This past Sunday I got to hear a great message on Spirit Baptism at our church, living a Spirit empowered life and as a church, being a people of the Spirit. I loved that the message didn’t revolve around whether you spoke in tongues or not at the moment of Spirit baptism, but rather the fruit of a Spirit filled life. But, it did remind me of a message I gave specifically on the subject of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I hope you’ll read through this an give it a listen!
If you’re new to the blog, I don’t want you to miss the fact I’m Pentecostal, through and through! Part of my life’s mission is to help people understand Pentecostal and Charismatic expressions as the normative experience of Christ followers. That the Spirit of the Living God is not to be put in a corner as an ‘add-on,’ but is fully God in every sense.
I’ve been privileged to see first hand deaf ears open, tumors dissolve and men and women stand up out of wheelchairs. Likewise I’ve seen the Spirit’s power abused, treated as a ‘sideshow’ and used to prop up a man’s ministry instead of the Gospel and the love of God, or worse, faked by self proclaimed prophets giving ‘cold readings.’ Further still I’ve seen Holy Spirit shoved into a back room of mainline church models for fear He’d drive away seekers, explained away as an additional impersonal force that is somehow the lesser part of the Godhead, and a source of apprehension for preachers that are fearful of weirding out their congregations.
The place I see people stumble over most often is around the issue of Spirit Baptism. Now, I realize your pneumatology may differ from mine. I get that. I find the people that read my blogs run the denominational gamut, and I’m proud of that! I don’t like the idea of my posts being boxed into one theological framework full of yes men or angry commenters.
Still, I recognize that while normal conversation for me, this may be controversial for many. My great hope is that as you listen to the message I share that you’d recognize it as a journey through scripture, that my aim is to, where I’m able, demystify the Holy Spirit through Biblical teaching, and possibly for you, to disarm the apprehension we have approaching this topic.
So I just want to start by saying this; I get it.
Many of us don’t come from a theological persuasion where when we consider The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, gratefulness and empowerment come to mind. Instead, just me saying it may cause you tension. I want to show you in Scripture, that this is a good thing.
Still, I get it.
I grew up Southern Baptist to the core. I mean Lottie Moon Christmas offerings, everybody was white and old, and you couldn’t go five minutes on a Sunday without hearing God is good, all the time, and all the time God is good. I love the Baptist church I grew up in, but the power of the Spirit of God was rarely touched on.
Others may come from a background where The Baptism in the Holy Spirit was just expected but never really explained or taught clearly from the Bible. Or worse, just revolved around whether you spoke in tongues or not. I get that too! When I recommitted my life to Jesus it was my first time at this old school, King James only, Church of God at a Friday night. I remember being at ease coming in. Everyone is friendly. And then when worship started these people just went nuts. Yelling in tongues in the front, shouting and dancing and flags and tambourines and I’m sure at any moment these guys are gonna bring out snakes and hand this baptist guy some of their special cool-aid.
There was zero context given for what was happening. It was like everyone knew what was going on and thought this was normal except for me! Luckily for me it was a right time kind of moment and I encountered the Lord and gave my life to him that night.
But I wonder, what if I hadn’t said yes, but instead I left disillusioned and confused about who God was because people were ecstatic and emotional but didn’t take time to disciple me in who Holy Spirit is and what He does.
Today I want to answer the question. Does He baptize? And I want to do that by showing three different baptisms taught in Scripture, I want to walk through what the New Testament writers say about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and I want to end by discussing briefly what it means to have a prayer language that we speak to God with and how that differs from the Spiritual Gift of speaking in tongues that requires interpretation.
I hope you’ll scroll back up to the top and give this message listen. I’ve spoken with several people from that have heard this message who tell me how much confusion and apprehension this cleared up for them.