Daily Devotion: Baptized with Fire

At times, the work and role of the Holy Spirit is mysterious in the life of the believer. Because of the mystery involved, we often neglect or fail to grasp the magnitude of what it means that the Spirit of God has indwelt us as believers. For various reasons, some churches are a bit “light” on teaching about the Spirit while of those that place more of an emphasis on the Spirit some misrepresent the work and expression of the Spirit.

This devotional will not be exhaustive or conclusive. I have much to learn about this topic and even if I knew more could not hope to synthesize it in a few hundred words. My hope here is to point us to a few scriptures about the Holy Spirit that will begin to help us grow in our understanding of this marvelous mystery.

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’

John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” – Matthew 3:1-6

 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Matthew 3:11

After Jesus had risen from the dead, one of His last instructions to his disciples was this,

 “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 1:4-5

Soon after,

“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 of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” – Acts 2:1-4

What John had foretold at the very beginning of the earthly ministry of Jesus was fulfilled shortly after His ascension. John baptized with water to signify repentance, Jesus baptized with fire signifying the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Later in Acts, when Peter visited and proclaimed the gospel to the Roman centurion Cornelius, his family, and friends, the Holy Spirit came upon them as well, however this time there was no visible fire.

“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 Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Then Peter said,  ‘Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.” – Acts 10:44-48

In this instance the Holy Spirit was also God’s stamp of approval on the salvation and equality of gentile believers with their Jewish counterparts.

Every believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit upon salvation.

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” – 1 Corinthians 12:13

However, the rest of 1 Corinthians 12 teaches us that the Spirit gives different gifts to different people, but we are one in the body of Christ through the Spirit.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.” – 1 Corinthians 12:27-31

These are just a few verses about the Holy Spirit coming upon those who believe in Christ. Concluding this first devotion in a series on the Spirit, I wanted to leave you with these statements about the Holy Spirit from Jesus as He taught His disciples before the cross.

 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” – John 15:12-15

Our prayer should be that the Holy Spirit teach us about Himself through scripture.

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