Posts Tagged 'Spirit baptism'

The Holy Spirit and You, Part 6


The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Part 2


The New Testament teaches that there are three baptisms:

   baptism into Jesus Christ, which refers to our initial conversion

   baptism in water, which is a testimony to the world of our conversion

   baptism in the Holy Spirit, which refers to a heavenly blessing, from Jesus, whereby a believer experiences a fullness of the Spirit he never experienced before

The baptism in the Holy Spirit – this “subsequent baptism” – gives its recipient the potential of exhibiting various gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Even though every born again believer is filled with the Holy Spirit at the very moment of his conversion, the teaching of the New Testament definitely supports the idea of a “subsequent baptism,” an experience available to all believers; a glorious encounter with the Spirit, that adds a depth to his relationship with Christ.

When a Christian is baptized in the Spirit, something happens to him on the inside.  Somehow, that believer realizes his complete and utter helplessness and unworthiness as he feels the tangible presence of God in his heart.  He will become very conscious of God’s presence in his life; he will feel when God’s Spirit is grieved because he himself will be grieved.   The Word of God will take on a new, burning importance to him.  He will experience a strange, new enthusiasm for the “things of God,” things like Bible study and fellowship with other believers. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that a Christian baptized in the Holy Spirit has a power heretofore unknown to him, but it is a power to serve and glorify God, not a power to benefit his flesh in any way.  And this is the important point.  The Holy Spirit wasn’t given until Christ was glorified, and until we are prepared to glorify Him at any cost, we won’t experience the baptism in the Spirit.  This is probably why so many Christians have not experienced this blessing; they may love Jesus and they may serve Him, but He is not The Lord of their hearts.

When a believer is baptized in the Spirit, certain things will happen.  The Spirit always makes His presence known!

1.  Amazement

 “How can this be? they exclaimed. For these men are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking all the native languages of the lands where we were born! Here we areParthians, Medes, Elamites, men from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia Minor, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the Cyrene language areas of Libya, visitors from Romeboth Jews and Jewish convertsCretans, and Arabians. And we all hear these men telling in our own languages about the mighty miracles of God!

They stood there amazed and perplexed. What can this mean?” they asked each other.  (Acts 2:7-12  TLB)

“What can this mean?”  All these people visiting Jerusalem for Passover celebrations saw and heard a lot more than they bargained for!  They experienced “second hand” the tremendous blessing the disciples received.  They saw and heard, but they didn’t understand it.  Why?  It’s because the natural mind cannot make sense of the things of the Spirit.  The unredeemed mind will always be blind to these things until it is set free by the Holy Spirit.

But the man who isnt a Christian cant understand and cant accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us. They sound foolish to him because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. Others just cant take it in. But the spiritual man has insight into everything, and that bothers and baffles the man of the world, who cant understand him at all. 16   (1 Corinthians 2:14, 15  TLB)

When a Christian has experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit, his life will not be the same; his speech will not be the same; God’s thoughts become his thoughts.  When a preacher experiences this fullness of the Spirit, his sermons become more than just talks laced with man’s wisdom, they will demonstrate the power of Spirit because where the Spirit is, He will manifest His own presence.  Listeners will ask, “What does this mean?” and lives will be changed by the Word.

2.  Glory to God

Be happy if you are cursed and insulted for being a Christian, for when that happens the Spirit of God will come upon you with great glory.  (1 Peter 4:14  TLB)

Not everybody appreciates the fact that you are a Christian and even within the ranks of the Church, not everybody will appreciate the fact that you have been baptized in the Spirit.  Brothers and sisters in the Lord may mock you, as surprising as that may seem.   It’s always that way, though.  The worldly mind has a hard time comprehending the things of God.  And, sadly, the church of Jesus Christ is awash in worldly minds today.  But, as Peter observed, consider it a blessing when you are “cursed and insulted for being a Christian.”  Consider it a badge of honor when your testimony confounds even a fellow believer because in those moments, God will be glorified!  God is always glorified when He anoints one of us.  God is always glorified when we are at last humbled and He becomes the One standing in our stead. 

When God is truly glorified IN us, He will be glorified THROUGH us.

