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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fundamental Teachings Part 15

Since we’ve already discussed the misconceptions concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit, today we will discuss what the Bible tells us about the Holy Spirit, and the baptism thereof.

So I want to begin by answering a simple yet profound question. What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Simply put, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a unique experience, initiated by the triune God, and realized supernaturally. It is the promise of the Father, and a gift to those who have come to repentance, and received Christ as Lord and Savior.

Since I promised at the beginning of this series that we will explore these elementary principles of Christ through the prism of God’s word, we will go through a few scriptures that bear out the truth of what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is.

So how do we know that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is initiated by the triune God? Simple answer, because Jesus told us.

John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”

It must have been quite a sight to see the Disciples of Christ react to the words that He spoke in this passage. How could it be to their advantage that Jesus go away? How could it possibly be to their advantage that their Lord, the one whom they had forsaken everything to follow would depart from them? Because Jesus promised that He would not leave them as orphans, but that He would send the Holy Spirit, the Helper, who would give them power to go and preach the gospel to all nations.

Now we know that the Holy Spirit is a gift, because Peter said as such while he was speaking to the crowd that had been cut to the heart, but also because of what he says in another passage in the book of Acts.

Acts 5:32, “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

There are many other scriptures we could go through if time permitted, but just by these two scriptures alone we can glean that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not merited, it is not a reward, it is not a result of our labors or of our sacrifices. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift of the grace of God, and this is how we ought to perceive it.

Now that we’ve established what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is, namely a gift of God, and a unique experience for believers, I want to spend a little time and discover the purpose of it, and the reason it is necessary for us as believers today. In other words, what is it good for, and why should you have it?

It is no exaggeration when I say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is important in every aspect of our walk of faith, neither is it hyperbole. Just so we get an idea of the importance of the Holy Spirit in our Christian walk, I want to go through some of the benefits of this gift, not from my point of view, but from what the Word of God says about it.

First, the Holy Spirit gives us strength; it gives us power in our service toward God, and aids us in ministering to those around us.

Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

These were not the words of any mere man, but the words of Christ Jesus. What we must understand is that the life and ministry of Christ were dominated by this power. It was because the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him that He was able to heal, preach deliverance, set free, and preach the gospel.

Jesus also promised his Disciples something truly remarkable once they received this power and this gift.

John 14:12, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”

Did this promise ever come to pass? Did the Disciples of Christ do the works that He did? Well, read the book of the Acts of the Apostles, and you will see miracle after miracle, healing after healing, thousands upon thousands believing in Jesus and being baptized both in water and the Holy Spirit, so yes, this promise began its fulfillment on the day of Pentecost.

The gift of the Holy Spirit also elevates our fellowship with God to the level of a personal experience, not something that we hear about from other sources, or second hand retellings of other men’s experiences.

When Peter recounts His ministry to the gentiles, in Acts chapter 11, he says something very telling indeed.

Acts 11:15, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.”

What Peter is saying in this verse is essentially that these people, to whom he had started to speak, had had the same intimate and personal experience with God as those in the upper room had had on the day of Pentecost. It was real, and intimate, and personal for these gentiles of whom Peter spoke, as it had been for him.

The Holy Spirit also gives us strength on the path of righteousness, as well as strength in confessing Christ to others.

As Paul writes His first letter to the Corinthians he reminds them of the time he came to them, not as one who was eloquent, not as one who possessed excellence of speech, not as one who used persuasive words of human wisdom but rather in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

The Holy Spirit also gives us strength in our spiritual battles, helps us to understand the Bible more fully, He gives us strength in our trials and tribulations, and fuels our prayers, making intercession for us.

Although time does not permit me to list all the scriptures I would like to go through just a couple more so that we can understand the true value of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and why we as believers need it. Yes, it is a necessity for a believer that desires to live a life of victory, and not just an optional perk.

Romans 8:26, “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 groaning which cannot be uttered.”

Do we understand the full weight of this verse? Are we beginning to see how necessary the Holy Spirit is in the life of a believer? The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us, even when we do not know what we should pray for as we ought. This is amazing, and this passage continues and tells us that 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.

So seeing how precious a gift the baptism of the Holy Spirit is, seeing how necessary it is for us as believers, the next question that we must ask is who was it intended for?

Was the baptism of the Holy Spirit only for those who lived in apostolic times? Was the baptism of the Holy Spirit intended only for missionaries, evangelists and pastors? Was it intended only for the privileged class, or for mature Christians?

The answer to all these questions is a resounding no. No, it was not intended only for those who lived in apostolic times since Peter testified that this gift was for those who heard him, for their children, and for those afar off; No, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not just for missionaries, evangelists and pastors since every member in the body of Christ is equally important, and all of us, to the last must war against the enemy; No, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not intended only for the privileged class, or for mature Christians, because God is not a respecter of persons, and He does not subscribe to the idea of nepotism.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Holy Spirit is for all those who believe!

John 7:38-39, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Who spoke these words? Jesus! What did he promise to those who believe in Him? That out of their hearts will flow rivers of living water. Kind of obscure if the Bible would not have explained further, but it does. It tells us that this He spoke concerning the Spirit whom those believing in Him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just have one question. You said the baptism of the holy spirit was something we could not earn, and that it was a gift of grace... but you also said that it was a necessary thing for a believer to have. Are we to assume then, that if we haven't received the baptism of the holy spirit, that God simply has not chosen us? Or is it a sign that we don't have enough faith? (You seem to be saying in you post that this isn't the case.)

Michael Boldea Jr. said...

I believe that anyone that has not as yet received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, ought to wait on the Lord and keep knocking until the Lord answers. It is more an issue of timing than it is a lack of faith, and we must acquiesce to the reality that God's timing is perfect, and in His time He will fulfill all things. I have known many believers who have grown impatient with God in regards with the Holy Spirit, as well as others who presented God with ultimatums of sorts, 'baptize me this week or else', these individuals having forgotten that they are servants, slaves, and a slave cannot dictate terms to its Master.
My advice, for what it's worth, is to keep pressing in, consolidate and build up your life of prayer, search your heart to see if there is anything that as yet needs to be gotten rid of, and wait on the Lord in righteousness.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.