THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Before I received the Holy Spirit, I used to think that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was something that happened automatically the moment I received water baptism. I was adamant because this was what I had been taught and I went through many years as a Christian not knowing better. Yet I was curious because I had not experienced any of what the bible says about receiving the Holy Spirit. Perhaps I was even disappointed and I wondered about Christians who spoke in tongues, experienced being slain in the Spirit and seemed "on fire". I thought they were just an emotional lot. At first I reasoned perhaps this gift was just not for me as I understood that The Holy Spirit distributes gifts according to His will. But I had confused the gifts of the Holy Spirit with The Gift of the Spirit Himself. I know now that the reasoning is incorrect because while the Gifts of the Spirit are distributed according to His will, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit Himself is purposed for all believers. I was intellectually invalidating the baptism of The Spirit with reasoning of human construct and that reasoning was flawed. I also know now that it was pride that caused my rejection of the things of God. Pride did not allow me to accept that someone else's experience was valid even if I had not experienced it myself. A New Paradigm of Spiritual Reality My thinking transformed when I experienced brokenness, came back with a contrite heart and finally received the Holy Spirit. I found that everything about being a Christian from glorifying Christ through an obedient lifestyle, ministry, service, prayer, worship and learning, among other things, are Spirit empowered and Spirit led (if we let Him lead). When we have the Holy Spirit in us, our spiritual reality shifts into a realm where all things become possible through Him and we become empowered to glorify Christ. We no longer do it with just our own effort but in partnership with the Holy Spirit. It becomes normal to expect miracles, signs and wonders. We become attuned to the spiritual and where we thread with rights, demons yield the ground to us. We become vessels through and from which the Holy Spirit flows. We are enabled to touch hearts, change lives and communicate the truth of Jesus' saving grace. And all this begins with our own transformations as we surrender our lives to the Spirit of God. We will hunger for more of God and the things of God. As our pretensions are torn down layer by layer; our intimacy with Him increases as our humility deepens. More of Him, less of Us. The race is too tough if we rely only on the strength of our convictions alone; we need His grace and the stamina that is supplied by the Holy Spirit in us. Whatever we can (and must) do on our own, we still need God to do the rest. The Holy Spirit is truly our Helper and we cannot do it without Him - we cannot do it without God. Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is God in every way just as The Father and The Son. He is the creator Spirit who hovered over the waters at the beginning. He is eternal and He will never leave us. The Holy Spirit is Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent and He is called Holy. He has all of the attributes of God and He is God. Having all the attributes of Deity, the Holy Spirit is not a "lesser person" of the Godhead and He deserves our worship. The Holy Spirit is God and Jesus never referred to the Holy Spirit as "It"... Not even with a capital "I"! Jesus always referred to the Holy Spirit as a person, as "Him" or "He" and we should do the same. As a "person", the Holy Spirit has an intellect, emotions and a will. He is the Spirit of truth who guides us to all truth. He has wisdom and knowledge and He counsels us. He knows the things of God and we are told not to grieve Him or quench Him. He is able to give directions. He distributes gifts according to His will and He can say "no". He is the Spirit who came upon Jesus and empowered Jesus' ministry. And just as the Prophets prophesised of the Messiah, Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit and promised Him to us when His ministry was completed. The Holy Spirit is a gift from Jesus. The Gift As Promised In the New Testament, the Gift of the Holy Spirit was first prophesised by John the Baptist as he declared that Jesus would baptise us with the Holy Spirit. This is recorded in all four Gospels. We also know that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a Dove and was given to Him without measure or limit (John 3:34-35). Jesus was fully empowered by the Holy Spirit and He had authority over everything on earth. During His ministry, Jesus promises His disciples that The Holy Spirit will be given as a Helper. He tells them that they already know the Holy Spirit because He dwells with them and soon the Spirit will not just be with them but in them. He stressed that the Spirit would come only after He had left and He also taught that the Holy Spirit would remain with us as our teacher, comforter and counsellor who will guide to all truth. He said that we would not be alone because the Holy Spirit will be with us and never leave us. After His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and specifically instructed them to wait for the Holy Spirit as He had promised. He also reminded them of John's prophecy and this time He adds, "in a few days you will be baptised in the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:4-5 NLT). Jesus' parting words moments before He was lifted into the clouds were: "...you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8 NLT). And we know that Jesus kept His promise. A Gift for All Believers From John's prophecy, to Jesus' teachings and promise of the Helper, to the Holy Spirit falling upon the first Christians, we can clearly see that the gift of the Holy Spirit is very deliberately purposed by God. Reading the Bible, we learn that this gift is not only for the apostles but for all believers. This was declared when Jesus shouted to the crowds. On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, "Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'" (John 7:37-38 NLT). When Jesus said this He was saying the Holy Spirit will be given to anyone who thirsts for God and believes in Him. In fact, the next verse explains this exactly. John 7:39 (NLT) - When he said "living water," he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory. A little earlier, Jesus had in fact said the same thing to a Samaritan woman He met by a well. His words were, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water... whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:10, 14) You know what, you and I... we, are that Samaritan Woman. Didn't we have our sins and secrets when we first met Jesus? What He said to her is also being said to us, and Jesus is saying that if we know this gift of God, we would ask Him for it and He would give us this living water. The Holy Spirit is the promised gift of Living Water from Jesus to every believer and if we know this gift, we would certainly ask for it! The gifts of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29) and this means that the gift of the Holy Spirit has never been retracted. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the same today as it was recorded in the book of Acts and the Holy Spirit is to stay (John 14:16). We can have this Living Water when we go to Jesus and simply ask for it. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit The Bible records several accounts of believers receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit beginning in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit first came upon disciples on the Pentecost. This was immediately followed by a sermon by Peter that resulted in the conversion of 3,000 who also received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The disciples who received the Spirit at the upper room manifested their baptism in what was described as "drunkenness". Certainly there must have been what sounded like gibberish and other languages to onlookers as the baptised spoke in tongues. Some may have laughed, others crying with joy while others may even have simply passed out. Today, we describe the latter as being slain and there are certainly many other manifestations of "drunkenness" still commonly witnessed when the Holy Spirit falls upon someone. As we continue reading through Acts, we come across several other examples illustrating recognition by the early church that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is distinct and separate from water baptism. The apostles made special effort to lay hands on believers who had already been baptised in water but had not yet received the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul specifically asks several believers at Ephesus if they had received the Spirit and he lays hands on them when he finds out they haven't. They were baptised with the Holy Spirit by laying of hands and spoke in tongues (Acts 19). Even more marked is the account of Peter and John being specially sent to Samaria to lay hands so that the believers who were already baptised in water would receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8). The early church certainly regarded the baptism of the Holy Spirit as being very important, if not essential, for every believer. Paul himself received the Holy Spirit when Ananias prayed and laid hands on him (Acts 9). We know that Paul spoke in tongues often and this may come as a surprise to some, but there is no record in the Bible of Paul ever having been baptised in water! It is also remarkable that Cornelius and the Gentiles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit by simply hearing the Gospel (Acts 10). Peter was preaching to them when the Holy Spirit fell upon them. Upon seeing this Peter knew that salvation was for everyone and He followed-up on this realisation by giving the Gentiles a water baptism. Later, when Peter addressed the Jerusalem council, he recounted this event and stressed that God made no distinction between Jews and Gentiles (Acts 15). Being baptised with the Holy Spirit means we have received the Holy Spirit in us and He is God Himself. We did not do anything to deserve this blessing of God Himself dwelling within us but He is given nonetheless just as we have our salvation despite ourselves. This is because Jesus has already purchased it for us with His Blood and we only need to believe and confess that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour. Conclusion Going through the above readings, we can conclude that: ,The baptism of the Holy Spirit is regarded as a very important part of a believer's life ,The baptism of the Holy Spirit is distinct and separate from the water baptism. ,The baptism may be received through prayer and laying of hands or even spontaneously from the hearing of the Word (without the laying of hands). ,There is no specific ritual to baptism/receiving of the Holy Spirit. ,It can be given to a believer and received before or after water baptism. ,Speaking in tongues is an evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. ,The gift of the Holy Spirit is for all believers. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is Jesus' gift to us. No matter who prays or lays hands, Jesus is the one who actually baptises a person with the Holy Spirit. Just as it was done in the Book of Acts, the same is done today when we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The fact that something is given means that it has to be received in order to be made ours. A gift that is received but not opened simply remains waiting to be unwrapped. If we have been baptised in water but have yet to actually receive the Holy Spirit, there is nothing wrong in seeking it as it is important and purposed by God that we do. We can ask someone to lay hands and it will be Jesus who gives us the Holy Spirit. Because the gifts of God are irrevocable, this Gift is still waiting for us if we haven't opened it yet. It took me seven years before I finally opened mine and I wish I had known earlier. If you are still waiting, don't, you won't regret it. ADDITIONAL STUDY NOTES The Holy Spirit is God: He is Eternal - He was there in The Beginning with the Father and the Son (John 1:1-2). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and of Creation (Genesis 1:1-2). It was by the power of the Eternal Spirit that Christ was able to offer Himself as a spotless sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:14) and the Holy Spirit will never leave us (John 14:16). He is Omnipresent - He hovered over the waters of the earth before land was formed (Genesis 1:1-2) and there is no where that we can go to where the Spirit is not present, He is in Heaven and He is in Sheol (Psalm 139:7-8). He is Omniscient - He is our teacher of knowledge and giver of wisdom and counsel who knows all things and knows the thoughts of God (1 Corinthians 2:11) and He is able to teach us all things (John 14:26). He is Omnipotent - By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was conceived in a virgin (Luke 1:35). The Holy Spirit enabled Jesus in His ministry (Luke 4:18) and it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that miracles, signs and wonders are demonstrated (Romans 15:18-19). He is the Spirit of creation (Psalm 104:30) and of life (John 6:63) and resurrection (1 Peter 3:18). The Holy Spirit is a "Person": He has Intellect - He is the Spirit of Truth who knows and guides us to the Truth (John 16:13-14). He is the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel and knowledge (Isaiah 11:2-3). He opens up our hearts to revelation and knowledge of God (Ephesians 1:17-18). And He reveals secrets to us (Luke 2:25-26). He has Emotions - We are told not to grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30) or quench Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19) through our sin or rejection of the things of the Spirit. And of course, it goes without saying that He loves us. He has Will - He directs us, leads and guides us. He called Paul and Barnabas and sent them out (Acts 13:2-4) and He distributes gifts as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). And He can certainly say "no" (Acts 16:6-7). The Gift of the Holy Spirit is Deliberately Purposed by God (NT References) - Prophesised by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33) - Jesus promises the Helper and distinguishes the Holy Spirit as being with us and soon in us (John 14:16-17). - Jesus stresses that the Helper will only come after He has fulfilled His glory (John 16:7). - Jesus commands His disciples to wait for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). - Jesus promises power when we receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). - The promise is first fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2:2-4) and continues today. - There are also Old Testament references not noted here and the most often quoted is the prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit in Joel 2:28-32. Other References to the Holy Spirit as Gift and Promise Acts 8:20 - He is a gift that cannot be purchased with money Acts 2:38 - He is a gift meant for all believers who receive Jesus Luke 24:49 - He is the Promise of the Father Acts 2:33 - Jesus gives to us the same Spirit He received from the Father Gal 3:14 - The Holy Spirit is promised to Christians and received through faith Ephesians 1:13 - He is Promised by Jesus and is our identity in Christ The Seven Names of The Holy Spirit in Isaiah 11:2 1. The Spirit of The Lord 2. The Spirit of Wisdom 3. The Spirit of Understanding 4. The Spirit of Counsel 5. The Spirit of Might 6. The Spirit of Knowledge 7. The Spirit of the fear of the LORD The Bible records more than a hundred names, titles and descriptions of the Holy Spirit but the seven captured in this verse of Isaiah encapsulates the essence of the Holy Spirit's character. These same characters (and all other characteristics of the Holy Spirit) are enabled in us when we received the Holy Spirit and surrender to His leading. I have only scratched the surface of a study of the Holy Spirit, and a minor one at that. I hope this would interest a reader to delve into deeper personal study to not only understand but more importantly appreciate who the Holy Spirit is in our lives.
Wonderful and powerful post my brother. There are a multitude of Christians who desperately need this message. My prayer is they will receive it with an open mind and heart. As the day draws near and times continue to grow worse it is going to be imperative Christians receive the promised Power from on high.
Thank you for you time and presentation. I'm sure God is going to bless you abundantly for it.
Blessings from NC
Thank you for this in depth presentation of a vital subject. I pray, knowing by experience, that others don't give up on this due to its length. There is so much material presented here, it is a bit overwhelming to some I imagine.
For those willing to invest the time to study this subject, it is well worth the effort. Truly there are few subjects as important as this one, and few so misunderstood and wrongly taught. I cannot imagine life with out the outward manifestation of speaking in tongues. It is truly so sad that the vast majority of professing Christians have no clue what this study is all about.
Thanks for taking the time to thoroughly research and meticulously present this material.
The same man who had denied Jesus in the garden, goes out on the street publicly and 3,000 people are converted and filled with the Holy Spirit. Obviously something had happened! The power of the Holy Spirit is what caused people to talk about those who turned the world upside down.
The Holy Spirit is our source of power. He enables you to say and do things you never imagined you could do. He enables you to go places you didn't think you could go. I received the Holy Spirit when I was 10 years old and I cannot imagine trying to live my life without him!
This blog entry very simply relates the evolving understanding of my personal perspective towards to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The primary reason for my change of perspective is attributed to personal encounters with The Holy Spirit and the subsequent changes in my life and testimony. I've also included scripture and aspects of teachings that I have received regarding the Baptism of The Spirit. The references are shared for the sake of completeness of this study.
It was never my intention to imply that maturity comes from the Baptism of The Spirit as I have presented instances in the Bible where the newest of believers have received the Baptism; and I don't see how that can be construed as implying maturity. And on a personal perspective, I briefly related how the Holy Spirit has changed and enabled me. He is after all our Helper. But again I did not say that having the Spiritual gifts indicates or is related to maturity, in fact I was not even addressing the gifts of the Holy Spirit (as in the 9 gifts) but rather about the Gift of the Holy Spirit Himself. And certainly, I have made no attempt to establish doctrine. It is neither my place to nor is this the correct forum to do that. I doubt that any individual can establish doctrine in a blog entry! This is simply a Bible study and it is entered in its correct blog category.
As I wrote this, I did understand that there are varying perspectives and certain scriptural stands that may not be in agreement with what I have presented. Knowing this and knowing also that disagreement still exist among scholars and theologians; I would neither seek to nor attempt to resolve the differences here. I am not a theologian. I based what I wrote on what I've read in the Bible; what I have learnt over time; and, on the evidence of my own testimony. What I have presented above are my present convictions on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and that's all I think I need to say.
Thank you all for leaving your kind comments and encouragement.
God bless to all,