Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Message: on Luke 3-4; Date: 17 July 2011

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Purpose In Power

 

John – the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth – both descendants of priests – had captured the imagination of an entire nation. There he was – in all the country around the Jordan – preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and he was a fiery preacher – not gentle with anyone – saying (for instance) – John 3:7-8: “ … You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance … ” Why would anyone come out to him for this kind of message? This wasn’t user-friendly preaching. Yet, the time was right for someone to speak the truth. People were aching for the truth about themselves and John offered them a solution. He said to them: “If I baptize you – if I dunk your body in the water of the Jordan River and wash you clean with water – God (at the same time) will wash you of all unrighteousness and forgive you every sin that you have ever committed. You will be clean

This was an amazing offer which people actually experienced. They sensed – they knew – that there was a fresh beginning with God. They were forgiven – what could be better (for anyone of us) – and therefore they began to wonder about John. Could he be the one – the Christ – the Messiah – the promised Saviour? Could what they have experienced with him be the fulfillment of all of God’s promises in the past? The Bible records – Luke 3:15: “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah

This was good. People were siding with God. Only, John surprised the crowds with a stunning suggestion: They had seen nothing yet. God would do much, much, more through another person. He told them to raise the bar of their expectations. How high is your bar this morning? With John people had forgiveness – is not forgiveness enough even today – among us in the church? No, this is what John said to them – Luke 3:16-17: “ … I baptize you in water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit … ”

John baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins and the one after him – Jesus Christ – (let me say this now) – would do the same. The baptism in water would continue in Jesus’ name for our forgiveness. This foundational blessing would not be taken away but Jesus would also do so much more. He would baptize in the Spirit. As people were completely covered by the water of the Jordan River – dunked and overwhelmed – so Jesus would drench us in the Spirit of God. This would be so much more than mere forgiveness. I know how stunning this must sound but John said: “But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit

This needs unpacking. After he had died on a cross and rose from the dead after three days, Jesus taught his disciples again about the meaning of his suffering and explained to them that – on account of his death and resurrection – repentance and forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations. This was to be the basic message of salvation – (and this remains the most important Christian message today) – but then Jesus also added another promise which picked up on John’s earlier announcement. He said – Acts 1:4-8: “ … John baptized in water, but in a few days you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you … ”

What Jesus did not do at the time was to explain what the baptism in the Spirit was. Nowhere in the Bible is there a definition of this experience or a check-list of what should happen in the baptism in the Spirit. There are simply testimonies and they are not all the same. For instance, the very first time a “sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house”. The disciples “saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them” (Acts 2:1-5). But neither the sound of wind nor the tongues of fire would happen again in the Spirit baptism of other people.

Therefore – this morning – if you like a neat and tidy description of the process, it is not there. Why? Because we are not in control. God is. Let him do it for you the way he deems best. Trust him. The good news is that you will know when it has happened to you. You won’t have to verify the baptism with a check-list because a baptism is a dunking. It will be all over you.

However, we may need to clear up another source of confusion. Jesus said that the disciples would be baptized in the Spirit as John baptized in water. Here it seems that the Spirit is much like water – a fluid or substance – which could be used for immersing someone in their baptism: John in water; Jesus in the Spirit. Then, the Bible can speak of God “pouring out the Spirit” on people (Acts 2:33) and people being “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). This kind of language again makes the Spirit of God into a substance – maybe a fluid – that can be poured out and fill people up. Yet, the Spirit of God is not a substance but a person. In fact, in the mystery of God – our one God – he is the third person, next to the Father and the Son, and, thus, every believer is to be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, emphasis added). Jesus also called him the Advocate and the Spirit of truth:

 

John 16:7-14 (NIV, emphasis added): “ … the Advocate … I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment … But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth … He will glorify me … ”

 

The Spirit has a mind (Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13), will (1 Corinthians 12:11) and emotions (Romans 8:26-27; 15:30; Colossians 1:8). Lying to him is lying to God (Acts 5:3-4). What the Spirit wants is that we fellowship with him (2 Corinthians 13:14). Therefore, the experience of being baptized in him – being immersed in him – is not the immersion into a substance but describes the overwhelming intimacy with him as a person. Being full of the Spirit is enjoying the most passionate presence of a person with us.

