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Archive for June, 2012

I stand at the door and Knock!

Jesus is knocking at your door …

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev.3:20)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The invitation from Christ is clear … “if you Hear my voice (my word) and open the door to your heart, I will come in and have dinner with you.”.  When that event happens in your life, then you have entered into an understanding of what a true, fulfilling spirituality involves and you will begin to live a life empowered by His Spirit.

One of the main problems we modern Christians have, however, is that many of us don’t ever hear that knock at the door of our hearts – we are not even aware of how to open that “door”. That is why many of us are personally in the spiritual doldrums and don’t even realize our sad and desolate state or what to do about it. Some of us do sense something missing in our lives but we can’t quite understand what might be causing our discomfiture. It’s some missing quality in our lives that we can’t quite understand or seem to know how to fill.

Oh, of course, we try to fill that void with activities, entertainment, sports, business, relationships, politics, etc., … but nothing really seems to satisfy that dry, empty feeling we unconsciously within us that seems to leave our lives seemingly without purpose and spiritual energy.

Many of us rightly sense that maybe what we need is to get closer to God, but when we attend worship services at our churches to try to fill that void with religious activities, we, again, for some reason, don’t sense that, our insistent lack is being satisfied.  Because we detect that our need might be a deeper spiritual one, we flail around looking for a “spiritual” solution, and since we didn’t find it in “church” we begin to look elsewhere.

And, if we somehow avoid getting into drugs and alcohol, we end up looking into false spirituality movements such as the occult, transcendental meditation, Yoga, and other forms of spiritual darkness, which the enemy uses to divert us from the real spiritual life that is available to every converted and baptized Christian. Yes, we are all baptized into Christ by one Spirit and the Spirit of Christ is in us, but we must cooperate with God to activate the release of His Spirit in us – it is not automatic- you have to open the door!   The main manner the Lord has instituted to activate our spiritual lives is through what is termed in the scriptures the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”.

Now, admittedly, some of the problem does rest in the fact that our religious traditions do not properly prepare us regarding “opening the door to our spirits” and consequently neglecting the care, and feeding of our “spirit” nature or the “release” of the Holy Spirit in us. Our modern Christian religious culture blandly assumes that the Spirit of God will work in us and through us without our full consent. Now it is true that the Spirit of God may work around us to bring us to the point where we eventually yield to His Lordship, but He does not force Himself on us inwardly – He waits for us to give ourselves to Him as LORD of our lives – something that most of our mainline religious traditions inexplicably overlook.

The main emphasis of our modern religious structures is to provide an intellectual and theological basis for our faith based on the scriptures. And to ensure that our religious needs and necessities may be satisfied at the “body and soul” levels of awareness through community religious, mission, charity, and fellowship activities. “Spirituality”, if addressed at all is left to the “religious” and “ordained” in their insulated communities, while providing some crumbs like pseudo-spiritual devotions and piety for the “laity’.

This results in the religious communities concentrating their ministry efforts in providing religious services and activities that focus on training us in the “body and soul” basics of Christianity, that is, Bible Study, Worship of God, living the Christian Life, Community services, Fellowship groups, and so on.

Hearing-Gods-Voice

If Anyone Hears my Voice …

Although there is no doubt these are necessary accoutrements to the mission of the church, and are to be considered, yet, there is a dearth of training in what ought to be the centerpiece of the Christian life, the need to understand how to hear His Voice and open the door to our hearts to let the person of Jesus, into our “spirits” so that, through our encounter with Him, “in the Spirit”, we may interact in a more personal and intimate manner with our Lord and thus receive the direct and personal spiritual strength and guidance we need to be “true” witnesses to the Good News of Salvation.

Part of the problem is that our religious culture does not feel comfortable dealing with the “spiritual’ component of our lives directly. All our community effort is focused on reaching the faithful through our intellects, senses, emotions, or through personal participation in rote religious activities that they “hope”, God will use to seep in to our spirit nature or at least get our spirit man involved.

Because God is gracious, this may work for a few people, but, today, because of the enticements of the “World” and the “Flesh”, the Spiritual Life and Energy that the Lord intends us to have is not coming through to us in our everyday lives as it should. This is especially true of our young people and that is why, although they try to remain faithful, are sometimes tempted to leave the fold and seek spiritual fulfillment elsewhere.

