25 September 2015

Receiving the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Spirit

Jesus has, as He proclaimed on the cross, finished His work of salvation. The gift is given. Perfectly. Completely. All that remains is for us to receive it.

I have seen, though, amongst those seeking this spiritual rebirth, an idea that is a major roadblock:
"I understand it comes in due time according to the Lord's timetable." 
God's timetable is as soon as we can possibly receive. It's not about our worthiness, it's about our willingness. If we had to be worthy to receive the baptism of fire, it would simply never happen. We need it BECAUSE we're unworthy. We need it because we are the "old man", and must be born again into newness of life in Christ. This isn't about waiting in line, patiently, until our turn comes to softly ask, if it's not too much of a bother, that God could please give us what He has promised, hoping that He'll not withhold from us. This is about doing what Paul said, and approaching boldly--without fear--the throne of grace.
Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. 16 Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment]. ~Hebrews 4:14-16 AMP
The invitation is clear: God wants us to come to Him in trust, believing He will not hurt us, believing His experiences give Him a deep and powerful empathy for us, and that we are safe when we are in His presence. He overcame everything through love--everything!!!--so He could fellowship with us and bless us, at any time, and know how to help us in every instance. He's fully committed to our salvation, and through His perfect life and perfect sacrifice has already proven His generosity and astoundingly abundant love. He wants our love, our trust. He wants true relationship with us. He descended below all things, and has ascended above all things. He's been where we are, and will NEVER reject us, NEVER play the part of the stingy and retributive deity. It's not His character, not His heart, not His plan.
"1 Now Jesus was telling the disciples a parable to make the point that at all times they ought to pray and not give up and lose heart, 2 saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and had no respect for man. 3 There was a [desperate] widow in that city and she kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice and legal protection from my adversary.’ 4 For a time he would not; but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow continues to bother me, I will give her justice and legal protection; otherwise by continually coming she [will be an intolerable annoyance and she] will wear me out.’” 6 Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says! 7 And will not [our just] God defend and avenge His elect [His chosen ones] who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay [in providing justice] on their behalf? 8 I tell you that He will defend and avenge them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [this kind of persistent] faith on the earth?” ~Luke 11:1-8 AMP
The justice of God is that ALL should receive the gift that Jesus has given. If I pay for a gift and offer it to my child, it is unjust that another person should come and interfere with my child's ability or willingness to receive the good thing that I have already made theirs. It is unjust that the traditions of our fathers, the iniquities taught as truth, should keep us from receiving what Jesus is giving to EVERY one of us, all the time, without limit and without restraint: the complete gift of His love.
"5 Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves [of bread]; 6 for a friend of mine who is on a journey has just come to visit me, and I have nothing to serve him’; 7 and from inside he answers, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything just because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence and boldness he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9 “So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you, then, being evil [that is, sinful by nature], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!” ~Luke 11:5-13, emphasis mine
This passage in Luke has been SO powerful in my life. And these verses are specifically about receiving the Holy Spirit. We must press into prayer, insistently, open to hear what God says to us. (I know, in my life, that the persistence is for my benefit--it breaks down barriers in my own heart and mind that prevent God from answering my request. The repetition digs deep into my soul, revealing whatever needs relinquishing or correcting.)

In order to have faith that brings down a flood of power from heaven, we have to hear His word and believe it. We need to stand on it. Peter didn't walk on the water: he walked on Jesus' word through the waves. He stood on his faith in God's word to him. It was only when he believed the noisy violence of the storm above the word of God that he sank. That kind of faith starts with studying scripture. That's how we learn to recognize the voice of God. Then, as we learn who God is, and what He is willing to do for us, we can trust that He will do what He said. His word does not return void, but exists in power forever. Even learning one thing, just one element of God's nature, begins this process.
  And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
  And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.  ~Alma 32:33-34
To those feeling discouraged: discouragement is from the enemy of our souls, so don't pay any heed to it. Speak what you know of God, what scripture tells us He is: His goodness, His love, His kindness. Say it out loud, and the temptation to despair evaporates. Resist the devil, and he will flee. (James 4:7) God has said He will send us the comforter. That is fully established fact, both by the evidence of His word, and the testimonies of so many saints. It's our work to be fully willing to give up anything--any thought, any idea, any doctrine--so that we might know Him.

Father in Heaven, I pray You would light a fire for Your word in the hearts of all people. Make them hungry, God, to read and study and learn and meditate on what You have already said. Show them the sweetness of learning Your character and attributes, and how quickly You will fill a cup that has been emptied for You to fill. I know You are faithful; what You have said, You will fulfill. My faith is dormant in that thing, for You have proven it to me over and over again. Thank You so much for Your patience, Your willingness to give at every turn, Your welcoming embrace, and Your total acceptance of each of Your children independent of their works. And in the name of Jesus I silence the voice of fear that contradicts Your word, or that twists it into unbelief. Let Your peace rush in, Your quiet assurance that You mean what You say, and that You will speak to us according to our own language and understanding. You LOVE Your kids! And I praise You, God, that Jesus won, so He can be present with us always, regardless of how "clean" any of us might be. It is the righteousness of Jesus Christ that makes us worthy, and I praise You for Your wisdom and great love for us that You were willing to offer Him as the perfect and complete offering for my sin. I praise You that I can stand before You, accepted and welcome, a close and intimate friend whom you welcome at any time day or night, someone with whom You discuss Your plans, someone that You trust and cherish, and someone that You long, earnestly and deeply, would be familiar and comfortable with You. I rejoice in the companionship of Your Spirit, in Your comfort and Your unrelenting desire and willingness to pour Your love out upon me at any time--especially when I'm feeling unworthy, for that's when I need Your comfort most of all! All it takes on my part is a true willingness to receive, an open and simple trust that You give good gifts to Your children. Father God, show me better how to tell all people who You are, and how truly safe You are when it comes to people opening their hearts to You, making themselves truly vulnerable before You. I just want everyone to know You as You are; not as the traditions of their fathers have taught them, but to own, for themselves, the understanding of You that brings forgiveness and grace which is the powerful rebirth through the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name, amen!

3 comments:

  1. Wow.....once again His timing is impeccable! Thank you Annalea.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This has blessed me and my hubby. Thank you for your gift. May His light continue to be with you.

    ReplyDelete

I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!