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The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 31

A different concept that I felt helped by is the thought of the baptism with the Holy Spirit as being like a door. Jesus Himself said of course that He was the door. That means He, or in my consideration here now, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is like a door. He, Jesus, is the way in. The experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is also the way in.

I believe it is very important to preach the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a true beginning in people’s lives. It is a true door. Therefore, in the life of the local church there should be regular presentations of the way in, the door. (It would be equally true to use other words or concepts here e.g. new birth. The point is that people need to hear the gospel in all its fulness regularly).

However, the majority of people in our churches will also need other food to build them up. That is, they need the truth of Scripture regularly expounded to feed them.

So there has to be a balance found between presenting the door, the way in, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and all other truth representing “the whole counsel of God”.

This will result in progressive growth, both in terms of believers being fed and nurtured on the one hand, and new people being brought in by the baptism with the Holy Spirt on the other.

One further and important thought about the door. The door is a means to get into the house. It is very important as a means of entrance. One of the secrets about entering in is actually more about the house and rooms to be entered that the door itself. The bigger and better the house in many ways reduces the importance of the door. If we are visiting a beautiful, or Stately home for instance, while we need to know a little about where to get in, we are much more thinking of the house itself. The thought is much more taken up with visions of beauty, wonderful furniture, magnificent ceilings etc.

The application here for the preacher, or anyone who wishes to draw people to Christ is to make much of the house! Make much of Christ! Share the wonders of His person. Present Him in all his glory and grace! The more people are drawn to Him, the easier it is for them to find the way in! The greatness of the house helps to put the role and place of the door in its context. We won’t get stuck at the door all the time the delights of the house are presented.

So, there it is!

A little bit of me and I trust a lot more of Him!

David Vine

February 2021


The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 30

I want to turn now to one of the most difficult pastoral matters I have found over the forty plus years I have been involved in pastoral ministry.

I have known many people over those years who struggled to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. They are dear people. They seem to know the Lord. They seem sincere and genuine. They respond readily to the preached word and often will make an outward response as an indication of their desire to receive from the Lord. And yet so often, nothing seems to happen.

I examined my heart often. Had my ministry been Christ -centred? Or had I been guilty of preaching merely an experience? Were their motives clear? Was there any unconfessed sin in their hearts? Was the presentation of the message clearly delivered? Was my heart pure in the process?

So many questions!

I recognised in my own ministry that I would consciously withdraw from preaching the baptism with the Holy Spirit because I would find it difficult to help the people who were going to be distressed because they had “failed” to receive what they wanted.

Slowly I have come to see that we are more than we know!

I recognise that for those who have sincerely believed, trusted the Lord, been baptised in water perhaps, responded to many messages etc, that they are more than they know. I have almost turned 360 degrees in what I am presenting here now. The Brethren you will remember believed the Holy Spirit was imparted when a believer trusted in the Lord. It happened as an automatic thing.

I am not necessarily saying that. What I do now recognise however, is that if a person believes the gospel presented in the power of the Holy Spirit to them, then he or she will receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a consequence of that belief. He or she will have more at that point than they know.

When Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 1:17 he did not ask that they should have greater experiences, or new truth revealed to them. He prayed that their eyes would be opened to see at a deeper level all that they currently had seen, received and known.

Therefore, I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,

do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,

the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of your calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

and what is the exceeding greatness of His power

toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power

which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly places,

far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, abut also in that which is to come

and He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all thing to the church,

which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all”. Ephesians 1:15-23.

The secret must lie to some extent in the manner of the preaching. If there is an expectation of the work of the Holy Spirit in the preached word then that is what people will encounter. This is not just an automatic matter. This is the word preached in faith that believers will recognise and respond to.

So, then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Romans 10:17”.


The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 29

I want to turn to a related theme. Not only should our understanding of the baptism with the Holy Spirit be a definite experience, we have also seen that the most important aspect of it is to introduce us to Christ. He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. A sad result of men and women seeking to be baptised with the Holy Spirit is that they can seek the experience rather than the Person behind the experience. This can be quite a subtle shift, often without the person being aware of such a shift. It is not wrong to seek to have an experience of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, without an experience of Him we will not be able to fully know all that God has got for us to enjoy and live in.

