All true Christians agree that God is One and also the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Also, we all agree that without the help of the Holy Spirit, no one can believe that Jesus is the Son of God (“no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” - 1 Corinthians 12:3b). One cannot be born-again, without the conviction of sin that is also the result of the Holy Spirit's ministry. The Word of God was inspired by the Holy Spirit, to the writers and only with His help, can it be understood.
The Holy Spirit opens the heart of the one who hears the Gospel and helps them be receptive to the truth. When the hearer, accepts the truth, the Holy Spirit continues His work by helping the person realize that he is a sinner in need of a Savior. Then, the person sincerely repents, asking God to forgive all their sins and decides to follow Jesus, turning from their sinful life.
Mark 1:8 “I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In all four Gospels (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33), we find that Jesus is the One who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. This proves how important this baptism is. The first three Gospels are called synoptic, because they present the events from a similar point of view, different from that of John's Gospel. That means that there are not many subjects that are common to all four gospels, and those that are, are very important. We may conclude that the importance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit for Christians, is indisputable.
The Holy Spirit is a person and is a “He” and the Holy Spirit is not an “it” because He has a soul with a mind, will and emotions. This does not mean that He is human. The Holy Spirit is God and He is Spirit, the same as God the Father and God the Son. Jesus says this in:
John 4:24 "Godis Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
For Christians, Jesus Christ is the model to follow. Do we not all desire to become more and more like Him and follow in His footprints? Let's take a look at the following verses:
Matthew 3:13-16 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
So Jesus was baptized in water, setting the example for us to follow. There was no need for Him to be born-again, because He did not inherit Adam's sinful nature by birth, as Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, through the Virgin Mary and He never sinned, so there was nothing to repent for. Then Jesus was baptized with the Holy Spirit. In John 1:32b, John the Baptist says:“I sawthe Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.” Previous to that, the Holy Spirit only came in temporary measure. He would come upon a prophet, until God's Word was delivered. From the last prophecy in the Old Testament book of Malachi, to the birth of Jesus was about 400 years of spiritual darkness for the Jewish people and the whole world. This makes the returning of the Holy Spirit even more important.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, as people repented and came to be baptized, which fulfilled the prophecy from Malachi 4:5-6.
Jesus Christ chose to be helped by the Holy Spirit and not by His own divinity. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, He was baptized by the Holy Spirit when He was mature, at the age of 30, before He began His ministry. Jesus lived a sinless life, performing many signs and miracles with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 2:5-8Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
As one of us, Jesus “made Himself of no reputation,” not using His own power and attributes as God, and had the Holy Spirit as His power and Helper in His ministry. (“For He [Jesus] whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.” - John 3:34)
If our Lord was baptized by the Holy Spirit and by the power of the Spirit, He performed all His mighty works and after crucifixion He was resurrected by the same Holy Spirit from the dead, by Father God, how much more we need to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Acts 1:13-14 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Among those 120 who waited in Jerusalem and received the fulfilling of Father God's promise were Peter, John, James, Matthew and Mary, the mother of Jesus. All of them obeyed, wanted, waited and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke with other tongues. Also, the apostle Paul, the one who wrote more than 1/3 of the New Testament, was baptized with the Holy Spirit, even before being baptized in water (Acts 9:16-17).
Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
When someone hears and believes the truth of the Gospel, they are “sealed” by the Holy Spirit. Being sealed is the proof that the sealed object belongs to the owner of the seal. This “seal of the Holy Spirit” is actually the down-payment, the guaranty, of the sealed person's “contract” with God, through Jesus Christ, by which they are saved and inherit eternal life, by becoming part of the body of Christ, the Church. As long as the person respects the contract terms, they belong to Jesus and no person or thing can change that.
John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
When we were born-again, we received just a small measure of the Holy Spirit. That is why the joy of salvation lasts for a limited period of time and is influenced by many factors such as: how sold out to Jesus we are, how much time we spend with our heavenly Father in prayer and bible study, how Spirit-filled the church or group of believers are that we are a part of, how hungry we are for more of God etc.
