Reasoning the Rest

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit: the Power of the Victory

This month, we’re reflecting on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Read along with this series here

The Power of the Victory

We are born with complex and demanding desires. As we grow beyond infancy, our desires grow rapidly beyond physical needs and move into the realm of the sinful desires of the flesh. We begin to want more than we need. We begin to want what we forgot we already had. We begin to want what we don’t need. We even begin to want the things we know will harm us.

Sin has devastating power when allowed to mingle with our human desires. As we grow, these irrational and illogical desires grow too. Although we read that God is enough and that he supplies our every need, we easily become dissatisfied with his provision and turn to the world for what we “need.” The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not simply a return to our Creator. It is a return to who we were at the time of that creation. At that time, all we knew was our Father; all we knew was how much he gave us. The baptism of the Holy Spirit does not simply illuminate the satisfaction in Church fellowship, Bible reading or positivity toward the world. We become deeply satisfied with God. The baptism of the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the deception of worldly satisfaction and gratification. Where in the past our desires were for our relationships, jobs or money, the baptism of the Holy Spirit reveals the truth: that sin has deceived us into believing that we truly need those things when in fact we were never designed to have any of them. Originally, we were designed to have God and God alone.

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit through baptism, we are reintroduced to that original design.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”
Psalm 62:5-12

Upon being baptized by the Holy Spirit, all else fades in the presence of the Creator God who knows our name, has called us, has saved us, and continues to bless us. While we can still find joy in our jobs or relationships, they simply further illuminate the love we have for God. We love our job because in it we can share the Gospel or glorify him in our responsibilities. We love our relationships because in them we can grow to be more like him and see the deeper love he possesses toward us. God is and has always been at the center of why we are here and why we are the way we are.

Although sin has marked our worldly image, through Jesus Christ we are allowed to return to the image before sin ever corrupted what was originally holy. The baptism of the Holy Spirit allows for that return and releases the life that follows. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is necessary to truly know God as we were created to. Without it a Christian life is tragically incomplete.

The Virgin Birth: Crucifixion and Resurrection

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. 

(source)

Support for belief in the Virgin Birth can be traced backwards through five important events in the history of the Christian Faith:

  1. The Ascension
  2. The Resurrection/The Crucifixion
  3. The Gospel
  4. The Virgin Birth

This week, let’s consider how the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus support our faith in the Virgin Birth.

The Crucifixion and the Resurrection provide similar ideas and thus will be discussed together. Just as the previous post referenced the discussion of the Virgin Birth as being less important than the discussion of Christianity in general, the same point applies to the Resurrection and Crucifixion. While Jesus never personally wrote anything down, and while we do not have physical proof of his body or a tomb, his name has come down to us as arguably the most important in human history. Debates about Jesus are typically over whether or not he was divine, or thought of himself as divine, or if his followers applied those attributes to his name only after his death. However, historians and scholars alike agree that there was, in fact, a man named Jesus Christ, who lived in Israel at the time that the Gospels place him there and that this man was crucified.

Just as the discussion of the virgin birth leads one to belief in the Ascension, the same applies to the discussion of the Ascension leading one to belief in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In order for there to be Ascension, there must be a place from which to ascend. As history brings Jesus to us a real man who was crucified under Roman governor Pontius Pilate, this man named Jesus must have died under this punishment, and that death should have ended his followers’ allegiance. With crucifixion a death reserved to torture and execute the worst of criminals, the followers of Jesus must have been, and were, as stated in the Gospel of Luke, in utter grief and confusion at the time of his death on the cross.

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
Luke 24:13-24

The fact that grief of these disciples became devotion, worship, and belief gives us a story of a man that was completely man enough to die but likewise God in his power to rise and ascend in victory. At this point, as we trace the story of Jesus backwards from the Ascension, we are left with the man of Jesus: clearly in this world, but not from this world.

Reflection: The Virgin Birth and the Ascension

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. 