In my “catholic” tradition there is a move afoot to attempt to bridge this gap and reach out to those who are culturally and traditionally members of our tradition, but who, for what ever reason, are, like sheep lost in the desert, who are not being watered and fed spiritually, not so much because there is not food and drink available, but because they haven’t been made aware of the Rivers of Living Water and Bread of Life that the Lord has provided for all that believe. This effort to re-evangelize our disenfranchised brothers and sisters is being termed as the “New Evangelization”.

Again, here, from what I have read of this effort, it still falls short in incorporating a renewal in the Holy Spirit and the Word of God as the starting point for renewal. We cannot out of our own human effort expect to bring spiritual life into being or renewal in others. And yet we continue to merely retrench our traditional “body and soul” methods in our attempt to breathe life where there is none. In order for us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and thus receive the renewed Life in the Spirit that we need, our own spirit must first be brought to life.

Here is what Jesus told Nicodemus, when he was enquiring of Jesus about who He was:

Jesus answered,  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  “Do not marvel that I said to you,  ‘You must be born again.’  “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:5-8)

That tells us that in order to be sensitive to the wind or “breath’ of the Spirit, our spirits need to be “re-born” or “re-activated” by the Holy Spirit in order to be sensitive to His “spiritual” leadings. Without this “spiritual” sensitivity we will walk in the motivation of the ‘flesh’ instead of walking in the “Spirit”.

In order to walk in the “spirit” we must have a spiritual re-birth and re-set our minds from the “flesh” to the “spirit”, just as the Apostle Paul, tells the believers in Rome:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:5-6)

The Apostle Peter further tells us that it is through the inspired Word of God that we are to find this re-birth:

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1Ptr.1:22-23)

Jesus is the Open Door

Jesus is the Open Door

This then, brethren, is the doorway into true spirituality – a renewed and true spirituality through which you may find spiritual food and drink- His Word. This is a spirituality that will empower you in living your full Christian life under that energy and power of the Holy Spirit – a spirituality that will permit you to be a channel of that life to others and bring to life your routine participation in the affairs of the Christian community.

The Apostle Paul also chides the Christian Community in Galatia about their intent to put aside their empowered Life in the Spirit into which he introduced them, and go back to mere perfunctory religious performance and rituals of the past by telling them …

“ You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain? Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? “  (Gal. 3:1-5)

This is the question I now want to ask you all…” did you receive the Spirit by merely complying with religious practice or by the hearing of faith that enlivened your spirit?”

And,  “if you were spiritually enlivened by the hearing of faith, why do you now think you can bring about spiritual revival by merely reverting back to religious performance?”

Now, here is the crux of the matter:  Once we have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit and have His Life in us, are we not now impelled by His Spirit to be His envoy to others so that our brothers and sisters may also come to this new life in the Spirit? How can we do this except by the same Spirit that enlightened us?  So then it behooves to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and ask for the Holy Spirit to anoint us as He did Jesus to be His empowered messenger of the Kingdom so that we may also preach and teach the Word of Life and the release of the Spirit with signs following. That, brothers and sisters, is what the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” accomplishes through us!

It is only by yielding fully to the Holy Spirit that we can be useful to him in any revival or spiritual that He may bring. It is then, and only then that we may proclaim to those who hunger and thirst for true spirituality the words of Isaiah the Prophet:

“Ho, everyone who thirsts,

come to the waters;

and you that have no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me;

listen, so that you may live.”

(Is. 55: 1-3)

But first we must consciously activate or release the Spirit that is in us from our Baptism and Confirmation.  It is only then that we can be sensitive to His Voice and respond to His Call. With our spiritual ears open, how can we refuse when Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts? For, as scripture says, He is the only one who can satisfy our spiritual hunger and our spiritual thirst.

It is just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman;

Jesus Offers Living Water

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:7-14)

Or, as Jesus proclaimed at the Great Feast Day:

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. 

(John 7:38-39)

And later, as Jesus told his critics:

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  (John 6:35-40)

And, later, at the synagogue in Capernaum…

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood…

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

This scripture has, of course, great meaning to those of us of the Catholic persuasion for it is the Word Of God, telling us of the Divine venue Jesus provides for us to dine with Him by actually the offering of His own person in the Eucharist thus permitting us to enter into an intimate abiding in HIM as we commune together. Now Jesus is the “Word Made Flesh” so that here again we have Jesus, the Word, offering Himself as the doorway to intimacy with Him and the Father.

Of course, it is up to us to receive Him in faith and, when we do, He will enter into our hearts and provide the spiritual intimacy we seek.

