A Prayer Meeting by the River

An email from George Zeller arrived in my Inbox this week and I had to post it here! We never know how God has prepared the way ahead of us when we take a step to share Christ with someone. It may be as simple as handing someone a Bible pamphlet, saying something kind to a cashier or bagger at the supermarket, or helping a neighbor. It may be just the lift they need to point them to a gracious and loving God!


“In his second missionary journey, Paul had wanted to go to Asia (probably to Ephesus), but God sent him and his missionary team in a different direction. In a night vision, a man [anér, a male individual] of Macedonia implored them to ‘come and help us’ (Acts 16:9). They obeyed the vision and arrived in Philippi of Macedonia, a city named after Philip, the father of Alexander the Great.

“Ironically, the ‘man’ they came to help turned out to be a group of women: ‘And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither’ (Acts 16:13). On this Sabbath [Saturday[, the day when the Jews would rest from their labors and worship, Paul and his companions went to a place where a group of women customarily met to pray to God. There they sat with and spoke to the women who had gathered to pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

“What a touching scene it must have been! A group of devout women met by this scenic riverbank to call upon the name of the Lord. How we each need to develop prayer habits so as to meet with the Lord both alone and at times with other God-fearing souls. How fitting it is to find a quiet gathering place in the midst of God’s creation, far from the distractions and interruptions of the world!

“Consider how the Lord Jesus would often do the same: ‘He went up into a mountain apart [by Himself] to pray’ (Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). These women had been prepared by prayer and were ready to hear the Gospel message! From this humble prayer gathering the great church at Philippi could trace its origin.”

~George Zeller: www.middletownbiblechurch.org




Ministries of the Holy Spirit – Sealing

“‘And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption’ (Ephesians 4:30. See also, II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13). The ministry of the Spirit in sealing evidently represents the Godward aspect of the relationship – authority, responsibility, and a final transaction. It is ‘unto the day of redemption.’ The Spirit Himself is the seal and all who have the Spirit are sealed. This ministry of the Spirit is also performed when faith is exercised for salvation, and this ministry could not be repeated since the first sealing of any believer is ‘unto the day of redemption.’

“There are then, four ministries of the Spirit for the believer which are wrought the moment he is saved and are never accomplished a second time. He is said to be born, indwelt (or anointed) baptized, and sealed of the Spirit. It may also be added that these four operations of the Spirit in and for the child of God are not related to an experience. The Spirit may actualize all this to the believer after he is saved and it may then become the occasion for most blessed joy and consolation. These four general ministries which are performed in and for believers alike constitute the ‘Earnest of the Spirit’ (II Corinthians 1:22,; 5:5), and the ‘Firstfruits of the Spirit’ (Romans 8:23).”

From He That is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer (pp. 38-39)

Our study in Biblical Spirituality continues with the ministry of the Holy Spirit in filling the believer.

Being “Filled with the Spirit” is the biblical term for true spirituality.


The Great Magnet

The Great Magnet

John 12:23-33

Three crosses were seen on Calvary’s hill. The center cross was the cross of redemption as the Saviour bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). The center cross was meant for Barabbas whose name means “son of the father.” The Jewish people wanted Pilate to release this murderer and crucify the Holy One in his stead (Acts 3:14). As a result, the true “Son of the Father” went to the cross to suffer for sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones (1 Peter 3:18). Two criminals died, on the Lord’s left and right. One malefactor refused to believe. His was the cross of rejection. The other evildoer initially hurled insults at Christ (Matt.27:44), but later changed his mind and believed (Luke 23:39-43). His was the cross of reception.

Each cross carried a message. One Man died for sins, in the sinner’s place. One man died in his sins (John 8:24); the other man died with his sins forgiven (Acts 10:43).

Our Lord once predicted that when He would be lifted up on the cross. He would draw all men unto Himself (John 12:32-33). A magnet attracts metal; the center cross attracts all mankind. All men are drawn to the center cross where a decision must be made.

We each must answer this question: What will I do with Jesus who is called the Christ? (Matthew 27:22). Will I receive Him or reject Him? Which evildoer will I imitate? All men are drawn to the center cross where they must consider the crucified One and decide what they will do with Him. We can see the cross as foolishness or we can see the cross as the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18, 24).

We can receive Him or reject Him. Our decision will determine our destiny.

