Last week, we had a lesson I titled: "You need to be baptized three times." We discussed how the Holy Spirit convicts and places a repentant sinner's into the body of Christ. This is called, among other names, the New Birth. The next baptism is in water, where a minister immerses a believer in water as a witness and sign to those watching that they are a child of God. The third baptism occurs when Jesus Christ takes a believer and immerses them in the Holy Spirit. Today, I want to begin looking at the 3rd baptism on this chart - that of the Holy Spirit. This is quite commonly called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
On January 1, 1901, the first day of the new century, from the Vatican, Pope Leo XIII invoked the Holy Spirit by singing the hymn "Veni Creator Spiritus.," which means "Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest." With this he dedicated the 20th century to the Holy Spirit.
On that same day on the other side of the world, a group of students in Charles Parham's small Topeka, Kansas Bible school, experienced a Pentecostal outpouring when a young woman was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke "in tongues."
What made this so unique was not that she spoke in tongues. Others had done that. The uniqueness was for her, and those who soon experienced the same thing, that it served as evidence of a renewal of the New Testament "Baptism in the Holy Spirit." When she spoke "in tongues", she did so believing that it was a biblically based, empowering experience that is distinct and subsequent to salvation.
With this, the Pentecostal century had begun. A few years later, another outpouring occurred in Los Angeles, when William J. Seymour, influenced by Parham, preached the Pentecostal baptism with the Holy Spirit. Within weeks, people were flocking to the Azusa Street mission. This was but one of many Holy Spirit awakenings around the world at the same time.
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter described the Holy Spirit baptism this way:
Acts 2:16-18 NKJV
16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
In his sermon, Peter mentions the prophet Joel and what he wrote. And what follows in Peter's sermon is taken from Joel 2:28-32. In the verses we just read, twice the words, "pour out," are used. This is a descriptor of what happens when a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Before getting into a discussion of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I want to speak for a moment about another pouring out. I am speaking about the Lord Jesus pouring out His precious blood. On the day before He was crucified, Jesus instructs His disciples in the observance of the Lord's Supper. By this ordinance, they were to remember Him in his absence. He partook of the cup and said "This is the new covenant…which is poured out for many" (Matthew 26:28).
This is a wonderful thing for us to consider. If I understand the expression correctly, it means that there is no reluctance, no restraint, no holding back the pouring out of His blood because He loved us that much.
In Psalm 22:14 it was said of Christ prophetically, "I am poured out like water." And in Isaiah 53:12 we read "he has poured out his soul unto death." From passages like these, we get the impression of One who gives Himself. He gave His own life with no restraint. It is because He poured out his blood that I am saved today. If you haven't yet given your life to Christ, asking him to forgive your sins, He willingly gave his life and poured out his blood for you. Do not hesitate coming to Christ to have your sins removed. His love for you and me is so great and powerful, that He is prepared to go the full distance and express His love in this wonderful way.
One thing is sure - had there been no pouring out of the wonderful life of the Lord Jesus, there would have been no pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5 adds that "God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit..."
Today I want to turn our attention to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. As mentioned last week, the doctrine of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the prime difference between Pentecostals and other Evangelicals.
There are some who say the baptism in the Holy Spirit no longer exists today and was only given to the first-century church. Others say that every Christian is already baptized in the Holy Spirit, and that it occurs at the moment of salvation. Those who believe the Holy Spirit baptism was only for the first century also believe that the Spiritual Gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 have ceased. We will address both aspects of this when we get to a study of Spiritual Gifts.
In our lesson a week ago, we address the belief of whether the baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs at one's salvation. I think we quite positively showed that it usually occurs subsequent to salvation. If you were not with us last week, you can read the lesson at our internet site.
First of all, I want us to be aware that there are a number of biblical designations for this one experience.
1. The Promise of the Father Acts 1:4
2. Baptized with the Holy Spirit Acts 1:5
3. Filled with the Holy Spirit Acts 2:4
4. Endued with power from on high Luke 24:49
5. The Holy Spirit fell upon them Acts 11:15
6. The gift of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:38; Acts 10:45
7. Received the Holy Spirit Acts 8:15
8. Pouring out the Spirit Acts 2:17
9. The Holy Spirit came upon them Acts 19:6
All of these phrases are synonymous to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. And during the course of our lessons, I will probably use a number of these descriptors.
