Baptism by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament

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20. Towards "perfection"

So far, we have observed that from the moment of his Baptism in water and the Holy Spirit, a Christian follows a course, walking always along the pathway of the Lord.

Having believed, and being reborn through Baptism, he is obliged to struggle to keep the old self (with its carnal desires and worldly habits) dead. If he has not yet succeeded, he must follow the therapeutic treatment of the Church until his heart is cleansed.

During the period of cleansing - and even though he is an heir to the kingdom - the Holy Spirit does not make His presence felt within that heart, because God sees that person as still enslaved to sin - in other words, as spiritually infantile.  God's attitude towards him is therefore, accordingly, as befits an "infant" or a "servant".  But that person respectively perceives God as more of a Lord, and not as a Father.

When the faithful is cleansed, and the Holy Spirit begins to speak (λαλεί ) within his heart, saying "Abba, the Father", then God will consider him worthy of being a "son", who can administer the gifts (charismas) that will be bestowed upon him.

That is when the Lord Jesus Christ comes along, and "camps" inside the heart of that "son" and enlightens him (like the "dawn-bringing star").  Thus, the now "enlightened" son of God becomes the inheritor of the light, of life, of the kingdom of God.  Inside him now radiates the "glory" - that is, the light - of God, and it transforms him.

However, we would be remiss if we ended our study at this point and not examine what the enlightened Christian is transformed into.

We mentioned a path which the faithful walks along, and a course that he takes.  What is the objective? What is at the end of that course?  And, having spoken of infantile Christians, what is regarded as their adulthood? Because surely there cannot be a course without a final destination, or an ageing without eventual maturity...

The answer to "where does a Christian head towards?" can be found in the Apostle Paul's Epistle to Ephesians:

"...until all of us have reached the unity in faith and the full knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we no longer be infants.... [Ephesians 4:13,14]

Our objective therefore is to move on, from our infantile state (which, as we saw, is our enslavement to the elements of the world, to sin), to the "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ". In other words, to resemble Christ. That is when we shall be "perfect men".

So, here is the goal - the end of the pathway - for "all" Christians:  To become "perfect", to become "Christ" by Grace. The more we resemble Christ, the closer we get to adulthood and become perfected.  The Christian course is a "path", and not a "religious place" in which we stand. We must keep walking on it, if we wish to continue to be on the Christian path. That is why the Christian faith at the time of the Apostles was also called "the way" (Acts 19:9,23).
It is a road, on which the saints "all with face unveiled, reflecting the glory of God in that very image, are transformed from glory to glory..." [2 Corinthians 3:18]

The saints are transformed "from glory to glory", resembling Christ more and more. They reflect the glory - the light - of the Lord more and more.  They exercise their sensors, so that they can discern good and evil, and follow the example of the Lord Jesus.

"...for, everyone who partakes of milk, inexperienced in the word of righteousness, is an infant.  Solid food is for the perfected ones, who have exercised theirs sensors for discerning both good and evil. Which is why, by leaving behind the initial words of Christ, we strive towards perfection..."

The objective of a Christian is to reach perfection - that is, "sanctification". Let us observe this, the way it is mentioned in the Holy Bible:

"...that you may become blameless and whole...."   [Philippians 2:15]
"...that we may present each man perfect...."  [Colossians 1:28]
"...that you may stand perfect and the will of God".    [Colossians 4:12]

"...your sanctification is the will of God".      [1 Thessalonians 4:3]

"...pursue peace and sanctification" [without which, no-one shall see God].  [Hebrews 12:14]
" that you may be perfect and whole, lacking in nothing".    [James 1:4]
" that the man of God may be every good deed".   [2 Timothy 3:16]

This objective is achieved, only by emulating God:

"...perfect, just as your Father is..."   [Matthew 5:48]
"Become therefore emulators of God, as beloved children"   [Ephesians 5:1]
"...donning the new (man), who is renewed unto awareness, according to the image of the One who created him". [Colossians 3:10]
" accordance with the holy one Who has invited you, they likewise are holy ..."  [1 Peter 1:15]
"...and whosoever has this hope (to see Him and resemble Him), purifies himself, just as He is pure... [1 John 3:3]
Christ alone was a Man who lived without deviating from His original destination. That is the reason God "had destined (the saved ones) to be alike to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29), "Who is the image of the invisible God"  (Colossians 1:15, 2 Corinthians 4:4). 

"Holy" (sanctified), therefore, is not the one who has simply been baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ"; it is the one who has reached the point of resembling Him.

"...those whom He has known beforehand, He has destined to be alike to the image of His Son".  [Romans 8:29].
"...I live no longer; for Christ lives within meI am now living in the flesh, but I am alive in the faith of the Son of God…" [Galatians 2:20].

Thus, it is through sanctification that man will see God.

"...because everyone shall see Me, from the youngest to the eldest of them [Hebrews 8:10,11]
"…sanctification, without which, no-one shall see the Lord".    [Hebrews 12/ιβ΄ 14.
"...and everyone who has this hope (to see Him and to be like Him) is purifying himself unto Him, just as He is pure..."
[1 John 3:3].

Naturally, the objective is to also become - at the suitable time - "like Christ" in body as well:

"...Who will transform our body, to be like the body of His glory..." [Philippians 3:21].
"...alike Him...".  [1 John 3:2,3].

But before we say anything more on the method of perfection, let us examine how else perfection is named in the New Testament.

We have already seen that the end of the road is perfection - that is, the likeness of Jesus Christ - and that is "sanctification".  In the following section, we shall see another word that is used for the term "perfection": "awareness" ("επίγνωση").



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Article published in English on: 10-7-2010.

Last update: 10-7-2010.