Are we making progress? I sum up what we have said so far: 1) Forgiveness is basic and precious but there is so much more in the baptism in the Spirit. Therefore, raise the bar of your expectations. 2) Even though there is no Bible definition of the experience or a check-list of what must happen, you know when it has happened to you because a baptism is a full-on immersion. 3) The Spirit is not a substance but a person. When the Bible speaks of being immersed in the Spirit or being filled with him, the intent is to explain the intimacy with a person. We could not be any closer to the Spirit or enjoy any more of his benefits than being immersed in his very self.

This morning, I want to continue clearing up confusion. What is the purpose of being baptized in the Spirit? What can you look for and expect? I will demonstrate the three main outcomes of the Spirit baptism by examining what happened to Jesus when he was the first person that was being baptized in the Spirit. However – first – get a taste of two testimonies. They are from Lutheran pastors who – (maybe like you) – have been struggling with this whole concept. [Abbreviate and retell in your own words.]

 

Larry Christenson: The Charismatic Renewal Among Lutherans, Minneapolis: Lutheran Charismatics Renewal Services 1976, p14-18: [This testimony is not from the author of the book but is quoted from Lutherans, the Spirit, the Gifts, and the Word, unpublished manuscript edited by a group of Missouri-Lutheran pastors, June 1973, pp.8-13. In the 70s and 80s “the 15,000 Lutheran charismatics that gathered annually in Minneapolis remained the largest annual meeting of Lutherans in the country” (Vinson Synan: The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1997, p263).]

In December of 1963 I attended a meeting in a private home. There were forty people present, the majority of them Lutherans. The atmosphere of warmth, love, and friendliness was something highly unusual, especially in a big city setting. I had never met Lutherans quite like this. People were embracing each other and praising God with every other word. What could possibly have gotten to them? After a rousing singing of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” the meeting got under way. The leader spoke for some time. After his presentation he asked those who wanted “to receive the Spirit baptism” to raise their hands. I was sitting in the front row, wearing a clerical collar.

“Do you want to receive the baptism of the Spirit, Pastor?” he asked. “Yes.” “Do you want to come forward for the laying on of hands?” “No.” (Before all these “lay people”? He had to be kidding!)

Afterward I asked to hear a demonstration of “tongues”. Suddenly there was a hum and babble throughout the room. Someone began to sing in the Spirit. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it didn’t make much sense either. All at once I thought I heard some vaguely understandable words coming through. I leaned over and listened carefully. A housewife sitting next to me just happened to be praying one of the Psalms in ecclesiastical Latin.

That night I got home very late. For some reason I was deeply disturbed. Had I heard Latin or not? Why were these Lutherans so different? Was God really pouring out the Spirit again in these days? After two big slugs of bourbon I drifted off into deep, but troubled sleep. And then I had a dream which indicated that the deepest layers of my personality had been uncovered. A secret, private chamber in that inner self had been broken into, and that which had been guarded and repressed all my life became explicit in the dream. Perhaps this is why it is so hard for some to surrender fully to God. God will not lie on the surface like seed on hard ground, but insists on getting down to the underside of our motivations where all our real willing and doing spring forth. Perhaps this is why some alcoholics and drug addicts “make it,” and others do not. Before we can surrender to the power of God perhaps we need an authentic self to surrender. He will not settle for one of those “will-o-the-wisp,” phantom, surface selves that come and go like Mayflies on a summer day. God wants to deal only with that deepest, hidden self, no matter how dark, ugly, or guilty it may be.

