John the Baptist teaches us how to become serious Christians with joy and hope. Hope frees people from fear of sin-guilt and death and enables us to love God, ourselves and others. The first step is the baptism of repentance which prepares us for the second Baptism of the Holy Spirit Fire. As the Holy Spirit comes into us and exposes our hidden sins, we experience the baptism of the holy fire of God’s love. The file of God’s love burns up our sins and brings us into an eternal spiritual life of joy in His Kingdom.
1. The First Baptism is Repentance
John the Baptist gives us a very clear picture of what baptism is. It is not about joining the church. The people he is baptizing were all practicing Jews. Why would people who were already part of a religion want to be baptized? The answer is given in how John responds to the Sadducees and Pharisees when they show up:
2. Our second baptism is in the Holy Spirit and Fire
The Holy Spirit can not live in a garbage dump. This is the second baptism because people have to go through the spiritual cleansing of repentance before the Holy Spirit can live in their personal spirit. Holy Spirit is the gift that Jesus promises to everyone who puts their trust in Him in baptism.
● Many people have this gift of the Holy Spirit but are not aware of it because nobody has taught them this.
● We have to invite the Holy Spirit to come and live in us.
● The Isaiah reading (11.2) teaches us this is the "Spirit of
wisdom and understanding...knowledge and the fear of
● Holy Spirit exposes our sin so we can repent, take it to
the Cross where it is burned up in the fire of God’s love
● The bad news is that there is also a counterfeit or false
spirit that is easy to mistake for the Holy Spirit. The spiritual world is a battleground where our spiritual discernment is tested.
● The good news is that we can move beyond a legalistic understanding of the Bible to a wisdom understanding.
● As we are quiet in our Bible reading and prayer time, ideas and words just appear in our heads. It is often, but not always, the Holy Spirit teaching us.
● The Holy Spirit is what many people think of as conscience - . The little voice in the back of your head that warns you when you are doing something foolish.
● As we are filled more and more by the Holy Spirit we experience the love of God burning inside us, giving us the hope of an eternal spiritual life of joy..
This spiritual fire of the love of God burns up our sin, selfishness and fear and gives us the joy and hope we need to live a life of love.
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