Go Ahead, Take a Peek
Below you will find the first chapter of the book Spirit Baptism. In it I dispel nine myths and misconceptions surrounding the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. I hope you enjoy reading this excerpt. If you enjoy it, you can sign up below to receive notification when the full paperback/Kindle version is available.
Chapter One of Spirit Baptism
It sounds funny starting a book about the Baptism with the Holy Spirit with a chapter on what it is not. Yet I feel it is very important to deal with many of the common misconceptions that surround this issue. For it could be that one of these nine misconceptions has hindered you from receiving or actively seeking after this gift from God.
Many of these misconceptions and misunderstandings come about because of a poor definition of terms. Two people begin to communicate and use the same term with different meanings; this can easily result in miscommunication. For example, if I were to mention the words “water baptism” some in the church would picture in their mind a baby being sprinkled with water by a priest or pastor; others would see an adult who has professed faith in Jesus Christ being fully immersed in water in a large baptistery. Two totally different pictures arise from the same term.
Therefore it is important to clear up some of the major misconceptions that surround the Baptism with the Holy Spirit before we proceed to describe what it is. If we know what it isn’t, we will be better equipped to understand what it is.
It is not Salvation!
However you describe salvation – being born-again, saved, accepting the Lord, turning your life over to Christ – this is the very beginning of our life with the Lord. This is the entrance into the Family of God.
In John chapter three, Jesus proclaims this startling truth to Nicodemus, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven” (v. 3). Nicodemus, having a hard time understanding this statement, posed these questions, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into the womb, can he?” (v.4). Jesus was describing our need to have a spiritual birth, a birth by which the Spirit of God enters into the one who believes and brings new life into his dead spirit. He becomes born of the Spirit, or born again.
Simply put, the Spirit of the Living God comes to dwell in the heart of the person who accepts Christ. Paul states, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
When we speak of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit we are not talking about the salvation experience. We are NOT saying that the Spirit of God does not live, dwell, abide or reside in the person who has accepted Christ, because He does! This is probably the most misunderstood and miscommunicated aspect concerning the Baptism.
It is the salvation experience that opens up the possibility to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit. Salvation is a prerequisite for receiving the Baptism, just as it is the prerequisite for receiving any of the other benefits or gifts related to the covenant. I am not saying that the Baptism is more important than salvation, any more than I would say that the Fruit of the Spirit is more important than salvation. I see the Baptism and the Fruit of the Spirit as integral parts of God’s salvation in our lives. No one piece is more important than the other, or than the whole, but each piece is required to make the whole.
It is not Necessary for Salvation!
A person does not have to be Baptized to be saved. A person can know God, love Him and be serving Him with his whole heart and still not be Baptized. There is only one requirement for salvation in the Scripture: that is placing our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing that we can do or achieve that will cause God to save us. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift from God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph 2:8-9). Salvation is God’s gracious gift freely given to all those who will respond with faith in the Lord.
Acts chapter 8 shows us that the Baptism is distinct from the salvation experience and can be separated by time. It can be experienced almost simultaneously with salvation, or days, weeks, years, even decades after the initial acceptance of Christ.
Philip entered the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Jesus and the kingdom of God. The people believed and were baptized in water. When Philip baptized the Samaritans in water he was bearing witness that they had a real salvation experience. Philip would not have baptized an unbeliever!
At some point later, days or weeks?, the apostles heard that the Samaritans had received the Lord and sent Peter and John to minister to them.
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17).
Isn’t it interesting to note that prior to the coming of the apostles, the Samaritans had received the Lord and been baptized in water (this is the condition of much of the church today), but after they laid hands on them they received the Holy Spirit. This section of Scripture is not teaching us that a person must have hands laid on them to receive the Spirit into their lives at the point of salvation. If this were so, then the Samaritans would have believed in Jesus, been baptized and not have been born again or saved until the apostles arrived on the scene to lay hands on them. I know of no church that believes that this is what is being taught here. It is teaching us that the Baptism can come to believers at a point after their initial salvation experience.
Peter in his sermon on the day of Pentecost proclaims that there are three steps to be taken for those who were calling on the Lord. According to Acts 2:38 they are as follows:
- “Repent” (New Birth)
- “and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Water Baptism)
- “and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Baptism of the Holy Spirit).
This verse shows three distinct events that take place in the life of the believer: salvation, water baptism, and the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
It is not a Sign of Spirituality!
The Baptism does not make a person more spiritual. It does not rule out the possibility that the Spirit Baptized believer will operate in the flesh. The Corinthians are a perfect example of this. They had received the Baptism and operated in the gifts of the Spirit, but were extremely fleshly in their relationship to the Lord and to each other.
The entire book of I Corinthians is Paul’s attempt to point out the areas where the Corinthians were operating in the flesh. It was Paul’s desire for then to walk in the Spirit. There were divisions in the church. Each group was arguing over who was the most spiritual, proving without a doubt how unspiritual they really were. Gross sin was being ignored. People were taking each other to court before unbelievers, because they could not come to a peaceful agreement with each other. Some were showing favoritism and becoming drunk in the Lord’s feast. They were also, in their attempt to be spiritual, abusing the gifts of the Spirit. If any church was operating in the flesh it was the Corinthian church!
Despite the fact that the Corinthians were Spirit Baptized and yet fleshly, there were many of the early Christians that were Spirit Baptized and considered to be spiritual giants. These include Peter, James, John, Stephen, Paul and the rest of the 120 in the upper room. Today there are Spirit-Baptized believers who operate in the flesh and discredit the name of the Lord, but at the same time there are many who do not. If you are seeking for an example of what a Spirit-Baptized believer is supposed to act like, use your Bible to look at the latter group, not the former.
It is not a Sign of Maturity!
The Baptism is not a sign of maturity. In the Scripture maturity deals with character- how much we are allowing the Lord to manifest His life in us; and our call- how we are fulfilling the ministry that the Lord has called us to. The Baptism is not a reward for maturity, nor is it a short cut to spiritual maturity. The Baptism is available to anyone, at any time in his spiritual walk, whether he is considered a spiritual babe, a young man or a father in the Lord. My brother-in-law received the Spirit as he knelt to accept the Lord in his jail cell. Paul, the apostle, received the Spirit three days after he met the Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:17). I was Baptized three months after I accepted the Lord.
Since the Baptism is not a sign of maturity, we should not expect a major jump in the maturity level of the one who receives it. A babe in Christ will still be a babe in Christ, a young man a young man. There are no short cuts to maturity. Only time, proper spiritual nourishment and exercise will bring a person to maturity in the Lord.
It is not a Sign of Superiority!
There is no such thing as a “second class Christian” in the kingdom of God. There are different ministry positions, maturity levels and varying gifts, but each part of the body is equally necessary and important for the body to function as God designed it. In the family of God no one is greater or better than another person. Certainly some have greater responsibility and others greater visibility, but this does not make them better or of more worth to the Lord.
Those who have been Baptized are not a higher level than those who have not experienced the Baptism, or vice versa. Christians on both sides of the issue look down their noses at the other side believing themselves to be superior some because they speak in tongues and operate in the gifts of the Spirit, others because they hold to the “true” position of Scripture and are above such things as speaking in tongues or the gifts. This is a form of spiritual pride and should be forsaken.
Paul exhorts the Philippians to “[d]o nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of us regard one another as more important than himself, do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4). How can believers read these verses and consider themselves superior to other Christians because they operate or do not operate in the gifts? How can Christians gloat with self-importance because they do not speak in tongues or because they can speak with tongues? Both attitudes contradict this Scripture and are sin before the Lord. Both attitudes are to be forsaken. No one Christian is superior to another because they have or do not have the Baptism and the accompanying gifts.
If there is no difference between those who have and those who do not have the Baptism, why do those who have it advocate it so strongly? Why do they seem to be so pushy? Many are zealous in their proclamation because they are excited about what the Lord has done in their lives.
I liken it to a new Christian who is excited about the Lord and wants to tell everyone he comes in contact with about the Lord. He does not consider himself to be superior to those who haven’t received Christ, but he does understand that he has received a gift. He has good news to share and is excited about it. Sometimes in his zeal to have every one share his experience, he seems to be pushy and self- righteous, jamming religion down people’s throats. That is not his motivation; he simply wants people to experience the same joy, freedom and peace that he has. The same applies to the one who has been Baptized. Many times his zeal and urgent pleas are mistaken as a sign of superiority. This could not be further from the truth.
It is not the Pinnacle of Christian Experience!
The Baptism is not the pinnacle of Christian experience. We do not hit the peak, the ultimate, the pinnacle of Christianity when the Spirit falls upon us. Properly understood the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is only the beginning of what God has in store for us in this area. It is only the entrance into a lifestyle of power in serving others. It is the open door that starts us on our journey, not the final door that brings us into a glorious state of perfection.
It is not a Purely Emotional Experience!
The Baptism is not a purely emotional experience. True, our emotions are involved in the process. If we didn’t have emotions we would cease to be whole people. God created us with emotions so that we would be able to express ourselves to Him and to one another.
