Three Memorable Faith Milestones For Everyone (6.27.13)
What do we remember as individuals about coming to faith in Jesus?
Perhaps we remember the church, the music, or the pastor and people that gave us a good example, and spurred us on.
Or, perhaps we remember the pressing need in our lives at that time, for something more, to fill the God-sized hole in each of us that only Jesus can fill.
Salvation is always a new personal experience as each of us begins walking in it. Our first steps involve many joyful details that we can often recall without much prompting. Most of us are able to speak at some length about these personal details and how God's grace brought each of us to faith.
This individual level of faith is very specific and was tailored by God's grace to our own particular lives.
I couldn't make up, or even dream up, the details of my salvation-conversion. You couldn't make or dream up yours either, but praise Jesus, salvation was given to both of us by ways and means we couldn't have imagined.
This is the stuff of our personal testimony and it is very convincing and helpful to us and others to repeat it, again and again, as long as anyone, including us, is listening.
But running along side the personal level of our story, parallel to it and undergirding it, runs God's basic salvation plan for all humankind.
This basic plan is in his word and excludes the details of our testimony.
Rather, it includes the faith milestones Jesus plans for each of us.
It strikes me that there are three major biblical grace induced milestones that God has provided for all of us.
Just as I'm not likely to forget the particular details of "my" salvation, I'll never forget the power and efficacy of the following three milestones provided for all of us.
1. The Milestone Of Our First Act of Faith.
This first act could vary and run the gamut- from silent acknowledgment- to public profession to the entire cosmos.
But now I'm thinking of the Apostle Paul knocked off his high horse, blinded by the light. His first faith act was crying out: "Who are you Lord?" (Acts9,5 "I am Jesus....)
The rest for Paul was all a down hill faith and is rich history for all God's people.
Our conversion from faithless to faither may not have been as dramatic as Paul's, but it included some act that said "OK Lord, you win, I trust you, I'll follow you, show me the way."
Most of us, who have come to faith as adults, remember our first such act of faith.
But perhaps there are dear folks among us who can't even remember any such act of faith. Or, who have sort of believed from childhood, but can't remember when they started living by faith.
Perhaps, these would be blessed by conciously making an act of faith, perhaps in public, something unforgettable.
This is a milestone that God planned for every Christian.
You remember the birth of a child, photos and all, yet you don't remember the moment of your own rebirth unto eternal life?
2. The Milestone of Repentance-Profession-Full Immersion Adult Baptism (Acts 2,37-39)
This is the milestone that is most neglected today by the Christian church. As if it is just a symbolic rite, rather than (by faith) an actual transfer from the wrong team to the right team (Colossians 2,12-15, Romans 6,6).
Jesus and the Apostles pronounced that this baptism was for everyone.
That includes you and me, I guess.
No special dispensations for those "who know better."
Including Cornelius who was already baptized in the Spirit (Acts 10).
Including the Spiritless folks in Ephesus (Acts 19).
Including Jesus Himself! (Matthew 3,13-17 to fulfill all righteousness and give us an example, at which time the Holy Ghost fortified HIM too!)
I'll never forget my water baptism in Jesus Name- even if it came after the baptism in the Holy Ghost.
Because it fully rooted me and identified-conformed me in and to the Lord Jesus, the Alpha and Omega of all creation, and judge of all.
Now I personally think water baptism is part of the fullness of biblical salvation. I think public profession is great, but then again the bible teaches that water baptism is normal and necessary for everyone (John 3,5).
But for those of us faithers who don't see it this way- your situation strikes me sort of like the working person whose boss wants to double his salary- but you say "I don't need it."
This extra money is not in any way, shape or form symbolic. It might come in real handy in serving the Lord.
Well, neither is the rootedness and Christ identity that comes from proper biblical baptism symbolic (notice if you will some say the Lord's Supper is also just symbolic).
If we don't all somehow remember our water baptism (even perhaps because we've never had it), we have missed a bible milestone that God planned for all of us.
3. The Milestone of Baptism in the Spirit.
If water baptism is the most neglected of these three milestones, then baptism in the Spirit is the most hidden, obscured by us human beings who don't want to deal with it, or don't quite know what to make of it.
Yet, the three thousand that came into the church could never forget this unique and definite event in each of their individual lives and the life of the church.
The millions who have been empowered over the centuries in the Christian church have never forgotten this experience of a biblical promise meant for all (Acts 2,39).
Think of it this way, Jesus just didn't die to abstractly take away the sin of the world. He died to redeem us, to give us a new Spiritual nature, a new heart, whereby sin isn't our master, a heart that has the "torah" of God written on it by the Holy Ghost (Hebrews 10,16).
What good is this supposed new nature without God living inside us conforming us to God who died to give it to us?
Or, think of it this way, the only thing more daunting than being in or pastoring a church with folks experiencing all sorts of charismatic gifts after the distinct experience of baptism in the Spirit is being in or pastoring a church where nobody can come out and say they have experienced this indispensible gift.
Why Avoid Or Assume Any of These Milestones?
God's mercies are new every day. If we have been unaware of these milestones, Jesus will get us up to speed and experiencing them as soon as we have the faith to experience them.
Praise the Lord Jesus for that.
Jesus has a baseline plan for everyone for all time that includes the above three milestones.
It's not like you or I will ever forget the facts and personal and particular mercies as to how we each came to salvation. These will always be dear to us and perhaps even a little humorous when we think how patient our Lord has been with each of us.
But with the passage of time perhaps we develop a greater obedience and respect for God's wisdom when it comes to his baseline provisions of salvation and the milestones of it.
It's comforting to remember that God knows every hair on our head, but perhaps even more comforting to remember that we each followed his entire salvation plan, taking no short cuts.
Given that it will be an awesome thing for each of us to fall into the hands of our living God, there doesn't seem to be any sense in skipping or assuming any of these three milestones.
In fact, it would seem over time that the personal details of our salvation would become smaller in our memories, while these three major baseline milestones would become bigger.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...