OFF KILTER BLOG: Baptism of the Holy Ghost
My musical reference for today is The Elms "Speaking in Tongues" or the spirit-filled hardcore movement of the 90's because I'm returning to the scene of the crime of my blog about the Great Commission a couple months ago. We were talking about Jesus' last message on earth being a command to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. We looked at this passage:
Mark 16:15-18 (TNIV) "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.'"
Mark 16:15-18 (The Message: Remix) "The He said, 'Go into all the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God's good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptised is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned. These are some of the signs that will accompany believers: They will throw out demons in my name, they will speak in new tongues, they will take snakes in their hands, they will drink poison and not be hurt, and they will lay hands on the sick and make them well.'"
But I left off an explanation of the last couple verses for another time. I hope by now you are starting to realize that God's Word (the Bible) is all interrelated. If I try to teach about one subject, it will be intimately related to something else, and something else, and all be applicable to your daily life. Pretty unique for a book written thousands of years ago, huh? Also in the aforementioned blog, I revealed that I was getting ready for a missions trip to Madagascar. The trip was through a Swedish missions organization called Mission SOS and their motto is "Living the book of Acts." The things I saw and experienced there relate directly to what I want to teach here, not through my own intellectual prowess (as if I could be that organized!?!) , but through the direction of the Holy Spirit.
The book of Acts (or Acts of the Apostles) is the scriptural text I'm going to reference, but for most of it I will just summarize, since it's such a large source text. Feel free to read all of Acts on your own, to get the full story. At the end of Jesus' time on earth his disciples are questioning Him about what will happen when He is gone. He tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the gift of power that the Father has promised (the Holy Spirit) and compares its coming to baptism by water. That power being for the express purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission to preach the gospel to all nations.
In Acts 2, the disciples waited in Jerusalem and when they were all together, they heard a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire (the Holy Spirit is often symbolized by fire or by wind) that separated and hovered over the heads of each, and they began to speak other languages. When the disciples went outside, the crowd assumed they were drunk, and then marveled that these uneducated fishermen were speaking different languages. Peter stood up and gave a fiery sermon and many were saved. From then on the disciples went around healing the sick and performing miracles, and spread out from Jerusalem, taking the gospel to the corners of the world, and the Church was born.
Too many people want to pick and choose want they want to believe from the Bible. They would love to say that salvation is for us, but these signs and wonders were only for the first century AD. How sad would that be if miracles no longer existed? People today are not much different than they were back then. Technology and industry are far advanced, thus making the world a smaller place, but our mission has not changed. We are still charged with preaching the gospel to all nations. And we still need the power of the Holy Spirit to do it. Without Him, we are only human. We wallow in our own sin and self loathing, and have the power to do- pretty much, nothing.
In Madagascar, we put on a huge Signs and Wonders festival in the capital city for a week. We went into the streets preaching the gospel and laying hands on the sick and witnessed many healings and demon exorcisms. I prayed for an 8 year old girl who was wheelchair bound because of polio at young age, and she jumped out of the wheelchair and ran and danced! Do I have the power to do that? Certainly not! But the Holy Spirit within me can do many things. (Check out Mission SOS and SOS Adventure on the information super highway for more about that mission organization and missions trips they organize.)
So, is the Holy Spirit for us today? Absolutely! And absolutely necessary for our Christian
walk. If you are a Christian, but your spiritual walk has become stagnant, start seeking the Holy Spirit in prayer. His baptism will come to those who seek Him and be evidenced by speaking in tongues (glossolalia.) This kind of tongues (there are several) is the Holy Spirit praying through you- and vital to your prayer life. Keep exercising the gifts- just remember the source of power is not our own, and keep the glory pointing to where it is due. The purpose of gifts of the Holy Spirit are for fulfilling the Great Commission, not for sensationalism. This is a simple explanation of Spirit Baptism, I know, but the Holy Spirit wants to be so much more than your conscience as a believer. Until next time, be bold for Christ.