Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baptized with the Spirit

When a person gives his life to Jesus Christ, he repents of his sin, asks the Lord to forgive him, and invites Jesus to come and live inside his heart. At that point, the Lord takes up residence within him by His Spirit. But God has more to give. He has a gift for the believer. That’s what I would like to explore together in Scripture today.

Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit

First of all, John the Baptist spoke about this. He said, "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mat 3:11; cf. Lk 3:16; Ac 11:15-16). John the Baptist also testified, "I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.'" (Joh 1:33)  John made a clear distinction here between water baptism and the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

In Mark’s gospel, the two baptisms are even more clearly laid out as separate and distinct from each other. There we read of John the Baptist: “And he was preaching, and saying, ‘After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’" (Mar 1:7-8)

Some time after John made this statement, he baptized Jesus in water. Immediately afterward, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove upon Him in bodily form. Later “John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, “He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.”'” (Joh 1:32-33). So the Father told John that Jesus is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.

Differences between the two baptisms
The word to baptize (Gr., baptizo) means to dip or immerse, to make whelmed, fully wet. It’s important to understand that it is not a sprinkling, but rather a dunking.

We should note that there are some similarities and differences between water baptism and Spirit baptism. Both baptisms are for believers, not for non-believers. They are both an immersion -- an action that makes the believer fully wet or whelmed. Yet the Holy Spirit baptism is distinctly different. Unlike water baptism, where the believer is immersed in water, now the believer is fully immersed or whelmed by the Holy Spirit. And this does not necessarily happen at the time of water baptism, as we will see.

In the case of the disciples, Jesus commanded them to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After he had risen from the dead and was about to ascend back up to heaven, He said to them, "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luk 24:49) Here he said that He would send what He called the promise of the Father. So whatever He was referring to was a definite promise from the Father, which Jesus Himself would send. You can be assured that this is not something God has forgotten about or that He takes lightly. God keeps His promises.

And Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this promise, until they were clothed with power from on high. When you receive the promised baptism with the Holy Spirit, you will be clothed with power. The word for power here is dunamis, which means a miraculous, mighty, and wonderful power from God. It’s where we get our English word for dynamite, which produces violent explosions. This power was so important that Jesus did not want the disciples to go anywhere without this. They needed to wait for it. And you also need to wait for the Lord to send the promise, so that you can be empowered for service.

Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit
At the time that Jesus was baptized in water, He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Here is the account of what happened: “Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’" (Luk 3:21-22)

Immediately afterward, the Scripture tells us that “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness.” (Luk 4:1). This was the first time that Jesus was referred to as being full of the Holy Spirit. So it’s reasonable to say that from that point on, Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. In fact, He testified of this Himself in the synagogue. He read the passage in Isaiah that says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” (Lk 4:18)

As Jesus said, the reason the Spirit of the Lord was on Him was to empower Him to preach the gospel to the poor, proclaim freedom for the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind and to set the oppressed free. And we know from his life and ministry that He did just that.

Power is the distinct evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit
There is distinct evidence when you are baptized with the Holy Spirit. You don’t need to wonder if it has happened to you, because the evidence is always power in your life. After all, this is what Jesus promised when He said, “You will be clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49b)

“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ (Act 1:4-5) So while they had been baptized in water already, Jesus said they would soon be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And he explicitly said that this would be evidenced by power. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:8). The power they would receive would enable them to be His witnesses throughout the world.

When they were baptized on Pentecost, here is what happened. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” (Act 2:4). They had power to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

But it wasn’t a single occurrence. They were filled again later. “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Act 4:31). When this happened, the evidence was once again power to speak the Word of God with boldness.

Then there were the people in Cornelius’ household. He was a righteous and God-fearing Gentile man, who had invited his close relatives and friends to his home to hear Peter preach the gospel. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.” (Act 10:44-46).  As Peter recalled the incident, He said, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'" (Act 11:15-16).  The gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on these people in the same way as it had been poured out on the disciples on the day of Pentecost. And the evidence was the same. They all spoke in tongues. And Peter said the Lord had referred to this experience as being baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Another example is when Paul first encountered the disciples in Ephesus. “He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John's baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men.” (Act 19:2-7)

When Paul first found the Ephesian disciples, they had only been baptized into John’s baptism for repentance. He discovered this by asking them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Amazingly they did not even know there was a Holy Spirit. So after Paul told them they needed to be baptized into Jesus, they did so. And then when he laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them. The power of God was evidenced there just as it was elsewhere. They began speaking in tongues and prophesying.

