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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

111. - Magnifying The Spiritual Baptism

111.0 - Magnification: Now, let's do something. Let's change the setting on our microscope, so to speak, because of the mysterious nature of this phenomenon of Spiritual Baptism and its pivotal importance in the actual transformation of the believer. Let's look more carefully at this event.

111.1 - The Living Christ, Our Completion: As we have already noted, God's redemptive agenda not only requires the means of forgiveness and reconciliation for His creature, but also the means of real renewal. For that reason, it is impossible for a believer to experience the completion of God's redemptive work without experiencing the reality of the Living Christ within.

So, this Spiritual Baptism is simply an intrinsic part of the redemptive process. The New Testament speaks of this transformation through Christ in such passages as 2 Corinthians, chapter 5. There the Bible says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Again, we read a beautiful account of this opportunity for renewal in the book of Acts, chapter 2, which says, "Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Peter, in his epistle, also refers to this marriage of natures in Second Peter, chapter 1, where he says, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust".

Jesus also speaks of this mysterious communion that exists between the Savior and the believer in John, chapter 14. He says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even 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. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you."

111.2 - The Implications: Throughout the New Testament, this remedy for the human frailty is mentioned. Consider the implications of all this for the believer. In simple terms, it means that the believer is no longer consigned to past failures; but rather, there is the real possibility of a profound newness as the power of the Savior expresses itself within him or her.

111.3 - Explaining The Mechanism: So, our transformation, in real terms, begins with this spiritual baptism into Christ. The mechanism of this phenomenon is easily understood through the use of a physical analogy.

Consider the DNA codes of the physical body. The genetic message is there from the beginning; but, it only fully expresses itself with time.
So, also, is the spiritual process. We receive the "Christ essence" in primordial or infant form. God then uses the circumstances of life experience to bring a growing expression to this "Spiritual DNA."

And just as there are environmental impacts, challenges, and setbacks, etc. in the physical growth process, these also occur in the spiritual process of growing up in Christ. Nevertheless, these struggles in no way discount the process. They are, in fact, an important part of it.

So, with time, the "Christ code" within the believer will find its mature expression. It will eventually bring him or her to the mature character image of Christ. Paul describes that maturity this way in Ephesians, chapter 4, where he says," ... unto a perfect [mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ..." [Brackets added]

111.4 - Finishing The Former Thought: Now, about that evil, carnal twin. At this point, we can finish the thought that we began earlier. The thought was this: "The carnal man must be overpowered and arrested by the Living Christ as He comes to dwell within the believer through the Spiritual baptism."

Very simply then, it is the first mission of the Spirit Christ to deal with this carnal mind set, this unyielding subconscious twin. And, He does it handily through the Spiritual merger.

It works like this. As part of that merger, the strong faith of Christ is added to the more frail faith (humility) of the believer. Literally, the believer is baptized into the faith of Christ.

As a result, the subconscious argument is immediately settled. By the power of Christ's faith, now operating within the believer, the faith motive (God's will be done in my life) is established as the always dominant value in the believer's heart. Now, due to the believer's access to the empowering faith of Christ, the sin instinct loses its ability to dominate subconsciously. So, the old, rebellious subconscious man is dethroned; and, the new inner man of faith comes to power in Christ.

Thus, where before, the default subconscious motive was self-determination, now it is one of profound humility of influence before God. So, the faith motive is made consistent in Christ. No more, as long as he or she wishes, will the believer be governed on the primary level of the heart by the impulse for self-government.

As long as the believer chooses to do so, he is free, empowered by the faith of Christ, to consistently choose God Government with the whole heart. And, that empowered freedom positions the disciple to master sin at all levels and literally become a new and godly creature - both inside and out.

111.5 - Not Just A Growth Process: As a final thought, for the reasons that we have just outlined, the spiritual maturity that the Living Christ brings to the believer can never be thought of as simply a growth process or an expanded life experience. As noted, the spiritual merger with Christ certainly initiates a growth process; but, to be clear, it is not merely a growth process, and never can be. A new creature in Christ is the function of an actual Spiritual integration with Christ, not simply trying harder or learning more.

Again, Jesus said in John, chapter 15, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." So, absent a personal merger with Jesus Christ, which brings the vitality of "the Vine," the believer is left without any real possibility of reaching a "God approvable" state of completion.

To be sure, human effort can, in some measure, make us wiser and enable us to live somewhat more consistently than if we did not try at all. But, such effort cannot bring us Heart Oneness with God. It cannot enable us to conquer the sin impulse in our subconscious. It cannot bring us to the empowering faith of Christ. It cannot enable a truly intimate spiritual communion. It cannot bring the profound peace that flows from an undivided heart.