Principles for Christian Living 3
According to Hebrews 6:1, this is part of your foundation of having "Faith toward God.
Can you believe God to fulfill His Word by knowing what He said and bringing your life in agreement with the way He said it's supposed to be done? When you do you set your life and family up for generational blessings that will replace the possible generational curse of poverty many Believers' experience.
Having "faith towards God means that you trust God to fulfill the things He says by obeying His Word and not only trusting God for what you want Him to do for you.
This means what He requires of you, you will do by bringing your life into agreement with His desires and not pick and choose the parts of Scripture that are more convenient for you.
The beginning of walking in obedience to God's Word and therefore walking in Biblical prosperity knowing what God's desire is for you as a Christian.
Third John verse 2 makes God's desire for His people clear stating, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. NKJV
The Message Bible translates Third John verses 1 and 2 as:
"¦ and I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health”that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul!
For many Christians one of the biggest things to understand is the purpose of God for prospering His people and knowing what it means to prosper from a Biblical perspective.
Some think that being saved means that taking a vow of poverty is God's symbol of spirituality. They reason "How can I prosper when my brothers and sisters in many nations of the world live in dire poverty?
This mentality is refuted because God's desire is that those who have the revelation of God's prosperity and the opportunity to prosper are to help those who are less fortunate. Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you. If you will always have poor with "you, it stands to reason that there must be some who will be able to assist them in their predicament.
For others, their mentality is that having their needs met is sufficient to abound in the grace of God. Having their bills paid, roof over their heads, clothes on their back and food on the table is all they need from God.
This too limits what God may possibly be desirous of doing through you as you don't stretch your faith to be a channel for God to extend His Hand of blessing to others. If you can believe God to meet your needs in this manner, it is noble and appropriate for you to believe God on behalf of others for their needs to be met as well.
There's another extreme that some Christians have embraced and that is they embrace an un-scriptural message of prosperity that makes it appear that God will cause everyone to have millions of dollars and every luxury of life imaginable.
This extreme is taken to the point where the mentality is if you don't have houses, cars a large bank account, etc. that you are not as spiritual as someone that does not have these things.
The reality is that a balance must be struck and you must understand what God is speaking to you as you apply your life to wisdom and gain understanding as they pertain to the purposes of God.
If we are following God's Word and obeying to the best of our ability, we have the right to expect God to back up what He wrote in His Word.
The fulfillment of God's Word will elevate our lives to the place where we walk in the Covenant that God made with Abraham and therefore bring to fulfillment what the Covenant represented there which is Biblical prosperity.
Prosperity is the exact opposite of poverty. Some synonyms for prosperity are: wealth, affluence [which is material comfort and privileged circumstances], riches, and success.
Encarta Dictionary defines prosperity as "The condition of wealth, success and good fortune. The word condition used here is "a state [situation, status and circumstance] of someone.
Therefore Biblically to prosper or be prosperous becomes a lifestyle that God determined for His people. However, it's not a life of "Mo Money. It's a condition or position that allows the people of God to advance their lives and that of their descendant to be lived in agreement with what God determined through our forefathers.
Some synonyms for poverty are: scarcity, shortage, deficiency and lack. Encarta dictionary defines poverty as "A deficiency or lack of something; a state of being poor; a state of not having enough money to take care of basic needs such as food, clothing and housing.
Defined as a "state or condition, just as prosperity is a lifestyle, poverty is as well. When dealing with a "spirit of poverty, there is often a mindset of being a victim and that you are owed something.
This fosters a spiritual condition that settles for whatever it can get to just make it by and goes through life without any hope of getting better. This spiritual condition that the mindset produces will cause a person to settle for living on the street or keep someone on welfare much longer than they should be while never working to make their lives better.
The fact is, to utilize the services of the Department of Social Services is a right and privilege for us as U.S. citizens, but it was never meant to be a life support. We pay taxes and when there is a need, we have the right to utilize the services of the state.
Yet a person that has a poverty spirit goes through their entire life without any meaningful employment. They often nickel and dime others just to make it to another day. They settle for a life and lifestyle that's below what God intended. You know this is the case when you no longer try to make your life better.
Because prosperity or poverty is both a mindset and lifestyle, you can be broke today and still be prosperous or you can have money today and back in poverty tomorrow.
A person that is prosperous knows that their temporary state of lack is not their lot in life. They understand that God has decreed their increase and they will not settle for anything less than what God said.
The person that is in poverty has no other option but to continue in lack because their mentality is that they will never increase.
- Because they lack knowledge of what God's Covenant is they don't increase to the place God determined for them
- Because they lack knowledge of the need for a personal relationship with God they don't increase to the place God determined for them
- Because they refuse to apply the knowledge of God they have come to know they don't increase to the place God determined for them
There is no place in Scripture where God made a covenant of poverty with His people. Poverty is a result of His people disobeying what He told them to do.
The irony is that when one initially disobeys God, it appears they are prospering for a season. Then the bottom falls out and they find they cannot live with knowledge of God's principle and neglect doing them without eventually experiencing the consequences for their disobedience.
To support God's desire for His people being prosperous, Deuteronomy 28:1 states:
"Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God. 3 Blessed¦
In these Scriptures, God releases blessings through verse 14 allowing us to see that this is His desire for His people. However as mentioned, disobedience releases the curse that is only rectified through repentance and obedience.
Verse 15 states:
"But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: 16 Cursed¦
Through verse 68 the Lord reveals the results of being cursed that includes dire poverty and eventual annihilation of those that disobey. As verse 15 ends, these curses will "come upon you.
This allows you to see that obeying God's Word brings prosperity and not obeying God's Word causes curses to "come upon you. This means "do nothing with God's Word and poverty [or the condition or state of lack] will come upon you.
The reality is that you cannot disobey what you have no knowledge of which means, this mandate of blessing and resulting curse for disobedience is given to the people of God as God ensures that we know what He said by making it plan in the Bible.
As verse 1 says, you have to "diligently obey. If you will listen to what is being said with the intention of obeying and following through by carefully doing what is commanded, there are resultant blessings that will not only come on you but as verse 2 states, will "overtake you.
To overtake means to "Cause you to secure them; attain them; become rich with them; and have enough of them. The reference here is to the blessings that chapter 28 verses 1 through 14 speak of.
Obedience to God's commands secures your future like no pension is able to; like no insurance policy can; or like any Governmental assistance program will.
What must be realized is that there is a "commanded blessing that God desires to release on His people. In Deuteronomy 28:8, He says
"The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
This commanded blessing is one that the people of God will be able to sustain themselves off of for numerous years. Can we believe that this is true for us today? As I said, we must extend faith so that at least our children will be recipients of what God promised.
Look at what God said would be the result of His people doing what He commanded them to do. Leviticus 25
18 ˜So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety.
