The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
When Jewish people are saved, they are at the mercy of the theology of the person who leads them to the Lord. I got saved in the early 1970’s at the height of the Charismatic movement. Before that, I attended a Bible study at my place of employment and heard someone speaking in tongues. The whole process intrigued me.
After becoming a believer, I attended a Full Gospel Business Men’s meeting where I received prayer to speak in tongues. I immediately started speaking in a language I had never learned. Those around me said, “That’s it! You are speaking in tongues.” I didn’t feel anything different and the next day a voice said, “You made that up, that is not the heavenly language.” I didn’t know what to believe.
For a long time, I was double minded over whether my tongues was authentic. One day God showed me the truth. I was talking with a Jewish Rabbi who was a believer when a distraught woman approached him for prayer. She was pregnant and the doctor had just told her the baby was dead. She asked us to pray for the baby to come back to life. The Rabbi invited me to pray along with him. I started praying in tongues because as a new believer I did not know how to pray in English for this situation. After she left, the Rabbi asked if I knew what I had prayed. When I said I didn’t, he told me I had prayed in an ancient Hebrew dialect that the spirit of the baby was with God. I never doubted the authenticity of my gift again.
In Acts 19:1 upon arriving in Ephesus, Paul encountered a group of “disciples.” A disciple is a believer in Jesus as the Messiah. Paul asked these disciples, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). His question showed that you can be saved without having received a complete infilling of the Holy Spirit. There is more! When he found out they had not been baptized (immersed) in the Holy Spirit, he prayed for them to have a fuller experience.
“And when Paul had laid hands on them [the disciples of Jesus], the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6).
The baptism of the Holy Spirit started at Pentecost.
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
At the feast of Pentecost, devout Jews would go to Jerusalem from every nation. Everyone heard the disciples speaking in their own language the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:5, 6,11).
Then Peter said, “For the promise [of receiving the Holy Spirit as they just experienced] is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off” (Acts 2:39).
There are five places in the Book of Acts where believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Three passages mention speaking in tongues (Acts 2:11, 10:44 and 19:16). One involves Paul receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). Although it doesn’t mention tongues in this verse, Paul later said he spoke in tongues more than any man (I Cor. 14:18). The last place is found in Acts 8:14, when Simon obviously observed something to make him offer to pay money for this supernatural gift.
Jesus said we would do the same works He did and even greater works (John 14:12). Paul told us how; he said, “the same Spirit that had the power to raise Jesus from the dead would also dwell in every believer” (Rom. 8:11).
What is normal Christianity? According to the Word of God, I can have the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and can do the same works that He demonstrated. The issue is not how much we have of the Holy Spirit, but how much the Holy Spirit has of us.
Surrender is the operative word. Anyone who is born again can surrender more to the Holy Spirit and operate in any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11). The only exception is tongues. People get confused because the rules for the public utterance in tongues are different than the biblical rules for the devotional prayer language. Anyone who is saved is a candidate to surrender to more of the Holy Spirit.
I have prayed with thousands of people who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, but had never spoken in tongues and they were released in their gift. What made the difference is I showed them that they must play an active part in the process.
Acts 2:4 says “after they all were filled with the Holy Spirit, [they] began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The implication in this verse is “they” did the speaking. Many wait for God to speak through them and move their tongues supernaturally. No, the supernatural element is God giving us an unknown language. The natural part is us moving our own tongue. You cannot speak a known language without moving your tongue and mouth. The faith part is speaking from your spirit before you hear it in your mind. Without faith, you cannot please God. It’s time to be a God pleaser. If you do the natural, He will do the supernatural! “Faith without works [corresponding action] is dead” (James 2:17).
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Emphasis added.