Tag Archives: baptism

Our Metamorphosis

After missing a post or two because of the death of a close friend, I’d like to resume a series of posts (loosely) based on a fine book called “In His Image” by Dr. Paul Brand with the whole process of life, and death, in mind.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die (Ecc. 3:1-2)

Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time for everything, including times to be born and to die. To help facilitate the divine plan for mankind, even The Word was required to go through the full life-process as a human being. For Him as well, there was “a time to be born” as “the One Sent” who provided an exact pattern to show us how we can be changed to His image. He had a time to live to show us how to live — to teach us how to submit to the will of both He and His Father.

There was also for Him “a time to die” and spend 3 days and 3 nights in the grave, and then there was a time of resurrection when His physical body was changed into a glorious Spirit body again. His experience in the flesh taught Him EVERYTHING about what it is to be human. He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). He also “learned obedience by the things which He suffered” in the flesh (Heb 5:8).

During His physical life, “The One Sent” showed and told us what is expected of us in our physical lives, how to relate to our Father in heaven, how to communicate with Him, and how to use His example to arrive at real life. If we follow this template, Romans 8:16-19 tells us exactly what the future holds.

The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (Rom. 8:16-19)

Our Metamorphosis | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comWhen we take the Great Baptist Jesus Christ up on His promise to “baptize with the Holy Spirit” (click here to review the “Baptism For Life” posts), He plants the “earnest of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 1:22) within us. It’s like a little bit of God’s own DNA, and we spend the rest of our lives going through a process of spiritual “DNA replacement,” growing little by little “from GLORY to GLORY” in a Biblical/spiritual metamorphosis from the old man to the new.

When we then die, we become like a chrysalis – – resting, waiting to burst forth into a glorious new life! For all of our remaining years after conversion, we are like a voracious feeding caterpillar devouring God’s word and “growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

In our “caterpillar stage,” we should be “working out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) — living as though our actions have eternal consequences. Studying the word and living it so that when we die and come to that “chrysalis stage” of life, we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,” as it says in Ephesisans 1:13.
And when God seals a promise, there is no force in earth or heaven that can stop it!

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. (Psa. 116:15)

This verse from the Psalms gives us an assurance about good men and women who live their lives well. Those in the “chrysalis stage” awaiting their transformation into a spiritual “butterfly” are precious to God. And so, the death of a close friend who has “fought the good fight … finished the race … and kept the faith” as Paul said he’d done in 2 Timothy 4:7 serves as an inspiration to re-commit ourselves to the REAL goal of life — being re-created in God’s image.

In His Image

I’d like to do something in today’s blog post that I’ve never done before – to recommend a book entitled “In His Image” by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. As a Christian, I’m always seeking a better understanding of my God, His Christ, and the Body that they have called me to be a part of. In fact, discerning the “Body of Christ” is critical to our remaining a healthy part of that Body as we mature in the faith which was once delivered.

His Body

So let’s start out in the scriptures with 1 Cor 11:23-32. We always read this on the Passover, and if we’re not careful, we can stick it back up on the Passover shelf until next year and just forget about it …(read- vs. 29)

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Cor. 11:23-29)

Just what are we to be discerning about the Lord’s Body, and how are we to discern it? Is there a pattern that we can use to examine the Lord’s Body? Can we look at this as a daily, ongoing spiritual exam, like a doctor examining a patient as we look not only at the Body of Christ as a whole, but at our own contributions to the healthy operation of the Body. Why is this lack of RIGHT discernment cited as the cause of what we see in vs. 30?

For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Cor. 11:30-32)

In light of all the illness, heavy trials, and untimely deaths in all of the churches of God today, maybe we should take a long hard look at ourselves and how we regard the Lord’s Body, as it is presented in the scriptures. We ARE, after all, being created “in His image and in His likeness”, and though we are dwelling in these temporary physical bodies now, as called out ones, we are being re-created in His spiritual image and likeness. As a means to facilitate that re-creation, we have been placed in a spiritual BODY as well. There ARE many bodily processes and functions we can learn from as we go through this life-long transition.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:12-13)

Learning In The Body

How much of what we experience in life as members of His Body does He vicariously experience because He is the Head of His Body, and ‘lives in us’? Is His Body ‘still suffering’ in us? (in our flesh, so to speak), when we are going through our own baptisms of fire (fiery trials)? Could Jesus Christ still be doing, through His Body (the church) what He did in His own human body while He lived in it?

though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. (Heb. 5:8)

Is Christ still learning, as He lives in us while we learn obedience by the things which we suffer? This goes to the heart of what it means to become a part of the Body of Christ.

