Living Baptized in the Holy Spirit
by Aggie Neck
"...the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20)
Living baptized in the Holy Spirit is first of all the knowing that we are loved by God. The personal experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit brings us into "a way of life". It is not just a movement, it is a sovereign act of God, a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit that brings to life the gift of the Holy Spirit we received when we were baptized and confirmed. We see more clearly the truths before us, we understand in deeper ways the teachings of the Church and the words of Scripture. The Mass is more meaningful and vibrant. We are indeed new creations for the old order has passed away (see 2 Cor 5:17).
God's love is personal
Being baptized in the Holy Spirit awakens us to the truth of who we are because of Jesus. This is a truth that we somehow knew but never really experienced. God loves ME. The Holy Spirit opens our hearts and minds to understand this basic truth. God's love is personal, a one on one personal love. It is not a blanket love covering everyone, but a personal love for each one. St. Paul poses the question: "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" He then answers this question stating: "I am certain that neither death nor life, the present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord" (Rom 8:35,38).
One may ask: "How do we receive this love?" "Do I have to be perfect to receive this love?" Can this love be for everyone?" We receive this love St. Paul states "because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Perfection is not a prerequisite to receiving God's love, because "God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom 5:5,8). The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer" (CCC, 604). Yes, praise God this love is for everyone. We are loved with the perfect love of God.
When we come to know, to believe and accept God's love that is so freely given, there is this joy that wells up in our souls and causes us to rejoice with a joy that overflows with gratitude. Yes, we are loved. We will never be the same once this truth becomes the foundation on which our faith stands.
Jesus is Lord
The second truth that begins to be awakened in us is the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings and He is now my Lord. We understand with deeper meaning the redemptive act of the crucifixion and what this means for me and for the world. There is a hope for us in the Resurrection with its promise of eternal life. Jesus "is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he forever lives to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:25).
Belonging to God's people
We now realize that we have a new identity. Our identity is revealed in the fact that we are children of God and heirs of the promise (see Gal 3:26, 29). We learn that we belong to God and that everyone begotten of God conquers the world and it is our faith that accomplishes this (see 1 Jn 4:6; 5:4). We are told in Scripture that we are "a people He claims for his own to proclaim the glorious works of the One who called you from darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people, but now you are God's people; once there was no mercy for you, but now you have found mercy" (1 Pt 2:9-10).
"Are you not aware that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor 3:16). Then we are told that "we possess this treasure in earthen vessels to make it clear that its surpassing power comes from God and not from us" (2 Cor 4:7). "This means that you are strangers and aliens no longer. Now, you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God....In him you are being built into this temple to become a dewlling place for God in the Spirit" (Eph 2:19, 22). This is who we are because of the love and the grace of our God. Our identity is rooted in the Lord our God and we are His people, the sheep of His flock (see Ps 95:7).
Serving the Lord with gladness
The natural result of these truths is the desire to praise God. Songs of praise rise up in our hearts and the presence of the Holy Spirit, now awakened and alive in us, reveals truths to us that are life giving and essential for living out our faith. The knowledge of God as Father and Jesus as Lord are now believed without a doubt. We stand in awe of the Godhead, the Trinity interacting in our lives daily. We sing joyfully to the Lord, we greet him with thanksgiving, we serve the Lord with gladness and we enter His presence with praise. St. Augustine declared that we are an "Alleluia people" and indeed we are.
Prayer takes on new meaning and the Holy Spirit helps us to pray in the Spirit including the charism of praying/singing in tongues that is often received in the personal experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit too helps us in our weakness for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech. He who searches hearts knows what the Spirit means, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints as God himself wills" (Rom 8:26-27). Prayer is not a duty but a desire. We discover that there are many different ways to pray and spontaneous prayer seems to flow so freely. We encounter the living God because the Holy Spirit now is leading and helping us.
It is no longer a book, but the Book.
Scripture becomes alive and is now understood. We know it to be the Word of God, a Word that was inspired by the Holy Spirit and "is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb 4:12). We know too that "all Scripture is inspired of God and is useful for teaching - for reproof, correction and training in holiness so that the man of God may be fully competent and equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17). It is no longer a book, but the Book. Its words are inspiration and truth, guidance and direction. It speaks of hope and mercy, healing and freedom. The Holy Spirit now teaches us to read with faith and removes the veil that kept us from understanding.
We now move from the "I hope so" to "I know so" as we come before the Lord.
What comes to life in us is the gift of expectant faith. We now believe without a doubt that nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible to God. Our prayers take a giant leap forward because we believe. We now move from the "I hope so" to "I know so" as we come before the lord. This is the faith that we are to walk in, act upon and see results that bear fruit. Expectant faith takes us into the area of knowing that we know that God is with us and that He hears prayer and helps us in our needs. Expectant faith allows us to start each new day with the wonder of God in our lives and teaches us to look for and await the marvelous deeds of God that are all around us. We go from blessing to blessing and we are able to believe that no matter what happens God will be with us and help us. The prophet Jeremiah in the midst of many persecutions and trials was able to say, "But the Lord is with me like a mighty champion" (Jer 20:11).
Using the gifts of the Spirit
When we are baptized in the Holy spirit there is a release that allows us to function in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit listed in Isaiah 11:2-3 are the gifts that were given to us when we received the Sacrament of Confirmation. They are an undergirding for the gifts (charisms).
God sends gifts to equip us to be His witnesses.
Both groups of gifts are given to help us as we live out our faith in holiness, truth and power. "There are different ministries but the same Spirit; there are different ministries but the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone. To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good" (1 Cor 12:4-7). "There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and works through all and is in all....He who descended is the very one who ascended high above the heavens, that he might fill all men with his gifts" (Eph 4:5-6,10). The gifts of the Holy spirit are tools for a dynamic faith filled life. God sends gifts to equip us to be His witnesses, to proclaim the Good News with power and signs and wonders that follow the proclamation of the Word.
"Set your minds on higher gifts" (1 Cor 12:31)! Always seek Christ: seek Him when meditating on the Word of God, seek Him in the sacraments, seek Him in prayer and seek Him in the witness given by our brothers and sisters. A journey has begun for each one of us. This leads to an awareness and greater and greater love for Christ. "Do not interrupt the journey undertaken! Trust: Christ will complete the work which He Himself began" (John Paul II, Message to Catholic Charismatic Family, April 28-May 1, 2000).
Aggie Neck was a member of the National Service Committee at the time of writing this leaflet (1999-2009)
@ 2006 National Service Committee Leaflets
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Locust Grove, VA 22508