Baptism In The Holy Spirit
In Luke 24:49, , Jesus commands His disciples. “ I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” This was just after His death, burial and resurrection and before the New Testament church had begun. He tells His followers that they are not to preach, or begin to work for the Lord, until they have been clothed with power from on high.
In Acts 1, verses 5 & 8, Jesus says “…in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit….. 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.” In the next chapter of Acts, the first sermon is preached, and the New Testament Church is started with more than 3000 members, as the direct result of the initial fulfilment of this promise. Clearly then, this is what the Father has promised, and is the means by which this power from on high comes that releases the Christian into full service unto God.
Incidentally, the word translated “power”, comes from the Greek word “dunamis”, which means dynamic or power.
This is the Dynamic every Christian needs in their lives! Have you received it yet?
Power at Pentecost
These promises had their initial fulfilment on the day of Pentecost, beginning in Acts 2:4 “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them”
The sound of the people speaking out in these “other tongues” (the languages on men and Angels according to the apostle Paul in 1 Cor.13:1) drew a big crowd of curious onlookers, who wondered “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12). So Peter, the disciple who had recently denied three times that he even knew Jesus for fear that he might be persecuted as a result, newly filled with the Holy Spirit and totally transformed by the experience, stood and preached fearlessly to the crowd about Jesus of Nazareth, of His crucifixion, burial an resurrection and ascension to the right hand of His Father in Heaven and explained that Christ had now sent forth the Holy Spirit exactly as He had promised. (Acts 2:14-36) His sermon brought conviction upon the people, who cried out “Brothers, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37
- Peter replied to the crowd that there were three things required of them; Acts 2:38;
- “Repent – which means to sincerely change one’s mind, renouncing sin, and accepting the Lordship of Jesus into one’s life – the same Jesus previously rejected…
- and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins –Water baptism is the believers first step following repentance and a major component of the salvation experience – see our study on water baptism
- And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”-The repentant and baptized believer must now receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit to be equipped to be able to worship and serve God acceptably
But to whom does this promise apply?
- Peter was careful to make it perfectly clear to all his hearers that the promise of Holy Spirit Baptism embraces all believers of all generations, by saying;
“The promise is for you (those who stood before him) and your children (the succeeding generations) and for all who are far off (in other places and countries)—for all whom the Lord our God will call (for all believers of all time).” Acts 2:39
- What are we to understand is meant by the expression “The gift of the Holy Spirit”? What must Peters audience have understood by his use of this term? Peters address was in reply to the earlier question, “What does this mean?”
He was explaining the experience the disciples had just undergone, which attracted the attention of the crowd in the first place; the coming of the Holy Spirit in power, and the disciples being released in speaking in tongues as the direct consequence and sign of what had just happened to them– the outward sign of the inward experience that drew the crowds to that place. Acts 2:33 “(Jesus) Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” So this was the experience Peter now assured his hearers was promised to all believers
The Sign of Speaking In Tongues
As we have already seen in Acts 2:4 “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them”
This is the first mention of believers speaking in tongues, and it comes immediately after the promised baptism in the Holy Spirit, which Peter later states is intended for all believers.
But is Holy Spirit baptism always accompanied by the sign of speaking in tongues? Lets examine the record in the book of Acts, the historical record of the early church, where there are five accounts of people receiving the Holy Spirit. The other four are;
- Acts 8:5-25; Here, Philip preached to the people of Samaria, who believed in Jesus, and were baptised in water, but none received the baptism in the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came along and laid hands upon them and prayed that they would. (There is ALWAYS a transfer of power when Spirit Filled believers lay hands on someone with prayer, which is why the practice is universal in Pentecostal churches) Acts 8:16 “because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.(ie Water baptism)” Now, while there is no specific mention of tongues here, there was a witness, Simon the sorcerer by name, who “saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands,” and offered money that he might also have the ability to do this. He obviously saw and heard something sufficiently spectacular that he felt would be the basis of profitable business opportunity for him!
- Acts 9:17 Ananias laid hands on Saul (later called Paul) that he might receive back his sight and also be filled with the Holy Spirit. Again, while tongues are not mentioned here, Paul later wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:18 “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.”
- Acts10:44-48 Paul preached to the household of Cornelius. While he was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all the hearers, For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Vs46 Soon after, they were all baptized in water
- Acts 19:1-7 After baptizing the Ephesian believers in water, Paul laid his hands on them and “…the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied...”
So it is apparent from these four accounts, plus the original in Acts 2:4, that of the five recorded accounts of believers receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, in four of them they are recoded as speaking in tongues, and in the fifth, it is strongly implied that they did.
What is Speaking in Tongues?
There are many opinions about what this is and what it’s purpose is, even to whether it was a sign just for the first generation of believers and not for the church today. The best way to avoid misinformation and mistaken opinions, is to consult the only reliable source, the Holy Bible. The fundamental understanding is that all speaking in tongues comes “as the Spirit enabled them…” Acts 2:4
1 Corinthians chapter 14 has a great deal of information on it.
- It is not preaching ; 14:2a “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God…” See also 14:18-19
- It is not understood even by the speaker; 14:2b “Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.” And in 14:14 “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.”
