Sept. 23, 2012, Sermon on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

(Based on this paper)

Opening Section: Good morning Church. For the last few weeks we have been talking about the Foursquare distinctives, the four main points of the Foursquare Gospel. This week we are going to talk about Jesus as the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a foundational doctrine of most Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, it is seen as the means by which the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts. [The Picture we would often see of a Pentecostal teacher talking on the baptism in the Spirit is that of an exuberant man joyfully teaching His congregation how they can receive Spiritual gifts for the first time and enjoy a whole new level of experience with the Holy Spirit that was previously inaccessible. Today I am going to hopefully paint a different picture of the Baptism and its application.]

For Subject:For all the attention it has received there are only 7 places in all of Scripture where we read of the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” All the Gospels record John the Baptist prophesying that Jesus would baptize believers in the Holy Spirit, in Acts we read of Jesus promising the Spirit and then after He ascended to Heaven pouring Him out on believers, and in Corinthians we read of the unity found in this baptism.

For Speaker: I never realized that it was only referred to directly 7 times, but this summer I ended up doing a significant amount of studying and I discovered this as well as a lot of other things. I read a ton of books and wrote a few papers, during this time my idea of the Baptism in the Spirit was flipped upside down; I found this new understanding encouraging in my life, and I believe it will encourage you. As I read through the Bible and a few books this summer I found myself asking;

Thesis Statement:What is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and how does it apply to my life? This is what I believe the Spirit wants me to share with you today; what exactly is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and what difference does it make in our lives?

Division: The Foursquare statement of beliefs says that Jesus is the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit; to truly understand the Baptism in the Spirit we need to understand the circumstances in which He was poured out. Knowing the circumstances in which the Spirit was poured out we can then look at the nature of the Baptism itself. Knowing what the Baptism is, we can then look at the effect it has on our lives.

I. First Main Point: In both the Gospels and in Acts we see the baptism in the Holy Spirit promised, and then at Pentecost we see this promised fulfilled.

A. Explanation: In Chapter 3, verse 11, of his Gospel we read Matthew’s account of John the Baptist’s prophecy; John is recorded as saying; 11“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

1.  In Acts 1:4 Jesus promises the Apostles that the Spirit would be poured out on them soon.

2. Before the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, the Apostles knew that He was coming. They thought at first that the Spirit would usher in the end time restoration of Israel, but Jesus corrected them and told them that the Spirit would give them power to be His witnesses to all of Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

3. This is the atmosphere in which the Spirit was sent, the Apostles knew that they would be equipped with power to minister to the entire world.

B. Proof:   The Spirit would be vital for the ministry of the early Church, and is still vital for the Church today. Pastor and teacher John Stott writes “Without the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, even impossible. There can be no life without the life-giver, no understanding without the Spirit of Truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christlikeness of character apart from his fruit, and not effective witness without his power. As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead.”[1] At Pentecost the Spirit came and the New Testament Church was born. Though the Spirit had already been at work in the Apostles lives this was the first time that anybody was Baptized in the Spirit.

1.  Luke tells us what happened in Acts 2:1-4 “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they [this is the Apostles and over a hundred other believers] were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” We are not told immediately that this was the Baptism prophesied by Jesus, but later in Acts, chapter 11 verses 15-16, Peter looks back on this event and confirms that this was the baptism promised.

Restatement: The baptism in the Holy Spirit was prophesied early in Jesus ministry, and this prophecy came to fulfillment only after He ascended into heaven after His resurrection. The Apostles had been promised power to be Christ’s ministers when the Holy Spirit came, and this is exactly what seemed to happen at Pentecost.

Summary transition to point two: Usually when Pentecostals talk about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit they talk about in terms of the outpouring of power on the Church. It is usually seen exclusively in terms of the giving of Spiritual gifts, but is this all that the Baptism of the Spirit is?

II. Second Main Point: The Baptism in the Spirit does more than just equip believers with Spiritual gifts; this Baptism equips us for ministry and unites us in the Body of Christ, the universal Church. The Body of Christ is made up of every Christian living throughout the world, it is often called the invisible church because it doesn’t have a single building but is made up of believers meeting together in churches across the globe.