That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Cor 12:25-26)

Remember we referred to vs. 13 earlier. Now, notice in vs. 25 and 26 how intimate a thing we share, not only with Christ, but with each other. The word for “suffer with” is the Greek word, sumpascho (G4841), which means to experience pain jointly.

 In His Image, baptismforlife.wordpress.comI now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church (Col. 1:2)

This attitude evidenced in Paul was one of a literal slave to his Master. He was willing to suffer anything for the sake of Jesus Christ’s body, “which is the church.” What does it mean here when it says ‘that which is “lacking”? how could there be anything ‘lacking’ in  in the afflictions of Christ?

Just let me ask this question: Did Christ’s experience in his human body teach Him about the full spectrum of human experience? Did He experience life as a paraplegic, as a blind man, as a couple raising an autistic child, as a single mother of 7, as a man stricken with cancer, or any of a host of ailments, trials, and maladies we see today in the church?

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:22-23)

This speaks of Christ as the Head of the Body … a position and responsibility given to Him by God the Father. Why did the God of all wisdom place Christ in such a position? In the human body, nerve impulses travel from literally every part of the body to the brain, which regulates bodily functions to supply every need for every cell in the body.

The author of “In His Image” views himself as a single cell in the Body of Christ, and based on a lifetime of medical experience, shares some very valuable insights that we can profit from as fellow members of the Body. I’ll be sharing more details, based on the book, personal observation, and the scriptures in my next few blog posts. Thanks for reading.

He Must Increase

I thought I’d take a little break from doing multiple part sermons in small blog segments, and just do a simple message pointing to the coming feast of Pentecost (or first fruits), and our goal of actually becoming first-fruits unto the lamb.

And while the means of reaching that goal may be as varied as the number of people reading this blog, … because we all do have our own personal relationships with the Godhead, I’d like to take a look at a simple statement of fact by one deeply committed man that might be able to provide us with some direction as to how we can achieve the ultimate goal in life of becoming the first fruits of God, and the Lamb.

John’s Mission

The man of whom I am speaking is John the Baptist, and it might be a good idea to begin with a reminder of Christ’s evaluation of John in Luke 7, where He said that “among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Luke 7:28). Just think about all the prophets of the Bible. Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel … you’d be in pretty good company just to be numbered among them, but Jesus, the Christ of God, says here there is none greater among them than John the Baptist!

In John 3:30, John makes this brief statement that speaks volumes about his personal character and mission in life. In fact, it could rightly be a life mission statement for any of us, brethren. Speaking of Jesus Christ, John simply says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

This is a message and an example that you see again and again throughout the New Testament in the lives and words of the called out ones in the early church. Perhaps the greatest examples of actually living this way are found in the writings of the apostle Paul.

Decreasing Self

Paul expressed this attitude vividly in Philippians 3. As we read this, notice the thought of the decreasing self (all that is important to us in the flesh … our status, our standing in the community, our wealth, that burning, fleshly desire for importance and glory in the eyes of other men) as opposed to the increase of Christ within us.

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:7-11)

You could read through the whole chapter of Matthew 23, and see what Paul’s peers in the Pharisaical community valued in life. That was Paul’s life before he was confronted by Christ on the road to Damascus.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. (Phil 3:12-15)

Colossians 2:6-9 talks about walking in Christ Jesus, in whom “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” This word “fullness” is pieroma (G 4138), which means just what it says – a filling up and being full. In verse 10, we are told that we are “are complete in Him,” and the word here is pieroo (G4137), which is the root word for pieroma. It means to fill as a net with fish, to fill up, supply fully, accomplish, perform fully. Once again, we see this sentiment expressed – that Christ, in us must increase until He is fully formed in us.

article "He Must Increase" by baptismforlife.wordpress.com

Perfection

What is the end product of the “He must increase, but I must decrease” mentality?

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ (Eph. 4:7-15)

In verse 10 … this word “fill” is also the same Greek word, pieroo, that was translated “complete” in Col. 2:10. So, it’s a part of Christ’s job in the church to fill us up and to complete us. Then reading on, we see all of these functions in the church are given so that the entire body might achieve the goals of edification and perfection.