The same power was displayed when Peter and John were in Samaria. “Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." (Act 8:17-19) Just as had happened elsewhere whenever disciples had received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, so also there was evidence when the Samaritan disciples received this gift. That’s why Simon the sorcerer offered to pay money for this power. He was a magician who had supposedly given his life to Jesus. But when he saw and heard the powerful evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit that was given by the laying on of the disciples hands, he wanted this power also.

Scripture records that Peter rebuked him for this. But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! "You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. "For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity." (Act 8:20-23). The gift of God cannot be bought with money, as Simon tried to do.

It is possible to be born again without being baptized in the Spirit
In this same passage, aside from the laying on of hands, and the evidence of supernatural power, I want to draw special attention to one other very important thing about the Samaritans who received the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is the fact that they had already believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and been baptized by Philip, before Peter and John arrived. Luke recorded, “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.” (Act 8:12). It was after they believed and were baptized in water that Peter and John prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. “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.” (Act 8:14-16).

Many people claim that when we believe in Jesus, and are baptized in water, that the Holy Spirit falls on us at that time. We cannot put God in a box. While this does happen in some instances where a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit when they are baptized in water or even beforehand, it is rather exceptional. The point here is that the Samaritan believers had “simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,” and “the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen upon any of them.”

This is the same thing that happened in Ephesus, as I’ve already explained earlier. The Ephesians also received the Holy Spirit as a distinct and separate event that occurred subsequent to being baptized into Jesus Christ (Act 19:2-7). It proves that receiving the Word of God and being baptized into Christ does not necessarily mean you’ve received the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

In fact, you might even be a preacher or teacher who has been instructed in the way of the Lord. You may be speaking and teaching fervently about the Lord. You may be mighty in the Scriptures without ever having received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. That was true of Apollos. “Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” (Act 18:24-26). My friend, please don’t assume you’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit simply because you have become a disciple and been baptized into Christ, or because you are an effective Bible teacher. You will know when you have been baptized in the Spirit, because the evidence of supernatural power will accompany it.

Purpose of the Power
So what’s the purpose of this power that we receive, when we are baptized in the Spirit? It’s so that we can be witnesses for the Lord Jesus. Jesus told His disciples “that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luk 24:47-48). It was immediately after this that He told them to stay in the city until they were first clothed with power. So the power is needed to be His witness.

Jesus went on to say, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:8)

Being a witness for Jesus is not just a matter of talk but of power. Notice the way the believers prayed in the first church. They prayed, "’And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Act 4:29-31). As I mentioned earlier, Jesus said the same thing of Himself, after He was full of the Spirit, that He was anointed to preach, heal, and bring deliverance to those bound by Satan (Lk 4:18-19). He preached with authority and a demonstration of power. “And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, ‘What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.’" (Luk 4:36)

“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.” (Mat 4:23-24). Before you can be an effective witness for Jesus, you need to receive power from on high.

The outpouring is ongoing and for all mankind
On the day of Pentecost, Peter explained what was happening, when the disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit. He said that this was a fulfillment of what Joel had prophesied that the Lord would pour out His Spirit. The Lord said that prophesying, dreams, visions, signs and wonders would accompany this outpouring (Ac 2:14-17). And He said the outpouring would be for all mankind, men, women, and children alike, not just a select few. It’s for every disciple of Christ.

At the home of Cornelius’, when the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit, Peter explained again what was happening. As he retold the event to the elders in Jerusalem, he said, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” (Act 11:15-16). So Peter made a direct connection between what happened there and what Jesus meant when He said, “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Peter also said that what happened at Cornelius’ home was just like what happened on Pentecost. This proves that the outpouring would be ongoing, rather than a one-time event.

