Journal Acts 1 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “…wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4b-5a)
“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Observation: John’s baptism or Jesus’ baptism: which is appropriate?
Analysis: This was a tough chapter to write about in my devotions. I couldn’t get away from the thought, “Go big, or go home.”
I identify as a Reformed theology Christian (Doctrines of Grace—maybe easier to call myself Calvinist) with a significant Charismatic influence or persuasion from my youth until today. But I have not been able to (in my hard opinion about myself) be able to explain a “Charismatic Doctrine”—not even to my wife. It isn’t that I wonder whether it is real or not, it is being able to enunciate a coherent, reasonable, explanation that doesn’t sound spooky.
Sometimes it feels like the reference “baptized in the Holy Spirit” is something to acknowledge but somehow “inferred”—sort of like but not exactly like, the Doctrine of the Trinity. Except there are concrete references about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Take the above two specific references in Acts 1: “…you WILL be baptized…” and “…you WILL receive power…” Ok, Jesus is pretty emphatic and explicit there but, so what? I have read about fairly significant historical Christians, fathers of the Faith that did not make many bones about whether or not this was engaged in or even necessary. But it is not good to ignore scripture for long…
I think there are some questions that cannot be answered without serious meditation:
- If John baptized with water, and John said he needs to be baptized by Jesus, what would Jesus baptize with except the Holy Spirit?
- If being baptized with the Holy Spirit is important, why? What would this have that I can’t get without it?
Tackling the first question, this is what the scriptures say:
(John) “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matt 3:11, also Mark 1:8 and Luke 3:16)
John baptizes with water, Jesus baptizes with “Water” as well? There is a question here, but I am inclined to think that Jesus has more than a backyard pool to use. If Jesus is mightier than John, wouldn’t it follow that Jesus’ mode of providing baptism is mightier as well?
Now the next question: “Why”? Why would the Trinitarian God choose this methodology? I think two reasons: 1) Separation from physical technique (dunking for repentance) and, 2) setting aside as His own, a holy people, looking to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
If that is the case, then it follows that: a) Water baptism is important for a number of reasons, not the least is Jesus did, so I should too. But that is the physical technique that can be done by personal conviction; b) but Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit—and I should ask just like Jesus taught: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” (Matt 7-11, read this reference in entirety)
But I have to go further: The Gifts of the Spirit result from the Baptism (inferred), and if so, then the Gifts could be considered the Toolbox that the church uses to be his Witnesses. This was prophesied:
“And it SHALL come to pass afterward, that I WILL pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and you daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29)
I cannot help but align myself to the Word of God, now and forever. The Scriptures do not allow me to explain away with human reasoning and logic twisting. I may not understand, my bones may resist, but, surrendering, I can’t speak against it.
It is His word, glorious and magnificent, accomplishing all that He intends to the End of the Age.
Prayer: Dang, Father. Why this and why today? Besides me, who needs to read this? I appreciate that you guide my mind and my hands. The older I get, the more conservative I am, but only to the point of being a Berean-type: Looking, searching the Scriptures to see if it ain’t so.
Continue to fill out your Word in me, O Lord. Illumine me, not in the fleshy, dumbness of my own gray matter, but through your Word. I want, like Newton, “bleed the Bible.”
Bring healing to my land,