As I mentioned previously, the Bible has much to say about the Holy Spirit and His work. It is amazing how the Bible reveals that He loves us so much, and is so intimately involved with our personal lives. It is astounding that the God of the universe is interested in you and me. He is aware of what we are doing, what we are capable of doing, and what we’ve neglected to do in our lives.
When you look at the stars in the sky, or the sand on the beach, or the nations on the earth, do you ever wonder how God could find you? How could He care about us? How can He count the hairs on our heads? How can He guide me to do His will? And, why would He want to, given the fact that my track record in this world is tainted and my past is checkered?
Paul explains, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Jesus had already hinted of this work in His teaching to Nicodemus (John 3:3-8). The Bible says that we are spiritually dead in our trespasses, but by His grace He made us alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5, 4:5). Basically, we are re-created to walk in a new life. It is called being born again, born anew, or born from above. It is a second birth that will help us to avoid the second death.
There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit re-creates us through baptism (a death, burial, and resurrection – Romans 6:1-4). This was what Peter taught at Pentecost (Acts 2:38-39) and it is taught throughout the New Testament (I Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:26-27). What happens to us in this new birth? First, we are literally placed into Christ, and spiritually united as one with Him (Ephesians 4:3-6). Second, we are placed in the “body” of Christ, which is the church (Colossians 1:18).
At this point we should notice that there is often some confusion about the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit that takes place at Christian baptism, and the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit (which also is a kind of baptism) that was a part of the work of the early church. If you are confused, please know that you are not alone. Paul encountered some individuals in Ephesus who were confused about the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7).
If you are confused, here are some questions you should ask about the purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit: What did Jesus say (Acts 1:4-5, 8)? What did John the Baptist say (Luke 3:16)? What did Luke say (Luke 24:47, Acts 1:6-8, 2:1–4)? What did the people on Pentecost say (Acts 2:11)? What did Peter say (Acts 2:16–17)? Go back and consider what Joel prophesied and see how it was fulfilled (Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:17-21). This was the promise of the Father (Acts 2:32-33), but it is NOT the same as the baptism for salvation (Acts 2:38-39). One was temporary (miraculous) and one was eternal (washing of regeneration). We will study more very soon.
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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