Being a Christian (a follower of Christ) is about being a good person, isn’t it? Fulfilling the Golden Rule: Do unto to others as you would have them do unto to you, right? Well, that’s part of it. But as you may have realized by now, that’s easier said than done. So there has to be more to it than that. The Scriptures don’t teach that we need to just ACT differently, we need to BE different. We need to become a New Person, not just act or think differently. Jesus said that we must die to ourselves and live to God. In other words, we must be “born again.” This process is supernatural, not the act or will of any human being.
In the first chapter of the Book of Acts, after Jesus’ resurrection (but before His Ascension) Luke records:
“On 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. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.”
So Jesus is clarifying three key things in those statements:
1) The REALITY of Holy Spirit baptism
Some today deny the reality of the baptism of the Holy Spirit…to their own demise, I might add. Many say, “That was then and this is now.” Ultra conservatives say, “We don’t need the Holy Spirit, we have the Bible.” Ultra liberals say, “We don’t need the Holy Spirit, we have our own human intellect.” Jesus says otherwise. But the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not only REAL, but mandatory.
2) The NEED of Holy Spirit baptism
Jesus said to wait until you were empowered by the Holy Spirit before you go out to fulfill your mission. What is our mission? Jesus tells us very clearly what our mission (our calling) is in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” So Jesus says we are to go out and share the Gospel with the whole world. But He knew there would be opposition. That opposition would be orchestrated by Satan, working mainly through ungodly human beings. But there are also the realities of daily life on planet Earth to contend with, too, such as money, health and family dynamics. Jesus recognizing those realities told His Disciples to WAIT. The world says, “Run! Don’t wait!” You may miss out on that sale or promotion, so “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” But Jesus said, “Wait.”
Was it because they were tired and needed rest? Was it because they needed to study first? Maybe take a few classes on homiletics? Were they to take a few days off to gather their thoughts and get their house in order before they started this great journey into the unknown? Maybe there was a human reason for the wait, but more than anything, Jesus was emphasizing the need of the empowerment. In essence, “Don’t go out to do my will until you have the wherewithal to do it.”
3) The REASON of Holy Spirit baptism
The reason for the baptism of the Holy Spirit was quite clear: You cannot do this on your own. Jesus said, “and you will be my witnesses.” The root word of “witness” in the Greek was “martyr.” So in reality, He was not just saying “go preach,” He was saying, “Go die for me.” Or at least be willing to die for Him. So that takes on a whole new meaning, a whole new level of commitment. One that will not be possible without divine intervention, and that intervention and empowerment was none other than the Holy Spirit.
Evidence? Is there any evidence of that “empowerment?” The actual act of the baptism occurred on the Day of Pentecost (or Shavout). Doctor Luke records the event in the second chapter of the Book of Acts:
“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.”
So that was the event, but what is the evidence? Were those present actually “empowered” in some way? There is probably no better evidence than to look at the radical change brought about in the life of the Apostle Peter. You remember Peter. A few weeks before this event on Pentecost, Peter, out of fear of persecution denied that he even knew Jesus. Now, after the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he gets up and preaches the Gospel to thousands of people and many believe and are saved. Later, this same Peter gets called before the ruling leaders of Israel as recorded in Acts 4 (this is a long quote but don‘t skip over any of this):
1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.
5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
11 Jesus is
‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.
23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
So we see this humble, poor, fearful, faithless old fisherman transformed before our eyes. What caused this meek doubter to become a mighty man of faith? The Baptism of the Holy Spirit! That supernatural empowerment from God Himself, changed Peter into the man that God had called him to be. Is our calling any less? Is our opposition any weaker today? Have all our duties and callings been fulfilled? Of course not! So obviously our need for the Baptism (empowerment) of the Holy Spirit has not diminished one iota.
But who is the Holy Spirit? Is He a power or a person? Is the Holy Spirit an "it" or a "He"? What is the difference between the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit and the FRUITS of the Holy Spirit? On this site we will attempt to answer those pressing questions in the following chapters:
1) The Holy Spirit A) Who? B) What? C) Where? D) When? E) Why?
2) The Power of the Holy Spirit: Romans 8
3) The Gifts of the Holy Spirit: I Corinthians 12
4) The Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Galatians 5
5) Who Cannot Receive the Holy Spirit?
6 Every New Testament Reference
Initially, in the first chapter, we are attempting to tackle the issue of the Holy Spirit by asking the classic five questions of Who, What, Where, When and Why. This is the most thorough way of investigating any topic. Like a detective, we need to ask the right questions and draw the correct conclusions. Then in Chapters 2-4 we will be looking at the three main manifestations of the Holy Spirit: His Power, His Gifts, and His Fruit. In Chapter 5, we will look at who can, and who cannot, receive the Holy Spirit…and why. In Chapter 6 we will quote every single reference to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.