Seminar Holy Spirit - Moller

THE HOLY SPIRIT AS MANIFESTED IN REBIRTH AND SPIRIT BAPTISM

Prof Francois P Möller

Presented & recorded at ATS' Seminar on the Holy Spirit, 9 Oct 2013


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INTRODUCTION

In this paper the accent is on the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in rebirth and Spirit baptism. This accent on the Holy Spirit does not deny the fact that God is a Tri-une God, and that He always operates as such. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is operative in rebirth and Spirit baptism. Our focus is however on the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in these events.

In theological circles it was, and still is, an issue of contention whether rebirth and Spirit baptism are one and the same event or two separate events. Amongst Reformed theologians it is usually taught that one receives the Holy Spirit at salvation or rebirth, and therefore there is no need for another experience like baptism in the Holy Spirit. In Roman Catholic and Anglican circles, baptism in the Holy Spirit is received by the sacrament of Confirmation. It is seen as part of becoming a Christian and not a separate event. When the bishop lays his hands on someone to administer the sacrament of Confirmation, this sacrament is seen as the confirmation and completion of becoming a Christian. In Pentecostal circles Spirit baptism is seen as a subsequent event after becoming a Christian through rebirth.

One of the reasons for this contention amongst theologians, is the believe that both rebirth and baptism in the Holy Spirit are events that are not only worked by the Holy Spirit but are also sustained by His indwelling in the life of the believer. The question therefore is: If a regenerated person is also Spirit filled, why the need for a subsequent event of Spirit baptism? There are of course some Pentecostals, who do not believe that rebirth is accompanied by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that one receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit only through Spirit baptism, but they are in the minority.

To deal with this question, asks first of all for clarity on what rebirth and Spirit baptism really comprise of, and secondly what the relationship is between these two events in terms of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. This will be done from a Biblical perspective.


REBIRTH AND THE HOLY SPIRIT

We have to confess that the actual new birth in a person's life is clouded in mystery. It is a miracle of God and is difficult, maybe impossible, to understand just how it takes place. Concerning this very issue that was for Nicodemus totally incomprehensible, Jesus said in John 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. No one has ever seen the wind; all we observe are its results. Thus we cannot see the act of regeneration; we can only observe the results as a Divine operation. What really takes place in our spirit in this regard remains inaccessible for our intellect.

However, although clouded in mystery, much is said in Scripture about regeneration. It is the translation of the Greek word anagennaō as found in 1 Peter 1:3, 23 that means "to bring forth" or "to give birth anew". We also find in this regard the Greek expression genēthēnai anôthen (John 3:3, 7) which means to be born from above. It concerns a birth apart from natural birth, and is like natural birth an event and not a mere idea. It is being born from the Spirit of God (John 3:8).

1.1. FROM DEATH TO LIFE

To be reborn presupposes the beginning of new life, and an old life that has seized to exist. This new and old life concerns the spiritual existence of man. Although man in his natural and sinful state is biologically and psychologically speaking alive, his spirit is in a state of death. This prevents him from a living relationship with God, and entering his kingdom: Jesus answered: "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5).

Regeneration means that the human spirit is made alive, and has cross over from death to life. Ephesians 2:1 says the natural man is dead in trespasses and sins. The difference between a Christian and one who is not, is answered in one word and that is life! A sinner is not ignorant and therefore needs instruction; he is not weak and in need of invigoration; he is not sick and in need of doctoring – he is dead and needs to be made alive. The Lord said: That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born from the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6).That is what regeneration is all about, and that happens by an act of the Holy Spirit.

1.2. DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST

Regeneration is realized in a person's life through faith in, and identification with, Christ's death and resurrection. Believers have been crucified with Christ and have also been raised together with Him. Christ's death and resurrection is something every believer is personally involved in. In Ephesians 2:4-6 it is said: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy ,made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

The life that we receive by regeneration is not life in general, but the resurrected life of Christ. That is eternal life through which we partake in the divine nature of God. It is not that this eternal and resurrected life of Christ is infused into us, but rather that we are brought into it by our union with Him. In John 15:4-6 Christ compares Himself to a vine in whom the believers continually should abide as branches and bear fruit. The life of the branches is inseparable from their connection to the vine, and cannot exist as something apart of the vine. The same is true concerning eternal life in a believer. To receive this life is to be inserted or to be slot into the life of Christ. In other words we partake in the resurrected and eternal life that is found in God alone. It is never something we receive as an inherent quality next to God.