Sadly, there are many Christians that never wanted or asked to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit; never realizing their need and importance of this baptism for their joy to be complete and to be able to keep renewing it, by having fellowship with the Holy Spirit. As a result, they live with the memory of the great joy they had when they were born-again and never enter into the fullness of joy, power and intensity that the Holy Spirit can bring.
I heard many say things like: “When we were born-again, as we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we also received the Holy Spirit, because only through Him could we come to Jesus. So, we received all of the Holy Spirit at salvation.”
Can this be true? I personally know for certain that the experience of being born-again is not the same as the experience of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, there was quite some time that passed between the two. Both events can only happen with the participation of the Holy Spirit. When a person becomes born-again, the Holy Spirit enters into their heart and from the inside starts the transformation process that will be visible from the outside, as the person's life changes. When a person is baptized with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is poured out by God, from above, until the person is completely covered in His presence, as a water-fall drenches anyone who stands under it. The original word for baptism is “baptisma” which means: immersion, sinking, completely surrounding. The amount of the presence of the Holy Spirit and the effects He initiates for the changes and results in the baptized person are way more significant than at the moment of salvation and so much, that they cannot be ignored by the one who receives Him or by those around the person who is baptized with the Holy Spirit. We see that happening in all baptisms from the book of Acts.
Now let's take a look at what Jesus said about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, that produces salvation and then about the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
John 4:14 “... but 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.”
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He told her about the “living water,” which becomes a fountain of everlasting life. It is easy to see that Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, the source of eternal life. The next time when He addresses this subject, the apostle John in chapter 7, says that the Lord is speaking about the Holy Spirit:
John 7:37-39 “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Surely the Lord considers that His message was very important if He “cried out” to catch their attention. Jesus wanted to make sure that people then and now, learn that all those who believe in Him and are saved, can receive the Holy Spirit. All they need is to be “thirsty” for more. The Holy Spirit can fill every “thirsty” person so much that from their heart “flows rivers of living water.” Could a river flow and no one see it? Jesus says that there will not be just one river, but that there will be rivers that cannot be ignored by those around, for sure. Once the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in a person, the transformation of that person is so obvious that all those around them see it! And hear it! Why? Because no one can keep the Good News of the Gospel to themselves! In my case, conversation never goes more than a few minutes until the person I am speaking with hears about the Lord of my life. When the “rivers of living water” are flowing from our hearts, they touch everything around us and the spiritual atmosphere is always changed, no matter where we are.
So, in the two passages of scripture from above, Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit that works in the inner man of the believer, in order to be saved by being born-again.
Mark 2:22“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”
Jesus used a common comparison for those days about wineskins and new wine which is not so easy for many of us to understand in this day and age. The old wineskins represent the old carnal nature, that cannot receive the ”living water” of the Holy Spirit, which is the new wine. In order for someone to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they must be already born-again, having crucified their old nature and be the “new wineskin” in which to receive the Holy Spirit as Jesus says: “But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” in John 4:14.
God's plan for us, His children doesn't stop at being saved, each of us should press on into asking and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus and the Father are one and both of them desire to give us the Holy Spirit, together with His power and all His benefits.
Now let's take a look at what apostle Luke records that Jesus told the disciples, both in his Gospel and then in the book of Acts.
Luke 24:49 ”Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
This verse is not about the Holy Spirit entering into a believers heart, to produce the “living water.” It is about the descending of the Holy Spirit from above, “upon” those who desire and wait the fulfilling of this promise which “endues” them with “power from on high.” This is similar to immersion, covering from all sides, which is the definition of baptism.
The descending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost fulfilled the prophecy given through the prophet Isaiah that we read in:
Isaiah 44:3 “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring...”