A. Explanation: The traditional Pentecostal understanding of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, stemming out of the early 20th century, is that of an event subsequent to salvation that we receive when we ask for it. In this understanding the Baptism is solely an equipping work of the Holy Spirit; His Baptism gives us spiritual gifts equipping us for the ministry He has for each of us. During the summer as I read and studied I discovered that Scripture does not support this understanding.

B. Proof: In 1 Corinthians 12:13 we read an important function of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, one that sheds light on Pentecost and the nature of the Spiritual Baptism. In 1 Corinthians Paul is writing to the Church in Corinth. Corinth was a Greek city that was a center of Pagan worship and the Church there dealt with many problems as they grew. One of the biggest challenges that confronted them was disunity. Chapters 11 & 12 deal with various issues pertaining to the unity believers have in Christ. In verse 12 of chapter 12 Paul writes to the Corinthians telling them; “12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” He explains that just like we have many parts of our bodies, yet we only have one body, the body of Christ is made up of many members forming one body. He supports this idea of the unity of all believers in the body by writing in verse 13; “13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” The Baptism in the Spirit is what makes us part of the unity that is the Body of Christ; Paul spends the rest of chapter 12 explaining to the Corinthians that each and every member of the Church, of the body of Christ, is invaluable and irreplaceable. We each have a distinct role working together for the Glory of God.

1. This is an incredibly powerful realization; Scripture teaches that all believers are part of the Body of Christ from the moment we are saved. If we are all part of the Body of Christ, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit is what unites us; then the Baptism has to happen at the same time as our salvation.

2. Because of the profound implications of this understanding some writers have suggested that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to a different baptism, a baptism by the Spirit and not in Him. If you are reading from the NASB or the NIV you will see this wording in your Bibles. In the original Greek of the New Testament the statement here is almost exactly the same as those made in Gospels where John prophecies of the Spirit Baptism. 1st Century readers of the Greek New Testament would have read about the Baptism in the Gospels and then here in 1 Corinthians and would have concluded that they were the same Baptism.

C. Explanation: If you have grown up in the Pentecostal church and like me have had a powerful encounter with the Spirit after salvation, you may be struggling with reconciling your experience with what Scripture teaches in 1 Corinthians 12:13. There is an answer found in Scripture that seems to explain these experiences. Scripture teaches that the Spirit works in our lives continually after we have been regenerated and Baptized in the Holy Spirit. One of the works is what is sometimes called the infilling of the Holy Spirit. We read about this continuing action throughout the book of Acts, but one key passage that talks about it is Eph. 5:18.  Paul writes “18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” The Greek verb translated filled here has the sense of “be continually being filled with the Spirit.” This filling is not a onetime event but a continuing action throughout our lives. In this passage Paul is contrasting life outside of Christ with life in the Spirit. In the following passages Paul outlines what this life is characterized by. As we live our Christians lives we are to be continually filled by the Spirit, filled with the fullness of Christ, living life controlled by the Spirit. Wayne Grudem, a prominent writer, looks at all the uses of the phrase “filled with the Spirit,” or its variations, in Acts and writes that we can continually pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us, and this filling will lead to extensive growth in our relationship with Christ and possibly the receiving of gifts of the Spirit for further ministry. It can seem like an oxymoron to be continually filled with something, but I think Wayne Grudem explains it well. If we fill a cup with water, there is a distinct point when it is full, but if we are filling a balloon it is always full but can take more air. Like a Balloon with air in it, the Spirit can fill us more and more so that we are continually filled. This infilling given by the Spirit is, in conjunction with the Spirit’s continual work making us more and more like Christ, the best explanation for the secondary experiences with  the Spirit that many of us have experienced. Wayne Grudem writes that “we may expect that many of these times the Holy Spirit will graciously bring a measure of the additional fullness and empowering that sincere Christians are seeking, even though their theological understanding and vocabulary may be imperfect in the asking” (779)[2]. To see how this works Picture a Christian, let’s call him Bob, who has been in the Church for many years, who has been saved but has never really pursued the Lord or tried to walk in his spiritual gifting’s; this man is sitting in church one Sunday morning. The Pastor comes forward that morning with a powerful sermon on the Baptism of the Spirit. He tells the congregation that this morning they can be baptized in the Spirit, that they can have a closer relationship with the Lord, and that they can be given spiritual gifts. All they have to do is confess known sins, express a desire to grow closer to God, and pray for the Spirit to baptize them. Bob hears this message and truly hungers for this experience, he wants to grow in his relationship with God; he wants to be a better Christian. So he confesses all the sins that he can remember, and he prayers for the Spirit to baptize him. Even though he does not have the proper theological understanding of the baptism in the Spirit, he doesn’t realize that he has already been baptized, God will honor his desire for a closer relationship and the Spirit will fill him. As a result of this he will grow leaps and bounds in his relationship with God and he will probably spend time trying to discover his spiritual giftings. I know that this can explain my experience with what I thought was a post-salvation baptism of the Spirit.

