Baptism in the Holy Spirit
For many years the Holy Spirit was the forgotten member of the Trinity. It was as if a whole aspect of God's being and whole swathes of the Scriptures did not exist.
The so-called Charismatic Renewal in the 1970's changed that in many churches, as did the Third Wave in the late 1980's. But it seems to me that we need a fresh touch from the Holy Spirit.
This article is the first in a series looking at the basic teachings about the Holy Spirit- the baptism and gifts and other aspects of the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 2 we read the following:
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 as the Spirit enabled them.
The disciples had been meeting together for prayer and the Holy Spirit came and filled them with power.
The initial manifestation of the Holy Spirit was the gift of speaking in other tongues. This is the supernatural ability to pray or speak in a language (either a human or spiritual language) one has not learnt. In this case these uneducated Gallileans, as they were called, were heard to speak the praises of God in the languages of many of the surrounding countries (see Acts 2:7-11)
As the Book of Acts unfolds, we discover that the power of the Holy Spirit directs the apostles and other Christians. They perform many miracles and preach the gospel with power and conviction. The Holy Spirit actually gives them the power to do the things that Jesus had done.
There is no doubt that in our age we need exactly the same kind of power that those early disciples had.
What Is The Baptism in The Holy Spirit?
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience that happens after conversion in which the Holy Spirit becomes accessible to us. It is usually accompanied by the gift of tongues but may also involve other gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12.
Although our experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is mostly as a separate experience to conversion, in the New Testament they often occurred at the same time. It may be that in our generally materialistic culture we lack the faith to believe that God can be revealed in supernatural ways through us. It may also be that our church culture which emphasises thinking in our relationship with God may be at fault.
The phrase “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” suggests that the experience is in some ways like water baptism. John the Batpist used the phrase in reference to Jesus:
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11
The baptism then is pictured as an immersion or soaking in the Holy Spirit which activates us into power to minister in Jesus' name.
Since we receive the Holy Spirit at conversion, some people suggest that a more helpful term might be the release of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who is in us already is allowed to burst out in us and through us to achieve God's purposes in the world.
What Is Tongues?
The Bible describes three types (or uses) of tongues. It can be a little confusing to read sometimes as the same gift is described in three different modes of operation.
1. Personal prayer language.
The gift of tongues is most often the initial manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. In this prayer language, we are able to call out to God in praise and in intercession bypassing our mind and going straight from our spirit to the Spirit of God. This allows us to pray when we don't know how to pray: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)
Paul talks about praying with the spirit and with the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15). He is clearly talking about using both the gift of tongues and praying in our own native tongue.
2. Speaking a human language.
Sometimes a person will be speaking in tongues but the actual words are in a human language not known to the speaker. This clearly happened in Acts 2 where the disciples were praying in tongues at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the crowd that gathered to see what was happening heard them praying in their various languages. Dennis Bennett in his book “Nine O'Clock in the Morning” describes a person praying in tongues who was heard by someone to be speaking High Japanese, a language the speaker didn't even know existed.
3. Prophetic utterance
There are times in a corporate gathering when someone will bring a message in a tongue that is followed by an interpretation. The two actions together form a prophetic word. This is described in 1 Corinthians 14. It can be a very powerful experience when exercised in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
How To Be Baptised in The Holy Spirit
The first thing to do is to ask, and to keep on asking. This is the advice Jesus gave:
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
God wants to give good things to His children. So ask and do not give up.
The second tip here is that our attitude must be right. In Acts 2 the disciples were seeking the Father in obedience to the command of Jesus. They weren't seeking some supernatural experience or power for themselves. Their hearts were set on Jesus.
As we seek to put Jesus first in everything with hearts open to him, seeking Him in faith, He will meet us and give us the gift of the Holy Spirit.
So seek the Lord with all that you have. Ask Him to baptise you with the Holy Spirit. Listen to the small voice of the Holy Spirit telling you that He is there. Then open you mouth in faith and speak out the words He gives. This might be very slow at first but as you reach out to the Holy Spirit He will fill you.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is God's power for ministry. It opens the way for the use of the various gifts of the Holy Spirit which make real ministry possible. We all need this power.