Another issue we need to take note of is that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a definite experience which one may know whether they have received or not. This is evident from the command of Jesus, where He said, in Luke 24:49: "Tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." The implication here is that they would know when they were endued with power from on high. How else would they know how long to tarry? There was evidence of a definite experience indicating the fulfillment of Christ's words.
In Acts 6, where we have the assignment of the first 7 deacons. The apostles told the people to select 7 men "full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom." This not only says that it was a definite experience in the lives of these men, but that the affect of that experience was observable by others in a definite way.
When Paul asked the Ephesian disciples it they had "received the Holy Spirit when they believed," the implication is that if they had, they would know it and give Paul a "yes" answer. If you couldn't know for sure, then the question is mute - being unanswerable.
Yes, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a definite experience and of such character that one can know whether he/she has received it or not. The Bible is not vague or indefinite about the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
As we continue our discussion about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I want us to keep in mind something I mentioned last week and again at the beginning of this lesson. The agent in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is Jesus. It is Jesus who baptizes a believer in the Spirit.
Mark 1:7-8 (NKJV) informs us of this fact.
7 And he preached, saying, "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.
8 I indeed baptized you with water, but He (Christ) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
But someone might rightfully raise the question: Isn't the baptism called the "Promise of the Father?" Is this a discrepancy? No, the Bible does actually give us the answer to what may at first seem an inconsistency. Let me begin to present the answer in the form of a question?
DID YOU KNOW THAT JESUS RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT TWICE?
We are all aware how the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at the Jordan River. That was the first time Christ received the Holy Spirit.
DO YOU KNOW WHEN HE RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT A SECOND TIME?
The second times is mentioned by Peter in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost. Peter tells the people how Jesus was unjustly killed, and then in verse 32, says:
Acts 2:32-33 NKJV
32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.
But, now notice the next verse.
33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
Yes, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is called the Promise of the Father, but here, we are told Christ received from the Father "the promise of the Holy Spirit." This is the second time He receives the Holy Spirit from the Father, but this time not for Himself. This time He turns and pours the Holy Spirit out on His followers, because He knows they (we) cannot do the work before us in our own strength.
I wanted to take time to emphasize the consistency of the Bible. But I wanted to also bring our focus back to Jesus Christ. Even though we are studying the baptism in the Holy Spirit, Jesus is always to be the center of our focus. Everything centers in Him. He is the One who baptizes us in His Spirit. There is no Spirit baptism without the direct activity of Jesus Christ. It is Christ the Crucified, Risen, and exalted Lord who pours forth the Holy Spirit.
However much one may rightly stress the activity of the Holy Spirit, our lives should still be a Christocentric life. And the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a Christocentric event. It is not the Holy Spirit that baptizes us - but Christ Himself. God the Father is the ultimate source, but it is through Jesus Christ the Lord that the Holy Spirit is given.
Foretold in the Old Testament
Some may wonder if this is a New Testament phenomenon. Or did the Old Testament writers speak prophetically about this? I think we can show that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts was a fulfillment (or partial fulfillment) of several prophecies in Scripture.
First, let's look at the cry of the heart of Moses. In Numbers 11:29, Moses is speaking to Joshua - He says: "Oh, that all God's people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them."
Secondly, let's look at what Isaiah wrote in anticipation of the Spirit's outpouring.
Isaiah 32:13-15 NKJV
13 On the land of my people will come up thorns and briers, Yes, on all the happy homes in the joyous city;
15 Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest.
Isaiah, in the 7th century B.C. began to announce that God was going to make his Spirit more widely available. Ten chapters later in Isaiah, we read:
Isaiah 44:3 NKJV
3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring;
During the Babylonian exile, Ezekiel made a similar announcement.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 NKJV
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Then we have the prophet Joel announcing that God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh.
Joel 2:28-29 NKJV
28 And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
Joel prefaced these verses by earlier saying that the "last days" would contain both the former rain of the Spirit and the latter rain of the Spirit (verse 23).
Aspects of the infilling of the Holy Spirit
There are several words or phrases that are used when speaking of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I want to examine these words or phrases because they will help us understand several aspects of this event.
The first is the word, Pentecost." This word refers to an historic event, the narrative of which is recorded in Acts 2. But "Pentecost" is also a present and personal event. This event was then, and is now, two-sided. On one side we have Christ the Lord who is the baptizer. On the other are those who are baptized by Christ.
