3 January 2021: Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the impact

Bird, Icon, Animal, Symbol, Drawing

Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
3 January 2021

Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.

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Welcome

A Happy and blessed New Year, 2021, to everyone and may this be the year when we turn the corners on Covid, Brexit and the spiritual climate. May it be a year of new things:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-19

Testimony

“What I believe God has put on my heart at this moment in time … Over the last 8 or 9 months I have realised just what life would be like without freedom. Freedom to pick our own friends, but what about being free in Jesus. Knowing Jesus is free in this country. We don’t have to go underground to praise, worship and glorify His Name. It really has opened my eyes during lockdown, as restriction has not been known in this country. We should, as brothers and sisters in Christ, at this unusual time, be falling in love over and over again with that Man, Jesus who died to give us spiritual freedom (life). Let us at this … time pray not just for ourselves, but pray for revival that the people of Macclesfield will hear that still small voice of our Lord and surrender their lives to Him. Also, let’s pray for God’s guidance for the many people all over the world that are not free to openly worship our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. More than that pray for every man and woman in this world that does not know our Saviour, or for those that reject Jesus, and ridicule those that do know Him.

‘Lord God and loving heavenly Father, hear this prayer let it not fall on deaf ears.’ There is no Christmas without Christ. Come Lord Jesus, come!!!”

Rose Graves

Worship

Word

Reading: Mark 1:1-8;

I baptise you with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.

Mark 1:8

Introduction

These words spoken by John the Baptist are very important because they are recorded in all four Gospels and are carried through into the book of Acts –

“I baptise you with/inwater for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with/in the Holy Spirit and fire”;

Matt. 3:11

John answered them all, ‘I baptise you with/in water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with/in the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:16

And I myself did not know Him, but the One who sent me to baptise with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the One who will baptise with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.

John 1:33-34

On one occasion, while He [Jesus] was eating with them, He gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with/in water, but in a few days you will be baptised with/in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:4-5

The voice spoke from heaven a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.

‘Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, “Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.”

‘As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: “John baptised with/in water, but you will be baptised with/in the Holy Spirit.” So if God gave them the same gift He gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?’

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life’.

Acts 11:9-18

(1) The revelations given to John

John didn’t know Jesus was the Anointed One as we have already read in the words from John 1:33-34 which are worth repeating:

And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.

John 1:33-34

John didn’t make this up himself, for just as he was called of God to baptise, so that same One revealed Jesus Christ as the One who would baptise with the Holy Spirit. The ministry of John the Baptist was vital in preparing the way for the Lord. Part of his testimony regarding Jesus is recorded in John 1:29:

The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:29

This is the most important of truths about Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. And we make much of this in our teachings at Church and so we should! But equally important is John’s testimony that Jesus was the One who would baptise in the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, this truth is neglected in the teachings of the Church at this time. Could this be one of the reasons for the paucity of fruit in the Church’s ministry at this present time?

“The Spirit , as an experienced and living reality, was the absolutely crucial matter for Christian life, from beginning to end”

Gordon Fee – “God’s Empowering Presence”

Have we lost that crucial recognition of the absolutely vital ministry of the Holy Spirit in our day and the need for all of us to be baptised in the Holy Spirit? And that this ministry of the Holy Spirit is more important than even baptism in water? The leader of the largest church in the world when asked what the secret of its success was, simply gave a two-worded answer: “Holy Spirit!”

(2) Jesus’ testimony

As Jesus was preparing to leave His disciples prior to ascending to heaven He spent forty days preparing them further for His leaving them. It is of significance that Jesus Himself, appealed to John’s baptism and then His own ministry as baptiser in the Spirit in Acts 1:4-5:

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with/in water, but in a few days you will be baptised with/in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:4-5

As important as it was for the disciples to start ministering, Jesus had only just spelled out the Great Commission to them, yet it was more important for them to wait until they were baptised in the Spirit. We can also say that as important as baptism in water is, it is even more important to be baptised in the Holy Spirit. However, we shouldn’t put it like this because both are vitally important and complement each other. In other words we need both – to be baptised in water and to be baptised in the Holy Spirit.

