Bible Truths

 
 
 
Lesson 4 - Baptism In The Spirit

"Baptism in the Spirit" describes being baptizedwith the Spirit. Being baptized in, into, unto and with, all refer to the samething. Baptism in the Spirit is one of the cardinal doctrines of the Christianfaith. There is so much clear teaching on it in scripture, yet there is noother aspect of biblical truth so misunderstood by Christians. That is why theChurch is so devoid of spiritual power in a world where it is so much needed.Most Pentecostal Christians who speak in tongues as the evidence of beingbaptized in the Spirit believe that speaking in tongues is the goal to whichthey should attain. They do not understand that speaking in tongues ? importantas they are ? are but the doorway to a greater spiritual life in God, andbecause they lack that understanding, they also lack the power to do the workfor which God has ordained them. This is not to criticise those Christians butto challenge them to understand what it is that God has ordained us for ( Luke24:49; Jn 16:7-15; Ac 1:4-8). We learn from these scriptures that the purposeof being baptized in the Spirit is to be endued with power for God's service.This cannot be impressed upon us enough. Warfare in God's service is spiritual,and the Church must be spiritually equipped to fight the war ( 2Cor 10:3-5; Eph6:11-18). Being baptized in the Spirit means the difference between a lifebearing much fruit or a fruitless life; a life of spiritual power or a life ofcarnal defeat. It means boldness and power to accomplish the work of God and tomake the believer's witness and proclamation of the word effective ( Ac 1:8with Ac 4:29-33).

The disciples were already baptized in the Spirit, but weregiven an even greater empowering than they already had when they asked God forit. It is important to note here that they did not pray to the Holy Spirit fortheir empowering but to God Himself. The Bible nowhere teaches us that we areto direct our prayers to the Holy Spirit. We are to direct them to God and Hewill replenish our spiritual needs, as Ac 4:29-33 clearly teaches ( Jn14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24). This in no way denigrates the Holy Spirit, butadmonishes us to always keep what we do in biblical perspective. We learned thisalso in Eph 6:11-18. There is much confusion surrounding the Holy Spirit in thecontemporary Church. Some Christians place more importance on having a"spiritual experience" than on being empowered for service by theSpirit. Without the empowering of the Holy Spirit believers cannot effectivelyfulfil Christ's command to build His Church ( Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-20).

The devil wants a weak Church. He does not want to have tocontend with a powerful witnessing Church operating in the demonstration of theSpirit and of power today like he had to contend with the first century Churchin the book of Acts, because it awakens unbelievers to a consciousness of thepresence and the power of God which raises their faith in Jesus and they getsaved. More than 5000 got saved as a result of one man being healed in the bookof Acts ( Ac 3:1-16; 4:1-4). The first century Church understood perfectly thepower of God resident in them through the baptism in the Spirit and they werefearless in their witness. To counter this today, Satan would have the majorityof Christians believe that there is only one valid baptism - water baptism, andthere are many Churches who teach this. They claim Eph 4:5 as their authoritybut Verse 5 must be kept in context with the rest of Paul's teaching here, andwhen it is, it soon becomes apparent that it does not even refer to waterbaptism (Eph 4:1-6). In V1-3 Paul exhorts the Church to be unified in theSpirit because, as he says in V4-6, there is only one Body in Christ and wewere all baptized into that one body, which is the Church. Paul illustrates forus here the sevenfold spiritual unity of God and man; one Body, one Spirit, onehope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God. It hasnothing whatever to do with water baptism or baptism in the Spirit, but to thebaptism of believers by the Holy Spirit into Christ and into His body. It isthe element into which believers are baptized that determines what kind ofbaptism it is in scripture ( Ro6:1-10; 1Cor 12:12-14; Ga 3:26-28; Col 2:8-13;3:1-3). It needs to be restated here - none of those scriptures refer to waterbaptism or being baptized with the Spirit. These scriptures all refer to thebaptism of believers by the Holy Spirit into Christ and into His body. Thisshows how the Church is constituted (2Cor 4:1-18; 11:21-33).

