We’ve spent the past three weeks talking about the Holy Spirit and today wraps up the series. And the whole reason we’ve been doing this series is because of a problem that existed in the early church, and it still exists today:
Acts 19:1-2 NLT – While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
A lot of people understand the relationship with God the Father and Jesus the Son, but the Holy Spirit tends to be a mystery to most believers.
They either don’t know the Holy Spirit or they don’t want to know about the Holy Spirit because of the way others have represented it.
And that’s exactly why we are doing this series, because we all need clarity on who the Holy Spirit is and what He wants to do in our lives.
So over the past three weeks, we’ve been dispelling common myths about the Holy Spirit. And we found that He is neither spooky, nor crazy. He is actually very comforting and the best companion you could ever have.
On top of this, He is the power you need to live your life in a way that makes a difference. So, you can either live your life in your own power, or you can allow the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon you and actually fulfill what God planned for you long ago.
The Holy Spirit even gives you power to live a righteous life. In other words, He enables you to find freedom from all those things in your life that are holding you back.
He gives you the power you need to walk away from sexual sin, He gives you freedom from drug addiction, He gives you freedom from your past.
Because the truth is, we’ve all allowed things into our lives that are keeping us from living our best lives. And the Holy Spirit gives you the power you need to move past those things and into the life God planned for you.
Which is what we talked about last week. God has given each of us spiritual gifts. And there is a great variety of spiritual gifts. So, there probably isn’t going to be two of us who have the same exact call on our lives.
There’s not one spiritual gift better than another. It takes all of us operating in our unique spiritual gifts for the church to reach its potential.
And here’s how you find your spiritual gifts. It’s those things that you are good at, that come easy to you, and you aren’t quite sure why.
For example, teaching is not one of my natural abilities. When showing someone how to do things, my natural tendency is to look at you crazy and wonder why you didn’t get it the first time.
But, I now have a spiritual gift to teach because of the call of God on my life to lead this church. He’s given me the ability to take complicated things and make them simple.
Maybe you love to teach kids, or go on mission trips, or straighten the chairs, or clean the bathrooms. Most would look at you and wonder why you like it, and you are even a bit confused yourself.
Now you know, you’ve found one of your spiritual gifts. It can be healing, prophesy, mercy, or even practical things like the gift of helps. There’s a great variety of spiritual gifts and not one is better than the other.
Actually, you may remember this scripture we looked at last week:
1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT – A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
Spiritual gifts have a purpose. And it’s not to make you look awesome or super-spiritual. No, they are given to you so you can help someone else.
And we should all be pressing in to find our spiritual gifts. Once we find them, we should fan the flame and make them all that they can be.
Today, we are going to talk about how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Or, you may have even heard it referred to as being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
So, I want to start by making sure we all understand the word baptism.
Baptism: To Be Immersed In
There are actually three baptisms available for you in your spiritual journey.
Baptized into the Body of Christ
We are talking about salvation. You see, salvation is not the day that you decide to keep coming to church. It’s not even the day that you said a prayer that the pastor told you to pray.
Salvation is an immersion into a relationship with Jesus and His church. In other words, you are saying goodbye to the way life used to be and you are immersing yourself into a new life with Jesus.
You are making a decision when you are confronted with the Word of God about something that needs to change in you life, you are going to make the change. Because you trust that Jesus knows best.
Salvation is not a part-time thing where you say a prayer and then come to church every now and then to make sure God doesn’t forget about you.
No, salvation is when you make a decision to turn your back on life without God and fully pursue a life with God.
Let me show it to you in scripture:
1 Corinthians 12:13 NLT – We have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
The word body here is used to describe the church. Not just our church, but every church that worships the one true God.
So we you experience salvation, you are not just immersed into a relationship with Jesus, but you are immersed into a relationship with His church.
Galatians 3:26-27 NLT – For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.
This is a great visual of salvation. You take off your old life and put on a whole new set of clothes. You clothe yourself with a new life in Jesus.