This ongoing outpouring for all mankind is in stark contrast to what happened under the Old Covenant. At that time certain people were filled with the Holy Spirit. But it was rather isolated and did not happen to everyone. For example, Elizabeth responded by crying out with a loud voice, when she was filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:42). Likewise, her husband, Zechariah responded by prophesying, when he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:67). And their son, John the Baptist responded by leaping for joy, when he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:41).

Everyone responds when filled with the Holy Spirit
Just as Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John responded under the Old Covenant, when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, everyone who receives this power responds. Peter responded with great boldness when filled with the Holy Spirit (Ac 4:8). Stephen responded by speaking fearlessly of his ability to see the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Ac 7:55). Paul responded by regaining his vision. Immediately it was as if scales fell from his eyes when he was filled the Holy Spirit (Ac 9:17-18).

Subsequent fillings with the Holy Spirit
There were subsequent fillings after the initial baptism with the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul taught the Ephesians, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18). He contrasted this filling with being drunk with wine. Just as a person can repeatedly be drunk with wine, we are to repeatedly be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is not for the purpose of dissipation or wasting our lives, but so that we can build one another up by sing to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that we sing to one another, as we make melody in our heart to the Lord (Eph 5:19).

The Greek word in Ephesians 5:18 is a continual action “to be”. Literally it means continually “be being filled” with the Spirit. This is consistent with what happened with the early disciples. When they prayed together after they had been filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they were filled again. These were the same disciples who were previously baptized in the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Ac 2:4; Ac 4:23-24,31). Likewise, Paul was subsequently filled with the Holy Spirit and displayed power as well as boldness (Ac 13:9-11).

Given through the laying on of hands
One of the elementary teachings of the faith that the writer of Hebrews mentioned is the laying on of hands (Heb 6:1, 2). As I’ve mentioned previously, the Holy Spirit is given through the laying on of hands. We saw this when the Holy Spirit was given in Samaria (Ac 8:15-18) and Ephesus. “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.” (Act 19:6). In the same way, healing and miracles happen when believers lay hands on the sick, just as Jesus and the first disciples did. (Mark 1:16-18).  However, just as healing and miracles can happen without the laying on of hands, so can the baptism of the Holy Spirit happen without it.  In fact, sometimes people are baptized with the Holy Spirit when there is no one else present with them.

It's a gift
If you are a disciple of Christ, you shouldn't feel that God will give this gift to others and withhold it from you. A gift is free, and that means you cannot earn it. Jesus taught us to ask for it. He said, "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will 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 is 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 will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luk 11:9-13). Jesus explicitly said that the heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. So go ahead and ask. Then expect to receive!

How to Minister the Baptism to Others
One of the best instructions on how to minister the baptism to others is found on following, one-hour video by Charles and Frances Hunter, who had ministered the baptism to over 350,000 people during their lifetime (see here).

After you have watched this video, please go on to watch the second hour, which is a recording of a service in Florida, where Charles and Frances ministered the baptism to hundreds of people en masse.

Putting it All Together
Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, and He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given through the laying on of hands. The distinct evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is power. The power we receive from the Holy Spirit is to be witnesses.

It is possible to be born again without being baptized in the Spirit. Under the Old Covenant, certain people were filled with the Holy Spirit, but it was rather rare and isolated and not common or widespread.

On Pentecost Day, Peter explained that this was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy where the Lord promised to pour out His Spirit on all mankind in the last days. Peter also explained that the experience at Cornelius’ home was a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to baptize in the Holy Spirit.

There are certainly subsequent fillings with the Holy Spirit after receiving the initial baptism. It's meant to be a continuous lifestyle, rather than a single event in your life.

So if you are a disciple of Christ, who has never been baptized with the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to ask the Lord for this gift. He promises to give this good gift to those who ask.

