Today Pastor Choi continues his series on the Holy Spirit: baptism of the Holy Spirit. After debunking two myths on the subject, he explains what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is, how it is different from being filled with the Spirit, and he encourages the believers to desire and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit Acts 19:1-7
New American Standard Bible
19 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. 2 He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. 7 There were in all about twelve men.
This morning we are going to think about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Before I proceed, however, I would like to debunk two myths on this subject.
Myth # 1: The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something that we should be afraid of receiving. In fact, many of us have never heard a sermon or teaching on the subject. And, some of us may have a misconception that it must be a scary thing or unwanted experience. Others even have negative experiences with those who claim that they have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. The truth of the matter is that God wants every believer to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17):
‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind (flesh);
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;.
Therefore, we should not only properly understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but also shake off any unfounded fears or misconceptions over the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Myth # 2: The baptism of the Holy Spirit is no longer available or relevant to us. Some scholars argue that the baptism of the Holy Spirit only took place 2000 years ago in the days of Early Church when the apostles were still alive and active. It was one time action in history of the Church, they claim. After that, it hasn’t happened again. Therefore, we don’t need to worry about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But, I disagree with them. It is clear that God’s Spirit visited God’s people over and over again. For instance, in the Old Testament times God’s Spirit fell upon His servants, prophets and seers alike, and used them in a mighty way. Samson was one of them. Gideon was another. Elijah. Elisha. Several centuries later, the Spirit visited again the Early Church Christians. The work of the Spirit didn’t stop there. It continued in the Reformation era through Luther and Calvin in the sixteenth century. Two hundred years later, John Wesley was baptized with the Holy Spirit and started Methodist movement. It continued on even in America. In 1907, on the streets of LA, the believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit, and that was the beginning of the Pentecostal movement in America. Even today, in the early twenty first century, all over the world, the outpouring of the Spirit continues. So, I am convinced that in contemporary churches the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not only relevant but also available to every believer who is eager to receive it.
Now, with that in your mind, let’s think about the meaning of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
A. What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Let me define what I mean by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It literally means to be baptized with the Holy Spirit like we are baptized with water. It means the outpouring (not in-filling) of the Holy Spirit on God’s children. It means immersion in the Holy Spirit as we are immersed in water baptism. E.g. Derek Prince illustrates that immersion from above like walking through Niagara Falls.
Now, there are a variety of expressions in the Bible referring to the baptism of the Spirit. Expressed in different ways, but they all mean the same: baptism of the Holy Spirit. For instance, “the Spirit descended upon a person”, “the Holy Spirit came upon a person”, “the Holy Spirit rushed upon a person,” “the Holy Spirit fell upon a person”, “the Holy Spirit was poured out upon”, “A person was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power”, “to receive the Holy Spirit as a gift” and so on. In a nut shell, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit means to receive the power of God coming directly upon the believer through God’s Spirit.
Let me distinguish here between being filled with the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit takes place inside of the believer. Baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place outside of the believer. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is the inner work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart. It always brings forth the change of the believer and bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life (Galatians 5:22-23). However, the baptism is the work of the Spirit upon the believer not within the believer. In other words, it is the outward ministry of the Holy Spirit, like the water baptism washes outside, not inside. Since it is the outside work of the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t necessarily generate the inner change of the believer who is baptized with the Spirit. He may perform many signs and wonders in the name of the Lord, even though his inner personality may have not changed at all. For instance, see Matthew 7: 21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform manymiracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
E.g. a story of an adulterous evangelist (Tony Campolo’s book).
B. What happens to the believer when she is baptized with the Holy Spirit?
The most common experience to the believer who received the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues like they did in Acts 2. Other signs of the baptism of the Holy Spirit are called gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10): they are wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Furthermore, the believer also can receive the gifts of serving, teaching, encouraging, helping the needy, leadership, and showing mercy (Romans 12:7-8). Now, we must remember that these gifts are given to the believer not for individual gain, but for the glory of the Lord, for the good of all, for the benefit of the church, and for the edification of the believers (I Corinthian 12:7).
C. The necessity of baptism of the Holy Spirit
A question arises. Do we need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit? My answer is a resounding ‘YES’. It is true that we can grow mature inwardly (i. e., bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit), even though we were never baptized with the Holy Spirit. However, we may lack the power of God (dunamis) when we serve God in a local church. There is a huge difference between serving God in the power of the Holy Spirit and serving God without it. It’s like going to New York City by car (2 hours) or on foot (about two day journey). The power of the Holy Spirit enables and empowers us to serve God more powerfully.
The other reason why every believer needs the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for the Church. Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the church cannot have either inward maturity or outward growth (Of course, there are some churches growing in number by the result of human ideas and wisdom, but that is not true growth). For quality growth, the Church needs powerful people such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11) to equip and train God’s people (v. 12). For quantity growth, the Church needs powerful witnesses of whom most of the contemporary churches lack. The Church needs dynamic witnesses for Christ and without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we cannot be dynamic witnesses. For the same reason, Jesus commanded His disciples not to leave Jerusalem and not to proclaim the gospel, until they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4).
Father Archer Torrey once said: “If an entire local church were baptized with the Holy Spirit, and if every new convert were baptized with the Spirit as well, then every year the church would grow twice in number.” “Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit,” he continues, “it is impossible to spread the gospel to the end of the earth, even though 1,000 or 2,000 years were given to us.” He concludes, “Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the number of non-believers would outnumber that of churches. Children of the Christians would become unbelievers. And, if the parents were not baptized with the Holy Spirit, how could they educate and influence their children to become authentic Christians?” (The Holy Spirit, A. Torrey, pp. 28-29).
D. How to be baptized with the Holy Spirit
There is no appointed way to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Some believers in the Bible were baptized with the Holy Spirit when they were gathered in Jesus’ name with united heart, praising God, fasting and praying to God, and listening to the word of God proclaimed. Others were baptized when the apostles laid their hands on them. Considering all the works of the Holy Spirit in the Bible, I can say only one thing for sure: The Spirit of God doesn’t want to be limited or boxed in by any human ways. Since our God is all-powerful, He will baptize us with His Spirit, whenever and wherever, and in whatever ways, according to His will.
The most important thing for us to remember is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for every believer (Acts 2:17), not just for the super-spiritual. Furthermore, if we believe that we are God’s children and that God is our heavenly Father, then this promise is for us to claim. As long as it is for the glory of God and for the sake of the church, and as long as we sincerely desire the baptism of the Spirit, He will surely grant us the baptism. I pray that all of us would be baptized with the Spirit of God.
As for closing, if you think you are already baptized with the Holy Spirit, praise God and keep your gift burning (2 Timothy 1:6).
If you don’t think you are baptized with the Spirit, the promise is there for you: Luke 11:13—“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Here are the simple steps to take: First, desire the Holy Spirit. No one can force you to accept the baptism of the Holy Spirit if you don’t want to. Next, ask God to forgive any sins in you. Then, ask God for the Holy Spirit. Finally, believe that you have received the Holy Spirit.
I am going to lead in prayer for those who want to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Please say after me the following: Lord, I believe in your Son Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord. I repent of my sins both intentional and unintentional. I desire the baptism of Your Spirit. I come to You, Jesus, the Baptizer of the Holy Spirit so that You may pour out your Spirit upon me this morning. Thanks for answering my prayer. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.