ON FIRE

Jn.5:35 – He was a burning and a shining light.

Christians have a whole different dialect than the rest of the world. I remember being mesmerized by this new language when I first became a Christian. I remember terms like “God spoke to me”, or talking about being “worldly” or “carnal”. One of those terms is being “on fire” for the Lord. What does that even mean? Actually we get a clue in the reference Jesus made to the great prophet John the Baptist. Jesus said John was burning and shining. What was He even talking about? Jesus was saying that John was burning with love for God and shining with prophetic revelation. John stood out in his world because he was on fire. This is how Jonathan Edwards describes this verse.

“That his heart be full of much of the holy ardor of a spirit of true piety. We read of “the power of godliness.” True grace is no dull, inactive, ineffectual principle; it is a powerful thing; there is an exceeding energy in it. And the reason is, that God is in it; it is a divine principle, a participation of the divine nature, and a communication of divine life, of the life of a risen Savior, who exerts himself in the hearts of the saints, “after the power of an endless life”. They that have true grace in them, “they live”; but not by their own life; “but Christ lives in them”. His Holy Spirit becomes in them a living principle and spring of divine life, the energy and power of which is in Scripture compared to fire……Tis by this therefore especially, that a minister of the gospel is a “burning light”; a minister that is so, has his soul enkindled with the heavenly flame; his heart burns with love to Christ, and fervent desires of the advancement of his kingdom and glory; and also with ardent love to the souls of men, and desires for their salvation.”

The fire in an on-fire Christian is God Himself. As Paul said, “our God is a consuming fire”. John had prophesied that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Ghost and fire. Those are not two different things, just two different ways to say the same thing. If we get close to Jesus we too will be touched by the fire. We will begin to stand out in the world we live in. Lord, make us burning and shining lights.

THE BLOOD AND THE SPIRIT

Jn. 1:29 – The very next day John saw Jesus coming to him to be baptized, and John cried out, “Look! There he is—God’s Lamb! He will take away the sins of the world!

Jn.1:33 ……..when I was commissioned to baptize with water God spoke these words to me, ‘One day you will see the Spirit descend and remain upon a man. He will be the One I have sent to baptize with the Holy Spirit.

One of the questions Jesus was often asked was about John the Baptist. Before Jesus began His public ministry John had thrown all of Israel into an upheaval. When John’s ministry diminished and the ministry of Jesus began to flourish everyone wanted to know about John. Jesus called John the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Think about the magnitude of that statement. Moses basically started the Jewish faith, he wrote the first five books of the Old Testament. He also led the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the brink of possessing their land that the Lord had given them. Then you have to remember Isaiah and his profound prophetic passages describing the birth, the death, and the reign of Christ. Abraham fathered a nation by faith. And there was also Elijah who had a life filled with the miraculous; fire from heaven, supernatural provision in drought, even raising someone from the dead. So what could Jesus mean. John had not written any books, nor fathered a nation, and he had performed no miracles. John was simply a preacher.

So what was Jesus getting at? This is it – John had a revelation of Christ that others hadn’t received. First, he saw Jesus as the Lamb of God. He was saying that the entire levitical system pointed to Christ. Actually, all of the sacrifices before were just shadows of the real. Christ was the Lamb and His sacrificial death destroys sin in our lives. The whole point of Jesus coming to earth was culminated at His death.

The second prophesy is just as profound. He said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit. This is probably the most radical thing John could say. The Jews were terrified of God’s presence. They knew that the glory in the holy of holies was unapproachable. One false move with the ark of the covenant and you were dead. After Jesus died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven He took His place on God’s throne exalted above every other Name or being. From this place of exaltation Jesus begins His heavenly ministry to us. He is the baptizer in the Holy Spirit.

So that is why Jesus called John the greatest Old Testament prophet. He had a revelation of Christ sacrificial death on the cross for all mankind and he also saw Jesus as the Baptizer in the Spirit.

JUST LIKE JESUS

Jn. 14:26 – I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;

I love to look at Bible words. This verse contains a classic example of looking at shades of meaning in the original Greek New Testament. In this passage Jesus is teaching His disciples about the coming ministry of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were overwhelmed that this would be their last night with Jesus; they couldn’t comprehend ministry, or even life for that matter, without Him. He was encouraging them by telling them that this is why He came, He came to die for man’s sins so that they too could experience the intimacy and power of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This phrase, allos Paracletos, just about says it all. Allos is a particular kind of another. It means another the same as the former. Jesus was saying the Holy Spirit would be just like Him. Here is how Dick Mills defines allos.

