The book of Acts is the historical documentation for the first missionary enterprise within Christianity. It is also the record of what happens when Jesus Christ Spirit baptizes a people and they become obedient to the gospel. Acts 1:5-8 clearly establishes that Spirit Baptism empowers a Christian to witness and it also obligates Christians to witness. In other words, if a Christian is Spirit baptized, then he/she must proclaim the message of the gospel.This leads to a fundamental question, what is Spirit baptism?
Any missions endeavor that seeks to build the Church apart from the divine work of the Holy Spirit may contribute to the expansion of Christendom's influence around the world, but it will not expand the Church itself.
In 1Corinthians 12:13 the Apostle Paul wrote, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” The universality of Spirit baptism cannot be ignored by those who are committed to worldwide missions. Spirit baptism is that great divine work which places fallen sinners into Christ’s body, the Church. This divine work is intended for people of every ethnicity (Jews or Greeks) and for people in every socio-economic class (slaves or free). The Apostle Paul reaffirmed this essential truth to the church at Ephesus with these words, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:4-5). Spirit baptism places repentant sinners into the Body of Christ (the Church). Any missions endeavor that seeks to build the Church apart from the divine work of the Holy Spirit may contribute to the expansion of Christendom’s influence around the world, but it will not expand the Church itself. Authentic witnessing of Christ, the kind mentioned in Act 1:5-8, is completely dependent upon Holy Spirit’s baptizing work to transform sinners from “the domain of darkness” and to “transfer” them into “the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Without Spirit baptism,worldwide evangelism is impossible.
Colossians2:12 states, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Paul’s allusion to Spirit baptism was included at a strategic location in his letter. After encouraging the congregation at Colossi by recognizing the spiritual change within the congregation and reaffirming the sanctifying work of Christ, Paul focused on an important admonition in 2:6, “Therefore,as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” The first admonition that enables this walking in Christ was “see to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (2:8). This admonition could only be rightly obeyed because of Jesus incarnation (2:9), His perfecting work in a Christian’s life (2:10), and by the experience of divinely empowered baptism (2:12). This is Spirit baptism and this divine work not only reflects the power of Christ’s resurrection, it also secures Christ’s victory over the sin in a believer’s life. For the modern missionary, a complete dependence upon Spirit baptism is nothing less than a complete commitment to Christ’s purifying work in His Church.
Modern missions needs a renewed dependence upon divine empowerment for salvation. Any missionary activity that fails to fully depend upon God’s saving work never rises above the futile machinations of men. If we are going to see another expansion of the gospel in this generation, it will only occur when sinners are Spirit baptized. Of course, this raises the next question. When does a person become Spirit baptized? Check in next time for this discussion.