Restatement: 1 Corinthians 12:13 along with Acts 1:8 and Acts 2:1-4 teaches us that the Baptism in the Spirit is given when we are saved, unites us as the Body of Christ, and equips us for Christian life and the ministries that He has for us.

Summary transition to point three: Scripture teaches us that this is what the Baptism is, but how does this apply to our lives; what does it mean to be part of the Body of Christ and to be equipped for Christian life and ministry?

III. Third Main Point: Because we have been Baptized in the Spirit we have been equipped for Christian life and are united together each as indispensable parts of the Body of Christ.

A. Explanation: Before Pentecost the Spirit was moving in the same way He had under the Old Covenant, God’s covenant with Israel. The Baptism in the Spirit, starting at Pentecost, was start of the experience we have with Holy Spirit, the New Covenant experience. In Acts 2:14-21 Peter quotes from Joel and tells his Jewish audience that what they were witnessing was that which Joel prophesied. No longer were a select few people of God given spiritual gifts for specific ministries; now the entire community of believers would be given spiritual gifts for the edification of one another and ministry to unbelievers.

B. Proof:  Traditional Pentecostalism teaches that when we are Baptized in the Spirit, possibly years after we have been saved, the Spirit gives spiritual gifts to believers as He wills. This is true, but instead of happening years after salvation this equipping is simultaneous with salvation.

Along with different spiritual gifts distributed by the Spirit, the empowering of the Spirit that happens with Spiritual baptism also gives us greater power to overcome sin in our lives. Throughout Scripture we read that as Christians we have victory over habitual sin; because of the Spirit working inside of us we are no longer slaves to sin. As unbelievers we had no desire to break free of a habitual sin, except possibly for selfish reasons, and even if we wanted to we wouldn’t have had the power. As believers this is no longer the case, as we grow in relationship with Christ we will begin to hate the sins in our lives and with the Spirit’s power we will be able to break free of habitual sin.

C. Explanation: Finally the Baptism in the Spirit unites us together as the body of Christ. The Corinthians at the time Paul was writing where divided by selfishness and greed. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is given by Paul as a reason for their unity. Each member of the Church is invaluable to the Church’s ministry. I wanted to come up with an awesome illustration to explain this and actually had a complex one from the world of microbiology… but then I realized that Paul himself provides the most understandable and effective illustration here in 1 Corinthians 12, verses 14-23; so I have decided to us his and spare you some confusion. Describing the Body of Christ by analogy of the physical human body he writes; “14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” Because of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit we have all become part of the body of Christ, and as part of the Body we are invaluable to its function; God arranged each of as He chose. This unity gives each of us incredible value, and should encourage us to be unified with fellow believers both in Hope, and in the rest of the Church around the world.

Restatement: Because we were baptized in the Spirit the moment we were saved we have been equipped for life as Christians, and are united together in the body of Christ.

Showing over-all significance: At Pentecost the Spirit was poured out in a new way, baptizing for the first time; since then we all have been baptized with the same baptism that the Apostles and disciples in the first century experience.

Closing Section: Knowing that we have been baptized from salvation we know that the Spirit has empowered us for ministry and that He is at work in our lives we can be confident that we don’t have to be slaves to habitual sin in our lives. Knowing that we have been baptized into the Body of Christ we know that we are incredibly valuable, each of us has a role in the Church, and we have reason to strive for unity with other Christians; knowing that they are likewise indispensable to the Church.


[1] Stott, John R. W. The Message of Acts. Page 60

[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic theology : an introduction to biblical doctrine (Leicester; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press ; Zondervan, 1994), 779.

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