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Lesson 6: The Baptism of the Holy Spirit *

Introduction: As a practical matter, what does it mean to be "baptized" with the Holy Spirit? What is it that the Holy Spirit will do to and through us? Is there some sort of test? Are there "approved" gifts and "approved" work? How can we know? Our study this week looks at how the Holy Spirit works in our life. Let's plunge into our study!

  1. Heart Baptism

    1. Last week we stopped our study at Acts 2:37. Let's pick up again in at this point. Read Acts 2:36-38. What caused the people to "be cut to the heart?" (The Holy Spirit speaking through Peter and convicting their hearts about Jesus.)

      1. If the Holy Spirit was already causing the people to repent, then why would they need to "receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?" (This must be talking about degrees of the gift. Look at a related matter. The Bible tells us that they were "cut to the heart," yet Peter tells them to "repent." Obviously, he is suggesting a greater degree of conviction and confession. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins, but He desires to fill us even more fully.)

    2. Read John 16:12-15. How is the gift of the Holy Spirit like a trip? (Jesus paints the work of the Holy Spirit like a spiritual journey in which the Holy Spirit is our guide. Our "trip" starts with repentance.)

    3. Let's continue on in Acts 2 by reading Acts 2:39. Who is promised the opportunity to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? Who can take this trip with the Holy Spirit?(Everyone!)

    4. Re-read Acts 2:38. Do you see that there is a sequence for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit? What are the steps? (First repent, second be baptized in Jesus' name for He paid the price for our sins, and third, receive the Holy Spirit to guide our spiritual walk.)

    5. Are these steps difficult? (Our hard hearts resist repentance. But, friend, the steps are not difficult and the opportunity is open to all.)

  2. Recognizing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

    1. Acts 2:38 refers to receiving the "gift" of the Holy Spirit. Next week we will explore specific spiritual gifts. Right now, let's explore the general idea of the Holy Spirit and gifts. Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. Paul says in verse 2 that "somehow or other you were influenced and led astray" to idols. Tell me what you think is this "somehow or other" that causes people to follow idols?

      1. In contrast, how are Christians led? (By the Holy Spirit. Paul suggests that there are two influences in our life. On the one hand, the influence towards idols and to curse Jesus. On the other hand, the influence to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.)

      2. Why would Paul teach that no one can say, "Jesus is Lord" except through the Holy Spirit? Do you think this is really true? (This is Paul's typical approach. He is building an argument. This argument is that a person's actions fall into one of two categories: Spirit led and Demon led. Both categories are very broad and diverse.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-5. Last week we got into a bit of a discussion about whether speaking an incoherent tongue ("tongues of angels") was a gift of the Holy Spirit. Could an incoherent tongue be from Satan? (This is where the finger-pointing ends. If a person uses their incoherent tongue, however ineffectively, to promote Jesus - then that gift is from the Holy Spirit. This is the precise argument Paul is making. He says determining the source of the gift is very simple - does it promote or curse Jesus? Beyond that, you have tons of diverse gifts. The gift is not the proof of its source. The message of the gift is the proof of its source.)

      1. Paul speaks in these verses about different "gifts," "service," and "workings." What does he mean by this? (There is an unlimited variety of things we can do to promote the Kingdom of God. Some are spiritual gifts, some are Spirit-filled service, some are Spirit-led work. Find your "spot" for promoting Jesus and let the Holy Spirit led you in that work.)

      2. How can we know what is our "spot?" How can we know what gift(s)the Holy Spirit has given us? (Generally we like to do what we do well. A "gift" means you have a special ability in this area above the average. The first question you should ask yourself is this: "What do I enjoy doing in the church? What do people say that I have a talent for doing?")

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 12:7. What is the overall "test" for determining our spiritual gift(s)? (Whether what we are doing promotes the "common good." Notice the picture that Paul is painting. We can know whether our gift is from the Holy Spirit by determining whether it promotes Jesus or not. We then further ask whether our gift promotes the common good.)

      1. Examine yourself on the "common good" test. Why do you like to do something in the church? Do you like to do it because you think it brings glory to you? Or, because it blesses others? (I remember many years ago a member of the church who took classes to become the "head elder." I am convinced he wanted to hold this position in the church only so that he would have the honor of the position. Why did I think that? Because when the church failed to make him the head elder, he stopped attending church.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. How does the illustration of the church being like a "body" help us to determine our spiritual gift(s)? (The idea is that our gift will work with the gifts of others in the church. Race, economic status make no difference in the body of Christ.)

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-20. Why would a "foot" want to become a "hand?" (Pride. The fellow who I just mentioned, who stopped attending the church, seemed to lack an interest in promoting the church body. When he found out that the church did not see him as a "hand," but rather as a "foot," he decided to stop being a part of the body altogether.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 12:21-25. Why would an "eye" say to the "hand" "I don't need you?" (Again, this is a problem of pride. The person who has the "eye" gift in the church is so blinded by pride that he thinks an "eye" is all the church needs.)

      1. What does Paul suggest is the "cure" for the problem of pride (or lack of pride) in the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the church? (For many years I have been the Lay Pastor of my church. I am in front of the people teaching, preaching or doing something else just about every week. No one needs to "honor" me. Instead, the people who Paul says should be honored are those who toil away to promote the church where no one really sees them. For example, the people who mow the lawn, fix what is broken, visit the sick, etc.)

        1. In your church do you tend to honor those who are already honored? Or, honor those who toil away in obscurity?

          1. What will you do to be sure your church complies with Paul's suggestion to give greater honor to those parts which lack innate honor?

    3. Friend, will you actively explore your spiritual gift(s) and putting your gift(s) to work in the body of Christ?

  1. Next week: Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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