BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
The phrase “Baptized with the Holy Spirit” has been discussed, with some intensity, by Bible scholars and theologians for nearly 100 years. Pentecostals, orthodox evangelicals, and others have expressed different understandings of what the phrase means, as well as the theological implications of what using those understandings might mean for the church. I want to present what I believe to be a biblical position that may help to bridge the gap.
First, I want to establish the understanding and context from which my position comes. God has graciously saved us, given us eternal life, made us his children and called us into service. Being in His service is not just "church sponsored service". It includes the very way we live our lives, which becomes a testimony before the world, before our church family and our family at home. He has called us to live lives that are extraordinary, not lives like the world lives. He has called us to live supernatural lives. How can He expect us to do that? He expects that because He has placed His supernatural Holy Spirit in our hearts (Gal. 4:6), in order to empower, control and guide our lives. Since the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, He is God, just the same as the Father and the Son are. This means that He is supernatural, and has all the sovereign power and wisdom that the other two Persons in the Trinity have.
God has plans for each of His children, plans that serve His purposes, bless others and give each of us who walk in His plans a deep satisfaction and fulfillment. When He saved each of us, we became His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand, so that we could have the privilege and joy of doing these things for Him (Eph. 2:10). This is exciting news for those of us who really love Him, and want to serve Him as His servants. How can we do this? How can we know what it is He wants us to do, and how can we manage to do it for Him?
If we are willing to be His instruments, His Holy Spirit (who is a person, not just a force) will show us, reveal to us, what God wants us to do. If we really want to be His instruments, and be used by God to bring blessings to others and thus glorify our Lord Jesus, we will try to remain alert to the work of the Holy Spirit inside us, as He shows us truth, and as He causes our attention to become focused on a person or situation. He will give us an understanding of a need in that situation or that person's life, and give us His "nudge" that He wants us to step up and be a part of His solution to that need. It may take some courage to go forward in that "nudge", because it may take us outside of our comfort zone. It will take faith, faith that God would send us on such a mission, that He would let us know that it is time to step out and enter into the situation, and faith that He will give us the knowledge, wisdom and the empowering by the Holy Spirit to do this work that He has called us to do.
When we DO step out in obedience and faith, He DOES provide all the guidance and empowering that is needed for that which He has called us to do. When we first begin to live these supernatural lives, He does not give us tasks that are immense things, like parting the Red Sea. He knows that we are beginners in this supernatural life. He may simply call us to love someone. He has poured His supernatural "agape" love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who lives in us (Rom. 5:5), and if we will obediently risk the vulnerability required to use His supernatural love in loving someone He has pointed us to, this work will bring amazing results. His Word says that He prepared this work beforehand (Eph. 2:10). This means not only that God has had it in His mind for a while, but that He goes before us to prepare that person's heart to receive the ministry of love that He has called us to do.
Not many weeks after my wife, Carrie, and I entered into this supernatural life, He called us to take a miserable, ungrateful, penniless, nine months pregnant nineteen year old girl into our home. We did not know His plans for her. We just felt impressed in our hearts that He wanted us to meet her need for a place to stay, for a time (as it turned out, she was with us for four months). After she was in the house, we found out that she was a Jehovah's Witness, and that she smoked (I'm very allergic to cigarette smoke). We cried, "Oh, Lord, what do you want us to do with this girl?" We sensed He was saying that He just wanted us to love her with His love. "Oh, Lord, she is not very lovable. We need You to fill us with Your love for her". He did. We were amazed. This was an Ephesians 2:10 thing. She responded to God's love, as He flowed through us, and began to warm up to us. Pretty soon, she wanted us to have Bible study with her every night. This provided opportunity to give her the truth. In two weeks, she burned the Jehovah's Witness books that she had held onto since childhood. In another two weeks, she prayed with us to receive Jesus as her Savior and Lord. Before she left, God had set her free from her addiction to cigarettes.
The work that was done in this girl's heart was all God. We couldn't do any of it. Our willingness to love her for God just provided the "lubricant" for the work of the Holy Spirit as He did several supernatural things in her life: 1) Changing her mind about the Jehovah's Witness sect; 2) Saving her soul; and 3) Setting her free from cigarettes (she just woke up one morning without any desire for a cigarette).