Emmanuel CRC
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  • Breathe on Me, Breath of God
      • Acts 1:4–8NIV2011

      • Acts 1:1–11NIV2011

  • What does it mean to Be baptized with the Holy Spirit?

    There are at least three answers to that question. All three capture an important aspect of the meaning of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.[1]

    Our union with Christ

    The first answer is that the baptism with the Holy Spirit corresponds with our union with Christ, which the presence of the Holy Spirit makes possible in all believers.
    Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 that . . .
    1 Corinthians 12:12–13 NIV
    Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
    And in Romans 8:9 Paul said,
    Romans 8:9 NIV
    You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
    This is why John Calvin wrote,
    Christ did not then only baptize with the Holy Ghost, when as he sent him under the form of fiery tongues; for he had baptized his apostles before this; and he baptizeth all the elect thus daily.[2]
    Clearly there is a sense in which the baptism with the Holy Spirit refers to the life and power of the Holy Spirit in us. If we are not "baptized with the Spirit" in this sense, we do not belong to Christ at all.

    The Charismatic dimension of the Christian life

    The second point of view is that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is the charismatic dimension of the Christian life. The Christian life does have an experiential side to it. Most Christians want more than an intellectual faith, we want to experience God at work in our lives and in our world.
    This aspect of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is important to Luke who authored both the Gospel that bears his name and the book of Acts. It is common for contemporary scholars to treat these two books as one work in two volumes. When we want to grasp Luke’s understanding of the Holy Spirit, it helps to look at both books together.
    For example, in Luke 3:22 the Holy Spirit comes down on Jesus in bodily form and God audibly speaks. In Jesus’ baptism with the Holy Spirit, people could see and hear the work of God – they experienced God not only in their mind, not only in their emotions, but with their eyes and ears in the real world.
    Likewise, in Acts 2, Luke describes the baptism with the Holy Spirit sounding like “the blowing of a violent wind . . . that came from heaven and filled whole house . . . what seemed like tongues of fire came to rest on them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
    In Acts 4 after the religious leaders released Peter and John from questioning, Peter and John went to pray with the other believers and “the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”[3]
    In both passages from Acts, Luke describes the baptism with the Holy Spirit as an event that people experienced. They hear it, see it, and physically feel it.
    Another key point about the Acts 4 passage is that the Holy Spirit baptized John, Peter and other believers a second time. This teaches us that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not a one-time experience. John Piper puts it like this:
    I think it would be a mistake to limit baptism in, by, or with the Holy Spirit to a single second event after conversion. Even though you might experience one, that doesn’t mean it’s the normative way that this baptism is to be understood. I think the kind of filling and empowering that we receive in such experiences are needed again and again and again in the Christian life. They’re not consistently the same in every season of the Christian life. It is right, I think, to ask for a fresh baptism.
    Clearly there is a sense in which the baptism with the Holy Spirit refers to experiencing the power of God in our lives and in the world in ways that are outside of our intellect and our emotions. We can see, hear, and feel the Spirit at work.

    Empowerment to be witnesses for Jesus

    This leads us to the third answer to our question which is that the baptism with the Holy Spirit means to be empowered to be witnesses for Jesus.
    Luke drives this understanding of the baptism with the Holy Spirit home in our focus verses this morning (verses 4-8). In verse 8 Jesus tells them that when the Holy Spirit comes on them that they will receive power. For what purpose will they receive power? Jesus tells them, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses. The only reason that Jesus gives, the only experience that Jesus describes in relation to his promise that the Apostles will be baptized with the Spirit, is so that they will have power to be his witnesses.
    Jesus goes on to explain that they will have power to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. This not only disrupted what they were hoping Jesus would do next, but what they seemed to be planning to do next. Jesus tells them . . .

    Do not leave Jerusalem; Wait for the gift

    Notice that it was within the context of fellowship with Jesus that the Apostles came to understand His will and his purposes. This is a theme in Luke-Acts. In Luke 22, during the Last Supper Jesus explains to his disciples the meaning of his death, how they are to serve each other, and confers on them a kingdom – in that Kingdom Jesus tells them that they, “will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
    After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and ate some fish in their presence and Luke tells us that in that context,
    “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them,
    Luke 24:45–49 NIV
    Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
    These two passages in Luke’s Gospel supply context for our passage today. As we can see, Jesus is not telling the disciples anything they had not heard before. Which makes me wonder if Jesus didn’t inspire the old Patsy Kline song, “If you’ve got leaving on your mind.” If the disciples didn’t have leaving on their mind, why would Jesus tell them twice, “don’t leave Jerusalem.”
    Jesus appeared to the disciples over 40 days, teaching them about the Kingdom. The first order of Kingdom business is to symbolically reclaim Jerusalem as the City of the Great King.[4]
    The question comes to us as individuals and as a church,
    “Are we willing to accept that our baptism with the Holy Spirit means allowing the Lord to disrupt our plans?”
    When we are on our way out the door to do what we think is best, are we willing to stop, when the Lord says “Don’t leave now. Wait. There is something better coming, but you must wait to receive it.” If the disciples had not been willing to get leaving off their mind and wait as instructed; they would not have experienced the blessing of the baptism with the Spirit in the way God intended them to experience it.
    Next the disciples learned, that receiving this power to be witnesses is more than they expected!

