So with my wife and I being in the throws of having a newborn, we’ve decided to read through the book of Acts at night (something familiar that our sleepy brains can grab). Last night, we read Acts 1, and we ended up having quite a series of discussions, though not every idea we had ended up getting shared as we were fighting to stay awake. Here’s some fruits of our reading and talk last night:
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. – Acts 1:4-5
In Acts 1:5, Jesus makes a simple contrastive comparison between the baptism of John and the coming baptism that was imminent. Looking at the verse a little closer, we see the contrast:
for John (the agent of baptism) baptized (immersed/dipped) with (by means of) water (the substance into which the baptism is performed)
but (in contrast to John’s baptism)
you (the apostles and listening audience) will be baptized (passive action; something done to them) with (by means of/into) the Holy Spirit (the person into which the baptism is performed) not many days from now (soon).
In John’s baptism, there was a man sent by God (John 1:6) who baptized people for the repentance of sins (Mark 1:4-5), immersing them in water (Mark 1:10) to emerge from the water into living righteous lives (Luke 3:10-13).
In the coming baptism, God the Father would send God the Spirit (John 14:26) due to his promise (Acts 1:4) and at the request of God the Son (John 14:16), and God the father would immerse believers into the Holy Spirit to become free from the bondage of sin and death (Rom. 6:1-14) and part of the church; the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13), never to emerge (since believers are forever “in Christ” and “in the Spirit” – Rom. 8:1-39).
All this to say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit isn’t something esoteric or mystical, and it definitely isn’t someone standing up in church and jabbering nonsense verbiage (even out of a sincere heart that desires to do nothing but please the Lord). The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a one time event that all believers experience, and it’s a unilateral act of God the Father and God the Son that is done to believers. We don’t earn it or force God’s hand to get it; even in Acts all that they were doing was sitting and waiting for it to happen. Finally, we don’t ever emerge from it; we’re baptized into the Spirit, period.
Some food for reflection.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “The Dipped Doulos” Unger