And if you have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, but it's been a long time since then, and you need a refill, I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to fill you once again. Take the time to wait upon the Lord to send you a fresh outpouring of His Spirit.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Main Directory for this blog at Home, such as Holy Fire Baptism, The New Wine, Led by the Spirit, Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit: What's the Difference?, Fruit in Every Season, The Holy Spirit Speaks, The Bodily Form of the Holy Spirit, and Supernatural Power for All Disciples. I also recommend Restored Truth.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Spirit without Limit

John the Baptist spoke of Jesus saying, "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.” (Joh 3:34).  

At first I thought it was saying the Father had given Jesus the Spirit without measure, but when I looked more closely, I realized that it is Jesus who gives the Spirit without measure.

The phrase "without measure He gives the Spirit" in Greek is eκ μeτρου δiδωσιν τo πνεuμα.   The verb didosin comes from didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow (Strongs).  

In this verse, the verb is used in the present active indicative.  The present tense represents a simple statement of fact or reality viewed as occurring in actual time. In most cases this corresponds directly with the English present tense.  The active voice represents the subject as the doer or performer of the action. e.g., in the sentence, "The boy hit the ball," the boy performs the action.  (Blue Letter Bible)

So this means John was indicating the fact that Jesus is the One who gives the Spirit without limit.  Jesus is the doer or performer of the action, and it is occurring in actual time.

Have you yet received the Spirit of God without limit? If not, then seek the baptism with the Holy Spirit. If you are a born again child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, then this gift is available to you.

Jesus said, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luk 11:13) 

Let me encourage you to get alone with God and pray in Jesus' name, "Lord, please give me the Spirit without limit right now!" Then believe that you have received what you asked for.  You will receive supernatural power to be His witness when the Holy Spirit comes upon you (Ac 1:8).

Even if you have already received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, you should ask again and again for more of the Spirit, since the Lord Jesus gives Him without limit to those who ask.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar, such as Baptized with the Spirit, Supernatural Power for All Disciples, Holy Fire Baptism, and International Impact of Pentecost.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Holy Spirit Speaks

Some people actually believe that the Holy Spirit does not speak.  Let’s see what the Scriptures say:

Jesus said, "For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” (Mat 10:20)

Jesus said, "When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.” (Mar 13:11)

Jesus said, "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."  (Luk 12:11-12)

Jesus said, "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,” (Joh 15:26)

Jesus said, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (Joh 16:13)

"Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.” (Act 1:16)

“While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are looking for you.’” (Act 10:19)

Peter said, "The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings. These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man's house.” (Act 11:12)

In the Antioch church, “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”  (Act 13:2)

The apostle Paul said, "And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.” (Act 20:22-23)

Paul said the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophet Isaiah. “And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, ‘The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,’” (Act 28:25).

Paul said we cry out by the Spirit, who testifies with our spirit.  “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,” (Rom 8:15-16)

The Spirit of Jesus is the One who cries out, “Abba, Father!” within the disciple of Christ.  Paul again said, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal 4:6)

Paul taught that it is the Holy Spirit speaking through us that Jesus is Lord. “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is accursed’; and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (1Co 12:3).  If you want to speak by the Spirit, begin saying with power and conviction, “Jesus is Lord!”

Paul said, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1Ti 4:1)

The apostle wrote to the Hebrews, “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today if you hear His voice,’” (Heb 3:7)

He continues, “And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them,’ He then says, ‘And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’" (Heb 10:15-17)

Luke records what happened on the Day of Pentecost: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”  (Act 2:4).  When people are filled with the Holy Spirit, they will speak, because the Holy Spirit speaks. 

If the Holy Spirit does not speak, how could he give the disciples utterance to speak in languages they never learned?

"For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'that I will pour forth of my Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of my Spirit And they shall prophesy.” (Act 2:15-18).

God said through the prophet Joel that in the last days He would pour out His Spirit on mankind, and they would prophesy, including both children and adults.  Once again, the Holy Spirit speaks through the people who receive Him when He is poured out.

Peter affirmed this fact when He said, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2Pe 1:20-21)

“And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, ‘O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, “Why did the gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things?”’” (Act 4:24-25)

In their prayer, the disciples indicated that the Lord spoke the words of Psalm 2 by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David. 

