of Practical Messianic Living (halakhah)
In this commentary I want to address a few questions posed by a sincere believer. The format will follow that of any apologetic book with the readers questions appearing first with my answer following.
What does it really mean to be baptized in Holy Spirit? Is there really a second experience, even though I have been taught in church there is one I can't justify it by scripture as I think it has more to do with unity and membership within the believing community?
Answer to Question 1:
First allow me to quote our (Heart of Isra'el's) core Statement of Beliefs:
BAPTISM IN THE RUACH HAKODESH (HOLY SPIRIT)- We believe by perfect faith that the Holy One, Blessed be He, desires that all of his children appropriate and internalize the power and fullness of his gracious Spirit. The Baptism in the Ruach HaKodesh and fire is a gift from HaShem as promised by Yeshua the Messiah to all believers and is received subsequent to the New Birth (Matt. 3:11; John 14:16, 17; Acts 1:8; 2:38, 39). The gift of tongues is but one of the many manifestations of the Ruach HaKodesh (Acts 2:4; 19:1-7; 1 Cor. 12:1-13; ch. 14). We believe in the operation of all of the gifts of the Ruach HaKodesh as enumerated in HaShem's Word. We embrace the complete ministry of the Ruach HaKodesh (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12:1-13).
The very first mention of the Ruach in the Torah is in Genesis 1:2, " vRuach-Elohim mrachefet al-paney ha-mayim" ( and the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the water). Along with this reference, the Ruach is also mentioned in quite a few other surprising locations in the entire TaNaKH (Old Testament). Some rather familiar references are found in the story of Shimshon (Samson), where we learn that he enjoyed a special anointing from the Ruach (read Judges 13:24-14:20. In these verses the Ruach is described as "coming upon him powerfully". But was the Ruach within him? Ive heard it taught that the Ruach did not enter into men until the New Covenant, yet unmistakably the Torah says that Adam had the Ruach breathed INTO him (read Genesis 2:7, where the word translated "breath" is the Hebrew word "ruach"). In fact, it was this "living" source breathed into him which sprang forth life in him.
Yet, in a very real way, the presence and ministry of the Ruach HaKodesh, as we know him today, according to the times of the TaNaKH, would not be fully realized until the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Yeshua (read entire chapter of John 14, specifically vv. 16-18, 26). Of this ministry and individual power of the Spirit, Ezekiel prophesied about in 11:19, 20 and 36:25-29. This is also the same individual "spirit" spoken about in Joel 2:28, 29, which is confirmed by Peter in Acts 2:16-18. The Ruach HaKodesh was indeed present in the days of the TaNaKH, yet his ministry was slightly different than that of today.
To be filled with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is to be filled with Messiah (Christ). The Ruach HaKodesh came to glorify Messiah. Therefore, if I am filled with the Spirit, I am abiding in Messiah. I am walking in the light as He is the light, and the blood of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) will cleanse and keep on cleansing me from all unrighteousness.
I am controlled by Messiah because the word "filling" means to be controlled. And if I am controlled - not as a robot but as one who is led and empowered by the Spirit - the LORD Yeshua will walk around in my body and live His resurrection life in and through me.
This amazing fact that Messiah lives in you and expresses His love through you is one of the most important truths in the Torah. The standards of the Torah life seem so high and so impossible to achieve at times. To be sure, with our carnal flesh we cannot please God by attempting to follow Torah. The Torah will always remind us of how short we fall if we submit to it in the flesh.
But if we walk in the Spirit then we will walk in the Power and Life of the Messiah himself! It is the life of Yeshua living through us that enables us to keep the Torah as it was meant to be kept. Does the Torah expect us to be sinless? Of course not. The Torah anticipates our shortcomings and graciously makes provision for them. To be Torah submissive, to be led by the Spirit, is to avail ourselves of the sinless sacrifice of the Spotless Lamb. Only this sacrifice can remove the stain of sin in our hearts. Only one man was sinless. That man was Yeshua of Natzeret. Now, through His indwelling presence, He wants to enable all that place their trust in Him to live this same supernatural life.
