Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Baptism unraveled (4)

In my previous posts I wrote about the baptism into the Body of Christ, that one baptism by which anyone can become a member of God's family. We are all born into a natural family and we also need to be born into a spiritual family, which is simply called rebirth. At rebirth we receive the Holy Spirit as a seal, as proof that God is with us. The baptism in water is a visible confirmation on the outside of something invisible that happened on the inside of us. It is a step in obedience, as Jesus said.

As Christians we could be thinking, 'well, what else could I possible need? I am a child of God, and Jesus lives inside of me through the Holy Spirit.' Yet, the Bible talks about another step: the baptism in or with the Holy Spirit. That is not a term the Pentecostal movement has invented, it is one that John the Baptist came up with, more than 2000 years ago. He said, I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8). John wanted to prepare the people he was baptizing by telling them there was more to come. I find it fascinating that he knew about the baptism in the Holy Spirit long before it happened, he spoke prophetic words.

A few years later, right before his ascension into heaven, Jesus confirmed the words of John, For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). Jesus clearly shows that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not the same as the receiving of the Holy Spirit at rebirth. His own disciples had received the Holy Spirit not long before that, in a very special way, Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-22). Wow! 'That is it' we would think, they are ready to go into the world. But Jesus tells them to wait until that same Holy Spirit would come on them with power (Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8).

The Holy Spirit was always there, He is God as Jesus and the Father are God. They are one! We can read about the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. We can read how he came on people for specific purposes or a specific time, as with Moses, Samson, Eliah and Saul. We can read how he lived in people, as in Joseph (Genesis 41:38) and Daniel (Daniel 5:14) and He also hoovered over the waters in Genesis 1. The Holy Spirit is nothing new, but the way He now lives in people and gives them power is different. That really started with Jesus, who did not need rebirth, because He was born of the Spirit. However, He was baptized with the Spirit when He came up out of the water. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Luke 4:1). It turned out he needed this empowerment to withstand the temptations of Satan.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The baptism with the Holy Spirit is not so much about the Holy Spirit himself (who already lives in us) but more about the power released. We should not be thinking about human power here (which often manifests itself in shouting, pushing, etc.) but about supernatural power. That is, for example, the power:

  • to resist temptation
  • to be bold
  • to endure
  • to heal
  • to overcome

The apostle Peter explains it as follows: God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear (Acts 2:32-33). The outpouring, baptism or filling (whatever you want to call it) with the Holy Spirit is something that is visible and audible. In other words... we might be able to keep our rebirth kind of hidden, but that is not possible when we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit!


  1. Hi Marja -

    Yes, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit transformed cowardly followers into powerful witnesses for Christ.


    1. Amen sister. I don't always feel that way, but I know He will help me! Thanks Susan.

  2. So good, Marja! And ditto what Susan said. We cannot help but be changed. Bless you for this!

    1. Thank you Lynn for stopping by, always a pleasure.

  3. Anonymous5:41 AM

    I think there is a lot of confusion about baptism. when we are talking about baptism in the Holy Spirit people just get more confused. it's good to read these series about baptism and let people know that it is not about beeing baptised. it is not about being a so called christian, but it is all about being a follower of Christ. doing what God wants us to do. Baptism is a way of letting other people see that your willing to doe what ever God wants us to do. and a proof to yourselves that he realy lives within you. and an offering to show your love to Him.

    1. Thanks Eric for your comment, which is icing on the cake! If Jesus is not the center of all we do, we are drifitng away from the truth.

  4. I'm with Susan - powerful witnesses, indeed. What a wonderful example for us today. Thank you for sharing this.

    (Btw - love the picture you chose with this post!)

    Have a great week,

    1. Hihi Karen, isn't that how it feels when we dive into the deep with the Holy Spirit, scared but brave at the same time :)
      Thanks for visiting.

  5. The more I read the less I know! I am struggling to understand why Jesus breathed on the disciples and said 'Receive the Holy Spirit' yet they were without power till a later date. Does that happen with us whe we pray for the Holy Spirit?

  6. I believe what you just described Wyn is the difference between the receiving of the Holy Spirit and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which always comes with power.


Thanks for your visit, it is my hope and prayer that this post was an encouragement to you! Feel free to leave a comment.