There are a lot of ways to answer that question, and there are a lot of angles to approach this from, but the short answer is this: It is a power tool* that helps you be more effective on your mission to represent Jesus.
(*Please note that I am not saying the Holy Spirit is a power tool. He is God almighty, the third Person of the Trinity. Rather, I am referring to the effect this Baptism experience has on a believer.)
For a more detailed explanation, we will examine what Jesus said about it when He was prepping His followers who were about to receive it.
In Acts chapter 1, we get to see some of the very last words that Jesus ever spoke to His followers before He ascended to heaven. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit was the topic. Here is the full quote:
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
According to Jesus, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit brings power to the believers. The result is that the believers will be equipped to represent Jesus better than before.
You shall receive power…
I want to take a moment to elaborate on the word “power.” It is translated from the Greek word “dunamis” which means miraculous strength, power and ability. In the New Testament, this word is used to describe supernatural signs, wonders, and displays of power. It means “miracle power” or “supernatural ability.”
So the Lord is telling these disciples that they were going to receive power….power that would enable them to go beyond their natural abilities. He was saying that miracle power would soon be given to them by the Holy Spirit. They were about to be empowered supernaturally.
It is worth pausing here to meditate on this fact. Jesus says that His followers would receive miraculous power and ability when they are baptized with the Holy Spirit. He wanted His representatives to be equipped for the mission He was sending them on. This is still true today. He still wants His followers to be equipped in the same way…but we will deal with that in another post.
You shall be witnesses…
The audience in this passage is a group of people that had been with Jesus for up to three years. They were taught and trained by Him in person, and they had already experienced going out to represent Him (Luke 9:1-6).
Then, after His death, burial and resurrection…just before He ascended to heaven…He gave them what we call “the great commission.” It included instructions for going out into all the world as His representatives.
However, Jesus told them not begin until they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. The people who had been trained by Jesus in person still needed some extra equipment. They needed more than training, and more than experience. There was something else He wanted them to have. There was something else that they needed.
(Side note: If these people needed extra equipment, then I feel very safe in saying that any believers that have not been trained in person by Jesus will need this extra equipment all the more).
What they needed was to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. For what purpose? They would be empowered to represent Jesus in a new way. They would receive something that would enable them to be more effective at their mission. They had previously been given an assignment (go into all the world…), and now they are about to be given equipment to help them do it.
This is like giving power tools to a carpenter, or like giving a calculator to an accountant. It is a “tool” that gives you the ability to fulfill your calling more effectively. Sure, the carpenter can build a house with hand tools. But that same carpenter can be much more effective when he has a power saw, a drill, and a nail gun.
That leads us to the answer to our question: What is the purpose of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit?
The purpose is to give supernatural power and ability to a believer that will enable him to fulfill his calling more effectively. It is a power tool that helps you be more effective on your mission to represent Jesus.
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