Allen Jackson - Instructions For Baptisms - Part 2
It's an honor to be with you today. We're working on a study trying to establish a firm foundation so we can flourish in the middle of a world of turmoil. In this session, we're gonna look specifically at Spirit baptism. Here's my suggestion: Make the decision to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as fully as possible in your life without precondition, without preconception. It's not about affiliating yourself with a group or a denomination. It's simply saying to the Spirit of God, "You're welcome in my life". If you'll begin to extend that invitation, I believe God will meet you in new ways with new power and new authority as you pursue him. Enjoy the lesson.
Can you go to heaven if you're not baptized? Well, I think you could, but why would you intentionally disobey the Lord? That's not territory I would encourage you to inhabit, amen? We ask the wrong questions. "Well, is it absolutely necessary"? Why would we ask that question? I know when COVID was like a brand-new thing, and they said millions of us might die. "Is it just absolutely necessary that I wash my hands"? "Six feet's a long the way. What about 18 inches"? We weren't asking any of those questions. Most of us had chapped hands. We were drinking hand sanitizer. You were sprayin' everything, and you couldn't get Clorox. And when it comes to our faith, our attitude is more like, "Well, just how close can I get to the edge"?
It's a bad, it's a destructive mentality. There's another baptism in the New Testament, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This one makes people more anxious than the baptism in water, typically. In each of the four gospels, Jesus is introduced to us as the one who will baptize us in the Holy Spirit. Put it in your notes because I think it's significant. In John 1, this is John the Baptist. He said, "I wouldn't have known him," Jesus, "except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The one on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God". Matthew, "I baptize you with water for repentance".
Again, it's John. "But after we will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I'm not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire". Luke repeats almost the same thing. "John answered, 'I baptize you with water. But one more powerful that I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I'm not worthy to untie. He'll baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.'" Mark 1, "This was his message: 'After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I'm not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he'll baptize you with the Holy Spirit.'" So each of the gospels, that's very unique, introduces Jesus to us as the one who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit.
Most of us know the phrase that "Jesus was the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". That's only recorded in one of the gospels. John records that, but all four of the gospels, and I'm not diminishing Jesus as the Lamb of God, but all four of the gospels introduce Jesus to us, in the opening chapters of those Jesus stories, as the one who will baptize us in the Holy Spirit. Might I suggest it would be in our best interest to understand what that means? I don't know about, I'm of the opinion, if there's something God wants me to have, I'm getting in line. "Well, that's not the way my", I'mma go get in line. So the "Why"? question comes into play, and I'm gonna do this rather quickly. We'll come back and explore this in some more detail. Probably not, I don't know when we'll do it. We'll come back and do this in some more detail, but the "Why"?
The first one I've already alluded to, Jesus is the baptizer, and he gave the directions. That should stop the discussion. Acts chapter 1, says, "On one occasion, while Jesus was eating with them, the disciples, he gave them this command", you should circle that word. It's a command, not a hint, a suggestion, a prompt, not a good idea, not a little nugget, not a thought for the day. This is a command from a resurrected Messiah: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you've heard me speak about. John baptized with water, but in a few days you'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit". So if we're gonna unpack the "Why"? the first place I would start is that we've already established Jesus is the baptizer, and he gave us the direction. If he commanded Peter and John and James and Mary to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, I'm thinkin' it might help Allen.
And I'm not gonna take the time, but if I build you the chronology, in John chapter 20, on the evening of Resurrection Day, the evening of Jesus's Resurrection, and what day was Jesus resurrected? It's not a trick. Sunday. On Sunday evening, Jesus steps into the room where his disciples were hiding because they're terrified, and it says, "He showed them the signs of his passion," the prints in his hand and the gash in his side, the wound in his side, "And he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" Now, I would submit to you, at that point, they experienced the new birth. They had a personal encounter with the resurrected Christ, "And he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" Does that seem right to you? Would you accept them into membership of the church at that point? I would.
So now, in Acts chapter 1, at the end of 40 days of training with them about the kingdom of God, Acts chapter 1, he's gonna ascend back to heaven, and Luke says he gave them this command, "Don't leave Jerusalem until you're baptized in the Holy Spirit". So he's talking about something beyond conversion. When you're born again, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within you. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. That was accomplished on Jesus's Resurrection Day with this same crew, but now, in Acts chapter 1, he's commanding them not to leave the city until they're baptized in the Holy Spirit. So Spirit baptism seems to be leading us towards something different. In that same chapter, in verse 8, he said, "'You'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' And after he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight".
