Alphagramma
Alphagramma
 

THE BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT (And The Gift Of Tongues)

   
 

Kinross Christian Fellowship

Chapter 6

How to maintain the fullness of the Spirit

The experience of receiving the Baptism in the Spirit is just a beginning. It is not the ultimate in the Christian life. We have not arrived when we've been filled with the Spirit. Someone once described the Christian life as similar to driving a car uphill without any brakes, and the road has no parking places. Similarly there is never a single experience we can park on - we have to keep going, or we will inevitable go backwards. Of course there are occasions when we need to step aside, as Jesus did, and seek the Father's face. We will always need refreshment, and God will determine both the time and the place.

Potentially, a whole new dimension in Christian living is opened up when we first receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, but it is a sad fact that some will not progress beyond the initial experience and in fact lose the power God gave them. The result may be a feeling of great dissatisfaction, because something tremendous has been tasted and then sadly lost. We are then left with the feeling of even greater emptiness than before we were baptised. When we lose the fullness of the Spirit we become like a person who has lived on a diet of bread and jam, without complaint, and then has had a delicious meal placed in front of them - we have eaten it but now the plate is empty and we've reverted to bread and jam. And while bread and jam was once acceptable, it is now insufficient in every aspect.

The first important step in maintaining the Baptism in the Spirit is to realise exactly what has happened to us when we were filled. Some have set their experience to one side because it does not live up to their expectations. Disappointment comes through lack of understanding about what the baptism is meant to do for us. To illustrate, the Baptism isn't designed to make me a Hollywood superman, or even a special person. I will not, overnight, start flying around searching for baddies to overcome, or rescuing children from rail crashes. And there is no unique, instantly recognisable uniform to don before going into action. And yet ...... The armour we wear will distinguish us (Ephesians 6:11-17), and access to the gifts of the Spirit will certainly set us apart. It is a spiritual war in which we are engaged, fought in spiritual realms, realms in which with God's armour and His weaponry we are indeed supermen.

Points to be considered.

Please be aware, Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a quick-fix. It doesn't mark the end of all your struggles and opposition as a Christian. In fact it may well mark the beginning of new areas of conflict. After the Holy Spirit came on Jesus, He immediately faced tremendous temptations from the devil, designed solely to divert Him from the work God had given Him to do. The devil will challenge our experience, and his usual tactics are to hit us at our most vulnerable point and bring great pressure to bear in that area. When, however, we examine the temptations of Jesus, we see that it was the Holy Spirit, Himself, who led Jesus into the wilderness Luke 4:1. The essential fact to absorb and remember at all times is that the LORD is sovereign over every situation we are in and it is He Who allows these 'wilderness experiences' to occur for our ultimate good.

The absolute, understood and believed, lesson to be learned here is that we will not be faced with any temptation that He doesn't give us the power to overcome. 1Corinthians 10:13. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.

Some words of guidance (from my own mistakes and experiences).

a The infilling of the Spirit gives us greater power in our fight against the enemy. As we make our stand against the enemy we will find that we will win greater victories than we ever did before we were Baptised in the Spirit.

b Baptism in the Spirit does not turn us into 'instant saints'. We will not, overnight, become mature and sinless Christians. The struggle with our old nature (that's the part of us which we've inherited and is the cause of our inbuilt tendency to sin) remains, and we will daily have to commit ourselves to the Lord to gain victory. Galatians 5:22, 23 gives us the fruit of that victory.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.

The fruit of the Spirit will still need to be developed and nurtured and the 'flesh', described so clearly in Galatians 5:16-21 will have to be kept under. I say then,
walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don't do what you want.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Although we have been Baptised in the Spirit, we can still sin and fail ­ However, there will come with the fullness of the Spirit, a greater longing for holiness.
c The Baptism does not immediately give us a different personality. We remain basically the same person with our strong and weak points. If, for instance, we happen to be a person who is naturally timid and fearful, being baptised in the Spirit doesn't necessarily mean that we will never be afraid again. But we will find a new power to do what we once had difficulty doing i.e. acting in spite of our fears. In short, we will discover the boldness that energised Peter on the day of Pentecost. We will also find that what we do in weakness will be effective because of God's power. Please read Corinthians 12 for the full context of Verse 10b For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The Baptism takes our strong points and talents, develops them and endues them with power. The weak aspects of our personalities are counteracted by the Spirit, although again not necessarily removed.

What can we expect as a positive result of being Baptised in the Spirit? There will be a greater awareness of the presence of Jesus in our lives. When the Holy Spirit fills us, Jesus becomes very real and we have a new desire to share Him with others. The Baptism is given primarily to enable us to witness about Jesus. The Holy Spirit's function is to point people to Him and convince them of Christian truth - the more we are filled with the Spirit the more we will allow Him to do His work of revealing Jesus through us.

God has Baptised us in the Spirit not merely for our own benefit but for the blessing of others. If we fail to realise this, the experience will inevitably fade until we regain our priorities. A big point to remember is that we are not all called
to witness in the same way - different methods suit different personalities - from public preaching to one-on-one. Please do not want what someone else has, want what God desires for you - which is the only, and narrow, way to freedom and true fulfilment.