When I awoke, my head was still buzzing a little from the bourbon … Before the confirmation class, scheduled for 10.30am, I went into the church for a few minutes of private prayer and devotion. The sanctuary never failed to impress me, no matter how many times I entered it. With balcony seating there was room for over a thousand worshipers. The magnificent pipe organ could rattle the giant stained glass windows which rose almost from the floor to the 55-foot ceiling. The tower held some twenty-odd tons of bells, and the narthex was a charming museum filled with expensive mementos of a glorious Germanic past. The thick walls and heavy carpet muffled the sound of the busy streets. It felt like home, the house of God, right in the middle of the world.

The pulpit was elaborately carved in highly polished red cherry wood with Martin Luther dominating the front. It was placed above and in the back of the altar as a symbol of the high status Lutherans give to preaching …

Here too were the hidden scenes of many a fervent prayer, especially after I had begun to preach in Spanish as well as German and English every Sunday. “Oh, God! Let me out of here! I don’t even know this language in which I am about to preach! Lord, you’ve got to take over! I have no message for this people!” Sometimes the prayers of the waiting congregation would carry me up those last few steps and the Spirit would whisper encouragement as I groped desperately for the right words.

Now, as I knelt before the communion rail, just to the right of the marble baptismal angel, I heard myself saying, “God, you and I are going to have it out this morning. Either you are going to be real, or I am going to quit. You can have the whole thing back – this church, my ministry, and me. I’m just going through the motions. I can’t even stand to hear myself preach any more.” At that moment I was convinced that hell for ministers was being forced to listen forever to tape recordings of their own sermons.

Suddenly a voice, clear and distinct, said, “The Gift is already yours; just reach out and take it.” Obediently I stretched my hands toward the altar, palms up. I opened my mouth and strange babbling sounds rushed forth. Had I done it? Or was it the Spirit? Before I had time to wonder, all sorts of strange things began to happen. God came out of the shadows. “He is real!” I thought. “He is here! He loves me!”

For the first time in my life I really felt loved by God. I laughed and danced for joy. The whole church was bathed in a soft, golden light. The world was turned inside out. Everything looked as fresh and new as the first morning of creation. Every cell and atom of my body tingled with the vibrant life of God. Every electron in my being slapped its hands and praised the Lord. “God, where have you been all this time? Were you locked behind that silly babble, or hidden under that desperate prayer of surrender? So near, and yet so infinitely far; so complex and yet so terribly simple … how can we ever understand you? Give us this key, so that we can unlock you for the whole world.”

Suddenly, I wanted to run out on the street and tell everybody: “Stop the traffic! Stop the trains! Listen! God is alive! He’s really alive and real! He just told me back in the church!”

But there was a confirmation class waiting. When I floated in on that pink cloud, there was a sudden and unusual silence. They stared at me in silent wonder. Did it show? Was there a secret sign on my forehead, or perhaps an angel sitting on my shoulder? Did my face shine like that of Moses when he came down from the mountain? I, too, had talked face to face with God. Years later two members of the class told me that I had talked for ten minutes in a strange language they couldn’t understand. They thought it might have been one of the many languages I was interested in. As a postscript, I should add that that was the only time in which the “tongue” got beyond conscious control.

For a few weeks I experienced a kind of euphoria that I had never known before. As I walked the streets I kept chanting, “I’m alive, I’m alive, God is real, He loves me, He loves me.” Every bird and every breeze joined in the chant. The traffic and the trains were praising God, and every raindrop sparkled like a jewel in Cartier’s window. The next week my wife and I attended a magnificent performance of Handel’s Messiah. That was a foretaste of heaven. In my new joy I understood why, after this work literally flowed out of him, Handel could only weep. How glorious God truly is! And if praising God in heaven is anything like that December night, it’s no wonder that we grow impatient and irritable with the things on earth!