20 ˜And if you say, "What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce? 21 Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years. 22 And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest.
How would God's commanded blessing affect how you live and how you give if this were to become a reality? Most would live differently and give differently knowing that we have enough to last us for months and years. A heart of prosperity must be cultivated and possibly replace a heart that is given over to poverty.
Although poverty [especially a mentality of poverty] is often handed down from our parents and ancestors, the reality is that it can be broken. With God's help, understanding His principles for prosperity, and consistently applying those principles to your life, you can bring your life and ancestors to the place where the spirit of poverty is broken.
In order for you to bring your life where God intends, it takes knowing what Biblical prosperity is and that God wants you prosperous.
We've established briefly that scripturally it is God's will to prosper you. To prosper means, "To do well; flourish; thrive; show a profit; grow and be in the black.
The word prosperity is not a New Testament or modern day "buzz word. It is something that God spoke of centuries and even millennia ago as His desire for His people. He always took care of His Creation and as His children we are favored above those that do not know God.
When Moses' purpose was done and God was ready to raise up a new generation leadership in Joshua, the first mandates God gave Joshua was for him to be strong and courageous; and obey His commandments. The end result was that he would make his way prosperous and have good success.
6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.
8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
There is the commandment for us to do what God revealed in the Word of God. To do this it is going to take courage but when you do you will prosper and as the end of verse 8 says, have good success.
To put the cart before the horse and desire to prosper according to the Word of God without observing to do according to all that God wrote, is deceptive and will never elevate your life to the place that God intends.
There's also Genesis 26 where God prospered one of our forefathers in a unique way. NKJV
12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. 13 The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; 14 for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.
The reality is that with Isaac there was a starting point to his prosperity and from there he continued prospering until he became very prosperous.
We have a better covenant built on better promises and what God did for them through their obedience we can believe that this will also be the heritage for our families. However we must follow the example of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and honor God first with our lives.
This brings us to what happened to set Isaac up to begin prospering, continuing to prosper until he became very prosperous.
Verse 12 says, "Isaac sowed in that land. To sow something indicates "the act of planting seed. Seed represents the life that we live. It is the result of a previous increase we received. What we do with the seed determines whether we will reap as God intends.
God set up a principle of sowing and reaping of which He states in Genesis 8:22 "As long as the earth remains, there will be seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
The reality is that God expects His people to sow in obedience to His Word and not because someone compels them to give. Your blessing is in your obedience and not in being guilt-ridden and shamed into giving as God intends.
Doctrine of Baptisms
For us to live in the manner that God desires, we must allow our walk with God to be one that has understanding of the various "Baptisms revealed in Scripture. This is not only knowing what baptism is, but the significance of what happened when we were baptized.
Our foundational scripture in Hebrews 6 says:
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.
In verse 2, this scripture teaches us that one of the important teachings that the church is built upon is the doctrine of baptisms.
In this verse, the word "baptisms is plural signifying more than one. The reality is that the majority of the Christian Church is familiar with at least one baptism and for many Believers' they recognize two baptisms at the most.
However a study of "baptism reveals that In the New Testament Scriptures there are more references to baptism:
Baptism of Repentance signified by Water; The Holy Spirit and Fire; Into Christ's Suffering; Into Christ's Body.
Although it's important to know what these are, it's more important to know that you have followed these individual commands and have made them part of your walk with God or are available for you as in the case of the Baptism in the Holy Ghost, with evidence of speaking in tongues.
Baptisms [plural] are defined as: "Ceremonial washings that cleanse the body [flesh] of the person being baptized to make him fit for Divine use.
This is an ordinance that was part of the Old Testament responsibilities of the priest whereas he had to wash himself ceremonially and then ensure that whatever was given to God was washed "outwardly as well.
However the use of baptisms under the New Covenant takes on more of a "spiritual significance.
For example, referencing Christ's suffering this is brought out in First Peter 3:21 stating:
There is also an antitype which now saves us”baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ¦
The New Living Translation says:
And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Supporting the fact that the baptisms we submit to have this spiritual significance, even being baptized into Christ's sufferings have this spiritual connotation attached to it. What must be realized is that although it is spiritual in nature, it is also just as effective and powerful in meaning.
It says that there is an "antitype or a model, figure, form, resemblance or impression that we are following after, the fact is it has the same authority and power in the spiritual realm to cleanse our conscience “ even though we did not go through the actual act.
Submitting to these baptisms becomes significant through our obedience to what God requires of us. It causes our hearts and minds to be settled as far as our relationship with God is concerned because we know that we met God's requirements.
Because we have submitted to God's ordinances of baptism, we are not condemned in our hearts; neither are we condemned by our conscience as it pertains to our relationship with God in these matters. As far as God is concerned, we have me the requirements.
Of the baptisms revealed in the Scriptures, two of them have a significant role in outward New Testament doctrine. These are Water Baptism and Baptism in the Holy Ghost. The others are matter of conscience and must be considered as we walk with God.
First, the Baptism of Water unto Repentance is mentioned. First referenced in Matthew chapter 3, Water Baptism is an outward sign of a person who has a repentant heart [and because of the change in heart] has a change in how they are going to think and change in how they are going to live.
Repentance is to precede baptism in water and the Baptism in the Holy Ghost.
Speaking to the people that came to him to be Water Baptized [including the Pharisees and the Sadducees] in context Matthew 3:1 states:
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ˜Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.'
4 Now John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ˜We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
John's message and mission was to "Prepare the way of the Lord according to verse 3.
In doing so, the hearts of the people had to be changed and therefore the need of repentance was in order. A change in thinking that also changed their future actions would result in a relationship with God as they received the Christ that was prophesied of and being offered to them.
The outward sign of this inward conviction of repentance would be for them to be baptized in water. This public demonstration gave the people being baptized the opportunity to confess their sins [verse 6] and live in a manner that pleased God [verse 8]. God referred to this righteous lifestyle as them bearing "Fruit worthy of repentance.
Therefore, John teaches that there must be evidence of repentance (fruit), showing a true change of heart and attitude before being water baptized.
The connection of the people to God was not a familial tradition handed down by their ancestors. The connection had to be individual heartfelt conviction that they were sinners; living outside God's designated parameters for holy living and they had a change in heart and attitude. This tells us that God wants us to live right!
In verse 11, John states that Christ was going to come after him and baptize the people with the Holy Ghost and with fire. This is the other "outward Baptism that we embrace in modern day Christianity. Again, although spiritual it has a great impact on our conscience and therefore it has an impact on our walk with God.
These two outward baptisms are also confirmed in the Book of Acts chapter 19
1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?
So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.
3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?
So they said, "Into John's baptism.
