Having looked in the last study at the fact that God is Love itself and how that should relate to our practical lives. John now takes us again to the point of reassurance of our own salvation by repeating the point that we have the Holy Spirit living in us making it a real and authentic relationship we have with God Himself. When Jesus was living on this earth as a man His Father spoke through the heavens when He was coming up out of the water at His baptism ‘at that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17. Similarly at the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:5: While He was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” God the Father knew His Son needed reassurance of His Love, and if Jesus needs reassurance how much more we need assurance that we are secure in our Heavenly family, especially when the earth seems so insecure round about us.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit – 1 John 4:13.
One of the most exciting blessings of our salvation is the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is God’s way of bringing us into the realm of His spiritual power. God wants us to enjoy the new life He has given us, and also to be effective messengers in transmitting the gospel to others.
The early Church described in the Acts of the Apostles was so powerful because they all received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Jesus had breathed on them (John 20:22) before He left the earth in order that they might receive Himself, and He sent them out as witnesses. Then they needed the Holy Spirit to fill them to show Jesus’ power in the earth, Acts 2:1-4. An enabling to live the life of God on earth.
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:4.
“In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out My Spirit on all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2:17.
Let us look at five questions which will help us to understand the Scriptures, and lead us into all the blessings of the fullness of God.
1. Who is to be baptised?
This blessing is not just for a select few, but for all believers.
“Paul…came to Ephesus. Finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed on Jesus as the Christ?’ They said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ He asked, ‘Into what baptism then were you baptised?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptised into the baptism of repentance, continually telling the people that they should believe in the One who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus – having a conviction full of joyful trust that He is Christ, the Messiah, and being obedient to Him.’ On hearing this they were baptised again, this time in the name of the Lord Jesus. As Paul laid hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in foreign, unknown tongues (languages) and prophesied.” Acts 19:1-6 AMP
Peter and John also clearly spoke that God wanted to bless us not only with the gift of salvation but also with the gift of the Holy Spirit. “When they had come down (to Samaria) they prayed for them (the Samaritans) that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:14-17 NKJ
2. Why be baptised in the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit came first and foremost to point us towards Jesus. If you have any queries about a person, their teaching, or their ministry, check out if they are pointing you towards Jesus or towards themselves. You will also “know them by their fruit”, which is of the Spirit and shown in their life. Do not confuse fruit with gifts. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…..” Galatians 5:22-23.
Remember “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love………If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
*We are enabled to pray in the Spirit and sing praises in the Spirit, as distinct from normal prayer and praise expressed in our own language, Romans 8:26-27; 1 Corinthians 14:15.
*Through the baptism in the Holy Spirit we receive power (Acts 1:8) and ability, Acts 9:17-22.
*Our own spirit becomes more sensitive to the “voice of God’s Spirit”, Acts 13:2; Mark 13:11.
*We become available for the Gifts of the Spirit Acts 19:6.
*We also develop a deeper understanding of God’s power in our lives and the responsibility that goes with that, 1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Corinthians 1:5-7; Acts 1:8.
*We begin to live our daily lives ‘in the Spirit’ and by His power, and can constantly be ‘being filled with the Spirit,’ Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16.
*We want to talk about Jesus more and make sure people know the Truth; 1 John 4:14
3. How do we receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit?
Sometimes God baptises believers in the Spirit by a sovereign act. This is what happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and to the household of Cornelius in Acts 10. At other times in the Scriptures, it is received by the laying on of hands, as in Samaria, Acts 8, Acts 19:6.
Individually, however, we receive the baptism into the Holy Spirit in the same way we receive all the blessings of God ….ask by faith, believing. In Luke 11:13 Jesus says that if ordinary human parents know how to give good gifts to their children how much more does God the Father want to give the Holy Spirit to His children.
So we see that it is important that we ask Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Having prayed, and believing God has heard our prayer; we begin to praise God and worship Him with thanksgiving. This is a powerful means of drawing near to His presence to receive the Holy Spirit. “Come near to God and He will come near to you” James 4:8. As we become aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit there is a breaking within us and our spirit springs up to respond to the Spirit of God. At this point, an anointed servant of God may lay hands upon us to impart the Holy Spirit, just as Paul did in Acts 19:6, but this is not essential.
