<BGSOUND SRC="bapt/bach_846.mid" LOOP=1>

Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO on 6/2/02

"I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:8, RSV).

The Holy Spirit is perhaps the most "unseen" member of the Godhead. The prophets spoke of a day when God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh, when the glory of the Lord would be revealed and all flesh would see it together (Isa. 40:5). On the Day of Pentecost, empowered by the Spirit of God, the Apostle Peter said, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17, RSV). Because they were speaking with other tongues, some of the crowd who had gathered around accused them of being drunk. Peter told them, "....these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:14-16, RSV). He wanted them to know that what Joel had prophesied so long before was coming to pass in their presence, and it ushered in what Joel refers to "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31). Peter calls it, "the great and glorious day of the Lord" (Acts 2:20).

So which is it, dreadful or glorious? It depends on where you stand in relationship to it. History has shown that this awesome Day, which Jesus and all the prophets spoke of, occurred in the Hebrew month of Av, in AD 70, when Titus, the Roman General totally destroyed the beautiful Temple of God and most of Jerusalem along with it. It marked the end of the age, about which Jesus had prophesied in Matthew 24. The dispensationalists want us to believe that God will send a tribulation upon the earth in preparation for the Lord to come again, but this is not what the bible teaches at all.

Fear not, for the great tribulation that Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, about which He said, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved" (Matt. 24:22), has already taken place, at least physically. Jesus told His Disciples how the glorious temple of Herod the Great would end: "Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down" (Matt. 24:2). It happened exactly as He said. When we were in Israel, we saw great stones lying about like so many tinker toys. The only remnant left standing is a portion of the retaining wall, now known as the Western wall, which the Jews hold as most sacred today. Matt. 24 ends with the Lord telling them, "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place" (Matt. 24:32).

To the Jews, it was a dreadful event because everything demanded by the law and the prophets was destroyed, including the temple to which they brought their sacrificial offerings. God formerly met with His people between the wings of the cherubim in the Most Holy Place, but the holy of holies was destroyed completely, leaving the Jews no place to worship God or practice their religion.

To the Christians, it meant that Christianity would no longer be considered just a Jewish sect. In the great and terrible "Armageddon" of AD 70, one million, one hundred thousand Jews were killed by sword, crucifixion, famine, or plague. Josephius, the Jewish historian who was commissioned by Titus to write about it, said that the Christians in the city of Jerusalem heeded Jesus' warning to flee when they saw the armies surrounding the city (Luke 21:20-21). Miraculously, no Christians were killed in the siege, as they had already fled.

This event occurred almost 40 years after the Day of Pentecost when Christ returned in power and might, filling His followers with the Holy Spirit. Under the law of Moses, a man had no dialogue with God personally. He brought his sacrifices to the temple and offered them to God. The high priest went once a year behind the veil to sprinkle the Mercy Seat with blood to make atonement for his sins and the sins of the people (Lev. 16:34). Their sins were not really forgiven, but rolled forward for another year, symbolically laid on the head of the scapegoat, which was sent out into the wilderness (Lev. 16:10; Heb. 10: 4). During the age of the law, man was down here and God was up there some place, and never the twain did meet. The coming of the promised Holy Spirit changed all of that.

When Jesus introduced God to us as Father, it was in preparation for our being immersed into His body, incorporated into His family. The children of Israel were immersed in the cloud and the sea, baptized into Moses, Paul said (I Cor. 10:1-2). When we are immersed into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, we receive the remission of sins, membership into His body, and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). Christ is our elder brother, and we are joint-heirs with Him of all God has for us (Rom. 8:17; I Pet. 3:7). His blood reconciled us with God (II Cor. 5:18-19), in whose image and likeness we were created (Gen. 1:26), from whom we came and to whom we are going (Rom. 11:36). God was never far off from any of us (Acts 17:27), but at one time, we were separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in this world (Eph. 2:12). His blood brought us near to God once more, so near, in fact, that by the power of the life giving Spirit, God lives in us and we live in Him! (Acts 17:28; Gal. 2:20).

Because it is applied externally, like a coat of paint, religion can never bring us close to God. As you drive through this beautiful area, you may see an old barn or an old house which has been neglected and gone to rack and ruin. The foundation is cracked, the supporting beams are sagging; the roof has holes in it and the ravages of age can be seen from every side. You could apply a coat of paint on the outside, which might improve the structure's appearance at first glance, but it does nothing for the rotten floor boards, sagging beams, and leaky roof. To me, this is a great metaphor for why we must have the Holy Spirit. He is our life blood, the umbilical cord by which we are intimately connected with our Father. He transforms our inner man into the image and likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

No one can live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit! Sadly, there are some Christians who think the bible replaced His presence, and so they read and study, and memorize verses. It sounds like a very spiritual thing to do, but unfortunately, it is only a coat of paint on a dilapidated and crumbling down building. The outside may look presentable, but the inside is full of dead men's bones (Matt. 23:27). The Holy Spirit is building a living structure, a house of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with "Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:20-22). The Apostle Peter affirms, "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 2:5). Religion is about making the outside appear righteous. Life in the Spirit is total renovation as we are being built into a holy temple in whom God dwells.

Last week, we spoke about Simon the Sorcerer, a baptized believer in Samaria, who did not receive the Holy Spirit, even though two apostles, Peter and John, were in the area laying hands on others who also had not received this cherished gift. There is a similar account in the book of Acts. Paul had gone to Ephesus where he encountered some disciples whom he asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. "..they said, "No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit" (Acts 19:2). Paul asked them a pointed question, into WHAT were they baptized. They replied that they had been baptized with John's baptism which was for repentance and they had been told to watch for the one who would come after him, about whom he said, "..he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Matt. 3:11, RSV). Paul then baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus, "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied" (Acts 19:3-6). Some Christians today are living their lives according to the baptism of John. By that I mean, they are trying to do it all by the strength of their own right arm, without the Spirit's help. This is a quick trip to failure and frustration. The remedy for it is to ask Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, for He is the baptizer, and the Holy Spirit is God's promise to all who believe. He is "the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory" (Eph. 1:14).