4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
Therefore, there is the significant baptism of repentance that has the outward sign of the Believer submitting to water and baptism in the Holy Ghost that endues the people of God with power greater spiritual ability.
It's this power that is often lacking in our lives because the precursor to the spiritual authority associated with it is having a repentant heart that's based on Scripture and not our own interpretation of what repentance is.
The danger of wanting to speak in tongues without first bringing your life into right relationship with God is revealed in Acts chapter 8 when a sorcerer wanted the power of God without submitting his life to the God of the power.
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.
20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.
24 Then Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.
In verse 18, it says when Simon saw, he wanted the power to do what the apostles were doing.
He didn't understand that this was no magic trick, but a grace extended the people by God Almighty so His purposes could be accomplished.
Therefore the heart of the recipient had to be properly aligned with God's purposes so they would not perish “ even though they may have an outward sign of holiness before people.
There are people in the Church universal that display this outward sign without their hearts being right. This is why Jesus said in Matthew chapter 7 that there are some that he never knew who thought they were serving God.
21 "Not everyone who says to Me, ˜Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ˜Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, ˜I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
This is what makes the Baptism of repentance signified by water so important.
To bring clarity to our statement that places emphasis on these being spiritual acts that causes our conscience to be settled with God, there are three Greek words that are used.
The word used here that signifies "water baptism is the word, "Baptisma. This is "the result of the act of dipping. This means that in order to be baptized according to Scripture, you must go through this ordinance to get to the "result.
In contrast, there's the word, "Baptisis with the suffix “is- that makes reference to "the act of baptism. This is where someone may make a reference to what can or will happen although not necessarily submitting to this ordinance.
Third, there's the Greek word, "Baptismos. This speaks of the completed ceremonial act. You often make reference to this word in a "past tense manner such as "I was baptized on a certain date.
However, the one that speaks of the result of being immersed in water "Baptisma, lets us know that an outward act is required by the proposed candidate. And in order that all righteousness would be fulfilled as our Lord said, we allow our lives to be connected with His death so we in turn can have His life.
Coming from the Greek word "Baptisma, the word baptize is defined as the, "processes of immersion, submersion and emergence: baptism by complete submersion of the person in water.
To immerse means to, "Put under water or other fluid; to submerge means to cover or overflow with water; and to emerge means to rise out of a fluid.
This definition allows you to see that you will be placed in water, fully submerged and then come out of the water. True baptism is one of "full immersion and not sprinkling with water that some people associate with this rite.
Scripture clearly reveals the fact that that water baptism is for those who submit in full consciousness to this humble act after making a decision to follow Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:38 says, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Verse 41 says, "Those who accepted his message were baptized.
First, as we discussed previously repentance [change of mind and change of actions] is required and baptism is to be that outward sign of a person with a repentant heart.
Second, you're to receive the Lord's forgiveness for your sins because they have already been forgiven.
Many Christians are sin conscious to the point where they cannot receive the provision for those prior acts of sin by faith and believing they are forgiven. Your past life is something that you cannot correct and being condemned by your own conscious will only frustrate God's plan for your life.
If you truly repented when you were saved, you were forgiven and are now considered righteous before God as you continue living right before Him.
The awareness of your "righteousness or right standing with God through the outward sign of water baptism, allows you to "keep at bay the thoughts the devil will bring to your mind about those things done in the past.
In Matthew's account of the Baptism of Jesus, Jesus makes a statement concerning the importance for Him to be baptized. This statement also becomes the beginning of you fulfilling righteousness in your own life each day. He said,
"Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness. [Matthew 3:15]
What must be realized is that obedience to Christ is not something that is one big act or an event. It's the compilation of all the small acts of obedience you do since you got saved. It becomes the very life you portray to the world.
Often we become so sin conscious that we focus on how we're going to stop drinking, smoking, doing drugs, lying, cheating, stealing, having illegitimate sex, and any other act of sin.
As long as your "focus is to stop these things, you will continue to struggle with them. However, when your "focus is on doing acts of righteousness [beginning with this righteous act of baptism], you find that those sins will eventually fall off.
The Amplified translates Matthew 3 as:
"15 But Jesus replied to him, Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for [both of] us to fulfill all righteousness [that is, to perform completely whatever is right]. Then he permitted Him.ï»¿
By submitting to water baptism, your obedience opens the door to a greater inner awareness of your position of righteousness and is to create a greater desire to do what is right because you know it's the right thing to do..
It's from this position of righteousness that you are now able to order your life right. You begin to make the right choices with much less effort.
It's now a pleasure to obey the Lord and you don't struggle as much with what's right versus what's wrong, and further you consider what God wants above "How you feel about something?
It's in baptism that you see your life as being crucified with Christ and no longer living, but allowing Christ to live in you.
Ephesians 2 reveals this position of righteousness in this manner [Amplified].
5 Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation).ï»¿
6 And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).ï»¿
7 ï»¿He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.ï»¿
8 For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;ï»¿
This revelation of your new position becomes clearer as you submit to the Lord in baptism.
The fact is, by accepting Christ you gain greater revelation of His sacrifice as the payment for your sin. Doing so, you exchange your position of a slave to that of a son or daughter; you exchange your position of sinner to that of a Saint; and exchange your position of being sinful to that of being righteous.
Actually, when God laid on Jesus the sin of the world the cross became a place of exchange as you received His righteousness for your sin and His eternal life instead of eternal damnation. This is made possible because He tasted physical and spiritual death so you may live.
The Act of Water Baptism
Romans chapter 6 gives us an example of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the authority that we are entrusted with when we obey Christ in this ordinance.
1. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
2. By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
3. Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4. 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.
5. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
6. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin
7. because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
9. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
10. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
13. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
14. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
When you submit to water baptism, you are acting out the very death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ as verses 3 and 4 states.
Further, it's this revelation that grants you the ability to overcome sin in its various forms. Whether you carry out those sins is an act of choice, will and revelation of God's Word.
By an act of your faith, you are saying, "I'm tired of this old life and I'm getting rid of it once and for all. In the spirit, you crucify your flesh and this outward act of surrender to water baptism is the culmination of the old life as you knew it.
You now associate your life with the One Who bore your sin on the cross at Calvary. As verse six says, "You are crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Some Christians wrestle with sin after they make the confession of faith in Jesus Christ because "They never got a revelation of the authority they received when they were water baptized, or they didn't submit to baptism at all.
They falter between the commands of God and the opinions of men which are influenced by the world. Because of this, the confusion they experience becomes the very tool the devil uses that keeps them in a baby stage of Christianity much longer than God ever intended.
In dying through water baptism, you are freed from sin “ first because you have repented and secondly your heart is now changed. You realize the power that you have over sin and begin living as if you are a new person, as a dead body cannot sin!