For however, and wherever we witness, we should be open to the Spirit of God and prepared to speak when and as He gives us the opportunities. And He will!

Our worship in Church is another means of witness and we can all be involved in this way. When the people of God worship in freedom and liberty then the visitor may be given cause to think - and to wonder. When Christians are worshipping, perhaps more than at any other time, strangers may realise that Christians have something - Someone - they do not have. Worship clearly accentuates the difference between the believer and the unbeliever because the Holy Spirit is among us. Some will write it off as mere emotionalism or, in extreme circumstances, attribute it to satan himself. Matthew 12:24 When the Pharisees heard this, they said, "The man drives out demons only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons."

So be prepared, but never afraid. Remember Whom you serve and always, as Peter says, have a defence. 1Peter 3:15b-17 Always be ready to give a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

But others will want to hear more. And for a precious few, the reason for a prophetic tongue in Church will manifest itself to them. 1Corinthians 14:25 The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, "God is really among you."

If our meetings are to be an effective means of communicating the Gospel, then each of us needs to come full of the Holy Spirit and prepared to give of ourselves, pouring out what God has poured in. Our collective Holy Spirit controlled witness will then have an amazing effect on people.

Baptism opens up an entrance into the area of spiritual gifts 1Corinthians 12. There comes through these gifts, a greater perception about spiritual things. Sadly,
this is an area where we often fall short because of one very basic reason. Paul says, 1Corinthians 14:1. Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and above all that you may prophesy.

Which brings us to the inevitable question, why are spiritual gifts not seen in greater measure? The simple answer may be that we are not desiring or seeking them. Ask yourself how often you have prayed that you might be a channel for God to use in this area. If most of us are honest, we would have to admit that we are waiting for everybody else to be the one God uses, and we're just sitting back waiting to enjoy what God will send through another. Maybe we are simply afraid, or that our religious upbringing was contrary to the moving of the Holy Spirit. As in my experience, to a certain extent, we all bring baggage with us, which should be taken of and left, at the cross.

There are many possible reasons why not but the fact remains, God has wanted to use some in our Church but natural timidity or fear of making a mistake has prevented Him moving. If you feel that maybe the Lord wants to use you for a prophetic message in tongues, it may help you to know that most people wonder if they're actually making the words up, or are afraid of drying up in the middle! Even if you do make a mistake, it's not the end of you, God understands your heart and desire to do the right thing. And remember, Kinross Christian Fellowship is a safe place. A place where the leaders want you to step out, and are there to catch you if your first attempts at flight are not immediately successful. The progress a Church makes depends on every individual - every Christian has a contribution to make and it is our responsibility to be obedient in that area where the Lord is leading us. Maybe some are failing to experience all that God has for us because of lack of faith or knowledge in the area of spiritual gifts. (Which is the reason this this booklet was written.)

Another advantage, The Holy Spirit will instil a deeper desire to pray and study the Bible. We will also experience greater effectiveness and understanding in these areas of Christian discipline. And we will learn and experience that it is only as we give away what God gives us that we will receive more. And as we receive more we will inevitably achieve more in the work of the Kingdom. The reason each of us was born - again!

Prayer in the Spirit (or in a spiritual language) will be discovered as a tremendous means of communication with the Lord. (See earlier the value of speaking in
tongues.) New understanding of Christian truths will be noticed and we will be more deeply convinced than ever before. It is a win, win situation. A remarkable gift from God.

 

 

Stay full of the Holy Spirit

Ask for, and receive by faith, the infilling of The Holy Spirit each day. In Ephesians 5:18 we are commanded, And don't get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit: And as we noted in Chapter 3, it is a continuous process - yesterday's infilling is not sufficient for today. And know that what you have is real! 1 John 2:27 The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don't need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as He has taught you, remain in Him.

The Spiritual benefits

a After being baptised in the Spirit we will develop a growing desire to pray more, not less. We will learn to be very specific when we pray, asking the Lord for definite answers and remembering to thank Him before and after they are answered.

One word of advice from, 1Timothy 1:14, if I am permitted, it is essential that we: Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you.

b Worship will become part of our make-up, both in private and in public. For the Lord is particularly real when His people are worshipping; worship that is not based on our emotions on the day, but worship because we hunger to worship, worship because it is what God expects and desires from His people.

c Unconfessed sin will become a burden and the Holy Spirit will prompt us constantly to keep short accounts. We will find that when we sin, we will confess - and live in the freedom that only those in Christ may enjoy.

d Maintaining right relationships with our fellow Christians, and indeed with everyone, will become a part of our walk; honouring the Lord Jesus Christ in the process.

e Obedience to the prompting of the Spirit - when urged to witness, share in a meeting, pray, exercise spiritual gifts, or whatever God gives us to do - will become first-nature to us; although it may take a little while before we recognise His voice in all situations. But it will come.

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