Support for my belief in the virgin birth can be traced backwards through five important events in the history of the Christian Faith:

  1. The Ascension
  2. The Resurrection/The Crucifixion
  3. The Gospel
  4. The Virgin Birth

This week, let’s consider how the Ascension supports and fulfills our faith in the Virgin Birth.

Debate about the origins of Christianity and its various doctrines often dominate, and at times tend to hijack, opportunities to share and witness the Good News to believers and non-believers alike. While debate often arises over certain topics like the Virgin Birth, in some ways this becomes the classic example of putting the cart before the horse. Instead of arguing or debating the historicity of the virgin birth, we should be asking a much more important question: “Why are we discussing Christianity in the first place?” The mere fact that Christianity is being discussed is a much more important topic for discussion and inquiry.

The only reasonable explanation for the emergence and survival of the Christian faith is that a man named Jesus Christ actually lived, died, was buried, resurrected and then ultimately ascended into heaven, out of the sight and reach of his believers, only to then bless them with the power necessary to teach and physically heal the world through the power of his name. The mere fact that the Christian faith has survived persecution, outlasted empires, emperors, tyrants and wars is an almost unbelievable historical fact. The fact that men and women throughout history have affected the world the way they have, in the name of Jesus Christ, is evidence that they were touched, healed and gifted with extraordinary abilities that are inexplicable even to the persons who received them except by the one Name: Jesus. The fact that there is a debate about the virgin birth is proof that Christianity is a faith worth discussing.  Jesus did not live and die an old, wise man in the arms of his faithful followers, but, after a violent death, he resurrected and ascended as he promised, and is currently seated at the right hand of the Father.

Reflection: The Consistency of the Promise

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re discussing how we can trust the Bible as the inspired Word of God. 

The Christian belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God is rooted in four aspects of the Bible.

  1. The Consistency of the Message
  2. The Consistency of the Effect
  3. The Consistency of the Power
  4. The Consistency of the Promise

This week, let’s look at how the promises of God help us trust the Bible as God’s Word.

Our limitations were explained in last week’s reflection, however, one more aspect of our inability to “know” is worth noting. Although our passions and dreams encourage us to do and know more, the reality of our humanness is that more often than not we can’t do more, and we have no ideas or inspirations. The suggestion to know the outcome of a particular situation premature of its conclusion is foolish, given our limitation of foresight and foreknowledge. Thus, we are reduced to making educated guesses and assumptions— nothing of weight in regards to truth or certainty.

Once again, the Bible sets itself apart as a collection of promises, made during times where not nearly enough fact or information is present to support them, consistently fulfilled. There is something uniquely powerful, and also terrifying, about how much God professes to know in the Bible. There is a casual confidence that emerges from the pages of the Bible as God reflects on his plan and the way in which he has, is, or is planning to carry it out, regardless of the will or abilities of man. The casual and almost hypnotic redundancy and consistency of God’s plans and methods throughout the Bible is at a casual glance unimpressive and some might say tired and unimaginative. However, once one understands that this Word is not telling a fictitious story but is telling the history of real people, real places and is still in effect in our present age, one is suddenly and violently thrust from a view of the Word as boring or predictable to an understanding that God has known all along what he was going to do, what he had to do and what he intends to finish.

Reflection: The Consistency of the Power

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re discussing how we can trust the Bible as the inspired Word of God. 

The Christian belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God is rooted in four aspects of the Bible.

  1. The Consistency of the Message
  2. The Consistency of the Effect
  3. The Consistency of the Power
  4. The Consistency of the Promise

This week, let’s look at how the power of the Gospel helps us trust the Bible as God’s Word.

Humans have an innate desire for answers that corresponds with a desperate need to ask questions. Human history reveals that our accepted ideas about the world and its people vary drastically according to where and when we live. Depending on the culture we were brought up in, we develop certain expectations of ourselves as well as certain limitations. We all are raised aware that certain things are not possible and beyond our reach. The goals that evade us can be personal goals we strive to attain, but are limited by our natural and limited physical or mental ability. Or perhaps these goals could pertain to certain physical or mental obstacles that seem impossible to overcome or change, such as a physical or mental handicap.

