351 The Baptism of Love
In both Old and New Testaments we have many pictorial images which help us to understand, and enable us to better see the light that illuminates our path as believers. Today I want to paint a picture – and at its centre, the word LOVE. Today’s message in this Advent season of Light, is entitled The Baptism of Love and I want you to imagine if you will a Liquid Love – an oil like love that flows to you and over you from God. It is if you like another image of the “Anointing” of God that we see to Prophets Priests and Kings in the Old Testament, and to every believer in the New Testament called and equipped for Service. You see, God does not only anoint the Preacher to preach the Gospel, or to Teach the Truth, God anoints the Parents to care for their Children, the Nurse to attend the sick and the Doctor to prescribe the right medication, the teacher to control the classroom … and so on. In fact Gods anointing is for all kinds of regular activities – God has a position and a power available to all who will search and seek for it. Jesus reading from Isaiah 61, and actually fulfilling that prophesy said: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because – He has anointed me to Preach” God anointing is because of something. God will not anoint you if you are not going to fulfil a purpose – Gods anointing is for a purpose.
Can I ask you, – “what purpose are you fulfilling? What do people get when they get you? – and what would people loose if you walked away?” Have you discovered your place and your part in God?
This Liquid Love (as I’m calling it) is a truly Tangible impartation from the Lord for His purpose of bringing Heaven to earth in your life and mine. It’s a Supernatural Love birthed out of our relationship with Jesus, and without that relationship we function without it. Human love is possible for all, but Divine Love, (the love that goes beyond the natural affection)
is impossible without God. Jesus said in John 13:34
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” and he added in v35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Unless we are walking in Love towards each other, towards all and sundry, the likeable and the unlike-able, the lovable and the unlovable – having no hang-ups about any, then we are not walking in this Baptism of Love. The word Baptism in its New Testament context and in this regard is indicative of Death. It is an outward testimony that we have died to an old way of life and risen to a new way of living.
Jesus was Baptised by John in the Jordan River, long before he died physically on the Cross at Calvary. Yet his baptism was a pictorial testimony that He had already died to self. His Baptism signified and signalled that he had accepted the Fathers will over his own will. You remember in the Garden when he prayed Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:42 He accepted the fathers way, over the easy way!
The tragedy in the Church today is that while many are baptised they are not yet dead to self? They may be baptised but they are still jealous, they may be baptised but still bitter, baptised but still angry, baptised but still proud, baptised but still contentious, baptised but still loveless. Much of Church life is plagued by contentious bickering and strife which always has its roots in pride. Proverbs 13:10. When Pride is present the focus is never on the issue but on the individual. I counsel you today to Stop fighting the individual, and if you must, then fight the issues. Are you baptised but still alive to the old ways? In order for the Life of Christ to manifest to show up and show out in our lives we must experience a Death to self-centredness. I will speak next week God willing, about the Light and Life that is bound up inside of us, suffice to say here that the Heart is Connected to the Source of our Life.
I am not speaking now of the physical heart that pumps blood around the body, although that does give life… for as the Scientific & Medical experts have at long last admitted – life is more connected to the Spirit than to the body. The heart may stop, but the life need not necessarily end, – but take away, remove the Spirit and there is no more life. Not that it is possible for any man or surgeon to remove the Spirit of a man, that is entirely in Gods domain. So at your heart, at the core and centre of your being, exists your human spirit. Dead in trespasses and sin, (you were born that way) but waiting to be vitalized, (Romans 8:11) brought to life by the Holy Spirit once you receive and accept Jesus as your sin-bearer and Saviour.
At that moment, a transformation takes place. A Transformation which is both Instant and Progressive.
Transformation is the Missing Ingredient in much of today’s Preaching – but unless we allow, permit the Holy Spirit to transform us, we will remain (as I often say) stuck at the Cross where we were saved. We will never come in to all the glories and all the good that God has for us. Remember that the Children of Israel wandered for 40 years through a wilderness, going round and round in circles, when they were only about a weeks journey away from the Land of Promise.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:1-2
(1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
(2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. And he adds in 2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
This transformation of which Paul speaks is all about being changed from a present Glory to a future Glory – yet bearing all the time a continuous, conspicuous and contagious glory. If you like, we are in Transit to Christlikeness. In short, God wants us to become like Jesus … and for the purpose of today’s focus, to love like Jesus did.