The apostle John said, “This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” (1Jn 5:6)

Jesus continued to speak by the Spirit even after His resurrection.  Luke states: “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.” (Act 1:1-2)

In fact, even when He spoke to the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, He spoke by the Spirit:

Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” (Rev 2:7)

Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” (Rev 2:11)

Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” (Rev 2:17)

Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 2:29; 3:6, 13, 22)

Here are the words of the apostle John: And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them." (Rev 14:13)

The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Rev 22:17)

Putting it All Together
It's abundantly clear from the Word of God that the Holy Spirit definitely speaks.  This is how all the Scriptures were written, as men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. In fact, everything Jesus said was spoken by the Spirit, even after His resurrection.  Even after His ascension, He continues to speak by the Spirit, as He did to John on the Isle of Patmos.

The Spirit of God speaks to and through every true disciple of Christ, who has received the Spirit.  Whenever the Holy Spirit comes upon mankind, people will speak. They will speak in tongues and prophesy, as the Spirit gives them utterance.  In fact, a disciple cannot even say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Spirit.  So let's begin to declare it out loud.  Make it known in the heavens and on the earth that Jesus Christ is Lord. If you say to God, "Abba, Father," that is the Holy Spirit testifying through you that you are God's child.

Anyone who says the Holy Spirit doesn't speak needs to read their Bible.  He still speaks today.  The only question is whether you hear what He is saying. You need to receive the Holy Spirit after you become a believer.  Have you received the Holy Spirit?  Let Him who has ears hear what the Spirit says to the Church.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  Also see the following posts:

The Person of the Holy Spirit
Baptized with the Spirit
Holy Fire Baptism
The Bodily Form of the Holy Spirit

Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Bodily Form of the Holy Spirit

As I have explained in previous posts already, the Holy Spirit is a divine Person.  He is the third Person of the triune Godhead.  I have also shown that the heavenly Father has a "bodily" form.  But does the Holy Spirit also have a bodily form?  Let's find out from Scripture.

In Luke's gospel, he records what happened at the water baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ.  "Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'"  (Luk 3:21-22)

Here we learn that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in bodily form.  The Greek word for “form” is “eidos” meaning “1) the external or outward appearance, form figure, shape; 2) form, kind” (Thayer).  The word "bodily" comes from the Greek word "somatikos" meaning "1) corporeal, bodily 1a) having a bodily form or nature 1b) pertaining to the body" (Thayer).  The Spirit of God can appear or manifest Himself in a bodily form, figure, or outward appearance.

This bodily form was visible to Jesus and to certain others that were present.  If He had not been visible, then it would not have been recorded, because nobody would have known about it.  I know it is difficult for some people to understand how the invisible Spirit of God could become visible.  Yet John testified saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.'" (Joh 1:32-33).  John testified that he had seen the Spirit.

So we know that the Holy Spirit appeared and made Himself visible, as He descended from heaven upon Jesus Christ.  But what was His bodily form like? We could assume it was like a dove, since the Scripture says, "the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove." (Lk 3:22a).

However, I do not believe the Holy Spirit is limited to looking like a dove any more than Jesus is limited to looking like an actual lamb.  As humans, here in the natural realm we place great emphasis on outward appearance, and we typically recognize people primarily by how they look. But in the spirit realm, we are known primarily by our inward character, while the outward appearance is a secondary way to recognize someone. The Lord and the Holy Spirit, as well as the holy angels, and even the devil and his demons, can appear in various forms. They are not limited to only one, single form.

For example, when the Lord appeared after His resurrection to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the Scripture says He "appeared in a different form" to them (Mk 16:12). Later the apostle John saw Him as "a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain" standing at the center of the throne in heaven (Rev 5:6). Or for example, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire that separated and came to rest over each disciple present (Ac 2:3). He also appeared as seven lamps blazing before the throne of God in the revelation given to the apostle John (Rev 4:5). Likewise, the angels can appear as men, so that some have even entertained angels without knowing it (Heb 13:2). Similarly the devil can appear as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:4), a serpent (Gen 3:1; Rev 12:9,15), and a red dragon (Rev 12:3,7,13,17).

