Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Blistered Man (Part 3): The Lens of the Spirit

If you have not yet read part 1 or 2 of this series, I recommend checking those preceding articles before continuing on with this present post.

This is a Sermon that my brother and I listened to just the other day. It is by Pastor Alan Redpath, and it is titled "Chosen to be Holy". To have a greater understanding of this post, it would be necessary for you to listen to this message, as much of what is said here will be borrowed from Redpath's message, and placed into the context of the Blistered Man. I have posted the 1st part of 5 parts.

 The Telescopic View of Christ
**Keep in mind now, this is simply a metaphor for the journey a Christian takes towards salvation. It does not mean this is how it is for every Christian; it was not this way for me even in every aspect, but it is an illustration of the steps we take towards salvation in Jesus Christ. 

In the last post, the Lord led me to the metaphor of the magnifying glass, and its particular characteristic of concentrating light into one area, long enough for it to burn. At this point, I wish to talk about another aspect of the magnifying glass, which is the most obvious characteristic of the tool itself, which is its ability to magnify. Now, keeping the magnifying glass in mind, I want to turn your attention another tool that has a similar capability: the telescope. A telescope magnifies a large object, which is far away. To our eyes it is small, but in reality it is incredibly large. The telescope brings the object closer to us, and allows us to see it in a more detailed way. From the perspective of the world, Jesus Christ may seem far, far away, but the Holy Spirit acts as a telescope for the Church, and brings that very object, the object of our Holiness, who dwells at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, directly into our line of vision.
Paul prays for the church of Ephesus in the same manner, that they may receive the Spirit:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:17-13, NIV)

So this telescopic view of Jesus Christ at first, is then made more intimate when we see and recognize ourselves as being apart of His body through the lens of the Spirit.  Is this not what Paul was speaking of to the Corinthians? He mysteriously states:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV)
Before we are convicted by the Spirit to come unto the cross and Christ, and even for a short period of time after for many (if not most), we recognize the distance between He and us. This chasm between the Lord and His creation is caused by Sin. We are looking through the armor of darkness, the flesh, unto Christ, and without the light of the Spirit, the armor of light, we can have no knowledge of our position with Him. 
Already There
Now I pray the Lord allows you to recognize this and understand it with spiritual eyes. When the Lord Jesus is brought into a closer view, a revelation must occur for every believer, and that revelation is this:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did
predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30, KJV)

As the Spirit shows us Christ through the lens of the telescope, we are led to the discovery that we are apart of His body. In a literal sense, we were always there! The journey of a Christian is simply the journey back to the One who created him. Sinful nature separated us from the body, or rather, we experienced an amnesiac effect with the knowledge of being apart of the body at one time. By the death and resurrection of Christ, we are brought to the state of glorification, in His body.

To illustrate the ability for God to predestine those whom he has chosen I refer you to a few verses:
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, [and] I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5, KJV)
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6, KJV)
We were chosen in Christ, before the foundations of the world were laid. Imagine that for just a second, and think hard on it for a long moment. So when Christ was formed in the womb, we, spiritually speaking, were formed with Him. When Christ died, His body was put to death, meaning we, who are His body, were put to death with Him. When His body was laid in the tomb, we being His body, were put into the tomb. Most importantly, when His body was raised from the grave and ascended into Heaven, we ourselves were resurrected with Him! 
After we have a recognition of being apart of the body from afar, we are then allowed, by the Spirit of God, to examine ourselves in a more stringent, closer way. Once we know we are apart of the body, the next step is allowing the Spirit to reveal to us where we are exactly in the body. By identifying where we are in the body, we are able to understand our purpose in Christ. 
Our purpose is specific, not random. Our purpose is revealed, not left to be undefined. The Spirit is who reveals this purpose to us. Yet, the body of Christ is very large, it is not like our own bodies. It is a spiritual body, which exist simultaneously in the physical and the spiritual realm. So we, being physically small, make up only a small part of the body of Christ, spiritually. In the relation to a a blister placed onto you, or is it formed from your very body? The skin was already there to be burnt. It is the outside source, the Holy Spirit, that convicts and burns the heart, that which was already there. So we can see that when we are blistered by the Spirit, we are brought to the revelation that we were already apart of the body of Christ long ago!
The Magnification of the Spirit
The next step in the Spirit's work is to then take the  telescopic viewpoint we had of Christ, and make it a magnified viewpoint. By taking the magnifying glass, the Lord reveals to us our specific place in Him. Before we only saw Him from a distance, now we see ourselves dwelling in Him, and He in us. What a change in perspective this is! This is what the Spirit reveals to those who are truly apart of His body. When looking through the telescopic lens, you then see yourself in Christ, which in turn means the Father sees Christ in you. Thus, now instead of seeing Christ Himself from afar off, you are now recognizably apart of that very body, allowing for a closer examination and more intimacy with God. 
What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? (Job 7:18-19)
What is this great mystery? Certainly man is blessed amongst all created things! But it is not enough to simply look unto Christ, and see Him as being God though. The Holy Spirit, speaking through James is clear on this matter:
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19, KJV)
What then is the remedy for this predicament mankind finds himself in? The demons see Jesus, and know His standing in the universe. We, as believers, also see this same position that Christ has taken. Where is the difference between mankind and the fallen ones (demons)? Through the crucifixion of the flesh, we are made new by the Spirit. The demons have no flesh to be crucified, they are spiritual beings in themselves, therefore, they have no opportunity to be renewed. They have made an eternal choice. We have been gifted with the choice to die with Christ, or to live with Satan. To die with Christ means to live eternally; to live with Satan means to die forever. So therefore, the demons are only allowed a viewpoint of Christ from a distance. We are afforded the blessing, through His death and resurrection, to become apart of Christ Himself! (Someday I will post on the possible origin of Demons, but that will be for another day).  Once we see ourselves in Him, we will then say with Job, "What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him?" Yet, the Lord does magnify those who are found in His Son. What a humbling thought this is, to have our purpose revealed to us, not as strangers, but as intimate Sons and Daughters of the Most High God. 
There are many implications that follow this revelation and I wish to dwell on a few of them for a moment.

