LESSON 8: OVERFLOW
If you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, all of heaven rejoices (Luke 15:10). The next step is to tell the world about your decision. Jesus says in John 3:5 that a person needs to be baptized by water and by the Holy Spirit as part of the salvation process.
The Bible talks about an Ethiopian reading the book of Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet (Acts 8:25-40), but doesn’t understand it. An angel tells Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples, to help this man to understand who Isaiah 53 is talking about. Philip tells him the story of Jesus and His love for humanity. He explains how these prophecies point to Him as the Savior and Lord of humanity. The Ethiopian desires right there to give his life to Jesus. He then looks at Philip and says, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36). Philip simply tells him that, if he believes, then he can be baptized.
There is a certain level of understanding that you need in order to be baptized. You need to understand who Jesus is and what He has done for you. You need, in short, to understand the gospel.
The word “gospel” means “good news.” It is good news because it means that, by faith, no matter what your sins are, you can have them forgiven in Jesus. Just like that. The slate wiped clean, and you are a new person in Christ. And this experience then qualifies you to be baptized and to join in a community of like-minded people.
Baptism is like a marriage ceremony. It is a public commitment that a person makes between them and God. It is symbolic. It represents you dying to your old life and old way of living. You go down under the water as you would go into a grave. Then you come up out of the water “in Christ.” You come up into a new life, as a new creation, like being born for the very first time, but now as a Christian (Romans 6:1-14). Your sins and sinful life are left in the watery grave. You are now part of a community of people who believe in Jesus and follow Him.
You are part of the kingdom of God. You are the church.
Jesus mentions another kind of baptism. He says that you must be baptized by the Holy Spirit, too. The Jews practiced baptism by water before, but no one had mentioned being baptized by the Holy Spirit before Jesus came (Matthew 3:11).
What does it mean?
The Holy Spirit
The Old Testament (Genesis 1:1, 2; 2 Samuel 23:2; Ezekiel 2:2) pointed to the reality of the Holy Spirit. Most people, though, equated the Spirit of God with the Father. Until Jesus came and showed the difference between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, no one realized that God was actually three Persons in one (Ephesians 3:4-6).
This teaching actually made sense of texts like Genesis 1:26, where God says, “Let US make man in OUR image…” and Genesis 3:22, where it seems that God has a conversation amongst Himself. It also makes sense of the statement in 1 John 4:8, where God claims to be love.
Love isn’t just an idea of God; it is a shared reality among the Trinity. They are self-sacrificing toward each other, humbly putting each other first. This is love.
So, Jesus uses His last night on earth with His disciples before the cross to tell them all about the relationship of the Trinity and He promises them hope. He talks about how He is one with the Father and the Father is one with Him (John 17:21). He talks about how He will have the Father send the Holy Spirit to them (John 14:16). He talks about the reciprocal glory that He and the Father share (John 13:31, 32). Then He says that this oneness is His desire for all those in the Kingdom of God to experience (John 17:21). The Trinity continually work together in self-sacrificing love, and They constantly glorify each other (Read John 13-17 for more).
Then Jesus tells them that He will not leave them as orphans when He goes to heaven. He will send them the Holy Spirit, and through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Himself will be in them (John 14:16-20). Through the Holy Spirit, they will be connected, even though Jesus is in heaven working to prepare a place for redeemed sinners. As Jesus was ascending into the clouds and looking down on His disciples, He tells them to go back to the city and wait in the upper room until they are baptized with the Holy Spirit, because through Him they will receive power (Acts 1:4-8).
They go back to the room and wait. They pray and sing. Then all of a sudden, the shutters fly open and a wind rushes in, and the Holy Spirit appears upon each one as a flaming ball of fire above their heads (Acts 2:1-4). This was the sign! They had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So, they run outside and start telling everyone about Jesus (You can read this entire story in Acts 1-2).
Sometimes the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes after we are baptized by water; sometimes it comes before. It often doesn’t have a physical manifestation, as in Acts 2. But it always comes after a surrender of your life to Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It is not just knowledge. It is a surrender of the heart. Jesus says that God is looking for people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
Both baptisms, by water by the Spirit, are necessary. Some people will receive Christ only as their Savior but will not make Him their Lord and surrender their lives to Him. Some people will make Jesus their Lord and try to do all He tells them but won’t allow His grace to save them from their deficiencies. You must do both, allow Him to be your Savior and your Lord.
God is our Creator, and He wants to be first in our lives. He wants people to put the love of Him before their family and friends (Matthew 10:37). He wants people who love Him more than they love the fleeting things of life—money, power, prestige, fame. He isn’t looking for people who want to give Him only a little control. He wants total surrender. In fact, He encourages people to count the cost of following Him before they choose to do so! (Luke 14:27-35).
The baptism of water is a single act, a statement, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit is where He promises to dwell with you (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19, 20). He will come into your heart and mind and dwell in you as long as you are open to Him.
With each major step in history, God has been taking one step closer to dwelling within His people. With the death of Christ, and His work in the Heavenly Tabernacle, God can now dwell within each of us through Christ and the Holy Spirit. He is getting closer to His final goal of entire restoration. Sometimes the wait for heaven seems long, but it is going to be worth it (Romans 8:22, 23).