What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus said that we would “receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” in Acts 1:8. Power to live holy lives, power to witness, power to pray, to understand scripture, to minister, and to lay our lives down (Acts 9:17-20, John 16:14, Luke 24:24, Rom. 8:26). The Holy Spirit is to be received by all believers so that they can receive, with the power, certain “gifts” from God. Gifts of healing, power wisdom, power faith, power knowledge, power miracle and power to speak the truth of God. In other words, the Holy Spirit is to be received to receive power to be the active “body of Christ” ministering in the earth today. The Apostle Paul said for us to “earnestly desire spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31, 14:1).
Have you received the Holy Spirit?
When the apostle Paul met the twelve believers in Ephesus (Acts 19:2), he asked them a question – “Have you received the Holy Spirit?” They answered, “No, they hadn’t even heard about receiving the Holy Spirit”. Paul prayed together with them and “the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke with tongues and prophesied”.
The same thing happened to the 120 people waiting on God’s promise of His Holy Spirit in Jerusalem on the day we now call Pentecost. They also spoke with tongues and prophesied (Acts 1 & 2 ). This was all spoken about by Jesus and should have been expected since Jesus was said to be the one who would baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire.
Who is the baptism in the Holy Spirit for?
Jesus said that “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matt 12:31), so the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not for the casual inquirer. It is for ‘born again’ Christians, it is not ‘dead religion’ it is a living relationship with God, it is not for the unbelieving (John 14:16-17).
When you are sure you are a believer and also are willing to obey God in your life, then ask for the Holy Spirit to enter your life and to fill you and cleanse you with His fire (Matt. 3:11); “Your heavenly father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask of Him” (Luke 11:13). The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is for now and has always been available for any believer bold enough to trust God and obey Him. When the believers asked for advice of the apostles on the day of Pentecost “What should we do?” they were told to “repent”, “be baptized” and “receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Jesus said in His sermon on the mount “blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled” (Matt . 5:6).
Who does the baptizing?
Jesus is the baptizer (Matt 3:11). He baptizes with fire not water. Fire either purifies or destroys. You may want to have other Spirit Filled Christians lay hands on you and pray but it is not necessary. This is between you and God, just as your salvation is (Acts 2, 10:44-46, 19:6).
How can I receive the Holy Spirit?
With other Spirit filled Christians or privately, raise your hands up to God in thankfulness and praise. You might close your eyes or leave them open. The important thing is to “ask” – believing God’s promise is for you – and then to “receive” of your own free will the blessing of God, called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Start to praise God with your voice, tongue and lips. He will not force you to speak in tongues but you may if you wish. As the “Truth” of God’s promised blessing fills you, let it set you free. Step out in faith. Try to say something in a language that only God could understand speaking mysteries to God (1 Cor. 14:2). Maybe you will only be bold enough to speak a few syllables but as you boldly repeat them God will bless you with more .
Like a child, your new language of prayer to God will grow. Don’t be afraid. This language is not for the benefit of other people it is between you and your Lord and Savior. You will probably not even understand what you are saying, but be assured that God says that as you use this prayer language you will be built up and become stronger in faith (Jude 20). Your private worship of God will be blessed. You do not pray in tongues with your mind but with your spirit (1 Cor. 14:14-15). You are praying with your spirit to God who is a spirit (John 4:24).
Even if you do not have the faith to speak in tongues at this time, its important that you desire to (1 Cor. 14:1, 5). One day you may just find yourself doing so. Nevertheless, because you invited the Holy Spirit to come into the “house” of your life, He has (Rev. 3:20). You will therefore find a new intimacy with Him as you worship and study God’s ways. A new “fire” will burn in your life. A new fervency for God will be experienced and a new level of faith will be yours.
From time to time you may find the ardor of your fellowship at a lower level. No need for alarm – just repent of your distraction and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you anew. There will always be only one “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” but there can be many fillings of the Holy Spirit of God (Eph. 3:14). God wants you to either be hot or cold – never ever be satisfied with a lukewarm Christian life (Rev. 3:14-22). As you walk in the Spirit you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-25). Now its time for you to learn what the Gifts of the Spirit are and how they operate in your life.
