Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Biblical Salvation (Part 6)

From the very beginning of the Christian life, the Holy Spirit is at work in the believer. Christians are ‘born again’ by the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus promised the disciples that they would receive a dynamic power to witness for Him when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:4-8).

Acts 2: 38-39 makes it clear that the Spirit is for us today and applies to us.

When Paul met ‘disciples’ at Ephesus (see Acts 19:1-7), he sensed something was lacking and asked them a very basic question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” He knew that there was a receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit that every believer was entitled to have. However not every believer had this automatically. He expected them to know whether they had been filled with the Holy Spirit or not. The baptism in the Spirit is a definite experience (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 8:12-17; Acts 19:1-7).

Jesus is the one who baptizes his followers in the Holy Spirit (John 1:29-33). In John 7:37-39, Jesus gives us simple steps to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

  • If anyone is thirsty This is a deep longing for God to meet you in this way. This desire is essential for receiving the Holy Spirit. If you are not thirsty, ask God “Why”!
  • Come to me Go to Jesus and ask. God gives to those who ask (Luke 11:13).
  • Drink Drinking is an act of faith. Lay hold of the blessing and be ready to receive.
  • Faith Jesus says the Spirit will be active in the one who believes in him. Faith plays an important role. When you come to Jesus, resist the temptation to passively wait for something to happen.
  • Laying on of hands This is a ministry to help you receive. It is biblical (Acts 8:17; 9:17; 19:6) and a channel of faith for imparting the Spirit.

We are called to restore the fullness of God’s salvation as revealed in scripture. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an important part of our new life in Christ. It is God’s desire to have a Spirit-empowered people who are his witnesses of the good news of the kingdom. One of our key values in Newfrontiers is to be “A church whose people are baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit, and brought into a genuine life in the Spirit.” Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Baptism in Water: Biblical Salvation (Part 5)

Water baptism has been a part of the life of the Christian faith since the days of Jesus Christ’s ministry. After Jesus’ resurrection, He told His followers to go all over the world with the gospel and to be sure to baptize His disciples. Attending a church service with a baptism is a highlight moment in my life. The Bible tells us how baptism is to be practiced and what it really means.

It is For Believers

Baptism in Scripture always follows repentance and faith (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). It was after a person became a disciple that they were to be baptized (Matt. 28:19). In all the Acts incidents of baptism you will find the order is never reversed. Read the salvation story of the Philippian jailer’s family (Acts 16:31-34) and note that repentance and faith preceded baptism.

There is no age limit for baptism found in the scriptures. If someone is old enough to understand the gospel and believe, they can be saved and baptized!

It is by Immersion

The Greek word for “baptize” means “to dip; to immerse; to submerge.” New Testament believers were, therefore, immersed in water. So John needed plenty of water to do the job (John 3:23). Immersion is confirmed by the description of Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:10). Immersion can also be implied with the baptisms of Philip and the eunuch (Acts 8: 38-39).

What Does it Mean?

The moment you became a Christian, your life was linked with Jesus Christ. You were baptized (immersed) into Him and what happened to Him happened to you as well. You died with Him to your life of sin and to its power over you. And you rose with Him to a brand new life! When you are baptized you are identifying with Him (Romans 6:3-7).

When you go down into the water, you are saying, “Lord Jesus, You died on the cross for me. From now on, my old life is dead. I’ve broken with sin.”

When you are under the water you are saying, “Just as You were buried in the tomb, Lord, so my old sinful life is now buried in the water. This baptism is my funeral.”

When you are lifted out of the water, you are saying, “Lord, You were raised from the dead by God’s power and by that power I can live a totally new life.” Matthew 28: 19-20; Acts 10:48

Water baptism is a first step of obedience to Christ. It is a key time to declare that the kingdom of God has come upon a new life! Let’s celebrate!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Faith: Biblical Salvation (Part 4)

We Begin in Faith

Faith is the basis for our relationship with God from the beginning. Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exist and that He rewards those that seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith actually comes from accepting what God says in the Bible. Paul wrote, “faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

Scripture makes it clear we are saved when we believe what God has said about Jesus Christ His Son (John 3:16, Mark 16:16).

  • We BELIEVE that Jesus is the Son of God sent by the Father as the only way of salvation (Acts 4:12).
  • We TRUST wholly and only in Jesus and His death on the cross to save us from our sins (Romans 3:22-24).
  • We CONFESS that Jesus is alive and is the Lord of our lives (Romans 10:9-10).
  • We RECEIVE from God the gift of eternal life (John 3:36).

We are Justified by Faith

Justification is a picture from the law courts. A person is justified if they are declared legally innocent for a crime they were once pronounced guilty of committing. We WERE guilty of our sins before the court of a holy God. However, Jesus bore the punishment due to us. My sins have been PAID FOR and are therefore legally removed. I can be righteous (that is “in right standing”) with a holy God.

This is the gospel God has announced and my faith in this message means I can be justified. Faith in Jesus is the ONLY WAY I can be justified (Romans 3:21-26; 5:6-11).

We Walk by Faith

The Christian life is a life of faith. Abraham is a clear example of a life marked by faith (Romans 4:13-21). He heard the word of God and believed what God had promised him (v.13, 21). He did not consider his own abilities as the determining factor but embraced the hope expressed in God’s promise (v.18-19). He gave glory to God out of his faith in God, even before he saw the full accomplishment of the promise (v.20-21).

As Christians we are to live with a full confidence in God and the reality of our salvation in Christ. We believe that the gospel of Christ is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Repentance: Biblical Salvation (Part 3)

As we look to recover the Biblical theology and practice of salvation, one discovers all too often there is something missing in our Christian culture and practice: repentance. Repentance was clearly a part of receiving the gospel in the early church. To repent means “to turn away from” or “to return to”. To repent means you realize that you are going away from God, so you do a complete “about turn” towards God. Acts 17:30 states that the Lord “now commands all people everywhere to repent.”

To repent is to recognize that God is wholly right and we are wholly wrong. It is the realization that we need a change of mind and a change of heart as well as a change of direction (Romans 3:23 and Isaiah 55:8-9). Tim Keller defines repentance as “an inward change leading to the fruit of new behavior.”

To repent is a practical step. It involves zeal and action (2 Corinthians 7:10-11). This means when I repent, I stop doing ungodly things and start doing godly things. We are told to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:8). Repentance results in a change of behavior. In the Bible, when people repented they got rid of idols, burned occult books, paid back money they had stolen and so on. See Luke 3:10-14 for more examples of changes that resulted from repentance.

Repentance is not just something you do one time at the beginning of your Christian life. Second Corinthians 7:10-11 refers to Christians who were needing to repent of things they had done wrong. Repentance is part of our process of becoming like Christ. The good news is that God promises forgiveness and restoration to all who truly repent.