Sunday: The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

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Read Mark 1:8 (compare with Matt. 3:11, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33), Acts 1:5, and Acts 11:16. What other rite of initiation goes together with the baptism of the Spirit?

Copyright Lars Justinen

In the New Testament there are only seven passages that speak about being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Four of those passages go back to John the Baptist and point to Pentecost. Here the Holy Spirit was given to usher in the beginning of “the last days” of salvation history.

John, however, in contrast to the other Gospels, does not use the future tense when speaking about the baptism of the Spirit. Instead, he uses a present participle, indicating that this is something that has continuing validity (see John 1:33). The same tense is used by John just a few verses earlier in John 1:29, when he talks about another important work of Jesus: the taking away of the sins of the world. The ministry of Jesus consists in taking away our sins and in giving us the Holy Spirit. This twofold experience is also reported in Acts 2:38. After their eyes were opened to Christ, the disciples received both: forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit. The same experience is reported about the believers in the house of Cornelius in Acts 10:43-44 and later in Acts 11:16. Water baptism is known as the baptism of repentance (Acts 19:4). When we repent of sin and are baptized in the name of Jesus, we also receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:28-39).

In the New Testament, the receiving of the Holy Spirit and baptism belong together. They signal our new birth. In baptism we are identified with Christ, and Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can live in His power and proclaim the good news. The baptism of the Spirit is no second work of grace at a later stage in life that some associate with miraculous gifts.

In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul does not have in mind the unique experience at Pentecost, but rather the experience of all believers. He states that by one Spirit we all are baptized into one body, and all were made to drink of one Spirit. Paul emphasizes unity. The word “all” is crucial. Paul connects the initiation of all believers into the body of Christ with the baptism of the Spirit.

What has been your own experience in being baptized by the Holy Spirit? What has He meant for your life? What would you be like without Him working in you?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons