Baptism by Fire Part 2

 By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

We have seen in our previous meditation upon baptism of the Holy Spirit and by fire that conversion, new birth, is a patient and protracted process as we saw in the study of the Apostles and specifically of Peter. Those disciples that received Jesus commenced a path.

John1: 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

These disciples went through a process of conversion. The word conversion is often interfaced with the word new birth. The idea that conversion is a once in a lifetime experience has been falsely communicated. It is not a once in a lifetime experience. New birth conversion commences at a certain point in a person’s experience and then it unfolds into greater dimensions. It is a conception, as a baby is conceived, a period of development within the womb; a time of birth and a time of further growth.

None are living Christians unless they have a daily experience in the things of God and daily practice self-denial, cheerfully bearing the cross and following Christ. Every living Christian will advance daily in the divine life. As he advances toward perfection, he experiences a conversion to God every day; and this conversion is not completed until he attains to perfection of Christian character, a full preparation for the finishing touch of immortality. {2T 505.1}

The understanding that original Adventists had on this is chronicled in their testimony of principles of their faith in the 1870’s where they expressed what new birth was. New birth was an initial conversion to the truth and the submission to it would produce a new heart. Then it continues until the body is changed and we enter into the glory of eternal life. There it is completed. Even the physical change is a new birth. This was their understanding, and it is sadly muddied in the mind of many people because of the confusing messages that have come through the false doctrines today.

The disciples were baptised by John’s baptism and they travelled along the process of this conversion. They were converted, they turned away from their past life and they were even disassociated from the church of the day because they decided to follow Jesus. Peter said he would never deny his Lord. This is the same reference as in Matthew but a different person is giving the report.

Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Here was a person who had already been baptised, a person who had already made a decision to follow Jesus, but Jesus said to him Satan wants to sift you, you are going to go through some more horrible experiences. Peter found this impossible to accept, but Jesus said I have prayed for you that your faith fail not. There needed to be another conversion. As the disciples went on, greater dimensions of conversion would take place.

To be born again, to be converted, to become sons of God, was a necessary process in their lives as it is in ours. This was revealed to Nicodemus.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Did you notice what Jesus said there? Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Water baptism is one thing. It is a symbol that testifies to something. It must testify of the truth that a person is born of the Spirit as well and that he continues to be under the dictates of the Spirit of God.

John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. These disciples were to be born not of the flesh, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. This is very important language here. We want to understand the living experience of this. To be born of the Spirit and of fire, not of the flesh.

We all know what it means to be born of the flesh; we have all been born that way.

What Is The Flesh?

We often think that the flesh is just fleshy material. This is precisely what the sad expression has been to me of different people who believed certain things. They said the flesh can’t do anything, the flesh is just flesh. But Apostle Paul makes it very plain that the flesh can do all sorts of things without necessarily thinking that it’s some sort of spirit. He identifies what the will of the flesh is, and what the flesh encompasses.

Philippians 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

There are a lot of people that do not know that to be born of the tribe of the commonwealth of Israel, of the stock of Israel is actually a genetic formulation. Through your genetic makeup you receive inherited, in the flesh, drives of action. It is only now over the last decade that it is understood that the genomes in the chromosomes are actually productive of human practices. They speak of the alcoholic gene, that you can have a predisposition in your flesh to be an alcoholic because your parents were. My grandfather was an outright alcoholic, he died of alcoholism. My father displayed those kind of items although he never drank, and I know the suffering in my flesh of that. But there are all the other inheritances and you can see it in your children. You can see your own responses played out by your own children. What you were like you can recognise in your children. It’s the flesh.

Apostle Paul said according to the flesh I can be very proud to the point of spiritual pride, to the point of as touching the law, a Pharisee; a righteousness which judged by the letter of the law, blameless. That’s the flesh.

There are many who make a profession of Christianity who will have to be born again, or they cannot see the kingdom of heaven. {BEcho, June 15, 1892 par. 3}

I was born into the Seventh-day Adventist background, I am only the second generation, but there are many who can pride themselves of being Adventists third and fourth generation, wow, like the apostle Paul. That’s the flesh. They need to be born again, not of the will of the flesh but of the Spirit of God. When Apostle Paul woke up out of that flesh he says:

Philippians3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Can you pick up the baptism of fire? Apostle Paul wanted to know the experience of the baptism that Christ is baptised with to know the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; so that he may know the power of His resurrection, which baptism symbolises. We must be born of the Spirit, we must be born and baptised by the Spirit and by fire. Remember what we read in our scripture reading:

Jeremiah 23:29 [Is] not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer [that] breaketh the rock in pieces?

What is that in all reality?

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

That includes the glory of spiritual pre-eminence as Apostle Paul expressed; it’s the flesh, it glows, it looks beautiful like a flower but then it can wither just like that.

Born of the Word

We are to be born of the Spirit and of fire, which is born of the Word, because the Word is as a fire and is inspired by God.

James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

His will was to give us the Word.

James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

What are you to do? We are to be born of fire which is the Word. We are to be born of the Word which is the work of the Holy Spirit. As we take this, it burns itself into our being exactly like an infusion. Today they actually speak of this. In genetic engineering they are able to do what they call, weld a gene into a chromosome. They call it welding. God’s word can do that, it can come into your mind, into your heart and it can burn and create another ingredient within you. We are to be born of the Word.

2 Peter 1: 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.

You and I need to take the Word, we need to digest it. If you don’t spend time reading and meditating on the Word that is relevant to your experience and make it your own, it will not be engrafted. Are you waiting for something to happen to change your life? Are you waiting for some power, some magic? It doesn’t happen. We are to be born of the Spirit and of fire which is the power of the Word. There is power light and life in the Word; God’s light. He can speak to the watery globe and say “Let there be light” and it happens. He can speak and say to that water, “Let there be dry land” and it happens. People who do not believe in the creative power of God can never be born again.

We must believe that God’s Word is necessary for us to be born again. We must receive it and we must not argue with it, because while we are arguing with it, the will of man is at work tossing around whether he will accept something or not. We are to born not of the will of man, we are to be born of the Word. We are to let the Word take control of me. Then we will be saved.

When you receive the Word, you receive Jesus.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

That is something to think about. To receive the Word means to receive Jesus just as the apostles received Him. Through your observation of the experience of the disciples, you can see the engrafting that took place in their life through Jesus. The truth was being engrafted by an experience with Him. As they walked with Him, it first of all seeded into their understanding that they had much confusion. He breathed into them, He gave them examples, He spoke with them, He led them on. The seed was put into their hearts and it began to conceive and to grow. This Word, this fire engrafts into the electro-chemical spark of our being which is slightly different to a tree that has something grafted in. This has to do with fire, the fire of the experience of the Word that smashes to pieces and welds new life. This needs to be engrafted into our hearts.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

What is our natural heart? It is darkness. God who can bring light out of darkness can shine in our dark hearts and [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 

Doesn’t this explode in your mind as you think and meditate upon that? This Word, this power, the will of God that commands, shines into our heart by the living representation of the Word that was made flesh. As I gaze upon it, it is received into an earthen vessel.

When God created this earthen vessel He created it from mud and chemicals. The dust of the earth was mixed with water and formed the body and then He breathed into that and it became an electro-chemical soup. You are made of over 70% water and the rest is minerals which are electrically charged. This is the earthen vessel.

Inside our body there is continual fire. The fire of the Word comes and brings light, an appreciation into this crass condition of sin that has taken place after God created it. Now in this earthen vessel there is something going on; we are to be baptised by fire and by the Holy Spirit.

A Life and Death Struggle

This earthen vessel is infused, sparked by the Spirit, by the Word which is a fire. There commences a death struggle. The flesh has ruled me all my life. Now inside this earthen vessel there is a foreign matter that has arrived in the vessel. Sin has been the pleasure and life energy of my life. I am motivated by ego. Now there comes this other ingredient, not the will of the flesh, the ego, but the will of God.

Do you like somebody else getting under your skin? You better get used to it brethren and sisters, the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within and to govern all those emotions and reactions, all those natural impulses. He wants to baptise us by fire. It’s a death struggle because the earthen vessel doesn’t like this. It hurts because the flesh has ruled me all my life.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

That’s the death struggle. The flesh does not want to submit to the will of the Spirit. There is the will of the flesh and there is the will of the Spirit, they are contrary one to the other. This is going on in this earthen vessel.

What are the works of the flesh?

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

You know what it’s like, you know how it functions within the system. You don’t have to think, it can be triggered just like that.

Galatians 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

What is the same as witchcraft? Stubbornness.

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry.

Are you stubborn by nature? That’s the flesh. Variance: Mary, Mary quite contrary. Are you always at variance with what’s expected of you? My flesh doesn’t want to submit itself, it wants to have its own way. Have you ever had problems with your children? Children, when Mum and Dad tell you to do something and you want to do something different, that’s the flesh pulsating through you.

Emulations: Do you like contest, wanting to win, wanting to get better, to fight so that I am better than someone else? How many times has that happened in the church? That’s the flesh.

Who loves an argument? You are ready to fight for your opinion. When you sit in a committee meeting or in a place that cuts right across your flesh, how do your react? These are all the flesh.

Galatians 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

This is the will of the flesh, we must be born again. What is contrary to that? When you are born of the Spirit, the Spirit fights against that.

What are the works of the Spirit?

Galatians5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Here is this contradictory infusion of these kind of things with a flesh that is impulsively opposite. That which happens when Apostle Paul described vividly when he first discovered the inflowing of God into his life, something happened to him when the real thing came.

Romans 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

He is talking about the law as it is in Jesus, not the law of his Pharisaeism. When the commandment came the flesh reacted.

Romans 7:10 And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me].

Can you imagine what he is saying here? Sin was in the flesh. Here is a death struggle. Life was not joyful any more inside of him until he learned what he needed to do as he opened his heart to Jesus.

