We clearly must be born again. Entering into an intimate relationship with God is no causal occurrence. No simple prayer, or repeating of an ancient creed will transform our flesh from corrupt to holy.
By our sins we deserve death. By our sins we die. Nothing less than rebirth will restore us into communion with God.
But we are not beings of mere flesh. We are flesh and we are spirit. A child’s body grows and develops, as does it’s mind. Sin corrupts the spirit as well and as completely as it corrupts the flesh. This is why both the flesh and the spirit must both be part of the rebirth process. . . This is why both the flesh and the spirit must both be reborn in baptism. To renew the flesh without also renewing the spirit is futile and only partially effective. To renew the spirit without also cleansing and renewing the flesh would be to endlessly torment and harass the spirit with a rebellious and unsubdued flesh.
I was baptized in Jesus name, in the water Sunday July 16th, 2000. I felt fresh and clean. It was a wonderful moment, but I was still afflicted with sin. I was still drinking and smoking. In many ways, I was still in bondage to sin. I did not understand, and I did not even believe in being filled with the Holy Ghost. Truthfully I thought all those crazy Pentecostal people I saw around me speaking in tongues as they prayed and worshiped were faking it.
In the middle of August, a month later, we had a revival and evangelist Keith Mendenhall spoke on a Thursday night (August 17th). I went down front at the altar call, as I had nearly every service since being baptized in the water. I raised my arms, and I began to pray. Others joined in around me, laying on hands and praying with me. The evangelist came and laid his hands upon my head, and began to pray with me, and in a glorious moment I was filled with God’s Spirit, and to my astonishment began to speak in a language that I could not understand.
12 years later, I can remember the power of that time. Almost in a daze, I half stumbled back to Jackie, who was watching from the pews and told her I had been filled with God’s Spirit. I floated in a cloud for a good 2 weeks. The reverberations of that moment continued. I remember the next morning telling a Spirit filled friend at my work, what had occurred. . . . I remember the transformation of my thinking over this time. My opinions on so many things changed in a very short time.
I was 45 years old. I was not some impressionable teenager and yet I did a 180° change of direction, and thought. Measured in time, there was only a month separation between my water baptism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. . . Measured by impact the change between July 16th (the day after my water baptism), and August 18th (the day after Spirit baptism), there was a complete and dramatic transformation.
Many try to explain away the rebirth of water and spirit, spoken of by Jesus in various non-biblical ways. Looking at the several biblical examples we have in the book of Acts (Acts chapters 2, 8, 10, and 19). Water baptism, and Spirit baptism, are clearly 2 separate events. The biblical examples, are all full immersion water baptism in Jesus name, with a separate Spirit baptism evidenced by the person speaking in another language.
We must be reborn. We are creatures of both flesh and spirit. Sin corrupts both our flesh and our spirit. Both our flesh, and our spirit must be washed and transformed by baptism. I implore you be born of the water and of the spirit as Jesus commanded. . .
I love you my Lord. . .
I love you my God. . .