Posted by: pastortomvabeach | August 8, 2012

Thought for the Week August 12, 2012

I trust that you are taking Paul’s words to heart and “being filled with the Spirit” on a full time basis. I have noticed that many are wanting more of God’s presence in their lives and I’m hearing that God is showing up in many situations of people’s lives in specific, unmistakable and powerful ways. I really sense that something is about to happen as the Lord stirs us up to be His people in the circles we frequent and influence!

As we navigate the “elementary teachings” in Hebrews 6:1-2, we come to one that doesn’t really seem “elementary” and even causes us to wonder. After mentioning the “doctrine of baptisms” the writer then says, “of laying on of hands”. What’s that about? I’m sure many have seen someone come for prayer and have hands laid on them but why would this be an “elementary principle of Christ”?

First, it’s important that we understand that there is nothing magical or mysterious about laying on hands. I don’t see any mandate to incorporate rituals of laying on hands as if there was some special power in our hands. This was specifically mentioned in Acts 8. When Peter and John came down to Samaria to pray for the new believers to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, they did so by laying hands on them (Acts 8:17). A new convert who had been a sorcerer and was quite schooled in the magic arts and rituals saw what happened and immediately offered to pay Peter to give him the power to lay on hands and impart the Holy Spirit. Peter rebuked him, Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money. (Acts 8:20).

Peter was surely making sure everyone knew that God’s gifts are given freely but at the same time, I think he was making a statement to show that life in Christ, every gift, any practice has absolutely nothing to do with the types of rituals pagans the world over practice. There is no magical power in our touch. But there is power in God’s presence in our lives and the right standing of our hearts before Him. Peter also said, You have neither part nor portion in this…for your heart is not right in the sight of God. (Acts 8:21)

So what is the value of “laying on of hands”? This week we will discuss laying on of hands to acknowledge God’s calling, to assign responsibility for ministry, and to impart spiritual authority and power. Again, none of this is ritual magic. The outstretched hand conveys the idea of relationship, fellowship, and approval.

When Moses was about to die, God told him to bring Joshua before the people, lay hands on him, and turn leadership over to him (Numbers 27:15-23). God had called Joshua. When Moses laid hands on him, it showed the people this is God’s man whom you are to follow. It gave the people confidence that God had put the leader in place. It also gave Joshua the encouragement to take the burden of leadership responsibility by showing him that Moses, God’s anointed leader, entrusted Joshua with the job.

God also uses this method to transfer power from one Christian, with a right heart, to another. In Exodus, God instructed that the priests lay hands on the “scapegoat” on the Day of Atonement in order to symbolically transfer the sins of the people onto the goat. Once that had happened the goat was sent off into the wilderness to carry away the sins since God had forgiven them.

This same kind of picture is shown in a positive sense in the New Testament when hands were laid on believers to impart the baptism in the Holy Spirit and to pass on spiritual gifts (see I Timothy 4:15). Note this is just one way the baptism in the Holy Spirit was given. There were instances where God just sovereignly baptized whole groups of people (Acts 2 and 10). The laying on of hands is a way to demonstrate faith and trust in the Lord.

We plan to recognize God’s call on many individual this Sunday. We believe this will encourage and energize the people being recognized as well as give the congregation a new level confidence in their capacity to carry out the responsibilities God has given them. Let’s also be in prayer that God sends His power to anoint every one for the ministry to which He’s called. Let’s be “elementary”. Just a thought.


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