Tag Archives: Paul

To Really Be Like Jesus

Spiritual restoration is the end-game of the plan of God

How many times have you stood helplessly by while a good friend or family member has made horrible mistakes, and hurt themselves and other people? How you longed to be able to relieve some of the agony and pain of the reaping of consequences that you know are going to follow their decisions.

How many news stories do we read each week about little minority atheist groups like “Freedom FROM Religion” suing to have the Ten Commandments removed from a public school or courtroom? Our government and society willingly comply, and never even question their own actions in doing so. Then the next school shooting takes place and they blame it on guns, instead of a godless-mindset, purposefully created by a Godless government school. It was this sort of attitude that Christ Himself expressed frustration with when He said,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

The Example of Paul

Let’s look at how Jesus Christ handled one such individual He dealt with after His glorification. The risen Christ had no problem communicating His views on Saul’s behavior to Saul, and bringing about an incredible change in Saul’s life.

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:1-9)

But Saul wasn’t the only one who needed a little advice from the spiritual realm here. The Lord also communicated the will of God to a man named Ananias. Given Paul’s track-record, Ananias was understandably reluctant to visit him. But God said, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:10-16).

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles — if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:1-8)

In verse 7, Paul refers to “ the effective working” of God inside him. The Greek word is energeia (G1753), and it refers to God’s inner working inside of someone, His efficiency in work, and His energy in the work He does within men and women He calls into His church. If you want to do a really inspiring word study, look up all the different forms of this word energeia, and how they are used in scripture, and that might give you a more complete picture of how He really does read and influence the inner man/woman with each of us today. And the word translated “power” is the same word we just looked at in a previous postdunamis. So the way that God worked in Paul to minister to brethren was “by the effective working” of the same kind of “power” that flowed from Christ to heal hundreds of hurting, damaged, sickly people.

Spiritual “Working”

Phil. 3:21 is a truly remarkable verse, because it tells us in one place how God and Christ are going to pull their plan for you and me off.

who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:21)

You see, the same methods that He used to subdue all things to Himself, He is now using to subdue all that we have to overcome to be like Him! Again, the word translated “working” is energeia. When we are “like Him”, we too will have the ability to influence human beings from within using these awesome tools of energia, and dunamis.

And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. (Is. 30:20-21)

We’ve heard this read for years as a millennial duty of “kings and priests”. Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 say we will be kings and priests when we are “like Him”. Just as His effectual working in power changed the life of a carnal man named Saul in Acts 9, we may also be sent to human beings to change their lives from within.

Pure Like Him

What is Christ really like today as our King of kings, and our High Priest? He described His whole attitude very well in two brief sentences recorded in the gospels: “I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27) and “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Mic. 7:18-19)

This is a message of hope to the nation of Israel. Often when we think about them, we think of their many failures and their final rejection by God as His nation … but was that rejection really final? If you want a real shot in the arm of encouragement – especially if you feel like you have been failing God and falling short in some way — just look at what Micah knew God would do for Israel based solely on God’s virtue and character. It appears that God, and those who are made “like Him” by God, will be able to do almost anything.

Let’s go back to 1 John 3:1-2, where we began this series of posts, and look at one additional verse.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

I hope I’ve given you at least a little food for thought as to what it might actually be like, to “be like Him” (even though I’m not sure that anyone can paint a really complete picture of what that really will be like). But what I really want to focus on as a final thought is in verse 3. “and everyone who has this hope in Him, purifies himself, just as He is pure”.   We all have “this hope” in Him, and I think we can all agree, whatever we have to do, change, or give up in life to become clean and pure is well worth it to become … LIKE HIM!

Disillusionment

I’m continually amazed by how age effects my perception of life in general, and life in the church in particular. It’s striking the number of conversations I’m having that begin with the phrase, “If I’d have know then what I know now …”

We all go through the experience of realizing that things that we have believed to be true, just aren’t … and that can be very painful to us. I’ve seen several close friends go through this over the years and become extremely bitter and angry, and the word I’ve used to describe their state of mind is “disillusionment.” We always speak of it in negative terms … “poor Bubba, he has become so disillusioned.” But I’m not sure it’s always a bad thing.

The World of Illusion

I’d like to begin by defining the word “illusion.” A dictionary definition of this word tells us that an illusion is “something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality. The state or condition of being deceived, misapprehension.”

Revelation 12:9 tells us that the world of illusion is where Satan lives. Deception is his comfort zone, and when he can keep us under a cloud of illusion he is very pleased with where we are at, because he’s the one who “deceives the whole world.”

And when we live in that state, brethren, we are in danger. It is not safe to think something is reality when it really isn’t, but many human beings live very comfortably with illusions every day, and in fact cherish them. Satan loves to have things this way.

