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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Learning More About the Holy Spirit

Patiently, Pam made time to explain things to me. She could see I was more than eager to learn; I was desperate to understand. Opening our Bibles to the New Testament, she began to read from Acts Chapter One:

“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” (Verses 1-5)

There is both the baptism with water with which I was familiar, but now Pam had read about a baptism with the Holy Spirit? I hadn’t heard anything like that before this and didn’t know what it meant. “But, Pam, didn’t the Holy Spirit come on the disciples when Jesus breathed on them after His Resurrection? Is this the same thing?”

“No, it isn’t the same thing but I know where you are talking about. It’s in John Chapter Twenty.” The pages of her Bible flew as she backed up to the exact location of the passage and read:

“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (Verses 21-22)

“But, isn’t that when the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples? There is only one Holy Spirit, isn’t there?” I was confused.

“There is only one Holy Spirit; you’re right. However, if you’ll notice, the first time is just after Jesus appeared to the disciples. He had been resurrected and came to see them, remember?” I nodded my recognition. “Then, Jesus is about to be taken up to Heaven and He’s telling them about the Holy Spirit Who will come. He tells them to wait in Jerusalem, where they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. If He already breathed the Holy Spirit on them and told them to receive it, why would Jesus tell them to go wait for the Holy Spirit? The answer is because it is not the same thing, though it is the same Holy Spirit.”

“But, why? I mean, if I already have something in my hand, then why should I go somewhere and wait for someone to bring it to me?” I wasn’t getting it; that was for sure. Again Pam’s pages were flipped back to the Book of Acts.

“Just listen to this. Jesus is telling them what is going to happen when the Holy Spirit comes.” Pam read with such excitement, I couldn’t help but anticipate something big. “Again in Chapter One, verses eight and nine. 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.’ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”

“Okay, I can see it’s the last thing Jesus said to them before being taken back up to Heaven. It’s not the same thing as when He breathed on them. So, the Holy Spirit will give the disciples power to witness, and you’re saying the Holy Spirit will do that for us, too?”

“Exactly! We can read in the Bible how the disciples were eager to see that all of the new Believers in Jesus knew about the Holy Spirit’s power being available to them. Just a little farther on in the Book of Acts. Turn to Chapter Eight.” I did and Pam read verses fourteen through sixteen.

“When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

“And that means, they were only baptized in water but the disciples went to see that the new Believers were also baptized in the Holy Spirit?”

“That’s totally correct; you’re getting it! It’s like this: We are made with a body, a soul and a spirit. The body is our external being, the soul is our personality/ our mind/our will and lives inside the body. The spirit lives inside the soul. When Jesus breathed on the disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit, they received the Holy Spirit in their spirit. That was the time of salvation. The new Believers had all received the Holy Spirit in their spirit. However, to have the power of the Holy Spirit for witnessing and to accomplish what God has intended for our lives, we need to have the Holy Spirit fill our soul. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the filling up of our soul with the Holy Spirit. If you ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit as in the way of the baptism, you’ll see the huge difference it makes.”

Pam told me of her increase in boldness to witness for Christ and just to share what God had done in her own life with others. She said that after she had received the Holy Spirit in her soul, she could more easily understand the bible and what God was saying in the passages she had not understood. Pam also sensed an insatiable desire to read the Bible; she didn’t do it because a teacher told her it was a good idea. She really wanted to read and read it, every chance she got. It was like a whole new adventure to her and she couldn’t get enough of its pages. The same was true of how her prayer life had improved.

Well, who wouldn’t want all that? I did… but, well, it was still pretty strange to me and I feared I’d be sprinting to a header off a steep cliff. It just sounded too good to be true, at the same time as sounding strange. The Bible verses were pretty clear, though; the question was if such an experience was also for today’s Believers?

I’d need to think on this a bit more. I wanted to share this with Curt to hear his thoughts. Pretty radical stuff for a Catholic!

****Midnight on the Second Pew … Next Post

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