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  • Sam Matthews. K

193. Baptism in the Spirit.

"For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." ( Acts 1:5)

Weren't they not filled with the Spirit earlier, when Jesus appeared to them and breathed on them saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit" ?(John 20:22) Why then were they instructed to wait for something which they had already received ? Or were they instructed to wait for something which they hadn't received before? 'On the evening of that first day of the week, ... Jesus came and stood among them and said,"Peace be with you!" .... And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive ( 're' as a prefix means 'once more; afresh; anew' and '-ceive' means 'get' ) the Holy Spirit." ( vs 19-22) The Presence of the Holy Spirit once dwelt in Adam, when Lord God 'breathed into his nostrils the breath of life' ( Genesis 2:7) but the Spirit had left him, when he sinned. Having purchased eternal redemption for mankind, Jesus, the one 'through whom all things were made; without whom nothing was made that has been made' (John 1:3), who 'formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life', once again breathed on the disciples the breath of life that they might live forever. Suddenly their spirits came alive (Romans 8:10); they were revived from their state of death, never to die again ! (John 11:25) Or in short, they were born again ! Now that they were wired up to receive power of God, Jesus told them: "Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about." ( Acts 1:4) They already had the 'Presence of the Spirit' IN them but now were told to wait for the 'Person of the Holy Spirit' to come UPON them. It means that only those who are born again can receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit or those who have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit can be certain that they are born again. However, without the person of the Spirit coming upon us, there can be no power, for Jesus had said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes UPON you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, ..." ( Acts 1:8) And it happened on the day of Pentecost, when they were all together in one place, the 'person of the Holy Spirit' came upon them in tongues of fire. 'They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.' ( Acts 2:3-4) The words 'Holy Spirit' seems to take on three different meanings in different contexts though the same words have been used in all these contexts. It can mean the 'presence of Spirit' or the 'person of the Spirit' or the 'substance of the Spirit' which Jesus compared to water. "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." It seems to have the properties of water in that it can flow from one vessel to another ( Acts 8:17-19), quench spiritual thirst ( 1 Corinthians 12:13), revive life on earth ( Psalm 104:30) and can cleanse our bodies from the sinful nature ( Romans 8:13) Interestingly, it can be differentiated from the 'power of the Spirit' because Jesus was first filled with the Holy Spirit ( Luke 4:1) and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where for forty days he was tempted by the devil but returned to Galilee in the 'power of the Spirit' ( Vs 14). The fact that 'God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and ( not or) power' proves that it is not one and the same experience but different and doesn't happen together but apart from each other because there was an interval of forty days between the two in the life of Jesus. The disciples too were first filled with the Holy Spirit ( Acts 2:4) before they experienced the power ( Acts 4:31,33). So how can it happen differently for us? We will be first filled with the Spirit before we are filled with power. God is not prodigal ( reckless) with his power but will give his power only to those who can be trusted with it. God needs more vessels to pour out his Spirit upon all flesh and we are those vessels. ( 2 Timothy 2:20-21) Amen.

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