The Baptism with Fire

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We are always curious to know the last words of a person before they left this earth. Last words are usually viewed as important for a variety of reasons; a secret may be revealed, a glimpse of the other side shared, or instructions concerning a legacy may be given. It was no different with the parting words of Jesus before He ascended to heaven. He opened the door to eternal life, but the work wasn’t done; the glorious news had to be made known to the world:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Acts 1:8,9

This command came more than a month after Jesus breathed on the disciples, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22) They received the Holy Spirit the very same day Jesus rose from the dead, but there was more to come for them — and others who believed in Him. A promise of the Father had to be fulfilled, something that was needed before they could proceed with the highest call of the Christian life, namely to be witnesses of the resurrected Christ.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4

What happened in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost was vastly different from the intimate moment when Jesus breathed on them. Both those experiences were necessary and of great importance to all disciples of Jesus, including modern ones. When the resurrected Jesus breathed on them, they must have experienced something similar to what happened to Adam’s lifeless body when God breathed life into it. Jesus’ resurrection opened the door to newness of life to them, turning them into new creations as per 2 Corinthians 5:17. Without this inner transformation by the Holy Spirit, you are spiritually dead, and on your way to eternal condemnation:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. Ephesians 2:1-3

What happened on the Day of Pentecost empowered those transformed ones, 120 of them, enabling them to be true witnesses of the resurrected Christ. They were never the same again!

The power that Jesus spoke about came upon them, evidenced by the works they did, and it attracted the attention of those in need of salvation. Their exceeding joy alone drew a crowd, giving Peter an audience to explain what happened, and three thousand people were added to the small group of believers that memorable day. This is how the church was born!

Shortly after, when Peter and John were on their way to a prayer meeting, a man who was lame from birth received complete healing when they raised him up in the name of Jesus. A crowed formed to witness this miracle, once again ready to hear Peter preach the gospel to them. The fledgling church grew from three thousand to five thousand that day because Peter and John testified of Jesus with great power.

Miracles of various kinds became a familiar experience to those first believers — and to this day for those who received this power. Just as everyone must experience their own personal Passover, leading to their resurrection from deadness in sin, everyone must experience their own personal Pentecost to receive the power that turns them into true witnesses of Jesus Christ.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:19,20

Our mandate has not changed, neither did the power to fulfill it; the same work requires the same power. Paul described his ministry to the Corinthians this way:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Some say the baptism with the Holy Spirit, with the evidences that manifested in the Upper Room, was for that time only, but nowhere does the Bible mention such a thing. It is not in the character of God to take back what He once gave; why would He quietly withdraw the gifts of the Holy Spirit that came so powerfully and spectacularly on the Day of Pentecost, and for such a noble cause?

We know by now that the power of our witness is not in our eloquent sermons, our theological prowess, or our vast knowledge of the Scriptures. The conviction of the Holy Spirit, flowing from the words of even the simplest of disciples, is all that is needed to reveal Christ to the lost.

Some old saint once said miracles are the dinner bell calling sinners to repentance.

John the Baptist knew what Jesus came to do when he first saw Him:

I indeed baptize you with water unto 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. Matthew 3:11

It is this baptism with fire that makes all the difference. This holy flame burns all the carnality out of us and energizes us with zeal for the cause of Christ at this late hour. You may have noticed that the world is not listening anymore, there are simply too many voices bombarding them from all sides; everybody is exhausted by the overload of information that has become our daily bread.

Can we agree that the church received all the equipment to fulfill our assignment? And that it is not our buildings or talented music bands that draws the unsaved to Christ? There is more than enough excellence in the world to impress them. Sinners are not looking to be awed by our artistically crafted oratories — they have more than we can offer. What they don’t have is the yoke-destroying power of the Holy Spirit, working through a sold-out believer in Jesus Christ.

Will you move from your Passover to Pentecost, from the fountain of living water (John 4;14) to rivers of living water?

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-39

If you received the life-giving breath of Jesus, the mighty rushing wind is ready to fill your heart with joy unspeakable, and instill His power in you to become His witness wherever you go.

The fountain inside of you is ready to break through as you take hold of His promise by faith. John the Baptist said Jesus is the baptizer in the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11) Now praise God, thank Him for this wonderful, powerful baptism, and allow His joy to rise up inside of you. Do not be surprised when your praise turns from your own language into words given to you by the Holy Spirit, but allow Him to flow freely through you in joyful praise. He will lift your worship from the human level to a spiritual experience that circumvents the mind:

What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. 1 Corinthians 14:15

My soul is filled with boundless love
Whilst gazing on the precious blood
I catch the rays of Jesus’ face
Transfixed in me, the Throne of Grace
Wonders beyond the human mind
Rushing into me, a life Divine
I feel the power of the Holy Dove
And speak in tongues of things above.
~ Smith Wigglesworth

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