These are two of the most inspiring testimonies of the HolySpirit's empowering for believers in scripture. The earthen vessels of 2Cor 4:7are weak and fragile, representative of human beings. By referring to himselfand Timothy as earthen vessels, Paul expresses the paradox of how weak humanbeings can be the instruments of the power of God. This treasure in earthenvessels is the Holy Spirit in us. All the things Paul suffered in 2Cor 11:21-33were the buffetings he received from his thorn in the flesh ( 2Cor 12:1-10).Here we learn what Paul's thorn in the flesh really is - it was not sickness ordisease, or bad eyesight, or severe bodily disfigurement, or any other relatedthing. It was a messenger from Satan - a demon instigated by God - sent tobuffet him to stop him being puffed up with pride.

Baptism in the Spirit is the enabling power in believers tolive crucified lives totally committed and consecrated to the service of God (Ro 6:5-8; Ga 2:20). The Holy Spirit enhances the believer's sensitivity to sinand gives the believer a deeper awareness of God's judgement against allungodliness ( Jn 16:7-15). The Holy Spirit quickens - makes alive - the word ofGod to believers. He imparts revelation knowledge of the word to us, and givesus a deeper love and understanding of the word. He also does not only convictthe unsaved of their sin but He convicts believers too ( 2Cor 3:18). Believerschange under the conviction of the Holy Spirit to increasingly correspond tothe original pattern of God. That is what the phrase ".. are changed intothe same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord"means. Image means moral and spiritual likeness here, not physical likeness.Believers, with ever-increasing glory reflect what they behold. Not least ofall the baptism in the Spirit is also the doorway to the treasures God has laidup in store for His Church: the gifts of the Spirit ( 1Cor 12:7-11). We willnot be able to do an in-depth study of them here, but we will examine thembriefly. The scriptures relating to the gifts here are not exhaustive and youmay not agree with them - most commentators use different scriptures toidentify different gifts - but being right or wrong is not fundamental tosalvation so if there is any disagreement let us agree to disagree in love. Theimportant thing is that we know what the gifts are:

1) The Word of Wisdom. This is an utterance applying therevelation of God's word or the Holy Spirit's wisdom to a specific futuresituation or problem ( Ac 11:28; 15:13-21; 21:10-11; 27:27-44). This is not tobe confused with the wisdom of God we are to seek for our daily living ( Jas1:5)

2) The Word of Knowledge. This is an utterance applied inthe present tense revealing certain knowledge about people or circumstanceswhich the speaker could not possibly know of himself ( Ac 5:1-10).

3) Faith. This is special faith ? a supernatural ability tobelieve God implicitly, without human doubt, unbelief or reasonings for theextraordinary or miraculous to happen ( Ac 14:8-10; 20:9-12; 27:20-26; 28:1-6).

4) Gifts of Healing. This is a supernatural empowering toheal all manner of sicknesses and diseases or any physical ailment without anyhuman aids or medicine ( Ac 9:32-35; 28:7-10). Opinions of Bible commentatorsvary on scriptural examples of these gifts, but suffice it to say that they arenot to be confused with the authority of believers to lay hands on the sick, orto pray over them for their healing, or to believe God in agreement with others( Mt 18:19; Mk 16:18; Jas 5:14-15).

5) Working of Miracles. This is supernatural power to alterthe normal course of nature and to counteract natural laws ( Jn 2:1-11;6:1-14). This also includes raising up dead people ( Ac 9:36-42; 20:7-12);causing death ( Ac 5:1-10); causing blindness ( Ac 13:6-12); restoring sight tothe blind; walking on water; calming the storm; healings by Peter's shadow andPaul's apron, etc., all resulting in people believing in Jesus. The workings ofmiracles was also in operation many times in the Old Testament, for example,when Moses held out his rod over the Red Sea ( Ex 14:15-29); with Elijah whoperformed 16 miracles ( 1Ki 17:1-2 Ki 2:12), and with Elisha who performed 32miracles ( 2Ki 2:13-9:3; 13:20-21).