How many of you believe last words have special significance? There's kind of a focus to those. Well, Jesus's last words to his disciples, the last words he gave us on earth before he ascended back to heaven was that "you'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria". They are expanding, concentric circles. It's like saying, "Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Middle Tennessee, the United States, and to all the world". "You'll be empowered to be witnesses for me". So, if you're back to the "Why"? question, "What's the purpose of Spirit baptism"? It's to empower you to be a better witness for Christ.
One of the reasons we've been so indifferent around this is we haven't cared that much. We wanted to be sure we were saved or our kids were saved or somebody was saved so we could go to heaven. We weren't overly interested in growing up or maturing, and we certainly weren't ready for God to be givin' us any assignments. And other people getting saved, "I don't have the gift of evangelism. Let somebody else worry about that". It's a new day, and we need a new response from the church. We're not gonna get to a better place without a different response from the church. There's a third thing I would submit to you that Spirit baptism brings to your life that you won't achieve in any other way. This is Romans chapter 8, in verse 26. Says, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness".
Did you know that even as a born-again, water-baptized Christ-follower, you still have weakness? You could look back at that person on your right. You've already told them you think they're a sinner so, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We don't 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". When I talk to you about Spirit baptism or the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I include in that the privilege of speaking in tongues, praying in a language that you don't understand, that you didn't learn. "Now, why would we do that? What could be the possible reasoning for that"?
Well, I would submit, one aspect of that is right here, that the Holy Spirit can make intercession for you. See, I don't know about you, but I don't always know how to pray. I mean, I know what my wish list is. You know, I know where my pain points are. You know, it's like makin' a Christmas list for the Creator, but I would submit to you, prayer really is intended to be a little broader than that, particularly if we start to pray about intercession and praying, for instance, if I were gonna pray for the people in this section, and I knew that the first three things I asked for would be granted, I'd mess it up 'cause I would say, "God, give them all a new washing machine," and two-thirds of you don't want a stinkin' washing machine. You want a microwave or whatever. And I'm very aware that my intellect is insufficient to pray in a focused, intentional way for every need that presents itself before me.
So I can't tell you that the gift, the strength that is in me, to imagine that the Spirit of God would intercede through me beyond my awareness. And I'm tellin' you, walkin' through the season we're walking through, when the craziness and the insanity and the wickedness has the expression that it does, to be able to pray, directed by the Spirit of God, for yourself, for your family, for your congregation, for a community, for a nation, for the church, and the earth, seems, to me, like an invitation that's too remarkable just to walk past.
There's a fourth reason in Jude chapter 1. It says, "You, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit". I believe there's a spiritual, emotional, and physical renewal that comes when you will yield yourself to pray in the Spirit. The fifth one may be the most on point. The benefit may not seem as profound, but I think that the correlation makes the most sense to me. In James chapter 3, says, "We all stumble in many ways". That's that person beside you again, right? It's not us, but, Lord, help us. We sit in a room full of stumblers. "If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he's a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check".
That's an amazing statement, that, if you're never at fault in what you say, you have mastered the rest of your person. "We put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, and we can turn the whole animal. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark, and the tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire".
Did you hear that? Your words have enormous spiritual impact, more powerful than a forest fire. "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison". You can learn perhaps not to use profanity when you're at church, and you may have enough self-discipline to force a vocabulary over your public interactions with people, but it's a mistake to imagine that what our goal is simply to monitor profanity. James is saying that none of us can master our tongue. So now it makes sense, to me, that the most unruly part of my person, if I will yield myself to the Spirit of God, he will take the most undisciplined part of me and make that a tool for intercession for the purposes of God in the earth. Put my name on that list. I think that's what Spirit baptism represents.
Now, In the unfolding story of the New Testament, Spirit baptism is the doorway into the supernatural life of faith that God has prepared for his people. Acts chapter 1, is when Jesus goes back to heaven. Acts chapter 2, is when that promise of the outpouring or the descent of the Spirit begins to unfold, and the characters that we know as keystone cops, I mean, in the gospels, it's like Jesus recruited The Three Stooges and their friends. I mean, on multiple occasions, Jesus says to them, "Are you really that slow? Do you not understand? Are you not paying attention? Oh, you have little faith, why couldn't you do this"? And in Acts chapter 3, the whole city of Jerusalem is stirred by a miracle that Peter and John invite a man towards. The people that wouldn't stand with Jesus when he's being in Gethsemane, they wouldn't even stay awake and pray with him, stand before the Sanhedrin, in Acts chapter 5, the group that orchestrated Jesus's execution, and they said, "You can do what you want to, to us, but we will never stop telling his story".
