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The Work of the Holy Spirit

Written by: Kord Hilbert

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38)

I grew up in a Baptist church in Salina, KS and then my family moved to a non-denominational bible church in Bennington, KS when I was in middle school. I say this because my upbringing was through some solid bible-teaching churches that spoke truth and life to Christians and non-Christians alike.

The Holy Spirit was talked about but He was never the absolute focus in the sermons. Christ crucified and resurrected was preached and taught as the main message to us all. When I came to college, I met my now wife Micah and we started dating my freshman year. To say that Micah had different views of certain theologies would be an understatement.

Micah and I quickly realized that our church backgrounds were different and it caused this odd tension. You see, Micah grew up in a church where her father was the pastor of a Methodist church (which he later resigned from after the Methodist’s acceptance of homosexuality). Micah later started going to a Pentecostal youth group in high school that began to shape her views of the Holy Spirit. Are you beginning to see that clash of backgrounds?

I didn’t even know what speaking in tongues meant and Micah thought that a second baptism in the Holy Spirit was a given for a strong Christian. We both had a foundational truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ but had opposing views of who the Holy Spirit was and what His role is in our lives. This was all sort of swept under the rug and we continued dating into that first year of college.

I went back home to work for the summer and Micah stayed in Hays to work. Over the summer, I began to question my views of the Holy Spirit and wondered if I had missed a big part of who God was. I started searching the Scriptures to see what it said about the Holy Spirit. I started listening to every sermon that had the Holy Spirit in its title.

This all culminated for me one day while working out at my parent’s farm and I was sent a sermon given by Robert Morris about the Holy Spirit. Robert Morris was talking about a second baptism in the Holy Spirit and the need for a second baptism. I had never even heard of such a concept. My belief was that I received the Holy Spirit at salvation when I accepted Jesus as my Savior like it says in Ephesians 1:13: “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”. The message was telling me to just try to speak in tongues and you’ll be able to learn it as you go and to ask God for a baptism in the Holy Spirit and you’ll be filled with a new empowerment you’ve never had before. Out of innocence and ignorance, I knelt down that day and prayed:

“God, I know I’m saved through Christ. I know you’ve made me new and I’m sealed in the Book of Life. I don’t know about any of this new stuff about the Holy Spirit but I want all of you. If a second baptism in the Holy Spirit is true, would you give it to me Lord? I fully surrender myself to you God.”

And…….nothing happened. I didn’t start speaking in tongues. I didn’t go into a trance. I didn’t feel anything different. So I tried again. Still, nothing. I was defeated. Why are all these people talking about a second baptism in the Holy Spirit and I’m left here feeling like a second-tier Christian. I came to God that day confused and left broken and even more confused than before.

In one way or another, I think a lot of people have experienced that sort of thing I experienced that summer day. We hear these things about the Holy Spirit that sound new to us, buy into the falsehoods, and then we’re left more broken than when we came. I became bitter about the Holy Spirit and didn’t even want to talk about anything that had to do with Him. We scrape and strive to see the Holy Spirit do a “new thing” or to give us a certain gifting that was never ours to begin with. Through my experience, I had to relearn what I had already known to be true about the Holy Spirit. But, just like Garret preached, we often swing between two extremes on the pendulum and miss the middle which is the Truth of the Gospel and the truth of the Holy Spirit.

Micah and I spent years working through our beliefs about the Holy Spirit after my experience and through that, God was able to sort out a lot of deception, bitterness, or falsehoods that we both previously had about the Holy Spirit. Through those trials, God has established a foundation of truth that we know the Holy Spirit to be. Some of those foundations are this:

As a Christian, you receive the Holy Spirit at salvation.

  • “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38)

There is no “second baptism” in the Holy Spirit. There is a daily surrender to the Holy Spirit. A second baptism places an emphasis on a singular event to empower our life (an event outside of our salvation) whereas a daily surrender to the Holy Spirit places an emphasis on God sanctifying us day by day to become more like Christ.

  • "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6)

There are two types of baptism; one is physical and one is spiritual. The physical baptism is a water baptism that is showing an outward representation of an inward change that had been accomplished in a believer through Christ. The spiritual baptism is one that the Holy Spirit accomplishes when a sinner repents, accepts the gift of salvation through Christ, and is born again. If the Holy Spirit has already made us born again and spiritually baptizes us with Christ, then there is no need for another baptism in the Holy Spirit. That work has already been accomplished at salvation.

  • "Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" (Romans 6:3)

The Holy Spirit gives us all different spiritual gifts and nobody has every gift. These gifts are not because of what we can do or say. These gifts are also not out of our own strength. They are gifts given by God to accomplish His will in our lives. God is the giver of gifts to us and here’s why: if we accomplished something through our own strength and gifting, then we would be able to boast about what we’ve done. If we had every gift, then why would we need each other? If everything is given to us by God, then we can boast in Christ for what He has given us. We can also lean on each other in times of need for we are all part of one body called the Church.

  • “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

If you are a believer in Christ and have been born again through the repentance of sin, accepted the gift of salvation that was done through the death and resurrection of Christ on the cross, and faith in Jesus Christ as your one and only Savior, then the Holy Spirit has been given to you to accomplish the full work of Christ in your life. We can rejoice that the Spirit of the living God is residing in us and sanctifying us day by day to become more like Christ so that way when we ultimately die and come face-to-face with God, our lives can be a pure gift to the Lord.

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