Jesus is always ready and willing. Now, the question is, ARE YOU READY to accept His offer to dine with you, “in the spirit”, not just in the world of your imagination? Are you ready to satisfy your spiritual hunger and thirst to the fullest and have the world of the spirit opened up to you? Are you ready to yield yourself totally to Him and Him alone?

If you are, then, just as the initial scripture says, open your spiritual ears to his voice and open the door to your hearts by saying, “Yes, Jesus, I open my heart to you, release the Spirit in Me, and Come into my Heart and Be My Lord Forever”, and I guarantee you, you will not be disappointed! For He says:

“And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.  “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.  “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?  “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

(Luke 11:9-13)

The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine upon you… and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you … and give you peace.  (Numbers 6:24-26)

Shalom!!

Your Brother and fellow pilgrim in  Christ….. Bartimaeus

© Bartimaeus, BRTimeo and quietplace4prayer, [2003-2012].

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Entering the Inner Stillness

Enmeshed in life’s commotion,

Our ears deadened in the strife

As cries our famished spirit

For the real sustenance of life.

From an inner thirst and hunger

Beyond all the world can impart.

Beyond the parched desert of emotions

For a Love that satisfies the heart

Why then, do we refuse to listen,

If so desperate our plight ?

To words of  Life beyond our hearing

To visions of Love beyond our sight

A Love that knocks incessantly

‘Til our gates we open to its Life.

To drink in the Living Water

And consume the Bread of Life.

Enter then, that inner stillness,

God’s sanctuary, in your soul,

And imbibe that Love Eternal

That fills and makes you whole!

                                                                    Jorge Madrid Sr., AMDG

(By Jorge Madrid Sr., as excerpted with permission from “Thy Kingdom Come” by Jorge Madrid Sr.; © 2003 Madrid Family Trust, all rights reserved)

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Recommended Links:

About Prayer

Prayer: Our Response to His Call

True Spirituality

A Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit

Releasing the Spirit

Hearing God’s Voice …. And obeying it!

Jesus, the Source of Living Water, and us

False Spiritual Practices and Conforming to the World

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THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER  (Part 2)

The Promise of the Father

The Dove of Promise is For Real

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And [then] you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [ For…] The Promise [of the Father] is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

My fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

Continuing from where Part 1 left off, we remind all believers that….

We are the future generations that were indicated and thus the “Promise of the Father”, as manifested in the nine Empowering Gifts of the Spirit (cf., 1Cor.12 ff), is clearly meant for us today, as baptized Christians, as much as it was for the original believers at Pentecost!

The question I ask all baptized believer’s today who have not yet experienced the Baptism of the Spirit, which is the manifestation of the Promise of the Father, is: Why Not?

In my case, the answer is, “I did not even know what the Promise of the Father was and especially that it was manifested as the “Baptism in the Spirit” on the day of Pentecost.

As a baptized Catholic Christian, I went through the usual rite of initiation. As a child, I was baptized shortly after birth and then taught about baptism when I entered elementary school. I went to catholic schools through high school and then spent my first two years of advanced education at a Jesuit University. In all that time I was never taught about the Baptism of the Spirit and the Spiritual Gifts as being something we Christians were entitled to receive in today’s world.

The teaching I received for Confirmation (at age 13 years) basically brought me to the understanding of the basic doctrines of our faith in Christ as the Son Of God, the redeemer and savior of the world, so that I could reinstate for myself the vows my parents had made for me at baptism.

In my further instruction for the reception of the sacrament I was taught the primary doctrines of the catechism, especially that, at confirmation we are strengthened through the reception of the Seven Gift of the Holy Spirit (cf.,Is. 11) so that, through help of the Holy Spirit in me, I can live a full and holy Christian Life. Even though I studied the Acts of the Apostles and the birth of the Church at Pentecost, I was NEVER taught that the Nine Spiritual Gifts (cf., 1 cor.12) that the disciples received on that day were for me and for every Christian today. I did not know that these gifts were available and, in fact, needed by me, and very other Christian, to empower us to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel with signs following. The only thing I remember was that that we were taught to pray for a renewal of the Seven Gifts (the gifts stated in Is. 11) at every celebration of the Day of Pentecost.

As a faithful and compliant adult Catholic I was never taught that every Christian needs the Holy Spirit in order to truly encounter God in “Spirit and in Truth”. Yes we were taught that there were special people who had encounters with Our Lord and some very spiritual gifts but that was because they were chosen by God to be “Saints”. Of course, since I was well aware that I, and every one I new was not a “Saint”, I could never expect God to choose me to experience the Holy Spirit and His Gifts. After all, according to what I was taught, the most we lay persons could aspire to was to get into Purgatory.

