Baptism in the Holy Spirit

I just read this:

“Take for instance the popular phrase ‘the baptism of the Holy Spirit’. Now as a noun phrase, it does not occur at all, in the New Testament.”  here

Are Christians automatically baptised with the Spirit (BHS) as part of being born again?

1 Cor 12 uses it as a verb “baptised by/in one spirit”. But as is pointed out Paul says this is true of all of the Corinthians. “You were all…”. If that were all we knew then the matter would be settled.  BHS would them seem to occur at the time of conversion automatically, no mater what we might experience.

But then there are the accounts in Acts. People get converted but do not have the Spirit so 1 Cor 12 is not universally true even after Pentecost. The same could be said of Rom 8:9. If they are saying you must have the Spirit to be a Christian then what about the baptised believers in acts who had received Jesus, trusted in him, etc but not been baptised in the Holy Spirit?

The see-saw seems to be “Acts is an exceptional time” on the one side and “the epistles assume a universal experience” on the other. A middle position is possible where you say they are talking about different things. All believers have the Spirit in one sense but need to receive the Spirit in another sense. I guess I am somewhere in-between that middle position and the “assumption of universal experience” position. Why? Acts gives several clear examples of being baptised subsequent to conversion. Jesus teaches his disciples to wait and ask in a way that sometimes seems to be more universal in scope “How much more does your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those that ask”.   I am suspicious of cessationaist arguments in general. ie This that or the other was only for the first few Christians.

Also, I think the phrase “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” as a noun phrase is a good one. Jesus said to his disciples that in a few days they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit Acts 1:4–5 (verb form). What follows is a description of what that looked like. When others experience a similar thing, like the Gentiles at Cornelius’s house, the disciples recognise that they “received the Spirit just as [they] had”. Given these things lots of expressions (given, received, poured, fell…) can legitimately all be grouped together under the phrase “baptism in the Holy Spirit”.

Samaria:

“that they might receive (λάβωσιν) the Holy Spirit” Acts 8:15

“they received (ἐλάμβανον) the Holy Spirit” Acts 8:17

“saw that the Spirit was given (δίδοται)” Acts 8:18

Paul:

“regain your sight and be filled (πλησθῇς from πίμπλημι) with the Spirit” Acts 9:17

Ephesus:

“the Holy Spirit came (ἦλθε) on (ἐπ᾽) them” Acts 19:6

The gentiles:

“the Holy Spirit fell (ἐπέπεσεν from ἐπιπίπτω) on (ἐπὶ) all who heard the word.” Acts 10:44

“Amazed that the Holy Spirit was poured out (ἐκκέχυται from ἐκχέω)” Acts 10:45

“Who have received (ἔλαβον from λαμβάνω) the Holy Spirit”  Acts 10:47

“The Holy Spirit fell (ἐπέπεσεν from ἐπιπίπτω) on (ἐπ᾽) them just as on us” Acts 11:15

“And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” (ESV) Acts 11:16

“bore witness to them by giving (δοὺς from δίδωμι) them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us” Acts 15:8

 

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The Holy Spirit

How important is the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian? I did a quick bible study for a prayer meeting recently:

John the Baptist identified Jesus as the one who would baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire. A new dynamic was coming and John did not want anyone to miss it. The prophecies in the Old Testament were about to be fulfilled and Jesus was going to be the one to do it. John baptised with water which was good, but Jesus would baptise with fire flooding his disciples with the presence and power of God.

 

Jesus himself did not want anyone to miss it. He said your  “heavenly Father” will “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13), “the Holy Spirit will teach you …what you ought to say” (Luke 12:12), “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26) and “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22)

 

At the beginning of the book of Acts Jesus is still emphasising the coming work of the Spirit “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses “ (Acts 1:8)

 

When Peter preached the gospel he said “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38). He himself was filled with and spoke by the Spirit and as we read on in acts and the letters:

 

  • The Holy Spirit is a witness to the resurrection.
  • Stephen filled with the Spirit saw a vision of Jesus
  • The Apostles laid hands on people and they received the Holy Spirit
  • The Holy Spirit comforts
  • Falls on people when they hear the word
  • Is visibly poured out on the gentiles
  • Speaks to the gathered church

 