Even if Isaiah did not use the word baptism, he was still referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, just as Paul did when he wrote to Titus:
Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The “washing” produced by the regeneration (which is new birth) is followed by “the renewing” and all are the work of the Holy Spirit. He was “poured out on us abundantly” through Jesus, as He is the One who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. After the baptism, the Holy Spirit continues to renew our spirit, our “inner man” as we read in:
2 Corinthians 4:16Therefore we do not lose heart. even though our outward man is perishing, yetthe inward man is being renewed day by day.
There are so many controversies on the subject of this baptism and it is not a surprise. The devil does all he can to thwart Christians from receiving the power and the gifts that come with the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the anointing of the Holy Spirit makes us more effective and powerful witnesses of Jesus, with our lives becoming good examples and operating in the spiritual gifts, causing serious damage to the kingdom of darkness. The Holy Spirit makes us able to say the same as Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” in 2 Timothy 4:7.
It has been said many times that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is received when a person is saved and born-again and that His gifts were just for the early church as they did not have the New Testament in written form, so they especially needed the Holy Spirit's help to enable them to live right. We have the whole Bible available to us in all forms, shapes and sizes so that there is no more need of the Holy Spirit's gifts to guide us. Could this be true? Are there any verses to support this concept or do we find the contrary?
John 14:16 “... another Helper,that He may abide with you forever-- the Spirit of truth...”
Jesus said that God would send the Holy Spirit to be with us forever! Jesus never said that the Holy Spirit would come to be with us only until the Bible would be completely written and available, and then He would be called back to heaven, or that He would stop giving the gifts. Neither Paul or any other apostle say that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are only available until a certain date and then all the gifts would cease. Is there no more need of the miracles that only the Holy Spirit can do through Christians, to prove that the Gospel is true and help many? Or are we so powerful, that there is no longer a use for the spiritual gifts in our lives?
There are no verses that say the Holy Spirit will cease being with Christians after the early apostles finish their work or ever. God will never leave His children without the help, power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is up to us to desire and seek the spiritual gifts. And after we receive the gifts, to operate in them.
Please read these following verses carefully as they are misquoted so often. Let us take a serious look at what Paul is really saying.
1 Corinthians 13: 8-10, 12 (AMP) Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for the gift of special knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete]. 10 But when that which is complete and perfect comes,that which is incomplete and partial will pass away...12 For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].
Verse 8 is often used by those who believe in the doctrine of cessation. However, in the context of the verses around it, we see that the verse is referring to the coming of Jesus at the rapture, not earlier. We cannot build a doctrine on one verse or section of verses, without finding the same idea in at least one other place in the Bible and especially when we have so many other verses proving the contrary. Let's take a closer look to what the verse says in the context of the following verses, as we should analyze any bible verse:
God is love and as He is eternal, love is eternal. The spiritual gifts will cease when Jesus comes to take us to heaven, at the rapture, Only then, we will “know fully”” and the “partial, incomplete knowledge” will end. Why? Because we will go to heaven, where nothing will be hidden from us anymore and we will know all truth as we will see it all “face to face.”
No Christian can walk on the right path without the Holy Spirit. There are many teachings which limit Christians to only living with the “seal” of the Holy Spirit that comes at salvation. For those that do, they lack in power and have trouble in handling daily challenges. The more we are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and the more we operate in the spiritual gifts, then the more we grow in our walk with God and the more we contribute in the growth of God's Kingdom and the stronger our faith will be also. We cannot make the best decisions based only upon what we find written on the pages of the Bible, without having a real relationship and good communication with the Holy Spirit. For example, the Word of God teaches us how a good marriage should be and who we should marry in general, but it does not tell us their name! To be sure who the person is that God wants for us to marry, we need to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.
In order to have a good relationship with the Holy Spirit, we have to be born-again, desiring and thirsting for more of God to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is not the end, but is the beginning of a beautiful, powerful walk with continuous fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
By praying in tongues, we edify our “inner man” as the Holy Spirit is praying through us and we become more and more used by God in operating in the spiritual gifts as needed. By doing so, we get refilled again and again with the Holy Spirit's presence and power.
