We...Beholding...The Lord Are Changed Into the Same Image
(So we are occupied at this time with the second vessel being made by the Potter. The first vessel, Israel, was marred and broken and, for the time being at least, has been set aside, and God has taken up the business of forming a second vessel, which is the heavenly and spiritual Israel.)
Now we have been speaking latterly about the pattern of the new vessel, and this pattern is the Person of God's Son - we are "foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29); so that the Lord Jesus Christ is the pattern to which God is seeking to conform us. We have seen the first movement in this new formation, that is, we have been with the Lord Jesus at the Jordan for His baptism, and we have seen that in His baptism He stepped right out in an utter committal to God.
We turn now to the third chapter in the Gospel by Luke and read from verse 21: "Jesus ... having been baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form, as a dove, upon Him, and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased."
You will notice that the anointing of the Holy Spirit went with the baptism in water, and there is an essential connection between these two. In His baptism Jesus had stepped completely of the ground of the self-life and had taken the ground of the heavenly life with God. This position was witnessed to immediately by heaven - "the heaven was opened" - and was attested by His Father. Jesus was attested by the declaration which the Father made and by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and it was impossible for that to happen until He was on the other side of baptism. The Holy Spirit is never given to the life of the flesh. In the Old Testament it said that the holy anointing oil should not be poured upon man's flesh (Exodus 30:31, 32), and the whole life of the people of Israel carried a symbolism of this fact. If you had gone among those people then you would never have found anyone wearing a short skirt, for both men and women wore long skirts, and their heads were covered. Their very dress was a symbol of the fact that their flesh should not appear before God.
Now I am not saying that this has to be literally the case in our time, but there is a good deal that symbolizes the refusal today to accept the laws of God. Both men and women seem to think that the more flesh they show the happier they are.
Well, of course, this is symbolism, but it points to a spiritual principle. Right through Israel, from the high priest to the smallest child, the garments were long. They were regarded as God's anointed nation and the anointing oil could not come upon their flesh.
In the baptism of Jesus Christ the life of the flesh was entirely repudiated. To use the words of the Apostle Paul, He had symbolically "put away ... the old man" and, in rising out of the water, He had "put on the new man" (Ephesians 4:22, 24). That is, He left earthly ground and took heavenly ground with God. There is a link between His spirit here and God in heaven.
You may thing that is an unnecessary remark, but the Holy Spirit has put a very small fragment in here. It says: "Jesus, having been baptized, and praying;" so that, on this side of the grave, He was united with heaven, and, that being so, He received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. There are very important things for us to recognize. They are vital to our union with Christ, and they set forth the essential connection between baptism and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The normal sequence would be that both happen at the same time; that is, there ought to be no lapse between the meaning of baptism and the receiving of the anointing. That was normal in the New Testament. There were one or two exceptions, but they were not the normal thing.
The point is that you and I ought to follow up as quickly as possible with this matter. I think I would be right in saying that what has become the normal is a division between these two things. My own experience is the experience of many of the Lord's servants: there is a gap of years between my baptism and my coming to know the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and that gap meant a great deal of limitation which was only removed when I came into the knowledge of the anointing.
What I am trying to say is this: We should never regard the beginning of our Christian life with baptism as just something in itself, and that later on we are to receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit. From God's standpoint there is no such thing as a second blessing. I have been asked if I have received the "second blessing," and my reply is: "No, I have come into the first blessing." It should be like that.
(continued with # 14)