Friday 13th October 2023
God’s Mission Series: The Power: Baptism in the Spirit
Audio / Teaching

God’s Mission Series: The Power: Baptism in the Spirit

Adrian Holloway on October 18, 2009 with 0 Comments

Acts 1:1-8 – Preaching from ChristChurch London’s Sunday Service

SLIDE 1: God’s Mission Series – Week 6
Title: THE POWER: Baptism in the Spirit (Acts 1:1-8)

I’ve just finished reading through Matthew’s gospel in my own bible reading, and when you look at the state of the disciples at the end of the gospels, they don’t look like a bunch of people who are about to turn the world upside down.

Yes, Peter’s made a heroic declaration to Jesus. Peter’s said: “Even if everyone else abandons you, I never will.” But then he blows it, by denying three times that he ever knew Jesus. The future of the church does not look too promising when the disciples are arguing amongst themselves about “who is the greatest disciple?” And when Jesus is arrested in Gethesmane, it says that “they all deserted him and fled.” When trouble comes, the disciples literally run away. Even after Jesus is resurrected, the disciples struggle to believe. It’s hard to imagine how these are the same 11 people who would, a couple of months later, be fearless ambassadors for Christ.

But, sure enough, two months later, with tremendous zeal, passion and power, we see them leading thousands to Christ.

So what happened to them? What can possibly explain the transformation?

Well a big part of the answer is in Acts 1 and verse 8. Jesus said:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

These weak people were transformed into trail-blazing missionaries when the Holy Spirit came upon them. And so this subject is key to our mission series, and for you as an individual. Because Jesus only called his followers to do mission after they’d got the power. What a relief that is! In fact Jesus actually tells them: “Don’t Go! Stay, until you’ve got the power.”

The good news is . . . there is power. Power available for you today! So let’s just look at this verse in its context . . . This is Jesus speaking after his resurrection, but before his ascension . . .

4On one occasion, while [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. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
(Acts 1: 4-8)

Today we want to do two things:

1. We want to find out from the bible what ‘The Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ is?

And we’re going to see that being baptised in the Holy Spirit is not necessarily the same thing as becoming a Christian. The two can happen at the same time, but they don’t seem to automatically happen at the same time. In other words we are going to see fully born again Christians in the New Testament, who have been baptised in water, who love Jesus, but who are not yet “baptised in the Holy Spirit.” We’re going to see that it is possible to be a Christian, but to not yet be baptised in the Holy Spirit. Now maybe that’s where you are at . . . You might fall into that category.

And so

2. We are going to give you an extended opportunity to receive here at the front. When people received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, those nearby could usually hear that they’d received because something came out of their mouths, in most cases it was things such as praise, prophesy, or they spoke in tongues. And so I would expect that to happen this afternoon. I would expect many of you will speak in tongues for the first time, or prophesy for the first time, and so on.

Still others of us here have never prayed for someone else to be baptised in the Holy Spirit before, but you will today. So this is a potentially exciting afternoon for all of us here.

OK, so first, what does the Bible teach us about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?’

Well of course the gospels (Matthew, Mark. Luke and John) are too early to give us much detail. They simply say things like “get ready, it’s coming.”

So, for example, John the Baptist says:

“I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

And the word “baptize,” incidentally, means to plunge or immerse, or drench. So we are talking about drenching with the Holy Spirit.

The baptizer with the Spirit is, of course, Jesus. But Jesus makes clear that the Spirit won’t be given until after he’s been glorified. Until after his death and resurrection. And so at the end of Luke’s gospel, just before his ascension, Jesus says:

“I am going to send you what my father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

Now by this stage, Jesus has explained to his disciples that they’re not going to have him physically around anymore. He’s told them that their mission is to evangelize the world. He’s said: “Go and preach the gospel to all nations.”
He’s also explained to them that he’ll only return to earth, once his message has been preached to all nations. (Mark 13:10)

So the poor disciples at this point could be forgiven for thinking, “OK, Jesus you want all nations, every ethnos, every people group and language group to hear the good news about you, but you’re about to ascend to heaven. So how are we going to do it? We’re just ordinary people.”