Calvary without Pentecost would not be an atonement for us.

Walter Moberly

“Jesus’ death and resurrection go for nothing and are wholly ineffective without the gift of the Spirit.”

J. D. G. Dunn – “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”

and of course we could add vice-versa here. However,  we do tend to stop at Calvary, rather than advancing on to Pentecost, we need both!

(3) This truth is carried through into the life and teaching of the early church

We have already noted Acts 1:4-5:

On one occasion, while He [Jesus] was eating with them, He gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with/in water, but in a few days you will be baptised with/in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:4-5

However, these words re-occur at a vitally important time for the Church and the need for them to accept that God was going to bring in numerous Gentiles into His Kingdom and Church. Please read Acts 10 and 11. As we will be dealing with this in more detail in later weeks we need only briefly relate some of the facts here:

  1. Cornelius, a Centurion in the Italian Regiment, had a vision (Acts 10:3) and Simon Peter had a corresponding vision (Acts 10:9-16).
  2. Cornelius was told by the angel to send men to Joppa and bring back Simon Peter who: “will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved” (Acts 11:14).
  3. Peter would normally have refused to go to the house of a Gentile but in his vision a voice from heaven had spoken these words to him: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15).

This happened three times. Peter began to preach the message to Cornelius and his household and we read:

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, ‘Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptised with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Acts 10:44-48

But Peter was criticised for this later on in Acts 11:1-3:

The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticised him and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.’

Acts 11:1-3

Peter, in response to this criticism, explained to them in some detail about the visions both he and Cornelius had received. He also mentioned that, no sooner had his vision ended, Acts 11:11-18:

Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, “Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.”

‘As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: “John baptised with/in water, but you will be baptised with/in the Holy Spirit.” So if God gave them the same gift He gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?’

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’

Acts 11:11-18

(4) The Evidence of Faith

It would seem that this was one of the major tests in the early NT Church of whether a person was of the faith: Had they received the Holy Spirit? (See point 5 below) – In the great test case regarding the Gentiles at the Council of Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15:7-11, we read again of Peter relating his experience:

After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles should hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

Acts 15:7-11
  1. These are all doctrines that we would readily accept and use to explain our salvation i.e.
  2. Believing the message of the Gospel; Having their hearts purified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ;
  3. That we are saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But the key to making all of this real in their lives is that God gave the Holy Spirit to them:

God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us.

Acts 15:8

(5) Key question: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

Again, we will be looking at this in more detail in later weeks, suffice for now is to simply highlight the point from Acts 19:1-6:

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?

They answered, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’

So Paul asked, ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’

‘John’s baptism,’ they replied.

Paul said, ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance’. He told the people to believe in the One coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’

On hearing this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

Acts 19:1-6

They hadn’t been believers before, but now they had received the Holy Spirit they were, ‘Come Holy Spirit, Amen!’

Quote for the week

“There may be new and extraordinary works of God, and He has hitherto evidently worked in an extraordinary manner. He has brought to pass new things … and has worked in such a manner as to surprise both men and angels. And as God has done thus in times past, so we have no reason to think … that He will still do so. The prophecies of Scripture give us reason to think that God has things to accomplish which have never yet been seen … The Holy Spirit is sovereign in His operation; and we cannot tell how great a variety He may use … We ought not to limit God where He has not limited Himself”

Jonathan Edwards – “The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God” – 1741

Verse of the Week

For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body … and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

1 Cor. 12:13

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, You have done great things in the past through the power and presence of Your Holy Spirit working through Your Church in this nation. Such things have brought honour and glory to Your Son, Jesus Christ; Do them again, and more. We pray that the coming year, 2021, will be a year of great and abundant blessings on the nations of the world, in Jesus Christ Name, for Your glory, Amen.