I was so surprised to hear my new pastor, Tim, introduce his new series on this very subject. He began with the question: what is Church? And of course, we know the answer to be: The People who Love and Obey Jesus + The Holy Spirit who Abides Within Them. Without the Holy Spirit, they have no power at all. Without the Holy Spirit, they are dry, broken bones. We can do nothing ourselves. Today’s service focused on the very first thing Jesus told his disciples to do after he was resurrected and before he ascended into heaven. And that was: WAIT. Wait for the Holy Spirit. Because without it, they would have no power.
Remember, they had already been water baptized. They already believed that Jesus was their Lord, Master, King, and Savior. They were already ready to die for his sake. They were excited and ready to take on the world for his sake. But they still lacked the most important thing: The Holy Spirit.
There needed to be the second baptism- the baptism of FIRE. Without this holy baptism of fire, they could have no power to do all the things that Jesus had done- heal the sick, raise the dead, rebuke the demons, and speak life into the spirits of people. These were ignorant, unschooled fishermen (with the exception of Matthew, who was a tax preparer and Luke, the physician). Most of the original Apostles didn’t have any kind of social, monetary or intellectual standing among the people. Jesus wanted to give them the kind of power that only belongs to God: that of the Holy Spirit, which would overwhelm even the staunchest of doubters.
It came on the day we call Pentecost. It sounded like a rushing wind and looked like crowns of fire that lighted up the tops of their heads. It filled them up with holy fire and they began to preach the Word in every language. They were filled with passionate joy and power.
My question to you, my friends, is this: have you been fire baptised? Have you received the second baptism- that of the Holy Spirit? Because I am here to inform you that this baptism still happens today to Christians. If not, then I want you to pray for it! Pray for the Holy Spirit to knock you down! Pray for it to take you over! Pray for it to take over your life! Because brothers and sisters, you will never be the same again.
This is a real thing- I don’t speak metaphorically here. The Holy Spirit is a real phenomena. You actually and truly change in a moment. You shed your old life and put on a new one. You leave dryness behind and begin to live a fearless, rich, colorful tapestry that is called ‘true life’ and wonder that you waited so long. If you haven’t received it, there is a reason- and you are in charge of fixing it.
But this requires something great from you. And that is called ‘a willingness to give up your entire life to the servitude to God.’ I can only call it that. Sadly, for a person like me (ie, hardheaded, stubborn, know-it-all, smart aleck, sinful, etc, etc, etc), I had to be beat to the ground before I could get to that point. lol. But some people can get there on their own (those are the angels among us! lol) But once you can make this decision and mean it– (and only God knows your heart)- then, and only then, will God accept your offer of service into his kingdom. And that is when he will send his Holy Spirit to baptise you with fire.
Belief and Sincere acknowledgement that Christ is your KING- these are what make you a Christian. It is not enough to simply believe. You must also call Jesus your king. That means you say you will serve him like a subject obeys his king. Without question, without hesitation. We Americans don’t like that and don’t think that way anymore. We are so used to thinking of Jesus as only the Savior- ie, someone who will do something for us. But we fail when it comes to thinking of him as our KING- someone we work for.
That is why I believe so few of us have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. We lack the second part of the ‘deal’. We must acknowledge that he is our Savior and Lord, not just our Savior. This is exactly when I was baptized by fire- the moment I agreed to become a servant for the rest of my life and meant it. That is exactly the moment the raging wind and white light of joy filled me- just as it did for the Apostles. And what a surprise it was! You can read about it here. It must be the element so many modern Christians are missing. Before that time, (and no one had taught me any better), I had only seen Christ as my Savior and didn’t understand what ‘Lord’ or ‘King’ really meant. I most certainly didn’t think I must obey him. I saw obedience as a choice and thought I might only get a little rap on my knuckles when I saw him someday. And I fully utilized the whole ‘forgiveness of my sins’ aspect of my Christianity. What I didn’t know was why God was silent and why I couldn’t ‘feel’ the Holy Spirit in my body the way others seemed to.
But now I do- ever since I was finally baptized by fire myself. At the time, I felt I had stumbled onto the answer but looking back, I realize that God led me into all my harshest difficulties to ‘break me’ and thus, lead me to him. But I wish to spare you that. Better to be taught the way, don’t you think?
Those of you who suffer from spiritual dryness, ask yourselves, “Have I truly decided to live my entire life to serve Jesus? Could I leave my family, my work, my home if God asked me to? Do I trust God enough to go to prison for him? Could I go to the cross for his sake?” Even though you may feel great fear, your answer should be yes. If it honestly isn’t, then you need to look deeper within yourself because this might be why you feel spiritually dry. You must decide to be ‘all in’ in order to have this baptism of fire.
Christianity is not about traditions or ritual. It is 100% about a relationship with God. It is a two way street. He is a living Being with a mind and soul. He has feelings as we do. Jesus gave it ALL for us. We must give it all for him. This is exactly how you would feel in a relationship. It can’t be one sided. It takes two to tango, in other words. You must trust in God to hold up to his end of the deal. Do you trust in him enough to give up your entire life to his service?
That is how we live the richest life as Christians. I’m not saying that you aren’t saved if you haven’t been baptised by fire. But I’m saying you aren’t living the fullest spiritual life you could be living. At all. In fact, you are truly missing out on what LIFE is. It is JOY without FEAR. It is conquering the world while we yet live. It is, as Jesus said, ‘Heaven within your midst.’