Between the physical healing and the manifestation of God’s Presence that are both described in The Lesson of the Radiance, another notable event occurred, this time at the home of the friend with whom my husband and I spent the night. The following morning, at the onset of my awakening, while my eyes were still closed, I experienced “a vision plus,” for lack of better terminology. Differing from a dream, the event felt as real as the present moment.
Before the vision began, I knew that I was in the guestroom bed of our friend’s one story home, lying on my back, with my arms at my sides. Then, in an instant, I was in the vision, having no awareness of my actual physical surroundings.
In the vision, I was likewise lying on my back in a bed with my arms beside me, but I was in a second story bedroom. Unlike the actual guestroom, the room in the vision was small, with the bed against the right-hand wall. To the left, across a narrow open floor space, a large picture window provided a view to a driveway below. The only other object in the room was a large television with a blank screen that was sitting at the foot of the bed.
As the vision began, I saw a large black sedan pull into the driveway and come to a stop beneath the window. All four car doors opened as a handful of men got out. Tall and dressed in dark suits, they wore hats and sunglasses, giving them the appearance of stereotypical movie mobsters from days gone by.
Walking toward the house, the men quickly disappeared out of my field of vision. Then, just as quickly, an extensive alarm system was activated. Very loud sirens, bells and whistles sounded, as the television screen came alive with flashing lights and warnings. Instinctively (in the vision) I sat up in bed, realizing that a very real and present danger was trying to enter the house to get to me. But it couldn’t. I was protected, and I was safe. With that knowledge, the vision ended.
In the next moment, my awareness returned to my physical presence in my friends’ guest bed, drawing my attention to an electrical tingling in my toes. Spreading up the outer edges of both of my legs, the tingling sensation outlined my body, as a child traces his or her hand with a pencil. Continuing to flow up my torso and around my arms, the current followed two symmetrical pathways that united at the top of my head, encasing me in an electrical silhouette. Then, and only then, did my eyes open, as the event ended.
Other than the generalized awareness of protection that I had received in the vision, I had no understanding of the event that morning. Bewildered, I mentally filed the experience away with other unanswered questions.
Then, a couple of months later, during one of my regular morning Bible readings, I came to Ephesians 4:30. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
Sealed! Instantly, without question, I knew that I had been sealed by the Holy Spirit! Though uncertain about what sealing entails, I was confident that God was protecting me with Himself. Having installed the Holy Spirit in me, God was my “Alarm System,” keeping evil at bay. With the Gift of the Holy Spirit—the third Person of the Trinity, God’s commitment to my welfare was affirmed by God in a way that I couldn’t mistake for anything less. God, living in me, would be my much needed strength and shield. (See Psalm 28:7)
God distinguished Holy Spirit baptism, a vital part of Christian life, from water baptism through the words of John the Baptist and the baptisms of Jesus. Including both John’s words and Jesus’ baptisms in all four Gospels, God left no room for doubt regarding their significance. (See Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:2-11; Luke 3:1-22; John 1:8-34)
While John preached repentance, baptizing with water, Jesus—the One upon whom John would see the Spirit both descend and remain—would baptize, not with water (See John 4:2), but with the Holy Spirit (See John 1:33). The Holy Spirit’s remaining upon Jesus would be God’s signature, anointing Jesus and identifying Him as “the Son of God,” simultaneously privileging John the Baptist with the testimony that was his life purpose to proclaim. (See John 1:34)
In the words of John the Baptist, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me. I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” (John 1:30b, 31)
In the presence of John and others, God the Father propelled Jesus into the earthly portion of His Eternal Kingdom Ministry with public baptism. Glorifying Himself, God honored Jesus with the Person of the Holy Spirit, effectually declaring that God would be with Jesus, wherever Jesus went. Jesus and the Father were One. (See John 17:22) Then, acclaiming Fatherhood of His Son by Word, as well as by Spirit, God left no room for doubt regarding the nature, as well as the permanency, of His relationship with Jesus.
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment, heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:16, 17)
From the Day of Pentecost forward, God has similarly revealed His pleasure with all who become His beloved sons in Christ, offering them Holy Spirit baptism by Jesus. (See Galatians 4:6) As affirmation of our acceptance into God’s eternal Family, the Presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit both confirms our future (See 2 Corinthians 1:22) and empowers our present (See Acts 1:8), transforming us through ongoing fellowship with God. (See 2 Corinthians 3:18).
