Let me begin this article by stating that my denominational background is one of limited belief in the Spiritual gifts. Since being touched mightily by the Lord several years ago, however, I have come to grips with the fact that my previous denomination’s belief was incomplete and that their doctrinal teaching led to limited success in my Christian life. There are still many other Christians, like myself, from various denominations, that have not yet reached the level of understanding of Spiritual gifts necessary for them to be successful. These gifts are not something to be feared but are something to be sought by every Christian. This particular article discusses the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the enduement of power that it provides.
In an effort to lay some groundwork, I would like to point out that there are three distinct baptisms that are discussed in God’s word. The first occurs upon acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. In the first baptism, the Holy Spirit ACTS UPON us, bringing us into the body of Christ. We become one with Him and all other believers. At this time our human spirit is regenerated and the seed of the Holy Spirit is planted within us. 1 Corinthians 12:13 ‘For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.’
The second form of baptism is total immersion water baptism in which we identify with Christ in His burial and resurrection. This baptism is discussed in Romans 6:4 as well as in Acts 8:36 where Philip leads the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ and then, acting upon his request, goes down into the water and baptizes him. For those that wish to debate the meaning of the word ‘baptizo’, let me refer to a historical Greek recipe where the same word is used to describe placing cucumbers in a vinegar solution where they become pickles. I have never seen anyone sprinkle vinegar on cucumbers to make pickles but I have seen them totally immersed. In the context of this historical analogy, it is also important to recognize that a permanent change occurred when the object of the baptism was immersed. One thing became another. It became something new – permanently!
By responding to the command to be baptized, a born-again Christian demonstrates that they not only have an intellectual comprehension of God’s promise, but have partaken of that promise and have a sincere desire to be in submission to Him. For that reason, the decision to be baptized must be one that is made on our own volition.
The third baptism is the baptism IN the Holy Spirit. Unlike the first two, this baptism endues the believer with power as is described in Acts 1:9. In this baptism, the Holy Spirit is said to actually come upon the believer. Jesus emphatically commanded the apostles to stay in Jerusalem until that power had been given. In Luke 24:49, Jesus said ‘I am going to send you what the Father has promised but stay in the city until you have been clothed with the power from on high.’ Take note that, even though these men had been with Jesus throughout His ministry, following the great commission, they were told to sit still and wait for the enabling power before they went out into the world.
The scriptures are clear. We are born again at which time the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ. We then, through obedience, are baptized through total immersion where we emulate Christ’s burial and resurrection from the dead and, at the same time, show Him that we are beyond intellectual understanding and are in submission. Neither of these two baptisms, however, endues us with the power that we need to carry out our mission or to keep our feet on the path the Lord has appointed for us. It seems evident that in most instances, unless we ask for – and seek this baptism, we will not receive it.
If you still doubt that there is a third baptism, Acts 8:14-17 says ‘When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet COME UPON any of them they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
In Reverend Charles Finney’s ‘Power From On High’, he wrote that with the baptism of the Holy Ghost, the apostles received divine illumination, a great diversity of gifts and the power to live a holy life. They received the power to lead a self-sacrificing life, the power to lead a cross-bearing life and the power of a great meekness. They also received the ability to teach, to work miracles, the gift of tongues, moral courage and inspiration.
Once we understand that a third baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, exists we must then seek it. The apostles waited and prayed steadfastly until they received what was promised. They didn’t go off to work or play, they sought God’s promised power that was necessary for them to complete their commission. I believe every Christian should be praying for and seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the power that it provides. Unless one has read the accounts of some of the past revivals where God’s glory fell, it is hard to comprehend the power that is made available to born-again Christians. I would like to quote just a section of Reverend Finney’s description of what the enduement can do. I hope, that when you have read this account, you will be stirred and motivated to receive the power of the Holy Spirit yourself.
‘I could fill a volume with the history of my own experience and observation with respect to this power from on high. It is a fact of consciousness and of observation, but a great mystery. I have said that sometimes a look has in it the power of God. I have often witnessed this. Let the following fact illustrate it. I once preached, for the first time, in a mill town. The next morning I went into the manufacturing establishment to view its operations. As I passed into the weaving department I beheld a great company of young women, some of whom, I observed, were looking at me, and then on each other, in a manner that indicated a frivolous spirit, and that they knew me. I, however, knew none of them. As I approached nearer to those who had recognized me they seemed to increase in their manifestations of lightness of mind. Their levity made a peculiar impression upon me I felt it in my heart. I stopped short and looked at them, I know not how, as my whole mind was absorbed with the sense of their guilt and danger. As I steadily looked at them I observed that one of them became very much agitated. A thread broke. She attempted to mend it but her hands trembled in such a manner that she could not do it. I immediately observed that the sensation was spreading, and had become universal among the group. I looked steadily at them until one after another gave up and paid no more attention to their looms. They fell on their knees, and the influence spread throughout the whole room. I had not spoken a word and the noise of the looms would have prevented my being heard if I had. In a few minutes all work was abandoned, and tears and lamentations filled the room. At this moment the owner of the factory, who was himself an unconverted man, came in, accompanied, I believe, by the superintendent who was a professed Christian. When the owner saw the state of things he said to the superintendent, ‘Stop the mill.’ What he saw seemed to pierce him to the heart.
‘It is more important,’ he hurriedly remarked, ‘that these souls should be saved than that this mill should run.’ As soon as the noise of the machinery had ceased, the owner inquired: ‘What shall we do? We must have a place to meet, where we can receive instruction.’ The superintendent replied: ‘The mule room will do.’ The mules were run up out of the way, and all of the hands were notified and assembled in that room. We had a marvelous meeting. I prayed with them and gave them such instruction as at the time they could bear. The word was with power. Many expressed hope that day and within a few days, as I was informed, nearly every person in that great establishment, together with the owner, had hope in Christ.’
This is the power we should all seek and exercise, Church. Most of our Spiritual lives are devoid of any real power from God. The power and authority has been promised to us and our children for all ages. But we have to ask for it, pray for it and earnestly and consistently seek it.