The answer is that he’s going to make them extraordinary people, by drenching them with the Holy Spirit.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

And we can see that the original reason for the giving of the Holy Spirit was for power to witness. And this is so often forgotten. The Holy Spirit is not given primarily so that you and I can have “an experience.” Jesus says here the primary purpose is to empower you to talk to people who don’t know Jesus yet. This is how Christians were able to evangelize Europe so quickly. The first Christians got power to witness. They were drenched with the Spirit.

Launching off point – God loves you!

But how? How do you get this power? Well we’ve seen that the gospels are too early. They describe the period before the day of Pentecost.

On the other hand, Paul’s letters are too late, because in them, he just asserts that the believers he’s writing to have all received the Spirit. Even if, as in the case of the Corinthians, they were abusing spiritual gifts that come with the baptism in the spirit, like the gift of tongues, there’s never any doubt that they’ve got the baptism in the Spirit, which produces the gifts.

But we can see how people received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit by looking at the book of Acts. And even though Acts is a historical narrative, it is scripture and “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

The idea that you can’t use Acts is a nonsense, because by that reasoning, you can’t use Genesis, Exodus, or any other narrative section to learn anything about God and theology.

So let’s look at 5 occasions in Acts when we see people receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

So firstly, here is how it happened to the disciples:

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
(Acts 2: 1-4)

A crowd then gathers and Peter seizes the moment, and says ‘Yes, we may look drunk, but we’re not, it’s only 9 o’clock in the morning. And from that starting point, he preaches the most famous evangelistic sermon in the Bible. The crowd are cut to the heart. “Oh, no, they say, we’ve crucified God’s messiah,” and so they ask: “what should we do to be saved?” And Peter replies:

“Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. 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: 38-39)

“The Peter Package”
A) Repentance
B) Faith
C) Baptism in water
D) Receiving the Holy Spirit

And we can conclude from this and many other New Testament passages that the basic package of Christianity includes these four elements:

A) Repentance
B) Faith
C) Baptism in water
D) Receiving the Holy Spirit

Now there’s no doubt that God wants every Christian to have each of these 4 elements on board. Please just note here . . . when it comes to the gift of the Holy Spirit, it says here, “you will receive”, and then it says “the promise is for you, for all who are far off [THAT’S US], for all whom the Lord our God will call [THAT IS ALSO US]. So let’s see if you qualify . . . In the period since 33AD, has God called you? YES! Well, it’s for you then. Are you living far away from Jerusalem? YES! Well, it’s for you then. That’s what the text actually says. The promise is officially for you! Good news!

Second example is in Acts 8 in Samaria . . .

When persecution hit the early church in Jerusalem, Philip, the evangelist goes to Samaria, and preaches Christ there. Miracles follow, as many cripples and paralytics were healed.

Here’s what happens next . . .

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17)

In other words they were proper Christians, but they hadn’t received the Holy Spirit. They had repentance and faith, and they’d been baptised in water, but they didn’t have the baptism in the Spirit. So here’s our first example of Christians who didn’t have the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

And so we learn three things immediately from these Christians in Samaria:
1. You clearly can be a Christian, and not be baptised in the Holy Spirit.
2. These Samaritan Christians received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands.
3. Something obviously happened when they received the Spirit, because if you read on in the story, when Simon the Sorcerer saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles hands he offered Peter and John money. Simon said: “Wow, that was awesome when you did that thing you just did. I’d love to be able to do what you just did. How much do you want? Give me the ability to do that. I’ll pay you.”

SLIDE 10: (Acts 9:17)

Next example, in Acts 9, I’ll just mention briefly is Paul himself. Paul makes it clear, when he gives his testimony to King Agrippa that as Saul of Tarsus, he was converted on the Damascus Road. But it was actually 3 days afterwards that, that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit. So even Paul didn’t get the whole package automatically in one go. He was filled with the Holy Spirit 3 days later. And we’ll just note there, that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit when a man called Annanias laid hands on him. And I just mention that because for some of us British the laying on of hands does not come easily. We are probably the least tactile people on earth, so again this is a cultural challenge for us.