Salvation, a package deal, is an all or none proposition made by God. Either we accept His offer, being reconciled to God in Christ Jesus (See Colossians 1:22), or we reject it, remaining independent agents (See Romans 2:8). But like a birthday present of multiple pieces that are all wrapped in one box, we can open the package of salvation, taking out the primary gift of eternal life, but overlooking the accompanying benefits that pertain to this world.
While, indeed, the combined expectation and reality of eternity with God is arguably salvation’s most outstanding blessing, minimizing the significance of our role in God’s earthly kingdom leaves us short-changing ourselves and the world in general. Jesus specifically said that the Kingdom of God is within us (See Luke 17:21), not without.
Through Paul, God further expounded on the subject, saying, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power” (1 Corinthians 4:20), ”…of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17b). To live Kingdom life as God intends, living the life given to us God’s way, we need unlimited resource. We need the Holy Spirit.
First John 5:7 speaks specifically of three separate baptisms for believers: “the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” Each testifies to the Truth of God, supporting one another, yet providing different benefits. Together they form the complete package.
When we confess and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into salvation by the blood of Christ. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13a) Our position in Jesus is secure, for “…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)
Water baptism then enunciates in a different way the faith that we have declared in the finished work of Jesus, giving physical substance beyond our words of confession to the spiritual renewal that has occurred. Signifying death, burial and resurrection in Christ Jesus, water baptism enacts our spiritual rebirth, displaying obedience to God. As new creations in Christ Jesus, the old has gone, the new has come. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17)
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:2)
Solidifying in this life the eternal promise given to us in Jesus, Holy Spirit baptism substantiates our new life of personal reconciliation to God as nothing else can. Giving us privileged access to Himself (His Person, knowledge, power, etc.) through the Holy Spirit, God reiterates the promise that He once made to Abraham and has fulfilled to us in Christ: God Himself is our ”very great reward” (Genesis 15:1), our provision (See 2 Peter 1:3, 4).
In committing our lives into Christ’s Hands, we receive both the honor and the responsibility of ministering the Gospel—the Truth of God in Jesus—to one another through word and deed. (See 2 Corinthians 3:6) Only “God in us” can work this miracle through us, further distributing His life to a hurt and dying world.
We need the continuity of Holy Spirit guidance in every aspect of life, pointing us and others always to the Truth of Jesus. (See John 16:13) Through revelation of the Truth of God, God accomplishes what we cannot, setting our lives apart from the turbulent nature of evil that cohabits this world with us.
But even the indwelling companionship of the Holy Spirit does not eliminate evil’s attempts to sway us. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:34b), and we do. Evil exists, brewing discord in our hearts and minds, disrupting even nature (See Romans 8:21) and employing dark spiritual beings against us (See Ephesians 6:12).
More importantly, though, Jesus had this to say: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:34c)
In having triumphed in the same battle between good and evil that tempts us, Jesus submitted to no one but God. (See Hebrews 4:15) He arose victorious, and so do we in Him. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we, too, experience the ability to conquer the flesh’s rebellious nature (See Galatians 5:16) that attempts to lead us away from God and into destruction.
God’s Way, the only viable way, is the way of agape love: dedication to the highest good of others above oneself. Living out God’s love multiplies blessings, giving life—the very essence of God (See John 17:3). In deferring to the Holy Spirit’s leadership, we become part of God’s rebuilding process, being used by Him to construct anew what evil has torn apart: our relationships with God and with one another. Kingdom living is all about unification: salvation in Jesus, being made one with God.
Salvation is God—no less than Father, Son and Holy Spirit: the complete Salvation Package in One Eternal God. (See Deuteronomy 6:4 and Mark 12:29) Without God, there is no life, not in this world or the next, only a mortal facade.
God said, quite clearly, “Now choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19b) … “Choose Me.”
There is only One Way to do that: Invite Him in… invite All of Him all of the way in.
And there is only one reason why we can: God made the nonretractable offer possible when Jesus sealed the deal for us… in blood… His Own.
“…Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2)