How wrong and misguided I was! And how miraculous was God’s working in my life through His Word to rip off the veil of religious darkness that enveloped me and opened my eyes to the Word of Truth and the Light of the Fullness of His Salvation.

Jesus became real to me

Jesus became real to me

Through a series of events that I cannot go through in this article (cf.,Recommended Links, below), the Lord opened the eyes of my spirit (yes, I found out that I had a spirit) so that I could encounter Christ in the spirit and receive the fullness of my inheritance in Him, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit – an encounter that changed my life forever. Truly it was an encounter that permits me to say today that … “once I was blind but now I see”. That, my brothers and sisters, is the reason I took on the persona of “Bartimaeus” in initiating this web-log, to tell everyone that The Promise of the Father is For Real! If you are a converted and baptized Christian, all you have to do is ASK!

To God Be the Glory Forever!

In order that you too, through the Word of God, inspired by His Spirit, may also come to receive the Promise, I now append the second part of the booklet I have been sharing with you and which I believe will remove some of the barriers that may be keeping you from the fullness of our inheritance in Christ.

Your Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus …  Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2012])

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UNDERSTANDING THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER (Part 2)

 

(Continuation of an excerpt from the booklet, “Understanding the Promise of the Father”,  by  Jorge Alfonso Madrid Sr., with the author’s permission)

What About Water Baptism?

Now here is where we moderns encounter a bit of confusion. It is commonly understood by most Christians that we receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized with water. So when Peter says “… you will receive the Holy Spirit” isn’t he referring to water baptism? Why then do some people claim that this refers to another reception of the Holy Spirit?

In responding to these questions it should be pointed out that the scriptures and church tradition clearly indicate that the Holy Spirit is received in the two main impartations of grace[1] involved in Christian initiation. A third impartation usually associated with the initiation of adults into the body of Christ is the Eucharist. The first impartation of grace occurs when a person hears the Gospel, is converted, repents and submits to be baptized into Christ by immersion in water. In Church tradition and scripture[2], this impartation was, historically, sometimes referred to as the “Enlightenment” or “Illumination” where the initiate receives the life of Christ to enlighten or bring new life to his/her soul.  The second impartation occurs when the baptized person is anointed or empowered in the Holy Spirit to be a witness to Christ in the building up of His church. This impartation is sometimes referred to as the “Empowerment” or “Strengthening”. Jesus modeled the first two impartations when first he submitted himself to be baptized in water by John the Baptist and then was empowered or anointed for ministry by the Holy Spirit immediately after baptism with water. It is, by its nature, assumed to be a completion of baptism.

Similarly for us, through baptism and confirmation, we receive the Holy Spirit in both of these impartations with the correspondingly distinct modalities of operation of “enlightenment” and “empowerment”, both of which are direct manifestations of the Holy Spirit in us. In one we are “baptized into Christ” (Gal.3:27) by the Holy Spirit and in the second we receive the empowerment of the Spirit to carry out the ministry of Christ in our community and the world (Acts 1:8).

At this point, our discussion brings up another question. If the fullness of the deity dwelt in Jesus why would He need to “receive” or be “anointed” by the Holy Spirit after He was baptized with water by John the Baptist?

Jesus receives the AnointingAccording to prophetic scripture the anointing of the Spirit was a necessary attribute for the Ministry of the Messiah. It was this prophesy that Jesus read at the synagogue at the beginning of His Ministry when He said to the congregation, :  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”. (Luke 4: 18-19).

The prophet Isaiah, speaking for the Father about the Messiah says: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations”  (Isaiah 42:1 )

From these and other such scriptures we understand that the Messiah was to receive the Holy Spirit in order to empower Him to fulfill His ministry as Messiah (CCC 1286-1289). It was this anointing that Jesus received immediately after His water baptism by John and which was symbolized by a dove coming to rest on Him (John 1:32). It was through this anointing that Jesus performed the works of power and healing indicating that the reign of God was amongst men demonstrating the Father’s compassion and love.

What may still not be clear is why would Jesus, who is God incarnate, need to be empowered to do anything?

To begin with, we understand from scripture that when the Son of God took on human form, He relinquished the use of His divine prerogatives, that is, He emptied himself[3], so that in His saving work of atonement He could legitimately act as a substitute for mankind as a “second Adam”.  Thus, as a pure and sinless human being He would submit himself completely to the will of the Father, even to His substitutionary death on the cross on behalf of all mankind, In order to accept this role as a stand-in for all humanity, Although sinless, He first had to identify with us in our fallen nature and submit to God’s judgment on the sin inherent to our nature. This Jesus accomplished when he submitted Himself to water baptism at the hand of John the Baptist.

