Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3
Thesis: We live in the tension that exists between what God declares to be true and what we experience as reality.
Introduction: In our study last week we attempted to lay a foundation for understanding our "baptism" into the death of Christ by looking into the three most fundamental "baptisms" that the New Testament unveils. We saw that "water" baptism links men with men in the minds of men. We saw that the "baptism with the Holy Spirit" that Christ accomplished according to the prophecies of John the Baptizer linked God to believers in the minds of men and God. God became an indwelling presence in men, whose bodies became His temples. And we saw that the "baptism by the Holy Spirit", which had no pre-existence in prophetic utterance, linked believers to Christ in the mind of God and, to some extent, in the minds of those "believers".
This is a rather complex reality. Thus, this evening we are going to press on into this business of our being "baptized" into Christ so that we might begin to grasp our "baptism into His death" so that we might experience the freedom of being "dead to sin".
August 1, 2006
- I. The "baptism" of the believer into Christ is a "Spirit of God" action (1 Corinthians 12:13).
- A. The result of the action is to possess both a "place" in Christ -- in the Body of Christ -- and a "capacity" for the function that the "place" requires (a "finger" in the body must be able to function as a "finger" to be of any use to the Head of the Body).
- 1. The "place" is not physical/spatial; it is "spiritual" in the sense that it exists in a Body that is not material.
- a. In one sense, this "body" exists only in the mind of God in that the "body" concept is a "material" concept that is employed in attempting to enable us to understand something that is not "material".
- 1) The "bottom line" is that God "reckons" (note Romans 4:3, 6, 8 and 9) us to be participants in His Kingdom and, because He sees us so, He empowers our daily actions so that they take place (note Ephesians 2:10) and they make the specific impact upon this creation that will move it toward His Kingdom "finale".
- 2) Now, since "all things" work toward this end in any case (Romans 8:28), we need to understand the difference between those things which God uses in an approving way and those things that He simply bends toward His own ends.
- a) The expressed "desires" of God, when fulfilled willingly by men out of love for Him and commitment to His program, are implemented into the progress this creation makes toward the final Kingdom reality in a specific way: they make their impact upon people for good and influence others to do good.
- b) On the other hand, the forbidden "behaviors" of men (those driven by their antagonism toward God and their fellow men) are also implemented by God into the progress this creation makes toward the final Kingdom reality in two specific ways.
- i. They "push" the development of the mystery of iniquity further along so that it may come to its final state and be finally destroyed (sin will, one day, be removed from God's Kingdom reality once it has been completely "addressed").
- ii. They also "push" the development of the mystery of godliness further along in the lives of those who are heirs of the Kingdom (by having to "address" the problems that sins bring along, God's people become less "sinful" in their own development and become more adept at practicing the mystery of godliness -- even Jesus, we are told, "learned obedience by the things He suffered" [Hebrews 5:8] and "was made perfect" [Hebrews 5:9]).
- c) Since, therefore, this reality "exists in the mind of God", it needs to begin to "exist in the minds of His people."
- 2. The "function", however, "bleeds over" into the material realm.
- a. If a person has the "capacity" of "healing", the healing is of physical infirmities.
- b. If a person has the "capacity" of "apostle", the content of the doctrine is by the Spirit, but the communication of doctrine is accomplished by speaking and writing (hearing and reading).
- c. If the capacity is "interpretation of tongues", the understanding is given "by the Spirit" and explanation of the meaning of the foreign language is done by the "gifted" by means of speech.
- d. Thus, the ability to do comes from the Spirit; the doing is accomplished by the various members of the material body.
- 3. The "problem" focuses upon the issue of how one makes the transition from a materially bound mindset (to be carnally minded is death -- Romans 8:6) to a spiritually oriented mindset (to be spiritually minded is life and peace -- ibid.) so that the individual can actually function in the spiritual realm.
- a. Paul calls this "transition" issue "faith".
- 1) His claim is that when one "believes" what God has said, God acts according to what He has said.
- 2) The "introduction" into the Body includes a Spirit-empowered capacity-orientation at some point afterwards that clarifies the realm of His "stewardship assignment" (1 Peter 4:10).
- a) This is not something a person has to "work himself up to".
- b) It is, rather, something the Spirit simply does within (a person who, for example, is "gifted" with the "interpretation of tongues" does not have to "do" anything except "listen" -- the words are understood).
- i. There are, probably, three fundamental requirements.
- (a) First, a person must yield to the Spirit-given desire to present his/her body to God according to the reality of the "purchased vessel" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20/Romans 12:1-2) -- this is the only way the actions can be "fulfilled willingly by men out of love for Him and commitment to His program."
- (b) Second, a person must maintain a clear conscience before God: confessing sin(s) as one becomes "aware" -- this is the only way to keep from being involved in the "shipwreck of faith" (Acts 24:16/1 Timothy 1:19).
- (c) Third, a person cannot "function by" what he/she does not know or believe; thus, one must be involved in not only learning what God has said, but also in believing Him.
- ii. This introduces the issue of "cart" and "horse".
- (a) Which comes first, man's "putting of himself into the 'way' so that God may bring him to His plan" (Genesis 24:27), or God's initiatory activities so that man might properly respond?
- (b) Calling them "initiatory activities" prejudices the issue and answers the question. Paul told the Galatians that "having begun by the Spirit" they would be "so foolish" if they reverted to "being perfected by the flesh" (Galatians 3:3). This, historically, meant that divine initiative (Paul's arrival and proclamation of the Gospel to the Galatians -- both issues of divine initiative toward the Galatians) is the "beginning by the Spirit" and human response (the Galatians' "faith" in the message so proclaimed) followed afterwards. To put human initiative in the fore is the attempt to be perfected by the flesh.
- b. By faith we "transition into" a "spiritual reality" that only has partial manifestations in the "material world".