FAITH TOWARDS GOD
Faith toward God is a natural progression from “repentance from dead works.” Whereas our focus of attention had been self, now our focus of attention is God. Dead works always interfere with faith towards God. We have to “turn from” dead works to enable us to “turn to” God.
What is faith?
The word “faith” comes from the Greek word, “pistis,” which means “firm persuasion, strong and welcome belief; the conviction of the truth of anything.”
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Faith is not the same as believing. Believing is a verb and it is an attitude, a condition of our heart. Whereas, faith is a noun, it is a substance, and it is something which is purely divine and given to us by God.
THE DOCTRINES OF BAPTISM
Water Baptism in the Scriptures
a. John the Baptist.
He was the first man in the Scripture to baptize people. He did this as a sign that the people were being cleansed from their sins. His baptism was combined with the gospel of repentance.
He consistently pointed the people to the Messiah that will be coming. Baptism does not save people, it was a sign pointed to Christ, who would be the Saviour.
2 As it is written in the Prophets:[a]
3 “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.”[b] “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’”[c] 4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8 I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
b. The Baptism of Jesus
Jesus Himself was baptized by John the Baptist. He declared that it is necessary for Him to fulfill all righteousness. Is Christ Himself needed to be baptized, how much more necessary it is for us?
At Christ’s baptism, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit came upon Him as a dove. Thus, we see that water baptism invites the Holy Spirit to come into us in a new way.
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He[a] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
c. The Early Church
Baptism in water was an integral doctrine of the early apostolic church. They continually exhorted their listeners to repent and be baptized. Baptism was the public confession of their faith. All who believed were baptized.
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
See also Acts 8:35-38 / Acts 10:47-48
d. Old Testament Type
Parallel to Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Once we leave Egypt (the world) and come to salvation, baptism in water destroys many enemies from our old life. It’s a sign that we have already left the world and have now started a new life in Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:1-2. 1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
Reasons and Benefits of Water Baptism
Act of Obedience
It’s a command from God. Being baptized is an act of obedience thereby allowing us to reap the benefits of obedience.
Matthew 28:19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Identifies us with Christ and His Body
It’s an act of putting on a new identity. It’s a confession to heaven, the Church, the world and the enemy that we are now in Christ. Through water baptism, we are also identifying with His Body, the Church. It’s a seal that places us in our new family.
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
It is a Pledge of a Good Conscience Towards God
1 Peter 3:21 There is also an anti-type which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Causes us to be Raised in Glory
Likewise, when we go under the water, we are bringing about a death to our old and sinful man. We are then raised by the glory of the Father, and we are able to walk in newness of life, as a brand new person. Baptism breaks bondages in our lives.
Romans 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Colossians 2:12 Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Breaks Satan’s Power in our Lives
Just like Israelites’ freedom from Pharaoh’s control when they crossed the Red Sea, so we are liberated from the authority of Satan when we are baptized in water. It doesn’t mean that Satan cannot attack us, but rather now, we have authority over him, through Christ. He is no longer our master, but we have a new Master, Jesus Christ.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Acts 1:8“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the key to power in the Christian life.
It is an essential experience if we are going to forward in the Christian life and fulfill the call and work of God for our lives.
When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit comes and fills us completely. Remember, “Baptism” comes from the Greek word “baptizo”, which means total immersion (like a ship being sunk). So being baptized in the Holy Spirit means we become completely filled, completely drenched by the Spirit.
One helpful analogy to help us see what the baptism of the Holy Spirit accomplishes in our lives is the following. Before we are saved, we are like a man, drowning in the ocean. Our doom is certain and we are headed for destruction. At salvation, it is like we are rescued and placed in a lifeboat. We are no longer drowning in sin and are no longer subject to imminent death. However, if we only sat in a lifeboat in the ocean, we would not be accomplishing anything. The baptism in the Holy Spirit then is like being given a motor for our lifeboat. No longer are we simply safe from death; we now can go forward with a purpose and accomplish God’s will for our lives.
This power enables us to witness. The Early Church was transformed when the Holy Spirit fell upon them. Just a few weeks previous, all the disciples had fled from Jesus when He was about to be arrested; Peter had denied Him; Thomas had doubted if He was really risen. After receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, however, they truly did go into the entire world, preaching the resurrection of Christ. Three thousand people were saved on the day the Holy Spirit fell (Acts 2:41). It is the same for us today. The baptism in the Holy Spirit gives us great boldness and ability to witness.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit also comes in the form of fire.
Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptized you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
John the Baptist declared that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Fire is intricately connected to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He imparts a burning passion in our hearts to spread the Gospel and to do His will. The fire of the Holy Spirit is the consuming passion for God’s presence and zeal to win the lost that overtakes and envelops us. It is God-given, God-breathed, God-inspired, and it is comes with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
If we are not filled with the Holy Spirit, we will lead a powerless, fireless Christianity. God calls us instead to a powerful life in the Spirit, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the first step to getting there.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a Promise from Christ and the Father
Luke 24:49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
Jesus promised His followers they would receive the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until they received this power. This promise was to all of Christ’s followers for all time.
Acts 2:39 “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Where in the Scriptures did the Father make this promise?
Isaiah 44:3 – “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.”
The Father is speaking prophetically to Christ in this verse. He promised to pour out His Spirit on Christ’s descendants. Who are those descendants? The church! We are all to receive this promise from the Father.
Therefore, we see that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is for all believers, in all time. It was not decided by man, but is based on the promise of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore we know without any doubt that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and/or the accompanying gifts was only for a limited time, but there is not a single shared of evidence for this position in Scripture. Rather, the constant testimony of the Scripture is that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit are for all the Church, for all time.
How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Like everything in God’s Kingdom, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit comes through faith. God desires to pour out His Spirit on all His followers, but we must have a receptive heart.
During the last year of His life, Jesus Himself gave us an outline of qualities we should have in order to receive the faith for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He was speaking of the Holy Spirit as a river of life which would flow out of His people.
37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing[a] in Him would receive; for the Holy[b] Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
There are three steps in receiving the Holy Spirit in this passage:
1) Thirst – we must have a desire for the Holy Spirit. If we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be filled (Mat. 5:6)
2) Come – we need to come to God in our prayers and ask Him for His spirit.
3) Drink – when the Holy Spirit begins to be poured out to us, we must accept Him. If we reject and refuse to drink, we will not receive
The Initial Evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
The first evidence that we are baptized in the Holy Spirit is speaking in other tongues. Speaking in tongues is the experience where we begin speaking a language that we do not know by human means. It can be either a heavenly language, or an earthly language that we do not know. Speaking in tongues does not come from us, but comes from the Holy Spirit. Our mouth and words are yielded to His control.
I Cor. 14:2-4 “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.”
When the Holy Spirit filled the 120 in the upper room, they immediately began speaking in other tongues. When they went into the streets, people from all over the nations heard the disciples speaking in their own languages. The disciples were speaking of God in languages they themselves did not understand. Speaking in tongues was the first outward sign that the 120 had been filled.
Read: Acts 2:4-12, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:6
Thus, speaking in tongues should always accompany the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is the outward sign that God has completed inward reality of baptism in our lives.
I Cor. 14:18 – “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all.”
The Apostle Paul practices speaking in tongues on a continual basis. In fact, he declared he spoke in tongues more than all the others in the church. His encouragement to believers was that we should continue to practice praying in tongues. Paul teaches us more about this in the book of Romans.
Read: Romans 8:26
Praying in the Spirit, in unknown tongues, is a way through which the Holy Spirit is able to guide our prayers.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
After we have filled with the Holy Spirit, from speaking in tongues, we are now open to moving on in the other gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 14:5 – “ I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied, for he who prophesies Is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.”
I Corinthians 12:7-10 – “But the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another, the interpretation of tongues.”
Eph. 5:18 – “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but filled with the Spirit.”
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is both instantaneous and progressive. In other words, there is a moment in time where we are first filled with the Spirit (a one – time experience), but then we should we should live a lifestyle of continually being filled. In Ephesians 5:18, the verb translated “be filled” actually has the thought of “be being filled continually.”
As we progress in our Christian life, we should always seek God for deeper experiences in the Holy Spirit. Although, being baptized in the Holy Spirit means we are filled with the Spirit, we can receive more as our spiritual capacity is enlarged. We should thus always be filled with more and more of the Spirit.