At this point perhaps it is worth us going back to the beginning of each of the four gospels and to see what is associated with the baptism with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Both Matthew and Mark make a clear connection with the winnowing fan and with fire. There is a picture here of the Lord purifying His people. Fire burns up dross. The fan sweeps the threshing floor clean. In chapter one of John’s gospel the Lord is first declared as being the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and only afterwards that He is the One who baptises with the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Holy Spirit into a life is a powerful work of grace, bringing purity and holiness. Examination of our intentions and motives is part of God’s way with us. He will not fill us with His Spirit if our hearts are not right. That is not to say we have to be holy before we can experience the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We need the baptism with the Holy Spirit to make us holy! However, our hearts have to be desiring God for His sake as well as for our sakes. We must be consumed with desire to be all that He wants us to be and all that is able to make us to be.

So, let’s, be careful not to chase and follow experiences, but rather to give all that we have to follow Christ until our souls are deeply satisfied in Him.


The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 28

Having stated that, it must be said that preaching a doctrine, or a line, or an emphasis, or a truth, is to miss the point entirely. While it is important to be grounded in doctrinal truth, we are not saved by the truth. We are saved by a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We can have the purist understanding of truth but be far from the life of God in our living. Indeed, this is one of the tragedies of our day that men and women can be rehearsed in the finer details of doctrinal truth but demonstrate little of its power in their daily lives.

For instance, in the great chapter on love in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul makes that point. One can be familiar with spiritual experiences, being able to speak with tongues, move in prophecy, have great demonstrations of miraculous faith, etc but be without love. In such cases one profits nothing.

It is so sad when there is a great gap between what is understood in the mind, where doctrines are expressed so coherently, yet there is a yawning chasm between that on the one hand and a marked deficit of Christian experience and behaviour on the other.

It behoves us all to make sure that in our preaching there is a clear call to an application of the truth presented. We are also encouraged to admonish one another in our walk together. That is to be bold enough to share with one another at a level that our struggles, sin and failures can be acknowledged. It is too easy to cover up these failures and shortcomings. Where this has happened with brothers in ministry, or sisters in influential relationships, it is especially important that there should also be transparency, repentance and accountability with friends and the church.


The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 27

I would now like to consider some pastoral considerations related to this subject that we have been exploring together.

Firstly, I have already expressed my personal disappointment that the language of the Bible describing this experience has largely disappeared from current usage. I think this would be true of many words, or expressions related to our salvation that have been “dumbed-down” over successive decades. (Please look at my earlier writing entitled God’s Gospel, where some of these words are considered.)

Perhaps differing Bible versions have been a factor as well-meaning scholars attempt to make the language of the Bible more accessible to modern day readers. No criticism is intended but merely observations made. In fact, it is a small number of these that are guilty of dropping the words, or phrases.

The danger of allowing words to go from our current usage of them does however have potentially serious consequences. What we are taught, good or bad, will affect the way we live. Our experience of God will be largely limited to our understanding of His word. Therefore, His word needs to be reliably accessible to us.

It seems that in most cases the text is there but the preaching of it is so often absent. I realise that that is a generalisation, but the observations have been made over my lifetime and are not limited to a few isolated churches, or movements, but through observing, reading and in other ways I have arrived at that conclusion. I wonder if we, in our movement over the last forty years or so, have also been guilty of drifting away from a declaration of its truth.


The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 26

I think the following definition for “baptizo” from Kenneth Wuest is very clear and helpful when considering this great subject.

Kenneth Wuest in his writing in Romans in the Greek New Testament p96:

Baptizo means the introduction or placing of a person or thing into a new environment or into union with something else so as to alter its condition or its relationship to its previous environment or condition.”

Developing this thought Wuest gives us more insight by the use of the word in Romans 6. The passage is detailed in its exposition but a valuable help to our understanding of the chapter.