  • We know our heavenly Father’s love for us by Holy Spirit
  • The Holy Spirit gives us hope
  • Sanctifies us
  • Dwells in us (We are temples of the Holy Spirit)
  • We Confess Jesus as Lord by the Holy Spirit
  • Were sealed with the Holy Spirit
  • Have the joy of the Spirit

 

  • We are renewed by the Holy Spirit
  • Perform miracles by the Holy Spirit
  • Speak by the Spirit
  • Pray in the Holy Spirit

 

No wonder Paul asks some disciples “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). It is possible to try to follow Jesus and build the church without the Holy Spirit. All such efforts are in vain. “Not by might, not by power but by my Spirit says the Lord” (Zech 4:6). Being a Christian is being with Jesus and that is possible by the Spirit. Being a Christian is knowing the Love of our heavenly Father which is only possible by the Spirit.

 

BTW here are the verses I looked at:

Gospels:

John the Baptist said Jesus  “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Luke 3:16

Jesus said : Your  “heavenly Father” will “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” luke 11:13

“the Holy Spirit will teach you …what you ought to say.” Luke 12:12

“the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”. John 14:26

Then he said “receive the Holy Spirit” John 20:22

 

 

 

Acts

Jesus says “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” Acts 1:5

“you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses “ Acts 1:8

Peter said “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

“Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said…” Acts 4:8

“when they had prayed, …they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”  Acts 4:31

“we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit” Acts 5:32

Stephen “full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55

they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:17

 

the church … walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, (it) multiplied.  Acts 9:31

 

“the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.” Acts 10:44

“the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles” Acts 10:45

 

Peter says “as I was speaking the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. “ Acts 11:15

 

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Acts 13:2

“being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia” Acts 13:4

“Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him” Acts 13:9

“the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit“. Acts 13:52

And God…bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us Acts 15:8

“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Acts 19:2

 

Letters

 

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Rom 5:5

my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit Rom 9:1

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Rom 15:13

We are “sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”  Rom 15:16

“your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” 1 Cor 6:19

“no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.” 1 Cor 12:3

“the Holy Spirit be with you all” 2 Cor 13:14

“In him you also …were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” Eph 1:13

“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”. Eph 4:30

our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.  1 Thes 1:5

“the joy of the Holy Spirit” 1 Thes 1:6

“the Holy Spirit who dwells within us”2 Ti 1:14

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit Ti 3:5

God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Heb 2:4

“men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” 2 Pet 1:21

“praying in the Holy Spirit” Jude 1:20

 

I love your presence (part 6)

Here are some more of my notes taken from the guys from Bethel Church in the states. I am finding going over them again so helpful as I push forward believing God for healing.

  • Joaquin was going after the miraculous for 9 years before he started seeing the deaf hear. (he saw other things before that but not the deaf hear)
  • He resisted taking responsibility on himself for what did not happen. He did not blame himself for it.
  • Yes please” is the most powerful prayer in the kingdom.
  • Ask your father in secret and he will reward you publicly.
  • “The power of God was present to heal the sick” Luke 5:17.
  • “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (ESV) Acts 10:38
  • “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Cor 3:17 God’s presence brings freedom. Freedom triumphs over bondage. The world is attracted to liberty.
  • It’s not what you know but who you know!
  • Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words
  • 1 and 2 Corinthians say three times that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
  • Sympathy and compassion are different. Sympathy just acknowledges the problem and locks people in. Compassion pulls people out
  • It gives God pleasure to destroy sickness.
  • Acts 5 – people who came into proximity with Peter got healed.
  • There is no guarantee that you’ll get words of knowledge right. God has broken into situations even when they have got the wrong. “Do you have pain in your knee?”, “No”, “what about your foot?”
  • “I like to practice getting words of knowledge wrong!”
  • When you are doing it out of Freedom it’s harder to get it wrong than to get it right!
  • If you don’t have a word of knowledge, just make one up!
  • You can do it wrong and get more results than doing it right out of routine
  • You have permission to do it wrong, but do it in love and honor.
  • I’ve lead people to the Lord in airports who I prayed for and didn’t get healed.
  • Sometimes he has prayed three times and nothing has happened. “Pay attention to your shoulder over the next 24 hours, and give God glory should something happen”
  • The world is not waiting for the next Reinhart Bonkkie or Benny Hinn but people who live out what they believe.
  • In the healing rooms tumors dissolve every week, and the deaf hear every week.
  • He will see more breakthrough if you laugh over a condition rather than pray!
  • In Matthew 10 it says he gave them authority. We do not need to ask for it, we already have it! We don’t need to ask God to do something he has already done.
  • Recognize who is in you and to command the sickness to go.
  • We are not going to get to the breakthrough we are after if we are polite. We need to love the person and hate the disease.
  • We have been polite with the devil for too long
  • love never fails.

