Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Weight of His Glory ~ Ganeida

On Saturday the 23rd the omer ended.  Today is Shavuot, the day of Pentecost.

Two thousand years ago a small group of men & women who had studied under an unknown rabbi waited in prayer in an upper room in Jerusalem. They had been waiting for some time, about ten days if we take Acts literally, because Jesus was with them for 40 days before returning to the father. They were waiting in obedience to Jesus instruction to not leave Jerusalem until the Father sent the Gift He had promised. [Acts1:4]  That gift was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  It was a gift that shook the nations & changed the world as the disciples knew it.

The Holy Spirit was given on Shavuot, a festival which celebrates the giving of the Law on Mt Sinai & ends the festival of First Fruits with the wheat harvest. We have seen that Jesus is the Living Word of God & as such becomes the Living Law.  We understand that the word Torah, which we translate as Law, would be better rendered Instruction. Thus Christ was the living instruction that showed us how to walk with God.

He is also the first fruits of the resurrection: 1 Cor 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.

Now this is a Holy Spirit Church.  We believe implicitly in the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including speaking in tongues, the living presence of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  Without Him we have religion but no life.

Over the past few weeks we have looked at different aspects of the Holy Spirit, His work & attributes.  Today I want to explore with you the heart of God for greater & greater intimacy with those who are called by His name.

We are going to start in Exodus 20:18~21 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram's horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. And they said to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will listen. But don't let God speak directly to us, or we will die!" "Don't be afraid," Moses answered them, "for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!" As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.

Twice in this passage the word *fear* is used.  The Hebrew is yiratYirat has a variety of meanings & 3 different levels of meaning.  It can mean wonder, amazement, reverence, worship, awe, mystery, astonishment. In its deepest sense it can mean to see something as it really is.  When we are talking of God it means to really see God for who He is.

At its most basic yirat refers to the fear of consequences.  This is perhaps the most common way westerners would view this word.  The 2nd type of yirat concerns anxiety about breaking God’s law.  The 3rd type is the reverence that comes from rightly seeing the presence of God in His whole creation, beholding His glory & majesty in all things.

We see all 3 types of yirat at work in this passage but note something ~ perhaps the greatest indictment ever uttered of the Israelites in the Old Testament: God has manifested Himself.  He wants to speak to His chosen people & what do they do?  They draw back!
Why?  Because they were conscious of their unholiness, their lack of righteousness.  They did not rightly understand or know the heart of God & so they were unable to approach Him.  Moses however drew near & entered the dark cloud where God was.

Remember when we quoted James last week from chapter 4:8~9…& it says Cleanse your hands you sinners ; & purify your hearts, you double minded… It is talking to believers, not unbelievers.  The word for sinner is harmatolos, literally one who misses the mark.  If our thinking about God is wrong our whole theology will be askew & we will quite literally miss the mark.

Moses however drew near.  He had cultivated a heart for God.  Proverbs 4:23 says to Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.  We guard what we value.

Here is the first key.  So many Christians do not guard, treasure, protect what Christ died to acquire for us.  We accept it far too casually, almost as if it were our right. We come to church if we feel like it, having been up too late the night before, our hearts unprepared for worship, our minds distracted & then wonder why we have so little of God’s presence.

In many synagogues, inscribed over the Ark, are the words, Da Lifnei Mi Attah Omed, “Know Before Whom You Stand”. Do you know before whom you stand?

Again & again we see in scripture God coming in his glory.  The Hebrew word kabowd means the weight of splendour, abundance, honour… In Exodus 33 Moses asks God to show him His glory & God replies that He will…Make my goodness pass before you… Tuwh, goodness, implies that nothing is being withheld.

It is very easy to acquire a distorted image of the Lord & remake Him into what we consider is more
acceptable. Sometimes we do it through ignorance.  Sometimes by attempting to reach others by watering down the truth & some do it quite deliberately.
Now we want to see God’s tuwh in operation.  It implies that His presence has manifested & where His presence is there is the glory of the Lord.  So we need to guard our hearts & develop a correct understanding of who God is.

I am not going to go into great depth.  I am merely going to touch on those things that can hinder a greater understanding of who God really is.

·       A religious spirit.  There is no true freedom in religiosity. Religion always manifests in rules & regulations & they cannot save anyone.

·       Thinking we can change His rules to suit ourselves ~ especially when it comes to worship.  We are to worship Him in Spirit & in Truth.  It does not matter what men have decreed in the matter of a church service.  What matters is what God deems acceptable & much of what passes for church has never been ordained of God.

·       Thinking you’re being obedient when you’re not.  This happens when people step out of the place ordained for them & try to take a place not meant for them.  It can look good.  Their motive can seem good but if it is not God’s will if will never be blessed.

