The Holy Spirit & Christian Imitation
Here is a word that is used almost everywhere. When it is recognized, the more colorful versions are used such as fake, dupe, clone, forgery, or counterfeit. The one I like the best is reflection as though something has the same characteristics as the original. How would you like a $5.00 Rolex watch? These and women’s accessories have their own genre which is “knock off.”
We live in a sophisticated era where religion is the major imitation. While God created everything including mankind, He gave us rules and doctrines. Furthermore, His written scriptural words to ensure our relationship with Him was maintained. Unfortunately, mankind had/has other ideas, and sin prevailed. However, God’s love for His creation was so intense that He sent His Son to redeem us and re-establish the relationship.
One may ask God, “How is that going for you?” The answer could be, “Not well at the present, but I know the end from the beginning.” The point is that mankind has established his own religions. They are called Whatever.
The major tenets are personal beliefs. There are no rules, dogma, or doctrines. If I say it is right, then it is right for me. Regardless of other opinions, it is okay for me. The increasing religions are wiccan and New Age. Demonic forces are present in both. In one, the evil forces are obvious as they apply curses to our president. How do we comprehend Christian Witches? Isn’t that a classic oxymoron? In the other, the forces are mitigated by disguising themselves as UFOs. The scientific community is becoming enamored with the thought of extraterrestrials or aliens.
In addition, many traditional Christian denominations are being minimized by approval of previous beliefs which were forbidden. And of course, we have the rise of atheism, especially among the sophisticated college/university students and faculty. They can reject both God and capitalism, but substitute socialism.
Another influence is the rise in accepting Mother Earth as the “be all.’ In the mountains of the Southwest one time, we noted a group of women in long robes singing and praising Mother Earth. They were seeking an aura or some kind of power, and this pagan practice is being revived.
Isn’t it obvious that our lying culture is imitating Satan, the father of lies? Where else are the fake news and accusations coming from? Fortunately, there is another imitation that is for mankind’s salvation and happiness.
While so much is being falsely promoted as religion, they obscure the one true religion of the one true God. There are not many roads to heaven; there is only one to guarantee eternal salvation. That is by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and imitating Him. We will investigate that now.
While we have investigated the negative aspects of imitation, there is another very positive application of it, as we are called to imitate Christ. Since God is being rejected worldwide, are we to become gods? While some religions incorporate a procedure for their members to become gods, divinity is not something that can be acquired. There is only one God who said, “It was I who made the earth and created mankind on it. It was my hands that stretched out the heavens” (Isaiah 45:12). I like the even stronger pronouncement: “There is no God but me. Who is like me? Let him standup and speak; make it evident and confront me with it” (Isaiah 44:6b-7a).
The one true God is triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The loving Father sent His son, Jesus Christ, to be born of a woman and suffer to redeem sinful mankind. The incredible part of this history is that Jesus put His Godhead aside and became one of us so that eventually we could imitate Him. The life of Jesus is twofold, consisting of His thirty years as a carpenter with His parents and the three years of His public ministry. I’m glad His early life is not the part to be imitated, as my only carpenter facility would be with a hobby X-Acto knife. Interestingly, as Jesus lived among people of His time, in a sense He imitated us as ordinary people.
Well then, the next question is how can we perform like Him in His public life?
The answer is that He became like us as Paul relates: “He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7). Translation: He put His Godhead aside.
After a quiet life, what happened to Jesus that He became the person we are to imitate in spreading the gospel?
The public life of Jesus really started with His baptism by John the Baptist and the baptism of the Holy Spirit upon Him. The fact that the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus is proof that He put His Godhead aside; otherwise, how could He receive the Holy Spirit if He already had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, the gifts of the Holy Spirit were released in Him along with the virtues and Fruit of the Spirit.
Where do we fit in?
Here is a hint by John the Baptist who prophesized, “He (IE Jesus) it is who will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and Fire” (Matthew 3:11b). After the baptism, Jesus was led to the desert to be tempted by Satan, and He defeated all of Satan’s supposed opportunities by quoting the Word of God. Afterward, Luke related that Jesus returned to Galilee.
Soon afterward, the family attended a wedding at Cana. You may have wondered if Jesus had worked any miracles in His life before the Cana wedding feast. The answer is “NO.” John confirms this for us: “Jesus performed this first of His signs at Cana in Galilee. Thus, did He reveal His glory and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11).
In reflection, it is evident that Jesus was empowered by the action of the Holy Spirit for the first time in the Jordan. He could then begin his public life of preaching, teaching, working miracles, and healing the sick. What about His disciples? We now can understand why Jesus put His Godhead aside so the disciples and us could indeed imitate Him by our reception of the same Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
After His resurrection, Jesus surprised His disciples who were in a locked room. He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). He also appeared to them other times before His Ascension saying, “Wait rather for the fulfillment of my Father’s promise of which you heard me speak. John baptized with water, but within a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, yes, even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:4-5, 8). Then, Jesus ascended into heaven.
On the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ followers were gathered together, and tongues of fire appeared and came to rest on each of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to express themselves in foreign tongues (Acts 2:1-4). The followers of Jesus now had the power to use the Gifts of the Spirit. It is doubtful that some of these who were fishermen had any schooling other than in the synagogue. Yet, they spoke in many different tongues to the gathered multitude.
Acts 2:41 relates that there were three thousand conversions from the first talk. Peter gave the main speech with warning, which we need to heed in 2019 and afterward: “Save yourselves from this generation which has gone astray” (Acts2:40b). Jesus had been baptized; received the power of the Holy Spirit; ascended to heaven; and sent the Holy Spirit to baptize the apostles and disciples, releasing the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
The modern rebirth of the Pentecostal/charismatic gifts began in 1906 in Los Angeles in the now famous Aziza Street Revival. What about us in today’s questionable environment? The answer is to be born again, receive salvation and pray for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Being Born Again is the initial salvation step and certainly fruitful. As scripture relates, the power of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are released when you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to Baptize you. Just as with the apostles and disciples, speaking in tongues can be one of the first signs for some people after praying for the Spirit. Some people immediately receive tongues; others somewhat later (mine were three months later); others receive different gifts. Some gifts are permanent as a ministry while others are situational. Paul lists the main nine gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.
You may also wonder about the virtues and fruit of the Spirit you received when you were saved. These are interactive lifestyle changes and make the gifts more effective. A quick example could be salvation and righteousness which are permanent gifts from God, not through our good works but through faith. Examine holiness, which is not a one-shot gift; it needs to constantly increase in a person’s life. “Be holy as I am holy” comes to mind (Leviticus 11:44).
Another area that needs discussion is our inner persuasion. Some folks almost rely on guilt to survive, not absorbing or remembering God’s forgiveness. Another that needs correction is the quest for heaven. Some people express hope that they make it to heaven. My favorite verse to stress completion is, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). How many times have I cringed when a known Christian says that they hope they make it to heaven!
One final discussion concerns worthiness, as some folks hear Satan’s lie and do not believe that God would receive their love. Jesus knew this would be an issue with some folks and proclaimed, “My Father has been glorified in you bearing much fruit and being my disciples” (John 15:8). He continued: “You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you that you should bear fruit” (John 15:16). How wonderful that Born-Again former sinners can glorify God by being disciples and spreading the gospel.
As usual, Paul synthesized the possible elements of our holy imitation: “And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Author of: A Gilded Walk; How God Is Glorified; Choices For Our Eternal Home; Together-Never Alone. These books are available on line at Amazon and other fine booksellers.