Having cited those examples of various forms, and their changeable nature, let's return now to considering the passage of Scripture about the Spirit's descent upon Jesus at His baptism. When it says the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus "as a dove," this expression helps us understand not only the nature of his appearance (His form), but also the manner of his descent. Matthew records it like this in his gospel.  He states: "After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'" (Mat 3:16-17) 

How does a dove descend?  It descends differently than other birds.  Perhaps we could say it hovers, floats downward, rather than swooping down to kill its prey as a an eagle, or circling overhead like a vulture, or flitting about recklessly like a bat.  I believe there was a smooth, steady, deliberate, innocent, pure, and harmless manner in which the Holy Spirit descended on our Lord that can only be compared to the beauty of a white dove descending. Matthew says, "descending as a dove and lighting on Him," indicating that the Holy Spirit came to rest and remain upon Him in the same manner as a bird would light upon Him or land on Him.

Therefore, I believe the use of the dove simile in this passage of Scripture describes the manner of His descent, and it may also describe the bodily form of the Holy Spirit in that particular instance, but I do not believe the Holy Spirit is limited to the bodily form of a dove. He can take on many other various forms. So in light of that, do you think He could appear in the likeness of human form? If so, you would need to have Scriptural support for that viewpoint. So where would we look in Scripture to find the answer?

As I mentioned in my blog, The Bodily Form of God the Father, God has a bodily form in whose likeness we humans are made.  He has a head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms, hands, fingers, feet, sandals, and a robe.  Of course we know that the Word of God became flesh and took on the likeness of men (Phil 2:7-8).  And even now that He has ascended into heaven, the Lord still has His glorified body of flesh and bone.  Therefore, it is quite reasonable to assume that the Holy Spirit may appear in a bodily form resembling the heavenly Father and Jesus.  That would mean He also has a head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms, hands, fingers, feet, etc.  I believe it is possible He may have come in a bodily shape like this at the baptism of Jesus, in order to reveal His Personal nature and substance.
 
If you have always believed -- as most Christians do -- that the Holy Spirit descended in the bodily form of a dove with two eyes, wings, bird feet, and a beak, that’s fine.  I believe He can appear in that form, if He so wills. But if you could believe that, why is it so difficult to believe He could have a bodily form in the likeness of the heavenly Father and of Jesus? Perhaps when He descended on the Lord Jesus at His baptism, both the manner of His descent and His bodily form resembled that of a dove, and yet at the same time He may have had features similar to a human, such as His beautiful face and His all-powerful hands.

Personal Testimonies About the Holy Spirit
Such a notion as I have just described may come as a surprise to you, and seem rather incredible, so I would like to share the testimonies of four people who have seen the Holy Spirit.

Prema Pelletier
The first person is a sister, named Prema Pelletier, who testified that the Holy Spirit visited her in her home.  She described it this way:

"I was suddenly put into a very deep sleep, in a trance-like state. This is what I saw and experienced. I saw myself sitting on the couch in our living room. The couch was facing the door to the balcony. Coming from the direction of the balcony was the most awesome Person. The Person of God the Holy Spirit! Walking behind the Spirit of the Living God was an angel, not more than four feet tall. God the Holy Spirit came directly towards me. As He slowly walked to me, His head held high, His shoulders thrust out, all Majesty, Authority and Power, the thought was imparted to my spirit, 'This is God the Holy Ghost!' Because the Lord Jesus has appeared to me over twenty-one times, one of the first things I remember thinking was that the Holy Spirit looks so much like the Lord Jesus. He looks like His Twin! But, I seemed to also notice the difference between Them. In the visions granted to me of our Lord Jesus, His hair is down close to His shoulders. The Holy Spirit's hair was not down, but sticking out with power. Thinking about His hair afterwards, it reminded me of someone sticking his finger in a live electrical outlet."

