When we began our series on the Holy Spirit, I said that I wanted to lay a foundation of the central truths related to the person and work of the Holy Spirit before getting into the more disputed matters that often occupy most of our time. Well, after 9 weeks in this series, it is time to tackle some of the more disputed aspects of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, beginning with the baptism & filling of the Holy Spirit.
Throughout most of its history the church has maintained a pretty strong consensus on what the Scriptures teach regarding the Holy Spirit. But since the rise of the modern charismatic movement in the early twentieth century, evangelicals have wrestled with a number of questions related to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What exactly is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? When does it happen? Is it a second blessing that occurs after conversion, or is it part of our regeneration by the Spirit? Are all believers Spirit-baptized or is this experienced only by some? Is it directly linked to the gift of tongues? If so, are those who have never spoken in tongues missing out on part of the Spirit’s ministry? Is the baptism of the Spirit the same as the filling of the Spirit? If not, how do they differ?
These are some of the questions we will try to answer from God’s Word over the next couple of weeks. Let me encourage you to meditate on two passages that will be central to this Sunday’s sermon:
1) Luke 3:15-17. This is John the Baptist’s prophetic announcement that one mightier than him is coming, who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
2) 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. Paul references the baptism of the Holy Spirit before launching into a discourse on the unity of the body expressed through our diversity of gifts.
While neither of these passages answer all the questions related to the baptism of the Spirit, they can help build a framework for understanding the role of Spirit-baptism in God’s plan of redemption.
As we pray for the Spirit’s illumination to understand these matters, let’s also pray for charity toward those who come to differing conclusions. One’s view of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the litmus test for his or her orthodoxy. Finally, let’s pray for the conviction to embrace the mission for which the Spirit’s baptism and filling sets us apart and equips us—to make disciples of Jesus!