September 01, 2004

Baptism by the Holy Spirit

Baptism by the Holy Spirit is experienced by all who believe on Jesus Christ as their Savior at the moment of salvation, and it is not to be repeated (Romans 8:9). In that baptism believers are identified with Christ as the Head of the Body, and are indwelt by the Spirit (John 4:14; 7:38-39).

The baptism by the Spirit occurs at conversion when the Holy Spirit enters the believing sinner and gives him new life, and makes his body the temple of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). All believers have experienced this once-for-all baptism at the moment of salvation (Romans 8:9).

The presence of the Holy Spirit and His availability for all believers is the norm in the New Testament. All of the commands and exhortations of the epistles are based on the assumption that the baptism of the Spirit has already taken place in the believer's life. The Holy Spirit "abides" with the believer forever from the moment he believes on Christ as his Savior (John 14:16).

Therefore, we should be careful not to confuse other forms of expressions found in the New Testament with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For example, when Christians are enjoined to "walk by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16) and to "be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18), we are not to understand these as commands to be "baptized" of the Holy Spirit. Similarly the "anointing" of the Spirit (1 John 2:20-27) and the "earnest of our inheritance" (Eph. 1:14) and other expressions are not referring to the baptism. These references indicate various other aspects of the Spirit's work in believers and their appropriation of the gifts and blessings of the Holy Spirit in the Christian's life rather than the historical baptism of the Spirit.

We affirm the teachings of the New Testament that Christians receive one baptism, and must yield to the constant control of the Holy Spirit. We received one baptism which took place at moment of our spiritual regeneration, and we will receive many fillings during the rest of our Christian life (1 Corinthians 12:13). The baptism of the Holy Spirit places us in the body of Christ. The filling of the Spirit brings us under the control of the Spirit.

The phrase "baptized with the Spirit" defines what baptism is being referred to; it is a baptism with reference to the Spirit, not water. A baptism with reference to the Spirit is a baptism in which the Holy Spirit is the sole Agent.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:44-48) is directly linked to the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and it is the formal recognition of the gospel being preached to the non-Jews. Gentiles as well as the Jews have all of the blessings and privileges of the dwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15-18).

Jesus predicted a definite and specific event called the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:5). The events on the day of Pentecost were the definite fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (Acts 2:17-21). Only one other event in the New Testament is described as the baptism of the Holy Spirit and it may be regarded as the completion of the Pentecostal baptism (10:1-11:18).

"When God does the baptizing, that which is in view is the exertion of God's power," observes Kenneth Wuest.

1 Corinthians 12:13, "By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body." The "body" here is the mystical body of Christ of which our Lord is the Head. The personal agent who does the baptizing into the body of Christ is the Holy Spirit. He places the believing sinner into the Body of which our Lord Jesus Christ is the living Head. The tense of the verb refers to a once-for-all event in past time. "This occurred potentially to all believers of this Age of Grace at Pentecost," notes Wuest. It is the fulfillment of our Lord's words; "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (Acts 1:5).

The Holy Spirit places or introduces the believing sinner into the body of Christ. The same operation of the Holy Spirit is referred to in Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:17, but the apostle is relating it to our vital union with the Head of the Body.

The baptism by the Holy Spirit does not bring the Spirit to us in the sense that God places the Spirit upon or in us. The baptism by the Spirit brings the believer into vital union with Jesus Christ. Therefore, the baptism by the Holy Spirit is not for power, for in this baptism there is nothing applied to or given the believer. The believer is placed into the Body of Christ. "It is the baptism with the Spirit in the sense that God the Father does the baptizing through His personal agent, the Holy Spirit" (Wuest).

"The Holy Spirit is not the element into which and with which we are baptized. . . the phrase, 'baptized with the Spirit' does not mean that in this baptism, the Holy Spirit is applied to the believer as water is applied in the case of water baptism. In other words, there is no application of the Holy Spirit to the believer. He is not given to the believer by virtue of this baptism. . . . it was the anointing with the Spirit which referred to the act of God the Father causing the Spirit to take up His permanent residence in the believer. Sincere there is no application of the Spirit in baptism, there is no power imparted in the act of baptizing with the Spirit. This baptism is only for the purpose of uniting the believing sinner with the Head of the Body, Christ Jesus, and thus making him a member of that Body" (Wuest).

Therefore, nowhere in the Scriptures are believers commanded to seek the baptism of the Spirit. We have already experienced it, and it never has to be repeated.