 

Paul Teske: Healing For Today, Alachua: Bridge Logos Foundation 2010, p33-35: In the fall of 1994, the Navy chaplain corps asked me to give a presentation … in Newport, Rhode Island … The morning I arrived, I met an acquaintance, a Baptist chaplain whom I had not seen in fifteen years. As I greeted my friend, he surprised me by telling me that he “knew” I would be there that morning. I asked him who told him and he said, “The Lord!” I laughed and suggested that we meet for lunch. I met Alan at his office that afternoon for our lunch date. I again asked him who had told him I was coming, and he said that the Lord had told him in worship a couple of days earlier. His assured answer caught my attention, and I asked him to explain himself. He told me that he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit several years earlier and his life had been changed ever since. After listening to his story, he invited me to pray with him before we went to lunch. I agreed, and he began to pray. I am not sure how long we prayed, but two significant petitions of his prayer penetrated my heart.

During his prayer, he exhorted God to lift the burden of control off my shoulders. As soon as he said this, I started weeping. The weeping turned quickly into uncontrollable sobbing, and the sobbing shifted into a snot-blubbering, uncontrollable meltdown. I emotionally dumped the contents of my soul in his office. Then he prayed that God would give me the patience to wait on his timing. We prayed for a while longer and finally we went to lunch. Following a lengthy discussion over a small corner table in a local seafood dive, I bid him farewell and departed for my three-hour drive back to Westport.

While driving south on I-95, I began to pray. These prayers seemed to flow into a time of weeping. The tears and songs were intermittent without regard to content or context. All of a sudden, I heard myself speaking what seemed to be incoherent noise. I tried to stop, but I found that I had no control over my sounds. I would switch back to English for a short period, then back to the gibberish. I felt confounded and out of control. My anxiety level was rising just short of panic. It took me more than a few miles to realize that whatever this was, it was not going to subside. I continued to wrestle with my own will to manage or control the situation, but I found that I could not stop shifting back and forth between English and this noise. If this was from God, I thought, then he was going to have me convince me with a sign. I suggested he show me the number five. I looked up and saw that I was quickly approaching Exit 55 on I-95. I saw milepost 55. The speed was 55 mph! This is too subliminal [below the threshold of conscious perception, ed], I thought. I need another sign.

“Lord, if this is really from you, let the next car that passes me have a two on the license plate.” (Now in Connecticut, license plates consisted of three numbers and three letters and were rarely displayed on the front of the automobiles.) I slowed down and the next car that passed me had three “2s” in the license plate. I began to cry and praise God, because I knew that the strange sounds erupting from my mouth were the tongues of praise initiated by the Holy Spirit. I knew that the Holy Spirit had released a spiritual language in me – I was speaking in tongues! I wept, laughed, felt an incredible joy over my entire being, and continued to speak this new and delightful language.

Anxiety returned as my thoughts shifted to what awaited me in Westport. I was connected to a traditional Lutheran church with several hundred traditional Lutheran members and an ex-independent Baptist wife, none of whom believed in this stuff. My joy slowly dissipated, and my mind flooded with worry and concern. I knew that the gift I had just received was real; I also knew with the same degree of certainty that the battleground ahead of me would be difficult. I moved quite well in my own strength and power, but now I sensed that the power of God would trump anything I previously brought to the equation. I knew that the greatest test of my life rested at the end of my drive home. What I did not know in that moment, but would later come to fully realize: God would have his way!

 

The testimonies are – as expected – not the same but there are similarities: 1) The baptism in the Spirit was an experience that was absolutely significant and they knew when it had happened to them. 2) It went beyond forgiveness because the one pastor described quite well how he was desperate even in his forgiven state. He said: “God, you and I are going to have it out this morning. Either you are going to be real, or I am going to quit. You can have the whole thing back – this church, my ministry, and me. I’m just going through the motions. I can’t even stand to hear myself preach any more … God, where have you been all this time3) Both times, the Spirit demonstrated that he was a holy Spirit that would challenge even the hidden sins. The one pastor had a revealing dream, which brought to light the repressed and guarded secret in his life, and the other broke down when his friend prayed about the burden of control which kept him in a place of not receiving more of God. As the Spirit confronted the sin in the pastors’ lives, he prepared both of them for the infilling. 4) The two pastors had emotions of incredible joy and praised God with laughter. 5) Both times, the baptism in the Spirit came with the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues which is the phenomenon of speaking Spirit-directed words. These words may seem to be gibberish to the person because the Spirit-directed words do not come from a learned language but from a language which the Spirit gives – either heavenly or another human language (for instance, ecclesiastical Latin).

