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Understanding The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit

WHAT IS THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?

Many are confused about the word “baptism,” which to most is a Christian ceremony involving water, demarcating the born again experience of a new believer.  The word baptism comes from the Greek, baptidzo, which means to overcome or overwhelm.  A ship, swallowed by the sea and submerged was saturated (literally overwhelmed) by water.  The Greeks would have described this sunken ship as baptized.  In 1 Corinthians 10:2, Paul says that the children of Israel were baptized into Moses.  By this he meant that they were totally committed to their leader Moses.

After being “born again,” sins are removed from your account.  Payment is made.  Everything that formerly separated your life from the life of God is erased.  You become a “new creation.”  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Because of sin, your spirit was separated from the life of God from birth.  But when you accepted Christ into your heart by faith; believing in Him as your personal Savior, the process of baptism was begun.  The Holy Spirit came and joined Himself with your spirit. . . . he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17).  Jesus promised that those who love Him would become the abode of the godhead (John 14:23).  So at this juncture, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside each believer and though the body still suffers from the consequence of sin in the world, the spirit is made alive because of righteousness (Romans 8:10).

From Jesus’ words concerning the Holy Spirit starting in John 14:16, we learn that the fullness of the godhead has come to live inside you.  There is no need for God to send more of the Holy Spirit to you from heaven, but so far the redemption received has only redeemed the spirit.  What is needed is not the inflowing of the Spirit, that has already happened.  What is needed is an out flowing of the Spirit.  When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, He told her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”  (John 4:13-14)  What is the “water” that Jesus gives you to drink?  On another occasion, He said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38)  On both of these occasions, Jesus refers to both the inflow and the outflow of the analogous living water.

Salvation comes when through a freewill decision you received Jesus as your Savior.  At His invitation to drink the “living water,” (the Holy Spirit); you did drink and passed from death into life; you are saved.  He overwhelms (baptizes) your spirit and His life, the life of God, begins to permeate your life.  As you begin your walk with Him, He shows you His ways and begins the process of conforming you into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).  Having been saved from the consequence of the “sin condition,” now the Spirit begins teaching you how to be saved from “sins” by showing you how to conform your will into His.  The length of this process depends on how stubborn you are.  The Holy Spirit will not violate your will.  His role is purely as a Counselor; a Helper.  You must choose His ways through a freewill decision.  Your spirit has been healed; and now He wants to heal your soul, but you must invite Him in so that it too is overwhelmed (baptized).  Having repaired the inflow valve, He wants to repair the outflow valve.

Some have misunderstood that in order to be baptized in the Spirit, you must be a “fitting vessel” for God to come and live inside of you.  It’s like saying that you must be clean before taking a bath.  The purpose of the coming of the Spirit is to clean you up.  Like Jesus, who said that He had come as a physician for those who were sick, not the healthy – the Holy Spirit has come to make us whole.  Therefore, He has come for those that are less than whole.  We are commanded to be holy (1 Peter 1:14-16), but holiness is not perfection.  It means to be “set apart” unto the will of God.  The picture of the conformity of our will to His is not one of kicking and screaming resistance, but a quiet submission when the true will of God is understood.  This happens when we set ourselves apart in an endeavor to do His will.  This is holiness and it is the first step toward the repair of the outflow valve.  Understanding this, you will be able to see that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not so much getting Him to come in; but it is more in getting Him to come out.

SPEAKING IN TONGUES

When the pipes are finally repaired – both the inflow and the outflow valves – the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself.  For many when this happens, it is expressed through speaking in a new language.  Upon its release, this “prayer language” can be used at anytime by a believer as a way of expressing their urgency to God (Romans 8:26).  This heavenly language is used to speak to God, not to men (1 Corinthians 14:2).  It is often confused with the gift of Speaking in Tongues, which is a message spoken to men, but can only be understood if the Gift of Interpretation is also present.  The prayer language originated as the Holy Spirit prays with the human spirit to God according to the will of God.  The Gift of Speaking in Tongues on the other hand is a message from God as He channels it through a yielded vessel.  While the Gift of Speaking in Tongues together with the Gift of Interpretation is encouragement to the whole body of believers, the prayer language is encouragement for the individual (1 Corinthians 14:4).