3.  Ongoing fellowship

If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you.  (John 14:15, 16  TLB)

But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, in your hearts, so that you dont need anyone to teach you what is right. For he teaches you all things, and he is the Truth, and no liar; and so, just as he has said, you must live in Christ, never to depart from him.  (1 John 14:6  TLB)

Our continuing fellowship with God the Father is made possible ONLY if we remain in full communion with the Holy Spirit.  Now would be a good time to consider how much time you spend in active fellowship with the Holy Spirit over the past week.  Did you even give Him a passing thought?  You might want to reconsider the role He plays in your life!  He makes fellowship with God the Father and the Son possible. 

Yes, continual, ongoing fellowship is made possible by the Holy Spirit.  But when we neglect the Holy Spirit, either on purpose by ignoring Him or simply by honest neglect, we are literally cutting ourselves off from the kind of intimate fellowship God wants with us.

So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the olive oil he had brought and poured it upon Davids head; and the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him and gave him great power from that day onward. (1 Samuel 16:13  TLB)

“From that day onward.”  David, sins and all, had unbroken fellowship with God  every day because the Spirit was in him and, as we read in the Psalms, he acknowledged His presence.

4.  Holy boldness

The presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer will make that believer especially bold when it comes to sharing the Word of God.  Just consider these verses:

When the Council saw the boldness of Peter and John and could see that they were obviously uneducated non-professionals, they were amazed and realized what being with Jesus had done for them!  (Acts 4:13  TLB)

Teacher, these spies said, we know you tell the truth no matter what! You arent influenced by the opinions and desires of men, but sincerely teach the ways of God. Now tell us, is it right to pay taxes to Rome, or not?  (Mark 12:14  TLB)

The Holy Spirit will make you like Jesus.  Jesus courageously proclaimed the Word of God, and when you allow His Spirit to use you, so will you!  You will be like Jesus:  courageous.  Do you find it hard to share Jesus with other people?  You need to step out in faith, open your mouth, and let Him speak through you.  Think about Gideon:

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet as a call to arms, and the men of Abiezer came to him.  (Judges 6:34  TLB)

Gideon was filled with a holy boldness when he blew that trumpet.  The fact is, when one is overflowing with the Holy Spirit, he can not help but blow that trumpet!  When you are overflowing with the Holy Spirit, you can not help but speak the Word of The Lord to those who need to hear it.

“We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we saw Jesus do and heard him say.  (Acts 4:20  TLB)

5.  A powerful testimony

When you walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, you will be an effective witness for Christ.  This is all part of that “holy boldness” in that declaring the goodness of God will become natural to you.  Here is the Biblical precedent:

After this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly preached Gods message…And the apostles preached powerful sermons about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and there was warm fellowship among all the believers… (Acts 4:31, 33  TLB)

But we also see this precedent in the life and ministry of Micah, the Old Testament prophet, who wrote this:

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, fearlessly announcing Gods punishment on Israel for her sins.  (Micah 3:8  TLB)

Micah was filled with the Holy Spirit and was consequently filled with His power for the purpose testifying!  When you are full to overflowing with the Holy Spirit, He will anoint you to share Jesus – to testify about Him – without holding anything back.  He will give you the right words to say and He will bring back to your memory the Word you have hidden in your heart.  In fact, the Holy Spirit is the Great Witness, and we are co-workers with Him.

But I will send you the Comforterthe Holy Spirit, the source of all truth. He will come to you from the Father and will tell you all about me.  And you also must tell everyone about me because you have been with me from the beginning.  (John 15:26, 27  TLB)

And we are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to all who obey him.  (Acts 5:32  TLB)

So the Holy Spirit will give us the power to talk about the greatness of God.  But, that power will only be in direct proportion to how willingly we work with Him.  If you want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit, then step out in faith and open your mouth.

6.  Might works

Those who have experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit and who continue to walk in the fullness of the Spirit will be able to not only talk about the greatness of God, but they will be able to DO great things for God.  Think about Samson:

At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him and since he had no weapon, he ripped the lions jaws apart and did it as easily as though it were a young goat!  (Judges 14:6  TLB)

Samson ended up a failure, but that’s not the fault of the Holy Spirit.  We can see multiple examples in his life of how the Spirit gave this man supernatural strength.  He can do that for you too.  The “lion difficulties” of your life, which threaten to derail your faith, will become as feeble as a “young goat” when you walk in the fullness of the Spirit.