This morning – I will not explain this gift of speaking in tongues – except to say that this gift is not the primary purpose of being baptized in the Spirit. Christians pay a lot of attention to this gift because for some it seems a little weird and others notice that – many a time – the release of this gift comes together with the infilling of the Spirit and – frequently – serves as a sign that the infilling has happened. As a person yields control of the tongue to God, the Spirit can be poured in and the entire infilling can happen.

Thus, there are numerous Bible references where the baptism in the Spirit came with the gift of speaking in tongues:

 

Acts 2:4: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

 

Acts 10:44-46: “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”

 

Acts 19:6: “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

 

Hence, the gift of speaking in tongues is not insignificant and – in God’s wisdom and design – both pastors of the previous testimonies received this gift despite their reservations and fears. Yet, this gift – as good as it is – is not the main purpose of the baptism in the Spirit. Like all other gifts, it simply serves the chief goals of a Christian life.

What then are the chief goals? What is the purpose of being baptized in the Spirit – its main benefits? I attempt to answer this question now by examining Jesus’ own experience with the baptism in the Spirit. In general, he promised us that we “will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes” (Acts 1:8) and his own taste of this kind of power happened when he was about thirty years old. I read from the Bible:

 

Luke 3:21-22: “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’

 

Immediately – as the Spirit had come upon him – Jesus heard – for the first time in his life – the voice of his Father and the voice – like never before – assured him that he was loved. The Father said: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleasedThis is the same that happened to one of the pastors in the previous testimonies. He said: “For the first time in my life I really felt loved by God. I laughed and danced for joy … For a few weeks I experienced a kind of euphoria that I had never known before. As I walked the streets I kept chanting, ‘I’m alive, I’m alive, God is real, He loves me, He loves me.’”

Do you know – are you sure – that you are being loved by God? Have you already been baptized in the Spirit? If Jesus needed to hear his Father’s voice, you need to hear it too. We all do. We have no power unless we know our identity as sons and daughters of God. God loves you and he wants you to know: “You are the one whom I love; with you I am well pleased. I have forgiven you and now I rejoice over you

This is a big theme in the Bible and I give you just one more Bible reference:

 

Romans 8:15-16 [NIV]: “ … but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” [See also Galatians 6:4; 1 John 4:24.]

 

This is the first outcome of the baptism in the Spirit: Assurance. We know that he loves us and we trust him – like the children that we are – by crying out “Abba, Father”. The Spirit of sonship is on us. This is what matters to God first and foremost – our relationship with him – that we receive his love and love him back with everything that we have (see also Matthew 22:36-40; Revelations 2:1-7; 3:14-22).

 

[In other places, the Bible identifies the gift of assurance as the seal of the Holy Spirit or the deposit of the Holy Spirit which is the experienced guarantee of our eternal inheritance:

 

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 [NIV]: “ … He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

 

2 Corinthians 5:5 [NIV]: “ … God … has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

 

Ephesians 1:13-14 [NIV]: “ … Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance … ”]

 

The second outcome of the Spirit baptism also becomes evident immediately. We read in the Bible:

 

Luke 4:1-2: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil … ”

 

Full of the Spirit, Jesus would be able to fight even the devil and prevail against him in a forty-day-long battle with numerous temptations. There would be victory over sin. This is promised to all of us. Maybe this is why John the Baptist was longing so much for the one that was to come after him. He offered forgiveness – he already offered forgiveness for sin – but not necessarily the power to stop sinning. This kind of power comes with being baptized in the Spirit. Do you have this kind of power? Do you have victory – or do you need more of the Spirit? He is holy and makes you holy. This is what the Bible promises:

 

Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not be your master ... ”

 

Romans 8:13: “ … by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body … ”

 

Galatians 5:16: “ … live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

 

