Thursday, May 15, 2014

P1 Understanding the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Acts 11:16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

In today's post we aim to understand what the Bible has to teach regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Peter is explaining to some Jewish listeners in Acts 11 the significance of the Holy Spirit's outpouring upon a group of Gentile believers in Acts 10:44-48.  A Pentecost-like event occured, resulting in the Holy Spirit being poured out and thus connecting the God-fearing gentile believers to the church that had been birthed forth in Acts 2. The baptism of the Holy Spirit can be likened unto taking a cord and plugging it into a wall outlet.  A sinner at saving faith is plugged into Jesus by the Holy Spirit through the specific ministry that the Bible refers to as the "baptism of the Holy Spirit". We will talk more about this particularly imagery in tomorrow's post, but for now let the imagery register in the reader's mind to aid bring this important Biblical teaching into the realm of concrete, practical understanding.  

Peter's use of the phrase "baptism of the Holy Spirit"
The phrase that Peter uses in Acts 11:16 in his recounting all of the events in Acts 10:44-48 is the statement: "baptized with the Holy Spirit".  Upon hearing Peter connecting the events of Acts 10:44-48 to what took place among the Jewish believers in Acts 2:1-5, the Jews respond to Peter's words.  We see his closing remarks and their response in Acts 11:17-18 - "17 Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” 

So what did Peter mean by this phrase "baptism of the Holy Spirit"? Today's post will trace this idea of "Spirit baptism" through the Gospels and Acts, with the remainder of our study concluding in the Epistles and some applications tomorrow.   

Tracing the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" through the Gospels and Acts
Tracing the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" through the Gospels
The first time we see reference to the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" is in Matthew 3:11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." John the Baptist is the speaker and is explaining to his followers how he is the forerunner to the Messiah - Jesus Christ.  John the Baptist's baptism was a baptism of repentance. By being baptized or immersed into the waters of the Jordon River, the people were identifying with John's message and with the one to Whom He was referring. Their reception of the message of John the Baptist by faith made them fit candidates for this special act of water Baptism.  Jesus of course would eventually come and be baptized by John, not for the sake of repentance (for Jesus was the sinless, incarnate Son of God) but rather for the sake of publically identifying with the people for whom he came to die and to show Himself to be the fulfillment of all righteousness and the Father's will. (Matthew 3:15) 

As John the Baptist preached about his effort in performing baptisms, He states that the One coming after Him (Jesus) will bring about a baptism not of water, but of the Holy Spirit and of fire.  Parallel statements of this sort are found in all four Gospel records. (Matthew 3:11-12; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). This curious phrase is stated by John the Baptist but is offered no further explanation by him, being that its fulfillment was to take place at a later time.  

As Jesus begins to minister throughout Galilee and gradually into the Judean countryside, one of the things He alludes to is the time when the Holy Spirit will come and minister differently than He did in the Old Testament.  The statement made by John the Baptist earlier about the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" appears to be further explained by Jesus in John 7:38-39 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." 

So when was this event of which Jesus speaks going to take place? Furthermore, is this event the same one spoken of earlier by John the Baptist - namely "the baptism of the Holy Spirit"? To answer that question, we need to move onto the book of Acts.

Tracing the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" through the book of Acts
As we come to Acts 1, we see Jesus giving final instructions to his disciples prior to his ascension. Luke records Jesus' words in Acts 1:5 "for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” That event to which Jesus is referring, and to which John the Baptist had referred to at the beginning of the Gospels, in the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-5. By particularly noting how Acts is the sequel to Luke's first volume of His Gospel, we can understand the connection between John the Baptist's statement about "baptism of the Holy Spirit" in Luke 3:16 to Jesus' remarks about it in Acts 1:5. Furthermore, whenever we consider how Peter allusion to Jesus' remark in Acts 11:18 ties together the Spirit's work at Pentecost among the Jews in Acts 2:1-5 and among the Gentile God-fearers in Acts 10:44-48, we can connect the events of the Spirit's outpourings in Acts is seen. 

Seeing how the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is associated with conversions and missions
Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1:8 "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  This verse gives us the outline of the Book of Acts in a nutshell and corresponds to the strategy in which the Holy Spirit was going to enable and empower the church to move forward in its missionary efforts through the Book of Acts.  Each of the major divisions of Acts 1:8 correspond to the four particular occassions of the Spirit's outpouring or what we could call "mini-pentecosts":

a. Jerusalem = The Spirit's outpouring in Jerusalem at Pentecost in Acts 2:1-5

b. Judea/Samaria = The Spirit's outpouring upon the Samaritans in Acts 8:14-17

c. Uttermost parts of the earth = The Spirit's outpouring upon the God-fearing gentiles in Acts 10:44-48 and Pagan gentiles in Acts 19:1-6. 

As we begin to understand further about this phrase "Baptism of the Holy Spirit", we see the Bible associating it with the conversion of people from an Old Testament to New Testament understanding of things, with the eventual specific point being the conversion of people to Jesus Christ in faith and repentance. An example of evidence for this understanding is found in what we noted earlier about Peter's statement about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 11:16 and the people's response in 11:18, namely they saw that the Gentiles were included or connected to God's saving purposes. Like a plug in a wall socket, the Holy Spirit of God was gradually revealing to the early church His desire to call and plug in otherwise dead sinners by faith into the Person and work of Jesus Christ.   

More tomorrow........

1 comment:

  1. Hi Steve. Good to see you again. Here is a more recent post that I did that may clarify to you where I stand and why. Blessings!