In all actuality, a spiritual bonding takes place when you come out of the water and live to please God. You do so - not in your own strength, but it in the power of the Spirit. And being united with Christ like this in His death, you will likewise be united with Him in His resurrection.
In Jesus' command to us to be water baptized, there is a three-fold admonition, whereas Peter's admonition in Acts 2:38 was two-fold, repent and be Baptized.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20. and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
The reality is most Christians place more emphasis on the manner of water Baptism that Jesus reveals [Father, Son and Holy Spirit] than the mandate He reveals which is "make disciples, baptize [immerse] them and teach them to obey everything He commanded.
Verse 19 says first of all ¦go and make disciples of all nations. If you were water baptized, you are anointed by God to be a worldwide soul winner. He expects you to begin affecting the world that's within your sphere of influence and branch out from there, as you prove faithful in your own back yard.
Second, Jesus tells you to baptize others in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In actuality as you have been baptized yourself, you also are to become a vessel that would perpetuate this spiritual act in the lives of others.
Lastly, He said, we're to teach them to obey everything He commanded us. This becomes the last part of your obedience factor. This is also something that you will be doing every day of your life as obedience is not based on one simple act, but a series of actions that have at the heart, pleasing God.
The truth is that it's not whether you are baptized in the Name of Jesus or whether it is in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The key to your obedience in this area is that you repent and then obey Christ, following this and every other command.
It is the "act of water baptism in the heart of the Believer [not the ritualistic manner in which a Believer is actually baptized] that God acknowledges.
Don't feed into the argument that some would try to make that going under water one way is better than going under water another way.
Colossians 2:9 states, "In Christ ALL the fullness of the DEITY [OR godhead] lives in bodily form. Therefore whether you invoke the Name of Jesus or use the complete Names of the Trinity, you are within Scriptural guidelines for Biblical water baptism.
Therefore you have the right to expect God to do what He said He would do IN us, FOR us and THROUGH us because of our obedience.
Foundations for Life
Lesson 11: Baptism with the Holy Spirit
The Scriptures are clear as they reveal the fact that not only is God the Father and God the Son intricate parts of our eternal experience, but the One that is referred to as the Third Person of the Trinity, The Holy Spirit.
Not only is the Holy Spirit a Person, but He also lives in every person that receives Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It's this same Holy Spirit that is going to remove each of us on the Day that the Trumpet sounds and the Church is caught away [raptured] and live with God forever. He will do this because He lives inside us.
Much can be said about the Holy Spirit, His function in the earth today and the great things He is desirous of doing in the lives of God's people. However, for the sake of remaining focused on the topic at hand, I want to ensure that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit remain primary.
It must be understood that we are not dealing with the Gifts of the Spirit of various manifestations that are revealed in the Book of I Corinthians chapters 12 and 14. These are different unveilings or revelations that God gave for the building up of the Church. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost is given for the individual so they can be empowered to accomplish God's purpose in the earth.
In the Book of Luke chapter 24, Jesus makes reference to the Holy Spirit becoming a vital part of the lives of the people of God right before He ascends into heaven.
49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.
Jesus completed His task. He reconciled fallen man back to the Father “ defeating death, hell and the grave and now He prepares the hearts of His disciples for the necessary Ingredient that will ensure that they accomplish the purpose for which He was leaving them and that purpose was:
"Go into all the world, preach the Gospel to every creature, teaching them to obey all that I have told them and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. MATTHEW 28:18; Mark 16:15
In order to fulfill their purpose, the disciples needed to be "¦endued with power from on high.
What's interesting is that Jesus used the word "endued specifically as this is more than a little touch from heaven. The word endued means, "To put on as a garment, to cause to get into a garment, to clothe, dress; to be clothed; to clothe oneself.
As the apostle Paul told us to "put on the whole armor of God and we understand that this statement meant to put on and keep on; so too this word endued means to put on and clothe yourself with as you would a piece of clothing and not take it off.
Just as the initial apostles needed the power/authority of God to do what God told them to do, the Church in the hour we live in needs this power as well. The revelation that the Church is made up of followers of Jesus Christ and not a geographical location must remain in the forefront of the minds of the people of God if we are going to influence the surrounding community.
All too often when people in our generation makes mention of the ˜Church it has signified location and not "mobilization as Christ intended. When the people of God knows that the move of God in our city is going to be released as we are mobilized and not stationary, we are then positioned for the revival that God is sending.
However, we need the power of the Holy Spirit if we are going to be fearless, bold and have God's wisdom to defeat the forces of darkness and establish the Kingdom of God.
As Jesus made reference to the¦ "Promise of the Father what He did not reveal is what this Promise would look like. The disciples were told to just wait.
My question would have been, Lord, What am I waiting for? How long am I supposed to wait? Is it a man or a woman? Is this thing I'm waiting for black or white? Is he or she Democratic or republican? What denomination is he/she, Baptist, COGIC or Catholic?
Jesus never gave them any identifying marks only that the Promise was going to come and their responsibility was to wait for the promise to come.
It's this waiting for the Holy Ghost that some denominations have built a doctrine around. They state that you must tarry in order to receive the Holy Ghost.
I understand that there are times when a person waits until the Spirit manifests Himself though you, however Jesus telling His disciples to Tarry was never meant to become doctrine for New Testament Church practices. The Holy Spirit had not yet been given and they waited for His appearing.
Once the Holy Spirit came, He remained here in the earth and is just as ready to perform His responsibilities as the people of God are ready to allow Him to.
The Book of Acts makes more specific references to the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit than any other Book in the Bible. It begins in chapter one and you see His references through chapter 28.
In acts chapter one, Jesus again reiterates what He told His disciples about being baptized with the Holy Ghost.
He moves His disciples past the Baptism unto repentance that was signified by water and prepares them for this infilling that would give them authority in the earth.
Acts 1:5 amp
For John baptized with water, but not many days from now you shall be baptized with (placed in, introduced into) the Holy Spirit.
After letting the disciples know that they will be immersed in the Holy Spirit, Jesus goes onto let them know what one of the main functions of the Holy Spirit would be.
6 "Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? 7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. NKJV
In verse 8, there are two specific things that are going to happen when the Holy Ghost comes in the fashion that Jesus describes.
- You are going to receive power
- You shall BE WITNESSES
This word "power that's used is the Greek word, "Dunamis and literally means "the ability to do; being able or capable; power to achieve an objective.
This is where the apostle Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. He understood that there was "dunamis inside Him that would ensure that God's objective given to him would be met.
If God gives you something to do, no matter how small it may appear in the grand scope of things, He also equipped you to get the job done.
The Command of Jesus was that we would "be witnesses, and this is one of the first things that the Holy Ghost does in the Believer “ He facilitates change so we can be effective witnesses and not empower us to "do witnessing. There's a major difference.