Brethren, in each of our lives, for the rest of our lives, we would all do well to commit ourselves to the attitude and aspiration in life that was voiced so long ago by a man that Christ described as “the greatest prophet born of women” and by the apostle Paul, who fully lived the words that John spoke when he uttered that exemplary phrase, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

The Interactive Book: Introduction

After 33 years in the Churches of God, both corporate and independent groups, I’ve seen a lot … some things that seemed to work pretty well … others that were obvious mistakes … some that were disasters. For years, I talked about giving a sermon entitled “The Interactive Book,” did a lot of self-examination, study, and soul-searching before actually giving a sermon with that title. I was overwhelmed with the volume of material that comes into my mind … enough really for several sermons. It ended up as a 3-part sermon, which I’d like to share in a series of blog posts over the next few weeks.

What do you mean“interactive”?

What I’m definitely NOT talking about is inserting present-day human beings into offices described in scripture. “Oh, this church leader is an apostle … this church leader is Zerubbabel … this one is Joshua … this one is the Elijah to come … and this world leader is definitely ‘the beast.’” I’ve “actually” met the two witnesses (or at least a man and his wife who claimed the title). The problem is, if you bother to peruse Revelation 11, there are some things in there that don’t really match up with what I saw. And who among us hasn’t met at least one “watchman on the wall?”

It seems some human beings have such a need for significance, and recognition these days, they’ll make just about any crazy claim just to get that “15 minutes of fame.”You see that happening on Facebook all the time – everyone wants to be a big shot. Well, what I’m talking about is Bible interactivity for little folks who are small in their own eyes, and want to stay that way. When it comes to Bible interaction, the only type of, “I am” statement that should even cross our minds is “I am a servant, son, friend, or slave of God,” or as Paul said in Philemon 1:1 “a prisoner of Christ Jesus.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Is. 55:6-11)

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We should want Bible interaction with the goal of becoming more like God and Jesus Christ, to bring our wayward thoughts and ways into line with Their thoughts and ways. How would you like to be one of those in whom God’s Word does not return void, who accomplishes God’s pleasure for His glory“? And what do you think it would be like to have the next verse as your reward?

For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (Is. 55:12)

Jesus Christ was sent to show us the way to do just what we read about in Isaiah 55. What was His attitude? “Hey, look at me!” or “I’m the messiah. See, I’m a big shot!” Let’s look at His reaction when “the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him” after He healed a man on the Sabbath day (Matt. 12:14).

But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory; and in His name Gentiles will trust.” (Matt 12:16-21)

Jesus knew the violent thoughts plotted against Him, and He left peacefully but He also drove home the lesson that it’s ok to do good on the sabbath! This passage says He healed all who followed him! That was an even greater miracle than the one He did before. His attitude was one of quiet humility before God. The things that He did do, which gained him “fame” were simply to see to it that God’s word accomplished it’s purpose in Him.

This Being is our example of living by every word of God. We were called to “follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21) We were not called to read God’s word faithfully for a half hour a day, and then go back about our business. We were not called to support a man’s vision of what “the work of God” should be, or to pray, pay, stay, and obey. We were not called to give until it hurts – I know families that have done that to the point where their kid’s only impression of “the work of God” was living in grinding poverty, and wearing clothes to school that had another kid’s name on them. If we have truly “returned to the Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls, we will desire to follow His example in every balanced way that we can (1 Pet. 2:25).

How did Christ interact with His Father’s word and will?

We all began our real spiritual walk with God at baptism, so … our example … was baptized in Matthew 3, and this was really a bit confusing for John. He knew that his baptism was just a token of something much greater that would be done by the One Sent, the Christ, the messiah on a spiritual plane (Matt. 3:11-12).

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”

But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. (Matt. 3:13-15)

When the One Sent came to him to be baptized, the biggest question on John’s mind was, ”wait a minute! who should be doing the baptizing, here?” Christ’s reply says a lot to us about how He intended to live His converted life. He knew He was going to live a perfect life, and thus had no personal need for physical baptism in water, but He knew it was His father’s will. His father backed Him up with visible signs, and a voice from heaven declaring His pleasure with Christ’s actions (Matt. 3:16-17).

Christ’s interaction with the Father on a very personal level is recorded all through the gospels as an example to us. An example is something you imitate. God is doing a creative work in us now. We are all supposed to end up with the likeness of the Firstborn, so He sent the Word in flesh as our example, our Teacher with that end in mind.

