The Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Something More Wonderful than Jesus's Physical Presence
How wonderful for those early disciples (followers) to have Jesus physically with them. He could answer all their questions, often before they had even asked them! There was no situation in life that he did not know the answer to. He was able to heal any sickness, often instantaneously. Yet, Jesus said that there was something more wonderful than this.
"It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor [Holy Spirit] will not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you." John 16:7
Paraphrase: "If I don't go to heaven, the Holy Spirit won't come, and it is better for you that he comes, than to have me with you physically!" The wonder of it: The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is willing to come and live with you. God on the inside of you - permanently!
Who is the Holy Spirit?
Theologically, He is the third person of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - spoken of in Mat 28:19). He was there right at the beginning - in Genesis chapter 1 verse 2 He is described as hovering over the waters. In Isaiah 40:12, he measures the waters (oceans) in the small of his hand, and he measures the universe with the breadth of his hand. He is not just a charismatic invention, but is present throughout the bible from Genesis to Revelation.
His Importance to Jesus
At first sight, you may think that Jesus was able to perform all the miracles that He did because he was the Son of God. However, this is not correct. The bible teaches us that He emptied himself of his divinity (God-like abilities) and came to earth as a man. (See Philippians 2:6-8 AV) So how did He do the things that nobody else could do? Healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, raising the dead etc? He said that He did it because the Holy Spirit had come upon him and anointed (supernaturally enabled) Him to do those things.
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" Luke 4:18-19
Jesus's power during His earthly ministry came from the Holy Spirit. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is connected with us receiving the same empowering. Later in His ministry, Jesus said:
"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" John 14:12 NIV
His Importance to the Christians in the Book of Acts
Let's take a quick run through the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, to see where the Holy Spirit shows up there. This is not an exhaustive list, but just a few highlights.
Acts 1:4-8 Speaks of receiving Power. Not just power like an electrical wall socket, but a person who brings the power.
Acts 2:1-18 The first outpouring in history, following the death and resurrection of Jesus
Acts 8:29 The Spirit told Philip
Acts 9:31 Encouraged by the Spirit
Acts 10:19 The Spirit said to him
Acts 10:38 Anointed with the Spirit
Acts 11:28 Through the Spirit predicted
Acts 13:2 The Holy Spirit said "Set apart ..."
Acts 13:4 Sent on their way by the Holy Spirit. (He was a partner / companion of the early believers)
Acts 15:28 Seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.
Acts 16:6 Prevented by the Holy Spirit
Acts 19:2 Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? (This was a major transformation, not an unnoticeable event.)
Acts 20:22 Compelled by the Holy Spirit
Acts 20:23 Warned by the Holy Spirit
Acts 20:28 The Holy Spirit has made you overseers
Acts 21:11 The Holy Spirit says ...
The Holy Spirit was a vital and interactive part of the experience of the early Christians. Not just of the original 12 disciples, but of others too. He was their companion, comforter, etc, whose rightful position was and is to be in charge. Have any of us weighed the oceans in the palm of our hand? (Isaiah 40:12)
He gives us the power to be witnesses - to tell of what we have seen and heard with God. He also brings nine supernatural power gifts, to help us and to help others in the Christian walk.
His Importance to Us
Clearly, the subject of the Holy Spirit cannot be ignored. There are some who say that such things have passed away. This is based on a misunderstanding of scripture. However, the bible says:
"I the Lord do not change" Malachi 3:6
The Holy Spirit is as real today as He ever was, and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a real experience, as are the spiritual gifts. I am a living witness, along with millions of other Spirit-filled Christians, that these things have NOT passed away. Speaking personally, the most valuable thing in my life (after salvation) is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
So what else did Jesus teach about Him for us? In John 15:26, He is described as our Counsellor. The bible also describes him as:
Helps in prayer & in reminding us of things that Jesus taught us in the bible
What Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
So now that we have discovered who the Holy Spirit is, what about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
The word Baptism indicates a filling or immersion in something. The Greek for this work literally means "dunking" like you might dunk a biscuit in a cup of tea. This is not just a matter of having a tiny dose of something, but is a matter of being immersed - filled with something. When a person is born-again, they may receive only a "dose" of the Holy Spirit, rather than the "fullness" or "empowering" of the Holy Spirit & His spiritual gifts, that we will talk about in this section.
