Today we continue our study of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is Part Three. Last week, I mentioned that when it comes to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, there are a number of important questions needing answers. As we list them again, I will quickly review those we have already answered in previous lessons.
1. What is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
2. Why is the Baptism so important?
3. Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit available today?
4. Who can be baptized in the Holy Spirit? Is it meant for everyone?
Numbers 3 & 4 were answered together last week.
Acts 2:38-39 NKJV
38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."
When Christ spoke, in Acts 1:8, that we were "to be His witness…to the end of the earth," He was speaking geographically - from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria to the end of the earth. When Peter said the promise was for "all who are afar off," he was not speaking geographically, but genealogical. "The promise is for you and your children and for all who are afar off..." Peter was telling the crowd that this promise was not just for those gathered there on the Day of Pentecost. But it was for their children and grandchildren and to all generations far off in the future. It was available to every succeeding generation yet to come.
The will of God is that you be filled with the Spirit. This verse brings Pentecost to your and my address. This verse also says that what the people "saw and heard" was not just for the first century. It is for all that the Lord calls. This promise is still for you and me.
So, the answer for question #3 is "Yes". It is available to us today - to as many as the Lord calls. That means it is available to all Christians. And that also answers question #4 - It is available to all.
Let's continue with the list of questions.
5. Why does a person need the infilling of the Holy Spirit?
6. Are there any prerequisites to receiving the Holy Spirit?
7. Can I earn or become worthy to receive the baptism?
8. When does the baptism occur?
We answered this about four weeks ago. The answer is: The Baptism in the Spirit occurs following, or subsequent, to one's salvation. You can find all the biblical examples of this in a lesson on our web site, entitled, "You need to be baptized three times."
9. Can a person receive the baptism without knowing it?
We have answered this question several times. The answer is "no." When a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit, both they and others will know it.
10. What are the benefits resulting from the baptism?
11. What are the purposes for the baptism in the Spirit?
12. What is the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit at conversion and at the baptism?
13. How does one receive the baptism in the Spirit?
14. What is the evidence that one is filled with the Holy Spirit?
15. Does the Baptism in the Holy Spirit make a person a higher level Christian?
16. Is laying on of hands necessary for the Infilling of the Holy Spirit?
From what we have seen, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit it is not dispensational. By that, I mean the baptism in the Holy Spirit was not just for the dispensation of the first century. I say that knowing there are some theologians who will disagree. I believe that this experience was not just for a certain period in church history, but for all periods of church history.
As we saw a couple weeks ago, Moses said, in Numbers 11:29, "I wish that all the Lord's people would prophesy." He was expressing the heart of God.
Here is another thing that the Holy Spirit baptism is NOT. It is not only of secondary importance. Some would say that it is really not necessary for the church today. In a future lesson, we will study in detail why we believe this experience did not cease at the end of the first century or at the death of the last apostle.
Blaise Pascal was a great French mathematician of the highest quality. He had a number of accomplishments in the areas of "Projective Geometry" and "Laws of Probability." But at the age of 31, he was baptized in the Holy Spirit in the middle of the night. How did he describe his experience? "Fire! fire! fire!" he wrote. After this experience, Pascal abandoned mathematics and concentrated the rest of his life on God.
Thomas Aquinas was baptized in the Holy Spirit when he was writing his "Summa Theologica." He had worked on this project for 9 years. As a consequence of the Baptism in the Spirit, he never finished the work. What he did write has been published, and is over 3,000 pages in length. You can buy it on Amazon.com for $156, for 5 volumes. When his friends asked him to continue writing, he said it all looked like straw after this experience. In his writing, he had been trying to prove that one cannot experience God directly. Then God came down and adjusted his theology.
Essentially, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a doorway leading from a natural realm into a supernatural realm of life and experience. It opens the door to the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. The Baptism is not utopia, where you can say "I have arrived." It is a necessary step in one's growth in the Lord. It is really just the beginning of an energized and effective service to the Lord.
If all that happened to the 120 in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost had been that they began to speak in tongues, their experience would soon have been forgotten. The same is true today. If all that happens to one receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit is that they speak in tongues, then that person in not forging ahead in faith in this powerful new realm into which God has ushered them.
