WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?
The second step in sanctification is consecration. After having been separated to do the will of God, one must consecrate self. That is what is interesting – the person or the people have to do it. God does not consecrate us. We have to do it.
What is actually meant by the term consecration? It is the call for us to prepare ourselves to do the work the Father has set us aside to do. In the Old Testament, before the Levites could perform the work of caring for the Tabernacle and its articles, they had to consecrate themselves. Before Aaron and his sons could take on the responsibilities of the priesthood, they had to consecrate themselves.
Before the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, he would have to re-consecrate himself before each Day of Atonement.
Consecration is the admission that you have been separated out for a purpose beyond yourself which you are not able to do on your own.
There are several words used in the Old Testament for ‘consecration’ or ‘consecrated’. One such word (found in Exodus 28:41, 29:9, 29:33 and 29:35 as well as in I Chronicles 29:5, 11 Chronicles 13:9 and Ezekiel 43:26) is male’ (pronounced maw-lay). It is defined as to replenish, to restore, to bring to religious fulfillment. Another word is qadash (pronounced kaw-dash), found in Exodus 28:3 and 30:30. It means to be ceremonially clean, to prepare, dedicate, purify someone are some article for holy service. Yet another term is nazar (pronounced naw-zar’), found in Numbers 6:12. which means to abstain from unclean food, drink, and impure lifestyle. Finally, there is the Hebrew word charam (pronounced khaw’-ram). Found in Micah 4:13, its definition is to devote for religious purposes.
In the New Testament there are two Greek words used for ‘consecration’. One is egkainizo (pronounced eng-kahee-nid’-zo). Found in Hebrews 10:26, it means to renew or rededicate oneself. The other is teleloo (pronounced tel-i-o’-o). Found in Hebrews 7:28, it means to complete, to finish, to make ready for service.
In general, then, all of these terms call upon a person to do what it takes be ready to serve God in some way, to change what they are doing and make themselves ready for what God wants them to do.
One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is the story of David bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. It is found in both I Samuel and I Chronicles. What a brilliant political move in centralizing his government in Jerusalem! Part of his strategy was to centralize the faith by bringing the Ark from Kirjath Jearim to a tabernacle spot he had prepared in Jerusalem. David meets with all the leaders and heads of families in Israel and sets the date to move the Ark. Instead of transporting the Ark the appropriate way (as described in Exodus and Numbers), they place it on an ox cart and start the journey toward Jerusalem with music and celebration. The ox stumbles, and the cart tilts in a way that could cause the Ark to fall off. Uzza, a Levite, put out his hand to the Ark to stabilize it, and when he did he was struck dead. Immediately, the entire group atmosphere changed from party time and celebration to awe and fear. The procession stopped, and the Ark was left at the home of another Levite, Obed-Edom, for 3 months.
For those three months, Obed- Edom was so blessed by God that David had to figure out a way to get the Ark moved on to Jerusalem, and eventually he figured out what they were doing wrong. It is described in I Chronicles 15:11-15: (11) “And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab. (12) He said to them, ‘You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; consecrate (qadash) yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the Ark of the LORD God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. (13) For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.’ (14) So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the Ark of the LORD God of Israel. (15) And the children of the Levites bore the Ark of God on their shoulders, by the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD”
Many people think and teach that Uzza was killed because he just touched the Ark. Not so. Uzza was not consecrated, thus he was not only not prepared for the function of transporting the Ark but also he and his fellow Levites had not even prepared themselves to learn the proper method for transportation. The last time the Ark had been moved was during the time of Eli and Samuel. Therefore, David orders them to prepare themselves spiritually and mentally and to do it right this time.
Consecration is a work or process in which we must be involved before we can be used by God. The priests and Levites had to cleanse and purify their thoughts and lives and rededicate themselves for this holy service they were being called upon to provide.
The best example of consecration in the New Testament is again Jesus Himself. In my last article, I quoted from Matthew 3:13, the story of Jesus coming to the Jordan to be baptized by John. This exemplified Jesus being separated out for the work of salvation that the Father was calling Him to do. The actual act of baptism was Jesus’ consecration.
Truthfully, baptism is an act of consecration for all Christians. Unfortunately, we don’t all or always look at it that way. In my Methodist tradition, we believe in baptism as a consecration of the faith community for the person being baptized. The responsibility for that person’s faith and spiritual well being is as much on the congregation as the individual being baptized. A large part of our liturgy is aimed as much or more at the congregation than at the one being baptized. Therefore, we practice baptism of infants and young children, with the parents and congregation pledging to live their lives in such way that the child will be brought up in Christian nurture and eventually their own confirmation. I remember while growing up in my home church we had a pastor who when baptizing a young child or infant would in his robe parade up and down the aisle with the child in his arms and instruct the congregation in no uncertain terms what their responsibility was in this sacrament.
A person is never baptized without training or teaching about what baptism is. When I was baptized I went through 7 weeks of confirmation classes. As a pastor, I have taught confirmation classes for both youth and adults. This would include consultation with youths’ parents. Of course when baptizing an infant, there was consultation with the parents as to their responsibility. I did everything I could to prepare the ones to be baptized for this event. When taught properly and done in the proper manner, baptism is a point of consecration for all involved in the event.
Okay, Dap, if consecration is a time of preparation, how was Jesus prepared when He was baptized? Well, lets go back to the Gospel of Matthew 3:16, “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him.” As I said last week, Jesus’ baptism was not an act of repentance, but an act of submission. Through this submission, Jesus received the one thing necessary for the completion of His ministry, the Holy Spirit. In His act of consecration, Jesus received God’s power to do God’s saving work. Now, if the Son of God needs the Power of God to do God’s work, what does that say about the rest of us?
Let’s go to Acts 2:1-4, “(1) When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as a rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. (3) Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Jesus had told the disciples (recorded in Luke 24:49) that they would receive the promise of the Father, but they needed to tarry in Jerusalem until they would be given the power from on high. Before then, the disciples had deserted Jesus, and although they had begun to come around, they were not ready for the work Jesus had called them to do. They were told to tarry, to wait upon the Father, to wait for the power from on high. Remember Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” The disciples waited for the Holy Spirit, and when the Holy Spirit came, the same men who fled at Jesus’ arrest preached His crucifixion and resurrection – and on that day, 3000 people were saved…
The priests and Levites in David’s day had to consecrate and prepare themselves before they could move the Ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. The disciples had to consecrate themselves, prepare themselves, by waiting for the day of Pentecost, for the promise of the Father, the Power from on high, to begin the work of the church. Jesus prepared Himself, consecrated Himself for the work of salvation that the Father had given Him to do by receiving the Holy Spirit through His baptism.
ANY disciple in the process of seeking God’s face, seeking God’s will, and desiring God to work through him/her must also tarry and wait upon the Lord to receive the Power from on high, the Holy Spirit. For without the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing. We truly are powerless to do the work of God.
I see this as the biggest problem in the church of Jesus Christ today. We are so busy walking in our own wisdom, believing we are smarter than God. Doing our own will and claiming it is God’s (or if He were smart, it would be…). We run on the emptiness of our own strength because we are afraid to submit to His real strength. We are too busy asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?’ We fail to ask Jesus, “What are You doing?”
Believers, CONSECRATE yourselves. Ask Jesus what He doing, then ask Him to work through you to do it. Realize that what He is doing you will never accomplish within your own strength. Just ask Jesus to give you the POWER from on high and wait for Him to answer your prayer. Then and only them will you be able to move to step #3 – participation!
Remember to pray Psalm 91 in the first person each day. If you want to be even more empowered, also pray Psalms 23, 27, and 121 in the first person each day.