Authority explored

What is authority and how does it really work? I know it is defined as “the right to rule” or “the legitimate use of power“, but what power and when? Can you exercise authority without exerting power? What is the opposite of authority? ie what are you doing when you use power illegitimately or misuse authority or pretend to have authority when you don’t actually have it? These are some of the questions I have in my head. I will launch out and see where I get to. I will start with a concrete natural example:

A policeman has authority. When he turns on his blue lights and stops your car he is using authority. He hasn’t exerted much physical power though except catching up with you and motioning for you to pull over. If authority is the right use of power then authority must involve some exertion of power. The policeman’s authority at this point relies mainly on your submission. However it is 99.9% effective in the UK. Something real is happening. The mechanism of physical presence and communication are in operation. You pull over because that’s what people do. You pull over because your moral sense of what is right motivates you. You pull over because you know he can exert more power to get you to comply. You pull over because you don’t want to get into any more trouble than you are already in. It’s as if over the years in this country a stone has been rolled up hill. Battles have been fought, laws passed, criminals chassed and imprisoned etc. Now, in many cases, simply giving it a little push will cause the stone to roll down hill releasing all that potential energy.

If the speeding person doesn’t stop then the power has to be ramped up. The policemen has to keep up with you and continue communicating with increasing emphasis. More police cars will arrive, then a helicopter. They will either run you out of petrol or puncture your tires. They will then surround you and order you out of the car. At this point you might comply or you might not, in which case they will physically pull you out of the car. You will then be handcuffed and if you won’t walk to the police car you will be physically carried. It’s all the application of enough power to get you to comply.

Now all the above would be the same (except the moral bit) even in a country  where the police were corrupt. However if someone is misusing authority God will eventually call them to account for it. A person using power illegitimately, for example wearing a police uniform and flagging you down even though they are not a policeman, or mugging you and forcing your handbag from you, does not have authority. They are a rebel. They have power but not authority. There is nothing legitimate about them or their actions.

Now what about Spiritual authority? When we say “In Jesus name be healed” what is going on? Well, in the bible demons recognize Jesus’ authority and they do what he says. They even ask him for permission to do stuff. There is something built into the culture of the unseen spiritual world that makes demons submit to Jesus’ name. Just turning up and issuing a command in Jesus name works in 99.9% of cases. However sometimes more power is needed. Jesus seems to say that comes by praying. Maybe that’s a bit like calling for backup! When Daniel prayed and fasted in the OT an angel was sent.

The issuing of a command must, in itself, involve an exertion of power. It’s not merely a voiced command awaiting further backup. I think the power of the Holy Spirit is exerted when we issue commands. We are clothed with power. Jesus walked in the power of the Spirit. It must also be connected with faith as Jesus says something like “if you say to a mountain move, and believe it will do so, it will move”.

The water flows when the source is lifted or the end of the tube is lowered.

I am thinking of it like a container of water with a tube coming out of the bottom of it. The default position has the end of the tube level with the top of the water so there is no flow. If you raise the container but keep the end of the tube in the same place water will start to flow out of it. The other way to get the water to flow is to lower the end of the tube. The rate of flow is determined by the relative height of the water level in the container above the end of the tube. Now think of faith. Faith can push up the source at the sending end or faith can pull down the tube at the receiving end. By that I mean the person praying could have faith, the sick person could have faith, or they could both have faith. You could touch Jesus with faith and power would flow out of him. Conversely Jesus could operate in faith and raise the dead where the dead person obviously could not exercise faith. The rate of flow of power is determined by the amount of faith present.

Since God’s power is unlimited the flow of power is limited only by faith. Two caveats spring to mind. The first is that God can stop the flow if he wants. The Holy Spirit is not going to empower something that God is not ok with. He can shut it off at the mains if he wants. The second is that often only a little power is needed to release a massive potential power. This potential power has been built up previously through God’s working in that situation.