"This Mighty Holy Spirit, this very beautiful Third Person of the Godhead, strode toward me and I stood up. The Spirit of God stood about fifteen inches in front of me. I looked into the very penetrating, deep, serious, serene and very holy eyes of God the Holy Ghost, and I felt I was looking into Eternity! At that moment, I found myself looking down on the carpet where I was standing. I trembled in the Presence of this Holy One with an awesome reverence. As this Holy Wonder of the Lord stood before me, I put out both my hands before Him, palms facing upwards, and I spoke these words, 'Would You please pray that Jesus would always keep me?' When I spoke these words, God's Holy Spirit placed both His Palms on my palms. I felt the sensation of electricity surging through my entire body."

"Next, with His eyes still staring into my very soul, the Spirit of God began to rub my palms with His Palms, one at a time. He slowly rubbed one palm after the other, in a striding type of way. By this time, my eyes were staring at both His Hands. I believe the Lord's Holy Spirit rubbed my palms about eight times. As He did so, I was amazed to see Oil gushing out of the middle of His Palms over mine! The Oil which flowed freely from the Holy Spirit's Palms was bearably hot, and as it overflowed my palms, it went to the back of my hands. As I stood there before the Lord, I found myself rubbing my hands with the Oil still overflowing and dripping on the carpet. I found myself saying these words, 'These hands shall be laid on the sick and they shall recover.' With that, God the Holy Spirit and the angel both turned and walked back the way they came."

So she actually saw the Holy Spirit in bodily form and she said He looks like Jesus!  This confirms what we understand from the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit, Who is present everywhere in the temple of the Body of Christ on earth, does have a bodily form like the Father, not like a dove.

Angelica Zambrano
Another sister named Angelica Zambrano, is a young lady from Ecuador, who also saw the Holy Spirit.  She states: "I also started to see the Holy Spirit; He is my best friend; He is Holy, He is omniscient; He is omnipresent! I could see Him, transparent and brilliant at the same time; with a brilliant countenance, I could see His smile and His loving gaze! I can hardly describe Him, because He is more beautiful than angels. The angels have their own beauty, but the Holy Spirit is far more beautiful than they are! I could hear His audible voice, a voice full of love, a passionate voice. I just can't explain His voice; a voice like lightening, yet at the same time He would say, 'I am with you.' so I would strive to continue walking with God, even as trials surrounded us. We were going through very difficult moments, but victorious ones at the same time. I said, 'Lord, let Your will be done.'"

Danny Hahlbohm
The third testimony I would like to share from someone who saw the Holy Spirit comes from brother Danny Hahlbohm, the artist who painted the two pictures featured in this blog. When he read this blog, he commented, "I think it is very important, especially in these last days, that we the church and children of God know who the Holy Spirit is. Even myself, being a Christian for over forty years, only became fully aware that the Holy Spirit is not just a 'mist' or a ghost, but an actual person. I have seen Him too and He is glorious and beautiful."

So I asked him to tell me in more detail what he saw, and he replied: "Yes, one day while I was in my God Room the Lord gave me a vision (or perhaps peek) at the Holy Spirit.  What I saw was the Holy Spirit descending down in slow motion, almost like I would envision took place when he descended upon Christ at His baptism. In the vision the Holy Spirit descended down from the right hand corner to the lower left hand corner. The robe he was wearing was the purest white, and was loose fitting, so it fluttered behind Him as He descended, giving the appearance of wings behind Him almost."

"I did see His face which also shone brightly, but could not make out any real definitive details, except He did have the appearance of a Man. I do not recall the length of his hair. I do not even recall seeing hair at all, which may have been because it was white like the robe itself, and that is why I don't remember seeing it."

"Personally, I think the reason why God may have shown me this vision was to point out why the Bible said the Holy spirit descended LIKE a dove on Jesus, and is NOT a dove. It was beautiful to watch. I tried to depict it as best I could in the painting you used in this message, but of course anything man-made, like paintings or statues could never come close to depicting the glory of God."

Claire Andoun Atongo
Now for the fourth testimony I would like to share. On May 12, 2017, I read the following testimony of my dear friend, sister Claire Andoun Atongo Solomon, regarding a vision she had of the Holy Spirit while praying recently, just a little over two weeks before she passed from this life and went to be with the Lord. She wrote on her Facebook page on April 22, 2017 at 9:48 AM:

"After my Husband and I have finished to pray around 3 AM, we all slept off. I was privileged to see how the Holy Spirit guides us and how the Lord's angels protect us.