·       An idolatrous heart.  We are not to covet anything.  It steals our peace, makes us dissatisfied, makes us discontent with what God has supplied. Just look at the story of Israel!

·       Drawn away by our own desires [James 1:14] According to Ezekiel 14:4&5 we can become estranged from God by our idols.

·       The worst scenario is to get what we have coveted.  Israel wanted a king so God gave them one.  They were taxed, lost their sons & daughters & eventually were led into captivity by their kings.
I remember the first time I heard the following story because it struck a chord.  A visitor attended a Quaker meeting for worship, ignorant of the fact Quaker worship is traditionally silent.  After enduring the silence for some time he turned to his elderly
neighbour & enquired: When does the service begin? After some thought the Quaker replied, The Service begins when worship ends.

Here is the core.  In the west we tend to compartmentalise our lives.  You know: work, home, family, church… we do not think holistically but God does think holistically.  Our entire being is to be consecrated to the Lord. True worship is how we live our lives & our lives are to be one of self~sacrifice & dedication.

If you are like me you have no idea of whereabouts in the bible the term worship is first used.  It is Genesis 22:5
"Stay here with the donkey," Abraham told the servants. "The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back."

Yep, when Abraham sets out to sacrifice his son.

I have gone this circuitous route to point out that The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously… James 4:5 Love of God is the first commandment but how can we love Him whom we do not know?

Everything we have discussed over the previous weeks about partnership, fellowship, communion with the Holy Spirit is to bring us to that place where the presence of God can manifest in our lives & His glory engulf us!

According to the amount we honour & reverence the Lord our God will be unto us the glory of His presence.  It is not in the music.  It is not in our prayers.  It is evidenced in our obedience.  It is not about what we can get from God~ health, wealth & happiness ~ but about aligning ourselves with His known & revealed will & doing what He says.  We do not want to be a people who worship the Lord with our lips only while our hearts are far from Him. Matthew 15:8 Rather we want our hearts of stone replaced with hearts of flesh, tender & sensitive to the whispered seeking of the Holy Spirit.  It is as we lose ourselves for His kingdom’s sake that we enter most truly, most deeply into the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God wherein no man can stand & the weight of His Glory falls.

Acknowledgements:  I am grateful for the insights of John Bevere for some of this sermon.

Water Baptism ~Rabqa

The word baptism comes from a Greek word
"baptizo" which means washing or cleansing by immersing in water. Today we will be looking at what baptism means for believers. 

This process is used to describe John's baptism & Christian baptism. that is to say to baptise is totally immerse an object in another substance then bring it out again. 

Many denominational wars over the years concerning water baptism could have been avoided if we had just translated the Greek word for baptise properly-to immerse. When a person is baptised in water, his or her body is totally immersed in water & brought out again. 

The awesome significance of water baptism is that it symbolises the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus Christ & our identification with Him. The Scripture refers to Jesus as being the last Adam (1Corn 15:21-22 &45) Jesus, in His sacrifice for us represented us. The resurrection is not a timeless philosophical idea, but an experience in human life. Jesus Christ is an authentic Man who acted in behalf of other men. 

Our resurrected bodies will be like Christ's. As a life giving spirit the resurrected Christ is  the fountainhead of the new creation, as Adam was of the old creation. Although we cannot know fully the nature of a spiritual body, Christ's resurrection body reveals something of what kind of bodies resurrected believers will have. 

During the 40 days of post resurrection appearances, Jesus could pass for an ordinary man. He still had the nail prints & He ate food yet He could materialise at will & pass through locked doors. He had complete command over creation, as evidence by His dominion over   
the fish (Jn 21:6-11). 
When a person receives Jesus as Lord, he identifies fully with what happened to Jesus (Rom 6:4-6). Water baptism is a physical act that should indelibly mark the mind of the person being baptised with reality of his union with Jesus Christ. 

Our old man is our pre-conversion life, what we were before becoming Christians under the unrestrained dominion of the flesh (sin nature). The body of sin refers to the sinful nature within us, not to the human body. The Greek verb translated done away 

with in v6 does not mean to become extinct, but to be defeated or deprived of power. This verse says: 
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 

Rom 6:11-14 teaches us Say NO to sin whenever it confronts you. Recognise that you are really free from it's demands. 

Water baptism also gives the believers the opportunity to openly testify to others of his born again experience. It serves as an outward sign & testimony of an inward grace. The believer has been crucified with Christ, buried with Him & raised together with Him to walk in newness of life. Gal2:20 Teaches: 

That we as believers are united by faith to Christ by faith in His death, we have died to the old life & have risen to a new life. 

