So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
As I have said already in 2005 this story shook my world. Born and raised a Seventh-day Adventist, degree in theology, and pastoring for 6 years already and I'm seeing something I've never seen before. You have to understand that as a Seventh-day Adventist we often say arrogant things like "How can anyone read the Bible and not see the Sabbath? It's there from creation right through?!" Now I had to swallow my words. I mean how could anyone read the New Testament and not see the prominent and critical place taken up by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It's there from the beginning of the New Testament to the end. In fact when you start digging through the Old Testament there is plenty of hints there as well.
If you reread verses 5 and 6 above it is clear that water baptism is a separate event from Spirit baptism. You could even say one is the emptying and the other is the filling. Do you remember the story Jesus told about a guy who had a demon living in him and it was cast out and the man's heart was swept clean? Jesus said the demon went and could find no host so he returned to the man and found his heart swept clean and put in order so he got seven other demons more wicked than himself and they filled that man's empty heart and he was in worse condition after than he ever was before.
Empty. John's baptism was a baptism of emptying. A baptism of repentance where you realized all the bad stuff that was occupying your mind and your life and you went down into the water to have it all washed away. It symbolized death and burial of the old life of sin and rising to a fresh clean start. An empty slate as it were.
Perhaps this practical illustration will be helpful. You have lousy eating habits. You eat chocolate cake and ice cream for every meal. When you are thirsty you drink Pepsi. Your doctor gives you a physical and the results are bad. He asks you what you are eating and you tell him. He says you have to stop because your diet is killing you. So you repent of your unhealthy ways. You throw out the ice cream. You stop buying or baking the chocolate cakes. You pour the Pepsi down the drain. Your meal plan is a clean slate.
Do you see a problem? The bad has been removed leaving nothing but a huge vacuum. What will fill that space? If new and better things are not introduced hunger will intensify. Thirst will increase and sooner rather than later something will fill that void and most often it is a return to the familiar and in the end just like Jesus said, that man was in worse shape than he ever was before.
Religion tends to be an exercise in emptying. It identifies bad habits and character traits and says we must get rid of them. But then what? Empty spaces will always be filled.
God doesn't want us empty. He wants us filled. The baptism of the Holy Spirit. His presence living in us. A new man from the inside out. "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27)
How did I never see it?!!!
We will continue tomorrow.