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Spirit baptism and power from on high

An oft disputed phrase is found once in each of the Gospels (Matthew 3:11;Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33) and twice in Acts (1:5; 11:16). Exaggerated teaching about baptism of the Holy Spirit emphasizes things like speaking in tongues or miraculous powers. However, the phrase actually means something a whole lot simpler than that. An examination of the Greek word for baptism is a good place to start. It literally means to dip, or submerge, but it goes way beyond a simplistic literal meaning. It also means a cleansing or washing (ablution) and that gets us a little closer to a logical answer. The Holy Spirit cleans us up spiritually as water cleans us physically. It also means “to imbue richly with the Holy Spirit” and power from on high (Luke 24:49).

God promised power from on high (Luke 24:49), his power (Matthew 6:13), power to the weak (Isaiah 40:29). Micah (3:8) was filled with power, to declare, by God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). God’s power (Matthew 22:29) is greater power than the grave (Hosea 13:14). The apostles were promised power (Acts 1:8) to be witnesses (martyrs) and were given the power of hope (Romans 15:13) from the Holy Spirit, power of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18), power that is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). It is the power of the resurrection (Philippians 3:10), power for endurance and patience (Colossians 1:11), power in the Gospel (1 Thessalonians 1:5), power for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).

Jesus has gone to be with the Father in heaven (Luke 24:51). His visible presence is no longer with us, but his invisible presence is still with us. He is present with us in the coming of the Holy Spirit. He is present with us in the sacrament of communion. He and the Father have made their home with us (John 14:23). The world has spiritual Alzheimer's disease. They don’t know where they are going or why they are here. The invisible presence of the Holy Spirit gives us power to witness of the world’s most important and greatest enterprise. Jesus is no longer visibly present, but we see him in the “breaking of bread” and in the visible church which bears witness to his invisible presence (Acts 1:8). Christ still lives and his kingdom work continues.

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