The reality is that those who allow God to transform their lives will become effective witnesses for God as well.
Often holding onto our old thoughts and allowing our un-crucified nature to dominate us, hinders what God desires to do through us.
However God wants to release power through us on a consistent basis. First Corinthians 1 says:
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
In the Book of John, Jesus reveals that the Holy Ghost was going to change positions in the earth. Many people hold on to the former position while neglecting to take into account the authenticity of the latter; and others promote the latter position without any regard for the former. John 14
15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
This signifies the indwelling Spirit that comes into each heart that confesses Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and with that contrite heart, God the Holy Spirit comes and dwells with them.
Then, the desire of God is that His people would have the revelation that this indwelling awareness is to produce an infilling that cause the Spirit to have control.
The Biblical evidence of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost as Jesus referred to it as is "speaking in other tongues or languages.
It must be understood that this manifestation of the Spirit is only evidence that He is there and not the mark of someone that has given their lives fully over to God. Someone that has given their lives over to God in this manner is marked or known because God's character and wisdom is revealed in them every day.
You can speak in tongues and hold onto your old uncrucified nature and character. You can commit all types of sin and speak in tongues.
But the sign of a person that has given their lives over to God is someone that has learned how to love at all times because God is love.
SIGN OF THE HOLY GHOST
In the book of Acts chapter 2, you have where the initial manifestation of the Holy Ghost is revealed for New Testament doctrine and practice.
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
As Jesus told His disciples to wait for the Promise of the Father in Acts 1:8, and as I said He didn't tell them what the Promise would look like, the reality is "They knew the Promise when they saw Him.
This is also true for the people of God in our generation. They will recognize the real when they are presented with the Truth of the Word of God. The manifestation of the Holy Ghost cannot be denied in the heart of the sincere Believer.
Here, you have 120 people in an upper room in Jerusalem and after waiting "fifty days [term for Pentecost] verse 4 says, "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
As Jesus also said, the Holy Ghost would give them power to be witnesses. The Greek word is "Martus a word that is transliterated in English to the word "martyr.
A martyr is someone "who has information or knowledge of something; they can give that information, bring to light, or confirm something.
This martyr is someone that no longer values his or her life above the King they serve. They value the King and the message of the Kingdom above their very lives and are willing to risk everything they have and live for to ensure that the Kingdom continues to advance.
These followers of Jesus immediately put their lives on the line in Jerusalem by submitting to the Holy Ghost as He once again unified their chief means of communication “ speaking. This communication was interrupted in the Book of Genesis chapter 11:7 when God confused the language and the people could not understand each other.
In Acts 2, God unifies their language so they can effectively communicate in the Kingdom of God.
When others tongues are referenced, it literally means they spoke in "languages that were different than their own native language.
In our modern world, it's said that there are between 6800 and 6900 distinct languages not counting the various dialects that go with many of the languages. Although there are the major languages that we have come to know in our nation, most languages are not even considered or known about.
When you speak in a language other than your own that's inspired by the Holy Ghost, you do not know which one it is. However this is not the result of years of study and being taught in a classroom the basics of Spanish, German or Chinese so you can communicate with others that are of those nations.
This is an instant work of the Holy Spirit so you can immediately begin communicating with God on the highest level given to man.
It's often said that speaking in tongues is not a gift that is for us today or is given for a select few that are leaders, ministers or prophets.
This is not so, as this is a gift for everyone and the only qualifier is that you are a Born Again follower of Jesus Christ “ also referred to as a Believer.
The Book of Acts chapter 19 reveals the distinction made between being Born Again and submitting to the Baptism of Repentance and further, being Baptized in the Holy Ghost.
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?
So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.
3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?
So they said, "Into John's baptism.
4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
The question was posed these twelve Believers asking in verse 2, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?
This is the same question God is asking many in the Body of Christ today. When you believe, you are to be presented with the gift of the Holy Ghost as well.
This refutes the doctrine that you must "tarry or wait for Him as a pre-requisite to speaking in tongues.
You must be presented with the opportunity to speak as outside a sovereign act of God manifesting this is the heart of a Believer, they will not automatically come into this revelation.
The other Truth is that getting someone to speak in tongues is something that only pastors, prophets, evangelists or apostles or can do. God gave you the ability to introduce others to Him and you must use the power you received to do it.
The fear that enters the heart of many Christians is that the person they are ministering to may not speak. Like someone getting saved or healed by God's power, these are not your concerns.
You have to be bold enough to lead them to salvation, lay hands on them for healing and reveal the Holy Ghost to them by letting them know He desires to speak through them. Then, you are to leave the results up to God.
Another confirming Scripture is in Acts chapter 8:
Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
To receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, you must believe in this promise from God and with a heart of repentance receive Jesus Christ as your Personal Savior. You are then a candidate to receive this precious gift from God without jumping through hoops or qualifying through man-made doctrine and rules.
37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
If you're thirsty for more of God, He will make certain that your thirst is quenched and the water He gives will overflow from your heart and satisfy like no earthly stream can.
Baptism into Christ's Suffering
When we began looking at the various Baptisms, I said that there are other baptisms revealed in the Scriptures. A closer look you will see they are a indirect reference to the Baptism in the Holy Ghost [Baptism of fire], Repentance unto salvation signified by the Baptism in water [Baptism into Christ's Body].
However, I want to talk about the Baptism into Christ's suffering as this is a baptism that every serious Believer will undertake.
This baptism is a refining process for each believer, as God purges your selfish and sinful ways. Once cleansed your character becomes more like the character of Christ.
Whether or not we realize it, human beings are born with a selfish nature that wants to dominate their lives and ensure that what they perceive as being right and beneficial to their own lives have the preeminence in their daily decisions.
But God wants that mentality reversed so we can be more sensitive to His way of thinking, living and doing things.
The reality is "Not only are most Christians unaware of this baptism, but those who are often [either knowingly or unknowingly] refuse to submit to it.
Whether you recognize this as an actual baptism or not, as we walk with Christ we are put into this refining process and are individually expected to allow the Holy Ghost to purge our old habits and thought process and replace them with God's.
This baptism is revealed in the Book of Matthew chapter 20. Here Jesus was responding to a question that was posed by the mother of the sons of Zebedee and in it, reveals a principle that we often don't want to own up to.
20 Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.
21 And He said to her, "What do you wish?
She said to Him, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.
22 But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They said to Him, "We are able.
23 So He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.
The answer that Jesus gives signifies a life and lifestyle that we are expected to endure.
It must be understood that Jesus was already baptized by John with water unto repentance and the Holy Ghost Baptism was going to be given after He left. Therefore this was not referencing either of these important baptisms.
He was signifying a purging and purifying process that we as Believers would have to endure in order to live a spiritual life that glorifies the Father in Heaven.
