Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seek The Baptism Of The Spirit Of God

Sometimes I get a bit frustrated from the lack of complete teaching we find in the Church today. We are so busy wanting to build our churches by fitting in to society that we are compromising on the powerful mission of the Church. Some people will point to the growing population of the mega churches and say that we are doing a good job. Sure, we are doing a good job at growing churches but not of increasing the Kingdom of God. It is not our responsibility to grow churches but to grow followers of Jesus. There is a difference.

Most churches today do not or cannot operate in the Spirit because most of them do not go beyond the baptism of repentance. We have forgotten there is more to it than John's baptism of repentance. There is Jesus' baptism of fire, of the Spirit of God. It is necessary for us to have this in order for us to operate in a way that pleases God. I want to give you three simple examples. There are more but I want to give you only three so you can be equipped to expect more from your relationship with Jesus.

When Peter was sent by the Spirit to the gentile home of Cornelius, he didn't know what to expect. According to the Law Peter wasn't even allowed to enter his home but he had a vision from God that told him not to refuse to minister to Cornelius. Meanwhile, having been told by the Spirit to expect Peter, Cornelius had assembled his entire family. Read what astounded Peter and convinced him that God was calling the gentiles too:

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. (Acts 10:44-46)

Now previous to this, apostle Philip was travelling about by the direction of the Spirit and ended up in Samaria. There he started stirring up quite the fuss and many people became disciples of Jesus. The Church Council in Jerusalem heard about this and sent Peter and John to investigate. When they got there they found people professing Jesus but they were lacking one thing:

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. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17)

Now let's skip to a much later time, when Paul was about to hit the height of his ministry. He had already traveled through Ephesus but it was a rather rushed visit because the Spirit would not yet allow him to visit Asia Minor. I guess things were not quite ready for Paul to visit but when the Spirit finally released him to come into the area we read this:

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
   They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
   “John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:1-6)

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an optional thing, it is required as a disciple of Jesus. The Word clearly shows that we need the Spirit in order to serve God in a manner that pleases him. Now many Christians have received the Spirit without understanding it and have never been trained in how to operate in the Spirit. Along with the baptism of the Spirit we need to bring this training back into the Church.

John the Baptist said that he baptized with water but the one to follow him would baptize with fire. Jesus said plainly that he had to go so that he could send the Spirit. The Church was given birth when the Holy Spirit fell on the 120 disciples who were gathered together. The entire book of Acts explains what the Spirit enabled the believers to do. Yet today, we are satisfied with the baptism of repentance because we want to "fit in" to society. We claim what we read in Acts was just for a "season". We deny the offices of the Apostle and Prophet because we do not want spiritual accountability as pastors. We are handcuffing God and sinning against him because we refuse to live the full gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is my prayer that the Lord will send a fresh wind and fresh fire through the Church; that we will stop trying to please him with our flesh offerings and begin to serve in earnest through the Spirit of God. It is my prayer that this generation will rise up in the power of God, to operate in the Spiritual Gifts we have received and turn this world upside down as we did in Jerusalem and the rest of the world as the disciples of Jesus operated in the Spirit of God. The baptism of repentance is a good thing but it is only a beginning step. The real life begins with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you don't know anything about it start asking questions. If you have received this baptism but have received no training in the Spirit start asking questions. The time for the new revolution is now.

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