BAPTIZED IN LOVE

Matt.3:16 – After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him.

Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit to begin His ministry. It’s as if the Father couldn’t contain His love for His Son as He proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son”. From this day Jesus began to move in a miracle anointing that lasted until His death. If you think about it, that’s really what miracles are, God’s love reaching out to hurting mankind. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes the love of God and the Holy Spirit.

“It further appears that the Holy Spirit is nothing but the infinite love and delight of God, by his symbol, a dove; which is the symbol of love, and which is a bird beyond all other irrational animals in the world is remarkable and wonderful for its love to its mate, both in expressions of it by billing together (rubbing bills- like a kiss) and the like while together, and for its mourning for the loss of its correlate.

And ’tis evident that the dove is used as a symbol of love in the Scriptures: Canticles 1:15, “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes”…

It was under this representation that the Holy [Spirit] descended on Christ at his baptism, signifying the infinite love of the Father to the Son, and that thereby is signified that infinite love that is between the Father and the Son; which is further illustrated by the voice which came with the dove, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” [Matthew 3:17].”

This gets to the reason why Jesus came. He created us to experience and display His love. The fall of man hasn’t deterred His love for us and His passion to display His glory. Because of the fall Jesus Himself became a man, a perfect man. He displayed His love when He died in our place as a sacrifice for our sin. Today, anyone who believes in Him not only has their sins forgiven, they also have access to the love Jesus has enjoyed with His Father from eternity. This is what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is all about. Just as Jesus was immersed in the Spirit we can be too. Then we will hear His sweet voice, “This is my beloved son”.

BAPTIZED IN WHAT?

Matt. 3:11 – As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

I was recently driving down Lakefront Boulevard with my pastor friend Sam Carr. We were passing by the very spot where Parris and I came to Christ and were water baptized the following week. We were baptized in Lake Ponchartrain on a Friday night in August of 1973. Before I was baptized in water the ministers were sharing with me about another baptism, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. You see I was baptized in water that night but not many days later I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit since you believed? I think many Christians don’t understand the magnitude, importance, and value of the Baptism with the Spirit. Actually water baptism is only a type or shadow of the real. Being baptized into God, the Holy Spirit, is a complete game changer. Here is how Watchman Nee described it.

“God only gives good gifts to His children. Unfortunately we are apt to esteem them lightly because of their sheer abundance. The Old Testament saints, who were less favored than we are, could appreciate more readily the preciousness of this gift of the outpoured Spirit. In their day it was a gift given only to the select few, chiefly to priests, judges, kings and prophets, whereas now it is the portion of every child of God. Think! We mere nonentities who trust in Christ can have resting upon us the same Spirit who rested upon Moses the friend of God, upon David the beloved king and upon Elijah the mighty prophet. “Among them that are born of women,” said Jesus, “there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

It wasn’t great men who have been historically used by the Lord. Think about who the Lord has used; Moses was a murderer, Amos was a farmer, Jonah was a deserter, Jeremiah was a child, Joseph was a slave, Peter was a fisherman, and Paul was a persecutor. These were common, flawed men that were empowered by the Holy Spirit to effect their world. How can we have a casual attitude about the Baptism in the Spirit? Pursuing Him and allowing Him to move in our gatherings is a game changer.

FIRE BAPTISM

Matt. 3:11 ¶ “I baptize you with water for 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.

Baptism has taken on alls sorts of religious connotations over the years. Denominations have been formed around baptism, churches have split over baptism, people have even died over baptism. I was at an evangelistic meeting in Japan in 1984 where approximately five hundred women gave their hearts to Christ publicly. I was told that most of these women would be kicked out of their homes if they followed their decision with baptism. Jesus was adding more fuel to the fire (please excuse the pun) when He spoke of being baptized in fire. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the baptism with fire. this baptism is an absolute game changer. It really does bring power, revelation, and separation (not to mention the criticism).
Jesus used the analogy of fire because of the obvious comparisons. Fire is associated with passion and love for God. This fire baptism absolutely ramps up our passion for The Lord. Fire is also connected to power. Fire power has been used for many years to run the great machinery of the world. The baptism in the Spirit brings us into contact with the power of God. This baptism will bring us into the arena of signs and wonders. Fire is also connected to cleansing and purification. We have all heard of the refiners’s fire. The mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit brings us into a new place of spiritual cleansing. Here is something Martin Luther said about the cleansing nature of fire.

“He will baptize you with fire”: how is this said in German? [Can it mean,] “I will baptize you with water”? How? Especially since being burned by fired blackens and does not clean us. In contrast water washes and makes us clean. Exactly! [This] fire should not blacken or burn but rather baptize and wash white, so it must be a fire above all other kinds of fire, since [usually fire] blackens where it has been and everything smells and is charred…But Christ [said], “I will send fire of such a kind in which they were baptized as in water. It will not consume them but will give them life and strength. It will not blacken but whiten.” Therefore, this fire of Christ’s is of a different nature, etc. The text is clear: “You will received the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Let’s face it, we live in a filthy world. It one sense, we are being baptized, or immersed, daily into the cesspool of the sinfulness of this world. We live in that atmosphere. Our only hope is the purifying effect of the word and the Spirit. The baptism in the Spirit is not just an accessory that we can just take or leave. It is an absolute essential, especially in the condition of our fallen world.

GOD’S FIRE

Matt. 3:11 ¶ “I baptize you with water for 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.

