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Luke 2:39-40 ESV
And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
Jesus was both God and human. He was truly God and truly man, not some kind of demigod, and not merely one or the other. This is difficult for us to wrap our minds around, but this is the teaching of the Bible and the creeds of orthodox Christianity.
Many Christians know that He is both God and human, but most churches tend to emphasize one or the other. The purpose of this post is to restore balance to those who emphasize Jesus’s divine nature.
After Jesus was born, the Holy Family moved back to Nazareth (according to Matthew, they fled to Egypt to escape Herod the Great, until he died, before returning to Galilee). And in Nazareth, Scripture records And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
Jesus did not come out of the womb with a halo, working miracles, or knowing everything. Just like any other human child, Jesus had to grow and learn. Even though He was God, He was functioning in a completely human way. The book of Philippians explains that He actually emptied Himself of His divine powers and rights.
Philippians 2:5-8 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
He was God–specifically, the second member of the Godhead–equal to the Father and the Spirit in every way. Even so, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. He was equal, but He lived as though He was not.
He made Himself nothing. We know from the Scriptures that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Jesus Christ, functioning in His human nature, was none of these things.
God, by nature, is all-powerful; Jesus grew weary (John 4:6).
God, by nature, is all-knowing; Jesus did not know the day or hour of His Second Coming (Matthew 24:36).
God, by nature, is present everywhere at once; Jesus was confined specifically to 1st century Palestine (Judea, Samaria, Galilee, etc.).
Why did Jesus give up His divine authority and power? To show us how we ought to live.
Jesus’s primary mission was to offer Himself as a supreme sacrifice to cleanse all men, once and for all, from sin. However, this was not His only mission. If He had only come to die, Joseph and Mary may as well have turned baby Jesus over to Herod the Great to be slaughtered. He had to live for a season to teach us, and to demonstrate what a perfectly godly life looks like.
The only thing that Jesus did in His earthly ministry that the believer cannot also do is live a completely sinless life and die for the sins of humanity.
This is a major theme of the Gospel of Luke. In the Magnificat, Mary sang, He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty (Luke 1:52-53, ESV).
Jesus Christ is power to the powerless, and we are all equally powerless to save ourselves. He is wisdom to the fool, and no one can figure out a way to save themselves from the wrath to come. He is righteousness and sanctification to the sinner, and we are all totally depraved. Christ alone is our redemption, because He alone has what we all need: the grace of God.
We are saved by God’s grace. After we receive His grace by faith, He gives us His Holy Spirit. After we receive His Spirit, we can receive a second experience called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Pentecostal doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is controversial, but is biblical. It is true that some Pentecostal and Charismatic churches have been excessive, and have even taught false doctrines about the Baptism of the Spirit, but that is no reason to reject what the Bible teaches about the Spirit. If we search the Scriptures we will find that it was a very important part of the Gospel message. The early Church was quite pentecostal (though of course, not specifically in the modern sense of the word).
Part of Jesus’s mission was to Baptize us in the Holy Spirit. It is very important for us to realize this if we want to walk in the same power and authority that Jesus intended us to walk in. Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked (1 John 2:6, ESV). We cannot walk as Jesus walked without the Holy Spirit! Jesus had given up His own power and authority as God, but He was able to teach with authority and perform miracles through the Holy Spirit in Him.
The Baptism of the Spirit is prophesied by John the Baptist in all four Gospels. He prophesied that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Matthew 3:11 ESV
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Mark 1:7-8 ESV
And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Luke 3:16 ESV
John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
John 1:32-34 ESV
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
The Holy Spirit is the source of the power for the powerless that Luke stresses in his Gospel. Luke also wrote the book of Acts. Luke continued to stress the Spirit filled, world-changing, revolutionary, anti-elitist message in Acts.
Jesus promised the disciples the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1:4-5 ESV
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.
Acts 2:1-4 ESV
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The first believers were all Jews, but later on God poured out His Spirit on the Gentiles as well. As Peter recalled:
Acts 11:15-16 ESV
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 will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
John the Baptist prophesied the Baptism of the Spirit, Jesus baptized His Church in the Spirit, and Peter preached the Baptism of the Spirit. So did Paul:
Acts 19:2-7 ESV
And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.
It is clear that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was an important part of the Gospel message. There are abundant references to the Baptism of the Spirit in the New Testament. It is mentioned in all four gospels and several times in the book of Acts.
The question now remains, “Was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit only for the early Church, or is it relevant for 21st century Christians as well?”
There is no good reason to believe that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or miraculous demonstrations of the Spirit and power were ever meant to end, or be limited to the Apostles. The Bible never indicates any such thing.
On the day of Pentecost, when the Baptism of the Holy Spirit first occurred, Peter preached:
Acts 2:38-39 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
The baptism of the Holy Spirit was for the early Church, their children, and to all who are far off–i.e. us. The final nail he hammers into the coffin of cessationism is that the Baptism of the Spirit is for everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.
Everyone, regardless of their position in the world or the Church, and regardless of the era they born into, can be called by God and filled with His Spirit.
Jesus walked in power and authority as a man empowered by the Holy Spirit. He did this to demonstrate to us how we ought to live–in the Spirit.
Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.