“another, allos (al-loss); Strong’s #243: One besides, another of the same kind. The word shows similarities but diversities of operation and ministries. Jesus’ use of allos for sending another Comforter equals “one besides Me and in addition to Me but one just like Me. He will do in My absence what I would do if I were physically present with you.” The Spirit’s coming assures continuity with what Jesus did and taught.”

Then Jesus used the word Paracletos. We translate it comforter, Counselor, advocate. Helper, Intercessor; it actually means all of that. Here is how Brother Mills defines Paracletos.

“Helper, parakletos (par-ak-lay-toss); Strong’s #3875: From para, “beside,” and kaleo, “to call,” hence, called to one’s side. The word signifies an intercessor, comforter, helper, advocate, counselor. In nonbiblical literature parakletos had the technical meaning of an attorney who appears in court in another’s behalf. The Holy Spirit leads believers to a greater apprehension of gospel truths. In addition to general help and guidance, He gives the strength to endure the hostility of the world system.”

So you put that phrase together and you have dynamite. The Holy Spirit is another Helper exactly like Jesus. The significant difference is this; the disciples were really observers to the ministry of Jesus. They would now become participants. Jesus was saying the Holy Spirit would come upon them and give them a supernatural ministry like He had. That same power and intimacy is available now. Draw near to the Lord and you too will be baptized in the Spirit.

SUDDENLY – A DIFFERENT WORLD

Act 2:1,2 – When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

God’s ways are not our ways. Isaiah said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. Just when you think you have everything sorted out the Lord sends His Holy Ghost fast ball. It comes out of nowhere and your whole world literally shifts in a day. Parris and I have spent the last week ministering in Adelaide, Australia for David and Donna Hall. We have known them for many years and watched them labor from a rented facility with not much growth for years. Just like today’s verse says, their world has suddenly changed. In a matter of months they became pastors of several churches in several locations with facilities that have been paid off. Rather than struggling, now these churches are bursting with life as several hundred new people have come in in the last few months. One of the churches is in a town of 2800 people in the middle of farm country. That church has become a revival hub with people traveling from many miles away to this regional church. The church in Adelaide is teeming with life with hundreds of Christians lit up about the Lord and their new church. Things changed suddenly for Life-point Church in South Australia. Here is what Albert Barnes and Matthew Henry say about today’s verse.

BARNES

“It burst upon them at once. Though they were waiting for the descent of the Spirit, yet it is not probable that they expected it in this manner. As this was an important event, and one on which the welfare of the church depended, it was proper that the gift of the Holy Spirit should take place in some striking and sensible manner, so as to convince their own minds that the promise was fulfilled, and so as deeply to impress others with the greatness and importance of the event.”

HENRY

“That it came suddenly, did not rise gradually, as common winds do, but was at the height immediately. It came sooner than they expected, and startled even those that were now together waiting, and probably employed in some religious exercises.”

So maybe you feel like you are spinning in circles and getting nowhere fast. Don’t be surprised if you too get a sudden change. The Lord seems to like the shock value of His sudden visitations. They are often so sudden and powerful that their is no doubt that it came from the Lord.

BAPTIZED IN LOVE

Matt.3:16 – After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him.

Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit to begin His ministry. It’s as if the Father couldn’t contain His love for His Son as He proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son”. From this day Jesus began to move in a miracle anointing that lasted until His death. If you think about it, that’s really what miracles are, God’s love reaching out to hurting mankind. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes the love of God and the Holy Spirit.

“It further appears that the Holy Spirit is nothing but the infinite love and delight of God, by his symbol, a dove; which is the symbol of love, and which is a bird beyond all other irrational animals in the world is remarkable and wonderful for its love to its mate, both in expressions of it by billing together (rubbing bills- like a kiss) and the like while together, and for its mourning for the loss of its correlate.

And ’tis evident that the dove is used as a symbol of love in the Scriptures: Canticles 1:15, “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes”…

It was under this representation that the Holy [Spirit] descended on Christ at his baptism, signifying the infinite love of the Father to the Son, and that thereby is signified that infinite love that is between the Father and the Son; which is further illustrated by the voice which came with the dove, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” [Matthew 3:17].”