Is there anyone who did not receive unquestioning love from him? Even Peter who denied him, even Judas who betrayed him, found him at all times loving. Remember that the night before he died, he got down on the floor and washed their feet, and in doing so, he washed Judas’s feet also. That’s Love! We are not called to like all, but we are called to love all. Like one irate wife said to her husband, “I don’t have to like you – I love you”! Can you honestly before God at this moment in your life, say that you are in possession of this kind of love – does His love flow to you and through you to those around you?
As I said a moment ago, the kind of love of which I am speaking is virtually impossible. No human being, however pious, can achieve this kind of excellence in love. It is only possible as part of a God given exchange. The Bible speaks of the heart as being the dwelling place of God, in a very real sense God is desirous of the seat of your affections. While He has undoubtedly a Throne in Heaven, He also desires to be enthroned on the seat of your heart. Put God in his rightful and dutiful place there, and every kind of wonderful thing can happen. Authority works through exchange. You can enter into an exchange with Him, where you give him your grief’s for his glory, your turmoil for his peace, your bitterness for his love – give to him your sorrows for his joy, your weeping for his laughter and your weaknesses for his strength.
Recent medical studies have proved beyond doubt that Sickness, Oppression, Diseases and the like are all connected to the hearts insecurities. Unforgivingness, selfishness, bitterness, pride (even holy pride or righteous indignation) have connections to the heart – and when the heart is not right – nothing will be right. When I pray with the sick, I must always enquire about how they reckon the condition of their hearts. God cannot operate where sin rules on the seat of the heart. We must perform the exchange. Only when we yield – give up and give in to Him – will our deliverance come. The apostle Paul could say “I die daily” to the self life. (1 Cor 15:31) Those who empower themselves, deplete the Church. Its not about me, its about Jesus.
Let me tell you what I believe happens when we fail to yield the heart to the Lordship of our Saviour and our God. In a word –
Stagnation! Some argue that Fear is the greatest enemy of Faith – but in recent times I have come to the conclusion that there is an even greater enemy on the loose. That enemy is Familiarity. The vast majority of believers hold tightly to the familiar and fear the unknown. Stepping out of the safety and familiarity of the boat into the unknown dangers of the waters is a step too far for most!
If that’s you, then I can only pray that God will have mercy on your unbelief and infidelity. If you see yourself as a man or woman of faith, – then ask yourself “how have I exercised faith today?” “For without Faith – it is impossible to please God” Instead – you are living a life displeasing to the Lord and He has been replaced on the seat of your heart. Your affections are not for him, but for your own self – you are in fear of blind faith and its consequences to you, your name, your reputation, your social status, your financial security, or your family pride. You have not yet made him Lord – and many will say unto him in that day “Lord Lord “ and he will say “I don’t know you.”
Matt v7:23 Imagine the Church Leaders, the Church Elders, the Church Choristers, the Church Organists, the Church members who must hear those fearful tearful words
“depart from me – I don’t know you” It was all a game,
– but the game is up! And if the righteous scarcely are saved -where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
Religion teaches us that we can become back-sliders – but most fail to realize that if you are standing still you are going back.
A believer who is not transforming from Grace to Grace and Glory to Glory is still, motionless, and thus going back when they ought to be going forward. Old ways and old habits resurface – the Flesh life (the Self life) reigns, and the heart hardens. When the Heart hardens against the word, (the revelation of the word and the impartation of the word) then Unbelief sets in. Sin and Disobedience to the word and ways of God begin to control. Remember as I’ve said, the Heart seat is likened in Scripture to the Throne. The Hard Heart does not realize who is in the driving seat nor the dryness of spiritual appetite and the lack of spiritual fire. Stagnation sets in when Revelation ceases to flow. The waters fail and the pond becomes stagnant. I’ve seen it in congregations a hundred
times over and it breaks my heart.
So what must we do? There are THREE things that Birth Transformation – and all of these represent the progressive work of the Holy Spirit when Jesus is Lord.