Exactly because this life realizes in our union with Christ, it also means that life is not "something" we receive but "someone" – that is Christ who is in himself life from eternity. Paul clearly states: And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9). This life is only a possibility in the believer through the indwelling Spirit of God. Regeneration is therefore more than just a renewal of a person's life; it is also a continious realization of Christ's life in such a person through the Spirit of God. 1 John 5:11-12 God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Thus, regeneration means to be saved from God's wrath against sin; to receive eternal life; to experience the indwelling of God's Spirit and to become a co-heir of Jesus Christ. This truth is beautifully summed up by Paul in Titus 3:5-7 He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. In the same way Peter also gave expression to these truths: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Peter 1:3-4).

1.3. CHILD OF GOD

Regeneration is the occurrence by which one becomes a child of God. This divine sonship gives this child the privilege to call God his Father (Matthew 6:9). There seems to be a remarkable parallel between Christ being born the Child of God and believers being born children of God.

Christ is born from the Father and is called His Son (John 1:14, 18: 3:16; 5:26; 1 John 4:9; Hebrews 1:5). Believers are also born from God (John 3:8; 1 John 5:1) and called His sons and daughters (Romans 8:16, 19; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 3:26; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 3:1) Believers are called the brothers of Christ (Matthew 12:47-49; Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:17)

Christ is called the beloved Son of God (Matthew 3:17; 1 Peter 1:17). Believers are also called beloved of God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 5:1: 1 Timothy 6:2). It is even said that God loves His children as He loves Christ (John 17:23)

As Son, Christ is called heir of God (Hebrews 1:2). Believers are also called heirs of God (Romans 8:17).

Christ's birth from the Father and the regeneration of believers has such significant similarities that rebirth should be seen as one of the greatest miracles performed in one's life!


BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

Regarding Spirit baptism the Bible refer to "baptism in the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5), "being filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4; 4:31; 9:17; 13:52), and the "receiving of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:16, 17). These are all expressions to emphasize the specific intimate relationship between the Holy Spirit and a believer's spirit. It is also said that the Holy Spirit is "poured" upon people (Acts 2:33; 10:44), the Spirit "falls upon" them (Acts 8:16; 10:44) and "comes upon" them (Acts 19:6). Here the emphasis is on the experience of the believer who comes in the sphere and power of the Holy Spirit.

All these expressions (baptized, filled, receiving, poured upon, falls upon, and comes upon) do not mean that a believer has nothing of God's Spirit in him before Spirit baptism. Each one of the above expressions should be regarded as a "termus technicus" that refers particularly to this Pentecostal experience. We have already shown that a person also receive the Spirit of Christ with rebirth (Romans 8:9). One cannot have the Spirit of Christ without also having the Holy Spirit as well – we have already emphasized that God operates as a Tri-une God. To have Christ in your life is to have the Father and Holy Spirit also.

That a reborn person also experience the indwelling Spirit of God is further emphasized by the fact that all of the "pneumatika" as given in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, were, except for speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues, operative in believer's lives before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They could only be operative by the revelation of the Holy Spirit in a person's life.

2.1. IT IS A PROMISE FULFILLED BY CHRIST

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not something that the believer has to persuade the Father to give to him. God took the initiative and promised this baptism and is able to fulfill the promise He has given. This promise was foretold in the Old Testament in Joel 2:28-32. Also in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4 Jesus refers to this event as a "promise from the Father".

As a fulfillment of a promise we have to accept that this revelation of the Holy Spirit is something new that has never been experienced before.

2.2. CHRIST IS THE BAPTIZER IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

John introduced Christ as "… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Matthew 3:11). It is therefore an event in which Christ himself is the subject. Unless the Lord baptizes you in the Holy Spirit you cannot receive it. We can, for instance, baptize someone in water, but no man can baptize another person in the Holy Spirit. John 1:33 The man whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is He who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.

2.3. IT IS A OBSERVABLE EVENT

On the day of Pentecost, the baptism in the Holy Spirit took place on a specific day at a given hour and in a given place (Acts 2:1, 15). It was something experienced by the disciples, and also seen and heard by those witnessed it (Acts 2:33). This was not only true on the day of Pentecost, but on every other occasion on which the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is mentioned. It was a recognizable event which could be described (Acts 8:18; 10:44-47; 11:15-17; 19:6).

