BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
Paul cited a most incriminating symptom of the end times church when he said, "...holding a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these." II Timothy 3:5.
If there is anything the devil fears most, it is a believer walking in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit's baptism. He fights that happening in individuals by using strongholds in their mind to negate the truth about the Holy Spirit and His ministry in and through believers.
On the one extreme are professing Christians who say that when they were regenerated by the Holy Spirit, He came to live in them and that is all they need. Even more extreme are cessationists who insist the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and His miracles stopped after the birth of the Church, and the baptism is no longer necessary or available to believers today.
On the other hand, believers who profess a second work of grace following regeneration called sanctification claim that a subsequent baptism in the Holy Spirit is fanaticism. Sincere believers thus reject the baptism and are therefore not empowered in their lives and ministry for the Gospel as they could and should be. How incorrect both sides are!
Before Jesus went to Gethsemane, He taught His eleven disciples at the last Passover. The Lamb to be crucified for the whole world a few hours hence devoted much time teaching about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit Who would soon indwell them. He would be sent by the Father after Jesus died, rose from death and returned to heaven (John 13-16).
Luke 24 records further what Jesus told His disciples just before He ascended to heaven after the resurrection:
"...thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
The key word in the passage just quoted is "power." Not human power. Holy Spirit power. Not something He endues as a gift. No, He Himself is the Power, clothing and empowering the believer subsequent to regeneration. He wants total access to the one He baptizes. One definition says: "power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature." The nature of the Holy Spirit IS power.
John 20:22 says:
"And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'"
When Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection, they must have been bitterly ashamed for their unfaithfulness to Him in Gethsemane and at the crucifixion. He forgave them for deserting Him at the cross, evidenced in verse 23:
"If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."
But then He gave them the results of their repentance toward God and their sin: the new birth effected in them and in us by the Holy Spirit. "He breathed on them." The Greek word for 'breathed' is the same word used in the Septuagint when God created Adam and breathed life into him. They were born again! The apostles were new creations in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17). It was after that and before He ascended to God's right hand in heaven that He admonished them to remain inJerusalem until they were clothed with power--the power of the Holy Spirit poured out on them! They needed more than they received when Jesus breathed on them!
Jesus also used the word "clothed" when He commanded the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. To be clothed in the Holy Spirit is to be covered by or immersed in Him. We are to be filled, yes, but there is so much more than that. The Holy Spirit wants to be our garment, our armor that covers our humanness with His power: His very Person! If HE is Jesus' imperative for us, how dare we disobey Him!
The order of Jesus' commands is most important. First, He breathed on them to receive the new birth, new life from the second Adam. Second, He commissioned them to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Last, He admonished them to stay in Jerusalem until they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Until the Church was filled and covered with the Holy Spirit, they were not properly equipped to evangelize the world.
The same order applies to today's church. She may take the Gospel into the world and win souls without the baptism, but the power needed to break the hold of the devil over people in sin is not within her grasp. Without the armor of the Holy Spirit as listed in Ephesians 6, she is not armed to wage warfare against the spiritual enemies, principalities and powers in the heavenly realm.
The Holy Spirit is the legacy given to us by Jesus; He is why Jesus died:
"...the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." John 14:17.
Before Jesus died, He could only walk and talk with His disciples because He was confined in a body of flesh. He pointed forward to the day when He could utterly transform them by abiding IN them in the Person of the Holy Spirit!
Because Jesus gave the commandment to be baptized in the Spirit before the apostles began their outreach to the world, it stands to reason that believers today who reject His baptism for whatever reason live in partial, not complete obedience to Jesus. Remember this:
Partial obedience is disobedience. The promises He gave His disciples about their keeping His word and having subsequent fellowship with the Father and Jesus include being baptized in the Spirit. He is part of that obedience.
Lest this be misunderstood, please note: Some professing Spirit-baptized believers today make the baptism distasteful by their extravagant practices. Onlookers either are frightened by what they see demonstrated or reject what they see because Spirit-baptized believers become the laughing stock of Christianity by their extremism.
Speaking or praying in tongues MAY accompany the baptism, but it is NOT a necessary sign of it. Not everyone who is baptized in the Spirit prays or speaks in tongues. Nonetheless, every believer must be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
On Pentecost the tongues spoken by the disciples were foreign languages of other nationalities present in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. All who witnessed Pentecost's effect on the apostles heard them preach in a tongue they could understand.
It was a reversal of Babel. Thousands of years before, all men spoke the same language and used that ability to plan a rebellion against God. They would have stopped at nothing to their own destruction. Therefore, God confounded their speech, so they could not communicate with each other freely. At Pentecost, He empowered the apostles to preach in languages they did not understand but were known by some of their hearers. It was a miracle, a sign and wonder that proclaimed the truth of the Risen Christ and the Gospel to the hearers. The results: the saving of 3000 souls in a day!
But the miracle was not done by the apostles. The Holy Spirit, who had just baptized them in the Upper Room, now ministered to the crowd through them. They had obeyed Jesus' command to wait until they were baptized, and the results were overwhelming!
Not everyone is intended by God to preach to multitudes of people. However, we are all called to be witnesses of Him and His plan of salvation. God's heart yearns to save souls from sin to a life of purity in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Baptism in the Holy Spirit subsequent to regeneration is for every believer to equip us for our assignment, the Great Commission. It is God's plan and purpose. In the book of Acts, we find that regardless of who or where the believers were, God made sure they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Do not neglect this One, God's gift of help and companionship to us, His own family. Open yourself to the Holy Spirit in His complete work. Ask Him to come in fullness of control and power. Hunger and thirst after God's righteousness. You WILL be filled!