- It is under the control of the speaker; 14:15 “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.” We choose whether or not to pray in tongues. Nobody can claim that it is beyond their control or that they ‘cannot help themselves’ from praying this way
- They can be either known or unknown languages. Paul mentions in 1Corinthians 13:1 “..tongues of men or of angels,…” . Clearly, the tongues that accompanied the experience of the first disciples on the day of Pentecost involved many tongues of men, even though they were almost certainly not known to the speakers. Acts 2:7-8 “7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?” Therefore, the Holy Spirit is free to draw words from thousands of languages, known and unknown, to bring forth an utterance of praise and worship to God.
What does Holy Spirit Baptism do For the Believer?
- It releases into the believers life incredible gifts and abilities 1 Cor.12:1-31
- It simplifies and enhances our prayers 8:26
- It builds up (edifies) the Believer in his/her prayers 1Cor 14:4
- It builds up the Church when combined with the Gift of interpretation 1 Cor.14:26-28
- It utterly transforms our relationship to the World, to the Devil and to God! Whole of T.!
Why Tongues and Not Just Our Native Language?
- Often times, we no neither what or how to pray, and in these cases, the Holy Spirit can intercede for us so that we pray a ‘perfect’ prayer. Eg Romans 8:26-27 “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of”
- James Chapter 3 has much to say on the subject of the tongue, and how it can lead the whole person into disaster. How appropriate then that the sign of a closer and more powerful walk with God is the surrender of our tongue to His Spirits control!
Born of the Spirit Verses Baptised in The Spirit
It must be understood that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate and subsequent experience from salvation. It is possible to be saved without ever being baptized in the Holy Spirit or speaking in tongues, but that is like having a licence to drive a truck, and having the truck parked outside and ready to go, but then choosing to move several tons of bricks one at a time by hand
If you have been “Born Again”, through turning away from deliberate sin, confessing that Jesus Christ is your Lord (supreme in authority), believing that his death and resurrection was for your salvation, and have turned from the practice of running your life to your own agendas, then you are certainly no stranger to the Holy Spirit. He indwells all those who have thus been saved, being a “deposit’, guaranteeing our eternal inheritance Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22. The Holy Spirit comes to and lives within EVERY Born Again believer; Romans 8:9 “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”. See also 1 Cor. 6:19, Eph.5:18, 1 Cor.2:12, Romans 8:11 etc.
It is from this aspect of our relationship to God, being born of the Spirit, that we have Authority (Greek Exousia) over sin and the works of the enemy – the living reality that The King of Kings is resident within us by His Spirit, so we share His victory and His Kingly authority.
Like a policeman on Point Duty, directing traffic. He has put on the uniform that brings him authority to direct the movements of cars, we have “put on” Jesus Christ so that we have authority over the works of the Devil in our own lives, thus begins the process of being transformed day by day to more fully reflect the image of Christ – a lifelong process!
In John 20:21-23, we read “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’” These disciples are undoubtedly Born Again, having received and recognised the Lordship of Jesus, and knowing fully all that He had just done for them (and for us!) And right now they are the first to receive the Holy Spirit. Beyond question, they have believed, are saved and they have received the Spirit, yet in Acts 1 Jesus commands these same men to wait in Jerusalem until they have been “clothed with power from on high”.
BUT WAIT, THERE’s MORE!
Exousia, authority is the essential foundation for a believers new life, but dunamis, power, adds a completely new dimension, and unlocks all the doors. Go back to our policeman who has authority, except now, imagine him inside an armoured car, armed with an AK47 rifle, at that same intersection! He now has not only authority, he also has POWER to enforce it as well.
So it is with us! We gain Authority when we are Born Again, but POWER over the enemy in all his forms to back it up when we are subsequently Baptised in the Holy Spirit. From a ‘well of water’ within from which we can drink to slake our own thirst, John 4:14, 7:37, to “rivers of living water flowing out” John 7:37 – More than we could ever drink – it’s a flow out unto the world to minister Christ to a parched people, and we simply cannot begin to serve God adequately without it! Even Jesus Himself was baptised in the Holy Spirit at the commencement of His ministry, immediately after he was baptised in the Jordan river by John the Baptist; Luke 3:22 “and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ – how much more do we need to follow that example!
No wonder Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had been baptised in the Holy Spirit! Look at the total transformation in them after Acts2: 4!
Have you had enough of sitting on the sidelines and watching life pass by? Of praying prayers that remain unanswered? Of struggling to maintain a grip on your faith? Unable to really come to grips with the Bible and it’s teaching? Then it’s time for you to seek TODAY this precious gift that your Heavenly Father wants you to have! Power! Jesus Christ is God’s greatest gift to the world; but the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is Gods greatest gift to the church! Don’t delay, ask your Heavenly Father for this priceless Gift, and seek out Spirit filled people who can join with you and lay hands upon you, that you might appropriate this fantastic experience yourself and be utterly transformed in your walk with God and your impact upon all whom you meet!