Growing Up Spiritually

Growing Up Spiritually - Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - OUR BAPTISM INTO CHRIST 

In 1Corinthians 3 our Christian life and growth is compared to: 

(1) A BABY needing the MILK of the WORD to grow: 

“I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to BABES in Christ. I fed you with MILK and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?” (v1-4). 

(2) A PLANT needing the WATERING of the WORD to grow. 

“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I PLANTED, Apollos WATERED, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who PLANTS is anything, nor he who WATERS, but God who gives the increase (growth). Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s FIELD” (v5-9a). 

(3) A BUILDING (HOUSE) built using the WORD for BRICKS “You are God’s BUILDING. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master BUILDER I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he BUILDS on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone BUILDS on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has BUILT on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the TEMPLE of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the TEMPLE of God, God will destroy him. For the Temple of God is holy, which Temple you are (v9b-17)

In building a house it is essential to lay the right FOUNDATION - which Paul said he laid, “which is JESUS CHRIST” (v11). So the FOUNDATION that a Christian must build upon is the BASIC TEACHING OF JESUS CHRIST - who He is, who we are in Him, who He is to us and in us. 

Hebrews 5:12-6:2 agrees: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the FIRST PRINCIPLES of the oracles of God; and you have come to need MILK and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of MILK is unskilled in the Word of righteousness, for he is a BABE. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES (TEACHINGS) of Christ, let us go on to perfection (maturity), not laying again the FOUNDATION of (1) repentance from dead works and (2) of faith toward God, (3) of doctrine, (4) of baptisms, (5) of laying on of hands (6) of resurrection of the dead, and (7) of eternal judgment.”

They needed: “the first principles of the oracles of God” (5:12) This is also called the “MILK for BABES”“the elementary principles (teachings) of Christ”, which are also described as “the FOUNDATION” that must be laid for the building of our spiritual life. In other words the milk-teaching that babes need for growth, consist of the FOUNDATIONAL DOCTRINES OF CHRIST - the foundational revelations of truth that we must build the house of our life and character upon, in order for it to stand the test. This Foundation consists of ‘the 7 elementary teachings of CHRIST’ which are described in Hebrews 6:1,2. These are what a Christian house (life) must be built upon in order for it to become strong and mature.

The 4th of these teachings is the FOUNDATION of BAPTISMS, which we will now study in this Chapter.

There are 3 Foundational Baptisms at the start of the Christian life. In this Chapter, we look at the first 2 of these Baptisms:

(1) When receive Christ, the Holy-Spirit BAPTISES us INTO CHRIST and we become part of the Body of Christ, so it is also described as being baptised into the body of Christ: “By one Spirit we were all baptised into one body” (1Corinthians 12:13)

(2) BAPTISM INTO WATER is commanded on all believers to testify outwardly and publicly of their BAPTISM INTO CHRIST (which happened in our spirit). So we must be saved before being baptised, which is then our first step (act) of faith, a declaration of our new identity and life in Christ, a physical demonstration of what's already happened in our spirit.

BAPTISM means to DIP or IMMERSE like a garment dipped into die. It is to be IDENTIFIED, made ONE with,and thus to share the same life and quality. The result is permanent change. The New Birth was accomplished by the Spirit BAPTISING us into Christ, thus uniting us with him (identified with his past, present and future.) We were put into Him and His eternal life came into our spirit. The truth is WE ARE IN HIM and HE IS IN US (John 17:23,26). We are born of God with His New Life and Nature within.

Thus firstly the doctrine of Baptisms covers the key revelation of WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST by the New Birth. 

To grow spiritually we must know who we are in Christ and walk in that truth. Spiritual growth like natural growth is the outworking of who we are by our birth. We gradually discover the truth of who we are,and what we can do and then walk by these truths. Growing up involves growing in knowledge of our HISTORY, our ABILITIES, who WE ARE and living accordingly. Likewise our spiritual growth involves finding the truth of who we are by the New Birth and living that out.

Imagine having amnesia and forgetting who you are. Your identity is the same but it is locked up inside. You are not free to be who you are and vulnerable to believing lies about yourself. This is what it is like for a baby Christian who does not know who he really is in Christ. We live up to who we believe ourselves to be, so he is unable to fully express his true reborn nature. Satan comes and lies to him about who he is. 

But there is a Book that tells the truth about ourselves. We must study to find out who we are in order to grow into the person we should be, otherwise we are paralysed by our ignorance. We need to know this truth for then we are set free to be ourselves. So we must find the TRUTH which is in the WORD (teaching) of Christ who said: “If you abide (continue) in my WORD you are my disciples indeed and you will KNOW (personally) THE TRUTH (of who you are in Christ) and the TRUTH (you know) shall make you free” (John 8:32).

“A hearer of the word and not a doer, is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror (the word which reveals what we are like in Christ) he OBSERVES HIMSELF, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who LOOKS (intently) into the PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:23-25). He sees who he is, meditates until it changes his self-image so that he acts on it and is blessed. Acting on the word (the truth of who he is) releases the new life of the new-man and he grows into who he really is as a SON OF GOD.

NEW CREATION REALITIES to KNOW and build our life upon (things that are true based on our Baptism into Christ. “If any man be IN CHRIST, behold, he is a New Creation, old things are passed away, the new has come, and all things are of God” (2Corinthians 5:17). The 'IN CHRIST' Scriptures tell of who we are and what we have because of this BAPTISM.

(1) Romans 6:3-6: “Don't you know that those BAPTISED INTO CHRIST JESUS were BAPTISED into his DEATH? ...BURIED WITH HIM by BAPTISM into death,...as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we should walk in newness of life. If we have been UNITED together in his death, we also shall be his resurrection. Knowing our old man (spirit) was CRUCIFIED WITH HIM...if we DIED WITH CHRIST we shall also LIVE WITH HIM. Knowing Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more, death has no dominion over Him. For the death He died, he died once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. Likewise reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ.”

We were baptised into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Our old-man was crucified and died with him. Out of this death arose a new man who operates in newness of life. We were raised with Christ. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead has raised our spirit. Our spirit is made of the resurrection life and power of Christ so sin and death has no dominion over it. This is who you really are: victorious over sin, satan and death. You have conquered them all IN CHRIST. Yes, He conquered, but now joined to Him you share in His victory.

(2) Colossians 2:10-15: “complete IN HIM... IN HIM you were circumcised (the old man cut off) ...BURIED WITH HIM BY BAPTISM in which (BAPTISM) you were also RAISED WITH HIM by faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead (to be saved you had to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead-God took that faith in God's resurrection power to resurrect your spirit!) and you, being dead.. has MADE ALIVE TOGETHER WITH HIM...

He disarmed principalities and powers and made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them in it” He conquered and triumphed over satan and we were in Him when He did it. So: “we are more than conquerors THROUGH HIM who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

(3) In Ephesians 1:19-23, Paul prays for us to have a revelation of: “the exceeding greatness of His power IN and TOWARD US who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked IN CHRIST - when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him in the heavenlies far above all principality, power, might, dominion and every name that is named.” Now we are in Christ that same power that raised up and exalted Christ is working in us. When we were baptised into Christ we were baptised into Christ and became part of His Body. The Body is one with the Head, so when the Head was raised, the Body was raised by the same operation of God’s power. 

This is confirmed in Ephesians 2:1,5-6: 

“and YOU He MADE ALIVE who were dead in trespasses and sins” (v1). 

“When we were dead in trespasses He MADE US ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHRIST (by grace you have been saved) and RAISED US UP TOGETHER (with Christ) and made us SIT TOGETHER in heavenly places IN CHRIST (far above all principalities and powers)” (v5,6). 

So the very same mighty power that worked in Christ: 

(1) making Him alive (overcoming all death), and 

(2) raising Him victorious above all pricipalities and powers 

(3) seating Him in authority and dominion over all things, 

has also been fully released in our spirits when we were saved, so that:

(1) we have been made alive together with Christ (our spirit has been transformed from death to life by God’s power). 

(2) we have been raised us together with Him victorious far above all enemy powers (our spirit is an overcomer in Christ), 

(3) we have been seated together with Him far above all things (our spirit has been given a position of authority and has been given dominion to reign with Christ over all things).

This means the resurrection life, victory and authority of Christ has also been imparted to our reborn, new-creation spirit, so that now “we are more than conquerors in Christ” (Romans 8:37). 

So our reborn spirit has been saved in the new-birth (Ephesians 2:5,8). 

It is perfect and does not sin: “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1John 3:9). 

“We know that whatsoever is born of God (the reborn spirit) does not sin (we may sin, but it does not come from our spirit which is perfect); but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him (the armour of God protects the New-Man from all evil)” (1John 5:18). 

The reborn spirit is called the New-Man. 

It is dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:11). 

It is made in the perfect image of Christ: “you have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the New Man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:9,10). 

Our spirit has been recreated according to the blueprint of Christ, so that it is now in the perfect image of the resurrected Christ! “the New Man which was created according to God (in His image), in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). 

Our reborn spirit is ‘the real you.’ It is full of God’s love: “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us” (Romans 5:5). It possesses all of the fruit of the spirit: “The fruit (produce) of the spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-25). 

These truths are FOUNDATIONAL for our IDENTITY IN CHRIST. We are no longer ordinary people - but we New Creations with resurrection life in us: devil defeating, world-overcoming children of God, successful in Christ: “We are His workmanship (God’s masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus for good (excellent) works, which God prepared beforehand (and put in our spirit) that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10) 

When we believed and were put in Christ we overcame satan. 

All he can do is lie and try convince us we are still rejected. The TRUTH is we are: “the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN CHRIST” (2Corinthians 5:21) and: “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

WATER BAPTISM is the outward SIGN, TESTIMONY or CONFESSION of what has already happened in our spirit. Going under the water we proclaim the old man dead and buried. Rising up out of the water declares we have risen to new life - a new creature in Christ who will walk in a new-life. Through this confession the inward reality is brought into manifestion in our lives: “Confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10)

The Growth Process. Our spirit has been reborn - the new Man. This is our true identity. Spiritual growth is the outworking of what God has done in our spirit in the New Birth. The extent of our growth is the extent this new life dominates. The key is our mind (soul). While we think in the old ways of darkness the new life is blocked from revealing itself. Once we see who we are (once our mind is renewed to agree with our spirit) then the real us (the New Man) can come through and be seen in our lives. 

Romans 12:2: “Be not conformed to the world (do not let the world squeeze or pressure into its mould from the outside), but be transformed (a metamorphosis) by the renewing of your mind (to the truth of God’s Word about who you are in Christ).” 

'Metamorphosis' is a change where the reality that is already on the inside comes forth to be revealed and manifested on the outside, like a butterfly coming forth from within a caterpillar. It is the bringing forth into our lives of our true personality and beauty (who we are in our spirit), our inner life in Christ being revealed on the outside. This transformation (metamorphisis) happens when our mind is renewed by the Word of God.

“We all with unveiled face (the veil of unbelief being removed) beholding in a Mirror (God’s Word) the glory of the Lord are being transformed (by metamorphosis) into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit” (2Corinthians 3:18). 

We see ourselves in the Mirror of God’s Word, and so in God’s spiritual Mirror we see our spirit. We see ourselves as we are in Christ: ‘the glory of the Lord’, full of love, joy and peace. As we see who we are in Christ, a transformation (spiritual growth) is brought to pass by the Spirit who changes us from glory to glory.That is, the glory that we behold in our spirit through the Word comes forth into our souls and into expression in our lives, so that they are being conformed ‘into the same image’ as our reborn spirit, according to how much of that glorious image we see in the Mirror. It is a growth process of change ‘from glory to glory’ so that the more the veil of ignorance and unbelief is removed and the more we behold of ourselves as we continue to look in the Mirror, the more of the glory within can be revealed without. 

Getting to one degree (level) of glory (growth) prepares us for the next, for each change removes more of the veil and positions us to see more of the glory of the Lord, which allows the Spirit within us to bring about the next change. Thus we should be having a continuous growth transformation from glory to glory, becoming more and more like Christ, so that our souls and lives are being increasingly changed into the same perfect image of Christ, that has already been accomplished in our reborn spirit.

Build the house of your life on the ROCK FOUNDATION.

We have seen that another picture of our spiritual growth is the building of a house. The most important issue is to build it on the right foundation, otherwise it will not stand in the storms. It must be a foundation of solid ROCK - CHRIST HIMSELF. 

“Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the CHRIST, the SON OF THE LIVING GOD.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not REVEALED this to you, but My Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this ROCK I will BUILD My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:16-18). The ROCK is Christ. We must build our spiritual lives on the unchanging Rock of Christ, that is, we must build our lives on the revealed truth of CHRIST: WHO HE IS (the Son of God) and WHO HE IS IN US and WHO WE ARE IN HIM by our BAPTISM into CHRIST.

The Foundation we must build upon is the REVEALED TRUTH of CHRIST: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1Corinthians 3:11). 

Jesus said there are two ways to build the House of our life and character: “Whoever (comes to me and) HEARS my WORDS and DOES them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the ROCK (who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock). The rain descended, the floods (storms of life) came and the winds blew (false spirits, ideas and doctrines) and beat (vehemently against) that house, and it did not fall (could not shake it) for it was FOUNDED on the ROCK. But he who HEARS my WORDS and DOES NOT DO themis like the foolish man who built his house on the sand (on earth without a foundation) and the rain fell, the floods came, the winds blew and beat on the house and it fell and great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:47-49).

One built on earth (surface soil). He lived by what his feelings and natural thinking told him (a self-image based on appearance, performance, human reasoning) but these are unreliable, shifting sands. A house built on this foundation has no strength. It is made of straw. It may look OK but its weakness will be revealed when it is tested under pressure either by the storms of life (Matthew 7:27) or by God’s judgement (1Corinthians 3:9-15). The tests will show what you have built your life upon, how you have built, and what materials you have been building with. 

The man who did not build on Christ, by believing and acting on His words (but by following his own ideas and feelings instead), did not build anything strong or of lasting value, for all came to nothing when the storm hit (we all face storms, especially the ultimate storm of death). His spiritual growth was not real and lasting. As a result he ended up with nothing.

The other man dug deeper (not depending on the surface layers) down to the ROCK and built his house on that FOUNDATION. He was building his life on the teaching of Jesus. The foundation is the TRUTH of Christ - Who He is, who we are in Christ and who He is in us. This is the unchangeable SOLID ROCK, the dependable Truth of Christ - so we can safely build on it. It is independant of our performance, feelings, or what others think of us. This man hears and hears the Word, and acts on it, and as he does he is building his life on the Word and with the Word. Since his house is built on the WORD and made from the eternal, indestructible WORD, it is solid, unchangeable, strong in storms and will last forever. This is true spiritual growth.

This to acheive real spiritual growth we must build our lives on the Rock Foundation of Christ - the Revealed Truth of Who He is and who we are in Him. We do this building by HEARING, BELIEVING and DOING His Word. As we believe His Word, and act on it as the ultimate truth, we build our life on the Rock.

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