Sunday Messages

Sun, Jan 14, 2018

What is Spirit Baptism?

In this message, we trace the recovery in church history of the three essential experiences described in Acts 2:38. These experiences are salvation, water baptism and Spirit baptism. By looking at Spirit baptism in the life of Jesus, the apostles and the Samaritans, we can better understand how to experience it today.
Duration:41 mins 31 secs

Today, we are continuing our message series called “Power for Life.” If you missed last Sunday’s message “Why You Need the Spirit’s Power” I would strongly encourage you to watch the video, available on our website, YouTube and Facebook. The key verse for this message series is:

Acts 1:8a (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you …

In the Greek, the word for power is dunamis. Dunamis means power, might or strength. In the New Testament it means the miraculous, supernatural power of God, not just simply natural abilities. You see natural abilities are given to every human being by God at birth. The dunamis power spoken of in Acts 1:8 is a supernatural power that comes into your life through an experience with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:5 Jesus gives us the biblical name of this experience.

Acts 1:5 (ESV) for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.

It is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Today, our message is entitled “What is Spirit Baptism?” Let’s begin by looking at the incredibly important verse that we ended last Sunday’s message with.

Acts 2:38 (ESV) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

These are Peter’s Spirit-filled words to a crowd of thousands. And these words, inspired by the Holy Spirit were not just for those people, but for people of all time. God commands people to enter into three experiences in order to fulfill their God-given purpose.

  • Repent and be saved
  • Be water baptized
  • Receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit

As these three fundamental experiences are so essential, they have been under attack by Satan for thousands of years. The result has been the splintering of the church into many denominations. This is not a God-given diversity in the body of Christ, but ungodly factions caused by wrong doctrine.

Romans 16:17 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

We ought to strive for the unity of the Spirit which comes through agreement on sound doctrine. In the book of Acts, we see God’s model for the church demonstrated in the three experiences that Peter commands on the day of Pentecost. However, in the centuries following, the church drifted into Catholicism which basically taught salvation by works, which saves no one.

In 1517, Luther began the Reformation with the recovery of the truth that salvation was by faith alone. The Reformation resulted in the formation of denominations based on men, such as the Lutherans, Presbyterians and Methodists. Unfortunately, these Reformation denominations continued the Catholic practice of infant baptism. The result was that most people in those denominations believe they are saved through being baptized as infants. There is zero biblical support for that doctrine and those who believe it are not saved at all.

In the 1600’s the Baptist denomination arose. They rightly rejected infant baptism as being unbiblical and began to practice believer’s baptism, as well as salvation by faith. However, none of the major denominations we’ve mentioned teach or practice Spirit baptism as taught in the book of Acts.

The final restoration of the truth of Acts 2:38 began in 1901 in Topeka, Kansas. A young lady in Charles Parham’s Bible college named Agnes Ozman was baptized in the Holy Spirit on January 1 and began to speak in tongues, just as in the book of Acts. This recovered truth of Spirit baptism began to spread like wildfire and in 1914, the Assemblies of God was formed. The first denomination to teach the truth of these three biblical experiences. The Assemblies of God has grown explosively over the last 100 years and now numbers 70 million with hundreds of millions of other believers now having experienced Spirit baptism. Other denominations who have not embraced these biblical truths are in decline.

What about non-denominational churches? They must be evaluated by their teaching on these three experiences and you will find the same denominational factions.

Not only do each one of us at Life Church need to experience God in these 3 areas, so do your friends and relatives in other churches that don’t each the truth. Invite them to hear the truth here at Life Church.

Spirit baptism in the life of Jesus

Jesus is our example and we are to follow Him in these three experiences.

Jesus was indwelt with the Holy Spirit

Luke 1:35 (ESV) And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”

From His birth, the Holy Spirit was active in Jesus’ life. Of course, that is obvious because Jesus, as the Son of God was one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was water baptized

Luke 3:21 (ESV) Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened,

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in water, as an example for us to follow. He was not baptized as an infant, He was baptized by immersion as an adult following God’s command.

Jesus was Spirit baptized

Luke 3:22 (ESV) and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Notice the sequence here, Jesus was water baptized and then He was praying. What was He praying? I believe He was praying for the Holy Spirit to baptize Him. God’s answer to His prayer was the opening of the heavens and the Spirit coming down upon Jesus. At His baptism God spoke directly from heaven acknowledging His pleasure in Jesus’ water and Spirit baptism.

Up to this point, Jesus had not begun His ministry. It is very significant that Jesus did not begin His ministry until He was Spirit baptized. We read in Luke 4:1 that now Jesus was full of the Spirit and in Luke 4:14, that Jesus was now in the power (dunamis) of the Spirit. And His supernatural ministry began.

Application

How are we to follow Jesus’ example? First of all, you need to become a follower of Jesus and be saved. We’ll give you an opportunity at the end of this message. Secondly, you need to be water baptized by immersion after you become a believer. Thirdly, you need to pray, as Jesus did, for God to baptize you with the Holy Spirit. This is the first thing that I’m asking everyone to do during this Power for Life series. Pray and seek God for more of the Spirit’s power in your life and in our church.

Spirit baptism in the apostles

Next, we’re going to look at the example of how the apostles were Spirit baptized. Remember that all these examples in Scripture are meant to teach us how to experience the same things that they did.

The apostles were born again

John 20:22 (ESV) And when he [Jesus] had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

This verse took place after the resurrection. The Holy Spirit had been with the apostles before this, but at this point, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into them. They were now born again. Every believer has the Holy Spirit living inside of them after the point of salvation. Yet, as we’ll see Spirit baptism is a different and subsequent experience that every born again believer needs.

