The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Described, Definite, Distinct, and Dynamic Gift of God

The disciples of Jesus had been taught by the greatest Teacher of all time for three years. They witnessed firsthand His many miracles. They watched the fulfillment of prophecy in Christ’s atoning death and resurrection. Jesus laid out His Great Commission to them. Finally they saw Jesus ascend into heaven. But despite all of this knowledge and experience, Jesus said there was one thing more they needed. They needed to be empowered by receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

 How much more do we need this empowerment?  The Book of Acts is all about what happens when the Spirit comes in His baptizing fire. The birth of the church and the acts of the apostles are all incidental to the coming of the Spirit. Education and experience are not enough to prepare one for ministry and service to the Lord. According to Jesus His disciples needed to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things . . . . but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:47-49).

 The baptism with the Holy Spirit is described in scripture in various ways. It is referred to as,   “the Promise of My Father” (Luke 24:49), as being, “endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49), “the Promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4-5), “baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Mat. 3:11; Luke 3:16), “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5; 11:16), “filled with the Holy Spirit” Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9, 52), “the Holy Spirit will come upon you” (Acts 1:8),  “the Holy Spirit fell on them” (Acts 10:44; 11:15, 16), and “all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19).

In R.A. Torrey’s book, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit[1]  he emphatically states that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is always connected with either testimony or service (e.g. Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:4; 4:31, 33). He states the power of the Holy Spirit manifests  itself through spiritual gifting determined by the sovereign will of the Holy Spirit and for the benefit of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:4, 8-11).

Peter described the baptism with the Holy Spirit as, “purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9). Peter associated the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with heart purification. What keeps us from living and ministering in the power of the Spirit? More often than not the obstacles to being empowered by the Spirit involve faith sapping fears and inhibitions, or a general dullness in spirit. When the Spirit comes in fullness, He comes in response a prayerful call of  one fully surrendered to Him. The Spirit then cleanses the heart of impurities, of sinful selfish, self-reliant and self-promoting desires or lusts. He purifies us so He can reign supreme and be in full control. 

The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite and knowable experience. Jesus told the disciples to “tarry” or wait in Jerusalem until they received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49). This command would have been nonsensical unless it was possible for those waiting to know when they had received what Jesus told them to wait for. If the apostles and disciples could be baptized with the Holy Spirit and not know it, then they wouldn’t know how long to wait. There would have been no distinctive sign or indication when they had received what Jesus wanted them to have.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is separate and distinct from regeneration. In the Book of Acts the baptism with the Holy Spirit is either concurrent (e.g. Acts 10) or subsequent (e.g. Acts 8 and 19) to regeneration or being born again of the Spirit. The Baptism is subsequent to regeneration and being born of the Spirit because a person cannot receive this Promise of the Father unless they have first been born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

 Paul asked the Ephesian disciples “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”(Acts 19:2). The KJV translation of this verse states, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit since you believed” (emphasis added). This better conveys the subsequent nature of this empowering work. They had “believed.” The Greek Aorist tense of “believed” conveys the idea of a completed or punctiliar action. Jesus had taught the regenerative work of the Spirit in which a believer experiences the new birth of the Spirit or being born again (John 3). He had breathed on His disciples and told them to “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Therefore, they had believed. They had been indwelled by the Spirit. Paul’s awareness of their believing was not merely  referring to their regeneration. It was referring to the Spirit’s empowering. Paul is speaking about something after their initial conversion. Why would Paul ask this unless receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit was a recognizable experience?
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is dynamic gift. As children of our loving heavenly Father anything He promises is worth having. God loves us and wants what is best for us. That should settle it for us. And God offers the promise of the Spirit as a gift to be received by faith (Acts 15:9). Simply ask. Simply receive. (Luke 11:9-13).   

In His book The Way to Pentecost Samuel Chadwick states there are a number of powerful benefits of God’s promised baptism with the Holy Spirit. He gleans seven benefits from Romans 8. What are they?
First, Chadwick states when the Spirit comes in power he liberates and delivers the Christian from sins that entangle (Heb. 12:1). Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17-18). The Holy Spirit comes to free us from entangling sinful habits that hinder our usefulness to God. We receive a newfound power over our flesh.

Secondly, the baptism with the Holy Spirit provides a new vitality. The Holy Spirit strengthens us inwardly and gives us a new vitality (2 Cor. 4:16). When the burden of the flesh is lifted there can be an even physical energizing of the person.

Thirdly, the baptism with the Holy Spirit provides a heightened spiritual acuity;  a deeper  illumination and understanding of God’s word. This is what we see in Peter on the day of Pentecost. All the pieces of the puzzle came together for Peter as he proclaimed Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings to mind the teachings of Christ (John 14:26). He leads us into God’s truth (John 16:13; 17:17; cf. also 1 Cor. 2:9-14).
Fourth, the Spirit brings a newfound desire to pray. We are spiritually weak and prone to neglect prayer. When the Holy Spirit comes He helps us in that weakness and helps us pray (Rom. 8:26-27). Chadwick states, “That is the secret to prevailing prayer.” [2]

Fifth, the Spirit’s empowering baptism brings power. Jesus said when the Spirit comes we will receive power (Acts 1:8). When the Spirit comes we are more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37-39). When the Spirit comes we have power to witness.

Sixth, the baptism with the Spirit brings the fire of God (Matthew 3:11). “Fire is the chosen symbol of heaven for moral passion. It is emotion aflame. God is love; God is fire. The two are one. The Holy Spirit baptizes in fire. Spirit-filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They believe with a faith that kindles. They serve with a devotion that consumes. They hate sin with a fierceness that burns. They rejoice with a joy that radiates. Love id perfected in the Fire of God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” [3]

 Lastly, the baptism with the Holy Spirit brings a passion for souls. Romans 8 is followed by Romans 9 and 10. Paul expresses a deep burden and sorrow for the lostness of Israel. Paul testified, “I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart” for lost Israel. He even went so far as to say he would give up his own salvation for the sake of lost Israel! That said by someone who knew the deep consequences of such a thing (Rom. 9:1-3). Paul said,” my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” Romans 10:1).

This is what we need. We need the holy life of the Holy Spirit. We need energy, spiritual insight, passionate and powerful prayers of fire. We need the fire of God and His passion for the lost. We need the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Do you have it?  Do you want it? Just ask the Father and receive it.

[1] R.A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Pub. 1972).

[2] Samuel Chadwick, The Way to Pentecost, (Fort Washington, PA: CLC Pub., 2000. First published in 1932). P. 57
[3] Samuel Chadwick, The Way to Pentecost, (Fort Washington, PA: CLC Pub., 2000. First published in 1932). P. 57

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