Baptism and the Holy Spirit - Birkenhead Baptist

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Jul 2, 2013 ... Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove ..... before God, saying “Here I am Lord, I am ready, Holy Spirit come upon me”.

Baptism and the Holy Spirit Why did Jesus have to get baptised? … basically in the waters of baptism God washes away our sins -right? But Jesus was without sin so why did he get baptised? Any Suggestions?

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Let’s look at the differing applications of Baptism over history – now some might well say, “they got it wrong”, but each of these practices (except our own) lasted for centuries  Is God going to allow an error to perpetuate so long? In the New Testament and the first Church – it appears that more or less immediately pagans were converted they were baptised. Hard say whether the same was true of Jewish converts or not? Baptism seems to signify a change of allegiance and acceptance of Christ Then as the church developed and started to gather up a much greater percentage of the population baptism changed. Instead of it being immediate because people had most evidently already been converted, the concern was that they were genuinely becoming Christians for the right reasons and really meant it. So an extensive ‘Catechumenate’ a long period (even 3 years) of teaching and preparation developed along with lots of complicated extra baptismal rituals. Then in the medieval church when nominally everyone was a Christian a great sense of the power of baptism to save developed, and all infants were automatically baptised; lest they should die unsaved. Baptism became a sign of belonging to the church long before a personal belief could develop And in fact when enemies were encountered – such as barbarian tribes, when they were conquered; they were often compelled to be baptised. Now you’d think this was completely wrong wouldn’t you?! However it more often than not worked – the act of baptism for these barbarian tribes was a repudiation of their old gods and the taking on of a new alignment and it stuck & Christianity grew! Then in the beginnings of the modern era as individualism grew – new churches (like the Baptists) emerged where the important thing was the personal decision for Christ, and baptism became as a form of legal seal on your grownup decision to follow Jesus Today – we see in many overseas mission contexts – that converts can do or believe anything they like; - but when they get baptised it is a public declaration of a change of religion and then their relatives and community ostracize them. And in New Zealand – well what happens. ~ Of course there are a range of circumstances, but what I see is people reach a point where they feel ready. They have tested the waters and know God is real in their lives. They want to make a testimony of their conviction to follow Jesus both to God and to those close to them. You might even say it is a sign of reaching a point of maturity of faith. So – confusing or what? Maybe not This is what John the Baptist said I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he Baptism and the Holy Spirit.doc 1 2 July 2013

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told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” John 1:31-34 He will baptize with the Holy Spirit = Jesus. In Matthew when Jesus came before John for Baptism, John says: “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” Matthew 3:14

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I wonder – perhaps the “real thing” is the baptism that Jesus brings  the baptism in the Spirit? The thing is:- baptism in the spirit has come to mean something different – a second experience: The first experience is the experience of conversion  for some this an incredibly real event with a dramatic experience of God’s touch. For others it is much less profound and for some there may not even be an actual specific moment when you can say conversion happened. Then the second experience is baptism of the Holy Spirit – where something akin to the experience of Pentecost happens  when there is a dramatic experience of a touch of God’s power and particularly this is associated with receiving of the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy. Let’s have a look at this in the bible – really the only place we can look is the book of Acts. Firstly, in Acts 8 Philip goes to the Samaritans: 4 But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized….When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:12 -17 So, the Samaritans were baptised in the name of Jesus but no baptism of the Holy Spirit – until Peter and John lay hands on them – then something happens similar to what today we would describe as baptism of the Holy Spirit. However another twist appears in Acts 10: the story of the Roman officer Cornelius. The Holy Spirit in a vision causes Cornelius who has been seeking God to send for Peter. Peter likewise receives a vision and he comes and tells these Roman’s about Jesus: Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God. Then Peter asked, “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ... Acts 10:44-47 So what do we see here? There is what we would describe as Baptism of the Holy Spirit preceding water baptism! And then the Baptism in the name of Jesus...

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Then again what about Acts 19: … Paul travelled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked. And they replied, “The baptism of John.” Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.” As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:2-6

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Most perplexing. Here we have a water baptism similar to John the Baptist’s (whereby the Holy Spirit came down on Jesus) but there is apparently a need for a Baptism in the name of Jesus which is surely similar to what the Samaritans who had not received the Holy Spirit undertook/ experienced  however this time it is this Baptism immediately associated with “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” So you see the confusion? Well first thing I should do is point back to last week – the Holy Spirit is Unpredictable God – we shouldn’t try to confine Him into a set of rules The wind blows 7 wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit. John 3:8 But actually I think there is something we can conclude from this. I also mentioned last week the risk of a “settle for ~this” attitude, where we determine on a lesser thing. One of the lesser things that (inexplicably given these three stories) people have settled on is to deny the experience of a Baptism of the Holy Spirit. They reason that the Holy Spirit comes when we are born again – the act of salvation or of conversion. They would say that when we become a Christian we ALL receive the Holy Spirit then and there; and thus there can be no “second” experience. Well they are right and they are wrong. The Holy Spirit has three ministries. Firstly the Holy Spirit is the agency by which we are born again  and the means by which Jesus & the Father can come and make their home inside of us: Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. John 14:23

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It is through the Holy Spirit that such a thing is possible. If that was all the Holy Spirit did then the deniers of the Baptism of the HolySpirit would be right. However the Holy Spirit’s ministry is threefold Secondly Holy Spirit makes Jesus known to us But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit— he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26 The Holy Spirit reveals God to us But the third one is the clincher in this case (little appreciated fact – Jesus also appears in a 5th book: the very first verses of Acts) Baptism and the Holy Spirit.doc

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But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