I was with my family on air in the cloud surrounded by Mighty Angels going for evangelism in a dangerous country. We were giving by God an assignment to go and deliver the Christians prisoners held captives by terrorists.

In the air were surrounded by Mighty Angels, 1-By our both sides, 2 - another sets of Angels following us at the back. Wow!

I remembered my daughter Nana was sleeping. I wanted to wake her, but one of our angels replied, "No, no. Leave her to rest. She is tired." He was so gentle. What amazed me is how Nana was moving with us even at sleep. This means even God understand when we are tired but in the Spirit the battle continues.

We were all INVISIBLE to the camp of the enemy. We see them and they can't see us. We will get into these terrorist camps and free all the Christians held captives there. And suddenly these Christians will also join us to fight the enemy. We were more than conquerors. Nothing can touch us.

But there is Someone I want to describe to all of us. THE HOLY SPIRIT. Oooo, He is So beautiful! He will be the One to lead us. He will be in front a bit far [i.e., a little farther ahead of us] to check the area. Once its safe, we will follow His direction.

How He looked like? The Holy Spirit in this vision looked like a BIG and HUGE DOVE, pure white. His wings are so beautiful! He moves them like waves of waters. The HOLY SPIRIT. You can see Him, but you can't touch Him. I was privileged to see His beautiful face like a human being, [yet] at the same time like the dove -- Difficult to describe.

With Him we were all secured -- we and the angels. I was given a new Shoe while we were on [the] air flying. One of the Angels said, "Make sure these shoes remain on your legs, so that you will always be invisible before the enemy when going for battle."

When I woke up, all the pains in my body had disappeared.  To GOD BE ALL THE GLORY!

Evangelist Claire Andoun Solomon"

Scriptural Basis
One further Scripture I would like to add is from a psalm that speaks about God's Dove.  In Psalm 68, the Lord makes an announcement, in which He says in part, "Even while you sleep among the campfires, the wings of My Dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold.” (Ps 68:13). 

This psalm is about how God protects us from death, and I believe this verse is about how the Holy Spirit, God's Dove, is always keeping watch over us to protect us.  He shines brightly with the glorious splendor of silver and gold.  Even while we sleep, He does not.  "Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." (Ps 121:4).

His appearance is brilliant, even in the dark of night, as He constantly monitors all the events on earth.  If He detects that the demons are mounting an attack on His chosen ones, He arises and dispatches His mighty angels with their tens of thousands, and thousands of thousands of chariots, which go forth with lightning speed to scatter our enemies (see Ps 68:1-2, 12, 14, 17).

Putting it All Together
As you can see, the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, Who can make Himself visible.  He is not a bird.  He is far more beautiful than any angel, transparent and brilliant.  He is glorious and beautiful.  He has a head, hair, a brightly shining face, eyes, a mouth that speaks with a passionate voice like lightning, shoulders, and hands.  He has a robe of the purest white.  He resembles Jesus Christ, the Son of God, because they are One God. He can also appear in many other lovely forms as He wills.

He has been sent to the Church to live in us and teach us.  His presence is just as real to us as the presence of the Lord Jesus when He walked with His disciples on earth.  He is God, so you should love Him and worship Him. If you are a disciple of Christ and have never received the Holy Spirit, then you should pray and ask for the gift of Him.  It is called the baptism with the Holy Spirit, which you need to live a holy life for the Lord and be a powerful witness for Christ.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. The "Holy Spirit" and "Baptism" paintings © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note Please prayerfully review Prema Pelletier's testimony and Angelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven in their entirety, and use the Testimony Review Process adopted by this blog, as you decide for yourself whether the Lord has spoken to them. Also see the following posts:

The Bodily Form of God the Father
The Bodily Form of the Lord Jesus Christ  
The Person of the Holy Spirit
Baptized with the Spirit
The Holy Spirit Speaks 
Holy Fire Baptism
Is Jesus God?
The Name of Jesus

You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.