So when we talk about the baptism or filling with the Holy Spirit, we are not just referring to being saved / born again (see "How to Meet Jesus" for information on salvation), but are referring to an immersion in God through the person of the Holy Spirit, a part of the Trinity (Father, Son & Holy Spirit).
There are occasions when a person is born again, baptised in the Holy Spirit, and (if needed) healed all at the same time. This is wonderful! But there are also many occasions when the Baptism in the Holy Spirit follows after salvation.
Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit Available to Us?
In the book of Acts, we see a group of people who had not received the Holy Spirit, simply because they had not heard the teaching on this subject.
"Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed" They answered "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit" Acts 19:2 NIV
Many Christians are in this state today. They have a saving faith & have been born-again, but know virtually nothing about the Holy Spirit. To them, He is just the power of God (like an electrical socket), or just a part of the Trinity. However, in reality, He is a person not a thing, and wants to draw you into an ever-deeper experience with God.
Let's read several more passages from the bible where Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit.
As we mentioned earlier, Jesus attributed his miracles, not to the fact that He was the Son of God, but to the fact that the Spirit of the Lord - the Holy Spirit - was upon him. He says he was anointed (empowered) by the Holy Spirit to do those things. But this experience of empowering by the Holy Spirit was not reserved just for him. John the Baptist, speaking publicly about Jesus, promised that Jesus would baptise others with the Holy Spirit:
"I baptise you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire." Luke 3:16
In the gospel of John, Jesus teaches about the Holy Spirit coming into people. He tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit has been with them (which many schollars think of as an Old Testament experience - the Holy Spirit coming and going), but the time is coming when he will be in them, (a New Testament experience), living in them forever.
"If you love Me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." John 14:15-18 NKJV
Earlier in the Gospel of John, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as a river of living water.
On the last & greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that point, the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:37-39 NIV
With Jesus's death, resurrection, & ascension to heaven, Jesus was glorified, and the Holy Spirit was poured out for the benefit of mankind.
The Initial Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
After his resurrection, before he ascended to heaven, he gave them this instruction.
On one occasion while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days, you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit" Acts 1:4-5
Clearly, at that point in the ministry of the apostles, even though they had healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons (while Jesus was still in his earthly ministry), they had still not yet received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This was just a few days away.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8
A few days later, the day came, as Jesus had promised.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven, and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues [languages] as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4
"...This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: "In the last days. God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people..." Acts 2:17
This was the first time in history that the Holy Spirit had been poured out on a massive scale for all to receive. What was the effect of this baptism? First of all, the disciples (followers) of Jesus (of which there were about 120 in the upper room where this event started) received great boldness. They changed from hiding behind locked doors to boldly proclaiming Jesus on the streets. Also, they all received a gift of being able to praise God (Acts 2:11) in foreign languages that they had not learned by human means. (Speaking on other tongues is today like speaking in the French tongue, the Spanish tongue, etc. The word "tongue" here means "language".) Used here, the gift of tongues (languages) was a miraculous sign for the unbelievers to see, but elsewhere in the bible, it is described as a prayer language, which we will discuss in more detail later.
The Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit
When a person receives the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, He (the Spirit) also brings a set of gifts with Him.
IntroductionWhat do we mean by Gifts of the Holy Spirit ? We are not talking about "natural" gifts like being good at playing the piano, or at painting, but about supernatural gifts called manifestations of the Holy Spirit through a Christian.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are free - you cannot buy them or earn them through good works - they are gifts! Also, the Holy Spirit gives several to every Christian, with the intention that by Christians working together, we can manifest the fullness of God to those with needs of various kinds. Every Spirit-filled Christian is given several gifts. Nobody is left out. There are no 2nd class citizens in the Kingdom of God. Christ died for all.
These gifts are described in 1Corinthians chapter 12
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.
There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
1Corinthians 12:4-11 NIV
For the sake of easy study, the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be split into 3 categories.We will list them here, before focusing on just one of the gifts.
