Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Bible’s Greatest Prophecy

If I were asked what is the greatest prophecy in the Bible it would not be an easy question to answer.   So many wonderful prophecies! But I think I would have to say it’s the one given by the greatest prophet. That, in Jesus’ own words, was John the Baptist. Jesus said that among those born of women there was no greater prophet than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28).

What then did this greatest of prophets prophesy that was so great? I realize that Jesus said this of John because he had been sent to prepare Israel for the manifestation of their great Messiah. But what did John say of this coming One?

All four gospel writers record a certain prophecy which according to the Greek tense in Mark 1:7 John “preached continually” as he baptized. Here are the references in case you want to look them up (Mt. 3:11, Mk. 1:8, Lk. 3:16, Jn. 1:33), and here is Luke’s record:

John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but He who is mightier than I is coming, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals: He Himself will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire” (Lk. 3:16 NASB).

And so there it is. This coming One would be a baptizer like John—but He would baptize (the word means immerse) not in water but in Holy Spirit.

It was not long before this One came to John and was baptized by him in the Jordan waters, John protesting that he needed to be baptized by Him. But after this I think there must have been a continual question in the hearts of John’s anticipating followers. When is this Man going to start baptizing us in Holy Spirit? Did John get it wrong?

For, Jesus never did baptize anyone in Holy Spirit while upon earth. In fact He could not do so till He was glorified (Jn. 7:39).  But this meant that after His baptism in Jordan there was yet another baptism for Him to undergo (Lk. 12:50). It was only after this, and seated now at the right hand of God, that He began His ministry of baptizing in Holy Spirit, sending the Spirit according to John the Baptist’s prophecy and His own earlier promise:

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in Holy Spirit not many days hence (Acts 1:5).

Our Bible tells us that on the day of Pentecost the waiting disciples “were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). It is this initial filling, then, that was their baptism in Holy Spirit, although there were also other times later when they were “filled with the Spirit” (Acts 4:8, 4:31, 13:9, 13:52). This does not mean they were baptized in Holy Spirit again and again. Those who believe in Jesus are baptized in Holy Spirit only once (just as they are born again only once)—the first time they are filled with the Spirit. Thus the teaching, “one baptism, many fillings.”

Later when the Spirit was poured out at the house of Cornelius Peter referred to this as baptism in Holy Spirit (Acts 11:16). He also called it the gift of the Spirit, “the like gift” that God had given on the day of Pentecost to those “who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 11:17). This is confirmed by another verse earlier in Chapter Ten:

And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 10:45).

These Gentiles had “received the Holy Ghost,” Peter confirmed, “as well as we” (Acts 10:47).  This was their baptism in Holy Spirit.

Baptism in Holy Spirit, then, is the receiving of the Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke of when He promised His disciples He would send “another Comforter… whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him, but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (Jn. 14:17). What wondrous words.

And it is this baptism that is entrance into the Kingdom of God. For, Jesus told Nicodemus that no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit (Jn. 3:5). Link this with “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit which He shed (poured) on us abundantly” (Titus 3:5). It is in this baptism, this immersion, then, that one is regenerated, born anew. That is some bath, transforming an old creation man into a new creation! And of such is the kingdom of God.

And so we discover that all these—baptism in Holy Spirit, receiving the Spirit, the gift of the Holy Spirit, being born of the Spirit, entering the kingdom of God (and there are others)—they are all different aspects of the one momentous event.

This is why John’s prophecy is so very great. Yes, it all centres in Christ Jesus our Lord. But in fact it may be said that the very reason the Son of God came was to the intent that He might baptize in Holy Spirit, might send the Spirit, thus joining His disciples to Himself, enabling those who believe in Him to live the life which otherwise cannot be lived—His own life, the life eternal. To receive the Spirit of Christ, to be baptized into Christ, means Christ Himself living in us. It means that we who were once “without strength” (Rom. 5:6) are now “strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man…” His Spirit in the inner man? What, oh joy of joys, is the implication of this?

“…That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…” (Eph. 3:16).

That is the essence of the New Covenant. The Spirit baptism is part and parcel of the New Covenant, is in fact initiation into the New Covenant, in which God does what the Law could not do—enabling those who “walk in the Spirit” to fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law. That is a fascinating verse—Romans 8:4—moving from the incarnation and death of the Son of God to His sending the Spirit all in one breath.

In fact there are many passages in our Bible that are only seen aright through the lens of baptism in Holy Spirit—baptism into Christ. Here is one.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him (1 Jn. 4:9).

There again the apostle speaks in one breath of the coming of the Son of God and of the sending of the Spirit. God’s purpose in the sending of the promised Spirit is to baptize us into all that God accomplished in the incarnation—to make us one with His Son in His death and resurrection and ascension.

That is why He came. He came to baptize in Holy Spirit. He came to live as a man, and to die as a man… and to live again, that we who are baptized in Holy Spirit, baptized into Himself—we who were once dead in sin—might be dead to sin (for He died to sin), and that we might be raised from the dead just as He is raised from the dead, and that we might walk in newness of life, might live and reign with Him (while yet on earth, it must be said) as He lives and reigns at the right hand of God.

