Who is the Holy Spirit? Is He Baptist?

In our series “Who Is the Holy Spirit?” we’ve been asking and answering a series of intentionally provocative questions to help us understand what the Bible says about the person of the Holy Spirit—is He Pentecostal? Baptist? Charismatic?

My goal for this sermon series is threefold:

· To emphasize the unity that is ours in the larger family of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit

· To shed light on the differences in doctrine and practice regarding the Holy Spirit within the church at large

· To clarify our understanding and practice regarding the Holy Spirit at IBCB

Unfortunately, discussions about the Holy Spirit have divided the church into the “haves” vs. the “have-nots.” On the one hand, some people think they’ve “got the Spirit” and are “Spirit filled” because they “speak in tongues” while those who don’t speak in tongues don’t have the Spirit. On the other hand, some people reacting against the excesses of those who “got the Spirit” go too far and charge them with “emotional extremes” and in worst cases “demonic oppression.” What God intended to draw us together in unity has become a sad source of division separating us into “charismaniacs” and “charismaphobics” with each side accusing the other. The truth of the matter is this: we were brought together into one family when the Holy Spirit baptized us into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit is God’s personal presence abiding with us, drawing us together, and making us one.

Granted, there are differences in doctrine and practice which are significant and important. And, it’s true: excesses abound toward both extremes of the spectrum. However, the differences instead of dividing us should help us reign in each other’s excesses holding in balance the truths championed. For our purposes the two traditions with a different approach to the matter of “baptism with the Holy Spirit” are summarized below:

  • “Evangelical”—The moment you believe in Jesus you are “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Receiving the Holy Spirit—the person and presence of God within—is the work of God at conversion.
  • “Pentecostal”—After you believe in Jesus you can have a further experience of being “baptized by the Holy Spirit.” The primary physical evidence of this “second blessing” is speaking in tongues.

Admittedly, these are overly brief summaries of these two traditions, but they serve to highlight the differences in doctrine and practice. For us as an “evangelical” church, we teach that a person is “baptized with the Holy Spirit” at conversion with the primary evidence being a changed life not speaking in tongues. At the same time, we acknowledge that one of our tendencies as “evangelicals” is to “quench” the Spirit by relying upon our own efforts and strengths as the means for living the Christian life. Impossible! It can’t be done! Once we’ve been “baptized with the Spirit” upon conversion, we must be continually “filled with the Spirit” so that our lives are Spirit-led.

And this is the reminder we need to hear from our “Pentecostal” brothers and sisters. Though we may differ with them in our understanding of the “baptism of the Spirit” and its primary evidence, we are grateful that they remind us of the personal presence of God who provides for us the energy and the ability to live the righteous lives that we have received through Jesus Christ. We are thankful that they remind us of the supernatural power of God that is present within us to accomplish his work both in us and through us in his world.

Take a look at the sermon notes (linked below). See the classic lesson on “how to live the Spirit filled life” (linked to the right).

Most importantly: be baptized with the Holy Spirit—repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38) and be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Experience the life-changing difference of committing your life in faith to Jesus Christ….then live in the power of God’s personal presence, the Holy Spirit!

Sermon presentation:  Is He Baptist?

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