6) Prophecy. This is the enabling of believers to speak outa revelation directly from God under the impulse of the Holy Spirit. Thepurpose of prophecy is to build up, motivate and encourage the local body (1Cor 14:3).

7) Discerning of Spirits. This is a special ability toproperly discern and judge prophesies and to distinguish whether or not anutterance is Holy Spirit inspired. It is also the ability to detect the spiritsbehind certain human activities (Mt 24:5; Luke 9:51-56; Ac 16:16-18; 1Jn 4:1-6).

8) Divers Kinds of Tongues. These are supernaturalutterances in other languages not known to the speaker. The speaker iscommunicating directly with God - it may be in prayer, praise, blessing orthanksgiving - under the influence of the Holy Spirit bypassing the speaker'smind ( 1Cor 14:2-4, 14).

9) Interpretation of Tongues. This is the supernaturalability to understand and make known the meaning of an utterance spoken inanother language. This ability may be given to the one making the utterance orto someone else. Those who have the gift of tongues should pray also for thisgift ( 1Cor 14:12-14).

These are all visible and tangible manifestations of theHoly Spirit operating through individual believers for the common good of theChurch. They are not the same though as the gifts of grace and the ministriesgiven to the Church in Ro 12 and Eph 4, whereby a believer receives the powerand the ability to minister in a more permanent manner in the Church ( Ro12:5-8; Eph 4:7-14). These are entirely different outworkings of the Spirit.They are for permanency, whereas the gifts of the Spirit are for specificoccasions. The manifestations or gifts of the Spirit are given according to thewill of the Holy Spirit when need arises and according to the earnest desire ofthe believer ( 1Cor 12:7, 11, 31). It is unscriptural and unwise to assume thatbecause someone exercises a spectacular gift that person is more spiritual thanone with less spectacular gifts. Neither does possessing a gift mean that Godapproves of all the possessor does or teaches ( Ac 10:34-35; 1Cor 12:20-24).The gifts of the Spirit are not an end in themselves either, but like tongues,representative of the deeper life in the Spirit.

Now, notwithstanding that speaking in tongues is not an endin itself, it is nonetheless the sure evidence that one is baptized in theSpirit. Scriptures are quite clear on this point and we should be too. Ifbelievers do not talk in tongues it is because they have not yet been baptizedin the Spirit, but there are many sincere Christians who truly believe thateven though they do not speak in tongues they were baptized in the Spirit whenthey received Christ as their Saviour. They need to be shown what thescriptures teach ( Joel 2:28-29). This is the most profound prophecy in the OldTestament about the future baptism in the Spirit for believers in Jesus. Peterquotes this prophecy on the day of Pentecost to explain that speaking intongues was the sign that Joel's prophecy was being fulfilled in the disciples( Ac 2:14-18). The disciples had all been baptized in the Spirit and speakingin tongues was the evidence of it ( Ac 2:4). This passage speaks for itself. Assoon as the disciples were baptized in the Spirit they spoke in tongues as theSpirit gave them utterance ( Ac 8:9-21). The word matter here is from the Greekword logos, which means something said, utterance, word, speech, divineexpression. Simon wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit because he heardbelievers talking in tongues as the evidence of receiving the baptism in theSpirit when they had hands laid on them. It is interesting to note here thatnone of the converts in Samaria who Philip evangelized were baptized in theSpirit until the apostles laid hands on them ( V14-17). It is pointless tospeculate why - this still happens today - not everyone is baptized in theSpirit immediately they come to Christ, but it is not teaching that onlyapostles can baptize new Christians in the Spirit ( Ac 10:44-46).

