A Memorable Day
Joseph Herrin (05-31-08)
It was brought to my attention that today is the last day of the 22nd week of the year. This seems appropriate considering the events that were ordained by the Lord. As you know, the number 22 signifies a constantly recurring theme that the Lord has brought before me for some time. 22 is a number relating to the removal of sinful flesh. It is a number profoundly linked to the ministry of the company of forerunning saints who will be called forth for the ministry of leading a remnant of the body of Christ through wilderness paths in days ahead.
A Christian brother from Atlanta who I have recently had the pleasure of corresponding with via the Internet, wrote with what he described as an unusual request. He had never been baptized since coming to faith in Christ as an adult and asked if I would be willing to baptize him. I was delighted to do so, and today he drove down from Atlanta to Macon in order to be baptized in the Ocmulgee River in obedience to the direction of the Spirit of Christ.
As I spent time in the Scriptures this morning I read over the following passage from Paul’s epistle to the Romans.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Yahshua have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
What is depicted in the ordinance of baptism is the transformation that takes place in the life of a person who experiences the life of Christ by faith. As a person is placed under the water they are symbolically identifying with their union in Christ when He died on the cross. This is being “baptized into His death.” The word baptism is a Greek word denoting immersion. This ordinance symbolizes being fully immersed in Christ when He died on the cross. When He died, He did so in our place. He went to the cross as a perfect, sinless, atoning sacrifice and the Father saw the holiness of this sacrifice and it arose as a satisfying offering in His sight. All sin was covered by the pure blood of the Son of God.
This forgiveness of sin through our identification with the Son, believing that when He died He did so for all mankind, is a wonderful thing, and beyond value to estimate. Yet Christ did even more for His sons and daughters. He sent forth the same Holy Spirit that was resident in Him to indwell us. This too is depicted in the act of baptism. When one comes up out of the water the first thing they do is to breathe in. This is a symbol of receiving the indwelling Spirit of Christ into our lives. Christ does not leave us dead in the tomb. He arose from the dead and He has sent forth His Spirit that “we too might walk in newness of life.”
Think of what this one statement proclaims. When Paul says “we too” he is making reference to another who walks in newness of life, this being the Son of God. Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, AND SO ARE WE! We are able to now walk as new, spiritual men and women, conformed to the image of the holy Son of God. This is the TRUE GOSPEL! The true gospel is a message of transformation. God does not leave us in the deadness of sin. God does not leave us slaves to the passions and desires of the flesh. He sends forth His Spirit into our beings that we might walk in righteousness and holiness.
This message is absent from the myriad houses of prosperity, success and pleasure who protect the sinful flesh, and create doctrines that declare God wants to satisfy all the passions and desires of the carnal nature. The false gospel proclaims a message of salvation without transformation. It leaves sinful men and women chasing after the same pursuits they sought before they came to Christ. It presents a message of forgiveness, devoid of deliverance from the power of sin.
II Timothy 3:1-5
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money..., lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power...
Is there any doubt that these words are being fulfilled in the false revival being touted in Lakeland, Florida and spreading everywhere from there? The leaders of this revival are men who are conformed to a lost and sinful world. They bear on their bodies all the marks of the world, and serve the gods of mammon and success. The scent of the world is still in them. Because they have not joined Christ in His death, they do not resemble Him in His resurrection life.
Paul states that those united with Christ through baptism have become the “we too.” These are walking in newness of life after the manner of Christ when He was resurrected from the dead. The experience of the Christian is to be “Old things have passed away. Behold all things have become new.” Paul goes on to define what this new life is to look like.
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Our baptism into Christ marks a point of radical change. Where we were formerly enslaved to sin and lived for selfish pursuits, now that old man has died. He has been buried in the waters of baptism never to rise in his old form again. What comes up out of the water is an entirely new creature, a new creation birthed by the power of the Spirit and the holy seed of Christ. This new creature lives to do the will of the Father in heaven. This new creation seeks after righteousness and delights in the truth. The fruit of this new being is conformity to Christ who declared, “I never do anything of My own initiative. I live to do the will of My Father.”
Why then do we see so many professing Christians who have been publicly baptized living lives full of personal initiative? Why are so many seeking things for self, rather than living only to do the will of the Father? Why are so many ministers promoting themselves, their anointings, their angelic encounters, and why are they merchandising their ministries?
Some have failed to discern what Christ has provided for them. They do not discern that He has given them “all things necessary for life and godliness” (II Peter 1:3). They do not understand that Christ did not merely come to provide forgiveness of sin, but He has destroyed the authority of sin over mankind. He has set the captives free!
Others understand what Christ has provided for them, but they still love sin. These are more abominable, for they treat the gift of God with contempt, trampling on the blood of Christ and grieving the Spirit of Holiness. In their love of money and pleasure and wickedness, they refuse to crucify their flesh with its passions and desires, and they will receive the recompense for their decision.
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries... How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
People, there is a GREAT COST to be borne by those who refuse to crucify their flesh. Great and terrible will be the cry in the day of judgment of those who refused to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, who wanted only forgiveness while still clinging to their sinful lusts and passions. Be not deceived. God will not be mocked. All men and women will reap what they sow (Galatians 6:7).
Today was a memorable day in that it stands as a symbol of the ministry of days ahead. It is a ministry of preparing bodies for death that they might become partakers of resurrection life. Baptism is a symbol of this work. There must of necessity be an end to our former manner of living in order to enter into newness of life in Christ. These bodies cannot be ruled by self and Christ simultaneously. One must be laid in the grave that the other might arise in new spiritual life.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me...”
This verse exposes the great lie of the false gospel being proclaimed everywhere today. The false gospel leaves men and women alive. Adherents of the false gospel are being directed by the desires and passions of the flesh and the powers of the soul. Nothing has changed. There is no basis to declare “it is no longer I who live.” As I observe the ministers of present “revivals” and those flocking to them I see that the old life is still very much alive. People are seeking something for self. There is no crucifixion of the old life. Christians are trying to preserve their former lives while adding some spiritual blessing, some manifestation of Christ, to their beings. This Christ will not do, yet Satan is happy to provide a counterfeit to resurrection life. If people want to feel fire, he will give them a sensation of burning. If they want to experience something physical, he will give them a spirit of barking and laughter and drunkenness. But let none of the elect of God confuse such things for the resurrection life of Christ that is revealed in holiness and righteousness and the fruit of the Spirit.
The brother I was blessed to baptize today has proclaimed a sincere desire to be conformed to Christ. He has expressed a willingness to take up the cross and crucify the flesh. Being baptized was a step of obedience that he wrestled with for some time, for he had been sprinkled as a child. The Spirit, however, pressed him in this matter, and though there were objections in His mind, they were overcome by a desire to be found obedient to God.
This is what baptism symbolizes. As we come out of the water we no longer live for our will and desire. The old manner of living is laid in the grave. Now our daily motto is “For me to live is Christ.” Paul lamented that such an attitude was rare among the saints in his day.
For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Yahshua.
Those who live for personal interests are not truly walking in newness of life. This is merely the old life. It is not sufficient to dress up the old life by adding some Christian experience to it. The old life must end, and a new mode of living must arise in its place. If we walk in resurrection life we will be able to confess as did Christ:
"For I have come... not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
Even when we discern the will of God will lead us to a cross of suffering, those who can truly confess that it is Christ who now lives in them, will speak as He spoke:
"Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Your will be done."
May many come forward in coming days willing to bury their old lives that they might experience the resurrection life of Christ. The sinful flesh must be crucified in order for a spiritual creature to arise.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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