Jesus promised:

In solemn truth I tell you, anyone believing in me shall do the same miracles I have done, and even greater ones, because I am going to be with the Father.  (John 14:12  TLB)

This promise was fulfilled because Jesus left and sent us the Advocate, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  The baptism in the Holy Spirit opens up new avenues of service because we are given gifts to do work for Christ.  So many Christians – genuine believers – are fearful of this experience, and yet there is no need to fear any blessing from Christ!  The Holy Spirit’s business is NOT to embarrass you, making you do crazy things you would otherwise never do.  He is not a feeling or an emotion or a foreign language.   The Holy Spirit is already in you, waiting to do even more through you.  Let Him engulf your whole being and you will be amazed at He will do.


John and His Preaching

Luke 3:7—18

What was it that motivated John the Baptist? He was an ordinary man on an extraordinary mission: to get his world ready for the arrival of the Messiah by preparing the hearts of those who would hear his message. John preached the “baptism of repentance.” He was the last of the Old Testament prophets; he walked from the pages of the Old Testament into the opening pages of the New. He is like a bridge connecting the two eras with a single message: the Messiah is coming…get ready!

His message resonated with the people; he had his followers. His message also attracted the ire of the religious elite. How did John respond to these religious people? Let’s take a look…

1. A tough question, verse 7

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”

What a way to address your congregation! Just who was John the Baptist directing this question to? The answer is found the parallel passage, Matthew 3:7—9.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

John was addressing the two main sects in Judaism of his day. Who were the Pharisees? The name or title comes from the Hebrew word parash, meaning “the separated one.” Some scholars believe “pharisee” comes from another Hebrew word, perushim, which has a similar meaning to parash, but the separation is specified: from “unclean people.” In either case, we can see that aim of the Pharisees was to live away from the “normal folk.”

It was during the Babylonian captivity that Pharisaism began. During this period, the Jews had no Temple to worship in, so they became “people of the Book” in their everyday lives. The Law of Moses became central to their lives and the study and teaching of the Law became the obligation of the religious leaders. Later, during the Maccabean years, the Hasidim (the pious ones) struggled to keep Judaism free from the influences of the surrounding pagan religions. And during the time of Herod the Great, it is estimated that there were some 6,000 Pharisees practicing in Israel. The main task was enforcing the Law of Moses, as well as the myriad of other rules and regulations that had been added to the Law since the days of the Captivity.

The Sadducees made up the second largest sect in Judaism. They were made up of aristocratic priests, and while the Pharisees could be found teaching in and around synagogues all over the land, the Sadducees stayed in and maintained control of the Temple in Jerusalem.

It should be noted that the Pharisees, in spite of their obsession with the minute details of the Law, were much more popular with the people than the Saducess. They are mentioned 100 times in the New Testament while the Sadducees only 14 times. After the the final destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the Sadducees vanished from the face of the earth. It is not an exaggeration to say that Judaism exists today because of the efforts of the Pharisees.

These people John the Baptist addressed as “a generation of vipers.” Why he calls them this derogatory term is suggested by the question: “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” Or, in other words, as far as John was concerned, the reason they were coming out to be baptized was simply to avoid God’s judgment. They were doing the proper thing but with the wrong motive.

2. An important demand, verse 8

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. (Matthew 3:9)

The Pharisees and religious people loved the symbols but had no interest in the substance of faith. This really rankled John the Baptist because he understood what real repentance was all about: turning TO God FROM sin. You can’t turn to God and take your sin with you! But that doesn’t stop many believers from doing just that. Certainly they were baptized, but they came up out of the waters of baptism the same person they were when they went in! To John, this was not true repentance. A new life must be manifested by a new way of living. The religious were proud of their connection to Abraham, but to John, father Abraham was incidental to manifest faith in God.

John may have been a simple prophet living out in the desert eating insects, but he could certainly turn a phrase! His retort to their reliance on religious pedigree was terse:  if God wanted to, He could make children of Abraham out of rocks. So, religious pedigree means nothing to God. What God demands is a change in moral character.

3. A testing crisis, verse 9

The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Here is a powerful metaphor suggesting that God’s judgment is ready to take place. At any time, the lumberjack will pick up his axe and swing it. Every tree that is not producing its proper fruit will be chopped down and burned up. This is an idea Jesus would much later take up:

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:19)

This is not exactly a message about God’s love! In fact, John the Baptist never preached about the love of God. His message was a dire one: turn or burn. This is the responsibility of every sinner who hears the Gospel message; once they hear it, they must respond to it. If they don’t accept it and repent, they will face sure and certain judgment.

