Is The Baptism of The Holy Spirit Actually Optional?
The baptism of the Holy Spirit has been a controversial subject in church circles for years. It’s purpose, evidence and down right legitimacy has been argued over by friends, charismatics, and church fathers. Personally, I had heard people speak in tongues before, but I wasn’t on treasure hunt for this experience or God for that matter when I met the Holy Spirit.
When I was 18 I had an undeniable experience in my living room, during a home church type gathering my parents put on. It literally turned my life around, I plan on writing about it in more detail soon. I will tell you now, I was never the same. I quickly found out that what I had just experienced was a baptism of the Holy Spirit.
One key thing about that evening was what I told God. I told God, “I am not going to fake this, if you want me to speak in tongues like that again you’re going to have to make me do it.” Well, He did. Since then I’ve been privileged, honestly it feels like a gift, to have learned, watched and helped people experience the depths of the Holy Spirit.
Each year at our school of supernatural ministry we begin with a retreat where our 1st and 2nd year students come together for a few days. What God does on this retreat is remarkable. The Spirit of God just sets people free. It’s something I wish everyone would get a chance to witness.
These retreats are at the beginning of our school year for a reason.
One reason I love it so deeply, is we get to introduce people to Holy Spirit. Often there are students who have never interacted with Him on a personal level.. We get to be matchmakers that night;introducing two lovers who were destined to meet, forever marked by the aftermath of divine romance. (I know that sounded lame and cheesy but I wanted you to smile.)
Each year, that it happens I am always hit with the reality that for some Christians the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a negotiable experience that they have no expectation for their journey. This is not a sin but it’s like trying to run a race with one leg. Holy Spirit is actually a strengthen, called to be by our side.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells His disciples that He is sending the promise of His Father. Did you get that? The promise of His Father. The Father is eager to give this gift. Jesus also tells them, they are to wait in Jerusalem until they are clothed with power. They’re weren’t supposed to go on without it. Jesus knows the Holy Spirit and that the baptism is not about a command but about an invitation to never live the same again.
So, what is the clothing with power that Jesus wants His disciple to have before they do anything?
Lets look at Acts 1:8
“but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
And then it happened.
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”
The power Jesus wanted them to be clothed in was the Holy Spirit coming upon them at Pentecost.
Is The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit Actually Optional? – chrisjosephcruz.com
This actually is a great little moment to say: even though the disciples spoke in tongues, the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was that they were clothed in power. The gift of tongues often does accompany a baptism of the Holy Spirit, but Holy Spirit baptism not restricted to that specific manifestation.
In John 7:38, Jesus actually says that “He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But, that’s not all John says about it. In verse 39 it says “Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Woah. That honestly gets me stirred up. The believer is going to have a river coming out out them by means of the Holy Spirit. This is the power Jesus talked about. We are no longer ordinary, our acts are channels of divine grace and we’re changed. Check out what the disciples were like after Acts 2. They turned the world upside down.
Scholars say one of the best ways to understand the greek word for baptism is given to us by a Greek poet who happened to be a physician. He went by the name of Nicander and lived around 200 B.C. He used the word when referring to the process of making pickles. The word baptô refers to the act of dipping a vegetable into boiling water and the word, baptizō, describes putting that blanched vegetable into a vinegar solution. Isn’t that crazy? Please, don’t go around saying “pickle me Lord”.
The vinegar solution changed the cucumber permanently, saturating it, and changing it’s appearance and composition. Let that pickle for a second. The power that the Holy Spirit brings is a transforming power that will change your life.
If it isn’t clear yet, I don’t think Jesus views this as optional but a beautiful privilege.
How about His disciples? What did they think about it?
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
Peter called them to repentance and a receiving of the promise of the Father. The Holy Spirit. I’d say Peter is finally with Jesus on this one.
The Book of Acts is filled with stories of the disciples personally experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2,4), ministering to others to intentionally receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2,19) and people unexpectedly experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit when someone preached. (Acts 10,11).
When our students hear the reality of what is freely available to them, well, lets just say it’s a rush. They want the power that Christ promised would clothe any disciple who believed. I’ve prayed for many people on those nights to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen many students changed and walk out a different way than they came in.
This isn’t optional, it’s a privilege.The Father’s promise.
If you’re reading this and you feel like our students who’ve never interacted with the Holy Spirit in a personal way then it’s a good day. If your wanting to run on “both legs”, you can today. I simply ask that you or friends go somewhere where you can be with God and not be interrupted. This isn’t about striving, praying faster, louder, or longer. This is a gift. You simply ask the Father for the gift of His Holy Spirit. Ask Him to baptize you as John the Baptist said “with fire.” Receive and give time for this, don’t be in a rush and remember tongues isn’t the only evidence. “By faith you have received.”
Read this prayer over yourself out loud:
“Father, I thank you for Your Holy Spirit. I want to walk as Jesus did and I ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I want to be clothed in power. I am giving you full permission to do whatever you want to do in my life. In Jesus’, name.”