This Baptism into Christ's Suffering indicates the fact that He lost His own life. He submitted His mind, will and emotions to the Father so that God's greater purposes could be fulfilled.
He was sent into the earth to bring salvation to mankind. While here there was seasons of temptations, tests and trials that He had to endure in order to stay the course and finish the work that He was given.
He overcame those things as the Bible says that Christ was tempted in all ways like we are, yet He did not sin. He overcame the world, His flesh and the devil so the Father would be able to get the pleasure of having you and me in His eternal Kingdom.
The reality is that there are some things that we have been given to do that will not be done until we cause our flesh to suffer and those old habits and sins to simply die so Christ could live. Like John the Baptist said, we have to let Jesus increase while we decrease.
Therefore, this cup of suffering is a cup of self-denial. This is validated in the Book of Luke chapter 9:
23 Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels.
The word deny that is used here means to "denounce and/or reject something that is desirable. Further it means that you are to "bring under dominion or control all works, interests and enjoyments and I add ˜so that God could have full control.'
In mentioning this baptism, I also want to make clear that this is not talking about giving yourself over to the abuse of another created being. You are not to go through physical, sexual, mental or any other type of abuse and conclude that these are part of your baptism of suffering.
Again I state that this deals with the denial of flesh, so that God could have His full way in your life.
You don't have to suffer for the sins of the human race, Jesus already did; you don't have to live the life of a beggar or carry around a cloak of filth that's stained with sin “ Jesus carried that too.
The purpose of drinking this same cup as Christ did is clearly stated in Philippians chapter 3:
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 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 9 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; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Being this type of matured Christian requires that we get "self off the throne and replace him with Christ. Therefore, when you're baptized with Christ's sufferings, you have placed a stop to:
Self-rule: Independence, determination and governance
Self-exaltation: Promoting your own ideals, principles, standards and morals
Self-promotion: Keeping your own self image instead of like Christ, making yourself of no reputation
Self-adoration: Loving and worshipping your own self rather than God
Self-motivation: Being interested, enthusiastic and committed to only the things that benefit your own life
Self-seeking: Leaving your ego at the door and no longer being absorbed in only your life and ideals
Self-gratification: seeking only what brings you pleasure, and satisfies your own self.
Galatians 2 sums up the life of a self-less person as Paul says:
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.
Paul understood that it was over for his flesh and that Christ had to live His life through that human body.
This principle is the same for us. We have been crucified with Christ and now the reality is that Christ lives in us!!!
A person that gives their life over to Christ has been brought to the same place of resolution that Christ came to where nothing mattered except the fulfillment of the will of the Father.
The test of our love will be summed up when we are at the place of decision at a cross-road in our life. We have the choice to do it God's way or to give in to our flesh.
When we can say, father, let this test pass from me “ nevertheless, not as I will BUT YOUR WILL BE DONE “ we are at the place where we truly have been crucified with Christ and therefore been baptized into Christ's suffering.
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there. 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.
39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.
40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.
This supports my previous statement that being baptized into Christ's suffering does not mean suffering sickness, poverty, abuse, fear, abandonment, etc., but means losing your life to take on His life.
Let's make up our minds to lose our lives so we can gain Christ's
Laying on of Hands
In our lesson, we are now at another aspect that the people of God should have understanding of and move on from it.
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.
Previously we saw this principle in our teaching on the Baptism with the Holy Ghost. There we saw in Acts 8:17 that when the apostles "¦laid their hands on them they received the Holy Spirit.
It must be stated up front that there is no actual power or authority in the hands by virtue of the flesh that embodies what is transferred. The power is in what God does as He works through the vessel that is submitted to him.
In many Scriptures, the term of "laying hands on someone or something was used, it signified that someone was going to be hurt or something was going to be killed as something that was sacrificed as an offering to the Lord.
Other Scriptures used signify impartation through the laying on of hands. This impartation or spiritual release from one vessel to another would bring deliverance to the mind; healing to a body; release of gifts to accomplish a task or to accomplish your purpose.
With this important manifestation, we are also admonished in I Timothy 5:22:
"Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure.
The reason is there is authority that is granted [and cannot be taken back] to someone that may misuse that anointing for purposes other than God intended. We're therefore told to "recognize [or know] them that labor among us so there is no mistake in releasing spiritual authority. I Thessalonians 5:12
In the OT, the laying on of hands was used as a symbol in acts of:
Blessing: approval; permission; consent; authorization; sanction
Appointment to office: selection; choose
Dedication to God: devotion; commitment; allegiance; loyalty
- Moses laid his hands on Joshua when he set him apart as his successor (Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 34:9).
- Jacob blessed his grandchildren by laying his hands on their heads (Genesis 48:14, 17).
- Laying on of hands was used in dedicating sacrifices (Leviticus 1:4)
- Setting apart Levites for divine service. (Numbers 8:10).
In the New Testament our Lord Jesus
- blessed others by laying on of hands (Matthew 19:13, 15; Mark 10:13, 16),
- healed people in the same manner (Luke 13:13), which shows that it was a well“known practice, as Jesus is asked to lay on hands (Mark 5:23; Luke 4:40).
The disciples also used laying on of hands:
- In healing Jesus said in Mark 16:18 "¦they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. To recover means they will: Get better; get well; pull through; recuperate; make progress and improve.
- Acts 9:12, 17 to the restoration of Saul's sight. Therefore there is a reinstatement; re-establishment and return of things that was lost through the laying on of hands.
- Healing is not limited to a select few as it's an act of faith on the part of both parties and then God sovereignly healing by His Spirit. Acts 28:8 says: "And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed.
The symbol of laying on of hands has numerous meanings. The Apostles also used it when praying for the gift of the Holy Spirit for the baptized (Acts 8:17; 19:6), and when setting men apart for the ministry.
The "laying on of hands in our foundational scripture in Hebrews 6:2 refers to all the occasions when the symbol was used.
It must be realized that in receiving from God, the "Laying on of hands is not the only method for God manifesting His desires. He can use someone to speak the Word; He uses anointing oil to transfer His authority; or He acts in a sovereign manner as He did with Saul on the Road to Damascus.
Therefore as important as the laying on of hands is, you should never limit God to this or any "one specific way to accomplish His purpose.
Laying on of hands is clearly used in Acts 6:6 as the initial apostles chose the Seven men who would serve as deacons. They laid hands on them so they would perform their responsibilities on their highest level.
Acts 13:3 you have the apostles and prophets gathers and the Holy Spirit tells them to separate Barnabas and Saul for the purpose God had for them. After they laid hands on them and prayed, they sent both men off.
