Baptism of the Holy Spirit

“Now the apostles and the brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” But Peter began and explained to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, something descending, like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came down to me. Looking at it closely I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’
But I said, ‘No, Lord: for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. At that very moment three men arrived at the house in which they were, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brethren also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. And he told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’                                                        As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ who was I that I could withstand God? When they heard this they were silenced. And they glorified God saying “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life.”                         (Acts 11:1-18 RSV)

Notice that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is expressed by the baptism of water. Water is a symbol of the purifying effect of accepting Christ and having His Spirit reside in us. These men were baptized with water because they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. The last part of the story shows us what can happen when the truth encounters pre-conceived ideas, deep-seated prejudice and tradition. The lesson ends well, like we should.  This is the way to effective apologetics. Just tell what God has done. Recount the actions of God. When these men saw how God had acted, there was nothing further they could criticize. Peter silenced them by reminding them of the actions of God. This is where faith always rests, on what God has done and what He will do!


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