There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. (John 12:48)

Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him. (Luke 8:18)

4. A practical doctrine, verses 10—14

What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

In this paragraph, John the Baptist sounds more like John the Counselor. Even though some specific groups of Jewish people are addressed, John the Counselor gives universal principles that apply to all believers in all generations.

First, Christians should always manifest brotherly love. If a Christian sees a need, he should do what he can to meet that need. Showing brotherly love is a way to allow others, sometimes unbelievers, to experience the love of God.

Second, believers should be honest in their business practices. Tax collectors were in view here, but the point is much broader than just honest taxation. The real point here is that of all the people in the world who engage in business of any kind, the Christian should always be the most honest and above reproach; we ought never to take advantage of another.

Last, John addressed some soldiers. To them, his advice involves being content with your lot and not taking advantage of others in order to improve that lot. It’s all well and good to be ambitious and to take honest advantage of situations and circumstances to have a better life, but a Christian should never be so dissatisfied with their position in life that they would harm others to get ahead.

The fact that all this practical advice is given within the context of a sermon on repentance suggests that cheating others, taking unfair advantage of others, and not caring for others is the natural way of the world. When Christians repent, they must turn from that way of living. However, merely changing ones way of life is not what results in salvation. Repentance that does not lead to a life of faith in Jesus Christ is a repentance that should be repented of!

5. A humbling confession, verse 16a

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.

Some of those listening to John’s preaching were so impressed, they thought he might be the promised Messiah, so John made it clear: he was NOT. While John may have been mighty in righteousness, Jesus is mighty in grace. John may have been an imposing preacher, and he may have preached with authority, but it wasn’t his authority, it was derived from Christ.

When John suggests that he isn’t worthy to untie the Messiah’s shoes simply means that as far as John was concerned, he wasn’t even worthy to be the Messiah’s servant.

6. The most significant statement, verse 16b

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Many religions and cults baptize people in water. In this, Christianity is no different. But, John stressed, when the Messiah finally appears, He will baptize His followers, not in water, but with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

The first part of this statement indicates in no uncertain terms that there is a baptism in or with the Holy Spirit. But John the Baptist also says “with fire.” Bible scholars are split on what John meant when said this. Some suggest he was referring back to the “fires of judgment” the fruitless trees would be cast in to. In that case, the preacher is talking about the fire of final judgment.

Others teach that the Baptist is referring to the fires of purity, that is, when one is baptized in the Holy Spirit his life is purified; the dross is being burned off.

And others see the “tongues of fire” here. When the early church was baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit was seen as tongues of fire coming to rest of the head of each believer.

Given what we know about the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the life of a believer, it seems likely that John is referring to life-changing work of the Spirit. He really does function like a blow torch sometimes, burning away the trash in our lives. Bishop Ryle’s statement on this issue is worth noting:

We need to be told that forgiveness of sin is not the only thing necessary in salvation. There is another thing yet; and that is the baptizing of our hearts by the Holy Ghost…Let us n ever rest till we know something by the experience of the baptism of the Spirit. The baptism of water is a great privilege. But let us see to it that we also have the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

There are three things the fire of the Holy Spirit does in the believer: (1) It warms; (2) It lights; and (3) It cleanses. This is what the Holy Spirit brings to the heart of every believer He baptizes. To walk in the Spirit is to live in the glowing fire of God’s presence. When we walk in the Spirit, the things of the Spirit become more real than the things of the world; they become more vital than the things of the world. This baptism, the Baptism of the Spirit, does not happen by working for it; you can’t buy it. It is a gift from the Ascended Christ. Have you laid hold of that gift? If not, why not?

7. A final warning, verse 17

His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

The same One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire also carries a winnowing fork in His hand. The same One who unites and enriches with spiritual blessings will also separate and judge. There will come a day when the Messiah will separate true believers from false.

This is really the summation of the sermon, and John’s point is sharp. Anybody can be baptized in water, Pharisee, Sadducee, common man, but that water baptism must be followed by corresponding evidence of the new life. Somebody that claims to be a Christian and has been dunked in the baptismal tank yet does not live in repentance of sin and obedience to God’s Word will face the winnowing fork. This didn’t happen when Jesus came the first time, but it will when He comes back. The Messiah will separate the true from the false believers, the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the weeds.

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