Secondly, since He had emptied Himself (from the Greek: kenosis) of His divine prerogatives, He could only act in the Father’s behalf to open the doors to the Kingdom if he was empowered by God as a human being to fulfill God’s purposes and will. That is, He needed to be anointed by the Holy Spirit so that God, the Eternal Father, could manifest Himself through the person of Jesus. That is why Jesus, As Messiah, needed the Spirit Anointing, and why it could only happen after He accepted His role as Messiah and as a substitute for the humanity He was destined to save.

Thirdly, since His was to be an eternal throne or empowerment that could not be removed, He had to impart the Holy Spirit Anointing to His church (his Body) so that His ministry would continue unimpeded through His body, the church, through all time. That is why he told His disciples to go to Jerusalem to await the Promise of the Father so that they might be also be empowered with power from on high (Luke 24:49).

Thus, when Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born of water and the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom[4] He was merely indicating to Nicodemus that in order to be a true and effective disciple and participate in His ministry, which He sometimes termed as “The Kingdom of Heaven”, one must be baptized with water, as he was, and one must also be baptized (or anointed) with the Holy Spirit, as he was.

While He was still on earth, He and His disciples operated under this personal anointing that was on Him. In meeting with them prior to His passion and death He told them that after He went away they and those who believed through them would continue working under the anointing  “ …  I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). And that they would be able to do this because,  “… it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7). In this way, by imparting the Spirit Anointing to the disciples and to those who became believers through them, Jesus, the Messiah would continue His Ministry through His church here on earth.  Thus we see why believers need to “receive” the anointing of the Holy Spirit after their water baptism in order to effectively fulfill their God-given roles in life.

Thus when Peter exhorted the crowd at Pentecost to be baptized in Jesus’ name and then “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” [5] he was using the word as to the reception of the Holy Spirit Anointing in the same way as we have stated before that, Jesus “received” the Holy Spirit as an anointing to empower Him to act in the name of the Father.  The Holy Spirit already indwelt in Him so the word “receive” did not mean an inward reception but more of an outward reception of an anointing that was placed “on” Him to empower His Ministry. This is borne out by other usages in scripture of the word “on” when referring to a receipt of the Holy Spirit Anointing, or empowerment.

Similarly, at Pentecost, the converts who were first baptized in water received the Spirit of Christ “inwardly” to bring them eternal life in Christ Jesus. But now they needed the outward anointing of the Holy Spirit “on” them so that Jesus could continue His ministry to the community and to the world through them[6].

Regarding the inward anointing of the Holy Spirit, remember that, before His passion and death, Jesus told his disciples: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John14:16-17). Thus referring to the inward grace received at water baptism when the spirit of Christ comes to dwell in us.  It is this grace, which enlightens and sanctifies us, that is, sets us apart from the world to bring us into conformity with Christ. This sanctifying grace is distinct from the outward grace which St. Thomas Aquinas terms “free (or gratuitous) grace” in his Summa Theologica.[7]

John, in his epistle, reiterates this implication on the inward or sanctifying grace when he states: “ As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:27)

The outward grace, or the empowering of a believer through the Anointing of the Holy Spirit, sometimes called the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”, corresponds to the grace defined by Aquinas as “free (or gratuitous)” grace, that is meant, not for the person who is a channel of that grace, but for the community and the world, as the empowerment by the Holy Spirit, required by the person receiving it to fulfill his or her calling as a participant in Christ’s ministry here on earth.

It is of this latter type grace that Paul refers to in his letter to the Corinthians, when he says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good”[8], that is, for the benefit of the community. This clearly indicates why the “empowerment” gifts are classified as the “free grace” defined by Aquinas.

Early church tradition regarding the Christian initiation rites rightly maintained both these impartations of grace: “enlightenment” and “empowerment”.  Before child baptism was the norm and when the Christian communities were small and locally organized, adults who believed the Gospel and converted, usually received both forms of these impartations at the same ceremony (rite of initiation). Although baptism could be conferred by a deacon or elder, the Anointing of the Holy Spirit, or empowerment, could only be conferred by a Bishop or overseer.