What happened to them? Well, the most logical explanation was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that's what would happen: "You'll be empowered to be witnesses for me". Folks, we need a power beyond ourselves. We're not gonna outthink evil or outwork evil or out-organize evil. We're not working to get a 51% majority so we can sweep through an election, and the world be different. We wanna yield to the power of God so that his kingdom can come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. That doesn't require a majority. That just requires us, and we've ignored this, I think, for too long. The disciples are dramatically different in their response to their world after Acts chapter 2. They have a boldness in front of their antagonist. They've got a new courage for challenges. Peter's in prison. The angels opened the doors. I mean, it's just incredible what happens to them.
So, I would suggest, in your portfolio of growing up in the Lord, water baptism's important. It's more than some casual thing. It has nothing to do with joining this congregation. It's very little to do with any congregation. We morph into some silly things: "You have to be dipped in my pool, or I won't count". Lord, help us. Or we add somethin' else to it: "Our rules make it special". I used to do weeks of classes. You had to go through weeks of classes, and then we got it down to just a class, but it was long, just, you know, we won't baptize anybody that was ignorant. When I look back, I'm pretty convinced there were times we baptized some well-educated pagans. When COVID happened, we had people presenting to be baptized, and we didn't have time for a class 'cause we couldn't come, and we couldn't have a class. We said, "Well, I guess we could let you in the pools, you know, well".
How many of you know there's some pretty significant life events you've participated in that you didn't understand? Parents, that first baby you brought home, how many of you felt completely trained up? All you married people, how many of you know, when you said, "I do," you understood fully everything that was involved? Where did we get this notion with our Christian faith, "Well, I'm not going to experience it until I can explain it fully". Well, you will sit in the bleachers until you step into eternity. My suggestion, we'll begin to start with obedience with the things that you do know, and then begin to say to the Lord with humility, "I want everything you have for me".
My time is up, so I would make a distinction between Spirit baptism and the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, so, but, for this point, let's simply begin to say to the Lord, "I want everything you have for me". And just put a period there, and I don't mean, you know, "If you force it on me", if your imagination of cooperating with the Lord is, if he puts you in a corner where the only option you have is God, you'll cooperate, you will miss 99% of what God has for you. In fact, you will most likely miss the kingdom of God. The redemptive work of Jesus is complete and entire.
There's nothing to be added to it, but in order to benefit from the redemptive work of Jesus, you and I have to believe in our heart and confess with our mouth, or we won't be saved, so it's not a question of whether God loves you or whether he wants you to be saved, whether he's gonna do something. He has done something. He sent his Son, but if you're not willing to yield, to acknowledge your sin, repent of your sin, make Jesus Lord of your life, that means lay down your life. If you haven't laid down your life, you have a legitimate reason to question the authenticity of your salvation. But if you've done those things, all those benefits come to you, but you have to choose that, and I meet people all time, say, "Well, if God wants me to have it, I'm willing. You know, I'll take it. I mean, if he forces it on".
The Holy Spirit will not force you to follow. That's not following. That's being driven, and he won't drive you. Evil will drive you. I've prayed with dozens and dozens, hundreds of people that have talked to me about destructive habits and behaviors, and they say, "Pastor, I know this is destroying relationships, destroying my physical health, destroying something, but I can't seem to stop it". I've never met anybody that said, "I really didn't wanna be righteous. I didn't wanna be holy. I didn't wanna be pure, but I just couldn't help myself". And you know it's right 'cause it resonates with you. You have to choose it, and the same is true with either water baptism and then Spirit baptism. It's not a merit badge. You don't earn it. It's a gift. It's a gift as if salvation is a gift.
Do you have to speak in tongues to go to heaven? No, don't start the rumor, no. Well, I've known carnal people that speak in tongues. I've known carnal people that make a profession of faith. It's not a merit badge. It's a gift. I know fat people that have a gift of health equipment. I don't want healthy people to go to the gym. We get it, we twist it. Begin to say to the Lord, "Yes". Folks, what's in front of us, you're gonna want every piece of equipment you can pick up. I brought you a prayer. I brought you a prayer. Let's pray it together. I'll hush. Have you found it?
Heavenly Father, my desire is to cooperate with You, without reservation to follow Your direction. I open my life to every gift You have for me. Forgive me for my reluctance and hesitancy. Forgive me for considering the opinions of others before I consider Your opinion. I choose Jesus as Lord of my entire life. I repent of anything which separates me from God's best. I renounce any involvement I have had in the occult. I'm a child of God, through the blood of Jesus I have been delivered from the hand of the enemy and set free to serve the Living God. May Your purposes emerge in my life as never before, amen.