This gets to the reason why Jesus came. He created us to experience and display His love. The fall of man hasn’t deterred His love for us and His passion to display His glory. Because of the fall Jesus Himself became a man, a perfect man. He displayed His love when He died in our place as a sacrifice for our sin. Today, anyone who believes in Him not only has their sins forgiven, they also have access to the love Jesus has enjoyed with His Father from eternity. This is what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is all about. Just as Jesus was immersed in the Spirit we can be too. Then we will hear His sweet voice, “This is my beloved son”.

SPEAK IN TONGUES AND PROPHESY

Acts 19:1,2 – And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

This description of the birth of the church in Ephesus is critical in understanding the purpose and the power of the Christian life and the Christian church. Christianity is not a creed or a system that we espouse, it is a dynamic life birthed and empowered in us through the Holy Spirit. In this chapter of the book of Acts we see the church in Ephesus birthed after an outpouring of the Spirit on twelve Christians. Paul laid his hands on them and prayed when he realized they had never been baptized in the Holy Spirit. When Paul laid his hands on them they began to speak in tongues and prophesy. This was the birthing of the power source in these twelve Christians that shook all of Asia Minor with thousands of converts and many churches that were birthed. Today’s world is no different. I feel like asking that same question to many churches and even pastors today, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit after you believed?” Our churches need to be baptized in His presence if we are going to effect our world today. Here are some comments from the Life in the Spirit Commentary on this passage.

“Paul perceives their need for the anointing and asks, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”. This question deals with their experience of the Spirit… Paul’s question does not deal with their receiving the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. From the time the Ephesian twelve were converted, they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, as all Christians are. Thus, the question is not about receiving the Spirit in salvation, but about what is basic to Luke–Acts and to the immediate context, namely, the Spirit’s anointing with power subsequent to the experience of salvation… Paul recognizes, therefore, that the Ephesian twelve are lacking in regard to the charismatic gift of the Spirit…..”

Are you lacking the power of the Spirit in your life? The immersion or baptism in the Spirit is something that happens again and again in our lives. If you are thirsty and feel powerless find a place where the Spirit is moving and camp out, you too will speak in tongues and prophesy.

BAPTIZED IN WHAT?

Matt. 3:11 – As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

I was recently driving down Lakefront Boulevard with my pastor friend Sam Carr. We were passing by the very spot where Parris and I came to Christ and were water baptized the following week. We were baptized in Lake Ponchartrain on a Friday night in August of 1973. Before I was baptized in water the ministers were sharing with me about another baptism, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. You see I was baptized in water that night but not many days later I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit since you believed? I think many Christians don’t understand the magnitude, importance, and value of the Baptism with the Spirit. Actually water baptism is only a type or shadow of the real. Being baptized into God, the Holy Spirit, is a complete game changer. Here is how Watchman Nee described it.

“God only gives good gifts to His children. Unfortunately we are apt to esteem them lightly because of their sheer abundance. The Old Testament saints, who were less favored than we are, could appreciate more readily the preciousness of this gift of the outpoured Spirit. In their day it was a gift given only to the select few, chiefly to priests, judges, kings and prophets, whereas now it is the portion of every child of God. Think! We mere nonentities who trust in Christ can have resting upon us the same Spirit who rested upon Moses the friend of God, upon David the beloved king and upon Elijah the mighty prophet. “Among them that are born of women,” said Jesus, “there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

It wasn’t great men who have been historically used by the Lord. Think about who the Lord has used; Moses was a murderer, Amos was a farmer, Jonah was a deserter, Jeremiah was a child, Joseph was a slave, Peter was a fisherman, and Paul was a persecutor. These were common, flawed men that were empowered by the Holy Spirit to effect their world. How can we have a casual attitude about the Baptism in the Spirit? Pursuing Him and allowing Him to move in our gatherings is a game changer.

IN THE SPIRIT

Rev.1:10 – I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

Do you ever take time and really examine what the authors of the Bible were trying to say? I mean to try to take yourself out of your predispositions, the things you automatically think the Bible says. What exactly did the Apostle John mean when he said he “was in the Spirit”? Was he describing something available to all Christians or just first century apostles? I believe John was describing the influence of the Spirit that began for John that day in the upper room when he and 120 other believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit. I also believe this same experience is available for all Christians today. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the root of the supernatural element in the Christian life. Here is how Albert Barnes describes John’s comments.