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

I am flesh (carnal).

Romans 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 

In Galatians he said;

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, 

So you cannot do as you would. I want to do the good and I can’t, and my flesh wants to do the bad, what is going on? This is the living experience brethren and sisters that we need to understand.

Romans 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [it is] good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

In my earthen vessel.

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.

Isn’t it wonderful how he explains it all here? In my earthen vessel dwelleth no good thing. Sin is there.

Romans 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

What is that law? A law called the law of heredity. I find a law within my flesh which my spiritual mind contradicts.

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

He is talking about the inward man that has been converted, that has found his way to the Lord. The conflict has commenced. The Word of God, the fire of God has baptised him. I

Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

The law in my members is the law of heredity, the flesh. If people would just accept the reality of true science that the Apostle Paul is talking about here. You saw it there in Galatians; one kind of characteristic against another. That is the conflict.

Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

He could see something. The blind man was illuminated. As a Pharisee he was a great Pharisee, he was a great Seventh-day Adventist in today’s mentality. Now he sees himself as he should see himself; wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked and not knowing it – Laodicean.

In the flesh there is a power that is my natural man and that natural man must be dealt with by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire.

1 Corinthians 2: 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

This is the internal struggle. Brethren and sisters, please open your heart and mind to this. As you open your mind to this reality and you can feel these struggles going on inside of you, don’t become discouraged because this is the truth that when Jesus is received into the heart this will be your internal experience. By accepting that, you will be able to understand the baptism that Jesus is baptised with and that I am baptised with when I receive Him. As I grasp this reality the living element of it all becomes vividly clear to me.

1 Corinthians 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

What was the answer?

The Victory

Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

This struggle is answered. It has happened because I have received Jesus and now through Jesus I will gain the victory.

Romans 8:10 And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.

You still have a body, you still have an earthen vessel, it still has hereditary traits. It is dead because of sin but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Although there is this deadly ingredient of my flesh there, through Jesus Christ, He (the Holy Spirit) can bring a fire into that human body that will make us spiritually responsive. It will burn the flesh.

Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Remember what the deeds were. Galatians chapter 5. You mortify them by the Spirit.

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

They are born of God. They receive power to become sons of God, if we are led by the Spirit.

Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

We are sons of God.

Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

How that burns in my heart with rejoicing as we embrace these answers. Now with the Spirit alive within, in these earthen vessels, dealing with the flesh, doing all these things, what am I doing with the flesh? I hear people say I did such and such, but that was the flesh. The flesh got the better of me the other day. I hear people say that. Sorry, it is not an excuse. The Spirit of Jesus that dwells in us can give us the victory over that flesh. If my flesh gets the better of me I must come to the Lord with brokenness of heart and don’t do it again, because the Lord will give you the victory if you exercise yourself.

Thank God for the light. Thank God for the answers to our needs. If we are not practising this, we are floundering around in a confusion which we can only blame ourselves for. Here is the explanation: What must I do with the flesh?

1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

Self dies daily. How many self-manifestations will be dealt with here? I want to go further into this study to get to know the selfisms within us. Here is the answer that we are to practice to start with. That self, that flesh, must be mortified, it must die daily. That is why I read in the beginning that if we are living Christians we will be converted every day. Every day we are being baptised. That is what Jesus said “I am being baptised.” Jesus was constantly baptised in this experience, that was His baptism.

Luke 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 23 And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall loose it: but whosoever will loose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

How many times? Daily. If Jesus would have had self-functioning within Him, how would He have dealt there? He could have defied everything. He could have justifiably said, “You’re all a lot of crooks”. He could have argued like they do in Parliament to defend Himself. He could have railed against every attack upon Himself. What do you naturally do, brethren and sisters, the moment that something is coming across you and it’s not very nice we have an answer and we think it comes from God that we can defend ourselves. Sorry, that doesn’t come from God. Jesus describes it; He said nothing and He took whatever was given. That was the representation of the Father. Can you understand what we read in our scripture reading?

Jeremiah 23:9 23:29 [Is] not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD

To be baptised by the fire and the Spirit is to be baptised into Jesus Christ.

I want to conclude with a summary that leads me on to the next subject I want to share with you, the understanding of my inner self. I want to go into the detail with you of how to deal with that inner self and then I want to share with you that as you follow Jesus, you will be in danger of responding to the inner self many times, but we must not let it happen.

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Do you see what it is talking about, this knowledge?

2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

What God wants to do for us in this earthen vessel amounts to precious promises. Partaking of the divine nature is the birth. Now we have this beautiful ingredient.

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Now come to verse 8.

2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

Here the spectrum of new birth is described. Here is the spectrum of baptism by the Spirit and by fire.

Let us explore some more, but for now let us praise God that He has given us living clarity in His Word that we can touch, that we can handle as the disciples touched and handled Jesus Christ. Thank God for the privilege.

Amen.


Posted on April 27, 2012, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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