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HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM (8): The Promise Is For You & Your Children


Much of Paul’s letter to the Galatians has to do with the Holy Spirit. Their problem was that they had begun in the Spirit – but were abandoning the Spirit to go back to human effort.

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing – If it really was for nothing? Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

Paul preached the gospel – i.e., the crucified Christ – “clearly.” The Galatians believed it and were baptized into Christ (see Galatians 3:26-27). This meant that they were the sons (heirs) of God because of their faith and baptism. Because they were “sons,” God gave them “the Spirit of His Son into [their] hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’” This Spirit means we are not slaves, but Sons and heirs of God.

God does not want us to remain as we are when we become His children. He wants us to grow in the family likeness. The question is, “How do we grow?” Is it by striving to obey the Law? Or is it by living by the Spirit as we continue to walk by faith? Which has God planned for us?

The Promise of the Father

Even at Pentecost, Peter said that when we repent and are baptized in the name of the Lord, we receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. He continued to say:

The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.

What is “the promise” that is for all whom the Lord calls? Let’s look in the context. In Acts 1:4, Jesus said:

Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

Even in the Old Testament, the Father had promised through the prophets that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh.

And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. – Joel 2:28-29 [Quoted by Peter in Acts 2:16-21. Peter said this is a prophesy of what happened at Pentecost]

The Promise Spoken of By Jesus

Jesus had also spoken of the promise of the Holy Spirit to His disciples many times, especially in the gospel of John. One notable example of this, among many others, is in John 7:37-39.

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

The word given in the last sentence of this quote is not in the Greek. The translators, rightly, supply it to complete the thought. John was not saying that the Holy Spirit did not exist prior to Jesus’ glorification. He is saying that the Spirit had not yet been given in the sense Jesus spoke of it as He cried out at the feast.

This whole passage reminds us of what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 when He spoke to her of “living water.” It also harkens back to Ezekiel 47:1-12, which speaks of a river of water coming from the glorified temple, flowing down into the Dead Sea where it made the salt water fresh.

John the Baptist & the Promise

Back in Acts, as we continue reading in 1:5, Jesus reminded His disciples of the words of John the Baptist:

For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Then, in verse 8 He added:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

Something New

Do you get from all of this that something new was about to occur? In chapter 2, as they were all together on the Day of Pentecost, they heard a sound as a violent wind from heaven and saw tongues of fire that sat on each of them. Then,

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

The Promise Given By Jesus

When the mockers among the crowd said these men are drunk, Peter responded, “No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel (see above), and quoted from Joel 2:28-32. Later in his sermon, He returned to speak of the Spirit again:

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. – Acts 2:32-33

The promise of the Father is the promised Holy Spirit. Peter said all should repent and be baptized in the name of the Jesus whom they had crucified. Those who would do this would be forgiven of their sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He added that the promise was for all whom the Lord would call.

In Acts 5:32, when the apostles were before the Jewish Supreme Court defending their faith in Jesus, they said:

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.

But what if believers do not know about the Holy Spirit?

Receiving the Promise

In Acts 19:1ff, Paul found some disciples who did not know about the Spirit. When Paul asked if they had received the Holy Spirit since they had believed, they said, “We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” (See this earlier post for a comment on this text.)

He immediately asked them, “Into what, then, were you baptized?” Paul’s first question revealed a problem with their baptism.

It is my observation that many members of the Churches of Christ have a similar problem. They do not know that the Holy Spirit is given. If we do not know the Holy Spirit is given, how can we walk in the Spirit in a way that will cause us to continue to grow in the likeness of Jesus?

This is the purpose of the gift of the Spirit. At no point in the history of the church did all Christians receive the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit does not mean having more of the miraculous gifts. In fact, Paul told those seeking such gifts to eagerly desire the more excellent gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13).

In Galatians 5, Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit (note that “fruit” here is singular, which suggests that all of these qualities together form that fruit). God gives His sons & daughters the Holy Spirit so they will have this fruit in their lives.

Remember, though, that the Spirit is a helper. He does not take over our lives and leave us with no free will. We must cooperate so that we do not “grieve” the Spirit (see Ephesians 4:30). Should we do so, we could “quench” the Spirit (see 1 Thessalonians 5:19). If that were to happen, we would no longer have the Spirit – and would be lost.

You might also like to read this post, which lists 41 different ministries of the Holy Spirit in the believer by simply quoting verses throughout the New Testament. This will help you to see just how important this promise is for us – and how much we miss if we do not have it.

PREVIOUS: BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (7) And Charismatic Gifts

QUESTION: Re Being Filled With The Holy Spirit

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