 

At the first, the idea of speaking in a prayer language seems like nonsense.  That is because you want to hang on to your understanding.  Your soul (will, intellect and emotions) wants to make sense out of everything.  It tells you to figure it out.  But speaking in tongues, bypasses the understanding.  Propositional truth, that is fact gathering using the mind, can only take you so far toward understanding God.  Ultimately, you must come to the point where the intellect has been stretched as far as it can go and then faith must take over.  This is where we realize that “Truth” can only be found through a revelatory experience.  If you are a Christian, you have already come to this point before, you just don’t remember.  Don’t you think putting your trust in a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth, who claimed to be able to forgive sins who was executed 2,000 years ago; and then a few of His deranged followers proclaiming that He had been raised from the dead is borderline insanity?  It at least does not make sense!  But you let go of the need to have it all figured out and with your heart you believed that God truly did raise Him from the dead.  In doing so, you were saved.  So it is with speaking in tongues.  God needs you to let go of your need to have it all sorted out and step out on faith.  Paul, speaking to the Colossians says, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6-7)  The instruction here is that in the same way you received Christ (by faith) you are to continue each day.  Faith established the relationship and it is faith that will deepen and sustain the relationship each day, not intellect or emotion.

Having received your prayer language by faith, you can now begin to exercise it.  Frequently speaking in your prayer language allows you to become freer and freer because it allows the Holy Spirit to have more and more control over your speech.  James points out that one of your most vulnerable points is the weakness of the flesh when it comes to speech (James 1:26).  Yielding your will to the Holy Spirit by faith through speaking in tongues also trains you to make your plans secondary to the plans of God.  The intellect is bypassed when you use the prayer language.  Prayer becomes more effective because when you pray in tongues, you are praying according to God’s will (Romans 8:27).  And remember only one-half of prayer is what you are speaking to God; the other half is listening to what He has to say to you.  Listening also becomes easier because your plans have been set aside in favor of God’s.  The clutter of your mind, i.e., trying to figure out how to pray correctly, no longer gets in the way.

MANIFESTATION GIFTS

After you begin to freely operate in your prayer language, you will become more interested in the list of manifestation gifts given to us by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.  He begins this passage by explaining that there are three levels of what we lump together as spiritual giftings: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (Verse 4)  This is in reference to the seven “motivational” gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8.  Each believer has primarily been gifted with one of these.  This motivational gift forms the basis and uniqueness of your perspective on ministry in the body of Christ.  “And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.” (Verse 5)  Paul now refers to the four (some count five) ministry or office giftings listed in Ephesians 4:11 which are commonly known as the “Fivefold Ministry Gifts.”  They are foundational offices held by a few in the body who have the specific purpose of equipping.  “There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” (Verse 6)  Here he explains that there are nine manifestation giftings, which he lists in the immediately following verses. (Verses 7-11)  The manifestation giftings are: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing spirits, various kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues.  These gifts can be accessed and used by believers at any time when faith is present and the Holy Spirit so moves.  They are made available to all of us for the edification of the body of Christ, but those that move freely in their prayer language find them more accessible because the operation of these manifestation giftings works the same way as the prayer language.  They bypass the intellect and operate in the realm of the spirit through faith, not through understanding.  God has made it this way.  We cannot reach Him unless we reach out by faith (Hebrews 11:6) and He has chosen to reach back to us also, but through our faith using these manifestations.  To experience these giftings, we must yield our wills over to the Holy Spirit who then is released to manifest Himself as He pleases.

YOURS FOR THE ASKING

Initially stepping out on faith is often hard at first, but easier as you get used to it.  So it is with most any discipline.  Receiving Christ is the most significant event in anyone’s life.  It is at that point that they passed from death into life having received the free gift of God.  They were baptized in the Holy Spirit at that point as He came to “overwhelm” the human spirit.  But now, having come in, He desires to fill you up, so that you are overflowing.  Jesus promised that God would not withhold the Holy Spirit from anyone who asked Him.  So the completion of the baptism of the Spirit with “speaking in tongues” (prayer language) is yours for the asking.  Receiving is up to you.  The gift has been provided by the giver, but receiving it, is up to each recipient. 

 

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.  "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"

Luke 11:9-13 (NASB)

 

The principle of receiving is asking in faith and it’s yours (Matthew 21:22).  Your desires must be lined up toward receiving whatever God wants you to have.  The motivation for asking for this “gift” should be to do the perfect will of God.  John tells us, “ Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:21-22).  So just as in receiving the gift of salvation by faith, we can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith.