The Baptism of the Holy Spirit (2)

As suggested in the last post, the Baptism of the Spirit has two dimensions: Formational and Instrumental.

Formationally, the Baptism is to make man one with God – full of God. (John 14: 20 – 23; 17: 20 – 26; Eph. 3: 19). So, 1 Cor. 12: 13, says “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (Christ) … and have been made to drink into one Spirit”. This is ultimately the purpose of the Baptism – to be baptised into Jesus Christ.

Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit not just being ‘with’ us, but being ‘in’ us. (John 14:17). This is beyond the new spirit a saved man has after giving his life to Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 5:17). Here, a man becomes spiritually minded, as his human mind, like a foam thrown into the water, increasingly absorbs the Spirit (Rom 8: 6). He begins to live according to the Spirit, and He comes into the things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:5). In fact, Rom. 8: 1 – 17 makes it clear that it is through this process that the saved man can be subject to the laws of God, please God and be possessed by God.

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This Baptism is not one-off, it is continual; until we are completely baptised into Christ Jesus. Until we become one with Him. Until there is no difference between our thought and His thought, our emotions and His emotions, our life and His Life. Until we can say “in Him we live, we move, we have our very being”. This is the ultimate purpose of the Baptism. And, as we are led by the Spirit of God (into God), and we listen and obey Him, we become more and more like Him; we become more and more His sons. (Rom. 8:14). The manifestation of this ‘becoming’ is called ‘the fruit of the Spirit’. (Gal. 5: 22). This will be considered in the next post.

The second dimension of the Baptism is described here as “instrumental Baptism”. This is the ‘more obvious’ connotation of the Baptism. Following Pa. Kenneth Hagin, the operation of the Holy Spirit here is often described as the ‘Spirit upon’. Here, the Holy Spirit empowers man to do the work of God. In Acts 1:8, the Lord Jesus speaks of receiving power to become witnesses “when the Holy Spirit has come upon”. Hence, immediately after the Baptism in Acts 2, the disciples began to speak in tongues, after which Apostle Peter, who had not too long ago denied Christ three times and went back to fishing, preached and about 3000 souls were saved. This is repeated in Acts 4:31 where the disciples were able to speak the word with boldness after the in-filling of the Holy Spirit. A previously scared group of people became so courageous that they considered it a privilege to suffer for Christ. The manifestation of this second dimension is called the ‘gifts of the spirit’ (1 Cor. 12: 1 – 11). Again, this will be considered in the next post.

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Both the formational and instrumental baptisms are continuous. Thus, while the Bible records that the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:4, they were again ‘filled’ in Acts 4:31. It is like being filled-up after taking dinner last night, yet this morning you have the capacity to take in more food. Formationally, until we conform wholly and completely to the image of Jesus Christ, we will need to be ‘repeatedly immersed and submerged’ in the Spirit. Instrumentally, as long as there are kingdom assignments to be done on earth, we will need the ‘in-filling’ of the Holy Spirit.

Other than to be saved (accept Jesus as Lord and saviour), believe and desire the Baptism of the Spirit, there is no ironclad process for the ‘initial’ occurrence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For example, the ways the baptism occurred in Acts 2, 4, 9 and 10, were different. In one they were ‘waiting in one accord’; in the second, they were praying; in the third, a ‘sermon’ was ongoing; in the fourth, there was a laying of hands. Again, while persons who were baptized spoke in tongues in most of the biblical accounts, there was no such recorded occurrence in Acts 8: 14 – 25 and Acts 9: 10 – 19. (This does not necessarily mean that the baptized did not speak in tongues).

The point here is not that speaking in tongues is not essential (it is and must be desired), but that it is not the ultimate indicator of the Baptism. What is sure is that when a believer is baptised, as a sign, there is always an enablement to do what he was previously unable to do. The most common ‘enablement’ is the ability to speak in other tongues. We will speak about this at another time.

Both formational and instrumental Baptisms are essential for the Christian. They should be desired. But as Apostle Paul admonished us in 1 Cor. 12:31, we should earnestly desire the ‘best gifts’ as impacted through ‘instrumental Baptism’; however, the ‘more excellent way’ is contained in the formational – coming deeper into the Spirit; becoming like Jesus Christ.

We must not focus on the instrumental dimension of the Baptism to the detriment of the formational dimension. Beyond ‘working’ for God through gifts, is walking with God by becoming more like Him and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.