The fourth example is in Acts 10:

Cornelius, a Roman centurion has a visit from the apostle Peter. Peter preaches to Cornelius’ whole household.

As he’s speaking, the Holy Spirit falls on them all.

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 the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. (Acts 10:44-46)

So if any charismatic or Pentecostal Christian ever says to you: “Oh, the baptism is the Holy Spirit is always subsequent to conversion,” you should point them to this passage. Because this proves that it doesn’t have to be a second blessing at all. You can get it all in one go.

Imagine yourself in the position of these slaves and family members who made up Cornelius’ household. You’re not a Christian, and then Peter turns up. He starts speaking, and then 15 minutes in, the Holy Spirit comes on all who hear the message.

Now in the case of Cornelius’ household, they were baptised in the Holy Spirit as Peter was speaking. We aren’t even told that they had repented and believed. And we know that at that point, they definitely hadn’t been baptised in water.

So what did these people who worked for Cornelius experience?

What did they experience?
a) They experienced the power of the Holy Spirit (vs 45)
b) They were released in praise (vs 46)
c) They received a new language (vs 46)

Can I just say that being released in praise does involve the emotions. Yet the English are the more wary of “emotionalism” when it comes to Christianity than anyone else.

Let me tell you a true story about a friend of ours called Angela Wilson. She was waiting at bus stop next to two other ladies. It was a very cold snowy day They waited a long long time for the bus. And they were stamping their feet, trying to keep warm. Still the bus didn’t come. Eventually this car pulls up, the woman driving winds down her window, looks at these three women and says: “Do you want a lift?” And they all look at each other, and say, “yeah!”

So they squash up on the back seat. There’s no conversation at all. Everyone looks quite nervous and embarrassed. On they go, and Angela’s thinking, “this is all a bit strange.”

Eventually, one of the ladies starts speaking to the driver. And it becomes obvious that she already knows this woman who’s driving the car.

Then the other passenger on the back seat joins in the conversation, and it becomes obvious that she too knows the other two women in the car. So those three all know each other.

But they didn’t feel they could possibly say as much to Angela.

And Angela had naievely thought: “Here’s a kind passing motorist, who’s stopped to have pity of three shivering people at a bus stop. But now she realises that actually the driver had just spotted two of her friends, offered them a lift, and when Angela got into the car as well, they were so embarrassed that they didn’t know what to say to her.

Now everywhere else in the world, at least one of those other three ladies would have said: “We, all know each other. Would you like a lift as well? Where would you like to go?”

But because they were British and there was no one there to introduce them, they just sat there in the car in silence driving along.

It’s not normal to be like we are.

So they were released in praise. We need to be released in praise.

Incidentally, here’s how Peter reports the event in the next chapter:

“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 11:15-16)

So again, we see that the apostles want new Christians to have the whole package. So, when Peter heard them speaking in tongues and praising God, he could tell they had everything except baptism in water, so he ordered them to be baptised in water.

OK, Now the fifth and final example of Spirit baptism is at Ephesus.

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?” (Acts 19:1-2)

Now Paul would never have asked that question if believing in Jesus and being baptized in the Holy Spirit were one and the same thing. If they were the same thing, then his question would become, “Were you converted, when you were converted?” Which is clearly a nonsense. Paul thinks they are Christians and he asks them: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Paul would never have asked this question if believing in Jesus and being baptized in the Holy Spirit were one and the same thing

So we learn something about Paul’s theology from this question. Clearly not everyone does receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. After all this was Paul’s own personal experience. It was 3 days after he’d met the risen Jesus, that he himself received the Spirit when Ananias laid hands on him in Damascus. In our study this afternoon, we have seen that, in 3 out of the 4 cases since Pentecost, when the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is mentioned, it is a subsequent or secondary experience.