4. Must those who receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit ALWAYS speak in tongues?
In 1 Corinthians 14:5, Paul says, “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.” What he is saying is that we should both speak in tongues and also prophesy. When you receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit you can speak in tongues, you should expect to speak in tongues; you will speak in tongues, provided you do not let prejudice or fear hinder the flow of the Holy Spirit.
According to James 3:8 the tongue is the hardest member of the body to tame, and God wants to demonstrate His mighty power in the toughest member first. So expect to speak in tongues when you are baptised in the Holy Spirit. Expect also to prophesy.
As the Holy Spirit rests upon us He stimulates us to praise the Lord. Our own words seem inadequate to praise God as we should and the Holy Spirit then leads and encourages us, but never forces us, to speak in tongues, enabling our organs of speech to form strange words and syllables as we yield to His prompting.
Once we begin we should expect the language to be spontaneous and fluent. We will not understand the words we are saying, nor should we expect to, “for anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands Him because He utters mysteries in the Spirit,” 1 Corinthians 14:2. There will then be no doubt, either to ourselves or others, as to whether or not we are filled with the Holy Spirit. As we pray, our minds should be focused either on the Word or listening to see what the Father is saying. We can meditate or listen to a worship tape. All of this helps us to concentrate and stick at praying until such time as our spirits are so revived that nothing will stop us praying and praising.
5. Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? Acts 19:2
Since it is within every believer’s power to confess their sin in order to have a clean conscience before God and man, and to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we believe that it is God’s plan that all should experience Holy Spirit baptism.
Some objections to the baptism in the Holy Spirit
Over the years, some scriptures have been used to discount the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. By understanding them we will be able to help others overcome these hindrances. Remembering that baptism means, to immerse, will help us.
“I already have the Spirit”.
When we’re born again, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us, so the question, “Would you like the Holy Spirit to dwell in you?” can be offensive to some, as they do already have Him, Romans 8:16. But that’s not the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It’s incorrect terminology.
Jesus said in John 14:16-17 ‘And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.
The Holy Spirit will be given in a manner like never before to the believer and the world cannot experience it. The world can experience the new birth, that’s who it’s for!! So He’s talking about something for those who already believe.
“I’ve already received the Spirit’s baptism”
“For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body” 1 Corinthians 12:13. This is referring to the new birth, when the Holy Spirit places the believer into the Body. But Jesus has come and baptises the believer with the Holy Spirit and fire, Matthew 3:11. The baptism of the Spirit is into the Body of Christ(new birth). The baptism of Jesus, after we have received Him, is into the Spirit. So it’s an immersion in the Spirit (inside us and all over us) to do a work through us wherever we go. Your intellect won’t understand how. But we need to be totally immersed in the Holy Spirit so He can be involved in our life, and we can be involved in His Life.
“Do all speak in tongues?”
1 Corinthians 12:30, implies that the answer would be “NO, not all speak in tongues” However, Paul is referring to the gifts that have been set in the church for the edifying of the Body. He has written two separate ‘lists’, comparing the difference between speaking in tongues and the gift of tongues. As we have covered, speaking and praying in tongues edifies the individual 1 Corinthians 14:4. In 1 Corinthians 14:5 if the gift of tongues is followed by the interpretation, it is the same as a prophecy for edifying or building up of the church (gathering). When you receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you receive the outflow of tongues for the building up of yourself. The gift with interpretation is as prophecy, and brings edification, exhortation and comfort to the whole Body. Everyone has the ability to speak in tongues from their baptism in the Spirit, but not everyone stands up and gives a message to the entire Body. It would edify you, but not the Body.
Remember, we must have a desire for others to have all that God has for them and also for ourselves we must be open to receive.
Rely on the Love – 1 John 4:16.
God longs for us to know He loves us and He has gone to great lengths to show us. We’ve read about it, heard about it, talked about it even preached about it but not many of us believe it. But John is saying here we are to rely on God’s Love. The Love that caused Jesus to lay down His life for us and to experience for Himself all the pains and weaknesses we experience. It is that love that says to us, even when we feel so dirty ‘Come to Me and get all that you need, lay it all down and receive My mercy, My grace to help you in your time of need’. God is so in love with us that He has given His all so we can have all we need in healing, wisdom, wealth, strength, peace and love. He has taken care of our past, present and future all we have to do is believe and receive this amazing Love. Rely on the Love it has already been seen in the Blood of Jesus. It has already been released in the Name of Jesus Christ. Rely on the Love it has been poured out through His Word. Meditate on this verse over and over saying it to yourself again and again all day ‘I believe the Love Jesus has for me’. Once it gets down into our hearts from our minds we will be changed forever.
Fear; False Evidence Appearing Real.
Fear can be more dominant than faith and is the complete opposite. If we do not have faith in a situation fear is active. ‘Fear has torment’. We know fear is from the devil as Jesus said ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ John 10:10. So every negative fear is from the enemy of our lives. If we are full of fear we cannot enjoy our lives ‘For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.’ 2 Timothy 1:7. So fear is a spirit which makes us weak whereas God wants us powerful. Thoughts provoke feelings which when I accept them become fearful thoughts developing raw fear, giving physical responses of shaking, trembling, sweating, dry mouth, palpitations and emotional responses of ‘what if?’ questions; downcast; discouragement; discord; disappointment; dismay; disaster; dis-ease and depression which is just where the devil wants us. Fear is what releases the power of the devil in our lives and faith releases the power of God in our lives. Do we put more trust in what the devil says than what the Word of God says?
Fear is usually associated with running physically, the fight or flight response, so our body does have a very strong chemical reaction to certain stimuli, but what does God say? We can still feel fear and have a God reaction and press forward on the Word. New things cause us fear but as we ‘do it afraid’ we become more aware of God’s power in us and more comfortable with the situation. Even if it is a dangerous situation we need to train ourselves in the Word so that our first reaction is the Word of God. Psalm 91 ‘I will say of the Lord He is my refuge, and my fortress my God in whom I trust. Surely He will save me from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence’. We cannot afford to let a swear word out but need to call on the power in the Name of Jesus, the power to save us.
Fear can cause us to shrink back from God’s best so if we have experienced rejection in a relationship we will keep away from being involved with people. We resist His call to work in a ministry team as we don’t want that pain again. Fear causes us to be more and more focused on self not allowing anyone to get close, we even fear the ‘love walk’ or people may take advantage of us. We miss out so much on what God has for us due to fear.
Fear attacks our minds and we think junk. We focus on the ‘never’ lies, I could ‘never’ do that; he ‘never’ does anything for me; things ‘never’ work out for me; I’ll ‘never’ reach that standard; I’ll ‘never’ be as good as her and all the rest. We need to remember everything is subject to change except God Himself and His Love.
Fear of not pleasing God
A big fear that haunts many people is fear of not pleasing God. We often condemn ourselves for not praying enough, not knowing enough Bible; we can’t remember it; we don’t know as much as other Christians; we are not a good witness; we don’t love as much as we should; we become very legalistic and run our lives by rules so we can measure our success. The only trouble is it only highlights our failure in our own eyes. ‘This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life’, 2 Corinthians 3:6 NLT. We need to come to our Father in faith with no fear recognising that He knows all about us and still wants us as His children. ‘But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14. Jesus gave us a very good example in children as they really enjoy life; they forgive easily; don’t make mountains out of mole hills; get over things quickly; don’t question parental judgement even when they don’t understand; and are excited about what they are doing. Lots of Christians are in the Kingdom of God but we are not enjoying living in it as we are so fearful.
Live Free of fear
We need to see there is no fear in Love, 1 John 4:18, they cannot live together in peace. As we know the Love of God and receive it fear, dread and terror are gradually pushed out of our lives. If we really know God loves us even if we have done things wrong, we will behave full of faith and fear would have no room in our hearts. We need to take a forceful stand to receive this God Love by speaking it out of our mouths, ‘I am God’s child and He is pleased with me’. We need to constantly remind ourselves that He will take care of us; He is the author and perfector of our faith, (Hebrews 12:2), so we can look forward every day to all the Holy Spirit will lead us into.
- Choose thoughts: If we want to get rid of fear we have to control our thoughts casting down wrong thoughts and choosing right ones. God has given us a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7) so we can choose what we think. We have to think on purpose and if we do not like our thought patterns, if they are destructive or worrying, then we can stop them by speaking right things out of our mouths. Thinking is just silent self-talk but we can control our thoughts by speaking them out loud and then we become more aware of any stinking thinking and replace it with God’s Word.