Some Christians do not seek or ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, because they are afraid they might receive something evil or be deceived by the devil. God would never, ever give us or tell us to do something that is not 100% good for us. The more we study what the Word of God says on the matter, we see that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the most marvelous thing that can happen to any Christian, after being born-again!
Matthew 7:11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
Luke 11:13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
So, the Holy Spirit is a wonderful gift and Father God gives Him to us when we desire and ask for Him. Father God is full of kindness and He loves us unconditionally. There is no reason for us to believe that He would prepare a gift that would hurt us. God is love (1 John 4:8); “the Lord’s mercies and His compassions are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). He is the One who gave His only Son to die in our place, because He loved us since the beginning of time. His “agape” love for us is the most perfect and it has “no strings attached” (1 Corinthians 13).
John 14:15-17 “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.”
John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."
The Greek word for the Helper, the Holy Spirit, is “Parakletos” and while it means Helper, it also means so much more: Counselor, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby. The Holy Spirit is all these and is always here for all of us who love the Lord and keep His commandments (John 14:15). Ten days after Jesus ascended to the Father, at Pentecost (fifty days after His resurrection), God sent the Holy Spirit to continue the ministry of salvation for mankind, which was made possible by Jesus' crucifixion.
Jesus told the disciples that it was for their benefit, for Him to go to be with the Father, because He would send them “another Helper.” Because He said “another” we can know that it means One who is equal with Him. Jesus had the limits that came with living in a human body as He could only be at one place at one time, but the Holy Spirit is unlimited and can now be with all the body of Christ, at all times. He is one of the three persons of the Trinity, He is God and He has all the attributes that God the Father and God the Son have.
John 20:21-22 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:2-5 ... until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Jesus, after His resurrection, before leaving to heaven, “breathed on” the disciples and said to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). This for sure was not the baptism with the Holy Spirit, because as we read in the first chapter of the book of Acts, the last words that Jesus spoke to His disciples, before His departure, were to wait to receive the promise of the Father, by being “baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Certainly when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, they had an important experience, but it could not compare to the experience that they would later have at Pentecost when they would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Why? They only received a measure of the Holy Spirit from Jesus the day He breathed upon them. There is no doubt that this helped them to be motivated to wait in Jerusalem, praying for ten days until they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in full measure and power. Jesus told them that it would happen “not many days from now” but it must have been a great and wonderful surprise when the Holy Spirit came down! After they received the “power” through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they were totally transformed, no longer fearing persecution or oppression but on the contrary with boldness and anointing as “they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name”, as we read in Acts 5:41.
Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Mein Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
The original Greek word used for the “power” of the Holy Spirit, is “dunamis” and it means, according to Strong's Concordance: (miraculous) power, might, strength, powerful deeds, deeds showing (physical) power, marvelous works, every kind of power of working miracles. This is the power that Jesus says we receive by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which helps us to become what God wants us to be.
God's plan is the best and is perfect in all things. Jesus told the disciples that they needed to wait to receive the power that would come when the Holy Spirit came upon them and only after that, would they will be able to preach the gospel to their families, locally and then to everybody everywhere. We cannot be true witnesses of Jesus, without the power that comes through the Holy Spirit. The disciples had to wait for ten days until the Holy Spirit came upon them. What a majestic entrance of the “heavenly power” into our world, and this time, He came to stay!
Acts 2:1-4 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then 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.
Upon the 120, that were already born-again, appeared 120 tongues like fire. The person of the Holy Spirit manifested Himself uniquely and personally for each and every one of them. All were immersed from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes, being fully covered (this is the true meaning of the “baptisma” term, from which we get the word baptism), by the presence of the Holy Spirit, which being invisible to the natural eye, wanted to be and was heard (“a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind”) by all in Jerusalem and seen by the disciples (“Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them”). After they were totally engulfed in presence of the Holy Spirit, they were all filled and started to speak with other tongues, that they had never learned.
