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Lowell Brueckner

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The Baptism in the Holy Spirit I


Christ in us

The Christian life is supernatural, heavenly and spiritual. Its testimony is a mystery, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col.1:27). This life can never function with merely human, natural capabilities. The great need these days are people, who know what it means to be under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit of God.

The apostle Paul wrote: “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh…” (1 T.3:16). This speaks of the great mystery of how it came to be that the eternal, glorious God, the Son, could appear in a human body. Of course, His body had been prepared and conceived by God, and was not corrupted by a fallen nature; it was without spot or contamination, without the possibility of sin.

However, our bodies have been conceived in a despicable and incalculably fallen state, and although we have been rescued, pardoned and cleansed, we continue to be imperfect, committing many errors. Isn’t it then a great mystery that the triune God can manifest Himself through us to a surprised world, which can see men and women living a supernatural life? Even though it is a mystery, which I cannot understand or explain, it is biblically true.

John 17 concerns Jesus’ prayer to the Father, in which He reveals that, which He most wants to see in His disciples. In verse 21, He pleads: “Just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me,” and in verse 23: “I in them and you in me… so that the world may know that you sent me”. The world’s people are observing a great phenomenon. Men and women with the same flesh and blood that they have, manifest an inner power that they have never seen before. It calls their attention, signifying, for some, a motive which causes them to believe the gospel.

A little earlier also, in chapter 14, verse 23, we see what Jesus taught the person, who loves and obeys Him: “My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” He had already said, in verse 17, that “the Spirit of truth… dwells with you and will be in you”. Therefore, I wrote above that the triune God is totally involved in the life of the believer.

In his first epistle, John said: “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn.5:11-12). We have no eternal life apart from the Son, who lives in us. Eternal life is not something; it is a Person. All depends on Him. Returning to His prayer, Jesus ended by saying: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them(Jn.17:26). The person of Christ comes to the disciple and lives in him; within Him is the love that exists between the Father and the Son… the love of God!

Therefore, the individual characteristics of the indwelling Christ begin to manifest themselves in the believer. Jesus did not come to refine our natural capabilities, or to repair that which is corrupted in us. He came to bring death to old Adam (our sinful nature), and to give us a nature, which is compatible with God’s nature. His presence is manifested through us. The New Testament has much to teach us about the difference between human love and God’s love. They are very different; the world neither knows, nor appreciates, the love of God.

In order to be saved, we must receive faith from God, because our faith does not save. James writes that even demons have faith: “Even the demons believe – and shudder!” On the other hand, James also showed that there is a faith that works divine works. The disciples thought that they lacked a certain quantity of faith. “Increase our faith!” – they said, but Jesus corrected them: “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Lk.17:5-6). Saving faith results from “hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Ro.10:17).

We can clearly see that Jesus taught us in John 14-16 that we must receive and manifest His life in us. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives” (14:27). In chapter 15, He speaks of the same love, of which He asked the Father in chapter 17: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (15:9). To have the love of God, they depended on Christ. Two verses later, He says: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you…” (15:11).

Where is the manifestation of the characteristics and the power of God? Where is the unction upon those, who preach the word? Those are my questions. I think that we are not fulfilling the work that God gave us to do, no matter how much outward and numerical success there may be. We need to recognize that we are bankrupt and return to giving the prayer meeting the priority that it deserves over all Christian activity.

We have to pray until the church vibrates once again with heavenly power. We have to see ungodly people in fear under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We have to see violent conversions. We have to see meetings adorned with the atmosphere of heaven. Can it happen again? It has to happen, before all is lost in the labyrinth of merely human effort! Today there is way too much confidence in the decisions and determination of men, and little evidence of a genuine and lasting work of God.

The new creation

“Thus it is written ‘The first man Adam became a living being’, the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Co.15:45). There are two progenitors of the human race, Adam and Christ. God, knowing all things from the beginning, had His mind of Christ from the foundation of the world. He knew about Adam and his failure; He knew of Jesus and His sacrifice, which would annul the fall of the first Adam and give new life to those, who believe on Him, those who trust Him, those who cast themselves into His hands.