If you’ve bought into the lie that salvation is simply saying a prayer and then going on living life unchanged, then I’m glad you are here today. Because now you know the truth.
You can make a decision today to turn away from your old life and immerse yourself into a relationship with Jesus.
Are you going to get it perfect? No. None of us do. But here’s the deal. You cannot go on intentionally living in a way that is contrary to God’s Word and expect to have a close relationship with Jesus.
Jesus didn’t suffer and die so that you could have life as usual. No, He died to take away your sin and give you the kind of life you can’t even dream of.
But, the choice is yours. Do you want to continue living for the temporary pleasures of sexual sin, drug abuse, gossip, and everything else that’s mentioned in the Bible that we should stay away from?
Or do you want to experience eternal, never-ending joy and peace that only comes from immersing yourself into a relationship with Jesus and His church?
Salvation is more than a prayer. It’s life change. And it’s never too late to turn away from you old life and baptize or immerse yourself into the body of Christ.
Here’s the second baptism:
Water baptism is a separate experience from your salvation experience. In other words, you don’t have to be water baptized to be saved.
Remember how we talked the last few weeks about how you can’t earn salvation? It’s not a reward for the good things you’ve done, it’s a free gift.
And that’s exactly why you don’t have to be water baptized to be saved. Otherwise you’d get caught up in thinking that what you did is what earned your salvation.
You can’t earn it. It’s a gift. And like we just talked about, it’s a gift that causes life change. Because when you receive the gift, you immerse yourself into a relationship with Jesus and His church.
Some people get hung up on this. How can salvation be a gift, yet require me to change my life?
Well, here’s the deal. Life change is not a requirement, it’s a byproduct of receiving this gift. Let me give you a visual.
Imagine someone gave you the house of your dreams. I imagine it would change your life, wouldn’t it?
If you went from a house with one bathroom and the new house had four, you and your kids wouldn’t continue sharing one bathroom.
If you went from a house with barely enough room for your family to a house with plenty of space to entertain guests, you’d probably start inviting people over more often.
And these things weren’t a requirement to receive the gift. No, they were a byproduct or a result of what you received.
That’s exactly how salvation works. You receive the free gift and it completely changes your life. Seriously, if the best gift ever given didn’t change your life, then it’s time to press in to a relationship with Jesus. It’s more than a prayer.
Alright, so we were talking about water baptism and how it is not required for salvation. And now that you understand that, let’s talk about the purpose of water baptism.
Acts 2:41 NIV – Those who accepted his message were baptized…
The whole reason water baptism exists is so that you can take your decision to follow Jesus public. It’s when you let the church know that you are now immersing yourself into a new way of life.
The first baptism we talked about, baptism into the body of Christ, is generally a private decision. Some of you probably just made that decision just a few minutes ago.
Others may go home today, ponder on this message, and decide in your bedroom to immerse yourself into a relationship with Jesus.
And that’s the beauty of salvation! You don’t have to say a certain payer. You don’t have to wait for the alter call. You don’t even have to be at church.
You can make the decision to immerse yourself into a relationship with Jesus right where you sit, or when you go home today, or when you are in the car tomorrow.
There’s no requirement on when and how it happens. You simply make a decision to say goodbye to your old life and press into a new life with Jesus.
Water baptism is when you let all of us know what you did. It’s no different than a wedding ceremony where a couple lets the whole world know they are joining themselves together.
Water baptism is important because it solidifies the decision you made. It when you say to yourself and those around you, “I am a follower of Jesus and I am not ashamed of it.”
Here’s how Jesus explains it:
Matthew 10:32-33 NLT – Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.
Don’t let this scare you, but let it motivate you to take your faith public through water baptism.
And if you are ready to do this, let me or someone on our leadership team know, and we will schedule a water baptism right here within the next few weeks.
Alright, so I am taking you through the three baptisms mentioned in the Bible. The first is baptism into the body of Christ. The second is water baptism. And here’s the third:
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Let me show you in scripture how all three of these work together.