- Talk to ourselves!! Talking out loud ‘God is on my side’ ‘He loves me’ ‘God is working in my life’ ‘Devil is a liar and a thief’, ‘I have the attitude of Christ’, Philippians 2:5. Anything we are happy with that is Truth, we may seem crazy to start with, but it will literally save our lives and stop an onslaught from the enemy. Put stickers up on the wall to remind yourself what you can say in a crisis. Really does the décor matter more than keeping you remaining close to Jesus and walking by the leading of the Holy Spirit?
- Change friends: If we tend towards negative thoughts of fear we can’t afford to get together with a negative friend even though they may wallow in our self-pity with us. We may need to change our friends to people who will speak the Word to us and encourage us to draw near to God, 1 Corinthians 15:33.
- Worship music: It can never be overestimated the power of worship. When the devil is telling us something is going to happen that won’t happen unless we believe it into existence. We need to get into a position of worship in whatever way we like and quieten ourselves focusing on Jesus, listening for His voice, maybe reading the psalms and write down all He shares.
- Take responsibility: Admit what we have done wrong especially where we have been totally on our mind and central to our lives living in ‘I’ –dolatry. We won’t change from fear to faith by focusing on ourselves. God knows our heart and when we are in condemnation it sucks the spiritual life out of us and does not make anything better. Jesus died for the needy, bad tempered, unloving, back sliders we just have to humble ourselves and receive forgiveness and be filled with His Spirit again.
- Confess faults to another: This is a great fear breaker, ‘but what will they think?’ But we need to get our sin out in the Light as fear feeds on secrets, things in dark places. They grow and fester and do more damage in the dark and secret places, James 5:16. We need to be open and vulnerable to others; we are human beings not superwoman.
It is possible to live free of fear in this dangerous and unpredictable world because God wants us to walk in faith at all times; ‘And without faith it is impossible to please God’, Hebrews 11:6. He promises protection in every situation as we know from Psalm 91:1-3 This promise of protection is for those who ‘dwell’ or remain in the secret place of God as seen in John 15:1-17. We are called to live in constant continual union and communication with the Father through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. We keep His Word and obey His voice. As we dwell in the Lord we can live without dread of what the devil may do. The devil may still try to trip us up but God has promised there is always a way of escape every time, 1 Corinthians 10:13. If we look at the world around us and it looks so dangerous we need to spend more time in the Word and in prayer until our trust in God and His Love overcomes our fear. Until the Word is louder in our hearts than the lies of the enemy in our heads, we need to draw closer to the Lord until we know we are resting in the shadow of the Almighty and no matter how dangerous this world becomes He will deliver us and we know and can rely on the Love God has for us, 1 John 4:16.
Remember what we have learnt previously that the greater one lives in us (1 John 4:12) so drive out every thought of fear, dread, terror and call on the Holy Spirit to fill you up with His Faith, Mark 11:22.
19 Walking in the Spirit – 1 John 4:13-18 Challenge Questions
Read all the notes on ‘Walking in the Spirit’ – 1 John 4:13-18
1. From the section on the Holy Spirit was there any new information? Or challenges?
2. Do you have an experience of the ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’ that you would like to share?
3. Are there any objections to the ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’ that you agree with? Do you have a Biblical reason?
4. Do you find it harder to accept God’s Love when you know you have done wrong? Why? Do you think He finds it harder to love you? Why not?
5. Can you think of any ‘never’ lies that you have listened to? What have you done with them?
6. What reasons can you give for having victory over fear?
7. How can you have God’s victory in this area
8. What advice and Bible verses would you give to someone who had fear in the area of house destruction?
Read the verses 1 John 4:19-21
9. Is there anything new about love in these three verses different from previous studies in Real Love?
10. Is vulnerability in Church a good thing or dangerous? Give reasons for your opinion.
11. Give several reasons why people do not ask for help in a Church situation?
12. What advice would you give to someone who finds it hard to love Christians in Church?
13. Do you have an example of love that was shown to you by a Christian? Have you managed to do this for anyone yourself?
14. How do you think we can pray for people in other poor countries where Christians are persecuted? Do you have any practical examples?
15. Write as many points as you can that you have learnt so far from the whole book of 1 John about love.
16. Sum up in one short sentence what you have learnt in this study.
Memory verse: ‘I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence’. Psalm 91:2