As it happens, here in Ephesus, the more Paul talks to these disciples, the more he realizes that they’re not as far along the road as he thought they were. {I need to comment on John’s baptism otherwise that is a glaring omission}

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 baptized into 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. There were about twelve men in all.
(Acts 19:3-7)

So the exact spiritual state of these Ephesian disciples when Paul first met them isn’t the issue. When they came up out of the waters of baptism, they still hadn’t got the baptism in the spirit.

So, again the baptism in the Spirit comes with the laying on of hands.
Again they spoke in tongues – that’s been there in most but not all of our 5 case studies, but this time they also prophesied. So I wouldn’t be surprised if some of us, who’ve never prophesied before, do so in a few minutes time, when we receive the Spirit.

OK, so how are we going to do this ministry time down here?

First of all . . .

Let me ask you . . .

Do you have the evidence of being baptised in the Holy Spirit, which is, as we have seen, firstly, and primarily, power to witness?
Do you have another evidence of having been baptised in the Spirit . . . do you speak in other tongues?
Have you ever prophesied before?
You can today. You can receive in just a few minutes . . .

So what are the barriers to people receiving?

What are the common hindrances to being filled with the Spirit?
1. Doubt
2. Fear
3. Inadequacy
(Luke 11:9-13)

1. Doubt

I have found over the years, that the people who find it easiest to receive are those who are the most theologically convinced.

And here we go back to where we started, you see Peter said about the giving of the Spirit, the promise is for you, for all who are far off, and for all whom the Lord our God will call.

This opportunity in a few minutes is for you. God wants you to be baptised in the Holy Spirit.

But if you don’t believe that, then it’s more difficult for you to receive. If you think, no, it’s only for a certain type or temperament of person. If you think, it’s only for the excitable types.

Listen, I was absolutely convinced that I would never speak in tongues. Because I thought of myself as the most rational, reasonable, unemotional person, and I thought tongues was just for people who were, you know, susceptible. I couldn’t imagine how it could ever happen, but I became convinced biblically, and when I was, I sang in tongues at the back of a meeting.

[I could talk about to a) bring some personal testimony, b) raise faith, and c) help people understand why we are doing this kind of ministry time.]

Be hugely encouraged! It’s for you. You can receive. You will receive.

Jesus said, “if anyone is thirsty, come to me and drink” and then the bible says, by this he meant the spirit, whom those who believed in him later would received. Are you thirsty? Because if you are, you can drink NOW!

We find it difficult to believe that God will give something as wonderful as the Holy Spirit. But isn’t it comforting to know that Jesus knows we will find this hard, so, when he’s teaching about the giving of the Spirit, he re-assures us no less than 6 six times.

Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened. (Luke 11: 9-10)

Six times, Jesus says, ‘Don’t worry, I will give you the Holy Spirit. It’s not a con or a trick.’

And here we see, the next barrier to receiving is fear. We’re worried, “what if instead of it being a nice experience down there, what if it’s nasty? How do I know it’s going to be OK?”

Well, again, isn’t it wonderful that Jesus anticipates that we’ll be afraid, so he re-assures us:

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

Jesus says, “Let’s be logical about this. You’ve got no reason to be afraid . . .”

Jesus says, “just imagine you’re a parent, in fact just to make the illustration even more powerful, let’s imagine you’re a bad parent, well, you still want to give good things to your children, don’t you?”

We answer: “Yes, Jesus. Parents want to give good gifts to their children,”

Jesus replies: “Well following, that logic, how much more will God, the father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

He’s not going to tempt you down to the front of the Piccadilly Theatre, saying “don’t worry, it’ll be fine,” and then attack you with a snake or a Scorpion! Not even a bad parent would be that nasty, to their own children, and God is not nasty.