Acts 8:5,12 NLT – Philip went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah… Now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized.
So here we see the first baptism when they believed, and then water baptism that happened as a result of them believing. Let’s keep reading:
Acts 8:14-17 NLT – When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.
All this time, you may have wondered why there are three different baptisms. And now is probably starting to make sense.
The first one is personal, yet is has nothing to do with what you do. It’s a gift that God gives to you so that you can immerse yourself into a new life with Jesus.
The second one let’s those around you know what happened on the inside. It’s a proclamation that your life now belongs to Jesus.
Now that it’s come from the inside to the outside, it’s time for you to put this gift to work by going around doing good and healing people who are oppressed by the devil, just like you used to be.
And in order to be effective, you need the third baptism, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is when His power comes upon you to live your life in a way that makes a difference.
It’s not so that you can have a crazy church experience. No, it’s when you receive power to live limitless life in Jesus so that your life can impact the world.
Now, let’s bring it all home with this scripture:
1 John 5:7-8 NKJV – For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
We are talking about the trinity of God here: The Father, The Son (also referred to as the Word), and the Holy Spirit. And all three of these are in heaven and they agree.
Let’s keep reading:
1 John 5:7-8 NKJV – And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
Here we can see the three different baptisms we talked about. The blood represents baptism into the Body of Christ, or salvation. Then, there’s water baptism. Then, there’s baptism in the Holy Spirit.
And all three of these work together and they agree as one.
You probably don’t find salvation to be weird. And you probably don’t even find water baptism to be weird. So there’s no reason for you to find the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be weird. Because they are all one.
And now you can probably understand why the enemy works so hard to keep people away from the third baptism. Because the first two have to do with the enemy losing you to God.
He hates that on its own. But the third baptism is what lights you on fire to go out and lead as many people away from the devil and to God as possible.
If he can keep you from receiving that power, then he can keep you timid and living your nice little Christian life. Still not the best case scenario for the devil, but definitely not the worst.
I say we give the devil his worst nightmare and all get filled with the Holy Spirit. Let’s all set aside all the bad stuff we’ve heard about the Holy Spirit and receive that third baptism.
Because we have a mission to accomplish! We’re here to show the world limitless life in Jesus. And when we live this life, empowered by the Holy Spirit, our lives will impact the world for Jesus beyond our wildest imagination.
Some of y’all might be starting to get a little nervous. Like, is this when we all start speaking in tongues, or people start passing out, or whatever?
But just relax. Let me give you four steps to being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Be Filled with the Spirit
Step 1: Remove all barriers.
In order to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you first have to get rid of all those things that are in the way. And this isn’t just a spiritual truth, but it even works in other areas of our lives.
For example, to have a closer relationship with your spouse, you have to eliminate the barriers. Maybe you need to forgive them for something they did to you. Or maybe you need to come clean about your pornography problem and find freedom.
When it comes to barriers between you and the Holy Spirit, maybe you have to let go of all those negative thoughts you’ve had about the Holy Spirit leading up until now.
Or, maybe you’ve been living in habitual sin. You know you shouldn’t be doing it, but you are having a hard time letting it go.
Here’s how Peter explains it:
Acts 2:38 NLT – Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The word repent scares a lot of people. But it simply means to turn away. Turn away from your sins and move towards God. Say goodbye to your old life and immerse yourself into a relationship with Jesus.
If you haven’t done this already, this is your first step. And you can make that decision right now.
It doesn’t mean that you’ll never mess up again. But what it does mean is you are no longer going to live in habitual sin as if it’s okay. You’re going to listen to that voice inside of you that tells you to turn the other way.
Because here’s the deal. The power of Jesus doesn’t just cover your sin. No, it takes it away. The power of Jesus is freedom from sin, not a pass to live a life of sin while hoping for eternal life.
So, whatever that barrier is between you and the Holy Spirit, go ahead and remove it. Which leads us into step two:
Step 2: Request the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In other words, open yourself to whatever the Holy Spirit has for you.
