Monday, October 16, 2017

Holy Spirit Baptism

What I am about to share will sound a bit different; but I am convinced it is the truth. I want to share two crucial factors to God's ingenious plan to reach mankind with His love and salvation. The first one you have heard of. We call it the Gospel of Salvation, or  the Gospel of Jesus. Of course we know this factor as God so loving the world, that He gave His only Son, Jesus; that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but instead have eternal life. (See John 3: 16). We have taken the words of Jesus in Matthew 28, and Mark 16 and labeled them the Great Commission. The Apostle Paul says the more we hear of this good news of God's salvation, the greater our faith to receive His work on the cross. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10: 17)

The second factor, and the one you may not have heard presented as I am about to, is Luke's account of the Great Commission. Yes, Luke provides us with the most complete account of what we call the Great Commission. "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24: 46-49) This second factor in God reaching humanity is the "clothing of man with power from on high"; also known as the "baptism of the Holy Spirit".

Let me put it another way. There were two parts to God's saving of mankind. One is the fact that Jesus LEFT His glory, became a human, took upon Himself the sins of all humanity, died, and  rose three days later destroying sin's dictatorship over mankind. The second is the fact that Jesus RETURNED to the Father, His name exalted above every name. By virtue of His RETURN to heaven, He sent forth the promise of the Father, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even though His disciples were very disappointed when Jesus began to speak of His departure to the Father, He was still driven to return to heaven to send forth the promise, the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew it was better that He go away. Driven by His love for us, He departed and poured forth "the promise" and made Him available to whoever would call upon Him.

Just as we receive Jesus into our hearts by faith, we also subsequently receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith. Jesus clearly told His disciples to preach the Gospel beginning at Jerusalem. But in Luke 24 He tells them to "...stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Please understand, God is a supernatural God. He does supernatural things through people like you and me. He does it through and by His Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is God's Spirit (and He is) then He too is extremely supernatural. Quite frankly, what the church needs more than anything today is that missing element of God's supernatural power in and upon her. There's nothing ordinary about God and His Holy Spirit. Thus, there is nothing ordinary about God's people, His church. His church is not an organization. It is not simply a gathering. His church is His blood-purchased, Spirit-empowered people in the earth. His church is the vessel through which Jesus lives and performs the same works He did when He was here 2000 years ago. That hasn't changed.

Luke also wrote the book of Acts. Listen to his account of Jesus' final words before returning to the Father. "...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." (Acts 1: 8) Jesus is not referring to salvation. He is referring to the power of the Holy Spirit enduing those who are Jesus' followers. He makes it clear that in order to be a witness to the remotest part of the earth we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. I personally believe that in order to effectively carry out the Great Commission, one must be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2: 1-4 describes the event in which the promise of the Father was poured forth. The disciples had been hiding in fear of being arrested by the religious authorities (for being followers of Jesus). But after they were filled with the Holy Spirit they were compelled out into the streets praising and worshiping God! Others who were gathered from all over the world for the Feast of Pentecost heard them praising God in their own native tongue! This was supernatural! From that point on the disciples proclaimed Jesus with extreme, supernatural boldness. No more cowering for fear of being arrested. Instead signs, wonders, and miracles followed the disciples as they boldly witnessed about Jesus.

What caused the disciples to change from being afraid to be seen to boldly proclaiming Jesus? What was it that motivated them to serve and proclaim Jesus...even unto death? Certainly it was their love for Him. But it was also the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was the "empowering from heaven" with signs, wonders, and miracles following. The early church didn't move in power because they were the early church. No, they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. He hasn't changed. He's the same today as He was then. He hasn't left us. He's here because Jesus left and returned to the Father. He's here because Jesus sent Him forth upon His return to the Father. "Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." (Acts 2: 38-39)

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