Jesus told the disciples that He had to go away, so that the Counselor would come (Matt. 16:7). Counselor is another word for the Spirit, who is the great adviser and lover of our souls. Let's look at the promise Jesus made: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-15, RSV).

The verse states that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth, and His job description, if you will, is to glorify Christ. He will declare to us what is Christ's, who said, "all the Father has is mine." What we can expect is that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the Father who was manifested in the Son, who now lives in us by the power of the indwelling Spirit. There are so many things that I long to know about spiritual life. I am no longer satisfied by what men may say. I want to know what God has to say. This is why I tell you that the day is upon us when the gifts God gave the church, i.e., apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11-13), will no longer be needed. Pastors do not want to hear this. It threatens their job security, but as we attain the unity of the faith (not consensus of opinion) and of the knowledge of the Son of God, coming into mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, we have no need of these offices. Babes in Christ need someone to guide them into maturity, but the real goal of prophets, apostles, pastors, evangelists and teachers is to work themselves out of a job. It's like the old saw, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." What I am saying is that if we continue to teach people ABOUT God day after day, week after week, we will produce a bunch of bright babies who know the answers to our questions, but who have not gone on to maturity. When we introduce people to Jesus, the baptizer in the Holy Spirit, they have all things necessary for life and godliness.

Too many Christians go to church each week, either to pay their fire insurance or to get a "spiritual fix." Spiritual addiction is alive and well, and because of that, people who go against their church party line, rock the boat and are in danger of being thrown overboard into the sea of confusion and despair. God never chastises us for seeking to know Him. In fact, He puts a hunger in our hearts to seek His face, to fellowship with Him, to explore the secret places of the Most High, and He satisfies our hunger, always, by the indwelling Spirit.

It is impossible to live an overcoming life without the Holy Spirit! People who do not depend on Him in their lives display the symptoms (works) of the flesh. Many Christians who would not steal or commit adultery or bear false witness or kill, nevertheless are plagued by fear, worry, doubt and GUILT. This grieves the Holy Spirit, who is our Counselor, our Comforter, the one who is closer than a brother because He lives within us. He guides us; He leads us into truth; He fills us with joy and peace and leads us through the Kingdom of God, which "... is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17, RSV). Righteousness, peace and joy, what blessed commodities they are. In the flesh realm, they are almost non existent, but in the Spirit, they are available to everyone in every situation. Paul wrote the Galatian brethren, "if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law" (Gal 5:18). The law had to do with flesh, with the exterior of a man. It could only apply a coat of paint or put some new shingles on the roof, which did no lasting good because, the apostle says, "those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him" (Rom. 8:8-9). Beloved, we belong to God because we are in the Spirit. "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" (Rom. 8:14,15, RSV).

What a precious gift of God it is that we may call Him "Daddy," that the LOVE which sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross for us now dwells in us. Each kind of religion has its own idea about what the Holy Spirit does. Fundamentalists acknowledge His presence, but do not welcome the manifestations: utterance of wisdom, utterance of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the ability to distinguish between spirits, various kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues (I Cor. 12:8-11, RSV). Those denominations of the Charismatic persuasion, on the other hand, make the gifts of the Spirit, usually speaking in tongues, a test of whether or not the believer has the Holy Spirit. All such ideas come under the headings of "doctrines of men," and cannot be supported by scripture OR revelation, as the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians makes plain. There, Paul spells out the workings of the Spirit, concluding with the thought that no one has all the gifts, which are for the building up of the body of Christ, not personal gain. Gifts have caused a lot of division, rancor, and splits in the body of Christ, because people sought the Gift, rather than the Giver. When we have the Giver, we understand that the highest gift is love (I Cor. 13). The Apostle John said it clearly, "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love...Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (I John 4:7-8,11, RSV). When we seek Christ who IS love, the Holy Spirit will love through us, IN us and AS us. Come, Holy Spirit, revive us again today. Amen. Jan Antonsson

The Word of God

by Jan Antonsson

 

Baptized in the Spirit! What a word,

spoken in a tongue that we'd never heard.

The language of love, as clear as a bell,

delivered us from fear of death and hell.

 

The Word rang out from Zion's lofty height,

sweeping the earth like a burst of light.

It entered the sepulcher where we lay,

calling us forth into God's New Day.

 

Throwing off our grave cloths, we left the tomb.

We were born again from Messiah's womb.

In heavenly places we were chosen and seated,

rejoicing that death at last was defeated.

 

Speaking peace, we are sent to the others,

for they are ALL our sisters and brothers.

Like God, we shall not slumber nor sleep

until ALL come in, every last sheep.

 

Every knee shall bow; every tongue confess

that Christ is Lord and ALL are blessed.

He is Comforter, Counselor, Spirit, and Lord,

risen, glorified, beloved and adored.

 

We fall on our faces before His throne,

until He says, "Come child. You are my own.

Rise up, child, and reign with me,

enjoy my creation eternally."

 

Jan and Lenny Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)

"Seeing the Unseen"

"Seeing God"

"A lamp shining in a dark place"

"Gift and Giver"

"Bearing fruit in the Kingdom"

The Glory Road

We always enjoy hearing from you!

jantonsson@aol.com

This page was uploaded to the web on 5/31/02

by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,

and last edited on 10/29/08.