Christians are like fire fighters holding a massive high pressure hose. Our job is to keep hold of the end and point it where we expect God to work. Actually, putting out a fire is a helpful picture as you can spray water onto flames and it may take a while for them to go out. As with someone running from the law God’s power can be resisted, but not for long. I was struck by a guy from the Bethel team who prayed with me for a lady to get well. We didn’t see anything but he said to her “It is impossible for us to pray and command you to be well and for nothing to happen”. I also remember the time I was getting disheartened about getting well myself. People kept praying for me and nothing seemed to be happening. Then God read my mind and someone brought a prophetic word to the effect that the prayers of the saints were being effective. I’ve held onto that. It is impossible for God’s power to be released and nothing to happen.

If there was no power released at the time of the first command then it’s hard to see what we have to do to see it exerted. If “be healed in Jesus name” doesn’t releases power for healing then why would power be released when we say it a second time? No. Power must be released on the first and subsequent times until, just like a jar lid suddenly pops of, or a fire is put out, a person is healed or delivered.

Finally, just a point on the legitimate use of power. I have heard some say (or I interpreted them as saying) that Satan gained the legitimate right to rule over us and the earth when Adam sinned. I do not think that is a good way of looking at it. The transaction that takes place on the cross is not between God and Satan but between God and God! Jesus pays our ransom to God. We are rescued from the kingdom of darkness but not by some legal transaction between two equal kingdoms. It’s not like one government negotiating with another for the rescue of hostages. It’s more akin to one government sending in a special forces team to destroy the hostage takers and rescue the hostages by force. Since the hostages were taken illegally their rescue is legal. Put it another way. You don’t buy back stolen goods, you seize them and imprison the thief. Satan is a rebel, a liar and a thief. He owns nothing legitimately. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it! The Christians role is to seize what he has stolen and free the people he has imprisoned and oppressed. One day God will bring him to justice and throw him into the lake of fire mentioned in the book of Revelation.

I wonder if the view that Satan has some legitimate right to us or this world comes from a faulty interpretation of this passage:

“And the devil took [Jesus] up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.” (ESV) Luke 4:5-6

We have to remember that what the devil says is going to be a lie or a purposeful distortion of the truth intended to deceive us. Reading what he says I would say it’s a good bet that:

1) He has not been given authority to rule the kingdoms

2) He can not give it to whoever he chooses

He is either deceived or is deceiving.  He may be acting as the prince of this world, but he has no legitimate right to it. We should be very wary of getting doctrine from the devil! Adam and Eve did it in the garden of Eden and things didn’t go too well.

In the Matthew passage the devil seems to be acting out a sham of Matthew 28:18-19 where Jesus says:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (ESV) Matthew 28:18-19

The devil is not in charge of doing bad tings for Jesus. Jesus only does good things. Satan has no legitimate authority at all. The only thing lurking in the back of my mind is that no one can do anything without God’s sovereign permission. God gives Satan permission to hassle Job. Does that mean he uses his power legitimately when he takes Job’s possessions? Is God giving Satan authority to make Job ill? I think it’s important to separate God’s delegated authority with his permissive will. He gives us room to rebel but that does not make our rebellion legitimate. The bent cop is not acting with the governments authority but in rebellion to the government.

Well, I didn’t have any of this worked out when I started writing so as usual it’s my raw thoughts. I will continue to process these ideas. My main hunch is that power is released through faith. It’s not simply a command that may or may not have to be backed up by power later. There is immediately a release of power as soon as a person operates in faith. It may not need much power if power has been exerted previously in that context. For example after decades of law enforcement most people will comply very quickly. Their response has been shaped by previous power. In a similar way we work after the death and resurrection of Jesus. At the cross Jesus dealt a death blow to the forces of darkness. We do not therefore face an uphill struggle to see darkness overcome in Jesus name. I am also persuaded that Satan has no legitimate authority but is a thief, a liar and a rebel. I could go on about mankind’s original remit to rule, the extent to which that is still in effect and how Jesus has now given some increased authority but this blog is way too long already!

