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Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the situation whereby a believer is brought into union with Christ through the power of the spirit of God, the believer is at the same time brought into union with other believers within the body of Christ during the period of salvation. In the book of 1Corinthians 12:12-13 the issue regarding baptism of the Holy Spirit is deeply discussed “For we were all baptized by one spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” 1 Corinthians 12:13.
The same sentiments are reflected in Romans 6:1-4 where the believer’s position before God is described in detail is says thus “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
The message on the book of first Corinthians 12:13, indicates clearly that all believers have undergone baptism the same way they have been given Spirit to drink which indwells them (Lock 1897, 65-74). The reality of every believer depends on being baptized of the Holy Ghost according to Ephesians 4:5.
The baptism of the Holy Ghost in reality joins believers to the body of Christ and at the same time actualizes believers’ co-crucifixion with Christ. The sharing in the body of Christ makes us one with him and therefore considered risen with Him to newness of life (Romans 6:4). The basis for unity within the church revolves around the experience of one Spirit baptism as revealed in the book of Ephesians 4:5.
Thus the experience of being associated with Christ in His death and resurrection through Spirit baptism gives the meaning to our nature of separation from the power of sin and being renewed in our daily life (Talbert 1984).
In the book of Acts, Apostle Paul challenged believers at that time by asking them if they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed Acts 19:2. This reveals that Paul considered the reality behind the Spirit’s baptism to be one of the mandatory experiences in a believer’s life (Brawley 1987). He further emphasized this to the Ephesians in Eph 5:18.
According to the New Testament, every believer is under obligation to obey God’s laws. This is since there is no justification in God’s sight unless one devotes himself to complete obedience to the law of God. The laws of the Lord must be honored and reverenced through the help of His Spirit.
However, there are ways believers can follow to ensure maintenance of what is referred to as perfect obedience; these include ways of legalism and ways of the gospel since the two methods do not permit any form of compromise. The Old Testament reveals that man obedience to God’s laws entitles a believer to claim God’s promise of everlasting life.
In the book of Romans 10:5, it is written that whether a believer aspires towards life attainment with God’s help or not creates no difference according to Moses writings. However, this is contrary to the issue on being filled with the Holy Ghost since the reception of God’s Spirit cannot be attained through human effort. The experience of being filled with the Holy Ghost is revealed not as a reward for a sanctified life (Walker 1985, 3-23).
The Bible reveals in the book of Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and all continue to come short of the divine glory.” This brings us to the predicament that none of the sons of Adam has got the ability to render the obedience worthy of the Spirit of God. Therefore the sinful nature of man makes him appear unacceptable on the basis of his performance as further revealed in the book of Romans 3:20 “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
Therefore it is only the way of the gospel through which man can be able to fulfill the conditions towards being filled with the Spirit of life. Jesus Christ came to the Earth to take the place of being the new head of humanity and making the substitute of every man by dying on the cross in our stead saving us from the penalty of disobedience.
Jesus Christ’s death on the cross made full compensation for the law’s penalty against sin, hence in 2 Corinthians 5:14 Paul declares “We look at it like this: if one died for all men, then, in a sense, they all died.”
The condition which was required by God for the out pouring of His Spirit upon all flesh was the atoning sacrifice which Christ gave on the cross. The cry of Jesus Christ on the cross broke every barrier towards freedom of receiving gift of the spirit (Lock 1897, 65-74). Therefore, the Holy Spirit is given based on Jesus’ atonement as reflected by Paul in Galatians 3: 10, 13.
Method of receiving the Holy Spirit
Jesus Christ fulfilled all the conditions enabling believers to willingly receive the Holy Ghost. In Galatians 3:1-2 the Spirit is communicated simply through the word of God in the Gospel and by faith Galatians 3:1-2. This shows that the Spirit is received by the hearing of the word of God.
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The book of Acts reveals practical ways on how a believer can receive the Holy Spirit through the hearing of faith (Fernando 1998). On the account of Peter when acting on a command to go to the home of a Roman centurion to preach to gathering of gentiles, He declared the Lordship of Christ by saying “Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” Acts 10:43. While he was still addressing the crowd, the Holy Spirit fell on those who heard the word.
The word of God declares “Thy sins be forgiven thee” Mark 2:5 and at the same time declares that “Christ has taken us into His favor in the person of His beloved Son” Ephesians 1:6. The Spirit of God is actually present in the word and the spirit still continues up-to-date to fall on everyone ready to hear the word of God. However, the Spirit is not only imparted through faith, but continues through perpetual impartation by faith (Gasque and Ralph 1970).
Evidence of the Holy Spirit Reception
The evidence at the receiving of the Holy Ghost is clearly indicated in God’s Word. The Bible do not insists on a believer to focus on visual signs, Jesus in His teachings once recorded “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” Mathew 12:39.
However, it can be noted that the primary evidence of the Spirit is faith. Paul spoke to the Corinthians on the primacy of faith “No man can say Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Ghost” 1Corinthians 12:3. The most outstanding evidence on Spirit’s power is the process of conversion of a sinful man to a believer.
The first fruits of the Spirit represents God’s gift to mankind according to Romans 8:23. Most of the human life experiences seem incomplete and unfulfilled denoting that man can never find satisfaction in their own spiritual experiences since it is only the starting point of always.
Holy Ghost encourages believers to be patient, groan and endure towards the great hope awaiting the coming of our Lord Jesus. Thus, the scripture states that “beyond this present feeble existence there waits a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” 2 Corinthians 4:17. Walking by faith guarantees us the assurance that though we are imperfect and incomplete, Christ died for our sake Colossians 2:10.
There is no reality in support of the issue of having ordinary Christians and Spirit-filled Christians. A man can only be either Spirit-filled Christian or non-believer according to Romans 8:9. One Christian baptism recommended by Jesus was Christian baptism which entails baptism of water and of the Holy Ghost preached through the Word of God.
Brawley, Robert L. Luke-Acts and the Jews: Conflict, Apology, and Conciliation.
Society of Biblical Literature Monograph Series. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1987.
Fernando, Ajith. Acts. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.
Gasque, W. Ward, and Ralph P. Martin, eds. Apostolic History and the Gospel: Biblical and Historical Essays Presented to F. F. Bruce on His 60th Birthday. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970.
Lock, Walter. “1 Corinthians 8:1-9: A Suggestion.” The Expositor 5:6 (1897): 65–74.
Talbert, Charles H., ed. Luke-Acts: New Perspectives From the Society of Biblical Literature. New York, NY: Crossroad, 1984.
Walker, William O. Jr. “Acts and the Pauline Corpus Reconsidered.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 24 (1985): 3–23.