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Think about that “in the beginning.” Before the Old Testament, before the New Testament, all the thoughts and then some were in the mind of this being. The character, the thought processes, who and what He was and is came out in the words of this book during His interaction with His creation. Some of that interaction was very positive, some of it was very negative, but all of it shows us a little more about His character and person. His being, and how He has learned to deal with the creation, including us, during the thousands of years of human history, and pre-history.

“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). All things: angelic beings, planets, galaxies, constellations, the universe, the elements, DNA. Then, in verse 14 we see a great miracle: “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” He became the One Sent, the Emmanuel – “God with us” – to dwell with us and to show us the glory of God in the perfect example of His behavior among men. He demonstrated a very personal interactivity with His human creation.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

Is it too much for our minds to think of the Bible as “God, personified” in the One sent, and to begin to interact with it, as we would interact with a far superior human being? We often have no problem at all subjecting ourselves to “ministerial authority,” which sooner or later usually disappoints, betrays, deserts, or fails us entirely. Real faith relies on a conviction in that which is not seen.

“The Interactive Book” series:

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Key To Scripture

Part 3: Fellowship With The Word Of Life

Part 4: Judgment and Friendship

Part 5: A Personal Call

Part 6: Working Out Your Own Salvation

Baptism For Life, part 6

In this post, let’s take an even closer look at this harsh reality of a “baptism of fire.” Even if we have counted the cost, and know our lives are in the hands of the Master Baptist, we can find ourselves balking when faced with the fire, and perhaps feel like cowards. We can feel guilty, like we’re letting God down if we aren’t acting like God’s little “storm-troopers” eager for the heat of battle. If we let it go far enough, we can feel like we have failed God – failed to live up to the terms of our calling.

As we’ve already talked about, Christ is our example for life. He is our example in every way, “in all points tempted as we are” and “yet without sin”(Heb. 4:15). He was fully flesh – it was not “easier” for Him than it is for us!

who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:7-9)

This was no cakewalk – He was crying real tears. The word “vehement” conveys real emotion. It means strong, valiant, sincere to the point of literally sweating blood (Luke 22:42-44). Matthew’s account shows that Christ was pleaded with the Father three times to be excused from the coming trial (Matt. 26:39).

Back in Luke 12:50, Christ spoke of His baptism as something that He was “distressed” by. The Greek word is sunecho (G4912), and means “to be in a mental strait, in a constraint, distressed, perplexed … to be seized, affected, afflicted.” So He was tormented mentally and emotionally by the thought of going through what remained of “His baptism.”

Now something else that is important to realize in Hebrews 5:9 is that “He became” something that He had not been before He went through His baptism of suffering. We can see the product that the Father (Christ’s “baptist”) was producing in His own Son using the same process that is intended for us. “He became the author of eternal salvation.” Zodhiates says the word “author” “does not fully convey the meaning” of aitios ( G159), so he translates this phrase, “the cause, or source, of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” The word“obey,” from hupakouo (G5219), refers to an obedience which springs from a sense of duty and dependence upon a parent.

Let’s not forget one more aspect of this that is really, really important. If Christ was in this process of being baptized throughout His life until it was fully accomplished, His Baptist was fully involved as well. In John 16:32, He said “the Father is with Me.” You see, the One doing the baptizing was right there with Him, hands on and fully involved, and all of it as an example to us.

Deeper Baptism

We’ve talked before about Matt 20:22-23, where He spoke of this baptism as an ongoing thing for the disciples as well. “Are you able?” He asked. In other words, “Have you counted the cost?” They answered that they were able, and He said, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.”

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom. 6:3-6)

There is a deeper meaning to baptism than just a ritualistic church tradition that we have to go through – a hoop we must jump through in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and to be God’s children.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Col. 2:6-12)

Here is another of the “deep concepts” that all of us really need to become comfortable with. That throughout our lives, God the Father, and Jesus Christ are working on us sight unseen. No one sees the hands that are circumcising our hearts, just as no one sees the hands of the Master Baptist, working His life-long work in us.

This word “working” in verse 12 is from the Geek energia (G1753), and it says so much about the true work of God that is done within the human heart. This word means active energy, being at work, and refers to the active exhibition of God’s power in mighty works and miracles. Also, notice how each of these things … the inner circumcision done without hands, and the ongoing baptism – are related back to how the Father worked in Christ.

Fellowship In Trials

There’s a verse in Daniel 12 that I’ve always thought of only in an end-time context, but I think that in reality, it is occurring all during the age.

And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. (Dan 12:9-10)

The purpose of trials is to purify us, and the scriptures use many analogies to show us this, including God as the Master Potter (Is. 64:8) purification of gold and silver (Mal. 3:3), and refining in the fire (Rev. 3:18).

In his general epistle, James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). I don’t know about you all, but when it comes to trials of life, especially the mundane, long-term, day-after-day trials, I’m a bit of a whiner. But the instruction is to be joyful, and the word, chara (G5479), means “cheerfulness, or calm delight.”

Matthew Henry’s commentary says, “as our afflictions are in God’s hands, they are intended for the improvement of our graces.” This baptism of fire or fiery trials is there to help us, not hurt us. So I’m trying something new. When I get to the end of my tether, I try to stop and say, “Thank you Father for my baptism.” That’s the attitude with which Paul approached his suffering.

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, (Phil. 3:8-10)

Paul was thankful for “the fellowship” – partnership, participation, communion, or benefit that is conferred upon us – of Christ’s sufferings. He wanted to be made “conformable,” or be assimilated into, “His death.” The last thought in our minds when we are suffering is that we are receiving a blessing or benefit from it. Human flesh hates suffering … I do … and even Christ in the flesh asked the Father to remove the cup from Him! That should tell us how hard a baptism of fire can be. But if it was necessary for Christ to learn from it, how much more is it necessary for us?

“If I do not wash you”

In Romans 8:17, it says we are “joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” The Greek word sumpascho (G4841) literally means to suffer together with.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. (1 Peter 4:12-14)

We are told to rejoice that we can be partakers, koinōneō (G2841), “to associate, communicate, participate in, share with” Christ’s sufferings as a part of his body. Notice also, at the end of verse 14, the association with of the Spirit of glory, and therefore the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This comparison is drawn even more clearly in Titus 3:5-6, where Paul talks about “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” which was “poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Regarding Christ washing His disciples feet in John 13, we’ve known and taught for years that washing someone else’s feet at the Passover was symbolic of our humility and willingness to serve others. When we do this, we are washing the feet of Christ “in” that person (see Matt. 25:40). But what is the act of allowing Christ in another person to wash your feet symbolic of? Submitting to this act was so important that Christ told Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (John 13:8).

This phrase may have a deeper meaning than we have realized. The footwashing ceremony is an integral part of the renewal of our baptismal covenant. When you allow someone to wash your feet, it may be symbolic of yielding to an ongoing process evidenced in submitting to His baptism – a lifelong spiritual baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire much like the baptism that He Himself experienced during his own physical life. He was completely yielded to the Father, putting Himself completely in the Father’s hands, and trusting the Father to see Him through to the end.

I’d like to end with Hebrews 12, and consider “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:3-11)

In verse 10, it says we are chasened “for our profit,” so that “we may be partakers of His holiness.” The word partakers is from metalambano (G3335), meaning to share in something with others. Our suffering, and the correction that God gives us, is what really links and bonds us together with each other and with Christ. Baptism with fire leads to more of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

If I could interject a little personal analogy in relation to verse 11, I am a life-long gardener. I just love growing healthful food at home, but gardening is hard work, and there are times every summer when I’m out there sweating in the hot sun, being harassed by biting flys and mosquitoes, pulling weeds, battling against insects, groundhogs, chipmunks, raccoons, wilts, mildews, and various other plant diseases, and it seems like, MAN, this is just TOO HARD!!! Why don’t I just quit, and buy produce at the local farmer’s market? But the results are what we are in this for, because “afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness “ – the delectable taste of homegrown sweetcorn, fresh tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and potatoes enough to last ALL winter. We are trained to produce good fruit by our baptism of fire.

Brethren, our lives rest in the hands of the Master Baptist, Jesus, The Christ. Hopefully, in this series of six blog posts, we’ve taken a deeper look at the subject of life-long baptism, and seen with greater depth and clarity our need for the daily, ongoing baptism with the Holy Spirit, and with Fire. As we go through even the most difficult things in life, I pray we can sincerely thank God for our Baptist, and His Baptism which leads to eternal life.

Baptism For Life series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5