 We also see this in Rom6:3&4 NLT) Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ in baptism, we joined Him in His death? For we died & were buried with Christ by baptism. & just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we may also live new lives. 
 trusting in the Son of God, who loved me  & gave Himself for me. 

You may ask the question, What was the purpose of Johns baptism? John's baptism served the purpose of revealing to Israel the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29-33). 

The sacrificial language of John's declaration is taken from the O T & points to the universal scope of Christ's mission. Clearly, this was not  an awareness that gradually dawned upon Jesus, but one that shaped His entire earthly ministry from the start.   

In essence Matt 3:15-17 says When Jesus the Lamb of God was baptised it was to fulfil righteousness because He had committed no sin. Jesus baptism also demonstrated & foretold of His own death, burial & resurrection yet to come. 

Jesus affirms both God's standard of righteousness & His own will to accomplish that standard in His life. He also gives approval to John's message of repentance & confession of sin as necessary to entering the kingdom of heaven. 

People have confused water baptism with the baptism into the body of Christ, that is being saved) In Acts 2 Peter preached about death, burial & resurrection of Jesus, he said in V 38 Repent of your sins, turn to God, & be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received  forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. When a person is born again, he is baptised by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. This is not water baptism. Water baptism is NOT the baptism that saves. It is the precious blood that Jesus shed on the cross, NOT water, which cleanses us from sin. 

A person must be baptised into the Body Of Christ that is saved before water baptism. For without first making Jesus Lord & believing that God raised Him from the dead, water baptism would have no purpose. Water baptism is an experience after salvation to confirm & strengthen your commitment to living a godly life. 

Rom 6:6, 10-12) We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are  no longer slaves to sin. (10-12) when He died , He died  once to break the power of sin. But now that He lives, He lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin & alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live, do not give in to sinful desires. This passage teaches that baptismal waters represent a burial ground. When you are buried with Christ in baptism, you are proclaiming to heaven, earth & hell that the old you no longer exists. To be buried with Jesus means that your old self died to sin just as Jesus did when He was made sin for us. That is why we are immersed in water. 

Coming out of the water signifies our being raised to new life in Christ. To be raised with Jesus means making Him Lord of every area of your life that is Spirit, soul & body. you have been bought with the blood of Jesus & you belong to Him. Everyday you now ask the Lord ask, "Lord what do you want me to say? What do want me to be? Not my will be done" BUT Your will be done 

Rom6:11-13 NKJ) Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in it's lusts. & do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, & your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 

Say NO to sin whenever it confronts you. Recognise that you are really free from it's demands. The phrase "Dead to sin" means that we are not controlled by the love of sin or it's ruling power in our lives, so we are dead to it's enslaving power but not dead to it's influence. So this should become a most important Scripture to us. 

We have a continual choice day after day whether yield ourselves to God or sin.  The word members in V13 refers to the various parts of our body, probably as representatives of our lives. Though we can never say in this life that we are free from sin, we should also never say this one sin has defeated me-I give up. 

The power of Christ's resurrection at work within us is greater then the power of any sin, no matter how long it has been established in our lives. to be under the law is to be under the system of trying to earn our salvation in our own strength by obeying the law, but to be under grace is to be justified you live by the indwelling resurrection power of Christ. We can die to sin, not because of the law forbidding it, but through all the resources that grace provides. 

When we, in obedience to our Father's word. reckon, account & confess that we are dead to sin but alive to God through Christ Jesus, we will experience both progress in our Christian lives & victory on a daily basis. Old habits & the relics of sin from our former lives will fall to the ground. Our minds will experience renewal & we will living expressions of Jesus in this earth. 

In biblical times, there were a number of reasons people were baptised, for example, there was a Jewish Baptism where Jews would baptise converts to Judaism. 

There was the baptism by John the Baptist. John would baptise Jews as an act of repentance so they could recognise & receive the Messiah (Jesus). John explained Baptism in Matt 3:11(NLT) I baptise with water those who repent of their sins & turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater then I am- so much greater that I'm not worthy even to be His slave & carry His sandals. He will baptise you with the holy Spirit & fire. 

Johns Baptism is a type of salvation experience of being baptised in the Spirit. As John's baptism placed the individual in the medium of water, the baptism of Jesus places the Christian in the Spirit, identifying him as bound totally to the Lord. Fire either purifies or destroys. So Salvation of Jesus Christ will be purifying the true Jews who accept Him as Messiah & destructive for those who reject Him. 

Expect & welcome the refining work of the Holy Spirit as the result of His indwelling & continual infilling. 