Although baptism in the Holy Spirit is received by faith; it is more than just something you believe you have. Those who were filled with the Spirit were conscious that something had happened to them and could bear witness to it. To reduce this event to a sacrament (the sacrament of Confirmation) where it is presumed that one has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit after the Bishop has laid hands on you and prayed for you, is un-Biblical.

2.4. IT IS A SELF-REVELATION OF THE GLORIFIED CHRIST

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an intense encounter with the risen and glorified Christ. Christ had first to rise from dead and ascend into heaven, and only after being glorified, the Holy Spirit could be poured out. The day of Pentecost was therefore a sign that Christ was indeed exalted and glorified. That was also Peter's conclusion of his sermon on that day: Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). In fact, one of the most important outcomes that baptism in the Holy Spirit has on man is the confession that Jesus is the Lord. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:3 … and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit does not present Himself, but presents Christ, and glorifies Him. Jesus said: He will bring glory to Me by taking what is mine and make it known to you (John 16:13). This glorification of Christ by the Holy Spirit in a believer's life is at the core of experiencing the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Exactly because the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ in the believer's life, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is also a particular empowerment to energize and anoint the believer for special service. This empowerment should be understood in terms of Christ's words in Matthew 28:18 before his ascension: All power in heaven and earth has been given to Me. When the glorified Christ is revealed in a believer's life, it is accompanied with power. It is a power to present Christ to the world.

This is especially seen in the life of Peter. Initially he was unsure and even afraid regarding his stand for Christ. Yet after the event of Pentecost, he was so full of inner conviction and power that he proclaimed the gospel with boldness and courage. As a result, many were converted and became Christians. It is therefore not far-fetched to say that the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the lives of the early Christians was the main reason for the miraculous growth of the Christian Church in the apostolic and post-apostolic years.

2.5. WORSHIP AND SPEAKING IN TONGUES

The believer's encounter with the glorified Christ in baptism with the Holy Spirit leads to a spontaneous worshipping of God. In all cases where the Bible reports how people were baptized in the Holy Spirit, this worship was accompanied with speaking in tongues as the Spirit enables them to speak. On the day of Pentecost we read: All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:4). The speaking in tongues is among others also a sign of the inadequacy of man to worship God properly on the basis of his own abilities.

It is necessary to take note that the disciples were first filled with the Holy Spirit and then began to speak in other tongues. This means that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not dependent or based on speaking in tongues. In fact, the opposite is true; speaking in tongues is dependent and based on Spirit baptism. Thus the possibility cannot be excluded that someone who has for some reason not yet spoken in tongues could in fact be baptized in the Holy Spirit. However one should not be satisfied until one's own experience agrees with what we read in the Bible. When someone has been baptized in the Holy Spirit, he should speak also in tongues according to Biblical example. If speaking in tongues has not taken place, the person should pray and strive for it.


REBIRTH AND SPIRIT BAPTISM

Based upon what has been said concerning rebirth and baptism in the Holy Spirit, makes it impossible to see these two experiences as one and the same event. The following differences may be summarized.

At rebirth the holy Spirit creates new life in man (John 3:5-8)

Baptism in the Holy Spirit equips this new life with special power from above (Luke 24:49).

Rebirth is described in the Bible as an occasion where sinners come to faith and repentance. It is therefore accompanied with the conviction of sin, the confession thereof, and the acceptance of a new life in Christ.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit goes further than merely come to salvation. Through this experience one comes to a fuller revelation of God's Spirit in his life. Therefore, it is not something that the world can receive (John 14:17). For example; the Samaritans were filled with the Holy Spirit after they had come to faith and were baptized (Acts 8:5-17). The same order is found in Acts 2:38; 19:2; 11:17 and John 7:39.

In 1 Corinthians 12:13 we read: 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. This baptism is clearly brought about by the Spirit, but not in terms of baptism in the Holy Spirit, but into the body of Christ. This is precisely what rebirth implies, namely to be incorporated into Christ.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not to be incorporated in the body of Christ, but to equip the body of Christ for service – especially to present Christ to the world: But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Rebirth is a silent and hidden operation in man's heart. For instance the evil-doer on the cross (Luke 23:40-43) and the Ethiopian official (Acts 8:39-37) came to faith but the regenerating work of the Spirit was not visible. The spectators at the cross did not notice the change in the evil-doer, and the Ethiopian had first to confess his faith to Phillip before baptism.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is of course also a hidden operation in man's heart, but the result was immediately observable. On the day of Pentecost Peter could declare: He poured out this which you now see and hear (Acts 2:33). In Acts 8:17-19 it is reported that Simon saw how people received the Holy Spirit at the laying on of the apostles' hands. That is also true in the case of Cornelius and his people as reported in Acts 10:44-45: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Rebirth is first of all an encountering with the crucified and resurrected Christ. One has to believe that Christ has died for his sin and has been resurrected in a new life for him.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is first of all an encountering with the glorified Christ to whom is given all power in heaven and earth.