“For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” as Jesus says in Luke 6:45. The Greek word translated abundance, is “perísseuma” and it means according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance: a surplus, or superabundance -- abundance, that was left, over and above. So, when the Christian's heart is completely full, so full that there is no empty space, the surplus causes the mouth of the person to speak as “the Holy Spirit gives him utterance.”
Acts 2:15-18 “For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.'”
Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, reminded the Jewish crowd that they were witnesses of what God had spoken through the Old Testament prophet Joel, more than 800 years previously, about the “pouring out” of the Holy Spirit and His gifts.
The Holy Spirit chose to speak praises to God, through the one hundred and twenty disciples, using the languages of the Jewish people that came from at least 15 different geographical regions, where they spoke many more languages and dialects (Acts 2:4-12). The impact was the greatest! They could not deny that this was from God! Only the One, True Almighty God could cause such an extraordinary and incredible event! “All were amazed and marveled” and gathered around the house where the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples, after they heard the sound “like a rushing mighty wind” which was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Afterward, Peter being full of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, preached the gospel to a huge crowd and more than 3000 souls believed upon Jesus as the Messiah and were baptized that day (Acts 2:41).
The early church started with a record number of believers with, this first evangelistic preaching, and it was all due to the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, who had filled the disciples and gave them the gift of speaking in tongues.
Acts 2:36-38 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."
Could Peter have preached with such power, that now penetrated the hearts of those who heard his message and believed that Jesus is the Son of God, if he had not been baptized by the Holy Spirit? Remember how afraid the disciples were after the Lord's crucifixion and how they were hiding behind locked doors? The courage and the impact of Peter's words were the direct result of the baptism Holy Spirit. Now, with the powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit working through Peter and with the Good News of Jesus being the Messiah, the crowd cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” So Peter, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, gave them the answer:“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Unfortunately, the importance of these steps has gotten lost along the way and many now believe that it is enough to pray a quick, short prayer to be saved. The power of the church and for all Christians can only come from the Holy Spirit. Without Him, the church and any members are weak and represent no threat to the kingdom of darkness.
Acts 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
If the Early Church was growing with the help and power of the Holy Spirit, how much more do we need His help and power in our time?
Every generation has its own challenges and problems and as long as we are on this earth, we will never be self-sufficient. The Holy Spirit is always ready to help and lead us on the best path to heaven. It is not easy for us and it was not easy for the apostles either, but the presence and power of the Holy Spirit transformed them completely. For they went from fearing for their lives, to being ready to be imprisoned and even tortured for their Lord.
Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
The apostles Peter and John were arrested for preaching the Gospel and even after being thrown in jail, did not falter, and on the contrary we read that: “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit “(Acts 4:8), preached the gospel to the “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel” who had put them in prison for doing that very thing in the first place. All the religious leaders of Israel, marveled upon hearing Peter's boldness and realized that he and John had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Peter trusted the leading of the Holy Spirit and spoke what the Spirit gave him to speak (just as Jesus told them He would do, as in Matthew 10:19). As a result, he and John were set free. Once they got together with the others, they prayed and ended with:
Acts 4:29-31 “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
How did God answer their prayers? The apostles were first filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, during the first baptism, and now they were filled again. Through this re-filling, they got the power to preach the gospel, in spite of all the severe threats of the religious leaders. The signs and wonders that the Holy Spirit performed through them, brought more and more people to salvation. The more we long for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, to be able to fulfill our calling, the more we will receive. The limit is not set by God, it is set by us.
At His first coming on earth to stay, the Holy Spirit manifested His presence as the sound of a strong wind and came like tongues of fire. We never read of another instance when the Holy Spirit repeated all these manifestations in the bible. Even so, we read that the apostles never doubted that the baptisms of the Holy Spirit that followed were authentic.