“The fair meaning of the passage is, that he was at that time favored in a large measure with the influences of the Holy Spirit—the spirit of true devotion; that he had a high state of religious enjoyment…. The state of mind in which he was at the time here referred to, is not such as the prophets are often represented to have been in when under the prophetic inspiration….but such as any Christian may experience when in a high state of religious enjoyment. He was not yet under the prophetic ecstasy, but was, though in a lonely and barren island, and far away from the privileges of the sanctuary, permitted to enjoy in a high degree the consolations of religion: an illustration of the great truth that God can meet his people anywhere; that, when in solitude and in circumstances of outward affliction, when persecuted and cast out, when deprived of the public means of grace and the society of religious friends, he can meet them with the abundant consolations of his grace, and pour joy and peace into their souls.”

This is incredible to me, the Holy Spirit is available to us today, especially when we are going through unusually difficult times. That’s exciting to me knowing the times we live in. I have a feeling the need to be “in the Spirit” is going to increase in the coming days. Just as John was in the Spirit during his exile, we can be in the Spirit no matter what difficulties we face.

EMPTY FIRST

He breathed on them —John 20:2

I remember a funny story about a pastor from another city who found himself in our extended revival meetings back in the summer of 1995. This pastor was actually on vacation in New Orleans when he heard about the services at Victory Fellowship. Those meetings were other worldly with hundreds of people being overwhelmed with supernatural joy. Young people and old people, rich people and poor people; they were all being consumed with the joy from heaven. This pastor came to service after service and no matter how munch he tried he couldn’t “get it”. Then after about a week of day and night services (I don’t think that was the vacation plan) this pastor got major really touched. I was in my office after midnight and I heard a commotion in the hallway. I went out to see this pastor drunk, laughing and being carried to his car. He was totally intoxicated with the Spirit. The next day he told us what had happened. He said he was kneeling and the Lord said that He couldn’t be filled because he was already filled with himself. He had to be emptied first. That was it, from that moment he was caught up in the glory of the Lord. Here are some thoughts from A.B. Simpson on being filled with the Spirit.

“The beautiful figure suggested by the words “He breathed on them” is full of simple instruction. It is as easy to receive the Holy Spirit as it is to breathe. It almost seems as if the Lord had given His disciples the very impression of breathing, and had said, “Now this is the way to receive the Holy Spirit.”

It is not necessary for us to go to the isolation room of a hospital to have our lungs contaminated with impure air. All we need to do is to keep in our lungs the air we inhaled a minute ago, and it will kill us. All the pure elements have been absorbed from it, and there is nothing left but carbon and other deadly gases.

Therefore, if we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we must first be emptied not only of our old sinful life, but of our old spiritual life. We must take a new breath every moment, or we will die. God wants us to empty out all our being into Him. Then we can take Him in-without needing to try too hard.”
So maybe there needs to be some emptying before you can really be filled with Him. Don’t wait, empty yourself out today and make room for the glory of the Lord.

THE GREAT PHYSICIAN

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If thou wilt diligently hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, . . . and wilt keep all his statutes —Exodus 15:26

Atmosphere is critical when it comes to physical as well as emotional healing. Living in a toxic environment is deadly. We obviously realize if someone is praying for healing from lung cancer it would be a pretty good idea to stop smoking. Just as cigarettes are toxic to our physical health there are toxic spiritual atmospheres that must be avoided. Placing yourself in a spiritual environment is critical to receive ministry from the Lord. The Holy Spirit is actually the atmosphere of heaven. In heaven we will be living in Him, breathing in and feeding on the Presence of the Lord. There will be no sorrow, pain, or sickness. Our lives will be completely whole as we live in the atmosphere of life. In this world, we can taste the edge of His great healing ministry. Jesus is the Great Physician and He wants to attend to us in our infirmities right here and right now. Here is how A.B. Simpson describes this incredible doctor.

“Sometimes people fall because they lack confidence in the Physician. The very first requirement for your healing is that you trust the Physician, and trust Him implicitly-so implicitly that you go forward on His bare word and act as if you had received His healing the moment you claimed His promise. You must also do what the Great Physician tells you, if you expect Him to make you whole. The pills prescribed by your doctor would do you no good if left on the cupboard shelf. You cannot expect to be healed if you are living in sin, any more than you could expect the best physician to cure you while you lived in a malarial climate or inhaled poison with every breath. So you must move from doubt into the pure air of trust and obedience before Christ can make you whole. And then if you will trust Him and respond to His directions, you will find that there is balm in Gilead and a Great Physician there.”
Everywhere Jesus goes there is healing and life. Submit to His heavenly ministry as the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. There is a healing river that flows out of Him. Stay immersed in the River of God. Bath yourself in His written word. As you get under His influence healing is the sure result.