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The Holy Spirit also empowers us. Now I intend to speak much more on this another week. But the point I’m making today is that the Holy Spirit doesn’t just do one thing. He isn’t an energy force that we latch onto – he is living God doing multitude of things. So what we can see in these stories from Acts is the Holy Spirit working in varied, multiple ways. And one of the things we see is that we have actually limited it by labelling it “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” I think this is actually true Baptism – it is ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Baptism is where the Holy Spirit comes and soaks a person. The word ‘Baptism’ means just that and only that nowadays – but the original usage of the word Baptō was in regard to dying of fabric. It meant to immerse or dip material into dye in order to change its colour. It was a very suitable metaphor for the early Christian to ‘capture the word’, to use it to describe what Jesus did to them. When people became followers of Jesus then the Holy Spirit came upon them, immersed them in himself and they came out different people  transformed, born again as new. But this cannot happen on its own, by itself. Jesus says of the Holy Spirit: When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. John 16:13

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He will not speak on his own – in other words the Holy Spirit will not act in his own authority or power. He will not come where he is not invited. ~Perhaps some might have heard of people talk about Spiritual revivals spreading from one place to another. I told a story last week about the expression of the Toronto blessing occurring in a church in Auckland. The language used sometimes sounds almost like a virus spreading – someone goes somewhere, ‘catches’ the work of the Holy Spirit and brings it back with them. This is because the Holy Spirit does not work on his own authority – the Holy Spirit comes where there is an opening. It is also why in countries where there is an overwhelming expectation  BELIEF to see supernatural things  that they do see great works of miraculous healing and miracles take place. But in a cold dead, spiritually denying, dry places like New Zealand or western Europe; where there is widespread denial of supernatural healing – you do not see spectacular move of the Holy Spirit. I would even go so far as to say the Holy Spirit cannot act! I want to qualify this. The Holy Spirit does not speak on his own = will not act where he is not free. However the Holy Spirit ~as I said last week Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:2 The Holy Spirit hovers over the darkness looking to change things – to open up opportunity to move and to work. The Holy Spirit will be wheedling away, nudging things, encouraging and seeping through the gaps to open up the opportunity to move and pour out living water. I got some insight into this a few years ago hearing a Pentecostal pastor from Ireland, Clive Carr. The key is the concept of Dominion (a word not used in my usually preferred NLT) Baptism and the Holy Spirit.doc

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Humanity long ago was given Dominion over the world So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28 NIV

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Now Satan had lost the authority he had as the chief angel by rebelling against God. But he still had power and he said, to Adam and Eve – “challenge God’s authority”, and by this he thought to reclaim authority himself. And by stepping out of God’s authority in rebellion and independence the dominion over the world passed out from under God’s wider dominion into the dominion of Satan where he has power and dominion (the scriptures speak of Satan as the god of this world  And again I will talk about that next week.) When we see the Holy Spirit move in much power in the Old Testament it is when God has again been given dominion – for example I spoke of Samson a few weeks back  how And the LORD blessed him as he grew up. And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him Judges 13:24. This was possible because For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. Judges 13:5. The Holy Spirit came in power on Samson,(or Samuel) because he had been dedicated to the Lord –giving the Holy Spirit dominion in his life. Similarly Kings, like Saul or David are anointed by Samuel, giving the Holy Spirit dominion.

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But in Jesus everything changed. Jesus came specifically to remedy this situation. In Jesus the power and the authority and the dominion is restored [Jesus]... far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:21NIV

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And where Jesus is present the Holy Spirit has dominion and freedom to move. Frequently there are examples of the Holy Spirit coming on a meeting or a church service when people pray and say, “Come Holy Spirit, Come”. Sometimes the initiative for something very spiritual to occur is triggered by an invitation to the Holy Spirit (and I have an example of that next week). But more so it is when and where Jesus reigns in Power and Authority that the Spirit comes and has dominion. In Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost they were waiting in obedience to Jesus’ own instruction Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4-5 In Acts 4 very much the same thing occurs when they call on Jesus’ name  they pray: Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:30-31 It happens when they appeal to the name of Jesus. For this reason I urge us as a church – we must open ourselves to Jesus without reserve (remember my story raising hands last week). Proclaim Baptism and the Holy Spirit.doc

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Jesus – call on Jesus  And the Holy Spirit may come... I say “may” because the Holy Spirit still does what he wants = unpredictable God. When Jesus washes his disciples feet this exchange occurs with Peter “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” John 13:6-10

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Ahh – through Jesus we are already baptised in the Holy Spirit – already dipped and soaking in the dye and transformed all over. It is only our feet that drag in the dust of another dominion and need continual washing. So I’ve been adamant – Baptism is Baptism of the Holy Spirit – and I appeal to John the Baptist and Jesus himself confirming that! .... But it leaves a question open doesn’t it. What then is water baptism? Well  the answer’s easy  it is calling on Jesus. For baptism in the Holy Spirit we must call on Jesus – baptism is calling Jesus! ...And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God [‘an appeal to God’ in some translations] from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:21

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Baptism is vitally important because what it is doing  is it is going before God and saying because of Jesus I am here – I am open to you. I am your man or woman - God come over me  Where I am you have dominion Paul writes about this also  using an illustration I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that travelled with them, and that rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 Now of course they weren’t actually baptised & Jesus didn’t actually travel with them – but passing through the red sea when the waters parted, is like the Baptism of coming before God, following God. And from that step out in faith they received the spiritual water – the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit comes, proceeds from the rock and that rock was Christ. Today I would like to encourage you if you have not been baptised ( How you get baptised, who baptises you is entirely up to you)  But water baptism – just as Jesus took that step – is the step before God, saying “Here I am Lord, I am ready, Holy Spirit come upon me” Let’s pray

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