Fire is relentless. I saw this relentless nature of fire first hand during one of our reforestation trips. It had been an unusually long, tough day, it was the last day before we broke camp and headed back home. We had worked in the mountains for twelve hours finishing up a job when the forest rangers came into our camp. There was a forest fire and we were being drafted to help fight it. Our reforestation team spent the next twelve hours (until daylight) fighting a forest fire. We were given shovels and dropped off in an area and told to “clean up” the fires that we saw. It was pretty intense and really hot. At one point we had fire on every side of us. That fire was relentless and took out everything in its path. Our God is a consuming fire. His fire is an intense flame of love and holiness. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a baptism into this fire. Once it gets on you, you can never be the same. Here is something Luther said about the baptism of fire.

“… In this passage he also calls the Holy Spirit an excellent fire, because it makes what is blackened and dead white and alive. Therefore he calls it baptism, because it is abundant with the Spirit, as Paul says. [This baptism] is not performed with little droplets, as when something is dipped in water, but instead we are plunged into this baptism, as if someone wanted to drown us. So, the Holy Spirit does not flutter down in a flickering flame but [rushes down] in fire! By this fire you all are plunged and overwhelmed so that it seems as if there is nothing in you other than fire. As a fish in water, so are you in fire.. Through the abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit [Christ] wants to subsume Christianity, so that those drifting and living in the midst of this heavenly fire will not be consumed and charred, but will be made bold, brave, excellent, perfect, bright and pure. “In this way, my Holy Spirit will baptize my people.”

The fire of God transforms us. Actually it can be said to assimilate or change us into itself (or in this case Himself). Whatever fire touches becomes fire. Giant ponderosa pines were turned from majestic pine trees into a burning sea of fire. That is what happens to us when we are baptized in the fire of the Spirit. We begin to take on His nature. What we used to be is burned away, our very nature is changed. It is changed into the nature of God Himself. There is one distinct difference with the forest fire and the fire of God. The forest fire burns out and leaves ashes behind. The fire of God is eternal, it never stops burning. As a result, we will never stop burning.

JESUS AND THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT

JESUS AND THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT

Matt. 3:16 ¶ When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.

Jesus loved these get-aways with family and friends. He had fond memories of the trip to Jerusalem with his village when He was twelve. He got to see Jerusalem and was also able to visit His Father’s house. That was one of the fondest memories that Jesus had. This trip was going to be different. Rather than going to the temple and visiting the city, they were headed out into the wilderness. The prophet John had been causing quite a stir. Everyone in Nazareth had been talking about him, everyone had their opinions. Some thought this would finally be the end of the Roman domination, others thought John was a religious huckster looking for his moment of celebrity, still others thought John had simply lost his mind. You know what happens when you take the scriptures literally and go too far, especially with all the fasting John was said to be doing. Still others hoped this was the time of awakening the scriptures spoke of, maybe John was the voice in the wilderness that Isaiah had prophesied.
When Jesus arrived at the Jordan, He knew His life was about to change. The Spirit of God was all over John, it was in his face and in his words. This was the moment Jesus had waited for all His life. Before you knew it, Jesus was in the Jordan River with John. “Baptize me John, we must fulfill all righteousness”. Reluctantly, John immersed Jesus into the dark waters of the Jordan River. What happened next began a revolution that changed the world. The heavens opened, The Father spoke, and the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus. His ministry was about to begin. The Fire Bible speaks about this incredible event, Jesus being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

“Everything Jesus did—his preaching, his healings, his suffering, his victory over sin and Satan’s power—he did by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even though he was fully God, he willingly laid aside and limited his rights and privileges as God. In becoming fully human, he had to operate the same way we must—as people dependent on God’s Holy Spirit. If Jesus could do nothing apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, how much more do we need the Spirit’s power. The Spirit equipped and worked powerfully through Jesus to accomplish God’s plan of restoring his relationship with all people. Jesus himself would later baptize his followers with the Holy Spirit so that they too might have the Spirit’s power to accomplish his purposes for them.”

Jesus began His public ministry of preaching, teaching, healing the sick, and driving out demons from this day forward. He was totally dependent on the Holy Spirit for His work. How much more do we need His power today to effect our hurting world.

THE STRANGE PREACHER

STRANGE PREACHER

Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
Matt.3:4-6

Everyone knows preachers can be on the strange side, but John was in a different category of strange. He never had a haircut or a shave, not once his whole life. He lived out in the wilderness as a recluse, that alone can drive someone nuts. He dressed like a prophet from hundreds of years before his time, a camel skin of all things. And what about his diet, locusts and wild honey (isn’t a locust kind of like a giant grasshopper?). That all just sounds to weird, even for a preacher.
Jesus Himself called John the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Have you ever wondered why Jesus considered John the greatest? He never had miracles like Elijah, never wrote volumes like Isaiah, never fathered a nation like Abraham. John never instituted a religion like Moses, he never wrote psalms like David, he wasn’t a king like Solomon but still John was the greatest of all. Why is he the greatest, simply because of his revelation of Jesus. That was all John was about, he was the forerunner. “I am not Him,” John proclaimed, “there is one mightier than I coming after me”. He had a twofold revelation of Jesus as the Messiah. First, he saw Him as the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world. That is powerful, He saw Jesus as the sin offering for man. The second revelation was just as stunning. John said “I baptize with water, but the one coming after me shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit”. John actually saw the heavenly ministry of Jesus. He would be the offering for sin and then He would baptize, immerse totally, His followers into the Holy Spirit. That is a stunning revelation. While most everyone was looking for a powerful political messiah, John saw the Suffering Servant and the heavenly High Priest.
Many people today have ignored the second part of that prophesy. All Christians will acknowledge the work of Jesus at the cross, but many want to minimize or ignore the baptism in the Holy Spirit part. That is just too strange for the modern man, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is just for strange people. Maybe that is why John was so strange! He was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb.