Today I move on to the third in a series of questions I have received via e-mail on baptism with the Holy Spirit.
What do you think is the direct result of being baptized by the Spirit, i.e. what is the practical result in, say, the life of a pastor or missionary?
If we look in Acts, we see that the disciples were transformed by the outpouring of the Spirit.
- They became more bold
- They were empowered to preach in such a way that multitudes were saved.
- They were unafraid to face opposition.
- They devoted themselves to the work of God.
- There was much joy in the churches.
- Commitment to each other was strong.
- Meetings happened daily.
- There was powerful prayer with dramatic answers.
Their very characters were changed and the apostles we read about in Acts seem very different from the timid, argumentative, selfish disciples of the gospels. Someone like Paul was totally transformed by his experience of the Spirit.
Some or all of those results should be expected in the life of a believer filled with the Spirit. In writing to the Galatians, Paul asks, “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3—see my sermon on this passage.
The Spirit-filled person is conscious of another power within them. While we still work hard, that work is energized by another. The well-oiled heart makes many of life’s problems seem somehow less difficult to face. Knowing the smile of God on us should give us confidence and assurance to do what he has called us to do.
The biggest change will hopefully be an end to persistent doubts and questionings about our own salvation. God pours out his spirit into our hearts as a foretaste of heaven, and to enable us to firmly understand that we are on our way there. The Spirit truly is a deposit that guarantees our inheritance (see Ephesians 1).
I suppose the difference is between strenuously pedaling a bicycle up a hill, and when over the brow of the hill, you begin to coast on the way down. It is certainly not wrong to pedal at this point, but doing so makes the ride even more exhilarating as you are no longer merely trying to get the bicycle going with your own effort, but are instead working with the mighty force of gravity!
But lest you think that us charismatics always live in the good of this experience, the answer is we do not. Even as I write this, I am convicted of my own need to go back to the Spirit for more power and more filling. I, too, have a tendency to try and live the Christian life in my own strength alone rather than relying on the Spirit’s enabling.