Matt 3:17 Tell us if we ever struggle with wondering if we do enough to please God. When Jesus was baptised, He had not yet publicly taughtpreformed miracles, Or done any sort of ministry. Yet God called Him My beloved Son in whom I delight in. Likewise God is delighted with you because you are His child That pleases Him far more then anything you can do. 
Ask Him to show you more & more how delighted He is in you. 

Baptism was an important part in the early Church. As new converts believed the good news of Jesus death & resurrection they were baptised. 

We will have a look at some examples recorded in Acts. 
Acts 8:12(NLT) But now the people believed Philip's message of Good News concerning the kingdom of God & the name of Jesus Christ. As result many men & women were baptised. 

 Philip was then led by God to speak to an important treasury official from Ethiopia & told him the good news about Jesus. 
Acts 8:36 (NLT) As they rode along they came to some water, & the Eunuch said "Look! there's some water! Why can't I be baptised? He ordered the carriage to stop, & they went down to the water, & Philip baptised him. 

Acts 18:7,8) Paul went to the home of Titus Justus, a Gentile who worshipped God & lived next door to the Synagogue. Crispus, the leader of the Synagogue, & everyone in his household believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, & were baptised. 

In the last message that Jesus gave before ascending into heaven, He instructed His disciples to baptise people in Matt 28:18,19 I have been given all authority in heaven & on earth. Therefore go & make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father & the Son & the Holy Spirit. 

This V tells us that the humiliated servant is now the exalted Lord, having received the promise in Dan 7:14 which said that dominion had been given to Him & glory & a kingdom, that people of every nation should serve Him. His dominion is everlasting which will not pass away & His kingdom shall not be destroyed. 

This V teaches us to recognise that Jesus call His disciples to go to people of all nations & teach them how to know Him & Live for Him. Teach others that Christ must be the centre of their life. 

V19 teaches that we believe it is scriptural to baptise in the name of each of the trinity. 

Gal 3:26,27 (NLT) For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. & all who have been united with Christ in Baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 

Think as if you have put on life of Jesus Christ like clothing. Let Christ live freely through you. 

Godliness results from Jesus Christ living through you by the Holy Spirit. It is not achieved by observing some external code. Any attempt to achieve righteousness through a list of external dos don’t s is fruitless. God calls us to love & Serve others just as Jesus did, by the power of the same Holy Spirit & in the same gracious freedom. 

Baptism symbolises Christ's death & resurrection, allowing believers to publicly declare that they have died & been raised up with Christ from the dead into a new lives enriched with the glorious power of God. Paul teaches us this from his letters. As we see in from the V I have just read. 

Col 2:12 Tells us that You were buried with Christ when you were baptised. & with Him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. 

We need to know & understand that we must base our whole life on the work done for us through Christ's death & resurrection. 

You maybe wondering who can be baptised we see from examples in acts that as people believed they were then baptised. 

In the example of Philip & the eunuch from Ethiopian in Acts 8:36 that there was no other requirement, As a child of God believe & be baptised. 

AS I mentioned earlier, the word used in the Bible for baptise is the Greek word "baptizo"which means washing or cleansing by immersing. It is NOT sprinkling of water but rather a full immersion representing dying with Christ as you go down into the water, & being raised with Him into a new life as you come up out of the water. 

Water baptism should be a very significant time in your life as a believer. It's a time to fully commit to obey & follow Jesus being willing to fulfil the purpose & plan of Almighty God for your life. This is not something just for mature Christians, It's basic Christianity that is to say part of the solid foundation you need to build on. 

 In conclusion 

While we should preach that all people are commanded to repent and be baptised (Acts2:38), adding any other requirement to salvation by grace becomes “works” in disguise. 
Even though numerous Scriptures speak of the importance of water baptism, adding anything to the work of the cross demeans the sacrifice of the Savior. It implies that His finished work wasn't enough. But the Bible makes clear that we are saved by grace, and grace alone, 
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.  Eph2:8-9  

The Bible Says, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…" (Acts 2:38). There is therefore no question as to whether or not you should be baptised. 

What about the timing of baptism? The Philippine jailer and his family were baptised at midnight, the same hour they believed (Acts 16:30-33). The Ethiopian eunuch was baptised as soon as he believed (Acts 8:35-37), as was Paul (Acts 9:17,18). 

So who should baptise a new believer? It is clear from Scripture that believers had the privilege; it was not limited to clergy or church leaders only. However, if you are thinking of baptism, check with your pastor because he or she may want the honour him or herself. 

While some Christian church denominations teach that baptism is an essential ingredient of salvation (e.g., International Churches of Christ), the Bible is clear that it is not a means of salvation; yet it is a command we are to do in obedience. Baptism is a step of obedience, and God blesses our obedience. 
Acknowledgement I Believe An Introduction to Christian Living Rhema Family Church.