Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Allow me to start this post by showing you that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is real and still happens today. There are many people out there that will tell you that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was only for the Apostles. They go on to claim that the Apostles were endowed with a special anointing in order to spread the Gospel and build the foundation of the Christian church. This is true, but the claim that this anointing was only for the Apostles is not truth. In Acts 2:17, Peter reminds the crowd at Pentecost what the profit Joel spoke of- "In the last days, God says, I will pour my Spirit on all people" (NIV).
In John 17:6-26, Jesus prays for His disciples, that the Father will protect them because He (Jesus) is about to be crucified. In verse 20, Jesus goes on to pray "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you" (NIV; emphasis added). Jesus prayed that all believers would be one, just has He and the Father are one. If we are to be one, then we are to have the same anointing that the Apostles had to do the works of God. If you are still not so sure about this, then let's consider the Apostle Paul. He did not spend time with Jesus during Jesus' earthly ministry, yet Paul had the same anointing and power of the Holy Spirit that the Twelve had. In fact, some might say that Paul ended up doing greater works than the Twelve did. Still you may be saying "Yeah, but that was then, and this is now; it isn't the same". Let me submit Hebrews 13:8 to you, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (NIV). If Jesus is the same, how can the anointing or the Baptism of the Holy Spirit be different? Isn't Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit the same God?
Now I wish to discuss with you how the Baptism of the Holy Spirit can be a separate event from receiving Christ as Lord and Savior (salvation). Let's take a look at Act 19:1-2- "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?' They answered, 'No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit" (NIV; emphasis added). Notice that these disciples were believers. They were saved, but they had not received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I point this out because some will tell you that once you have confessed with your tongue that Jesus is Lord and believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (salvation), there is nothing else. Acts 19:1-2 proves otherwise. God wants to give believers His gift of the Holy Spirit! Going to verse 3, Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive? 'John's baptism', they replied. Paul said, 'John's baptism was a baptism of repentance" (Acts 19:3-4, NIV). Here we see that water baptism is yet a different baptism than that of the Holy Spirit. Here's what happened next in Acts 19:6- "When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied" (NIV).
We just looked at how believers received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit apart from accepting Christ as Savior and water baptism. Now let's look at what Peter said about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10, God sends Peter, through the means of a vision, to the house of a Gentile named Cornelius. What is so significant about Peter going to Cornelius is the fact that Jews did not associate or hang out with Gentiles. They thought Gentiles to be "unclean". Let's see what happens when Peter goes to the house of Cornelius. "He [Peter] said to them: 'You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection'" (Acts 10:28-29, NIV). In verse 34, Peter makes a profound statement. He says, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right" (Acts 10:34-35, NIV). Notice that Peter says "God does not show favoritism". If God does not show favoritism, why would He only anoint a special few with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? He doesn't show favoritism "but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right". If God accepts people from every nation, why would He give His Holy Spirit to Jews (the Apostles) only? He does not. Let's see what happens next when Peter starts preaching. In Acts 10:36-43, Peter preaches about Jesus, His ministry, His suffering, and His offering of forgiveness of sins through his name. In verse 44, it says, "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God" (Acts 10:44-46, NIV). There it is; the Holy Spirit is not just for the Apostles, or just for Jews, but the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all believers!
In Acts 11, Peter goes back to the other Apostles and believers and reports to them what took place at the house of the Gentile, Cornelius. Verse 15, "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning" (Acts 11:15, NIV). Let's stop her for a minute. Peter himself explains that the "Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us". This is sure, biblical proof that we, today, can be baptized with the same Holy Spirit that the Apostles were baptized with. Anyone that says the Holy Spirit is not for today does not recognize biblical truth. This is a scheme of the enemy, to stop us, today, from receiving God's free gift that leads us and guides us to truth and eternal life. Don't allow the devil to take from you what God has promised! For those who make this claim, I submit verse 17 of Acts 11 to you- "So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God's way?" (Acts 11:17, NIV).
Why do we need this Baptism of the Holy Spirit? What is it for? In Acts 1:8, Jesus gives us the answer- "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8, NIV). Jesus gives us the anointing of the Holy Spirit so that we can carry out the works that He has for us to do. This "power" of the Holy Spirit enables us to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ. Once again, if the Holy Spirit was not meant for us today, then why did Jesus say "you will be my witnesses....to the ends of the earth"? Did the Apostles go to the ends of the earth? No, they did not. When the Apostles were carrying out their ministry, there were continents that had not even been discovered yet (like the Americas). How would the Apostles have been able to go to the ends of the earth then? This is obviously a prophetic statement from Jesus. He was not only speaking to his disciples that were present with Him, but He was also speaking to future disciples- that would be us today!
I'd like to share my personal experience of what the baptism of the Holy Spirit has done in my life. I did not receive the Baptism at the same time that I accepted Jesus into my heart and made Him my Lord and Savior. In fact, it was several years later when I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Lord had to first teach me to be obedient. It took me some time to learn to be obedient to God. It wasn't the obvious commands, such as the Ten Commandments, that I had a problem being obedient to; it was the commands that He would give me in my spirit that took some time for me to recognize, realize, and obey. Once God taught me obedience and taught me to recognize his voice, I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is not something that I recognized before I received the Baptism. I wanted the Baptism of the Holy Spirit more than anything. It was not until after I received the gift that I realized that God had to first teach me to be obedient. Let me support, with biblical text, what I have told you. Let's take a look at 1 Samuel 15:22. Saul, the first king of Israel, was about to go into battle. The law (Leviticus law) was for the priest, Samuel in this case, to make a sacrifice to the Lord before the battle so that God would be with them (the Israelites) in the battle and they (the Israelites) would receive God's favor. Samuel was late to the sacrifice and Saul was getting antsy, knowing that a sacrifice had to be made to the Lord in order for his army to be successful in battle. Saul went on and made the sacrifice in Samuel's place. "But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22, NIV). This ended up costing Saul his kingdom and David eventually became king in Saul's place. The Lord had to first teach me to "obey and heed". Let me share another verse from Acts that supports what I am saying. In Acts 5:32, Peter says, "We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him" (NIV).
How has the Baptism of the Holy Spirit changed my life? Since I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I find that sinning is more difficult and living for Jesus is much easier. Prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, it was the opposite; sinning was easy and living for Jesus was hard. I find that when I have sinned, because we all do, I am deeply saddened and brokenhearted; and I go before God with a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17), repenting and asking for His forgiveness. I also find myself spending more time in the presence of God, basking and resting in His presence. I am certain about my salvation, where, before I received the Holy Spirit, I questioned my salvation. It is also much, much easier to witness to others. In fact, it is just a natural thing, effortless, because I can't help but to share and talk about Jesus! My disposition has changed dramatically. I used to be easily angered and had no joy or peace, my heart was very hard. Now I am full of love, peace, and joy! I hardly get angry anymore, but when I do, I do not allow my anger to cause me to sin (Ephesians 4:26).
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is far better than anything you could ever want or imagine. I am sharing this with you because I do not want you to miss out on what God has been doing for over 2,000 years. I was once led astray and was almost convinced that the Holy Spirit just wasn't for us today. I can now testify to you that He is for today and He is still acting. Once you receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, you will find that nothing can serve as a substitute! Glory be to God for His free gift in which He promises to His people! God bless you!
Father, fill this message with the anointing of your Holy Spirit. Let it be for your glory, not mine. In Jesus Name, Amen.