So a loving God has to put us through a painful process to help us out of that state of deceit … and in effect, God has to “disillusion” us. The dictionary definition for “disillusion” says, “to free from or deprive of illusion, belief, idealism, … a freeing, or being freed from illusion or false conviction. To destroy the false, but pleasant beliefs held by a person.” So disillusionment is coming to realize that the illusions that we’ve bought into are false, and in so doing, we come to see reality as it is.

Being Disillusioned

In reality, disillusionment is a good thing, depending on how we react to it. So the question for us becomes, “How should a Christian react to disillusionment?” I’d like to illustrate a proper reaction to disillusionment by using the example of the apostle Paul (formerly named Saul).

Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. (Acts 8:1-3)

This follows right after Stephen was martyred, and our introduction to Saul says that he consented to Stephen’s death. Now just look at the attitude behind these actions. Saul “knew” he was one of God’s chosen people … in fact, he was one of the leaders in doing the”work of God” as he perceived it at that time. But the thing he didn’t realize at this point was that his entire life, and all he believed was an illusion

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”

Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:1-9)

So how did Paul react to this disillusionment? Did he go out and start a blog on the Internet just to complain about the Pharisees? Start railing against his old teacher Gamaliel, and the evils of Gamalielism? Dabble in Hinduism, Scientology, or some new age religious philosophy? No, he spent 3 days fasting until God sent Ananias to him.

And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. So when he had received food, he was strengthened.

Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 9:17-22)

In John 8:32, Jesus Christ said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Verse 36 adds, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” That’s what happened to Saul/Paul. Jesus Christ freed him from illusion, and He will do the same for each of us throughout our lives. Brethren, let’s thank God for disillusionment!

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

Baptism For Life, part 5

What if God had shown us right up front what we would have to suffer and sacrifice for His name’s sake? All the trials we would have to go through throughout our lives? Would it have scared us away, or would it have been encouraging if it were God Himself Who told you personally and added His assurance that He would be right there by your side every moment, hands on through every bit of it?

When Paul (aka Saul) was called, a disciple named Ananias was given the task of performing his physical baptism. When he protested this commission, “the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake’” (Acts 9:15-16).

 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. (Acts 9:17-18)

Paul’s Baptism

Paul was baptized here in verse 18, presumably by Ananias in water. As we have been talking about for the past four blog posts, this is where his baptism for life began. Look what God’s Spirit began to do with Paul after he had eaten and spent some time with the disciples at Damascus.

 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 9:20-22)

Here, we see his baptism with the Holy Spirit had begun with great power. In the very next verse, though, we can see that his baptism with fire began also, and was ongoing for the rest of his life.

Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. (Acts 9:23-29)

For Paul, these persecutors could have been among his best friends, and even family in the hierarchy of Judaism. He was most likely deserted by former friends and family, and totally lost his standing in the Jewish society. Now,  keeping in mind what we discussed last week regarding Luke 14:26-33, let’s look at Paul’s attitude about this persecution.

If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

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. 3:4-11)

If these things were happening to me, I might have just a little bit of resentment, but Paul had “counted the cost.” The word “count” is from hēgeomai (G2233), and means to judge, deem or consider. Again in Acts, we can see Paul’s attitude of joyful acceptance of his “baptism of fire”.

 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:22-24)

Life In His Hands

It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. (2 Cor. 12:1-6)

from OurDailyBread.blogspot.com

If we read between the lines, this passage shows the balance achieved in Paul’s life, at the hands of Master Baptist. Notice the personal involvement of Christ here.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

Remember your baptism? For me, it went this way: I was instructed to cross my arms over my chest and squeeze my nostrils with one hand as the minister gripped the top arm in front and put his other hand on my back. Then, he just pushed me over backwards, and down into the water, briefly immersing me, and then with the hand on my back, brought me up out of the water.

I hadn’t ever really thought about it in these terms, but in effect, when you submit to that ordinance, you are placing your life (however briefly) into the hands of the man who is doing the baptizing. I don’t imagine any minister that I’ve known over the years would have had the strength to actually drown me, but my daughter, for instance, would probably not be able to overpower a “psychopathic” baptist who had her in a vulnerable position like that. The point is – symbolically, at least — you are putting your life into the hands of the baptist.

Now if you carry that into the spiritual realm of the Baptist who comes after John’s baptism, Who is “mightier than” John, you are literally putting your life in the hands of this Baptist. This happens in every aspect of your life, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Not in water, but for a baptism with the Holy Spirit and the fiery trials of life that lead to an even greater infusion of the Spirit.

 

Baptism For Life series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 6