Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Importance of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit

NOTE:  An updated version of this article is available on my new website at this URL:  http://bornofspirit.net/the-importance-of-the-baptism-with-the-holy-spirit/

I am writing this post to provide a perspective on the value and importance that we should 
place on the experience known as "the Baptism with the Holy Spirit."

It is my belief that after someone receives Jesus as his/her savior and is born again to eternal life, the baptism with the Holy Spirit should be the very next thing on the list of priorities.  
I believe that it should be a part of any "new believer's class" and it should be taught regularly in every Christian assembly.
Here are some reasons why I believe this way...

It was a high priority to God the Father

In Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:7-8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33, we read this statement from John the Baptist:
"I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

God sent John the Baptist to announce the beginning of the ministry of His Son.  
Of all the things that He could have had John announce, the one that He picked was the fact that Jesus would "baptize with the Holy Spirit."
And God made sure that this announcement was included in all four gospel accounts in the New Testament.

This is amazing to think about.  John could have been sent to say any number of things, but a main part of his function was to announce that Jesus will baptize people in the Holy Spirit.

This tells us that this part of the ministry of Jesus is not something that should be set to the side.  It should be near the center of our thinking.  We need to understand what this means, and share this understanding with others.  To say that "the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a big deal" is an understatement.

It was a high priority to Jesus

Jesus personally trained His disciples for 3 years (many of them at least). These individuals received hands on personal training and daily interaction with the perfect Son of God.

They got to hear all of His teachings in person.  They got to watch Him do healings and miracles and cast out demons.  They got to ask Him questions about it later, and get more insight and instruction.  They got to operate as apprentices and receive direction and correction from Jesus Himself, in the flesh.
However, among the last instructions from Jesus to His disciples was to wait for the Holy Spirit baptism before they get started on their mission.  (Acts 1:4-8)
These were the last words of Jesus before He ascended and was glorified at the right hand of the Father.
As crazy as it sounds...being trained in person by Jesus was not enough.  They needed something else if they were going to have maximum effectiveness.  And this is from the mouth of the risen Lord.  
We should not be so arrogant to assume that we do not need this same equipment.  We can go to school and study doctrine for 50 years, and memorize the entire bible, and who knows what else.  Learning and studying and receiving training are all good and helpful and necessary...but learning and training are only part of what is needed.  
We will never come close to our potential if we neglect the supernatural empowerment that was spoken of by Jesus and is freely available to us even now.

It was a high priority to the early church at Jerusalem

Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. In this story, a disciple name Philip has gone to Samaria and "preached Christ to them" (Acts 8:5). His preaching was accompanied by demonstrations of of the power of God in healings, signs, and casting out demons.

Many people believed the gospel and received Jesus as their savior and were baptized in water (Acts 8:12).

Word got back to Jerusalem about what was going on.  When the believers in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans were getting saved, the first action they took was to send Peter and John on a ~40 mile trip to minister the baptism with the Holy Spirit to the new believers.
This shows the priority that was placed on this by the early church at Jerusalem.  It was at the top of their list for new believers to receive this.  They wasted no time in bringing this Holy Spirit baptism to the new Samaritan believers.

This attitude is one that we should emulate.  We should think about this the same way they did.  Whenever someone believes in Jesus and receives salvation, the very next thing that we should tell them about is the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  It is crucial, and the early church knew it.

It was a high priority to Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.

Read Acts 19:1-6.
Here is a summary.

Paul goes to a place named Ephesus.  He meets some people there that call themselves "disciples."  Paul assumes they are Christians and his first question to these new "discples" was "did you receive the Holy Spirit when you first believed?"

They answered "no, we didn't even know there was a Holy Spirit."

Paul is perplexed and asks more questions.  He learns that they are disciples of John the Baptist, but they haven't heard the gospel yet.

So Paul does the following:

1 - Explain (preach) the gospel of Jesus to them
2 - When they believe and receive, he baptizes them in water
3 - When they come up out of the water, he places his hands on them to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit...and they speak in tongues as they receive it.

Take a look at Paul's attitude here.  This is around 25-30 years after the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and the very first thing he asks new believers about is the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

When he finds out they aren't actually Christians yet, he leads them into salvation in Jesus, and then water baptism.  And then the next step is baptism with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.

This is our pattern.  This is our blueprint.  This is what it should look like.

I believe we as the body of Christ need to get our priorities in order.