In First Timothy 4:14 Paul tells Timothy to not neglect the gift that was in him through the laying on of hands. It says:
"Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
Not neglecting the gift that's inside, Timothy's responsibility was to show concern for and care for the gift that was given to him. Likewise, we have the responsibility to care for and cultivate the gift that God places inside each of us no matter how noble it may appear to be.
Just because I was anointed to shepherd the people here in our house, I cannot take for granted the fact that this responsibility has been given into my hands and I had to grow in it. I can't neglect to care for this gift.
Second Timothy 1:6 along this same line you're told to stir up the gift that's within you and do what you've been anointed to do without fear.
"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
The Message Bible translates this as:
And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed”keep that ablaze! God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.
The word ablaze here means that you are to be radiant with emotion and ablaze with excitement. It is a privilege to serve God and be used of Him to build His Kingdom. However, because of time or sometimes a position we may have been promoted to, you neglect to realize if you're going to fulfill what God called you to, it will take you stirring that gift us occasionally.
The question remains, "What is the significance of laying on someone's hands? This was the argument that kept the people of God from maturing in their walk.
A lack of understanding of this principle or walking in ignorance to the spiritual potential it holds, keeps it from accomplishing what God's intended purpose is.
The Laying on of Hands serves as a point of contact that allows what God inside one Believer releases into the life of another.
Because of the power of this transfer, it's important that you choose carefully those that you let lay hands on you.
It's more than a prayer “ it's a transfer of power that causes the desire of God to manifest in the life of the intended recipient.
This transfer of power referred to as anointing has no boundaries as it's not a product of this world's system, but from heaven as the Holy Ghost works through the vessel He chooses.
When we have an altar call, the importance of what's happening at that moment cannot be stressed enough. When the anointing is increased through the preached Word of God, God intends to do something in a moment of time that we could spend countless hours and multiply thousands of dollars on trying to achieve.
Therefore we must be certain that we don't allow a spirit of unbelief to come in and rob you of God's intended blessing.
Mark 16 says:
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
Also, looking at Hebrews 3
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
The responsibility to flow with God is placed on the shoulders of God's intended recipients. If we choose not to allow God to increase and augment our lives and anointing because we have become familiar with the vessel, that is our loss and not God's.
This is what happened to Jesus when He returned to His hometown. They saw His as Joseph's Son; a Carpenter; a home Boy that they grew up with, played basketball with and went to school with. Some of his classmates and friends probably made fun of Him, called Him church Boy, momma's Boy, teacher's Pet, Nerd or any of the other derogatory names.
But He was not there as a citizen representing earth, but an Ambassador representing Heaven and it was to the benefit of the inhabitants of His city to recognize Him because of the Anointing that was on His life.
In like manner, if you want the most out of Pastor Brenda and me, you must recognize us as being sent to you by God and embracing the anointing on our lives.
To only view us through our mistakes or the eyes of our lives before we were saved will hinder what God wants to do in you.
Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, "Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us? So they were offended at Him.
4 But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house. 5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.
In considering the Laying on of Hands, let Proverbs 4:23 guide you in accomplishing God's purpose for this precious gift. "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
This is the power that God wants to release as you guard your heart God will impart what is needed to accomplish your purpose.
Resurrection of the Dead
Another foundational doctrine that we must settle in our hearts is the doctrine of the Resurrection of those that have gone on before us and if we're not raptured, we will be counted along with them.
It's no secret that "It's appointed unto men once to die and after that to face judgment, but for centuries people argue about when it will happen and what happens when people are resurrected. [Hebrews 9:27]
Some even have gone to the other extreme saying they don't believe there will be a resurrection even when Scripture is clear on the matter.
As I've said many times, "If someone does not believe a Biblical doctrine it does not change that doctrine. What God said will still stand and will prove true in the end.
Our greatest comfort is for us to wrap our faith around what God said and let His peace on the issue guide us through this life until His eternal promises become a reality.
A close look at the Scriptures will settle your heart to the vital Truth that "Life is not over when this life is over.
Knowing that you will live again allows you to go on in your walk with God without the confusion that many well-meaning people will try to convince you of that is not scripturally correct.
I know that some Christians in their zeal or passion for God try to influence others based on their level of understanding of the Scriptures. They do this even though some of their opinions may not have a full Biblical base for their conviction.
Being sincere and genuine in one's faith does not alter the Truth. Our sincerity must be Biblically based if it is going to have an eternal impact on the lives of those we minister to.
For those who are connected to our church I do not want you to allow a well-meaning friend or relative; the world or how you feel; a cult or another religion to influence what you are supposed to know as a fact and are supposed to have settled in your heart.
There are opinions in the world we live in that says:
- There is no resurrection
- That we are going to be reincarnated
- There's no hell and therefore we all cease existence when we take our last breath in the earth
- Or that we will spend eternity in unity and harmony with every other being that was ever created without ever having to follow anyone's standard of commands “ including God's
We must allow the Scriptures to forge what we believe and not give in to false doctrine “ not for a moment!
Jesus spoke of the time when those that died would be resurrected. He took that a step further declaring that He IS the resurrection and the life and no man comes to the Father except through Him. John 11:25
Paul the apostle also said "If Christ was not raised from the dead we are all in our sins and are to be¦ "Pitied of all men¦ He didn't stop there, but declared that "Christ indeed has been raised from the dead¦ I Corinthians 15
We therefore must allow the Holy Ghost to forge our system of belief and bring our lives into agreement with His will.
In the Book of First Corinthians we have one of the most compelling Scriptures that deal with the issue of resurrection. Often quoting portions at a funeral service for a loved one does not give the statement the impact that God intends.
It does give some consolation or comfort to the bereaved family, but it is actually given to the Believer's in Christ so our level of hope in Christ's Resurrection and privileges that He afforded us could be realized.
First Corinthians 15 New Living Translation
12 But tell me this”since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God”for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can't be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
The Message Bible
12 “ 15 Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling. If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection? If there's no resurrection, there's no living Christ. And face it”if there's no resurrection for Christ, everything we've told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you've staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ”sheer fabrications, if there's no resurrection.
16 “ 20 If corpses can't be raised, then Christ wasn't, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren't raised, then all you're doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It's even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they're already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we're a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.
The definition of the word resurrection means "to make alive, to make a new living person which is achieved by raising the body to be united with the separated soul“spirit.
This becomes the purpose for God resurrecting our bodies at the appointed time. When we die physically our bodies cease to function in this three dimensional world. Our spirits and souls [which actually are the components that give these flesh and bone bodies' animation] return to the God Who gave them.
The body remains in the state that the human spirit left it in - whether it was put in the ground, put in the ocean or burned in a fire. Over time, these bodies all decay and the only thing left is the memory of the love and accomplishments the person made.
However, in God's world that is never the end as He has an appointed time when the body is going to be reunited with the soul and spirit and you are made a new living being as the definition of the resurrection shows.