You can change the laws of Physics! (UEA Holy Spirit Part 4)

One final thing that I wanted to share with the excellent guys at UEA CU when I went there yesterday was that we are encouraged to ask for the Holy Spirit. Not only is it nonsensical to imagine that the Holy Spirit comes quietly and secretly upon a person (as you read the accounts in Acts you almost have to put your fingers over your ears it was so noisy!)  it is also unhelpful to think we just get on with things until God so desires to pour out his Sprit on us. Now he might – he certainly did on Cornelius’ household but in most other cases people had an expectation built and hands laid on them. You may remember Jesus talking about asking and seeking and knocking. Well you may not know that he was talking about the Holy Spirit. The climactic application of his teaching on asking, seeking and knocking was this:

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13

Over the last few months my expectation has been soaring. I have decided to take God at his word and believe what he says and go with the expectation his word builds in me. When I take breaks off its amazing how much faith God’s word builds. Blow it, I’m almost 40. I want the rest of my life to count. If there is power available then I’m going to ask for it. “More lord More!” Isn’t just a nice charismatic think to say. It’s the cry of a heart who desperately needs more of God.

Starship Enterprise

I am reminded of the Starship Enterprise battling it out with a Klingon battle cruiser. Their shields are almost gone and they are seconds away form being blown to smithereens. Captain Kirk desperately calls down to Scottie in the engine room for more power. Scottie replies as he always does “I can ney do it cap’n shes gan’ flat oot already!”. But of course there is always more power and somehow Scottie does the impossible, there is a surge of power and the Enterprise wins another battle. I want to be like Captain Kirk, knowing there has to be more power, calling out for it, and winning yet another battle for God. Unlike Scottie God is saying to us “Ask me for more, there is more power! Heal the sick, raise the dead!”.  He can and does “change the laws of physics!”. “More Lord, More!”

We are all special people with a special task! (UEA Holy Spirit part 3)

Sampson wielding a donkey's jawbone

On the day of Pentecost when the disciples spoke about the Holy Spirit coming upon people they where not talking about something unheard of. The Spirit had come on David, Saul, Balaam, Sampson, Othniel, Jephthah, Gideon, Moses, Amasai chief of the Thirty, Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest, Joshua, Elisha, Elijah and probably some more I’ve missed out (I think there are a couple of guys that built the temple who had Gods Sprit on them). These were special people with special tasks. They won victories in battle, prophesied, lead, blew trumpets, ripped lions apart, killed hundreds with a donkeys jaw bone, healed people, and did all sorts of amazing miracles.

If someone if offering the Holy Spirit to people who know their Old testaments then they had better be aware of the expectations they are raising. But could it be true? The Spirit poured out on everyone? Yes! The prophets looked forward to this day. Joel, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel. And Jesus spoke a lot about it too. It turns out that now we are all special people with a special task, to boldly take the gospel where it has not gone before. That could be next door or half way round the globe. It can’t be done in the way God wants it to be done without the Holy Sprit. The Christian life is to be lived with power and the batteries come with the gift of forgiveness.

Fond memories (UEA, Holy Spirit talk part 1)

Yesterday evening I went to the UEA to speak at the CU. It was so good to be back there again after all these years and it brought back some great memories. Three years spent researching, designing and programming computer graphics effects for fire and explosions. Cool! It was great to have so much time and freedom to pursue my interests but that wasn’t the best thing about being at the UEA nor was it memories of late nights hunched in front of a computer screen that filled my mind. You see, towards the end of my time at the UEA I became a Christian.

I was invited by a really great guy in my lab to an event in the CU mission’s week and to cut a long story short, at the end of the talk I put my hand up and said “yes I want to trust in Jesus Christ”. No single decision has changed my life as much as that one and yet after I had given my life to Christ I felt no different. The next morning I kind of wished I’d not been so hasty (although I had been looking into it for over 7 years). A friend came round and we dumped a load of unhelpful stuff I had accumulated in a nearby skip. In the days that followed I began to experience a change form the inside out. Changes of desires and joy and peace. A little while later I was baptised in water and then a short time after that I was filled with the Holy Spirit (it wasn’t all as simple as it sounds but I’ll leave that for another time). And here I was again, wanting so much to encourage these guys and serve them as best I could. And they had given me a great passage to do just that. Acts chapter 2!

Acts 2 is a key chapter in an amazing book. It is I believe one of the most important chapters in the whole bible, second of course to the ones about Jesus’ death and resurrection but of unique significance to us and God’s purposes in the world. If it wasn’t for the events described in this chapter, mission would have misfired, I would not have heard the gospel, I would not have been saved and I dread to think what life would have been like.