The final barrier, is that we feel inadequte. By talking about a young boy with his father, Jesus picks up on the fact that we feel spiritually like children, not adults. We so easily feel, “But I don’t deserve to be baptised in the Holy Spirit.” Well yes, but we also don’t deserve to be alive. We don’t deserve to be breathing the oxygen that’s keeping us alive right now. And we in particular don’t deserve for God to send Jesus to die in our place. But that definitely happened. It seems to me that’s the big deal. And if God’s already done the big thing of giving up his son, how much more along with him, will he graciously give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?

You’ll never earn forgiveness, or a place in heaven, you just receive a free gift, and in the same way, you’ll never earn the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is telling us that God the father longs to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. So shall we ask him?’

OK, in 10 seconds time, to create some space here at the front, I’m going to ask everyone in the first 6 rows to move to the back, even though some of you will be coming back almost straight away.

Perhaps the band could come forward.
Those in the first 6 rows if you could all move to the back temporarily.

Maybe you’ve never spoken in tongues before. You can come in just a moment . . .

The apostle Paul says

“The man who speaks in tongues edifies himself . . . I would like every one of you to speak in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:4-5)

When you speak in tongues, it’s great because you edify or build up yourself. You get built up inside. It’s your own prayer language to God, that you can run into when you run out of English words, and as you do so, praising God and building up your own faith. You actually feel yourself getting stronger as you do it. It’s a great gift to have in your own prayer life. You can build yourself up wherever you are. It’s a spiritual gift God has for you.

Paul says here: “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues” That is God’s will for you.

Paul commands the Corinthians: ‘Eagerly desire spiritual gifts.’ And he says that to a group of Christians who were abusing spiritual gifts.

When we read the middle chapters of 1 Corinthians, we realise the church is in such a bad state at Corinth that we expect Paul to finish by saying, forget about all your spiritual gifts that you’re so chuffed about. Forget about tongues, forget about prophecy. But he doesn’t. He commands them to eagerly desire spiritual gifts.

Are you eagerly desiring spiritual gifts?

But tongues is another form of prayer. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14 that “those who speak in a tongue do not speak to people but to God.” (1 Corinthians 14:2) So when you come down here, just forget about those around you, and what others think. Because those who speak in tongues don’t speak to people but to God.

Paul said, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. He enjoyed it. We also know that he sang in tongues. He said:

“If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind: I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15)

So when he says he sings with his spirit, the context demands that he’s talking about singing in tongues.

So if you have never spoken in tongues, or, if you have never prophesied, or if you know that you need power to witness, or if for any reason you have yet to be filled, drenched or baptised in the Holy Spirit, I’d like you to come forward now, into rows 2,4 and 6.

You’re lacking something

OK, I am going to pray for you to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and here are three things that I hope will help you.

Firstly, relax, it’s going to be OK, and

Secondly, when it gets to the bit where we pray for you to speak in tongues, in my experience it is quite unlikely that God will force your mouth open against your will. In other words, you do have to open your mouth and speak at that point. God doesn’t speak in tongues. You do. You do the speaking.

Thirdly, when it gets to the tongues bit, because I don’t want this to become a very sort of introverted, introspective thing, I’m going to suggest that we all sing the same song either in tongues, or in English. So the sound will kind of drown you out, so no-one except God will hear what you’re saying or singing, so you’re safe, OK.

So relax, and when it gets to the tongues bit, make some sort of noise, don’t worry about what it is, just break the sound barrier, and don’t worry about the rest. OK?

OK, Holy Spirit, we welcome your presence here. Thank you that you are here now.

1. First, the Bible says: the promise is for you.

2. Second, put aside doubt, fear and inadequacy

3. Ask: (you can just start asking now)

Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

Now you can ask him in English. That’s fine.

And we’re going to do that right now. And as we do, just start to sing out some non-English words.

So don’t worry about the mental side of it. You’re more than just a mind. As a Christian, you’ve now got a spirit inside you that wants to praise God.

Now the first words I ever got were Ba, La and Sa, and I was absolutely convinced I was making them up. That’s because it felt contrived.

But it feels weird the first time you try out your GCSE French in France. You feel embarrassed saying it. Just say a few sounds or words and start with those, say them over and over again.