Magnified to Burn
When the Lord magnifies us in His body through His spirit, we are then brought to a viewpoint which allows us to know ourselves better in Him. We see this by the Spirit, our place in the Body that is, but we are then led towards the burning aspect of the blister. When we discover our designated place on the body, the Holy Spirit than burns us with the light and life of He who saved us, Jesus Christ. This relates to the "reality of perception" and the "paradox of the light" spoken of in the previous post. One is brought to a place where they dwell completely in the light and glory of God, and we are then burnt with conviction, by the concentration of that glory through the magnification lens of the Spirit of God. In a way, we found ourselves to be "in the right place, at the right time".  But that would imply that we did something on our part...this is not true. We did nothing. He did everything. It is He, by His Spirit, who reveals all, and accomplishes all. He shows us our sin; then He uncovers the mystery of our position in the body of Christ by the death, burial and resurrection of our God; and then He convicts us to be baptized in order to take our position in that very body. Only through baptism can we be functional in the body of Christ. For we are born into that body, spiritually speaking. Only through conviction can we be lead to baptism though. Again, the conviction of the Holy Spirit is what leads to the blistering of the flesh, and the blistering of the flesh is what leads to the breaking of the old skin, and the manifestation of the new skin (the spirit) on the outside, all which is accomplished through baptism. I post the entire 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians so that we can measure all this with the Word of God. 
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:1-31, KJV)
An Active Member
Now we truly discover the truth about what a true Christian is. It is not just recognizing your position in Christ, but recognizing and becoming an active member of the body itself. 
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:20-26, KJV)
What else does a blister do, but irritate, and in more ways than one, simply cause distraction and discomfort for the entire body? As Paul, by the Spirit said, one part of the body effects the entire body itself.  If there is a blister on your finger, will you not use caution when using your entire hand, so as to not hurt the blister? 
Let us apply this to the body of Christ on two levels. First, we must be careful not to harm new believers. Those yet to be born must be cared for in different sense in comparison to a baby who must be nurtured. A baby must literally be nurtured and raised from its birth (and that happens after baptism, or the breaking of the blister). One who has simply been convicted, but has not been baptized, is like a baby still in the womb. We must be careful to not harm that baby. These are delicate fetus's we are dealing with. Knowing that the new believers are to be born, we must be sure that we do not cause a miscarriage. Moreover, we must be sure that we do not abort any of these unborn babies, for the warning is stern for those who cause them to fall away from the Lord. He states this concerning them:

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6, NIV)
Secondly, we must say this concerning those unborn babies, or those unbroken blisters: you were meant to be born; you were meant to be broken. There is no doubt that the sinful flesh is cause for irritation, which is why all those who are a burden to the body of Christ, by still dwelling in the flesh, must throw off the armor of darkness, and put on the armor of light in its stead. By staying in the womb, and not being born into the body, you will become a still-born baby, instead of a new-born baby. If you are on the cusp of being baptized, or you feel that you are being convicted to commit your life to Jesus Christ, I urge you to commit your life now, this very moment. Time is to short. The body must be ready for combat! Do not hinder the body any longer. Be born. Be saved! 
More to come in the next post, God willing!
Blessings in Christ Jesus

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