Skip to main content

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The Mystical Teachings of Christianity by Jim Lewis

Chapter 5
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:1-13

Descent of the Holy Spirit—St. George Orthodox Cathedral
Descent of the Holy Spirit—St. George Orthodox Cathedral

The Day of Pentecost has come to be known as the day the apostles and others were baptized with the Holy Spirit. These people were actually celebrating a Jewish feast day, the Day of Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks, as it was also known. It was a harvest festival when the people gave the first fruits of their harvest to the Lord. It really refers to the complete harvest period of about seven weeks, from the barley harvest until the wheat harvest. During this period the people of Israel were called upon to recognize God as the source of rain and agricultural fertility.

The Day of Pentecost is actually a Jewish mystical principle that leads to greater prosperity. It is the idea of giving back to God a portion of our blessings to be used in His work of helping others to find the truth that will truly set them free.

The followers of Jesus did not give up their religious beliefs or practices in the beginning. Some of them probably never did. On the occasion of Pentecost they were all gathered together “in one place”. After fulfilling their traditional practices for this day they no doubt began to think about Jesus and what He had taught them and to contemplate the many things He did. The idealism of Jesus lifted their thoughts and feelings to a higher level of contemplation and receptivity. Something began to happen to them that they had never experienced before. This new experience they had was described as the sound of a rushing wind from heaven and also as tongues of fire. It must have been an exciting and inspiring experience, but it may also have been frightening for some of them.

When the local people heard of what was going on, they were also astonished. The followers of Jesus were so inspired that they were able to do unusual things, such as speak in different languages even though they had never done this before. They were probably radiant in appearance and happy as they talked about God in a new way.

The pessimists said they were drunk. However, Peter got up and began explaining to the locals that they were not drunk. He said this was the experience that the prophet Joel had said would take place: “ ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ saith God, ‘I will pour forth my Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.’ “

Here we have another indication that in addition to John the Baptist, Peter and others thought the end was near and that this was an outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord as was prophesied. Evidently the end did not take place, at least not literally, for we are still here.

Peter then told them about the death and resurrection of Jesus and accused them of it. This probably didn’t set too well with some of them, but about 3,000 were also inspired and were later baptized in water that same day.

People today have similar experiences. They go to church and hear a threatening talk. They are made to feel guilty and unworthy and in need of salvation. Something happens and they are moved to join the church and submit to water baptism.

For a time these people feel relieved for they actually believe they are saved from the possibility of going to hell and suffering for eternity. However, after a time their assurance begins to wear off. They feel the Holy Spirit has left them. They have had an experience but not necessarily a baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus had said these things would happen. He said false prophets would come along and perform astounding feats. “False prophets” simply means people teaching something that isn’t true. They may be sincere and think what they are teaching is truth but nevertheless they are deceiving those they teach. They may even do this saying that God is revealing to them what they are teaching.

The Holy Spirit baptism isn’t something that happens outside a person. It isn’t the coming into a person of a spirit supposedly from God for God’s Spirit is already within every person. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a psychological experience based on fear. It is the movement or activity of God’s Spirit within the individual in the form of ideas or inspiration. It is a flow of creative intelligence through an open and receptive consciousness.

This is not a complete state of receptivity. The individual receives the guidance and illumination that will help him at the moment or that he is capable of receiving at the moment. When one recognizes a need for help in his life, he develops the receptivity necessary for God to reach him. This usually doesn’t happen until our problem is rather severe. We are so used to living from the personal level. We think that we can handle every problem that arises, but eventually something comes along such as a need for healing or a need for prosperity that we realize we cannot handle on our own.

In this moment of great need one may turn to God. He prays in the only way that he knows; it may be a begging prayer or it may be the repeating of affirmations. As a result of this effort on the part of the individual he receives his help. The wonderful part about the help we receive from the Holy Spirit is that God can reach us on any level of consciousness. The help that one may receive at this moment may seem like a great burst of sunlight. In reality it isn’t the full illumination of consciousness but probably only a speck of the true light, yet it is so impressive it is almost blinding.

In these moments when the light of the Holy Spirit penetrates his consciousness, the individual may display unusual powers and abilities. Some may even experience what we call a miracle healing. There is often a feeling of great ecstasy. In his excitement the individual wants to tell the whole world about his experience. When he tries, he is startled to find that the whole world isn’t necessarily interested. In fact many think the individual is “drunk” with spiritual nonsense or that he is losing his mind.

