What He was about to do needed all the resources at His disposal if He was to succeed. Up to this point He had lived a sinless life through infancy, childhood and early adulthood. He was now at His prime, trained in the schools of His day, equipped with a thorough knowledge of the Word of God, and aware of His commission from the Father to represent Him to His people.

There were two more things He needed to take on the world, the flesh and the devil and to overcome. He needed the power of the Holy Spirit since He had set aside His own divine power. He also needed affirmation from the Father as to His identity and His track record so far. He could not carry on without the assurance that He was clothed with divine power and that He was who He claimed to be.

When He came up out of the Jordan River, having taken another step of obedience on His journey to perfect humanity, both the Holy Spirit and the Father joined together to provide the equipment He needed to complete His task. Matthew recorded that Jesus reassured John that it was right for him to baptise Him because He had to do the right thing.

What was the right thing at that moment? By allowing John to baptise Him, He identified Himself with sinful humanity; He identified with John’s message and He was initiated into His priestly office. But, wait a minute; He was not a Levite. He was born of the tribe of Judah. He was a descendant of King David. Ah, but He was designated a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:10).

At that moment the Holy Spirit came upon Him, alighting on Him as gently as a dove. A visible appearance? Apparently, yes. Why? Was it to reassure Jesus, or was it to identify Him as Messiah to the crowd? It seems that this manifestation was specifically for John’s benefit.

Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. And I myself did not know Him, but the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.’ (John 1:32-34).

Of course John had to know that he had the right man! God would not have left that to chance. But, as much as John needed reassurance, Jesus needed the Holy Spirit. Without His anointing He would have been no different from any other man,

He also needed the Father’s blessing. What does this mean? There are three basic elements to a father’s blessing without which a child enters adulthood without an identity, without security and without the favour of his father in him.

God the Father clearly fulfilled all three elements – which Jesus sorely needed as He navigated a very difficult path to the cross.

  1. The Father acknowledged Jesus as His Son. 2. He affirmed His love for His Son. 3. He declared His pleasure in His Son.

Without this affirmation, Jesus could never have accomplished His mission to perfection. Equipped with His Father’s blessing, He could face anything because He knew who He was and He knew that He had His Father’s backing all the way. The Father had established His unity with the Son, and the Son upheld that unity to His very last breath.

What an example for human father’s to follow! We live in a world of fatherless people – having biological fathers, but never having received their father’s blessing, not knowing who they are and that they are loved and accepted, no matter what. It’s no wonder that the world had gone haywire!

Earthly fathers could take a leaf out of the Father’s book!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com or www.kalahari.com in paperback, e-book or kindle format, or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Check out my blogsite at www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com

A Line In The Sand

A LINE IN THE SAND

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:1-4.

Paul did not let the grass grow under his feet. As ridiculous as the counter-arguments may sound, he anticipated and responded to each one before they were even thought of.

 

If the sinfulness of man resulted in the revelation of God’s grace, and the greater the sin, the greater the grace, why not just go on sinning so that God’s grace may be even more evident? What a crazy argument! It’s like saying, “Let me live as recklessly as I can and do as much damage to myself as I can so that the skill of the doctor who attends to me can be made known!”

We would never reason like that when it comes to our own physical bodies and yet there are people who actually think that it’s okay to carry on sinning because God will forgive them. Like the Israelites of old, who happily disobeyed God’s commands because they offered sacrifices for their sin, there are people who think that God’s forgiveness is the reason for carrying on with their old sinful lifestyle.

 

This way of thinking completely misses the reason why the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. His broken body and shed blood dealt with the guilt of our past, paying our debt and striking all our sins from the record. But there is much more to it than that. Sin is not only debited to our account, it also pollutes us, making us unclean, like the leper who was excluded from society because he was infectious and his putrefying sores made him look unsightly and smell offensive

We know that a decaying body produces a terrible stench. Can you imagine how bad a dead spirit must smell? And we were dead in our trespasses and sins before God, through the Holy Spirit raised us up in Christ, washed us clean through His blood and made us sweet-smelling and acceptable to the Father. Why would we even think of living in sin again and smelling like a pig sty all over again?

Imagine your little daughter playing in the mud just before she is due to attend a birthday party. You pick her up, put her in the bath and wash her from top to toe. Then you rub her dry, powder her and dress her in her party finery. Would she want to go back into the mud just so that she could be bathed again? Of course not!

But Jesus’ sacrifice not only remedied the past – it also transforms our present. When He died on the cross, since we are now “in Him”, we also died with Him. We made a public declaration of our identity with Him through our baptism, symbolised by our going down into a watery “grave” and rising with Him to a new life. There is nothing magical about baptism itself; the physical act of being dunked under the water does nothing, but it is a powerful witness and declaration of what has happened in the spirit.

Something happens in the spirit realm when we declare, through a public action that we have died with Christ and been raised to a new life. It is a kind of “cut-off” point between our past and present. It speaks to the people who witness it as well as to the unseen realm of angels, good and evil, that we have become new creatures in Christ. It is a declaration of war against those who hate God, both people and devils but, at the same time it brings all the power of heaven to our assistance.

We now have a new Master, a new identity and a new destiny, based on the gift of Jesus Christ’s righteousness which has been credited to us through God’s grace. Would we not then, in keeping with who we now are, embrace the grace of God to live up to our new identity? Our baptism, identifying us as children of God and followers of Jesus, is like drawing a line in the sand.

On which side of the line do you stand?

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.