The Holy Spirit and Fire
Baptism can be a controversial subject. Whole denominations are separated over their understanding of baptism. This is not something new. The baptism of John the Baptist was quite controversial. Baptism was required only for Gentile converts to Judaism. Circumcised “children of Abraham were already members of the faith. They were born into Judaism. John the Baptist command was: “Bear fruits worthy of repentance.” Only then could Jews say that they were children Abraham.
John said that there was more to come. Repentance was just the first step. He spoke of the coming one more powerful than he:
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:15-16)
Holy Spirit baptism is the controversial one in the church today. What is this baptism?
In his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well Jesus also talked about a a spring of living water:
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4:9-14)
Jesus, on the day of the Festival of Booths in Jerusalem, further explained this living water:
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)
Jesus was glorified on the cross. He purchased for us forgiveness for our sins and salvation. He also purchased the right to baptize us in the Holy Spirit with fire. Do we have the fire of the Holy Spirit inside us today?
Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit merely a theological subject to be debated? Isaiah wrote:
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
This baptism is to be experienced. Jesus said that it would be like a spring of water gushing up within us.
Is that our experience? Maybe not if we believe that we were born into it. The Christian faith has to do with a new birth. The Apostle Paul wrote:
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Are we thirsty for more of God? Do we desire to experience the refreshment of the Holy Spirit flowing within us?
Jesus said to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
How many of us need this living water today? Jesus is the baptizer with the Holy Spirit.and fire. Do we know him? Do we know the gift? And are we willing to ask for this gift?
The gift of the Spirit comes when we fully embrace Jesus as our Savior. He took our place on the cross so that we might take our place in him.
After Jesus was baptized by John, we have this remarkable account in Luke:
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)
What God the Father said to his Son he also says us: “You are my beloved son and daughter, with you I am well pleased. He is pleased with us because when he sees us he sees Jesus.