Many times when God’s Spirit moves upon us we become emotional. We get excited, happy or joyful. We experience God’s peace, love or compassion. Sometimes we weep as God heals a certain hurt in our lives or brings us under conviction for sin. Emotions play an integral part in our relationship with the Lord.
I will be the first to admit that there are those who I consider to be over-emotional in this area of the Baptism. There are those who believe that they must get themselves extremely hyped up to the point where the Spirit will come upon them and “take over for them.” At this point they claim to have no control over what they say or do. This is simply not true. We are always in control of what we say and do (except in the case of being slain in the Spirit). God does not possess our bodies and take over our natural function of speech against our will! The Spirit of God may come mightily upon us and we may feel compelled to speak something, but we are always in control. We can refuse to speak, and though this might grieve the Holy Spirit, God gives us the choice.
Extreme emotionalism is not required to receive the Baptism of the Spirit. In some cases there is great emotion involved, while in other cases very little or no emotions are shown. Each case of receiving the Spirit is as different as the individuals who receive Him. I know people who have felt like electricity was flowing through them (me, for example), while others didn’t feel any great measure of emotions when they began speaking with other tongues (my wife). There is no extreme emotionalism described in the Biblical accounts of the Baptism, nor do you have to work yourself up to receive it.
Some of the over emotionalism comes from incorrect teaching and example. If a person is taught that there must be a great deal of emotion displayed or see this in operation at times that the Baptism is received, they will naturally follow suit. It doesn’t make the practice right, but it certainly does point to the importance of balanced Biblical teaching on the subject.
It is not only Experiential but Biblical!
More than one person opposed to the Baptism has claimed that the teaching is based upon an experience which was then taken to the Bible to be proved. When Luke wrote the book of Acts he was writing about some thing that the 120 experienced in the upper room (Acts 2:1- 4). The same experience that Cornelius, the Samaritans and the Ephesians had: (Acts 10:44-47; 8:14-17; 19:1-6). I wonder if people get after Luke for bringing his experiences into the Bible?
It is when we experience God’s love for ourselves, that we become better qualified to communicate that truth to others, and better equipped to understand what is being communicated in the Scriptures on that subject. It is when we experience God’s forgiveness, peace, joy and other benefits of salvation that we are better able to share these with others. Therefore I do not see a problem adding the Baptism to the list of things better communicated through experiencing them.
It seems to me that those who have not received the Baptism and argue against it are actually the ones who are arguing from experience. They have not received it, and therefore they search the Scriptures to try and find verification that the Baptism is not for today. There is much more evidence to support that the Baptism is for today, (what do you do with millions of Pentecostals and Charismatics), than there is that it is not. In chapter two of this book we will see how Biblically based the teaching on the Baptism is, and in chapter three we will examine who the Baptism is for and see how long it is available.
It is not from the Devil!
Warning! Beware! Danger! Statements such as: “If you seek after tongues you may get tricked by the devil.” or “Tongues are from the devil,” have been claimed by many who oppose the Baptism. These words put fear into the hearts of those who might seek after the Baptism, because they don’t want to get mixed up with anything satanic. I don’t blame them; I don’t either!
These warnings are pretty strong and give the devil credit for the Baptism rather than God. It is true that the devil has counterfeit tongues, and these tongues are exactly that: a counterfeit of God’s gift. Scripture says, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy… (John 10:10). Should we shy away from God’s gift to us, just because Satan has tried to destroy the use of tongues by twisting and warping what God created for good?
If we were to follow this type of logic, we would have to reject all music, for the devil has used music for his own purposes; we would have to reject angels, because the devil can come as an angel of light, and we wouldn’t want to take a chance at getting deceived; we have to reject love, since the devil has used a crude, fake love in the place of God’s. We would also have to reject true prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah, just to make sure we don’t get mixed up with any false prophets along the way.
Of course the above reasoning is faulty, including the reasoning concerning tongues. Just because there is a counterfeit, there is no reason to be afraid of the real thing. The counterfeit is easy to spot if you know what the original looks like.
If we are sincere and ask God to Baptize us with His Holy Spirit, why should we believe that the devil will be able to jump in and give us false tongues? If we ask God to Baptize us with his Spirit, He will do just that! In Luke 11:9-13 Jesus clearly tells us that if we ask God for His Spirit He will not give us a demon or allow a demon to have his way with us, He will give us His Spirit. Read it for yourself:
And I say to you, ask, it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those that ask Him?” [emphasis mine].
Don’t be afraid that if you ask God for His Holy Spirit that you will receive a snake or a scorpion. God will give you what you ask him for. Feel free to go boldly before the Lord and ask Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
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