3 Baptism with the Holy Spirit
John proclaimed, "I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
John the Baptist, one of the greatest prophets in Israelite history, prophesied with many words and warned against the people of his generation. But the evangelist Mark focuses his various prophecies on one point, that is, the prophecy of the coming one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Because he considers the coming one to be so much greater than himself, John proclaims himself unworthy of so much as kneeling down and untying the straps of his sandals. (Mark 1:7) John testified, "I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." (Mark 1:8) The other synoptic gospels also refer to that testimony by John the Baptist, such as in Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16, as well as John 1:29-34. This is the basic message of the New Testament Gospel.
Who is the coming one John prophesies about? It is not Jesus of Nazareth who appeared and worked in Israel after John. Jesus certainly preached the impending approach of the kingdom of God and initially baptized people just as John did (John 3:22). But after John was imprisoned, Jesus began to disseminate the gospel of the kingdom of God in his own way throughout Galilee. In Galilee he never baptized anyone nor taught about baptism. The coming one John pointed to is Jesus Christ, that is, Jesus as Christ, the risen one. Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead by God as Christ. This Jesus, the resurrected Christ, told his disciples, "John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." (Act 1:5) It is not the original earthy manifestation of Jesus but the risen Christ that baptizes his disciples with the Holy Spirit for all eternity (John 7:39). The risen Christ baptizes all his believers with the Holy Spirit for ever.
However, the Christian churches have claimed throughout history that water baptism was the only way to salvation. Believers in Christ have built an ever expanding network of Christian churches in the greater Mediterranean area in the course of the two to three centuries that followed the resurrection of Christ. They proclaimed that the Christian religion, the religion which the Christian church had formed, was the only one true, absolute and universal religion for human salvation. Furthermore, they made water baptism a mandatory rite for admission into the Christian religion and eternal salvation. Since then, Christian missionaries have made every effort to convert heathens to the Christian religion by baptizing them in water.
Water baptism was John the Baptist's life mission. The Christian church has now built on John the baptist's original mission and made baptism in water the path for the forgiveness of one's sins (compare Mark 1:4 and Luke 24:46). While baptism with the Holy Spirit by the risen Christ is usually taught in Christian churches as being a special gift for a chosen few for healing, prophecies and tongues, it is seldom taught as being the central message to heathens as a path to eternal life. Salvation, eternal life, is the truth(reality) of the Holy Spirit given to all Christ believers by the risen Christ.
The evangelist John cried, "The law was given through Moses; grace and truth (reality) came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) By that he meant that the demands of God were passed on to us by Moses, demands that we were unable to fulfil. The unconditional gift, however, was given through Jesus Christ and every unworthy man was accepted into the fellowship with God in Christ. This is the grace that was given in Christ. And the reality which the religion of Moses aspired to in the Last Days was made true for us in Jesus Christ; the reality of the fellowship with the Father came to us through the Holy Spirit in Christ. 'The reality' and 'the Spirit' are connected in John's gospel. "The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth(reality)" (John 4:23).
I will now tell you about some aspects of the reality of the Last Days given by the Holy Spirit. I think a human being has three dimensions in his being. The first one is a vertical dimension. A human being is a spiritual being. He has good spirits over him that will lead him to God and he has bad spirits under him who try to lead him to destruction. He has to live consciously or unconsciously in relation with those spiritual beings and their powers. This is our vertical or religious dimension. The second one is a horizontal dimension. We can not live alone. We always have partners or neighbours to live with. The relations with our partners or neighbours is our horizontal or ethical dimension. Lastly, a man lives in the time dimension. A man has a past, a future and lives in the present, the very moment between past and future. We have to look back into the past and think about the future. A man has a temporal or historical dimension.
When the Holy Spirit comes and begins to work in us in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the reality of the Last Days has come to us. The Holy Spirit brings a radical change in these three dimensions of our inner being. In the vertical dimension the Holy Spirit makes us the sons of God and makes us cry, "Abba, Father!"(Rom.8:15). Until this radical change by the Holy Spirit we had lived relying only upon ourselves and were locked up within ourselves. Now we can commit ourselves wholly to God as our Father, just like children do with their father and mother. Now in Christ God, the creator of the universe and the life within me, is my Father, and the Holy Spirit has led me to rely upon the Father for all things in life, crying "Abba, Father!"
In the horizontal or ethical dimension, God has poured out God's love, His life itself, into our hearts (Rom.5:5) and has made it possible for us to love each other in God's love, a new kind of love that we had not experienced before in nature. "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Rom.5:8) "Sinners" means those who disobey or betray God. We were sinners, that is, we were against God. But God showed his love for his betrayers in Christ Jesus when he died on the cross as the sacrificial lamb(John.1:29). God has given us, the betrayers, unconditional forgiveness and acceptance into his fellowship by his grace. Jesus, who lived in this new kind of love, taught his disciples, "Love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you."( Luke 6:27) Paul asks those who belong to Christ to live in love, to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12;9~21). John told his congregation, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11). Love is the most important power with justice to unite people in a community.
In the temporal or historical dimension, God cut us off from the old past, and offers us a new way forward through the reality of the Holy Spirit. This radical change is often called 'New Birth.' Our life in Christ becomes completely different from our old life because we have been delivered from the frame of the old religion into which we were thrown by birth. Each human society is ruled or controlled by one of the historical religions; Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and so on. We were born into one of them. We were thrown into the frame of these religions by birth. But now we have been delivered from the yoke of religions and live a new life in the fellowship of Christ. This new life brings us a new hope for the future, the hope of sharing the glory of God(Rom.5:2), that is, the hope of resurrection from death(1Cor.15). We are living in the reality of the Last Days. We are given 'the first fruits of the Spirit'(Rom.8:23). It means that the reality of the Holy Spirit is a foretaste of the resurrection from death. We are saved unto or into this hope(Rom. 8:24).
Paul defines the new life in Christ with three terms, "faith, love, and hope."(1 Thes.1:2~3, 1 Cor.15:13) To him, 'Faith' represents the absolute reliance of a child on a father or parents, crying "Abba, Father!" It is the reality of the Holy Spirit expressed in the vertical or religious dimension. 'Love' represents the love God manifested in Christ's death on the cross and poured into our hearts so that we would love one another. It is a new kind of love, one that is even bestowed upon our enemies. It is the reality of the Holy Spirit expressed in the horizontal or ethical dimension. 'Hope' means the hope of sharing the glory of God through resurrection, far beyond human understanding. It is the reality of the Holy Spirit expressed in the temporal or historical dimension. To live in faith, love and hope, as they have just defined, is the eternal life. Eternal life is already imbedded into our present life on earth by the Holy Spirit when we live with theses forms of faith, love and hope. The risen Christ gives us this eternal life by baptizing us with the Holy Spirit.