Question #10, above, read, "What are the benefits resulting from the baptism?" I could also state it, "For what reason should we be baptized in the Holy Spirit?" Or I could simply ask, "Why should one be baptized in the Holy Spirit."
WHY SHOULD ONE BE BAPTIZED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Are there any benefits to the person who receives the infilling of the Holy Spirit? What is it meant to accomplish in us?
The following is a testimony of one who recently received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
"For years I had been a faithful church member. I came to worship, I listened to sermons, I worked on committees, I served in every way I knew how, yet I was not satisfied. When I heard about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I knew this was something I really needed. And when I received it, Jesus became much more real to me. Everything changed! I began to love people. The church services suddenly came to life. All the hymns and prayers became almost unbearably sweet. The sermons sounded as if we had a new minister, only he had been saying the same things all along. I was the one who was changed."
Now, let me give you a number of ways in which the baptism in the Holy Spirit benefits us.
1. Baptism in the Holy Spirit brings a further crucifixion of "the old man."
The baptism in the Holy Spirit brings an increased spiritual sensitivity. This is a spiritual awareness which works in more ways than one. With the baptism comes a heightened awareness of the manifest presence of God, and the work of the Spirit within us. But one also becomes more aware and has an increased sensitivity to the presence of sin. This is true both with regard to themselves and to the world around them.
And with the heightened sensitivity to sin comes a matching desire for holiness. I mentioned to you several months ago that the closer I get to God, the more the light of his presence illuminates my flaws. Sometimes I don't like what I see in myself.
Romans 6:6 speaks of crucifying the "old man." For each of us believer, that began at salvation, and is intensified by the baptism in the Holy Spirit, still the battle against the "old man" continues to be waged. There is no such thing as instant holiness. But the baptism in the Holy Spirit helps in waging that war. In the following chapter in Romans, the apostle Paul speaks about the continual fight with the "old man." And he speaks about it in the first person. It is a constant battle for the apostle Paul himself.
Romans 7:18-8:2 NIV
18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.c For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing.
20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law;
23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
25 Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
8: 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,a
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
In Romans, chapter 7, there is no mention of the Holy Spirit. But in Chapter 8, He is mentioned 21 times. There is no such thing as instant holiness. But the baptism in the Holy Spirit helps in waging that war. This tells us the importance of the Holy Spirit in defeating the old man. And the Baptism in the Holy Spirit will bring godly power to that fight. Jesus said he would sent us another Helper.
John 14:16 NKJV
16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever -
The Holy Spirit is also called the Helper 10 verses later, and then again in John 16:7. Yes, we can rely on the continuous help of the Holy Spirit. And the sense of the help is heightened by the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
2. Baptism in the Holy Spirit brings the Scriptures to life
Choose any church you like and chances are you will find only a small handful of the adult members who are engaged in any real study of the Scripture. It's not that the Average Christian has anything against the Bible. Ask him or her if they believe the Bible and they probably will give a hearty "yes." But to most people, the Bible has no great pull for their attention. It has no real claim on them.
As a boy or young man, I would admit that I lived in an excellent environment, where the Word of God was part of much of what we did. The games we played at home were often entrenched in topics of the Bible. Even before receiving the baptism in the Spirit at age 19, I already was well grounded in the Word. I had already committed much of it to memory. I was able in high school to have a series of debates with my Physics and Chemistry teacher on the topic of evolution, where students could come an listen to the two of us. And when I graduated, that same teacher gave me the Outstanding Science Award which was given to one graduating senior.
Even though I had been schooled in the Word by my parents prior to my Spirit baptism, my hunger for God's Word immediately intensified when on March 17th I received the baptism of the Spirit. I couldn't get enough of the Word. The Holy Spirit - with blazing authority and power - began to teach me this major thesis. "What man cannot do for himself, God's loving, supernatural power will do for me."
Isaiah 30:18 NKJV
18 Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
Yes, the Bible became a living Word of God to me. And that reality and blessing was greatly intensified when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. But this is exactly what Jesus said would happen, as recorded in John 16:13.