    The baptism with the Spirit is more than expected

    Perhaps the disciples were thinking something like this, “OK we get being witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea, that corresponds to the Kingdom of Israel and Jesus promised us that we will sit on thrones judging Israel.” Thus, the question, “Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” That is to say, “Is this the time we get our thrones?” This is the underlying tension in the passage. The Apostles, not without reason, are thinking about the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. However, Jesus is thinking about fulfilling the original task of the Kingdom of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, which was to be a blessing to the nations by being witnesses for God’s Kingdom.[5]
    The question comes to us individually and as a church,
    “Are we willing to accept that our baptism with the Spirit, means God is constantly calling us to wider, larger, more profound ways of bringing His Kingdom near?”
    The remainder of Acts is about Jesus fulfilling his promise to give his disciples power to be His witnesses not only in Jerusalem and Judea, where the disciples expected to witness, but also in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
    The day of Pentecost fulfils the promise initially, but not completely. The Holy Spirit came on the disciples with power and they witness powerfully to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea and people from all over the known world.
    In Acts Chapter 8, Philip went to a city in Samaria and proclaimed Jesus the Messiah there and there was extraordinary joy in the city, because by the power of the Spirit Philip was doing astonishing miracles.
    Acts 8:14–16 NIV
    When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
    In Acts Chapter 10, at the direction of the Spirit, Peter went to Caesarea, to the home of Cornelius a centurion in the Roman army. A crowd gathered in the house. Peter started to witness about Jesus to them and Luke tells us,
    Acts 10:44–48 NIV
    While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
    It is interesting to note that in Samaria people believed in Jesus and received water baptism, then they received the Holy Spirit. In this case, the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles, they believed, and then they received water baptism.

    Baptism with water points to the promise!

    Jesus told his disciples that John baptized with water, but they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. In doing this, Jesus is not minimizing the baptism with water as a sign of repentance and receiving the forgiveness of one’s sins. Rather, Jesus asserts that the sign of water baptism, points one to the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer effects repentance and applies the cleansing of sins made possible by the atoning blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    John Calvin puts it this way,
    We are not in vain baptized with water by men, because Christ, who commanded the same to be done, will fulfil his office, and baptize us with the Spirit.[6]
    Finally, Acts ends with Paul in Rome for his trial. The roads and shipping routes of the Roman empire become paths for Christians to witness for Jesus to the ends of the earth. In the last verse of Acts, Luke tells us what Paul was doing in Rome.
    Acts 28:30–31 NIV
    For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

    Paul and Us – Baptized with the Holy Spirit

    It looks and sounds like The Holy Spirit baptized Paul. Likewise, The Holy Spirit is baptizing us daily in the cleansing blood of the Lamb. We see, hear, and feel the power of God in our lives and in the world. And we too – are witnesses for Jesus in Sauk Village, Chicago Heights, Lynwood, Crete, Dyer, Lansing, Munster, Highland, Schereville, and St. John. We are witness for Jesus in Illinois and Indiana. And like the apostles before us, we are actively being witnesses for Jesus to the ends of the world.
    [1] Flattery, George M. Topical Studies on the Holy Spirit. Global Christian Center, Unknown [cited May 29 2020]. Available from https://globalchristiancenter.com/holy-spirit-studies/topical-studies-of-hs-in-luke-and-acts.
    [2] Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (2010). Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 1, p. 40). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
    [3] Acts 4:23-31
    [4] Psalm 48:2
    [5] Genesis 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; Psalm 72; Isaiah 61:9; Zechariah 8:13
    [6] Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (2010). Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 1, p. 42). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
      • 1 Corinthians 12:12–13NIV2011

      • Romans 8:9NIV2011

      • Luke 24:45–49NIV2011

      • Acts 8:14–16NIV2011

      • Acts 10:44–48NIV2011

      • Acts 28:30–31NIV2011

  • Holy Spirit

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