The Revelation Gifts
Word of Wisdom
Word of Knowledge
Discerning of Spirits
3 Power Gifts
Gift of Faith
Working of Miracles
Gifts of Healings
3 Utterance or Inspirational Gifts
Interpretation of tongues
Speaking in Tongues / Languages
Speaking in tongues (languages), sometimes referred to as a prayer language, is one of the MOST USEFUL, and most controversial / misunderstood of all gifts. Speaking in tongues is supernaturally speaking in a language that you have never learned. What languages are we talking about? The bible in 1 Corinthians 13:1 describe these languages as languages of men or angels. Speaking in tongues has been phonetically analysed, and they are definitely valid languages, with syllables, consonants, verbs, etc. They are not mere gibberish.
There are many testimonies of cases where the language being spoken was unknown to the speaker, but known to someone else in the room. On one occasion, a Welsh missionary had a Psalm quoted to her in Welsh by someone that didn’t speak Welsh. Although the speaker did not know it, she was giving instructions to that person directly from the bible. God was speaking directly to that missionary, and wanted her to know it was God at work, by doing this miracle.
Another example of the gift of tongues being a “known” language is where someone’s prayer language gift turned out to be ancient Hebrew. Local Jews could understand it “naturally” and would visit the Christian church to hear what God was saying.
Why Tongues? What Does It Do?
Why pray in tongues when you can pray in (say) English? The answer is that it is good to pray in both. Remember from the section on "How to Meet Jesus", that we discussed that man is a three-part being.
Praying in tongues (your prayer language) is praying directly from your reborn human spirit to God. Praying in English involves praying through your mind / intellect / understanding. From Isaiah chapter 55 verse 9, we see that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways. This means that God is very much superior to us. If left to our own humanity, we would limit God by seeing Him through the eyes of our human understanding. Essentially, we would reduce God to the size of our intellect (soul). However, God is a whole lot bigger (higher) than that. Many try to get that high with just their intellect, and many vain ideas & philosophies are the result. Don’t limit God to the size of your intellect. There will be some occasions when your intellect simply does not know what to pray. On those occassions, and at other times, you can use your prayer language, and be sure that you are praying out the will of God for that situation.
Also, through praying in tongues, the Holy Spirit will communicate with your human spirit, things that you mind will struggle to perceive. But your mind will eventually perceive them as your human spirit receives and communicates them to your mind. They will “trickle” through. This aspect of praying in tongues is referred to in the bible as "uttering mysteries".
"For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit." 1Corinthians 14:2 NIV
Praying in tongues is also useful for building yourself up - i.e. making yourself spiritually strong.
"Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves ..." 1Corinthians 14:4 NIV
Praying in tongues is described as a sign which follows believers
"And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my Name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;..." Mark 16:17
It is the initial evidence of receiving baptism of the Holy Spirit.
"All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." Acts 2:4 NIV
In my own life, I use praying in tongues to tune my human spirit into the Holy Spirit / God - like tuning-in an old style analogue radio. It helps me to receive wisdom & think God’s thoughts more clearly. For example, when dealing with a prayer line of 100+ folks, I often do not know quite what to pray for each one, but through praying in tongues, the wisdom comes into my mind how to pray & agree with each person for what they need.
In a business setting, I have a number of patents, several of which came to me while praying over difficult technical problems in tongues. For me, speaking in tongues is one of the most useful gifts, and like the apostle Paul, I encourage every born-again believer to regularly pray in tongues, and to use the other spiritual gifts.
"I would like every one of you to speak in tongues..." 1Corinthians 14:5 NIV
"I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you..." 1Corinthians 14:18 NIV
If you have not been born again (see the article on "How to meet Jesus" here), please pray the following prayer.
Heavenly Father, I come to you in the Name of Jesus. Your Word says "Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved" and "If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved". (Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:9.) I take you at your Word, I confess that Jesus is Lord, and I believe in my heart that you raised him from the dead. Thank you for coming into my heart, for forgiving me my sins, for giving me New Birth, and for being Lord over my life. Amen
If you would like to receive the gift of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, please pray the following prayer.
You said in Your Word, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; HOW MUCH MORE shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13). I am asking you to fill me with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, rise up within me as I praise God. I fully expect to speak with other tongues as You give me utterance (Acts 2:4). In Jesus' Name. Amen!
Begin to praise God for filling you with the Holy Spirit. Speak those words and syllables you receive - not in your own language, but the language given you by the Holy Spirit. You have to use your own voice. God will not force you to speak. Don't be concerned with how it sounds. It is a heavenly language! Use it every day, and contact us to tell us that you have received this.