BY MICHAEL REYNOLDS
The essence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is that it is graciously given by Jesus for assurance and power. It is given by Jesus for assurance and power. The primary reason that we see this baptism taking place is to give supernatural assurance; through giving that supernatural assurance power follows. It is the power of God to convince you that what you have believed is abundantly true. With this baptism you are filled with a willingness to abandon all of your life to the will of God and to exalt his name. This is the pattern of the New Testament baptism with the Holy Spirit and I want to examine a handful of scriptures that will prove and clarify this very point.
Starting with Jesus we read in Luke 3:21-22 (cf Matt 3:16),
“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 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.”
I don’t know whether or not Jesus always knew who he was, but I do know this: when Jesus came out of the water and was met with the Spirit of God resting on him with a voice affirming that he was God’s beloved Son he didn’t waver in his assurance. From this moment forward Jesus is seen powerfully proclaiming and powerfully fulfilling his ministry.
The statement from the Father, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” can be considered paramount in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it is the Romans 8:16 Spirit of God bearing witness with our spirits that we are his children. This is the massive purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit: to give you assurance that leads to depth with God and power to witness. Let’s not obscure the purpose of the baptism.
Martyn Lloyd Jones quotes the Puritan Thomas Goodwin on this subject,
This is the difference between what I call, the customary assurance of the child of God, and this extra-ordinary assurance. He [Goodwin] describes a man and his little child, his son, walking down the road and they are walking hand in hand, and the child knows that he is the child of his father, and he knows that his father loves him, and he rejoices in that, and he is happy in it. There is no uncertainty about it all, but suddenly the father, moved by some impulse, takes hold of that child and picks him up, fondles him in his arms, kisses him, embraces him, showers his love upon him, and them he puts him down again and they go on walking together. (Joy Unspeakable by Martyn Lloyd Jones, Kingsway Publications, pp. 95-96)
Following Jesus’ baptism we read that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1) and that he was “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14) and what I believe to be the most profound picture of one of the main purposes of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is read in Luke 4:18-19 when Jesus shows up in the synagogue to give his mission statement from Isaiah. He says:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
We read here that the thrust of his mission is the proclamation of good news, liberty, and grace. Jesus speaks clearly that “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… to proclaim.” and “He has sent me to proclaim.” God’s purposes in giving us assurance are multifaceted, but the clearest in the New Testament is that he baptizes us in His Spirit to give us boldness to proclaim the message. The Holy Spirit is resting upon us like a dove and a voice from heaven is saying to us, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” throughout all of our ministry. This is where real power to witness comes from. Confidence that we belong to God and are accepted by him through faith in His Son.
We would do good to adopt the same purpose for seeking the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as Christ has in giving it. For what purpose was Christ baptized in the Holy Spirit? For what purpose does he say he will send it? These should be my purposes in seeking it. It is not for people who want to be entertained, but for hungry souls who are tired of being timid and fearful.
“and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’”– Luke 24:46-49
I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. He doesn’t leave them to the task of “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations” without the “promise of the Father” which will clothe them “with power from on high.” There are the purposes of Holy Spirit baptism that we should teach and make disciples with.
“…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:7
Again we read that power is given when the Holy Spirit comes upon a person and that the result will be being Christ’s witnesses. I would add that missionary power finds its source in these two passages. First the principle that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations” and that after this baptism “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We have the principle of what should happen and following the baptism of the Spirit we have the promise it will happen—that “you will be my witnesses.”
Look at some of the apostles before they are baptized with the Holy Spirit in Matt 28:17: “And when they saw him (resurrected) they worshiped him, but some doubted.” Soon after this, we read in Acts chapter 2 that these same men are transformed and speaking with power the “mighty works of God”. This is the main point of Christ sending the Holy Spirit: to “clothe us with power from on high,"so that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” would be true in our lives. We see the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in the following passages: Pentecost comes, the disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit, flaming tongues of fire descend upon them and, in the many languages of the people who are present, they speak and preach. After Pentecost we see the relationship between the baptism of the Holy Spirit, subsequent fillings, and boldness.
“We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
Acts 2:14, 40,
“But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them… And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’”
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them… ‘let it be known to all of you and to all people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone’”
“’…for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.”
Preceding Stephen’s execution he boldly proclaimed to the Jewish observers and to Saul their own redemptive history and hard heartedness in rejecting the gospel. Acts 6-7 is a glorious display of being clothed with power from on high.
“So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.‘”
“While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, ‘Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.”
“But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’ Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”
“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”
This passage seems relevant to me in light of 1 Peter 1:8 and Romans 14:17. 1 Peter 1:8 says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinkingbut of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” I believe that joy is an essential element in gospel proclamation; it is what makes us want to preach the gospel.
“And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.”
There are many examples in both the Old and New Testaments of similar experiences for the purpose of giving power to proclaim and to exalt Jesus. God does not leave us ill-equipped, but profoundly supplies all that we need in Christ. The Great Commission is a standard; we shouldn’t make new methods of evangelism to get around the simplicity of the command—rather, we should pray earnestly that God would fill us with this power to proclaim. That the Spirit of the Lord would rest mightily on us and that with boldness and clarity we would open our mouths to tell of the mighty works of God.