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Drinking deeply of the Spirit

By James K. Bridges

In his enriching study on spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12), the apostle Paul spoke of our initiation into Christ as a baptism by which the Holy Spirit places us into the body of Christ (v. 13). This is not to be confused with the baptism in the Holy Spirit about which Jesus spoke (Acts 1:5). Rather, it is a reference to our spiritual conversion to Christ, described in Titus 3:5 as “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (NKJV).

The apostle then concluded 1 Corinthians 12:13 with the statement, “and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” Some scholars teach this is a synonymous parallel, meaning that both figures of speech (to baptize and to drink) refer to the same experience of conversion and can refer to nothing else. This is unacceptable to Pentecostal hermeneutics because it places restrictions upon the Holy Spirit, which no man has the right to do. It also attempts to limit the intention of the apostle Paul who was introducing the believers to the immeasurable depths of spiritual experience available in the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s personal experiences in the Spirit, beyond conversion referred to elsewhere in Scripture, make it unthinkable that he would limit drinking into the Spirit to his initiation into Christ. Paul was a thoroughgoing Pentecostal and had himself sounded out the marvelous depths of the Spirit. Acts 9 recounts his remarkable salvation, physical healing and infilling of the Spirit in the city of Damascus. He taught the Ephesians the necessity of being continually filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). In his missionary journeys, he was confronted with those crisis experiences in which an immediate anointing of the Spirit was essential to ministry (Acts 13:4-12). In addition, Paul experienced the powerful gifts of the Spirit, which were the seal of his apostleship — signs, wonders and mighty deeds (2 Corinthians 12:12). The apostle modeled for us how to walk in, live in and drink deeply of the Spirit of God. We would do well to heed the warning that he gave to the Galatians — having begun in the Spirit, they must not be so foolish as to try to complete their work in the flesh (Galatians 3:3).

The Pentecostal Pulpit
James K. Bridges

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Charles T. Crabtree

Questions and Answers
about the Holy Spirit

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To drink deeply into the Spirit brings to our mind the words of Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem when He cried out: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37, 38). Notice the process — thirst, come, drink and flow! If anyone has a thirst for righteousness, Christ invites them to come. We begin our Christian life by drinking from the wells of His salvation (Isaiah 12:3). But Jesus and Paul both tell us not to stop drinking of the Spirit of Christ, for there are greater experiences of the Spirit yet to flow out of our lives.

So that we would not miss the meaning of this truth, the apostle John stated: “This He [Jesus] spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). The rivers of living water spoke of the fullness of the Spirit, which the disciples were to receive after Jesus had returned to heaven. The apostle Peter described this glorification in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost: “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33).

Drinking deeply of the Spirit had brought the Early Church into the promised baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; 2:4). Having been placed into the body of Christ by the Spirit, they now were “endued with power from on high” through the Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).

Spirit baptism is a gateway to the spiritual gifts and ministries provided by Christ for His church. It is intended that the church in every generation be a Spirit-baptized church: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39). It is the great privilege, opportunity and responsibility of every believer in every age to drink continually of the Spirit. To every believer who drinks deeply of the Spirit, there is a measureless flow of God’s river and a fathomless experience in His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).

James K. Bridges is general treasurer of the Assemblies of God.

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