Pentecost represents more than a once-for-all incident in the life of the early church. The Spirit of God was not poured out upon a community of faith on that first day to remain there until the end of time. Such a view fails to understand Pentecost as both past and present, and leaves little room or expectation for the reality to occur among people now. If the baptism in the Holy Spirit is to take place today, there must be the recognition of its continuing possibility.
Next, the baptism in the Spirit occurs within the arena of faith. Faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is the essential precondition. Only those who have believed on Jesus may share in the Pentecostal reality.
The event of the Spirit baptism may not necessarily occur coincident with the moment of putting one's faith in Christ as Savior. In other words, one's baptism in the Holy Spirit may occur then or at a later time. Many today would testify that the baptism happened somewhere along the way of faith, not at the beginning.
If you were to read all accounts of the filling of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, you will readily notice that "faith" is involved. In many of the accounts, those who received the infilling of the Holy Spirit are said to have "believed," which is a word denoting faith.
Again, last week we looked at the three baptisms mentioned in the Bible.
1. Baptism into the body of Christ at salvation (1 Corinthians 12:13).
2. Baptism in water
3. Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).
The baptism in water doesn't really take faith. It takes obedience. But the other two do require faith. Without faith it is not possible to become a part of the body of Christ. Likewise, without faith, the Holy Spirit is not given and received.
The next word I want to discuss is the word "suddenly." One does not come to receive the Holy Spirit by going through a pre-programmed pattern. The original Pentecost came about suddenly, and there remains an element of surprise in its occurrence today. The Holy Spirit, as we learned in an earlier lesson, is sometimes spoken of as "wind" which we do not know where it came from or where it is going. God the Holy Spirit acts with some sovereign unpredictability, and His ways cannot be computerized.
On the human side there is also a wide range of spiritual awareness, so that not everyone is ready at the same time for the operation of God to occur. For some, there may be a hesitant unwillingness to surrender oneself to the Spirit, where all the barriers have been dropped. Probably all of us have been guilty of holding in reserve certain areas of our personality.
But when something inside finally gives way, the baptism in the Holy Spirit may happen. That process may involve extended prayer, earnest and continuing in worship. In most cases the baptism occurs where there is an attitude of openness and expectancy.
None of this, however, is a formula for achieving or earning the Holy Spirit. This is not something you earn - it is a gift. The baptism in the Spirit is, as we have said before, an act of grace on God's part. And because it is a gift, you will need to "receive" it. But throughout, there is still an element of spontaneity, unpredictability and surprise.
The next word to consider is that the Holy Spirit baptism is a "filling." Acts 2:4 says they were "all filled with the Holy Spirit."
This is a word that expresses totality. To be "filled with" or to be "full of" the Holy Spirit speaks of totality probably even more markedly than the word "baptism." For instance, when a person is said to be "filled with joy," everyone understands this as referring to the whole self. Such a person is rejoicing with all of his/her being - body, mind and spirit. Even so, to be "filled with the Spirit" is to express the situation in which the whole of human existence is activated by a divine presence.
When you consider the last two words - "filled" and "suddenly" - it speaks of a force that is not gradual or passive. Rather, this is a decisive endowment of spiritual power and energy. When the Spirit is "poured out" or "falls," life can never be quite the same again.
Giving & Receiving
The last word is actually two. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is both a giving and receiving. The expression, "the gift of the Holy Spirit," may be used to speak of the divine side of the baptism. On the other side, the "receiving of the Holy Spirit," depicts the human side.
While this is true, we must never forget that this is altogether God's gracious doing. Man earns nothing, adds nothing, he/she merely receives. Consequently, there are no conditions or requirements to be met, except you must already be a child of God.
There are no stairs to climb or hoops to jump through, but simply the reception of a freely offered gift. Still, without receiving, the gift remains afar. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an occasion of both giving and receiving. And it has been so since the first Pentecost.
In Acts 10:38, we are told that all Christ did - the miracles He performed - were done by the power of the Holy Spirit. He has given to us, His church, the task of taking the gospel to all peoples. But He knew we could not do this in our own strength. Just as He had the Holy Spirit fill him prior to his first miracle, we also need to have the Holy Spirit fill us with power for our ministry. We dare not trust our own resources.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is for any believer who desires a closer walk with the Lord. Near the end of His sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the people asked what they must do.
He replied, in Acts 2:38-39 NIV
38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call."
Who can receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit? All that are genealogically far off in the future - for any person He has called. That means it is for you and me.