Gifts of the Spirit
In 1906 in a place called Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California an amazing series of meetings happened when the Holy Spirit sent revival beginning with all of the nine gifts or manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit present and operating in that place. This was the birth place of the modern Pentecostal/neo-pentecostal/charismatic move of God that is sweeping the nations of the world at this time.
Since that time the believing church has seen more of the power of God at work in the earth then in the previous 18 centuries since the original Pentecostal outpouring of God that occurred in the book of Acts died out (about 250 years later).
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul lists out these gifts. Any Spirit filled Christian can manifest or release any of these gifts as the Holy Spirit directs them.
Word of Wisdom – God’s supernatural perspective on how to achieve God’s will. God’s knowledge rightly applied to specific situations.
Word of Knowledge – “facts” given by God that are unknowable without revelation.
The Gift of Faith – the supernatural ability to believe God without doubt. Essential to the Gift of Healing and Miracles.
The Gift of Healing – supernatural healing through special anointing of the Holy Spirit.
The Working of Miracles – a supernatural display of power that goes beyond the natural to counteract earthly and evil forces.
Discerning of Spirits – Spiritual insight into differences between the Holy Spirit, the Human Spirit, and evil Spirits at work in the earth. It is not the discerning of character faults.
The Gift of Prophecy – the forth telling of God’s utterance. It is not of the intellect but of the Spirit. It is divinely inspired and anointed words spoken by a believer.
Different Kinds of Tongues – This is not to be confused with the use of tongues in private prayer or worship. This refers to the ministry of tongues to others. An utterance from a believer to another in a language unknown to the speaker (Is. 28:11, Mk. 16:17, Acts 2:4, 10:44-48, 19:1-7, 1 Cor. 12:10, 13:1-3, 14:2; 14:4-22, 14:26-31, 28:31).
Interpretation of Tongues – Supernatural power to reveal the meaning of tongues. Not a translation, but an interpretation. Tongues and Interpretation working together can be the equivalent of prophecy.
The working of these nine Gifts is for the profit of advantage of the Church. They are for the benefit of the Church and are specifically available to every believer as the Holy Spirit wills (1 Cor. 12:7-11, 14:12). They should all be actively welcomed and expected in your life (1 Cor. 14:1).
How Many Gifts Do We Get?
The Holy Spirit distributes His gifts to each believer severally as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11). It is not up to us how many gifts we want or are willing to use but up to the Holy Spirit to give whatever He wants to whoever He wants whenever He wants. It is up to us to appreciate all of them and to allow the Holy Spirit to use us in any of them to minister to others. Some Christians teach that we each get one gift. That teaching conflicts with God’s Word. In 1 Cor. 14:1 Paul says desire Gifts and in 1 Cor. 14:5 he says that he wished that we all spoke in tongues. In 1 Cor. 14:31 he says “you all can prophesy”. In addition to these evidences it is practical knowledge that one gift cannot be in operation without the use of other gifts ([Tongues, Prophecy, Interpretation], [Healing, Miracles, Faith], [Wisdom, Knowledge, Discernment]). Our Proper response to God – God will let us know in variety of ways when we are to exercise the different Gifts. Sometimes the hands actually feel anointed or other times words or thoughts just flood our consciousness as we grow in the Spirit these things will become more clear. Above all we need to understand that God works through spiritual gifts to reproduce the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in his Church. Mostly with the laying on of hands, the spoken command, or the active intervention of one human being in the lives of others. We will all do this only according to our faith. Thus we need to accept the importance of tongues for holy self-edification (1 Cor. 14:1-5).
Next Steps …
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is God’s way of empowering us to manifest his love to His Church and to cleanse us and make us Holy. We need therefore to acknowledge that love is necessary for the proper use of the Gifts – faith works by love (Gal. 5:6). Love edifies others (1 Cor. 8:1). As God has shown His love for you by giving you faith to believe in and trust in and cling to and rely on Jesus. Repent of anything that would hold you back from experiencing and walking in His fullness through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him for it. Receive it. Freely it has been given to you – now freely give (Matt. 10:8).