Saturday, May 6, 2017

Baptism and Filling with the Holy Spirit

1 In those days, John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, 2Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”. . . 5 People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. 6 And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. . . . 11 “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I am not worthy even to be His slave and carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with His winnowing fork. Then He will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into His barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” Matthew 3:1-2, 5-6, 11-12 (NLT)

Since the days of the Old Testament prophets, God’s people have looked to the outpouring of God’s Spirit (e.g., see Numbers 11:29; Isaiah 44:3; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Joel 2:28-32; Acts 3:17-19). When the New Testament opens, all four Gospels and the book of Acts speak of Jesus’ baptism and outpouring of God’s Spirit promised from the Old Testament (e.g., see Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; John 7:37-39; Acts 1:4-5).

The opening verses of the New Testament reveal John the Baptist’s preaching in the Judean wilderness, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2, NLT; see also Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3, 8; Acts 13:24-25). John the Baptist repeatedly warned the people to be baptized to show that they have turned away from their sins and turn to the living God to receive forgiveness of their sins because the Kingdom of Heaven was coming soon in the form of the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus (see Matthew 3:2, 11; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3, 8). With John the Baptist’s preaching, people from Jerusalem, all over the Jordan Valley, and every section of Judea went to the Judean wilderness to hear John the Baptist preach and to be baptized when they confessed their sins (see Matthew 3:5; Mark 1:5). When anyone confessed their sins, John baptized that person in waters of the Jordan River (see Matthew 3:6, 11; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:16; John 1:31). Centuries before, Israel led by Joshua had crossed the Jordan and received a national baptism (see Joshua 3:9-17).

John the Baptist’s preaching centered on repentance (see Matthew 3:2, 8; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3, 8). Generally, repentance means to turn your whole heart and mind away from sin and to turn wholeheartedly to the true and living God and His ways of living prescribed in His Holy Scriptures (see e.g., Matthew 3:2, 8; Luke 3:3). Repentance is orienting your inward and outward life toward God and His righteous ways and turning from sin and a lifestyle of sin and selfishness (e.g., see 1 Kings 8:35; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 36:3; Ezekiel 14:6; Ezekiel 18:30; Acts 3:19; Acts 8:22; Acts 20:21; Acts 26:18; Revelation 2:21-22; Revelation 9:20-21; Revelation 16:11). John was not satisfied with regret or remorse. Instead, John wanted a change of mind and heart that bears good fruit in a changed life (Matthew 3:8; see also Galatians 5:19-23). John knew that no one can pursue God and sin at the same time! True repentance means doing an about-face — an 180-degree turn — from the kind of evil, selfishness, and self-centeredness that leads to wrong actions such as lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, taking revenge, abusing, and indulging in sexual immorality.

Amazingly, John the Baptist’s message of repentance of sins and forgiveness was the same as that of God’s Old Testament prophets (e.g., see 2 Kings 17:12-14; Isaiah 1:16-20; Jeremiah 7:24-25; Jeremiah 35:15; Ezekiel 14:6). Old Testament prophets and writers repeatedly declared, “if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NLT; e.g., see also Isaiah 55:7; Ezekiel 18:32; Micah 6:6-8; Zechariah 1:3-4). The true and living God is the only God of heaven and earth, and He wants our whole heart, allegiance, and devotion to Him FIRST (e.g. see, Exodus 20:3-7; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 6:33; Matthew 22:37). John the Baptist continued the message of the Old Testament prophets and preached repentance and bearing ethical fruit (see Matthew 3:2, 8; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3, 8). Jesus Christ continued John’s message of repentance and bearing of good deeds (see Matthew 4:17; Matthew 5:13-16; Matthew 7:15-20; Matthew 12:33-35; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 6:43-45; John 15:5, 8). Similarly, Jesus’ apostles continued Jesus’ message throughout all Judea, and to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God and prove they have repented by their changed lives and good deeds (fruit) (e.g., see Luke 24:46-49; Acts 2:38; Acts 13:38; Acts 14:15; Acts 20:21; Acts 26:18, 20; Galatians 5:22-23).

Then, John the Baptist proclaimed to the listening crowd in the Judean wilderness that he baptized those who repented of their sins (see Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:16). However, John said that Jesus the Messiah was coming. As the Light of the world and the Son of the living God, Jesus the Christ (Messiah) was so great that John declared he was not even worthy to carry Jesus’ shoes (see Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:1, 7; Luke 3:16; John 1:1-5, 14-15, 18, 27, 30; Acts 13:25)! Importantly, John proclaimed that Jesus would baptize everyone with the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 11:16).