We learn here that believers can be baptized in the Spiritupon receiving Christ, but like Cornelius and the others did here, they musttalk in tongues as the evidence of it. That was how the Jews with Peter knewthat Cornelius and the other gentiles had been baptized in the Spirit "Forthey heard them speak with tongues..." ( Ac 19:1-6). Once again theexplicit evidence of these disciples being baptized in the Spirit was that theyspoke in tongues. The point all these scriptures make is that speaking intongues is the sure evidence of being baptized in the Spirit. If there are notongues spoken it means that there has been no baptism in the Spirit. It isreally as simple as that, otherwise the scriptures are meaningless. There aremany who teach that tongues are not for today, that they were only valid forthe first century Church, and some even go so far as to say that tongues arefrom the devil. That is tantamount to saying that baptism in the Spirit is ofthe devil too because tongues are the evidence of being baptized in the Spirit.That is blasphemy. Those teachers not only ignore the plain fact of scripture,they violate what Jesus Himself teaches ( Luke 11:9-13). Jesus is referring tothe baptism in the Spirit here because believers are already born again of theSpirit when they receive Jesus as Saviour ( Jn 3:5-6; 1:12; Ro 8:14-16). Wemust be born again of the Spirit before we can be baptized in the Spirit, eventhough as we saw with Cornelius and the others in Ac 10:44-46, that one can bebaptized in the Spirit immediately following upon being born again of theSpirit ( Jn 7:37-39). "He that believeth" refers to every believer inChrist from the day of Pentecost onwards. Jesus promises them the baptism inthe Holy Spirit. The analogy of "rivers of living water" teaches usthat believers will have unlimited power to do the works of God ( Jn 14:12).The promise is to all believers in Christ ( Ac 2:38-39). These scripturesclearly refute the teaching that tongues were only for the first century Church- that they are not for today. This proves beyond any shadow of doubt thatGod's promise of the baptism in the Spirit extends far beyond the boundary ofthe first century Church. "All that are afar off" then includes usnow, and all who will come to Christ in the future ( Ac 5:32). The Holy Spiritin all His fullness is given to all believers when they are baptized in theSpirit and once more scriptures prove there is no time limit involved ( Jn14:16-17).

Here Jesus clearly distinguishes between being born again ofthe Spirit and being baptized in the Spirit. They are two separate and distinctoperations of the Spirit. This teaches us that the Spirit abides with believerswhen they come to Christ - abide in V16 and dwelleth in V17 both mean to remainwith - but He indwells them when they are baptized in the Spirit ( 1Cor3:16-17; 6:19-20). Remember, the disciples were already born again of theSpirit when they were baptized in the Spirit in Ac 2:1-4. They were twoseparate and distinct operations of the Spirit then and they are two separateand distinct operations of the Spirit now. We need to be very clear on thispoint in order to be able to teach those who think they are, but are not,baptized in the Spirit. Ac 8:9-21 also teaches this. The new Christians inSamaria were already born again of the Spirit when Peter and John prayed forthem to be baptized in the Spirit. The Bible does not make any allowance forbelievers not being baptized in the Spirit and those who are not need to beshown from scripture how they need to be spiritually equipped to fulfil God'spurpose in their lives, and His promise to the Church. This is not teachingthat Christians cannot get to heaven if not baptized in the Spirit, but itshould challenge them to want to avail themselves of God's promise to theChurch and see His purpose fulfilled in their lives ( Mt 18:18-20; Mk 16:17-18;Luke 11:9-13; Jn 14:12-14; 15:26-27; 16:7-15; Ac 1:7-8).

Spirit filled believers have the same empowering that Jesushad to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons,tread on serpents and scorpions, and to take authority even over the elements.Every work Jesus did on earth, believers can do also and even greater things.This is not a special empowering for a select few in the Church but is given toevery believer when they are baptized in the Spirit. All believers have to dois act it out in faith, otherwise the purpose of the baptism in the Spirit,which Jesus teaches us in Ac 1:4-8 is the enduement of power for service, islost to the Church. Believers operating in the power of the Spirit are theevidence to a lost world that Jesus is alive and that He confirms theirministries with signs following ( Mk 16:15-20). Signs include healings,miracles, demons being cast out, the blind regaining their sight, the dead beingraised up to life, the lame walking, etc. Jesus placed great importance on thesigns that followed His ministry. He said "If you do not believe me forwho I say I am, then believe me because of the works I do." ( Jn 10:36-38;Ro 15:18-21). How inconsistent it is with scripture to teach that God onlyempowered the first century disciples for service, and that the empowering isnot for today. If the Church is to fulfil Christ's command in Mt 28:19 todisciple all nations, it needs the same empowering the disciples had. TheChurch Christ is building is not yet complete, and until it is every believerneeds to be baptized in the Spirit, for the Kingdom of God is not in word, butin power ( 1Cor 2:1-5; 4:20). So many believers lack this power because theyhave neglected to be baptized in the Spirit.