The greatest difference that exists among the human race, is not that of gender, that is, the difference between men and women. Neither is it a racial difference between black, white, Asians or indigenous tribes. The greatest difference that exists is between those that have been born only once and those, who have been born twice.

Paul proclaims that Christ is the last Adam, who came to establish a new creation, over the which, He is the protagonist. God became man and was born as a baby. His life and his ministry were incomparable on this earth. For example: “No one ever spoke like this man!” (Jn.7:46). “Never since the world began has it been Heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind” (Jn. 9:30). “If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin…” (Jn.15:24).

Adam was created in the likeness and image of God, but he fell under temptation and by that act, he condemned all of his descendants. Jesus is the only Human Being, of which of Father said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt.3:17; 17:5). His purpose is to have a new race of people in the likeness and image of the God/Man. “He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Ro.8:29).

He did a work on the cross that neither Adam nor any of his sons could have done, and He declared it to be finished! He continued, being the first fruits of the dead, rising from the dead and making it possible that new life could be obtained by those who were under condemnation; fallen beings from the first creation. Having done it, before he left them to return to His Father, He brought them together and introduced them into the new creation under the New Testament. He said to them: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit’” (Jn.20:21-22).

God breathed on man after having made him in the first creation: “The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Ge.2:7). However, the last Adam is “a life-giving spirit”. He breathes and the believer receives the Spirit of God. Paul said: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Ro.8:9). Every believer, who is born into the new creation, is born of the Spirit that Christ has given us.

 Let us allow Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones to teach us about this matter: “What is abundantly clear in John 20 is surely that the church was constituted as a body and as an organism there and then. Our blessed Lord, having finished his work and having presented himself and his blood in heaven, is now the head of the church, and he comes here to these chosen disciples and apostles and makes it clear to them that they are already the body. He breathes this Spirit of life into the body, in this extraordinary parallel with what happened to man’s creation in the very beginning.” Afterwards Lloyd-Jones mentions the Great Commission to the church, which was given to the disciples at this time: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.”

He also mentions the words of the great commentator, Matthew Henry… “‘As the breath of the Almighty gave life to man and began the old world, so the breath of the mighty Savior gave life to His ministers and began the new world’. In other words, Matthew Henry sees this extraordinary parallel in the original creation of man…” In this way, Lloyd-Jones demonstrates that the church had already been initiated before Pentecost.

There are those who say that, as Jesus breathed upon His disciples in John 20:22, that it was a form of prophecy, demonstrating and preparing them for that, which would take place in Acts 2. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows, that the very grammar indicates that this is no prophecy: “The word ‘receive’ in verse 22 is the aorist imperative. And the authorities are unanimous in saying the Greek aorist imperative never has a future meaning. This is a purely technical point, but a very important one. So many of our friends who hold to the other teaching that we are criticizing, do so in terms of the Greek and the original. So let us meet them on their own ground. Here – and again I defy you to find a single exception – the authorities are all agreed in saying that the Greek aorist imperative never has a future meaning – and I would emphasize the word ‘never’. So you see, the very word that is used is a word that wants us to see that what we are told happened then, did happen then; that when our Lord said to them ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost’ they did receive the Holy Ghost.”

The baptism of power

Above all the errors that can be observed in the church in this day (and they are many and so great, as to bring it near to a total apostasy), what worries me most, is that of which Paul warned his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. He said that “in the last days there will come times of difficulty (the same Greek word for difficulty is translated extremely fierce, when describing the Gadarene demoniacs), for people will be lovers of self…”, and there follows a list of characteristics that end with, “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 T.3:1-5. Power is the same Greek word found in Acts 1:8: ‘You shall receive power’).

Allow me to put before you the text in John 7:38-39: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Jesus shouted this on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, which was the last feast of the year. The people were accustomed to attend the feast and return to their homes, living a life of shadows and symbols. They never experienced reality. Jesus went to the feast at the right time (7:8), led by the Spirit, according to the timetable given Him by the Father, and He did it secretly (7:10). In the middle of the feast, He revealed Himself by teaching in the temple (7:14). However, once this last feast would end, the people would return to their towns and houses, some from other nations, without experiencing reality: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (7:37).