If you are willing for Yeshua the Messiah to live His resurrection life in and through you, you will bear spiritual fruit as naturally as a healthy vine will bear an abundance of fruit.
Yeshua said, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." You can be a great preacher, a Christian scholar, a deacon or elder, attend church meetings daily, live a clean, moral life, memorize hundreds of verses of Scripture, direct a church choir, and teach Sunday school, but if you are not bearing fruit in the sense that you are introducing others to Messiah, you are not filled and controlled by the Ruach HaKodesh according to the Torah.
Some people say, "I witness for Messiah by living a good life." But it is not enough to live a good life. Many non-believers live fine, moral, ethical lives. According to the LORD Yeshua, the only way to demonstrate that you are truly following Him is to produce fruit, which includes introducing others to our Savior as well as living holy lives. And the only way you can produce fruit is through the power of the Ruach HaKodesh.
Some time ago I asked one of the leading theologians of our time, the dean of faculty for a famous theological seminary, if he felt that one could be a Spirit-filled person with out sharing Messiah as a way of life. His answer was an emphatic, "No!"
On what basis could he make such a strong statement? The answer is obvious. Our Savior came to "seek and to save the lost," and He has "chosen and ordained" you to share the good news of His love and forgiveness with everyone, everywhere. To fail to witness for Messiah with your lips is to disobey this command just as much as to fail to witness for Him by living a holy life is to disobey His command. In neither case can the disobedient believer expect God to control and empower his life, nor can he experience the reality of God's presence and blessing.
A very discouraged student came to me for counsel after one of my messages. For several months he had spent at least three hours each day reading his Bible, praying and sharing his faith with others. Yet, he had never introduced anyone to Messiah. After a time of discussion, his problem became apparent - he was not controlled and empowered by the Ruach HaKodesh, although he wanted to be.
So we prayed together, and by faith he appropriated the power of the Ruach HaKodesh on the authority of God's Word. His life was absolutely transformed. This "appropriating" might be what many are referring to as the "second experience" of the Spirit, the move from the mental ascent that Yeshua is LORD to the spiritual affirmation that he is LORD. That very day he had his first experience of introducing a person to Messiah. The next day he led another to Messiah and, two days later, another. He has since introduced hundreds, if not thousands, of people to our LORD.
Not only do you receive a supernatural power for witnessing when you are filled with the Spirit, but your personality also begins to change. As you continue to walk in the control and power of the Ruach HaKodesh, the fruit of the Spirit becomes increasingly obvious in your life.
In Galatians 5:22,23, Shaul (Paul) explains, "When the Ruach HaKodesh controls our lives He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control..."
The believer's relationship with the Ruach HaKodesh is both critical and progressive: critical, in that one learns that the Torah life is a life of faith rather than a life of works and has no reference to emotions ("The just shall live by faith."); progressive, in that, as one walks consistently in the power and control of the Ruach HaKodesh, the fruit of the Spirit will be produced in his life.
A word of caution is in order. Do not seek an emotional or mystical experience. Do not depend on mystical impressions. The Torah must be the basis of your spiritual growth. There is an interesting parallel between Ephesians 5:18, which admonishes us to be constantly and continually directed and empowered by the Ruach HaKodesh, and Colossians 3:16, which admonishes us to "let the Word of Messiah richly dwell within you..."
The end result of both letting the Word of Messiah dwell in you and being filled with the Ruach HaKodesh will be that you will talk much about the LORD quoting psalms and hymns and making music in your heart to the LORD.
It is very important to recognize the importance of the balance between the Torah and the Spirit of God. The Torah is closed to our understanding and has little meaning to us apart from the illumination given by the Ruach HaKodesh, and the Ruach HaKodesh is hindered in speaking clear and life changing truth apart from the Torah.