No 1 – Spiritual dissatisfaction & frustration
No 2 – A hunger for more of God
No 3 -When you see God as your only resource
First of all, when a man or woman is dissatisfied and frustrated with their level of intimacy with God, its like being built for 80mph and forced to keep at 30mph. You can identify with greatness, with excellence, with favour, with change and with expectation. Your vision is far above your ability, your dreams far outweigh your realities – and your prayers far exceed your needs. You begin to think globally instead of locally, you begin to see the world from heavens perspectives and to build faith for the impossible.
You recognise that it is Time for Change. Others may be sitting in the boat, but you desire to walk on the water – its not that you have forgotten your background or where you came from , – its just that you cannot stay there any more. Like the young eaglet, its time to fly, and although you feel the frustration of not yet being able to rise out of the nest – you know that you know
that you know, that the clouds are your destiny.
Secondly, your desires are for MORE of God. You hunger for more; – You have tasted a little of the upper levels and higher dimensions of faith, and you know that there is more. Prayer becomes a way of life – you don’t think of Prayer as some kind of duty, rather it becomes a way of living – without which you could not or should not move forward. You have experienced what “waiting on God” is all about. You forego sleep for nights of prayer, you forego food for days of prayer. You must have more of God.
Thirdly, you have come to the realization that God alone is your only source and resource. You are not ungrateful or unmindful of those who have helped both in the past and in the present, but you recognise that it is not possible for any man or woman, any church or charity – to be your source – only God can provide for you, both now and into the future. You are conscious of a testing and strengthening of your confidence to prove him in any number of ways and are seeing the supernatural open up before you in the miraculous moves of God in your favour and anointing. Doors that were locked are being opened, walls that were built against you are coming down, and the things that were taken or stolen by the enemy are being restored and given back.
THIS IS WHAT WE KNOW AS TRANSFORMATION
Transformed from what – to what you may ask? The Answer – From Glory to Glory – why? That we might become exactly like Jesus, as the apostle John says: “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world“.
1 John 4:17
This is the Perfecting of the Baptism of Love. The understanding that as he is (not as he was) but as he is NOW,
(in his glory) so are we in this world. NOW (in his glory)
Not one time – But both Instant & Progressive. We are called to carry that Glory on earth as he did, and the best way, the only way I know how to do it, is to walk every single day in LOVE!
Let his love flow to you and over you like a Holy Oil – a liquid love. Without it, you can have no impact on this wicked world. Believe me. Sin – original sin, left us all falling short of his glory, short changed of the life God desired and designed for us. Thank God that in Jesus, that Glory was bought back for us and paid for us on the Cross at Calvary.
Carrying the Love of Jesus means also carrying the Presence of God. Jesus could say “if you have seen me – you have seen my Father” John 14:9 When we walk in Love we walk in the presence and power of God. One thing that the Lord taught me in the early days when I was studying the whole ministry of healing, was that without LOVE, there could be no miracles.
If you don’t love the people you cannot feel the hurt of the people and you cannot feel the heart of God for the people – since Gods heart is a heart of Love.
The apostle Paul writing to the Ephesian Church encourages them to walk in love – and reminds them that to do so, involves and implies a measure of sacrifice. He says:
Eph 5: v2 “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour“… and I’ve taught you before that when Mary broke the jar of precious ointment over the feet of Jesus, it was the fragrance of her love that filled the house, as well as the fragrance of the perfume. In conclusion, we must see that anything short of Love stinks in Gods nostrils.
NOW THIS FINAL WORD.
Perhaps the most significant passages in all of the Bible written with Love at its heart, is one that the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 – what we call – the Love Chapter. Where Paul reminds us that “though we speak with the tongues of men or angels, though we have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though we have all faith, so that we could remove mountains, And though we bestow all our goods to feed the poor, and though we lay down our lives, WITHOUT LOVE it profits nothing.” There is no gain in a life lived without love.
When Jesus gave us the new commandment to “love one another as he has loved us” He knew that without his help it could not be done. Even for those who had denied him and betrayed him, as well as those who flogged him and nailed him to the cross he was still willing to go to it and through it, even for them.
That’s Love! Do you love like that, a love that has gone so deep it could not go deeper? Today, exchange your life for his life, and your love for his love.
God Bless You …. Amen