This difference, however, is not absolute; it is more a difference in emphasis. The reborn person also knows Christ in his glorified state, but not with the same intensity as a person that is baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes the difference between regeneration and Spirit baptism is compared with a glass half full of water – that is rebirth; while Spirit baptism is when the glass is overflowing. This comparison needs however further qualification. The Holy Spirit cannot be compared with a liquid which you may have more or less from. The Holy Spirit is a Person – you either have Him in your life or you don't have Him. This comparison can only be valid in terms of the revelation of God's Spirit in a person's life, but not in terms of the indwelling of the Spirit in a believer's life.


THE NECESSITY OF SPIRIT BAPTISM IN SPITE OF BEING REBORN

We have asked the question: If a regenerated person is also Spirit filled, why the need for a subsequent event of Spirit baptism? The following could be pointed out in this regard:

4.1. EMPOWERMENT FOR SERVICE

The baptism in the Holy Spirit was seen necessary after becoming a Christian. For example, when the Samaritans came to faith under the ministry of Phillip, immediate arrangements were made for Peter and John to come and pray for those believers to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:12-17). This also happened to the disciples whom Paul met in Ephesus. Immediately after the gospel had been proclaimed to them and they had been baptized, Paul laid hands on them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-6).

Baptism in the Holy Spirit was seen as a necessary event in a believer's life to equip him for service. This was especially demonstrated in the lives of the disciples. In John 20:19 we read that they have hidden behind closed doors "for fear of the Jews" , but after being baptized with the Holy Spirit they were different persons who proclaimed the gospel with boldness and without any fear. That was the reason for the Lords command in Acts 1:4-5: Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you heard me speak of. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

This was also seen in the ministry of Stephan. The Bible says: And Stephan full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people … and they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke (Acts 6:8,10). Paul wrote to the Corinthians: And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Corinthians 2:4).

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not something to be ignored by believers. God sees Spirit baptism as a necessity to be really effective in his service.

4.2. POWER FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Christians are opposed by the great forces of evil and are not able to combat them in their own strength. In fact we can expect that this onslaught of the evil One will increase. John wrote in Revelations 12:12; But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short. Paul also emphasized that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers of the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:12).

The spirit of the evil One can only be overcome by the Spirit of God. There can be no substitute for the power of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life. The weapons we fight with are not carnal, but mighty through God to demolish strongholds, casting down arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). The baptism in the Holy Spirit therefore also an endowment of power to resist and overcome the forces of evil more effectively.

4.3. A GREATER OPENESS AND SENSITIVITY FOR THE OPERATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

A person who is baptized in the Holy Spirit experiences a greater openness and sensitivity for the operation of the Holy Spirit. This openness enables the believer to do God given tasks and to carry out His commissions more effectively, because of a greater sensitivity for the Spirit's voice and guidance as well as the manifestation of the Spiritual gifts.

4.4. SPEAKING IN TONGUES

Speaking in tongues as well as its interpretation never occurred before the day of Pentecost. Consequently, there must be a unique link between Spirit baptism and speaking in tongues. In fact, speaking in tongues could be considered as a natural outflow of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

In worshipping God and also in one's prayer life, speaking in tongues plays an important role. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:4; He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself. In verses 14-15 of this same chapter he continues: For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. In verse 18 he testifies: I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all.

To pray in the spirit in tongues is a wonderful experience to pray in the will of God and to sense His presence. We read in Romans 8:26-27; In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express .And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. The realization of what Paul says here is especially experienced while praying in tongues.


CONCLUSION

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is for every reborn child of God. It comes as a free gift of God's grace. Therefore it cannot be worked for, merited, or deserved in any manner. It is neither received as a reward for hours of prayer, nor because of sacrifices made. It is an event based on a promise whereby God in his grace makes a person in a special way aware of the glorified Christ, and as a consequence of this, the believer is equipped with spiritual power to live the life that God expects from him with great effectiveness. It is to the detriment of the church that so many believers did not receive this free gift in their lives!



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