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Archive for June 5th, 2012

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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