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John the Baptist preached, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3.11).
Isaiah is one of several Old Testament authors who proclaimed God’s promise to immerse people with His Spirit.
The Promised Holy Spirit
Prophets, judges, and kings experienced the Spirit’s power for the fulfillment of their duties. Before Pentecost in A.D. 33, the presence of the Holy Spirit was not available to all people.
Joel prophesied the time when God’s Spirit would be for all persons.
I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my Spirit. (Joel 2.28-29)
In a like manner, Isaiah spoke of the availability of God’s Spirit for everyone.
But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you in the womb and will help you:
Do not fear, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your descendants,
and my blessing on your offspring. (Isaiah 44.1-3)
What can we expect when God “pours” his Spirit upon us? Is it the same as being “baptized” in the Spirit, as John declared?
God’s Spirit is a person and not a liquid, so whatever “pouring” or “baptism” in the Spirit means involves a person and not a force. In other words, we don’t get a little of the Spirit. God’s gift is the person, the Spirit, who is the Third Person of the Trinity.
To be baptized in the Spirit is to be immersed in his presence, power and so much more.
The death and resurrection of Jesus made it possible for the Holy Spirit to be available for all people.
Jesus’ sacrifice for humans opened the door to a full relationship with God. When Jesus breathed his last on the cross, Matthew informs us, “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Matthew 27.51).
The curtain in the Temple separated the Most Holy Place from all other Temple activity. It was there that God met with the High Priest once a year. The tearing of the curtain symbolized that God made a personal relationship with him available to all persons.
Fifty days after the resurrection, the Spirit was poured out on all of God’s people (see Acts 2). Peter referred to Joel’s prophecy to explain the presence of the Spirit among the crowd. The Spirit’s power was shown to be powerful when 3,000 people became followers of Jesus that day.
Rudy Ross reminds us in our YouTube video today that the Day of Pentecost is also the day when the Ten Commandments were given to God’s people. God’s timing is perfect.
Q and A about the Holy Spirit
With the above as background, a few questions and answers may illuminate the great blessing that is ours in the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Q – Who is the Holy Spirit?
A – The best definition of the Holy Spirit is one by Eduard Schweitzer. He said that everything Jesus was to his followers the Holy Spirit is to us.
Q – What are some of the benefits of being immersed or baptized in the Holy Spirit?
A – There are several benefits. Here are three.
(1) The Holy Spirit makes the presence of God a literal reality in our lives. Just as Jesus was present with his followers in A.D. 30, so the Holy Spirit is genuinely a part of disciples in 2021.
(2) The Holy Spirit provides wisdom and power that is beyond human abilities. Anyone who has found themselves giving a spiritual answer that didn’t arise from their thoughts understands the blessing of the Spirit’s activity.
The Holy Spirit activated Peter’s message in Acts 2. The power of the Spirit was what drew 3,000 people to become followers of Jesus that day.
(3) Assistance in prayer. All effective prayer is aided by the Holy Spirit. Paul illustrates this truth in his letter to the Romans.
He wrote, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
“And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8.26-27).
There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit is one of God’s greatest gifts to humans. Let’s be sure to receive all that God wants us to have from this gracious gift.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I produce a daily video of these blog articles on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy is Jewish, a Christian, and an excellent Bible student. The videos present insights from a dialogue with the two of us.
I am indebted to Dr. John Oswalt, who has written an excellent two-volume commentary on Isaiah for insights into the Book of Isaiah.
Please email your prayer requests to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist Church prayer team will pray for you.