We conclude, then, that the believer comes to Him, in whom he has put his trust and has surrendered his life, so that the Lord Jesus Christ will give him the Holy Spirit. Under His all-sufficiency, without limit, and under His generosity, the believer will receive, not just a river, but rivers of living water. The Lord neither lies nor exaggerates; the Christian will experience supernatural rivers of living water, which will flow out from him.

John the Baptist had the ministry of preparing the hearts of Israel to receive their Messiah. He also introduced His two principal works, which we can read in John 1:29 and 33: “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! ... He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit”. Jesus will immerse us in the Holy Spirit, in which the presence of the Spirit penetrates and fills the whole being, until it bursts out in rivers of living water.

In Luke 24:45, Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”. After all that they had received from Him as disciples over the three and a half year, in which they walked with him; after having received such important things during the forty days after His resurrection; after having breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit, still they lacked something else: “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk.24:49).

However, on the day that He ascended into heaven, they still had not received: “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now,” He said in Acts 1:5. In verse 8, he adds: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” He was speaking of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, received for the first time on the Day of Pentecost.

Now, I will have to confront an argument that many put before us these days, something that men, greatly used of God in past generations did not see (in another installment I will present their testimonies). Many Bible teachers are teaching that the church was born on the Day of Pentecost, (Something which the Bible does not tell us anywhere!). This teaching became popular at about the beginning of the 20th Century. The text, which they misinterpret, is the following: “For by {means of the personal agency of} one {Holy} Spirit we were all, whether Jews o Greeks, slaves or free, baptized {and by baptism united together} into one body, and all made to drink of one {Holy} Spirit” (1 Co.12:13, Amplified).

I am confronting the attempt to equate the baptism in the Holy Spirit, a work of Jesus mentioned by John the Baptist, which occurred on the Day of Pentecost, with the baptism mentioned by Paul to the Corinthians. We will carefully note the difference. John said: “This is he… Jesus Christ… who baptizes with the Holy Spirit”. Paul says:  “For by {means of the personal agency of} one {Holy} Spirit we were all… baptized” (Greek word en, used in a causal sense, as in Mt.26:52, Mt.7:6, Lk.1:51, Ro.5:9. In all my Spanish versions and in most English versions, including the KJV, the correct Greek word is “by one Spirit”). In the first case, Christ administers the baptism, in the second the Holy Spirit administers a baptism.

Now, notice the element into which the baptism occurs: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” and “we are all baptized in one body.” These are two baptisms, not one. The element in the first case is the Holy Spirit, and in the second it is a body… by the context you will see clearly that it is the body of Jesus Christ, the church (vs.12-27). There is no doubt about the body: “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” To summarize: On believing in Christ, the Holy Spirit enters into every believer and he is born again. At the same time, the Holy Spirit baptizes him into the element of the body of Christ, and he becomes a member of the church.

In one of the most trustworthy Spanish versions, La Biblia de las Americas, which I use most commonly, in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, the term is translated “He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit”. The same people, who try to teach that the baptism into the church is the same as the baptism in the Spirit, will say that this only occurred only one time at Pentecost and there are no more baptisms in the Spirit. They say that a believer enters this baptism automatically, therefore the correct terminology for a post-conversion experience in the Holy Spirit (in the case of those who believe in a second experience), should be called a filling. I also believe it is a filling, but I believe that it is more. We will study Acts 10, which tells of the gospel being preached by Peter to the Gentiles in Caesarea.  

When reporting his visit to Caesarea to the Christians in Jerusalem, Peter mentions this, about what took place… “The Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Ac.11:14,15). Jesus said in Acts 1:8 that the Holy Spirit would “come upon them”, and Luke related that He came like a wind and filled the house, where they were sitting; they were all filled with the Spirit. He came upon them, filled the house, and in this way they were immersed in the Spirit and filled, as well. The Holy Spirit also came upon them in Caesarea – He “fell on all who heard the word”, as in Jerusalem He filled the place and they were baptized in His presence; they were submerged or baptized, and also filled.