George Zeller: www.middletownbiblechurch.org


Ministries of the Holy Spirit – Baptizing (2)

“The full Bible teaching of this theme is presented in a very few passages: Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16; Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12. Of these passages, only one unfolds the meaning, “For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13, cf. Romans 6:3). In no Scripture is this ministry of the Holy Spirit directly related to power or service. It has to do with the forming of the body of Christ out of living members, and when one is united vitally and organically to Christ, he has been “baptized into one body,” and has been “made to drink of one Spirit.”

“Being a member of the body of Christ anticipates service; but service is always related to another ministry than the baptism of the Spirit. Since the baptism of the spirit is the organic placing of the believer into Christ, it is that operation of God which establishes every position and standing of the Christian. No other divine undertaking in salvation is so far reaching in its effect. It is because of this new union to Christ that a Christian can be said to be “in Christ,” and being “in Christ” he partakes of all that Christ is—His life, His righteousness, and His glory. The unbeliever enters completely into this union with Christ the moment he believers.

“[In two synoptic Gospels the promise of the baptism with the Spirit is accompanied with the promise of baptism with fire (“I [John the Baptist] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he [Jesus the Messiah] that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” Matthew 3:11; “John [the Baptist] answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I [Jesus the Messiah] cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” Luke 3:16). Just what is meant by a baptism with fire has been the subject of much discussion. “Cloven tongues like as of fire” (Acts 2:3), sat on a few on the Day of Pentecost; but this has not been the experience of all believers. The judgment of the believer’s works at the judgment seat of Christ ( I Corinthians 3:9-15; II Corinthians 5:10) is the only contact with fire which is determined for all who are saved. It is therefore probable that this judgment is the baptism with fire. There is a deep correspondence between the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the baptism with fire. As the baptism with the Spirit provides the saved one with a perfect standing for time and eternity, so the baptism with fire will provide the saved one with a perfect state which will fit him for heaven itself. At the judgment seat of Christ, His eyes of fire (Revelation 1:14) will burn away all the dross and only that which is heavenly will abide.]

“The organic relationship to the body of Christ is accomplished as a part of the great divine undertaking in salvation which is performed when saving faith is exercised. There is no indication that this baptizing ministry of the Spirit would be undertaken a second time.”


He That is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer (pp. 37-38)


Five ministries of the Holy Spirit to believers in the Church Age:

        • Regenerating

        • Indwelling

        • Baptizing

        • Sealing

        • Filling


Ministries of the Holy Spirit – Baptizing (1)

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,

whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free;

and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:13

This is the key verse for the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. As always, the meaning of this verse is drawn from the context in which it appears. Three things to note:

This is not referring to water baptism

The literal meaning of the Greek word BAPTIZO is to immerse, submerge, soak, saturate in something. An example is plunging a garment into a container of dye to color the entire garment.

The word baptize (immerse) is also used figuratively in the Bible about a person being completely saturate or entirely immersed in or by an experience or circumstance. For example, John the Baptists literal baptizing his followers in water is extended to another “baptism” that is not with water, but the Holy Spirit to denote a complete, all-consuming experience. Figuratively then, being baptized “by fire” would change a person to the core.

Matthew 3:11 I [John the Baptist] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he [Jesus] that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

The context of I Corinthians 12:13

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” describes the agent (the Holy Spirit) and the method (immersion) and the act (placing into the Body of Christ). Speaking about the body of Christ in the context (later described as the church, which is His Body, Ephesians 1:22-23), Paul explains how God the Holy Spirit places the believer into His Son.

Being a Christian is synonymous with being “in Christ.

The Bible knows nothing about a believer who is not “in Christ.”

Galatians 3:26-28 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Paul says: You were saved by faith in Jesus Christ (v. 26). You have also been baptized into Christ (v.27a) and as a result, you are to “wear” Christ every day like you would a shirt or coat (v. 27b). Thus, you are all one in Jesus Christ because you are in His Body (v.28).

We see then that water baptism does not place a believer into Christ’s Body, but the Holy Spirit who does that work. Most (if not all) Baptist churches require baptism by immersion in water for church membership and this is biblical. A few Baptist churches go a step further and believe that water baptism is necessary to become a member of the Body of Christ. That is unbiblical.

Galatians 3:26-28 + I Corinthians 12:13 makes it clear that God the Holy Spirit is the agent who, through a complete, spiritually immersive act, places us into the Body of Christ.


Useful references from Pastor George Zeller, Middletown Bible Church, Middletown, CT:

The Charismatic Movement—35 Doctrinal Issues

Does Water Baptism Save? (A Biblical Refutation of Baptismal Regeneration)

Spirit Baptism and I Corinthians 12:13 [Including Important Grammatical Considerations]

From Got Questions Ministries:

What does it mean to be in Christ?