PART IV

                                      Baptism With The Holy Spirit

In our study on the Promised Land we will next look at the crossing of the Jordan River and how that applies to us.

We’ll begin reading in:  

Joshua 1:2

Moses, My servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites.

Similarly, God wants you and me to be ready, to be prepared to enter our Promised Land. They were given clear instructions on how this was to be done, for they could not just cross the River in the way they chose to do it. No, they had to closely follow the Lord’s orders as we can read in: 

Joshua 3:2-5a

After three days the officers went through the camp, giving orders to the people:

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are the Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before….”

Notice that they had to cross the River before entering the Promised Land and that they were to follow the Ark of the Covenant to follow the Presence of God. This was for their protection for they had not been there before. You too are to cross the River before you can enter your Promised Land and you too can only do so when you closely follow the Presence of God, the leading of the Holy Spirit, for you have not been this way before either.

The prophet Ezekiel describes the River of God, the River of Life in:

Ezekiel 47:1-12

The man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the Temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the Temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and let me round the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side. As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and let me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in – a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large number of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds – like the fish of the Great Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not whither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

The Apostle John describes this same river in:

Revelation 22:1-2

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

This is the River we are to cross before we can enter out Promised Land.

And Ezekiel shows us that initially this river is only ankle-deep, which is a very safe place for us to be. It is the place where we are aware of the Holy Spirit in our lives but we are still very much in control of our lives.

The next place we’ll find ourselves in is knee-deep, which is still ok, for it means we can still be in control, though more of our lives has to be given over to the control of the Spirit.

The third level is waist-deep and means giving over yet more of our lives to the control of the Holy Spirit.

Then we come to the fourth level and this level is too high for us to stand in. We can only enter that level by completely giving control of our lives to the Holy Spirit, for He must have all of us if we are to survive in this environment.

This is the key to our entering our Promised Land so we might possess it.

We must allow the Holy Spirit full control of our lives or, as God’s Word says it in:

Ephesians 5:18b

Be filled with the Spirit.

This means to be continuously filled with the Spirit.

Of course this means that an initial infilling has taken place so that other infillings can follow on from this initial experience. This initial experience is called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said this about receiving the Holy Spirit in:

Luke 11:11-13

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

John the Baptist said in: 

John 1:32-34

Then John (the Baptist) gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. I would not have known Him, except that the One who sent me to baptise with water told me, “The Man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.”

I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.”

John writes in John 7:37-39

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

John writes in John 20:21-22

And Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

In these verses, Jesus gave the disciples their commission to go as He had gone and He prepared them by giving them the Holy Spirit. However, this was only an initial impartation which was not yet sufficient for them to be able to fulfil their commission, so He told them to wait until they received the fullness of the Holy Spirit as Luke tells us in:

Acts 1:4b-5

Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.

And Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

As believers, we too have received an initial impartation of the Holy Spirit the moment we were born again, for at that time the Holy Spirit came to reside within our human spirit. That experience makes us a child of God and we will enter heaven when we die. However, we too, like the first disciples, need the Holy Spirit to come upon us so we will be empowered for our task here on earth. This empowering is an absolute necessity in the life of every believer. We have a number of examples of this in the Book of Acts and we will look at each one of them. The first one we will look at is the empowering of the 120 on the Day of Pentecost as we can read in:

Acts 2:1-4

When the Day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each one of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

And in Acts 8:14-17

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptised into the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

And in Acts 9:17

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Although this verse does not indicate that Saul, whose name was later changed to Paul, did receive the gift of tongues, we know from other passages in Scripture that he did, as in: 

I Corinthians 14:18

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.

And in Acts 10:44-46

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptised with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

And in Acts 19:6

When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

This particular experience will empower us for the task ahead of us just like it did the Early Church. And like them we need to realise that, after we have experienced this Baptism of the Holy Spirit, daily infillings of the Holy Spirit are in fact necessary in order for us to live a victorious Christian life which is the life God intends for us to live.

Part V