Don’t put conditions on it. Don’t say, “Well, Holy Spirit, I’d like you in my life, but you’ll have to refrain from any of that crazy stuff.”
No conditions. Put down your guard and be confident that everything God has for you is good. It doesn’t mean it will be normal. But, who wants a normal life anyways?
So, don’t be afraid of speaking in tongues, prophesy, or whatever spiritual gift scares you the most. Instead, put down your guard and be open to all God has for you. Because all of it is good.
Let me show you what I mean in scripture:
Luke 11:13 NLT – So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.
Now that your guard is down, some of you just simply need to say, “Holy Spirit, I want all of you in my life. No conditions.”
Step 3: Receive Him by faith.
You may not like this part about God, but it’s just how He rolls.
To receive pretty much anything from God, you have to take a leap. It’s kind of like you’re standing before a line. One the side you are on is everything you know. And on the other side of that line is the unknown.
And you’ll never figure out what is on the other side unless you take a leap a faith. You step over the line, even though its uncomfortable, because you want all God has for you even if you don’t fully understand it.
Here’s an example from the Old Testament that illustrates this really well:
Ezekiel 47:3-5 NLT – Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles.
This is kind of like that first baptism we talked about, where you receive salvation.
And this is where a lot of people stay in their spiritual journey. They’re saved and going to heaven, but they don’t want anything to do with those people who went out deeper into the water. It’s scary out there!
Ezekiel 47:3-5 NLT – He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees.
This is those people who come to church like, “You’re not going to catch me singing or lifting my hands.” And then, that third song just hits you and you just can’t help yourself.
Ezekiel 47:3-5 NLT – After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist.
Now, you’re singing every song. And you may even be willing to say a prayer out loud during small group.
But, here’s what I want you to notice about all of these: you’re wet, but you are still in control. You’re feet are still on the ground.
The water may be up to your waist, so you may be wobbling a bit, but, “God I ain’t turning loose. Because I just don’t know what you might do.”
But, look what happens next:
Ezekiel 47:3-5 NLT – Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.
Here’s what I want you to get from this. You can stay ankle-deep. But you’ll find yourself looking out at those in the deep and wishing you weren’t afraid to swim.
Or, you can take the next step. And continue moving out into the water, until you join those who are out there swimming in the fullness of God.
Listen to me. God is not in a hurry. The only one that is critical is that first baptism, where you receive the gift of salvation. And as a result, turn away from your old life and immerse yourself into a relationship with Jesus.
Then, you can just take things a step at a time. Go from ankle-deep to knee-deep. And then knee-deep to waist-deep.
I encourage you to keep taking steps in your spiritual journey. There’s no rush, but there’s also no reason to wait. Keep pressing in to all God has for you.
Keep taking those leaps into the unknown. We’re talking about having faith that God knows what He’s doing even when we don’t.
And here’s why we should dedicate ourselves to this kind of life:
Hebrews 11:6 NLT – And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
On the other side of that line is a reward. You can stay on the side where you understand everything, but deep down, you’ll know that God wants more for you that that.
He wants you to trust Him so you can receive all of His rewards.
He’s not looking for you to be perfect. He knows full well you can’t pull that off. But He is looking for you to open your heart to what’s next.
In other words, He wants you to always be asking the question, “Lord, what’s next? Help me take the next step.”
This is a journey we are all on. Some of us are on different parts of this journey and that’s okay. You may be at the beginning of your spiritual journey, or you may be waist-deep.
Wherever you are, don’t fret. Just let me encourage you not to stay there but to go ahead and take the next step.
Step 4: Relate to Him daily.
This is not a one-time encounter. It is not something that only happens at church. The Holy Spirit is part of your daily life.
Remember, He’s your companion. He’ll help you understand the Bible. He’ll help you know God. He’ll help you find freedom.
And He’ll give you the power you need to live the life you were created to live. He gives you power to make a difference.
Let me close by praying this prayer over you:
2 Corinthians 13:14 MSG – The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.