It is crucial for us to understand theologically, that the primary purpose in HaShem's giving of the Torah, as a way of making someone righteous, only achieves its goal when the person, by faith, accepts that Yeshua is the promised Messiah spoken about therein. Until the individual reaches this conclusion, his familiarity of the Torah is only so much intellectual nutrition. Only by believing in Yeshua will the person be able to properly understand HaShem, and consequently, his Word.
When the emphasis on the ministry of the Ruach HaKodesh and the Torah is in proper balance in your life, the result is a life of power and great fruitfulness in which our Savior, the LORD Yeshua The Messiah, is wonderfully honored and glorified. As you continue then to allow the Ruach HaKodesh to control and empower you, and as you meditate upon the Torah, hiding it in your heart, your life expresses more and more the beauty of Messiah and the fruit of the Spirit which Shaul lists in Galatians 5:22,23. These attributes of our LORD Yeshua Himself, plus fruitful witnessing, indicate that the LORD is actually living His life in and through you!
Being filled with the Spirit results in an abundant and overflowing life. Yeshua of Nazareth once cried out to the multitude, "If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John adds, "By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive."
Truly, this is "the abundant life," yet most believers are experiencing little of it.
What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
Answer to Question 2:
The terms "baptized" and "filled" are synonyms for the same experience described above. The first term simply connects the experience with the physical baptism that all believers are to undergo, as truthfully, many believers admit to feeling "filled with the Spirit" at the moment of their baptism. The terms are indeed used synonymously.
What does baptized with fire mean?
Answer to Question 3:
Once again, this term helps to describe the experience of being filled with the knowledge of Messiah. Yet, this phrase seems to carry the connotation of a soldier receiving his marching orders. The term "fire" in the Bible is used to convey the power of the Word of God. To be sure, both the Sinai experience and the day of Pentecost were accompanied by great displays of fire. This signifies the Word of God, the Torah, and the Scriptures, going forth in power in the life of an individual. To be baptized in fire means to appropriate the knowledge of Messiah with the knowledge of his Torah. Indeed the two go hand in hand. For without the Word of God firmly rooted in a believer how can the Spirit bring all things of Yeshua to his remembrance?
What is the Spirits fire that can be quenched if we despise prophecy?
Answer to Question 4:
Quench Not the Spirit
I Thessalonians 5:19
In our study of the ministry of the Ruach HaKodesh we understand that the Ruach HaKodesh indwells every believer at the moment of salvation. We also find that there are several direct commands from the Torah concerning the Spirit of HaShem and believers. Lets take a look at one of them. This command comes at the close of Shaul's first epistle to the Thessalonians. Notice chapter five and beginning with verse twelve. We see the apostle pulling together the final part of his letter. As he begins to close it seems that many exhortations came to mind as he completed the epistle. One of those closing exhortations is "Quench not the Spirit".
What was Shaul talking about? Some would use this verse to try to prove that one can lose their salvation and that the Spirit of HaShem can be put out of their lives. We know that this is a misinterpretation as we compare scripture with scripture. Shaul wrote to the Ephesian believers admonishing them to be careful not to grieve the Ruach HaKodesh who has sealed them until the day of redemption.
The dictionary gives four basic definitions of the word "quench". It means to put out or extinguish; to suppress or squelch; to slake or satisfy one's thirst; and to cool by thrusting in water or some other liquid.
Within the context of this verse we understand it to mean suppressing or squelching the influence of the Ruach HaKodesh of God in the life of a believer.
I. Some Observations:
A. The Spirit of HaShem can be "quenched".
B. What is it that the believer can do to quench the Spirit of HaShem in his life?
C. We quench the Spirit's influence in our lives when we resist His ministry to us.
II. Yeshua the Messiah is our Example.
A. He was willing to GO where His Father chose.
B. He was willing to BE whatever His Father chose.
C. He was willing to DO whatever His Father chose.
III. What does it mean to be yielded to HaShem?
A. It means being willing to:
B. It means being in HaShem's will.
Quench not the Spirit. Don't say "no" to HaShem. Don't seek solutions apart from His leading or treat Him with indifference. We must be willing to be led. Be willing to go, to be, and to do whatever God might choose.