It must be understood that being resurrected is not only for people that are Born Again Believers in Christ. All people are going to be resurrected and face judgment as some are going to spend eternity in heaven and others are going to spend the same eternity in the lake of fire.
It's Christ's blood and faith in His Name that allows us to have confidence on the Day of Judgment that we are going to live with Him.
However the problem is not what happens in eternity as much as it does what happens in the minds of God's people concerning whether there is even a resurrection.
The quarrel in the Church of the Lord Jesus is often when it will happen as opposed to whether there is a resurrection.
There are generally three schools of thought on this matter. Each consideration is centered on the rapture of the Church and the period of time the Bible refers to as the Tribulation.
If you continue looking at First Corinthians chapter 15, you see that it is clear that "Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
This tells us that Christ has been resurrected and He IS still alive. Christ being the firstfruits implies that there are other "fruit of the same kind that will follow that same example. Defined it means "The first of ripe fruit. Therefore there will be others that will experience resurrection from the dead.
Verse 20 says:
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.
This settles the fact of the resurrection and now you must settle in your heart the when of Resurrection.
As important as it is to have established in your heart the fact that it will happen, for peace to prevail and you to go on to maturity in your walk with God, you must be equally convinced as to when so this does not become a sticking point when others try to argue with you about it.
You must know what you believe and re-focus attention on whether a person is saved or not. You are God's anointed vessel to bring salvation to others and this must always be your focus. God is big enough to straighten everything else out in its appointed time.
The times associated with the resurrection are in three parts and each one has a Biblical reference to it. Because of that you shouldn't argue about when it will happen, but settle your heart on what you believe.
As I said the arguments concerning the resurrection of the dead center around the coming of Jesus Christ to rapture His Church.
There is a purpose for the Holy Ghost restraining the antichrist as God has a timetable for these things to be accomplished.
First there's the "Pre-Tribulation period of time. In Second Thessalonians 2 the Day of the Lord will not come until the "son of perdition; man of sin also referred to as the lawless one is revealed.
Remember, the resurrection from the dead is centered on our Lord Jesus' coming.
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
The Second Coming of Christ will happen, but will be in God's timing - not mans.
Concerning whether Christ already came, the answer to that is He did not. This is an argument that I don't have to get into as He is yet to come and will fulfill everything that the Scriptures declare about the last days.
However there are some specific things that will become apparent and will pave the way for the coming of Jesus Christ whereas those in their graves will be resurrected and meet Him in the air.
As verse 3 says, there will be a falling away of people who at one time professed Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. The deception will be strong and the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 will prove true saying:
23 "Then if anyone says to you, ˜Look, here is the Christ!' or ˜There!' do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
First Thessalonians chapter 5 refers to the coming of the Lord this way:
1 But concerning ï»¿ï»¿the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that ï»¿ï»¿the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, "Peace and safety! then ï»¿ï»¿sudden destruction comes upon them, ï»¿ï»¿as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
As mentioned, although no one knows the day or the hour it shall come to pass that our lord will return just as He said He would.
Similar to someone breaking into your home and robbing you, you generally don't know when he came or when he left. Often the entire robbery happens and you don't know about it until after you realize something is missing.
So too will be the coming of the Lord to take His people out of the earth and spare them from the destruction that will be released upon the earth.
The Book of First Thessalonians chapter 4 reveals how the "Second Coming of Christ will happen and what will happen to those that died knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Remember it's referred to as the Second Coming because when Christ Jesus was born in the earth that was the first coming referred to as the "Incarnation of Christ. This was the time when He clothed Himself with human flesh in order to redeem mankind from sin and bring us into eternity with the Father.
It's not the time that He returns to the earth to defeat satan and the antichrist as some people refer to that as the Second Coming.
You must also know that the resurrection we will experience is the first of two phases of the second coming. This time [Pre-tribulation] He comes in the air, the next time He comes He will set up His Kingdom in the earth [Post-tribulation].
I Thessalonians 4:13
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen ï»¿ï»¿asleep, lest you sorrow ï»¿ï»¿as others ï»¿ï»¿who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him ï»¿ï»¿those who ï»¿ï»¿sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that ï»¿ï»¿we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are ï»¿ï»¿asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with ï»¿ï»¿the trumpet of God. ï»¿ï»¿And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them ï»¿ï»¿in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus ï»¿ï»¿we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
When I often refer to someone passing away, I speak from the perspective of "separation and not annihilation. To gain understanding of how this is possible you must remember that we are created "spirit, soul and body.
During that time the body without the spirit goes into the ground and the spirit that was "born again leaves that body and goes into heaven to meet the One that made it.
It's the human spirit that gives our bodies' animation and the ability to function in the earth. Once they are separated, they remain in their respective places until this described event transpires.
However it must be noted that this is only in reference to those who have died "in Christ not those who rejected His offer of salvation and went to their graves in that state having ignored and rejected God's only way to eternal life.
Paul begins in verse 13 saying that he does "not want us to be ignorant concerning this. His assumption is that we are first aware of the "triune nature of man which will give us a greater understanding of the entire event.
Using the word ignorant he was conveying the fact that he didn't want us to "Not know this, not understand it and to not believe it; be mistaken, misinformed or be in error concerning this event.
Stating this he is also letting us know that this event is not as complicated to understand as some would have us believe. In the Greek he goes so far as conveying that we're not to be even "unconsciously mistaken.
What are we to be informed about? We're to know what happens when this life as we know it "Comes to its determined end.
He goes on to say "Concerning those who have fallen asleep. He uses the word "asleep in place of physical death here because the understanding that death is a "deep form of sleep for the body.
As verse 16 says, the dead will be resurrected and this will happen before the 7 year time of tribulation that the Bible speaks of begins in the earth.
This period of time is when satan gains political and religious power through two different individuals [both antichrists] and causes them to break the pact half way through it.
It's then that the two witnesses sent by God during the tribulation period is killed in the streets of Jerusalem as God miraculously heals them and raptures them.
This is the period of time that some people refer to as "mid-tribulation and the reference of Revelations 20 supports that.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Because these are the souls of those that are beheaded for their witness to Jesus, it lets us know that this will happen after the antichrist breaks his covenant with the earth half way [3 ½ years] through the tribulation period.
This mid-tribulation resurrection is for the saints of God. They will give up their lives having to refuse the mark of the beast and rejecting the antichrist.
The rest of the dead “ those who died without a relationship with God, stayed in their graves until the thousand years were over.
Therefore, there are three resurrections for the people of God "pre, mid and post tribulation. The state of the person and timing of their existence [when they were born in the earth] will determine which one(s) they will participate in.
The reality is that you don't have to prove yourself right when it comes to the resurrection of the dead, you just have to know what you believe.