“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one Body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” 1 Corinthians 12:13
In the 1890’s, mountain climbers who fell and survived gave stories about how their whole life flashed before them before they landed. A French psychologist named this phenomenon in English “an experience of imminent death.” In 1943, a man by the name of G. Tyrrell wrote a book called, “Apparitions,” in which he introduced the term “out of body experience” referring to the same type of phenomenon. Those two terms have now morphed into what we call “a near death experience.” Even though there is a tremendous amount of interest in these types of experiences, I am much more interested in what I call an “in the body” experience.
1 Corinthians 12:13 describes the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Baptism can be a controversial Christian subject if not biblically understood. Simply put, the baptism of the Holy Spirit puts us into the Body of Christ, and it happens the moment we believe in Jesus Christ. The Body of Christ is not “a church,” but rather “The Church.” The Body of Christ is the family of God made up of all believers everywhere. It is important to understand that you can be a part of “a church,” but not be a part of The True Church. You can be baptized in water (whether sprinkled or immersed), without truly knowing Jesus. But when you are baptized by the Holy Spirit it is because you truly know and have trusted Jesus.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit never happened in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit would come upon people, but He never stayed inside of people. No one in the Old Testament was baptized into what we would call “The Church,” because there was no Church yet. The Church was not established until Pentecost – the time when God’s Spirit first came to live inside followers of Jesus Christ. This was the birth of God’s Church.
We are commanded in the New Testament not to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, but to believe in the Son of God. Why? Because when the Spirit of God leads us to believe in the Son of God, He baptizes us into the Church of God. This baptism happens at the moment of belief. Water baptism, therefore, is a picture of what God has already done by His grace, through faith.
Dear Lord, thank you for all of the people in history who obeyed you and worked hard to build the Church. Help me to follow their example and to invest in the Church today. In Jesus' name, amen.