In A Few Days Your Life Will Change Forever

4 09 2010

There are things that happen that completely alter the course of one’s life. As I am sitting here, I can think of some really significant moments, both positive and negative, that changed my life forever. There are some things one walks through that are so amazing or so awful and have such an impact that you just can’t be the same on the other end of it.

For the most part, there is no predicting it. Even things that seem predictable can turn one way or the other at the last second; for better or for worse.

I am wondering what it felt like to Jesus’ friends when He said,

“John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:5)

“What does that mean?” They might have asked each other.

When I read the Bible I have the advantage of having all the chapters sewn together; but they didn’t. The end of the sentence was the end of the sentence for them, until something else happened to add to the story. So, in this case, they would have been left wondering.

They knew what water baptism was by now; this immersion in the water; this symbol of death to an old sinful life and rebirth, renewal into a new and forgiven state. Baptism was an outward sign of an inward commitment. So what would baptism with the Holy Spirit mean? How would that change them?

I wonder what they knew about the Holy Spirit at that point? There were certainly many references to the “Spirit of God” in the Old Testament (if you want to read a pretty good article on this, I thought this one was to the point, yet thorough: The Holy Spirit In The Old Testament), but the Spirit seemed known and active by some, but not all who followed God where writing Psalms about Him like David; and maybe it was a little unclear on the role of the Holy Spirit and even His commitment to be present long-term with an individual, as David expressed concern in Psalm 51:11: “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

So Jesus says, “In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit;” they might not have known what that would mean in the present, but in a few days…

There I go, jumping ahead. I just want to stop and feel the promise. God is always true to His Word. What He promises, He does. There is really only one absolute certainty I have outside of that: one day, I will die. That’s it. Everything else has variables.

When God promises He will send His Holy  Spirit to His followers, I am included in that. With absolute certainty I can count on God baptizing me with the Holy Spirit if I am submitted to His authority: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38; see also Acts 5:32). Through His Spirit I will be led to know what to say when (Luke 12:12), He will help me understand Jesus and how to follow Him (John 14:26), He will pour a supernatural kind of love into my life which will enable me to bring hope to others (Romans 5:5)…

But now I am running ahead of the verse. The disciples didn’t know what it would all mean. They just knew something big was going to happen (being baptized by the Spirit of the Living and Eternal God is no small matter).

Jesus was saying, “Take one last look at yourself. Today you are the way you are, but in a few days you will be changed.” The Mission Jesus had for His disciples was impossibly huge and completely beyond them.  They would have all fallen away if it had not been for this promise.  From then on, they would understand, and so must I:

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

— Teresa Klassen

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