Philip, the evangelist, went down to Samaria, preaching Christ. The people heard, were filled with joy and were baptized in water. We believe that the Bible teaches that only born-again believers should be baptized in water. In Jerusalem, the believers heard what had happened to the Samaritans and Peter and John came. Why did they come, if the Samaritans already were born again and baptized in water, members of the body of Christ? The reasonable answer can only be that they needed to be baptized in the Spirit and in His power. “For he had not yet fallen on any of them” (Ac.8:16). They had not yet been submerged in the Spirit until Peter and John arrived.  

Saul of Tarsus was converted on the road to Damascus. Jesus revealed Himself to him, he received Jesus as his Lord and yielded to His will in that same instance. But God sent a believer to him in Damascus, Ananias, so that he would be filled with the Spirit. Afterward, he baptized him in water. The story is repeated throughout the book of Acts. It does not relate all the events that took place every time; it does not always say that He fell upon them, or that there was wind or flames of fire. Nevertheless, the experience, the same that took place on Pentecost, was repeated. 

Only once, in Acts 10, in one meeting, all received the gospel and at the same time they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Afterwards, Peter commanded that they should be baptized in water, although the story does not relate the actual baptismal service. On all the other occasions in the book of Acts, the new birth occurred separate from the baptism in the Spirit. Saul was baptized in water after being baptized in the Spirit; you may remember that he received his sight along with the Holy Spirit baptism and was able to go out with Ananias for baptism without being led by the hand.

There is a tremendous disadvantage, if Christians are not baptized in the Holy Spirit. David Wilkerson noticed that some people from the gangs in New York, although they had apparently received the gospel, returned to the world. Others followed Jesus faithfully. Wilkerson wanted to know if there was a reason or a secret that would explain the difference between the two categories of believers, and so he interviewed those that had remained faithful. Time after time he heard the same answer; they testified that they had received stability and spiritual strength after having been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

The Bible tells us that the baptism in the Holy Spirit gives us power to be witnesses for Christ. R. A. Torrey (later we will know a little more of his ministry and his relationship with D. L. Moody) wrote in the book that he wrote over the person and baptism of the Spirit that we would have to give account to God, because of our ineffectiveness in evangelization and for the lack of fruit, for not having received the baptism.

Paul teaches us of two kinds of material, with which true Christian can build, in an attempt to edify the church in their ministries; on the one hand, there is gold, silver and precious stones; on the other, wood, hay and stubble. The great difference between them is the property of whether or not they are combustible. In that chapter three, he had already accused the Corinthians of being carnal, children in Christ (v.1), and for walking as (mere) men (v.3). The final proof would be the trial of fire; if the building material passed that test and remained, the Christian would receive recompense. If it burned, the Christian would suffer loss, even though he would be saved. The difference was the quality of their walk and work… as mere men or as persons dominated and conducted by the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps today, because of the lack of correct teaching over the doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we are experiencing this great lack of power in the church; there is much emphasis in what the Christian is capable of doing. There is talk of natural faculties, which they received at birth, as gifts. Of course, we need to offer these abilities to the Lord, but these are not gifts of the Spirit. Oswald Chambers, in his famous devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, defines natural ‘gifts’ as the accidents of genes! It seems to me that it is assumed that all Christians have the power of the Holy Spirit, even though they have never had a second experience.

Worst of all, the greatest catastrophe is that those, who have been taken in by this assumption, rob Christ of the glory that belongs to Him through our lives. Not long ago, I heard a friend preach about John 16:14: He (the Holy Spirit) will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” The glory, of which Christ is worthy, is greatly limited by the lives of believers that are not baptized and filled with the Spirit. Many ministers have testified after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit that the Bible was opened to them in a greater way and they saw Christ as never before. Seeing in this way, the Holy Spirit reveals to them the things of Christ and thereby Christ receives the glory. The baptism in the Spirit is vital!

(a second and third part will follow)


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