The apostles were Spirit baptized

Acts 2:4 (ESV) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit …

On the day of Pentecost, the apostles and the other 120 disciples were together praying to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, after praying for many days, the Holy Spirit was poured out from an open heaven and they were Spirit baptized, here described as being filled with the Holy Spirit. What was the initial evidence that they were Spirit baptized?

The apostles spoke in tongues

Acts 2:4 (ESV) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

These 120 disciples, including the apostles, then began to speak in other tongues through the power of the Spirit. What are these other tongues? Tongues in the New Testament are languages of some type that the speaker has not learned naturally. On the day of Pentecost, the tongues that were spoken were the disciples glorifying and praising God in the languages of the crowd that had assembled, who understood them.

However, as we study everything the Bible has to say about tongues, we’ll see that they can also be heavenly languages that have no earthly counterpart. We will talk more about the purpose of tongues in another message. Suffice it to say that tongues are a new kind of prayer language that make it possible to communicate with God in a way that bypasses the limitations of our minds.

Application

When were the apostles water baptized? The Scripture doesn’t tell us. Most likely they were baptized along with the other 3000 people on the day of Pentecost. So, the three-fold sequence was not only followed by the 120 disciples on the day of Pentecost, but also by the 3000 in the crowd who were saved, water baptized and Spirit baptized. Now to get the most benefit from this series and to counter the wrong teaching that you’ve undoubtedly heard, I’m asking you to do three things during January. First all, pray and seek God to experience more of the Spirit’s power in your life. Secondly, read through the book of Acts during January. You can do it by reading a couple of chapters a day.

My father was a Baptist preacher and we didn’t believe any of what we’re talking about today, but I did believe the Bible was God’s Word. So, I was challenged to read the book of Acts. As I did, God opened my mind to His truth and I was Spirit baptized. I’ll talk more about my experience another Sunday. So, read the book of Acts this month.

Spirit baptism of the Samaritans

Contrary to popular opinion, Spirit baptism is not a minor topic in Scripture, it is a major topic and we’re only going to scratch the surface in this message series. So, let’s look at another group of people who experienced Spirit baptism.

The Samaritans believed the Gospel

Acts 8:12 (ESV) But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ …

So, here we have Philip preaching the Gospel, speaking about the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ. Not only was Philip preaching, he was also doing signs and wonders as people were being miraculously healed and delivered from demons. The Samaritans believed the Gospel and were saved.

The Samaritans were water baptized

Acts 8:12b (ESV) … they were baptized, both men and women.

So, after they believed, they new believers were water baptized, presumably by Philip. We’re beginning to see a pattern in these experiences. Salvation is always first. And as we’ll see water baptism is normally the second experience. However, we’ll a clear example in a couple of weeks, where Spirit baptism precedes water baptism. So those two can be interchanged and they probably were for the 120 on the day of Pentecost as well.

The Samaritans were Spirit baptized

Acts 8:14-16 (ESV) Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

These verses are very informative in our study today of Spirit baptism. First of all, they tell us that people who are clearly saved and water baptized do not automatically receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. It was commonly taught in denominational churches that even mention Spirit baptism, is that it happens automatically at salvation and has no visible consequences. There is zero Scriptural basis for that belief and teaching.

Spirit baptism is seen here and in all of the other examples we’ve looked at today as a separate and subsequent experience following salvation. Of course, no one can be Spirit baptized without being saved first. Somehow word got back to the apostles that the Samaritans had not been Spirit baptized. So Peter and John came and prayed with them to receive the experience of Spirit baptism.

Acts 8:17-18 (ESV) Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money,

We see the Peter and John praying for these new believers and laying their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit, which means they were baptized in or with the Holy Spirit. Notice that a man named Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of hands. How could Simon have seen that the Spirit was given as the Spirit is invisible? The answer given throughout the book of Acts is that when anyone is baptized with the Holy Spirit, they speak in tongues and that is what Simon saw and heard here. This completed the third experience preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost for the Samaritans.

Application

Next week, we’re going to be talking in more detail about how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. But let’s review what we’ve learned today. We’ve seen Jesus and the 120 disciples in the upper room at Pentecost waiting on God and praying to be Spirit baptized. In the last case of the Samaritans, Peter and John, who had already been Spirit baptized prayed and laid their hands on the believers. We are also beginning to see the pattern that there is an initial physical and observable evidence that someone has been Spirit baptized, which is speaking in tongues. 

During this series, I’m asking you to do three things. First was to pray and seek God for His power every day. Second is read the book of Acts in January, several chapters a day. Third, I’d like to encourage you to read a great new book out this year by Assembly of God pastor Jeff Leake, it’s called Power for Life. It is an easy read, full of current stories of God’s power working and explaining from God’s Word, why every believer needs to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. It’s only 9 chapters long and if you read about three chapters a week, you’ll complete it in January. My guess is that when you start reading, you won’t be able to stop and you’ll finish long before the end of January. I’d recommend one book per family and we have some available on the Guest Table in the foyer. If we run out, we’ll get more in by next Sunday.

Conclusion

Today, we’ve looked at biblical patterns to understand what Spirit baptism is all about. Spirit baptism is when Jesus baptizes you with the Holy Spirit. At Spirit baptism you receive supernatural power to accomplish great things for God in your life. Every believer needs and is commanded to receive Spirit baptism, it is not optional. Next week, we will study what the Bible has to say about How to Receive Spirit baptism. At the end of the service next week, I’ll be available to pray for all those who desire to obey Jesus and receive Spirit baptism.