The ecstasy and exhilaration don’t last, for the new birth hasn’t taken place. When these experiences occur many begin a restless search in the outer for a return experience. Others give up in discouragement. Still others fall into a complacency of endeavoring to maintain the status quo; they try to fit their new experiences into their old religious beliefs and patterns of habit and ritual. These individuals often identify the inner experience with some outer ritual or ceremony.

Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit came something quite different would happen. He said It would be like a Teacher; It would teach the individual all the truth. Jesus said there were many things He wanted to tell His followers but they were not prepared in consciousness to receive them nor to understand them. But He said they would be taught by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, through the inspiration that comes direct from God the Creative Source of Intelligence within all of us.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth had revealed to Peter who Jesus really was, yet Peter later denied Jesus. Peter had not had the new birth experience; that came later after Jesus left.

Many Christians today are in this situation. They know about Jesus, although they don’t understand all that He was trying to teach them. They are sincere and want His help and the help of the Holy Spirit. Yet they find it difficult to let go of traditional misconceptions so that the Spirit of truth can teach them all the truth, or at least more of it.

John said of Jesus, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In this statement John was admitting that he did not know what the complete truth was. He didn’t teach truth; he taught repentance and confession of sins as a preparation necessary to receive the truth. It is that state of consciousness in which we realize that we are not right, that we do not have it made as far as our religious life is concerned. It is also the recognition that we are living in the consciousness of limitation.

If we respond to what John taught and make an effort to change our consciousness, then we will be ready to receive at least some of the great truth ideas that Jesus gave. Jesus came to show us and teach us how to get out of the consciousness of darkness, the consciousness of lack, limitation, fear, anxiety, illness, and all the misery we may find ourselves in.

Jesus was the outer Spark. He said what He started was only the beginning. He suggested that we follow Him in the regeneration of consciousness and make an attempt to be perfect in consciousness. This means to believe what is true and release what is false.

To follow what He taught is challenging, but it leads to a greater awareness and a greater sense of freedom. It leads to peace of mind. It leads to joy, happiness, healing, and other blessings. If we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit it will lead to true Salvation, the New Birth and participation in the New Age.

How can I detect what the Holy Spirit is telling me to do? The first thing is not to wait until there is some great need in your life. Don’t wait until it is a matter of life or death. True, you can receive help then, but why not have the help of the Holy Spirit now?

The Holy Spirit inspiration is usually more subtle than the intellectual water inspiration, the good intentions backed by rationalization and excuses for not starting or doing what we think would be so great and beneficial.

To get the help of the Holy Spirit it is imperative that we get to the point in our thought and feeling and receptivity where we are willing to act on or accept even what seems unimportant. Many people want the “big” thing to do that will radically change their lives. Yet they can’t even do something simple.

I would like to share with you the experiences of a couple who were being moved by the Holy Spirit to grow and expand in consciousness. They were led to begin a study of truth as given in Unity. At the time they were quite involved in a traditional church. He was on the board of directors and she was active in other church groups. Although they were involved in the church, they were not happy or satisfied; they felt something was missing. The teaching was not fulfilling their souls’ need for growth. They were just doing what seemed “good works” and helping the Lord. They also loved their friends.

They decided to make the break. They began attending Unity and they loved it; the truth teaching was a very satisfying experience for them. However, their friends began putting pressure on them to come back. They eventually went back, returning to the old routine. At first they enjoyed this. But when the Holy Spirit moves and we take a step forward and return, we find it is not the same. This went on for a time, a year or more. The longing and hunger lie truth returned. They decided that they would make the break for good this time and return to their studies of truth. Again they made the break, but again it did not last. The hold of the traditional consciousness was so strong that they could not follow and be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

One day the hunger will return in such force that they will be obliged to follow it and make the break completely. They were like the prodigal son trying to live off the husks. He knew he would starve to death. There are many like this young couple who are starving for the truth and cannot or wi0 not do what is necessary to be truly fed.

The Holy Spirit can only guide us, it cannot force us. We cannot tell it how to feed us, we must respond to it.

Another person I know had a similar experience. He wanted to stay with friends, family, and familiar surroundings, but the following of the guidance of the Holy Spirit was more important. He lost the friends he had, but he gained many more new ones. He eventually gained more in every way than he had before.

When the Spirit nudges, I would suggest that you budge. Move with it. It is preparing you for something great. It may seem that your world and your life are coming apart at the seams. It may seem that like Paul you are “dying daily”, but this is a necessary preparation for a true salvation experience.

You have everything to gain when you follow the Holy Spirit. Yes, you may lose something at the moment, but the blessings that will come into your life are greater than you can even conceive at this present moment.

© 1981, Dr. James C. Lewis
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.