John 16:13 NKJV
13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
The Holy Spirit is the great Teacher of the Scriptures. Jesus promised that when the Spirit of truth came, He would lead us into all truth, teach us, and bring us in remembrance of all Jesus had said. The Holy Spirit is also the great Revealer of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "He will glorify Me" (John 16:14).
These two functions of the Holy Spirit - teaching us the Word and glorifying Christ - go together. They go together because Jesus is the Living Word and the Bible is the written Word. The Holy Spirit is the author of the written Word, and He is the one who comes in to be the Interpreter of the Word.
Biblical stories and things I learned as a child became so much more clear and vivid to me as if I had just read them the day before. Who did that? - The Holy Spirit. He is the teacher of God's Word. Under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the biblical message became personal and intimate in a most remarkable fashion. There are times where guidance and insight come leaping from the pages of God's Word in an almost supernatural way (Maybe I shouldn't say "almost").
3. The Baptism in the Spirit makes God's guidance possible in new and powerful ways.
Look again at the first line of the of the Passage we read a moment ago John 16:13 NKJV
13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;...
If we allow ourselves to be guided by Him, He will indeed show us what truths from the Bible we need to understand. Because He is the author of Scripture, He is best qualified to interpret it to us.
Sometimes, He overrides what we may call common sense, where the Holy Spirit will lead us into unexpected actions and decisions where we may feel frustrated and helpless until the results reveal a Will and Wisdom far beyond our own at work. At times, this kind of prompting of the Holy Spirit seems so in conflict with our own natural desires. Often this makes us reluctant to yield in obedience. At times, the Holy Spirit must thwart our plans in order to make us receptive to His. This was true in the early church.
Acts 16:6-8 NKJV
6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.
7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit* did not permit them.
8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.
A few moments ago, we read John 16:13, telling us the Holy Spirit will guide us. And He will be continuously with us. John 14:17 says he not only will be WITH us but will be IN us.
In Romans 8:14, we find a very interesting verse. Paul is speaking about how we can be a fulfilled and complete Christian. It reads: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." The reason I say this is an interesting verse is because of the Greek words used. First, the verb translated "LED" is in the continuous tense, which indicates that it is speaking of those who are "regularly led" by the Spirit. And the Greek word translated "SONS" is not speaking of a baby, or brand new Christian, but, rather, is speaking of a grown-up, or mature, son. Of course, one must be a baby Christian before they can become a mature one. But once we have been born again, in order to grow up and become mature, we need to be consistently led by the Holy Spirit.
4. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit gives more power in prayer.
The church as a whole seems still asleep to the fact that earnest, believing prayer is the channel through which the miracle-working power of God flows. Many church members, and even some ministers, freely admit that intercessory prayer has little place in their lives. The baptism in the Holy Spirit definitely adds a deeper dimension to prayer. The ability to speak in tongues brings with it a new spiritual freedom and creates an increased precious intimacy with Christ.
When uncertain how to pray in a given situation, the Spirit-filled Christian may slip over into praying in tongues with the confidence that such Spirit-directed prayer is more effective than his own intellectually-guided efforts. We find that emphasized in Romans 8:26-27.
Romans 8:26-27 NKJV
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
But notice that these verses tell us we have an infirmity - all of us do. It is not a sickness, but it is a natural weakness of the flesh. We do not know how to pray as we ought to pray. Not one person exists who does. This Passage in Romans says the believer becomes a temple in which a Person comes in and conducts a prayer meeting. That Person is the Holy Spirit. We simply become an instrument.
5. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the reality of Satan and his power.
I mentioned earlier that infilling of the Holy Spirit heightens our awareness of sin in our lives, making us more sensitive to the times when we have done wrong. The Baptism in the Spirit opens our eyes to the supernatural realities of God, but also to the dominion of demons as well. The battle lines between God and Satan are much more clearly drawn. Satan is no figment of an overactive imagination. He is, as Jesus knew him to be, a personal adversary - real and cunning.
Acts 10:38 (NKJV) speaks of...