He goes on to say regarding its usage in Romans 6:4

It refers to the act of God introducing a believing sinner into vital union with Jesus Christ, in order that that believer might have the power of his sinful nature broken and the divine nature implanted through his identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, thus altering the condition and relationship of that sinner with regard to his previous state and environment, bringing him into a new environment, the kingdom of God. God placed us in Christ when He died so that we might share His death and thus come into the benefits of that identification with Him, namely, be separated from the evil nature as part of the salvation He gives us when we believe. We were placed in a new environment, Christ. The old one was the First Adam in whom as our federal head we were made sinners and came under condemnation. In our new environment in Christ we have righteousness and life. Our condition is changed from that of a sinner to that of a saint.”

But we were not only placed in Christ by God the Holy Spirit in order that we might share His death and thus be separated from the evil nature, but we were placed in Him in order that we might share His resurrection and thus have divine life imparted to us. This Paul tells us in the words, “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” The newness of life here does not refer to a new quality of experience or conduct but to a new quality of life imparted to the individual.

Romans 6 does not deal with the Christian’s experience or behaviour. Paul treats that in chapters 12-16. In this chapter the key word is machinery, the mechanics of the Spirit-filled life being Paul’s subject. The newness of life here refers, not to a new kind of life the believer is to live, but to a new source of ethical and spiritual energy imparted to him by God by which he is enabled to live the life to which Paul exhorts in Romans 12-16. “Walk is peripateo, “to order one’s behaviour, to conduct one’s self.” The word “should” (AV) throws us off the track. There is no moral obligation imposed here. We have a purpose clause in the subjunctive mode introduced by the purpose particle hina. That is, we shared Christ’s resurrection in order that we may order our behaviour in the power of a new life imparted.”

What a marvellous life we are brought into by baptism with the Holy Spirit! How essential it is for all of us to know and experience it.


The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 25

There are very few occasions in the New Testament where the Greek word “bapto” appears. This means to dip and it is used in a small number of verses, mainly around the partaking of the last supper that Jesus shared with His disciples. Let us note two occasions.

Firstly, in John 13:26 we read:

Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”

It also is used in Luke 16:24 about the story of the beggar Lazarus:

The he cried and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.”

In this second reference it is interesting to see that the word “bapto” was used. It was used to describe a quick dip, a very brief contact with something, the tip of a finger in Lazarus’s case.

Perhaps the word “bapto” is used so that we can see the difference here by contrast. “Baptizo” is the word almost universally used. This word would be used when describing the drawing of water by dipping of one vessel into another, a common picture then of everyday life in Israel. Perhaps two other pictures will help us most.

Firstly, it was used to describe the act of dyeing a garment. Ladies would take a white piece of muslin cloth, and soak it in the dyeing agent, perhaps the greatly valuable purple dye, referred to in the story of Lydia in Acts 16:14. It would be left for many hours and when the lady returned to it the cloth would be entirely purple in colour. The cloth then had been completely altered and the dye had thoroughly been absorbed into the cloth forever altering it.

A second common use of the word “baptizo” would be in cooking. Vegetables would often be blanched. That is, they would be plunged into hot water by dipping them in a pan, quickly withdrawing them. A process we might describe by the word “bapto.”

However, a more wonderful meal would be achieved if the whole cooking process with all the ingredients were marinated over a long period of time, allowing for all the various and contrasting flavours to be appreciated. This would be “baptizo”.

This is an amazing picture of Spirit baptism. When a believer turns to the Lord and believes he/she is immersed into the Lord, into His death, burial and resurrection. He is utterly and completely changed. This is not a quick dip, this is an eternal re-constitution.


The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 24

Let us now explore further what baptism with the Holy Spirit means.

It is very instructive for us to note that baptism in Scripture is always associated with death and resurrection.

We have already noted that John Baptist chose the Jordan river to be the base of his ministry. People had to go out to him there. There they were seen repenting of their sins.

The Jordan was associated with death in the Old Testament as well, notably when Elijah and Elisha crossed over it. There Elijah died in type or figure, although in fact God took him up to heaven in a fiery chariot and he was never seen again. He was the man of “death” but Elisha was the man of resurrection and he moved into a new dimension of life and ministry through a double portion of the Spirit upon him. This is all recorded for us in 2 Kings 2.

