This is a wonderful sermon my husband preached today. Please read and you shall surely be blessed!
POWER FROM ON HIGH
During the Sunday service, Pastor Richmond Leigh continued preaching on the theme ‘Power from on high’. His main text was taken from the Book of Revelation: “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen” (Rev 1:17, 18). He said that as a church, we are entering a new season, into a higher level of anointing. We need to be Baptized and Filled with the Holy Spirit. Nobody knows all the functions of the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The major work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ! He reveals Him to us; opens our eyes to His Majesty so that we can worship Him. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and helps us believe and understand the Word of God.
Pastor Richmond Leigh said that it is possible to be born again and not be baptized with the Holy Spirit. It is true that no one can be saved without the work of the Holy Spirit in his soul (Rom 8:9). One of the secret works of the Holy Spirit is that of convicting a man of his sins, of enlighten him about his spiritual state and his need for the Savior. The Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration; therefore, the sinner becomes born again. As you can see, salvation is always a miracle. Without this deep and secret work of the Holy Spirit, a man may become religious, he may go to church, but he is not saved. The Holy Spirit does not force anyone to be saved. He is a gentle but powerful influence on the soul. Thank God for the humility of the Holy Spirit, willing to do this secret work in the heart of man without apparently coercing him! Glory to God for our salvation!
One of the symbols of The Holy Spirit is the water. The effect of the water is that it wets you or it quenches your thirst. There are degrees of these effects. For example, the rain drizzling outside. A man goes in the rain. After some time, he will get wet. But if the rain is torrential, he will get wet faster. If a man drinks a cup of water, he will be filled (gets wet) in the inside. But if a man is dipped into the ocean, he will become ‘wet’ instantly both outside and inside. He will be overwhelmed by the water. All these illustrations show degrees of ‘wetness’ from the same water.
In Greek, the Word ‘baptism’ means to submerge, to immerse or to overwhelm. (It is a pity that in many churches, they have lost the true meaning of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They call it a ceremony by which the Christian becomes an official member of the church). The true Baptism of the Holy Spirit is when a child of God is suddenly ‘immersed in the ocean of the Holy Spirit’ by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and fire! It is a unique, specific and powerful experience! The baptism with the Holy Spirit is always a definite experience, something clear and unmistakable. It is recognized by the person to whom it happens and to others who look at him. Regeneration is something unconscious, the secret work of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of man. It is non-experiential. Nobody knows exactly the moment when he became born again. It takes time to discover the fruits of the Holy Spirit ‘growing’ in your spirit. But the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is different. It is conscious, experiential, definite and clear. It will literarily ‘shake’ you! Once you experience this baptism you can describe the experience with words. Your life will never be the same again. You shall receive ‘power from on high’! You shall receive boldness to preach the Word of God, to witness for Jesus! You receive an unshakable assurance that you are saved forever!
On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples ‘were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance’ (Ac 2:4). What was the purpose of the tongues? Was it to brag that they were so spiritual? No! The purpose of the tongues was to witness about the Lord to those who could not understand their languages. The visitors to Jerusalem said: ‘we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God’ (Ac 2:11). Boldly, Peter stood up and preached Christ Crucified and Resurrected. We conclude that when a man is baptized with the Holy Spirit, he will inevitably bear witness to the testimony of Jesus! The reverse is also true. Is a man is filled with an unholy spirit, he will preach another ‘gospel’ and he will never exalt Jesus! Later, Peter healed a crippled man in the name of Jesus (Acts 4). The religious leaders rebuked him. Again, Peter answered boldly telling them about Jesus and the power of His name. He did not defend himself and did not talk about the miracle. He kept focused and praised Jesus! He preached to them salvation in the name of Jesus! Later, in the house of Cornelius, as Peter was preaching, the people were baptized with the Holy Spirit. It was the same reaction: ‘For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God’ (Ac 10:46). Some argue that all these events expressed a form of moral change, the manifestation of sanctification. But you can see that it is different than sanctification. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an extraordinary work of God and results in witnessing for Jesus, having the power to stand for Him and boldly preach His Gospel!
Apostle Paul speaks to the Believers in Corinth. He knows that they have been Baptized with the Holy Spirit because they had many spiritual gifts (1Cor 1:1- 13; 12: 1-11). In the same time, they had been involved in matters of moral deficiencies. What do we make of this? We say that a man may have one of more gifts of the Holy Spirit and still lack the fruits of the Holy Spirit. He may be gifted and still lack moral character. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, prophecy, speaking in tongues, does not guarantee spiritual maturity. The great Apostle Paul said that if I have many gifts to serve God, but I lack the Agape Love, which is s fruit of the Holy Spirit, ‘I am nothing’ (1Cor 13:2). What shall we choose? We need both! We need the Baptism of the Holy Spirit for power, for witnessing for Jesus, for preaching God’s Word, for ministry in general. But we also need to mature spiritually, to produce fruits! We need to study the Word of God and to apply it to our daily lives. By the power of the Holy Spirit, and prayer, we need to grow in the grace and the in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Fruits manifest thru the process of sanctification. By applying the Word of God to your daily life, and by prayer, you shall become mature. This is a slow but sure growth to spiritual maturity. To overcome sinful tendencies is not a one-day thing. The Holy Spirit in you will help you to mortify the misdeeds of the body. Even Jesus, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb 5:8). In the same way, sanctification is a painful process but necessary to produce the exquisite fruits of the Holy Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5: 22, 23). To produce these fruits, it takes a lifetime. But to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and His gifts it takes just a moment in time.
You can manipulate men, but you cannot manipulate the Holy Spirit! It is better to speak in a human language and clearly say that ‘Jesus is Lord’ than to pray in tongues without any interpretation. If you are baptized with the Holy Spirit you can never be an ‘ordinary’ ‘gentle’ Christian. If you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, a type of supernatural passion will burn in your heart. Your words will be ‘hot’ like fire and the people who listen to you shall be like wood that burns. People will not be able to resist your words. They will bow to the Jesus you preach! Like Queen Esther, you become bold, ready to go before the King and take the risk ‘to perish’. You become like Shadrach, Meshach Abednego who were ready to burn than to bow to the idols. These were ordinary people like you and me, but thru the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, they became exceptional people who God used mightily. Like the believers in Corinth, you do not have to become ‘a perfect Christian’ before you pray for the Baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The only thing you need is to have faith that God answers prayers and to be hungry and thirsty for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit! A man Baptized with the Holy Spirit will testify about His Lord, Jesus Christ in an exceptional way! He will make men worship God! “Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10).
This is the command of God: “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:17, 18; NKJ). What does it mean ‘to speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs’? It does not mean to attend a church where they only sing hymns, or they chant psalms without musical instruments. The answer to this question is found in the book of 1 Corinthians. Apostle Paul describes the type of church service they had in the first century. “Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification” (1 Cor 14:26). The Apostle Paul says that ‘each of you’ should contribute spiritually to the service singing a psalm, a spiritual song, sharing a revelation, speaking in tongues or interpreting tongues. Everybody must keep the unity and the order of the Spirit. Everything must be done to the glory of God and for the edification of the Body. Apostle Paul warned them of the danger of becoming proud and rebellious. It was possible that as they manifested the gifts of the Holy Spirit the service will become disorderly. Paul makes a correction concerning the excesses in the church. These manifestations are identical in character but vary in degrees of expression. Some people are more passionate than others. It is not wise to compare two people who each has been baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit can create a wonderful energy, a passion, a holy zeal and ‘a fire’ in the church. This is called revival. We should pray for it. We should desire it. But we should be careful that the fire will not do damage to the name of God as we manifest the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The other extreme is to act in fear and to quench the move of the Holy Spirit. That is wrong. We need godly wisdom to welcome the Holy Spirit, to host Him in our services and to allow Him to move freely in our midst.
What are the signs, the marks and the manifestation of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? There are two types of experiences: Subjective and Objective. The subjective manifestation is what the believer says about his experience. When a child of God is baptized with the Holy Spirit the first inevitable sign to him is a sense of the glory of God, an unusual sense of the presence of God. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit makes real to him the things he has previously believed by faith. Things difficult to explain, the mystery of the union with Christ, heavenly things, these become so real to him. It is an immediate awareness of the glory of God. Generally, we walk by faith and not by sight. But at the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, the spiritual sight becomes so clear in an immediate way. Suddenly, doubt vanishes, and faith becomes very strong. The assurance of salvation is established, and none can shake it. Apostle John was a disciple of Jesus for three years. He was the closest to Him. But when he saw the Lord in glory this is how he expressed it: “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead!’ It is almost impossible to describe these things with words. If you have experienced them, you will know them. If you have not experienced them, you cannot understand them. If a Christian grieves the Holy Spirit and backslides, he will lose some of his spiritual sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and his faith will become weaker. He will still believe that he is a Christian, but he will not be able to be confident in his witness to others. These glorious things he once delighted in become pale in his mind. His faith and joy decrease.
Finally, this is a good question: Are you baptized with the Holy Spirit? Do you understand these things? The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a wonderful supernatural experience granted to them who are already born again and who pray for it. Jesus Christ, our High Priest in heaven, is the Baptizer. Child of God, you must seek this experience, until you receive it. It may be accompanied with speaking in other tongues or not. But one thing is clear, ‘power from on high’ is granted to the believer, to preach and to pray. Educated or not, the believer will be able to witness to his Savior and Lord with great assurance and conviction. He will fear God more than he will fear men! Signs, wonders and miracles will follow the spoken Word. This is the basis for true ministry. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is needed by all believers but especially by them who evangelize. This baptism is the explanation of revival, when the move of the Holy Spirit changes nations. Oh, how much we need that! We need revival in Nigeria! ‘Holy Spirit please come and fill our hungry hearts! Revive us again! Baptize us with power from on high! In Jesus’ name we pray!’. Worship the Lord!