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Friday, June 26, 2015

Confession and Obedience

"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38)

It was immediately after Jesus' baptism that the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (Luke 3:21-22). In Jesus' baptism, though himself sinless, He humbled Himself to take the sinner's place, and then God highly exalted Him by giving the Holy Spirit and by the audible testimony: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (vs. 22). So we must humble ourselves to make an open confession before the world of our enunciation of sin and of our acceptance of Jesus Christ, by baptism. This is the third step toward the baptism with the Spirit. Of course, the baptism with the Spirit may precede water baptism as in the case of the household of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-47). But this was evidently an exceptional case and water baptism immediately followed. I have little doubt that there have been believers who did not believe in or practice water baptism - for example, the Quakers - who received the fullness of the Spirit, but the passage before us certainly presents the normal order.

The fourth step is clearly implied in Acts 2:38, but it is brought out more explicitly in Acts 5:32: "We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." The fourth step is obedience.

What does "obedience" mean? It is not merely doing one or two things that God commands, or even doing most of the things, but doing everything He commands. The heart of obedience is the will. The whole essence of obedience is the total surrender of the will to God. It means that I come to God and say, "Heavenly Father, here I am and all I have. You have bought me with a price and I acknowledge You absolute ownership. Take me and all I have, and do with me whatever You will. Send me where You will; use me as You desire. I surrender myself and all I possess absolutely, unconditionally, forever to Your control and use." [Amen]

I say yes to this, Father in heaven. I am willing to confess my allegiance to Jesus Christ in whatever way You desire from me. And I gladly enter into this surrender of my will to You. I am bought with the sacrifice of Jesus, and I delight to obey You as my Father. Amen

~R. A. Torrey~

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