There is another key event in the life of the people of God which is a pre-figurement of baptism. After God had miraculously delivered the His people from Egypt following the Passover meal, they came to a crisis at the Red Sea. It was in front of them and the chasing Egyptian army were behind them. They were trapped. However, the Lord did a miracle and a way through the Sea appeared allowing all the people to pass over in their march through to the land God had given them. In that act Moses was clearly seen to be the leader God had raised up to take the people through to their possessions in the new land.

Paul uses this experience as a picture of baptism.

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, (a picture of the Spirit), all passed through the sea (a picture of death and resurrection), all were baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, (immersed into Christ) all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. (Christ their life).” 1 Corinthians 10:1-4.

Even further back in the history of the people of God is the record of God sending a world-wide flood as His judgement upon the wickedness of man (kind). We read what Peter wrote:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

By whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,

Who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers, having been made subject to Him.” 1 Peter 3:18-22.

These pictures, or types as they have come to be called, wonderfully show us so much of the meaning of Christ’s great ministry to deal with men and women by baptism with the Holy Spirit.


The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 23

Each reference to Christ’s forthcoming ministry, or mission, contained the word and idea of baptism.

Even Jesus submitted Himself to water baptism by John Baptist, not because He needed to confess sin or anything like that, but to identify with it as a requirement and necessary act for true believers. We are told that when Jesus had been baptised

He came up from the water”, Matthew 3:16.

This indicates that the rite of baptism was enacted by repentant believers going down into the water of the river Jordan, being immersed, and then rising out of the water again.

A similar incident is recorded in Acts 8:36. In this passage there is the remarkable account of the conversion of the Ethiopian Chancellor of the Exchequer, who miraculously meets Philip while he was reading a prophetic chapter of the Old Testament. Philip opens his understanding of what he is reading and the man believes. Not only that but he realises that he needs to be baptised. They come across water and he asks Philip,

See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptised? Philip and the man then “went down into the water” so he could be baptised. Clearly there was sufficient water for him to be immersed in.

Christian water baptism is an act of obedience and faith. It is also an amazing picture, or visual aid. The person being baptised must be an adult believer and able to confess that Jesus Christ is their Saviour and Lord. They are depicting in their baptism that they have died to their old, former life, were going down into the water as a picture of their watery grave, and rising out of the water depicting their new resurrection life in Christ.

Although water baptism is important for the believer in the New Covenant, it is superseded by baptism with the Spirit. John Baptist said this himself. His whole message was that One was going to come after him who would be a greater Man with a greater ministry. Just as Jesus Christ was the greater Man, so baptism with the Holy Spirit was the greater message.

There are only sparse references to baptism in the Old Testament. In that context it would largely be used to describe washing, or ritual cleansing. People asked John Baptist

Why then do you baptise if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”, John 1:25.

It seems that the ritual of baptism was associated with the coming of some key figure, even the Messiah. John Baptist quickly distanced himself from that connection and immediately pointed away to the One to come, of which he was the forerunner.

So, we have seen in a number of ways that baptism with the Holy Spirit is the key ministry of Jesus Christ and the experience that we are to know.


The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Part 22

No wonder many went out to him in the wilderness, were baptised in water by him, and became his disciples. He had a message of repentance but he also pointed forward to the greater One than he who was coming. The greater person and therefore the greater message.

Here are the Scriptures:

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Matthew 3:11,12

There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and lose.

I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:7,8

I indeed baptized you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Luke 3:16,17

I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

John 1:33,34

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which” He said, “you have heard from Me; “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 1:4,5

It is truly remarkable that these statements written of Jesus Christ are all so consistently the same. When you realise that they were written by four different men at different times and from different perspectives.

Matthew was a Jew, versed in Old Testament Scripture and language so he is a link man between the Old and the New Covenant. This explains the many quotations from the Old Testament that Matthew uses.

Mark was a Jew too and possibly close to Peter. His is a very compact gospel, only concerning himself with a limited number of key events, and few teachings or parables.

Luke however was a Gentile and a historian. He was also a doctor. He tells us why he wrote his gospel – he wanted to record in accurate detail a as much as possible of the activities and teachings of Christ.

John wrote his gospel towards the end of his long life and states clearly in it a lot of detail not recorded in the other gospels. His gospel comes from a completely different perspective and we will examine some of this later.