Paul did not want to see the Christians in Corinth overcome or overwhelmed because of a ‘lack of knowledge’, so he wrote to them saying: “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not what you to be ignorant.’’
You might read Paul’s words and think that the world is full of knowledge and ideas concerning spiritual matters - and you would be correct.
However, is it full of the right kind of knowledge concerning spiritual matters? Or has this awakening towards various spiritual influences, from different parts of the world, only left people ignorant of the truth concerning God’s Holy Spirit?
The following series is about how the Holy Spirit works through our lives in order to draw us closer towards God’s presence. It is my prayer, that by increasing your understanding concerning spiritual matters, you will experience greater transformation and empowerment in your spiritual journey.
‘The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).
The moment we start to talk about the Holy Spirit, different reactions and different images are triggered in different people. There are those who enthusiastically identify themselves with the Pentecostal and charismatic movement. Then, there are those who resist or distance themselves from such movements or ideas.
But there are also people who have no idea whether they are for or against Pentecostalism, because they simply lack knowledge on this subject. Whether you are Pentecostal, non-Pentecostal, or someone who hasn’t got a clue, I hope that you will read long enough to understand the full scale of what God has given to us when He gave us the Holy Spirit.
It is vitally important that we recognize two important reasons for Jesus’ coming:
- Firstly, to take away the sins of the world.
- Secondly, to baptize us in the Holy Spirit.
We must never see Jesus’ coming to earth only in terms of rescuing us from sin, guilt and death. Although our rescue from sin is fundamental to our Christian faith, Jesus also came to baptize his followers in the Holy Spirit.
- The taking away of our sins includes forgiveness, grace and a right standing before God.
- The baptizing in the Holy Spirit includes regeneration, transformation and empowerment
What does it mean to be baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit? We can answer this question by looking at what the word ‘baptize’ means. ‘Baptize’ simply means to ‘immerse’. It was used to describe ‘plunging’ beneath the surface of the water. It refers to being ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘inundated’ by something.
So here is the good news that John was proclaiming:
- Just as John the Baptist immersed repentant sinners in the Jordan River, so Jesus immerses repentant sinners in the Spirit of God.
- Just as those who went into the Jordan River were overwhelmed with water, so those who Jesus baptizes in the Spirit are overwhelmed with God’s Holy Spirit.
To put this in simple terms: Jesus dunks us into and drenches us with the very life of the Living God.
This is about being immersed and overwhelmed with the very presence of God – and sadly, this second part of the good news that John was proclaiming is missing from the lives of some Christians. We all come to communion knowing that Jesus saves and forgives sinners – but we often forget that Jesus wants to also baptize his followers with the Holy Spirit in order that they might be transformed and empowered.