Matthew 2:1-23, 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 2:41-52, 3:1-20; John 1:1-18
John baptized with water for repentance. But he was always quick to say One greater than he would come after him and baptize with the Holy Spirit.
The thing about saying baptism saves, or repeating a prayer saves is that it gives people a false sense of security. The Jews thought they had an in because they were circumcised. But the Bible clearly teaches nothing we do can save us. Not surgery, not a dip in the pool, and not even saying a prayer can save anyone.
What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit? Many people point to the dramatic initial coming of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the book of Acts, and say that receiving the Holy Spirit is accompanied by euphoric babble. (which is not at all what we see in Acts) There are many examples in the New Testament of quiet humility in response to God’s grace.
I was appalled when I Googled “receive the Holy Spirit,” and found dozens of books written on the topic: “How To Receive the Holy Spirit.” As if there is something we can do to force God’s hand, or demand that He give us the gift. Friend, put those books down.
Salvation comes when we repent of sin, turn from sin, and ask God to forgive us. The Holy Spirit is given to us the moment we accept Jesus as the Savior. You can’t separate the Trinity. Paul in I Corinthians 12, Romans 8, and Ephesians 1 makes it clear that if a person doesn’t possess the Spirit, he doesn’t belong to Christ; that when we believed we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. There is no indication that a person is saved, then receives the Spirit after jumping through some hoops.
I’ve always bristled when anyone talked about “true” Christianity, or people who are “really saved.” I found that to be judgmental. After all, how can we know a person’s heart?
Well, I am beginning to realize my non-judgmental take on salvation is not Biblical. God through His Word, is showing me I not only can, but I need to recognize what is true and what is false in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. John said to the crowd, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Luke 3:8a) It wasn’t a suggestion.
How often did Jesus call people out for being hypocritical? How many verses can you find where Paul insists that the way we live is a direct result of our relationship with God? James went as far as to say, “faith without works is dead.”
If we receive the Holy Spirit when we repent of sin and accept God’s gift of grace through the blood of Jesus, then God Himself lives in us. Our lives have to look different than they did before that happened. They have to.
Being baptized with the Holy Spirit produces fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 says:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.
Notice Paul says “fruit” not “fruits.” All these things listed above are a direct result of having the Spirit in us, being baptized with the Holy Spirit. All of them.
So, am I saying if a person is kind or patient, but isn’t gentle and self controlled he’s not filled with the Spirit, and therefore not a Christian?
I’m not saying that. But I’m beginning to think God is.