BAPTIZED in the SPIRIT
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
NOVEMBER 5, 2015
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“I baptize you with water for 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 with fire.” (Matt 3:11, RSV)
My friend Walter, whose questions sparked last week’s writing, asked another one which I feel led to comment on. Here’s his inquiry:
“I have one further request/question about your baptism in the spirit. I have been ambivalent on the subject of special outpouring of the Spirit and on speaking/praying in tongues for many years. It does seem to me that those who have experienced one or both (if, indeed, they are separate), have greater insights and closer relationships with Father. For the past five years, after leaving a home group, I have been in a wilderness of sorts with no fellowship and with a humdrum life in Christ. It’s like being stuck just outside the Promised Land, being able to see the beauties of the land but not partake of its bounty. In line with this, would you mind elaborating on your experience in receiving and living within the Spirit? If it’s too personal or you don’t have time, feel free to decline or delay response.” End Quote
Dear Walter, Jonathan Mitchell, in his New Testament translation, gives the following explanation of “Spirit” and “Word of God”: “Just as pneu-ma (spirit; wind; etc.) literally means “breath-effect” or “result of the wind,” so the word rhe-ma literally means “the effect of the flow,” or, “the result of the gush.” The -ma ending of the noun signifies that this form means “effect” or “result.”
This speaks to me because it evokes the Genesis account of God’s finest creation, man: “And the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:7, NIV) When Nicodemus came to Jesus questioning how a man could be born again from his mother’s womb, Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, on one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8, NIV)
What I get from this is that when we are born again, however or whenever God arranges that miracle, He Himself has breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, making us a new creation in Christ. Using this concept, this word picture as a foundation may make it easier to understand the Holy Spirit Baptism.
Ideally, we receive the Spirit when we are baptized. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter responded to the stricken crowd’s question, “Men and brethren, what shall we do,” by saying, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:37-39, NIV) The church world wants to limit this to those who profess Christ, but Isaiah quotes God’s viewpoint: “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’” (Isa. 65:1, NIV)
Since I grew up in a church which taught that the Holy Spirit went back to heaven after the last Apostle died, that’s what I believed. Thus, a “second work of grace,” as some have called it, was necessary for me. The Charismatic movement was instrumental in my personal growth, breaking me out of the Fundamentalist mindset, but it had its glaring problems, which I didn’t see at first. When the active movement of the Spirit had “sprung me” out of the “box” of religion, I eventually began to see that the Charismatic movement was merely another, larger box, designed to set the rules, secure the walls, and keep folks confined, for their own good, of course.
I was in a somewhat liberal version of the church I grew up in when the Holy Spirit began moving on that congregation. I heard them talk about being baptized in the Spirit, which made no sense to me since I had been baptized in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and I had been taught to believe that this couldn’t happen today. Moreover, the proponents spoke in tongues and soon, the elders of the congregation began to say that if you didn’t speak in tongues, you didn’t have it. A false conclusion, from start to finish, but I hadn’t been in any of the private meetings when the Holy Spirit came upon someone, so I didn’t know really what they were talking about.
I am a private sort of person, mostly, and especially in my relationship with God. He deals with our personal quirks which are no problem for Him. One night, in about 1968, I was soaking in a bubble bath, which enveloped me in silky warm bubbles up to my neck. Suddenly, and because of nothing I did or said or prayed for, the “heavens opened up” and I saw Jesus on the cross (this really was a vision), and knew that He was there because of my sins. I was born knowing that Jesus died for my sins, but this was intensely personal. I could see it, feel it and taste it. It felt as though an electrical current was running all over my body, and here I was soaking in the bath. Would I be electrocuted? Was God going to take me on I wondered? I wept and laughed and rejoiced and sorrowed over the sins of the world and mine as well, which put my lovely Jesus on that cross.
It took me a while to come back to reality, but I quickly realized that there was something different in my life. The “result of the gush” of the “breath effect” of God was I began to write poetry, praise to God, extolling His virtues and proclaiming His victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. That was my gift. Instead of tongues, I received writing, which I have been doing from then until now.
The other thing that happened was since I had realized that Jesus was real, it quickly came to me that so was the devil and by that time I had encountered a charismatic teacher who was the darling of the Charismatic movement. This began a sorry chapter in my personal growth, but one necessary, i.e., I began to fight the devil at every turn, casting him out of everything and everyone. This occupied all my waking hours until the Spirit shined His light on the scripture, “Neither give place to the devil.” (Eph. 4:27, KJV)
Providentially, I realized in that moment of the Holy Spirit shining His light on that scripture in Ephesians, that the devil is a defeated foe! John had declared, that the reason the son of God was manifested was to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8). If that was the truth, then I was believing a lie, i.e., that the devil was lying in wait to derail me at every turn. It was a beginning of learning that God is totally in charge, and I do not have to fight the world, the flesh, or devil, because Christ took care of it all on the cross for me personally and for everyone else as well. It had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the might and power of Almighty God, and the out-raying of His Spirit, His breath-effect in my life.
For every obstacle, and there were some big ones, which threatened to hinder my growth into Him, He provided a way of escape. This is what it means that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
He is our Abba, our Daddy. There is no one right way to be baptized in the Spirit, no one special person to administer it, as my experience demonstrates. There was no preacher, elder, or priest present; I was totally alone in that bubble bath. I needed the event to show me that the Holy Spirit had not gone back to heaven when the last Apostle died, as the church leaders had taught. Jesus’s prophecy began to come true in my life to my great amazement and delight: “But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you of what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” (John 16:13-15, NIV)
The “result of the gush” of the “breath-effect” in this case is that by the Spirit, our eyes are opened to see what our Father wants to share with us, and in turn, we know by the Spirit with whom He wants us to share this bounty. He gives us nothing just for our use only, but so that His glory will shine through us to others who need to see it and feel His love through us.
I hope this helps. I can see that you are on your way. Just keep asking God to guide you and He will in His own way, and He will open your eyes to see it and your heart to receive it. Hallelujah.
Glory and blessings of mercy, grace, and unconditional love are abundantly, continuously flowing from our Father to all His children, in the pews and out of the pews. For His graciousness to us, we join our voices with the voice of the multitude and with the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, “Allelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” So say we all, amen.