That is the love of God, the love of God manifested in the Cross of Christ, and poured forth into our hearts “through the Holy Spirit who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.

 

 

 

The Footstool Of Thy Feet

The LORD said unto my Lord, sit Thou at My right hand till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool [Heb. the footstool of Thy feet].
The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies.

These are the first two verses of Psalm 110, which is quoted or referred to in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament passage. It is a prophecy of the ascension of Christ, who is now seated at the right hand of God where He reigns over all the universe, according as He told His disciples before His ascension: “All power (authority) is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth” (Mt. 28:18).

Why, then, is it taught that Christ is “our soon and coming king”? Why is it taught that He is coming back to reign over all the earth from the throne of David in old Jerusalem? Yes, He is coming back, but it is not to reign. He reigns right now, is king right now at the right hand of God. He is seated on the throne of David in the heavenly Zion right now (Acts 2: 29,30), and has all authority in Heaven and earth. Right now. There is no higher throne in Heaven or earth than the one He has right now.

You ask, then why doesn’t He do something about the evil in the world?

But let’s read Psalm 110 very carefully. Our Lord Jesus Christ has been given a promise. He is to sit enthroned at the right hand of God till all His enemies, every single one of them, are in due time (the Father’s time) made the footstool of His feet. He will one day have complete victory over them all, they will all be put under His feet. I take great comfort in this faithful promise. And, for those with eyes to see…

…There is a powerful revelation in this verse.

Sit Thou at My right hand till I make Thine enemies the footstool of Thy feet.

His feet? This is where you and I enter the picture if we have been baptized in Holy Spirit.

For in one Spirit are we all baptized into one body… (1 Cor. 12:13).

By the Spirit baptism we are baptized into Christ, and as members of the body of Christ we too reign with Him (Eph. 2:6).

But notice this.

The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies.

This is profound truth. The LORD sends out of Zion the rod of Christ’s strength—the Gospel of the kingdom in the power of the Holy Spirit—and thereby, even while He anticipates the day when all His enemies are made the footstool of His feet, He rules in the midst of His enemies, whether human or angelic. It is He who is on the throne reigning, not after they have all been vanquished, but right in the midst of enemy activity.

This means that we who are baptized into Him also reign in the midst of His enemies and ours, and in the midst of our evil circumstances, our darkness, our difficulties, our problems, our afflictions, our trials, our distresses, our persecutions—our Cross. We rule in the midst of all our enemies just as Christ rules in the midst of all His enemies. Because of the Spirit baptism, we are seated with Christ in His throne in the heavenlies… not after we die and go to Heaven, but now.

What does this look like?

It looks like victory in the midst of apparent defeat. It looks like composure when one is being reviled. It looks like maintaining one’s cool in the midst of brutal heat—in the face of aggression, whether verbal or physical—because it is Christ’s own cool.

It looks like the kingdom of God in the midst of endurance and trouble. That’s what the apostle John said—that he was our brother and companion “in the tribulation and kingdom and patience (endurance) of Jesus Christ.” Where is the kingdom? Right in the middle of tribulation and endurance. In the very place where we must endure tribulation along with Jesus Christ, His kingdom reigns.

It means that sin has no dominion over us—not our own nor anyone else’s. It means evil does not rule over us, not evil men or angels, nor evil afflictions and circumstances, though we may be in the midst of them. For Jesus Christ is Lord and king at God’s right hand, and as members of His body we are in His reign, which is over all.

God has a great surprise for the inhabitants of the earth. The day is at hand when He is going to reveal openly those who in great and overwhelming trial were reigning in the midst of it all. The day is at hand when their reign shall be openly revealed, unveiled. This is what the second coming is all about. When the inhabitants of the earth thought better of God, and resorted to their own tactics to gain and maintain the upper hand—tactics of fear, force, malice, intimidation, aggression, violence… now He reveals that those who resorted to such things actually had no power at all. For, these things of darkness are not real power, and when people or evil angels were using such tactics and weapons against the Christian, and apparently defeating him, it is the Christian who was all the while reigning. It is he or she who was victorious in the midst of it all because of the victory of their King on the Cross, their King now on Zion’s holy Hill. It is His rule that was over His own, and nothing else.

God has installed His Son in Zion, and those also who are in Him reign in Zion with Him. Those in Christ are not under anything. It may often appear that he or she is. But that’s how it looked the day they crucified Christ, too. It appeared that His enemies had triumphed over Him. It was He who triumphed over them that day—triumphed over them in His Cross. He was reigning in the midst of them all even while they were crucifying Him.

He now reigns on the throne of David at the right hand of God so that those baptized into Him may reign with Him, first in the midst of all enemies and afflictions and circumstances, and ultimately over them all.

This is why God permits evil in His world at this time. It will not always be so: one day there will be not so much as a trace of evil in His universe. But even while with great longsuffering He permits it at this time, even while the enemies of God and His Christ seem to have free rein to work their wicked works (they do not have free reign, they are on a leash) there is a great eternal purpose unfolding. Christ rules in the midst of them. He rules in the midst of His enemies. He is on the throne ruling in the midst of His enemies, anticipating the inevitable hour when they shall yet be made the footstool of His feet.