The baptism of the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to strengthen and empower His disciples to continue His good work of spreading the Gospel (Good News) (see Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2). Today, God the Father and His Son Jesus bring salvation and the Holy Spirit to everyone who genuinely repents by turning to God found in Jesus Christ, confessing their sins, and committing to obey and follow God’s way of living prescribed in His Holy Scriptures (e.g., see John 3:5-8, 16-17; John 14:15; Acts 2:38-40; Acts 5:31; Acts 19:3-7; Acts 20:21). Through repentance and faith in God, a believer becomes one with God, and the Holy Spirit comes to live within that believer as God’s child (e.g., see John 1:12-13; John 17:21-23; Acts 10:44; Romans 8:14-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:17, 19; Galatians 3:26; Colossians 2:6). Even more, God the Father and His Son Jesus send the Holy Spirit to be with His faithful people and bring about a spiritual change in a believer’s heart, forgiveness of sins, and release from the power of evil and darkness (e.g., see Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 14:16; John 16:7; Acts 26:15-18; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

In Matthew and Luke’s Gospel accounts, John’s preaching declared that Jesus would baptize not only with the Holy Spirit but also baptize with fire (see Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16). Jesus’ baptism of fire refers to the future judgment for everyone who refuses to repent and turn to the living God. Moreover, Matthew and Luke’s Gospel declared that Jesus would one day separate the chaff from the grain, burning the chaff with never-ending fire and storing away the grain (see Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17). Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the eternal fire with unholy trinity (Satan the dragon, the beast (antichrist), and the false prophet) (see also Malachi 3:1-5; Malachi 4:1-3; Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:19; Luke 3:9 Luke 13:6-9; see also Revelation 20:7-15). Thus, Jesus will baptize everyone either now by God’s Holy Spirit through faith and repentance or later by the fire of His judgment!

The New Testament book of Acts shows the fulfillment of Jesus’ baptism with the outpouring of God’s gracious Spirit to both Jews and Gentiles who repented of the sins and accepted Jesus’ message and life by faith (e.g., see Acts 2; Acts 10:44; Acts 11:16; Acts 20:21, 32; Acts 26:15-18). The promises of the Old Testament prophecy that the Holy Spirit would come in new covenant fullness was fulfilled as Jesus returned to heaven and then was given authority to pour out the Holy Spirit in new fullness and power (see Acts 2:33). During Jesus’ public ministry, Jesus promised His followers the gifting and empowerment of God’s Spirit after His departure and glorification (e.g., see Luke 24:49; John 4:10; John 7:37-39; John 14:17, 25-26; John 15:26-27; John 16:7-8; Acts 1:4-5, 8). With His return to heaven, Acts 2 reveals God’s salvation and outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and God’s continuing outpouring and filling of the Holy Spirit to all faithful and obedient believers of Jesus through their repentance of sins, faith in God, and baptism in the Name of Jesus (e.g., see Acts 2:38-40; Acts 5:31).

Of course, the Holy Spirit was at work throughout the Old Testament beginning with the Spirit’s hovering over the waters of the first day of creation (see Genesis 1:2). Even more, the Holy Spirit empowered God’s faithful people for service, leadership, and prophecy in the Old Testament (e.g., see Exodus 31:3; Exodus 35:31; Numbers 11:16-17; Deuteronomy 34:9; Judges 14:6; 1 Samuel 16:13-14; Psalm 51:11). Moreover, the Holy Spirit empowered such Old Testament leaders as Moses, Joshua, David, Elijah, Daniel, many of the writing prophets, and even Samson for specific ministries. Even before Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples received some foretaste of the post-Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit when they healed the sick and cast out demons (e.g., see Luke 9:1; Luke 10:1, 8, 17-20, and many other verses) because of their association with Jesus.

The New Testament reveals that Jesus’ outpouring and filling with the Holy Spirit gave Jesus’ disciples more effectiveness in their witness and their ministry (e.g., see Acts 1:8; Ephesians 4:8, 11-13) as well as greater power over sin and wickedness (e.g., see Romans 6:11-14; Romans 8:13-14; 2 Corinthians 10:3-4; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:19-21; Ephesians 6:10-18; Philippians 3:10; 1 John 4:4). Even more, Jesus’ filling of the Holy Spirit resulted in a distribution of spiritual gifts for ministry to all believers for the uplifting and benefit of the church (e.g., see Luke 24:49; Acts 2:16-18; Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-14:40; Ephesians 4:1-16; 1 Timothy 4:16; 1 Peter 4:10-11) as predicted by the prophet Moses (see Numbers 11:17, 24-29). Moreover, the Holy Spirit comes to believers of Jesus to encourage, teach, guide, defend, comfort, help, protect, empower, and strengthen them (John 14:16-17, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7, 13). The Holy Spirit maintains God and Jesus’ presence in the world, and the Holy Spirit duplicates and sustains Jesus’ work. In effect, the Holy Spirit would be Jesus’ very presence indwelling in close union with Jesus’ disciples (e.g., see John 14:16-17, 26; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19). Thus, confession, repentance, commitment, baptism, and faith, if they are genuine, can only bring positive results in a person's life. Repentance and baptism are related to death to selfishness and surrender to God (e.g., see Matthew 16:25; Mark 10:39, 45; Romans 6:6-7; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 5:24). Many faithful believers of Jesus Christ will testify that Jesus’ filling and baptism in the Spirit bring assistance with prayer, Bible study, worship, spiritual gifts, effectiveness in personal ministry, cleansing, rebirth (regeneration), and continual fellowship with the living God and much greater.

Butler, Trent C. Holman Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991). 
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary –New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

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