Taking the Plunge

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I have, of recent, the unwavering conviction to be baptized again. The conviction came about while doing some self-examination and personal bible study, provoked by a deep-seated desire to draw closer to the Lord. Though I possessed this desire for intimacy with God, my efforts toward this end seemed fruitless. I went in prayer and study and came out with this, my conviction to be baptized.

My conviction was triggered by a revelation in scripture about the disciple’s response to his being saved. I believe that baptism is the Believer’s first act of obedience to his ‘new’ Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. All through the New Testament baptism follows after repentance. We read in Acts 2:38 “And Peter said unto them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you…’” You see, although I was baptized when I was fifteen years old, it was a not a repentant soul who was being baptized neither was it “…the answer of a good conscience toward God…” – 1 Peter 3:21. I got baptized because I wanted to escape hell and make it into heaven. I thought if I repeated the words my pastor said and got dipped in water then I would inherit eternal bliss. It sounded like good deal to me. But there was no repentance from sin, no regard for Jesus and respect of the Gospel. And this work did not same me. I was not a disciple of Jesus Christ. I did not have a relationship with Him. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9.

I subsequently came to saving faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. As for when exactly, I cannot say. But as I am now, I love Jesus Christ: I have accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. I believe that I am His and He is mine. And this is where my conviction comes into play. The question that follows is, ‘have I been baptized since I’ve believed?’ Well, the indisputable answer is ‘no.’ The question which produces debatable responses, though, is ‘do I need to be baptized [again]?’

I consulted with my pastor and shared my conviction to be baptized. He gave consideration and advised carefully. His position is that when I was baptized God put his seal/mark on me. And this begun God’s outpouring of grace toward me which ultimately saw me coming to faith. He spoke how God had taken me along this journey of salvation which began at my baptism (however uninspired the circumstance). I was accepted into God’s community, he explained, into the nurture of God. I believe it was his sincere council. I was just having a challenge accepting it due to a want for scriptural support and, more so, for the abundance of scripture which supported a contrary council. And there was still the matter of my personal conviction (which I believe was from the Lord).

Ex opere operato is a latin term used by the Roman Catholics which means “by the work worked.” In baptism (especially infant baptism) it describes a conference of God’s grace through the performance of the sacrament. I’ve read that it is also a school of thought held by many liturgical churches. Could the grace supposedly conferred upon the baptized by God then save or lead one, even in some part, to salvation? I believe no at all without his faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). In exercise of the ex opera operato it is held that faith must be involved; faith held by the minister performing the sacrament and the congregation/witnesses. But being baptized as with repentance is a directive. It demands the individual’s willful compliance. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” – Mark 16:16. Scripture never mentions baptism without repentance. Moreover scripture always places repentance as preceding baptism; it is not happen-stance. Baptism is the Believer’s obedient response to the ordinance instituted by his Lord and Savior. As faith without works is dead (ref. James 2:17) and we are saved by grace through faith (ref. Ephesians 2:8) so must one’s repentance follow with baptism.

The question then must be asked, ‘has my repentance been followed by baptism?’ It has not. My faith walk is not (in this regard) in keeping with the ordinance of the Lord. But “…it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness…” (ref. Matthew 3:14). My conviction came about from my desire to draw closer to the Lord. I asked Him for help and He answered by impressing my heart with the conviction to be baptized. In following this conviction I will be in good company too. For example, the ‘prince of preachers,’ Charles Spurgeon was baptized a second time after which he is recorded as saying “…baptism loosed my tongue and from that day has never been quiet.” I have tested this conviction against the Word of God and it remains. I am resolved. I will be baptized.

Between Myselves

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Trinagle

Before this sounds like the memoirs of a psychiatric patient, let me just say that my selves and I are not crazy. Recently, I have been making forays into the field of Christian Anthropology. My rummage has blessed me with a better understanding of just who I am and who we all are. My whole perspective on the human person, identity, vice and virtue, beauty and character, has been radically re-thought. Man is tripartite, which is to say, he possesses a body, has a mind and is a spirit. I’ll share a little of what I’ve learnt.

Body

We tend to identify and define someone by their physical attributes. But the person is not their body. A person merely inhabits or possesses their body. It is the home, shelter, shell, vessel  in which the person dwells. Referred to as flesh, our bodies are driven by sensual impulses; thirst, hunger, sex, comfort and pleasure etc. Originally made from the substance of the earth we are likened to jars of clay in scripture…”Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?” ~ Job 10:9. What makes a body significant is not its form but its function. It houses a thing most precious; the human soul.

Soul – Heart and Mind

The soul, the inner man, the man in the middle, call him what you may. The heart and mind are the consciousness of man; the seat of reason and will, desire and affection. This is where the beauty of a person shines through (or doesn’t). Each soul is as unique as a finger print and wonderfully complex. Ultimately, notwithstanding the influences that abound from within and without, all decisions are made within the soul. This hidden part of man is revealed in action and word. The soul is the conscious part of the life-force called the spirit.

Spirit

Now, to be clear there is spirit and there is the Spirit. Both are from the Lord, God Almighty. The spirit is that mysterious part of us that gives life to the person. It fuses body and soul which allows man to become a living being. This part of man eludes the scientific scope. Now, the Spirit is the very spirit of God; “poured into” those who have, in unwavering belief, accepted Jesus Christ as their master and savior. On a side note, we should be mindful that every spirit has a mind of its own but not necessarily a body of its own. Bodies are temporary (tents) while the spirit it eternal.

Between Two Minds..kind of

The impulses of the flesh and the appeals of the Spirit/spirit are all directed toward our soul. Both fight to have its desires satisfied. Our soul (seat of will and desire) is head of government and decides which influence to allow. The flesh yearns to satisfy itself even (and usually) at the cost of disobeying the Creator, God. The spirit is from God and is willing to completely obey its author. But since the beginning of man, our nature has been to yield to the rebellious, self-pleasing and sinful demands of the flesh. That`s before the Spirit of God steps in. For the convinced, convicted, converted and committed, the Holy Spirit of God empowers the soul of man to overcome the influence of the flesh; enabling us to possess our bodies in holiness and righteousness. The Holy Spirit also brings our soul to a heightened knowledge and experience of our Creator and Savior. Indeed we are fearfully and wonderfully made, in the image and likeness of God Himself. Selah.