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
The Holy Spirit enabled Christ to deliver those oppressed by the devil. 1 John 3:8 informs us that "the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil."
Apart from the Holy Spirit, we don't have what it takes to deal with the pressure of temptation and evil. It is all around us, every day. The Spirit of God will rise up in us and cause there to be the strength to stand. We need to be filled and keep full of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul tells us, in Ephesians 6:12,...
Ephesians 6:12 NKJV
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
We dare not try to fight the demonic enemy in our own strength. Not only does the Spirit baptism heighten our sensitivity to demonic forces, it also increases our ability, with His help, to fight such forces.
6. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit brings added concern for the salvation of others.
The will of the Lord for humankind is that He is, "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). When the Holy Spirit fills you, and you realize the heart of God for the lost, the fullness of the Holy Spirit keeps our perspective on the fact that the will of God is to see people reached with the gospel.
With the baptism comes a new revelation of the ache in God's heart for the saving of the lost. The Spirit-filled Christian begins to feel some of the compassion Christ felt when He wept over Jerusalem. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not" (Matthew 23:37).
This deep, compassionate yearning which the Holy Spirit shares with us is, of course, the basic motivation for Christian evangelism.
7. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ.
It takes the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the full wonder and glory of Jesus. Jesus said, in John 16:14, that "He (the Holy Spirit) will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." The Holy Spirit always works to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ. He does not seek His own glory, but the glory of Jesus. He does this by revealing who Jesus is to us and through us so that all may praise Jesus. He makes Jesus real to people.
Certainly, I loved Jesus before receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I had accepted Him as my Lord and Savior before. But after being baptized in the Holy Spirit, I came to understand why He had been the all-consuming passion in the lives of the early Christians. It was akin to what began to burn within me.
I more fully understood what Paul said in Philippians 3:7-8 (NKJV):
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
The Holy Spirit came to unveil and exalt our Lord Jesus Christ.
8. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit provides power for witnessing and service.
Near the end of His time on earth, Jesus tells his followers to, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature..." But before the went into the world, Jesus tells them not to leave Jerusalem until "you are endued with power from on high." Before they began witnessing to the lost, they were first to be filled with the Spirit. It was His plan to give them the same power that He had - the Power of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1:8 NKJV
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Every true Christian is born of the Spirit. As such they have experienced the work of the Holy Spirit in a number of important ways. These ways include but are not limited to: conviction, regeneration (salvation), as well as the witness to our spirit that we are a child of God (Romans 8:16). However, the dimension of power that God wants for His children can only be reached through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is God's will that every Christian be baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39)..
Even though some Christians achieve results without the actual baptism in the Holy Spirit, they would achieve more if they yielded to God to receive the baptism. It is possible for a Christian to recognize many aspects of the Holy Spirit's work and enjoy a measure of His blessing in life and ministry, without ever being baptized in the Spirit in the biblical way.
The Holy Spirit enters our human spirit when we are born again of the Spirit of God (John 3). Jesus comes to us by his Spirit (John 1:12). And as we grow in Christ, we produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an event where the person, in their conscious and subconscious existence, is penetrated by the Spirit of God. No level of human activity is unaffected by this divine activity.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, however, is not a happening in which the person is so possessed by God that they lose their own identity. Nor is the Holy Spirit's movement an invasion wherein the person becomes subjugated and coerced into a divine pattern of activity, so that the sole actor thereafter is God.
At no point is there the setting aside of human activity. Indeed, quite the opposite - for it is only as the Spirit blows upon the human spirit that there is the release of man or woman for fuller freedom and responsibility. The Holy Spirit comes from outside the person and with a mighty impact. The event of the Baptism is no gradual, passive thing, but a decisive endowment of power and energy. When the Spirit is "poured out" or "falls," life can never be quite the same.
Let me once again state that everything centers in Jesus Christ. He is the one who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit. There is no baptism without the direct activity of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus 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, this event is not a Sprit-centric but a Christocentric event. It is not the Holy Spirit that does the baptizing - but Christ Himself.
God the Father is the ultimate source, but it is through Jesus Christ the Lord that the Holy Spirit is given.