It is the Father's desire to give the Holy Spirit to thosewho ask Him because He wants to seal them with His own personal stamp ofapproval ( Ga 3:13-14, 26-29). We are God's heritage in Christ - He wants topreserve us for Himself - and He gives us the Holy Spirit as the divine pledgeof our eternal inheritance ( Eph 1:10-14). It is the birthright of every bornagain believer to seek, to expect, and to receive the baptism in the Spirit.The promise of the baptism in the Spirit is an integral part of God'sredemptive plan: it is one of the salvation benefits of the cross, and part ofour inheritance in Christ. We cannot afford to miss out on it.

Now, for those not yet baptized in the Spirit, you fulfilledthe main conditions for baptism in the Spirit when you appropriated the promiseof God for your salvation, and by faith received Jesus as your Saviour. Now yousimply appropriate the promise of God for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, andreceive it by faith the same way as you received your salvation. Do not belooking for some sort of "feeling" or emotional experience, orspecial anointing to come upon you. Just receive the baptism in the Spirit byfaith, and as you do, the evidence of being baptized in the Spirit - speakingin tongues - will follow. Do not be concerned either with what to say, as thelanguage you will speak will be spoken supernaturally. In faith, put your vocalcords, tongue, lips into operation and the Holy Spirit will give you theutterance, the words to speak. God fills you, but you must begin to speak - itis your voice He uses. Prepare to receive the baptism in the Spirit by prayingthis simple prayer:

"Heavenly Father, I come to you in Jesus' namebelieving with all my heart that I only have to ask, and you will give unto meas your word promises, the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

I ask you now dear Lord to baptize me and fill me with yourHoly Spirit.

I believe that I have now received the baptism in the Spiritand I thank you for it Lord. I now expect to speak in tongues in accordancewith your word as the Holy Spirit gives me the utterance."

You must now put your vocal cords into operation and mouththe words as the Holy Spirit gives you the utterance. Do it aloud, and do notbe concerned with what you say or how it sounds. Just keep speaking the wordsout. You will soon become fluent in your new language. Now that you speak intongues you need to know why they are important in God's redemptive plan.Firstly, when we speak in tongues we are communicating directly with GodHimself, and without interpretation neither we nor anyone else can understandwhat is being spoken. We are speaking mysteries only God understands ( 1Cor14:2). When we pray in tongues we are praying from the Spirit, not from the mindwhich is the seat of our understanding or intellect. We are communicating withGod direct, bypassing the mind, so we have no understanding of what we arepraying (1Cor 14:14). It is of the utmost importance to keep praying in tonguesto build up our faith. It can be done either privately or in a prayer meeting(if it is done in Church though, without interpretation it only edifies thespeaker, whereas prophecy edifies the whole congregation) ( 1Cor 14:4; Jude20).

Finally, the Holy Spirit knows our weakness in regard toknowing what we ought to pray for at times, and when we pray in tongues Hetakes hold with us and helps us to pray as we should, and therefore makes ourweak prayers effective. It is a joint effort on both our parts. He does nottake over from us and pray in our stead as some teach ( Ro 8:26-27). The wordhelpeth here means to take hold of together with. We learn from this study thatthrough the empowering of the Holy Spirit circumstances in life no longerdictate to us - we dictate to them. God wants us to have ruling power in theSpirit so that we can be stabilised in life and participate in all of God'sblessings and resources ( Eph 3:16-19). In conclusion, only the spirituallyalive can receive from the Holy Spirit spiritual wisdom and revelation knowledgeof the things of God ( 1Cor 2:12-16).

 

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