Holy Spirit Baptism

Matthew 3:11
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

I believe we all agree that God’s presence, His Holy Spirit, is present in everyone who places their trust and faith in Jesus Christ for cleansing from sin. When we receive Christ into our lives we receive His Holy Spirit.

But, as we talked about last week, the presence of the Holy Spirit within us does not necessarily equate to us being surrendered and obedient to His power and will. As I pointed out, we can overrule the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the exercise of our will. That is both the privilege and the peril of free will.

It should, however, be our desire to become more obedient to the leading and working of the Holy Spirit. We should aspire to surrender more completely to His influence; to be more completely immersed or baptized in Him.

In pointing his followers to Jesus, John the Baptist indicated that Jesus would bring them to a more powerful baptism than the one they were receiving with water. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, but the baptism of Jesus would be one of “fire”, or cleansing power. This cleansing is referred to in the Bible as sanctification, that is, spiritual purification.

We need both; redemption and reconciliation made possible by the death of Jesus, as well as cleansing and power made possible by the resurrection of Jesus. So we don’t just need for the presence of Jesus to be in us, we need the “fire” of His Spirit to consume us.

After the Holy Spirit was poured out on Jesus’ disciples at Pentecost, the church experienced a dynamic transformation. Spirit filled believers became powerful agents for spreading the good news of Jesus’ saving grace. And the church grew dramatically as people heard the message of Jesus as presented by these disciples.

Paul was one of those who came to faith in Christ and who also operated in the power of the Holy Spirit. His teaching about the Holy Spirit in his letters provide a substantial basis for our understanding today. But we should be very clear that while our teaching regarding salvation through Jesus and walking in the power of His Spirit are often handled separately, this was not the case. For those early believers it was a package deal; following Jesus also meant being filled with His Spirit and surrendering to the power of the Spirit. So when Paul encountered some Christ followers in Ephesus who were only aware of John’s baptism, He taught them that there was more power available to them through the Holy Spirit.

Acts 19:1-7
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
2 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.”
3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
7 There were about twelve men in all.

Here’s what we should take away from this teaching today: There is more to following Jesus than believing in Him, being a good person and doing good works. The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives goes beyond our own reconciliation with God; it is His power working in and through us to accomplish God’s purposes. We should never become comfortable to simply enjoy the presence of Christ; we should continually seek to be cleansed and consumed by His “fire” so that the power of His Spirit can be unleashed through our lives.

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