While medicine and therapy are limited in their power to change, the miraculous characteristic of the Word of God is its consistent ability to create change where no change was possible. The Word of God has always been able to make a way where we humans confidently proclaimed no way existed. The Word of God makes the blind see, the lame walk, and broken receive restoration. The explanation for this power is that it comes not from the mind of humans with limited knowledge of the problem, but that it comes from the creator himself. The very One who created paradise, witnessed the Fall, brought forth the redemption for the Fall and has never removed his hand from what he loves. We humans are blessed with enormous knowledge and ability. However, only God can know all problems of all people in all nations throughout history. Only God can know the precise way to bring about the needed change in all of these strangers, uniting them in a common mission to heal the world in the power of his name and with the power of His Word. While the human heart is deeply self-absorbed and boastful, to suggest that man, rather than God, is somehow orchestrating the healing power of the Gospel seen in our world since the 1st century would surpass our most exaggerated heights of self-worth.

Reflection: The Consistency of the Effect

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re discussing how we can trust the Bible as the inspired Word of God. 

The Christian belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God is rooted in four aspects of the Bible.

  1. The Consistency of the Message
  2. The Consistency of the Effect
  3. The Consistency of the Power
  4. The Consistency of the Promise

This week, let’s look at how the effect of the Bible on those who read it helps us trust the Bible as God’s Word.

We humans are complex beings. We evolve, adjust, grow and change with the passing of time. Our views on the world we live in are dependent on not only where we are raised but also when we are raised. Our views on ourselves have changed, developed and in some ways digressed, with the advancement and proliferation of sociological and psychological studies. Theories of human behavior have left our general understanding of who we are in a state of hyper-developed immaturity, still quite unaware of the truths for which we continually grasp. The Bible’s ability to not only clearly explain the ultimate truths we all seek, but also to offer solutions that apply to all people, of all nations, from all times, sets the Word of God apart from other books that simply venture theories and/or hypotheses on who we are, why we’re here and where we are ultimately going. There has always been, and forever will be, truth that affects all readers of the Bible one way or another. For the person seeking answers to problems, the Word of God reveals the root of not only our deepest desires but also the root of our deepest suffering. Additionally, for the person seeking to explore human origins and human existence, the Word of God presents truths that often offend us by telling us what we know deep down to be true and in many ways want to believe, but want desperately never to accept. Whether to repel in rejection or to attract by need and love, readers of the Bible are always marked by what they read.

Reflection: The Consistency of the Message

The Reflection Series for this month comes from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re discussing how we can trust the Bible as the inspired Word of God. 

The Christian belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God is rooted in four aspects of the Bible.

  1. The Consistency of the Message
  2. The Consistency of the Effect
  3. The Consistency of the Power
  4. The Consistency of the Promise

This week, let’s look at how a consistent message helps us trust the Bible as God’s Word.

For many people reading the Bible for the first time, one of the obstacles in understanding and enjoying the Word of God is its repetitiveness. The stories are cyclical, and the message remains the same throughout all 66 books of the Bible. The story arc holds steady; it doesn’t waver according to time, place, or person. The truth is believed and repeated, believed and repeated. The ability of the Word of God to seamlessly express the same truths to all people of all languages is unparalleled in literature, and impossible to replicate. The only explanation for such a seamless collection of truths conveyed by different individuals living in different time periods from different backgrounds is that the inspiration and work are of a Being outside of and completely independent of each individual writer, aware of the entire story and thus able to orchestrate words that link past to future, with writing occurring in the present. Man would never imagine such a radically ludicrous endeavor. Thus the impossible consistency of the God-inspired words of the Bible is one of its most powerful proofs.