We are, however, commanded to be "filled" with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The "filling" has to do with the control of our lives by the Holy Spirit. To be "filled" by something in the Scriptures means to be "controlled" by it. It is a matter of being available to the Holy Spirit and yielding control of our lives to Him.

For an excellent treatment of this subject adhering closely to the rules of Greek grammar, please see Kenneth Wuest, Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, pp. 83-90).

August 01, 2004

We shall reign with Christ in glory

The apostle Paul said, “For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:11-12).

Jesus said to His disciples, “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:28-30; cf. Matt. 19:28).

The book of Revelation is filled with passages that speak of the believer reigning with Christ (chapters 1, 11, 1, 19, 21).

We are being prepared for glory by the LORD God, and can be assured of that glorious day when we shall see Him and be with Him. Christ is “bringing many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10). Since God has called us to glory, He is preparing us for glory, and we shall be brought to that glory.

Jesus Christ is the “Captain of our salvation” and He is leading us trough the treacherous way, and He will bring us unto glory. In deed, He will bring all of His sons with Him to glory. There will be no exceptions.

“Behold I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). There will be a new heaven, new earth, and a New Jerusalem. Have you been made new in Christ?

July 01, 2004

God is preparing us for this eternal glory

We are “vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:23). What a contrast to the “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (v. 22). That is what we were until God in His grace reached down to us and saved us.

The preparation began in eternity when we were chosen of God, and commenced in regeneration, and is going on every day in the progressive work of sanctification.

One of the most beautiful passages on this theme is 2 Corinthians 3:18. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB 1995). That is the process God uses to bring us into glory with Him. He will not let up until He is through. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is in the face of Christ (4:6). The surpassing greatness of the power of God is revealed when God cracks the pot and releases His sweet fragrance of the gospel. Our glory is to contain God! Are we cracked pots? The treasure, power and the glory are from God.

God puts us in new experiences, which are beyond us, causes us to abandon hope in the flesh and we cry out, “Lord save me!” Do not lose heart; He cracks these clay pots so “our inner man is being renewed day by day.” “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11, NASB 1995). The life of Jesus Christ is being manifested in these old clay pots! Everything we are going through in this life is producing for us a mass of glory, an eternal weight of glory.

Kenneth Wuest give us an expanded translation of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18: “our outward self is progressively decaying, yet our inward self is being changed into a new kind of life [fit for the new spiritual existence into which we have been ushered in salvation, and constantly being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus] day by day. For our momentary light burden of affliction is working out for us more and more surpassingly an eternal, heavy weight of glory while we are not contemplating the things that are seen but the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

“If indeed,” says the apostle Paul, “we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Rom. 8:17). Paul is absolutely sure when he writes, “if indeed,” or better “for sure.” When we suffer with Christ in His humiliation we are assured that we shall be with Him in His glory. The cross leads to the crown.

June 01, 2004

We have been called to this glory

God has “called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus.” In His Sovereign grace He has called us to repentance, faith, sanctification, perseverance, and glory. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30, NASB 1995). “So that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12, NASB 1995).

If you are justified by grace through faith, you shall be glorified through Christ Jesus. Called, justified, glorified.

God has called us to reign with Christ in glory. The apostle Paul told Timothy he “endured all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). He was encouraging Timothy not to lose heart. The minor inconveniences, “light afflictions,” we endure work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. There is nothing to compare with it. Paul said, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17; Rom. 8:18). The suffering is temporal, but the glory is eternal.

“When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4, NASB 1995). The promise is ours and God never forgets His promises. He is faithful.

May 01, 2004

We will dwell in God’s immediate presence forever

We will enjoy intimate fellowship with the LORD God! The presence of the LORD God will be our blessedness forever. The fact that “He has called us unto His glory” outshines everything else. The glory the saints will have forever is a glory, which God Himself will put upon them. It is “His glory.” It is the richest, fullest glory possible.

We will enjoy God Himself. He will be our joy. Our God shall be our glory. “God has called us unto His eternal glory.”

The apostle Paul places great emphasis on the fact that when Christ died, we died, that when He was buried, we were buried with Him, when He rose from the dead, we rose in Him, add we shall ascend into heaven to reign with Him. All our glory is by and through Jesus Christ, and in all the glory of Christ we have a share. We are member of Christ, and we are one with Him. By virtue of our vital union with Christ we share in His glory.