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Monday, June 20, 2011

Fundamental Teachings part 13

“How little chance the Holy Spirit has nowadays. The churches have so bound Him in red tape that they practically ask Him to sit in a corner while they do the work themselves.” – C.T. Studd

It seems in many a church, and many a denomination the Holy Spirit, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, are as taboo a topic as, well, the topic of repentance.

Whenever the topic of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is brought up in a church, there is invariably at least one individual who irate and flushed in the face stands up and says

‘God doesn’t do that anymore!’

When asked to prove the veracity of their claim biblically however, they cannot, because contrary to the belief of some, when Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit, He did not say that the Holy Spirit would be with us for a season, or for a limited time, but rather Jesus said that the Helper, the Holy Spirit would abide with us forever.

‘Well if God is still doing it, if the Holy Spirit is still among us, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit is still available to the church, then why aren’t we seeing it?’

Truth be known, there are parts in the world, and even churches in America that are seeing the outpouring the Holy Spirit, there are still those experiencing the gifts the Holy Spirit, but quite frankly God will not pour new wine into an old wineskin, and before we can hope to receive this baptism, we must first and foremost make certain that our vessels are clean, that our wineskin is new, and that we are ready to receive that which God would gladly bestow upon us.

So let us begin, as the saying goes at the beginning, and when discussing the advent of the Holy Spirit, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit there is no better place to begin than the book of acts.

Acts 1:1-8, “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, ‘which’, He said, ‘you have heard from Me; For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 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.”

The book of Acts, or the Acts of the Apostles begins where the gospel according to Luke left off. Both are authored by the same individual, namely Luke, who was a doctor, hired by a wealthy man named Theophilus to investigate Jesus and come to a conclusion. Whether Jesus truly was the Son of God, or the greatest of charlatans, Theophilus wanted to know, and he was willing to pay substantial sums to find out. By hiring Luke, and sending him to investigate Christ, we have two books of the Bible that would otherwise not have been, and throughout his investigative journey, from speaking to those who knew Christ, to traveling with Paul the apostle, Luke came to the conclusion that indeed Jesus is the Son of God, that He died and rose again, and he mentions these truths in the first few lines of the book of acts. He speaks of Christ presenting Himself alive after His sufferings, he speaks of infallible proofs, of Jesus being seen speaking of things pertaining to the kingdom of God for forty days after His resurrection.

Within the first few verses of Acts, He also mentions the fact that Jesus commanded His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit, and with the baptism of the Holy Spirit they would also receive power.

The reason I bring up Luke, and the reason he is relevant is that he began his investigation of Christ as an impartial third party. Luke had no vested interest, he had simply been hired by a man to investigate the claims of the one known as Jesus of Nazareth, but his investigation led him to faith in Christ, to repentance and conversion, and Christian history tells us that after preaching the gospel in Dalmatia, Gallia, Italy and Macedonia, he died as a martyr at the age of 74.

So, with that having been said, let us return to the discussion concerning the Holy Spirit, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. First off, because often times this unique experience is confused with other works of the Holy Spirit, I want to dispel certain misconceptions about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Contrary to popular belief within certain denominations, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the second work of grace. In fact this expression cannot be found anywhere in the Bible, but even so many continue to assert this fallacy as gospel truth. If we believe that grace manifests itself progressively through more than one work, and that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is merely the second work of grace, why would we not believe that there is a third or a fourth work of grace as well?

What we can believe, because the Bible speaks of this is that there is a continued intensification of grace within a believer, as Peter so eloquently states in 2 Peter 3:18, we ought to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

There is yet another expression that is never found within the pages of scripture, yet still makes its rounds among many Christian groups when discussing the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that is the assertion that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the second blessing, or the second outpouring. Once again, I point to the fact that it is not found anywhere in the Bible, yet men continue to teach this strange doctrine.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not sanctification either. It is a separate work, a unique work, and although some say that sanctification is in fact what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is, they are contradicted by scripture itself. Yes, sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit, but it is by no means the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism with the Holy Spirit is also a separate work than that of being born again. It is a work which the same Holy Spirit of God performs, but it is a unique and distinctively different work than that of being born again, or regenerated. The baptism of the Holy Spirit completes the work of regeneration and sanctification that the Holy Spirit also performs in the hearts of those who have come to Christ.

On resurrection day, Jesus breathed on His disciples, and in John chapter 20 verse 22, the Word tells us he said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ This was to show that regeneration and a new life was given to them. It was the selfsame resurrected Christ, who then tells His disciples that they must tarry in the city of Jerusalem until they would be endued with power from on high.

Luke 24:49, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

So why is this important? What does it mean, and why is it relevant in our discussion of the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

It is important because it clearly shows that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a completely different experience for the Disciples of Christ than that of being born again. First, Christ breathed on His disciples and said, ‘receive the Holy Spirit’ but then He tells His disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the power of the Holy Spirit.

I know it may irk some of you, but it is biblically proven that conversion or regeneration, being born again, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or the infilling with power from on high as Jesus stated, are two distinct and unique experiences.

Another thing that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not is conversion. I know, I know, certain scholars and theologians keeps saying that conversion and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit are synonymous, that they are one and the same thing, but once again we return to the Word of God, and let it have the final say.

The aforementioned Word of God, the Bible offers us clear examples that prove beyond a shadow of doubt that conversion and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are two distinct, unique, and different experiences.

The first example of conversion and the baptism of the Holy Spirit being two unique, distinct, and different experiences can be found in the eighth chapter of Acts. Although the Samaritans were converted through the preaching of Phillip, they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit a few days later through the ministry of Peter and John.

Now although the Samaritans believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, although both men and women were baptized, it was only later that they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:14-17, “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

Just to make this point as clear as possible, although they had been converted, although they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, they had as yet not received the Holy Spirit. Only After Peter and John laid hands on them, did they receive the Holy Spirit. These were individuals who had been converted, who believed, who had repented, who had even baptized, yet the apostles laid hands on them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is received at conversion, a some continue to assert, then why pray tell did Peter and John pray over these individuals, and how is it that they actually received something more, how is it that they received the Holy Spirit?

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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