Later when child baptism became the norm, and the Christian communities larger and more dispersed, the impartation of the two forms of grace were separated, sometimes not only for cultural and logistical reasons, but so that the children receiving the Spirit Anointing (called Chrismation in the Eastern Churches) would have reached the age of reason so that they could, after adequate catechesis (teaching), be able to “confirm” the baptismal promises made in proxy for them by their parents. This “confirmation” was essential because, by tradition, the Spirit Anointing could not be conferred except to those whose had heard and understood the proclamation of the Gospel and thus willingly and freely converted and accepted to be baptized[9].  Another understanding of the term “confirmation” is that the Greek word from which the term is derived is that it also means “strengthening”.  And, of course, this is another indication of the  “empowerment” which we all need to proclaim the Gospel and manifest the Ministry of Christ through the nine empowerment Gifts of the Spirit.

The “Confirmation” ceremony, then, became an amalgam of the formal public announcement of a person’s own personal decision to renounce evil and accept Christ (conversion) followed by the concomitant empowering Anointing with the Holy Spirit.  Through the haze of history, the special graces (the charisms) received at rite of the Spirit Anointing (Chrismation) were deemphasized and the spiritual gifts indicated as received were more related to the rite of water baptism and the Christ-presence in the believer.

Why we need the Empowerment Gifts Today

This is why, today, the “gifts of the Spirit” currently indicated at Confirmation really correspond to the spiritual gifts attributed to the Messiah in Isaiah Chapter 11 rather than the “empowerment” gifts experienced by the 120 disciples and the 3000 believers at Pentecost as indicated in the Book of Acts, and Paul’s epistles. Of course, if you have been baptized in water and confirmed, you have access to all the promised gifts. The only reason we fail to manifest all of them is that we can only exercise faith in the promises of God when we are taught those promises and expect them to happen (in faith). If we are only taught a select portion of those promises we cannot exercise the faith we need to manifest those other gifts because we don’t even know they are available to us.

Today, the Holy Spirit is at work amongst us, lifting the haze of history and revealing, supernaturally, through the Word of God, our access to these gifts (charisms) in order to renew and empower the church for a final work of evangelization before the return of the Messiah. The charismatic renewal is not the work of any person or movement but rather the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit in and through the church so that the Kingdom of God will be proclaimed to the whole world before His coming as well as to foster the purification of His Bride through the sanctifying gifts.

This work of world evangelization, which is to precede the second coming of Messiah, has already begun. This wave of renewal has been in evidence since the beginning of the Twentieth Century, and is attested to by the hundreds of millions of persons that have been evangelized worldwide. The extent of this evangelization in the course of a century exceeding even that of the rate of growth the primitive church when the apostles were leading the proclamation of the Gospel, thus confirming Jesus’ prophecy that anyone who has faith in me … will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).

We pray brethren, that through this brief exposure to the intent of the Father in endowing us with the Gifts of the Spirit, both for our inward spiritual formation and our empowerment as channels of His Grace, that you would seek His will in your lives and yield yourselves to His Spirit so that He may fully use you in bringing forth His Kingdom in this world. For His is the Kingdom and the Power, and the Glory Forever and Ever. AMEN!

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      Understanding the Promise of the Father  ©2008 by Jorge Alfonso Madrid Sr.

All rights reserved.  Permission is granted to any individual or group to reproduce this document (via photocopy or the internet) and to imprint no more than 1000 copies at each instance under the following conditions:

1.              For the purpose of Building up the Body of Christ (the church)

2.              No changes or additions are made to the document

3.              If a fee is charged it must only be to cover printing costs

4.              Not to be used for personal or corporate profit

Appropriate credit be given to the author, contributors, and publisher

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[1]Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)

[2]It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened [baptized], who have tasted the heavenly gift [Eucharist], who have shared in the Holy Spirit [confirmation],…”  Heb.:6.4

[3] Phil. 2:6-8 (see also CCC 472)

[4] John, Chapter 3

[5] Acts 2:38-39

[6] When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:14-16)

[7] There is grace through which a man is himself united to God, which is called sanctifying grace. There is also grace whereby one man cooperates with another to lead him to God. This latter gift is called “free” grace. (Summa Theologica, Vol XI, Nature and Grace, 12 ae, Q111, Art.1, Par. 3)

[8] I Corinthians 12:7

[9] Paul when traveling through Ephesus encountered some believers who had been baptized by John the Baptist but had not received the Holy Spirit. He then baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus, and laid hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit. They then spoke in other tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:1-6)

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Recommended Links

Regarding my own conversion

Releasing the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance

Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ

Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It

Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2) 

A Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

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