Finally, the goal of the baptism in the Spirit is to convey power for mission work. This outcome was also experienced by Jesus first and was on display immediately. As he returned from his fight with temptations, he entered a new season in his life and – without delay – began his saving work of preaching and performing miracles. This is how he explained these new developments to the people in his own hometown:

 

Luke 4:18-19 [NIV]: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

 

As the Spirit had anointed him – as the Spirit had come upon him – he had the power and commission to preach good news to the poor and heal the blind and oppressed. It is the same for us. Jesus said to his first disciples and – by extension – to all of us today:

 

Acts 1:4-8 [NIV]: “ … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

Do you experience power for mission work? Are your words cutting through? Do you sense that God is setting up encounters for you and do you have the boldness and passion to share the good news. The one pastor from the previous testimonies said: “Suddenly, I wanted to run out on the street and tell everybody: ‘Stop the traffic! Stop the trains! Listen! God is alive! He’s really alive and real! He just told me back in the church!’” Do you have this kind of passion and conviction – or do you need more of the Spirit? Are you being baptized in the Spirit? It is available to you.

I sum up the three basic outcomes of the Spirit baptism: 1) The Spirit assures us of the Father’s love. 2) The Spirit grants us victory over sin and empowers us to holiness. 3) The Spirit grants power for mission work. Thus, the three main benefits of our immersion in the Spirit are in three words: 1) assurance, 2) holiness and 3) mission.

In closing, I will show how the three main benefits of being baptized in the Spirit are connected. We again learn from Jesus. The Father told him first that he was his much-loved son. He assured him of his identity; then it was precisely his secured identity that made him prevail over temptations. The devil would always attack Jesus by questioning his sonship. Was he really the child of God? Was there not more proof required? The devil egged him on, saying: “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread” (Luke 4:3). “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here” (Luke 4:9). Do you give in to temptations – easily? Could it be that you sin because you try to fill a void in you which can only be filled by knowing that you are the son or daughter of the Father in heaven? The Father knew that if Jesus was being assured of his love – by a Spirit-immersion experience – he could hold out against Satan. He would remain holy.

Then, the battle with the devil and overcoming temptations made Jesus ready to live out the third main benefit of his Spirit baptism, that is: to do mission work in the Spirit’s power. Jesus entered the wilderness “full of the Spirit” (Luke 4:1) but – (an increase seems to have come) – the Bible says – Luke 4:14: “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside None of us is ready to wield the power of the Spirit, unless God first builds character in us and put us to the test. Unless we learn to prevail against temptations, we cannot be trusted with the power for mission work – we are not ready – because we would abuse the power: preach for personal gain, perform miracles for personal glory, heal the sick for money and fame.

Can you see the progression? First, Jesus received the assurance of his identity. He knew that he knew that he was the much-loved Son of God. Then, it was his assured identity that made him prevail over temptations. He needed no further proofs of his sonship and nothing was as precious as his love-relationship with the Father. Finally, his victory over temptations – the testing of his character – made him ready to wield great power in mission work – without becoming corrupted. It is the same in your own life: You go from assurance – certainty of who you are in God – to battling temptations and victory over sin – the testing and maturing of your character in holiness – to power for mission. You go from assurance to holiness to mission.

If you have not yet been baptized in the Spirit, do you want this for yourself? If you have been baptized in the Spirit, could it be that – today – you need refreshment – a refilling – because you have compromised your intimacy with him? Test yourself. Do you know what it is when the Father tells you: “You are the one whom I love; with you I am well pleased. I have forgiven you and now I rejoice over youDo you experience victory over sin or do you live in defeat? Do you have the power to say “no”? Then, what about the power and passion for telling everyone: “Stop the traffic! Stop the trains! Listen! God is alive! He’s really alive and real! He just told me back in the churchJohn the Baptist encouraged everyone to raise the bar of their expectations. He said – Luke 3:16-17: “ … I baptize you in water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit … ” This morning – let Jesus baptize you in the Spirit. Simply want it; he will do it. Amen.