Baptised with (or in) the Spirit
Second blessing theology
This blog post is the second of seven posts about the Holy Spirit leading up to Pentecost. These posts are also the last in an intermittent series on the Holy Spirit.
This last week, particularly Thursday 16th April, there has been the tag #MeAt20 trending on Twitter. The next day the Radio 2 Breakfast Show, Zoe Ball commented on the pictures that some celebrities had posted.
I did not post my pictures at 20. In those days I wore loon pants, platform shoes and occasionally tank tops, it was 1972 after all. I do not consider that to have been a good look.
But other things, apart from being a fashion victim, happened to me at 20. I bought my first guitar, I became a Christian and I first heard about Charismatic Renewal. That first mention was someone saying, “They’re a bit charismatic,” in a way that did not sound complimentary. As a Cristian of a few weeks, I had no idea what that meant. Another few days after that I was in a church service when the baptism of the Spirit and gifts of the spirit were explained. Later, still at 20, I started attending a Renewal Group on one Thursday evening a month, later I joined the worship band and actually led the worship there before I was 25.
back in the day, the theology of the Holy Spirit was … well … there wasn’t really one. it was Theology Lite. The focus was on the experience of the Holy Spirit, and the experiences of being baptised in the Spirit and that God could heal were major concerns.
Today, thankfully, there is more theology, though this background explains why I tend to focus on experiencing God, but, not thankfully, there are now two different schools on what baptism in the Spirit means. Some claim it is a second blessing from God, whilst others that the Holy Spirit lives in all Christians. The book Release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee, published in the mid-’60s was often quoted in the second of these views, in that the Holy Spirit needs to be released in the Christian for them to be effective.
The experience of the first Christians, as told in the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament is interesting in this. After he was raised from the dead, Jesus to disciple wait until the Spirit came. There is no doubt that the Disciples had salvation. The falling of the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter two was not a salvation event, the Holy Spirit fell on them as something separate to being saved.
The story of Cornelius in Acts chapter 10 is another surprise. The Spirit comes first, before the commitment shown by baptism. W can make our theology and dogma, The Holy Spirit either comes at a commitment to Jesus, or after, but the Holy Spirit is not herself bound by those rules.
Acts 19 has its problems. The people there were already disciples, so it is not a salvation issue. But they had only received John’s Baptism, so Paul first baptises them in the name of Jesus and then lays his hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit as two separate acts.
In the sixteenth century, in a church in Aldgate Street, a disillusioned and depressed John Wesley felt his heart strangely warmed. Different jargon to Pentecostalists and Charismatics, but he was telling of the Holy Spirit coming using the language that he had at his disposal. Again this was not a conversion experience.
In Acts 4 spirit falls again. Persecution had started. The Sanhedrin, the same people who had Jesus executed, has arrested Peter and John and warned them that they had better stop preaching Jesus or else. They held a prayer meeting and this happened:
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4:31 NIVUK
These were people who had been disciples of Jesus and who the Spirit had already come. The Holy Spirit fell again.
I believe that the Christian needs a second blessing of the Holy Spirit, the baptism in, or with, the Spirit or the release of the Spirit, call it what you will. But also we need a third, fourth, fifth and sixth blessing … and the rest. God wants to bless us with the Holy Spirit.
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you first believed? Have you felt your heart strangely warmed? Do you need a filling with the Holy Spirit, or even filling up again? Just ask God who longs to bless you.