I don’t plan on contributing entries this frequently, and I plan to resume the Israel topic on my next entry, but I attended a church service this weekend that provoked me to share. An evangelist (unnamed) was speaking on the anointing, and he related it to Jesus’ ministry while here on earth. His intention was to make the point that we need the anointing for effective ministry (no doubt), and in order to strengthen his point, he made the statement that Jesus could not have performed any miracles without the anointing (seriously doubt). He went so far as to say that Jesus had temporarily suspended his divinity while here on earth, based on his interpretation of Phil. 2:5-11 (entirely doubt). His point was that while Jesus was here on earth, he was not fully God and therefore needed the anointing of the HS for effective ministry just as we do.
Let me be clear, any teaching that denies the full deity of Christ is heresy. It has been deemed heresy by the Church Fathers all along as that is what the scriptures proclaim. There are certain fundamental doctrines that are worth contending for, and this is chief among them. Any Christian is better off not flirting with any ideas that compromise this doctrine. If Jesus was not fully God and fully man, he is not a sufficient mediator between God and man. Nevertheless, maintaining the full deity of Christ does present problems for understanding certain events described in the Gospels. I would like to explore two of those in this blog entry. First, was it necessary for Jesus to receive the baptism in the HS in order to perform miracles? Second, was it necessary for Jesus to fast for 40 days in order to have full authority over Satan?
Jesus’ baptism is described in Matt. 3:13-17, and immediately following that, he went into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting where he was tempted by Satan (4:1-11). His ministry picks up right after these two events. John confirms that Jesus first miracle-turning water into wine-occurred after his baptism. So yes it is true that Jesus did not perform any miracles until after his baptism and period of fasting in the desert, but it does not follow from this chronological account that Jesus could not have performed any miracles until after these events. I did not learn to ride a bike until after I had learned to tie my shoe, but that does not mean that I could not have learned to ride a bike until after I had learned to tie my shoe. If we maintain the full deity of Christ while he was on earth, we must maintain his attribute of omnipotence throughout his time here. Thus, if we want to avoid denying his full divinity, we must conclude that Jesus certainly did have full authority over Satan and was entirely capable of performing miracles prior to his baptism and period of fasting.
As a good Pentecostal, I believe that the baptism in the HS is for the purpose of effective ministry. There is no doubt that we need the HS to be active in our ministry efforts. Acts 1:8 makes it clear that the baptism in the HS provides the power necessary for effective ministry. Does this mean that Jesus also had to have the baptism in the HS in order to perform miracles? If not, why did he receive it? Also, in Mark 9:29, after a failed attempt by the disciples to drive out a demon, Jesus makes the statement, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Some manuscripts omit “and fasting,” but I will assume that the full statement is original to Jesus. According to Jesus’ own statement, should we conclude that Jesus would not have had full authority over Satan had he not fasted in the desert? If not, why did he do so?
God has decided that certain things are going to be accomplished certain ways. We could call this his standard mode of operation. Let’s look at evangelism for example. Paul says in Rom. 10:13-14, “All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher?” We see from this passage that God has decided that people will be saved through the proclamation of the Gospel. This is God’s standard mode of operation. Therefore, we must practice obedience to what he has decided and preach the Gospel. But does this mean that God cannot operate any other way? Is God incapable of saving someone apart from a verbal proclamation of the Gospel? Surely not! There are a plethora of testimonies in which individuals have come to faith without the medium of a preacher (i.e., visions of a resurrected Christ whom Paul himself experienced). God, if he so decides, can and does accomplish things outside of his standard mode of operation. Nevertheless, we should still practice obedience to God’s will. Therefore, even though God can accomplish things alternate ways, it is still our duty to practice obedience to his preferred methods. God’s standard mode of operation is that we should seek to be full of the HS and we should practice the disciplines of prayer & fasting so as to operate in power and authority in our ministry efforts.
Even though Jesus was fully God while on earth, he provided us an example of practicing obedience to the will of the Father while he was here. A good example of this is shown in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemene, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” Jesus came to do the will of the Father, so while here on earth, he submitted to the will of the Father and practiced the Father’s standard mode of operation in many areas (at times he seemed to go outside the box as well). This is why I believe that he received the baptism in the HS and retreated to the wilderness for 40 days of fasting before he began his ministry. This is how the Father wanted him to operate, and Jesus was obedient, but that does not mean that he was dependent upon these events. Jesus did not gain power and authority over Satan through the anointing and fasting. Perish the thought! As God, he has always possessed full power and authority.
Jesus is fully God and has always been such. He did not temporarily suspend his divinity by taking on human form. It is true that there are passages that are difficult to reconcile to this doctrine, but they can be reconciled. In the case of the events mentioned above, I hope that my explanation is sufficient. Yet, even if it is not, may we never undermine this essential Christian doctrine.