Acts 8:12-17 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Philip preached the Gospel in Samaria where the people believed and were baptized in water. When the other apostles heard about it, they knew they had to follow Jesus' instructions completely, so they immediately sent Paul and John to lay hands on them to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was not a short or easy trip in those times, by any means. It could take up to four days if they walked, or maybe three days on donkeys, but they did it with joy, proving how important it was for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit's power so they will be equipped to live for Jesus and be His witnesses.
As we read in the above verses, their trip was a success! It is not written in “black and white” proving that the Samaritans received the baptism, but for sure, the reaction of those who were immersed in the presence of the Holy Spirit was special and unusual, because we read in the following verse that “when Simonsaw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money” trying to buy the power to lay hands on others to receive the Holy Spirit. It is possible that those who were baptized with the Holy Spirit, started to speak in other tongues, as the disciples did at Pentecost, and because it was the same manifestation, the apostle Luke did not record it specifically.
Then, in the next chapter, we read what happened to Saul that became the apostle Paul.
Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 14:18 I thank my God I [Paul] speak with tongues more than you all...
Saul was saved when Jesus stopped him on his way to Damascus, knocking him from his horse. He believed and was changed from the one who persecuted the church into the one who should be persecuted. Ananias, called him “brother Saul” because he was saved and he went to him just to “receive his sight back and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” We already know that being “filled with the Holy Spirit” means to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and God sent Ananias so Saul would receive this second experience!
We know that the apostle Paul spoke in tongues more than all those from the Corinth church, as we just read in the previous verse. We do not know if he received the gift right after he was baptized with the Holy Spirit, or later, but we know he did.
Acts 10:44-48 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
In the case of Saul and Cornelius, God chose to baptize them with the Holy Spirit and give them the gift of speaking in tongues, before they were baptized in water. Why? In both cases, those sent by the Lord to baptize them had some doubts. The Lord respected that Ananias was not sure about Saul's conversion, as just one day before that, Saul was persecuting Christians, and also that Peter was not one hundred percent sure that Romans could be adopted into the people of God. Peter even used the fact that God poured His Spirit over the house of Cornelius, to justify why he baptized them in water, as he explained his actions to the other church leaders:
Acts 15:7-8 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us.”
Acts 19:1-6 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
When Paul encountered John's disciples, he did not simply make casual conversation; but he got right to the point, wanting to know if they had received the Holy Spirit. Probably, nothing about them showed that they had “the power and the joy” of the Holy Spirit. After Paul baptized them in water according to their faith in Jesus Christ, he continued by laying hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit's baptism too. Once this happened, they were not only speaking in other tongues, but they also prophesied “as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance.”
In 1 Corinthians 12 we see the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed, then in the next chapter we read about the “agape” love of God and in 1 Corinthians 14:1-33, it gives a deeper understanding of these spiritual gifts. The placement of the “love chapter” in between, shows how important it is to operate in God's love with the spiritual gifts.
The apostle Paul understood very well how important is to have fellowship with the Holy Spirit and to operate in His gifts. His ministry was so large and powerful, because he lived being led by the Holy Spirit and did it all in partnership with Him. Paul wrote one third of the pages of the New Testament and about half of its epistles. Without a real, deep relationship with the Holy Spirit he would not have had the greatest ministry of all the apostles.
In the name of Jesus Christ, through the hands of Paul, God resurrected the dead (as we read about Eutychus being resurrected in Acts 20:7-12), and did many signs and wonders, all being done by the Holy Spirit living in him.
1 Corinthians 14:14-15 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
The prayer in tongues is not the result of a human mind, it is the prayer of the Holy Spirit, through the believer's mouth. The Holy Spirit does not force us to speak or perform miracles through us. It is up to us to allow Him to speak through us with the words of His language, which is a language that we never learned. It can be a human or angelic language, as Paul says:
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
The enemy knew that once Christians are filled with the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, they become truly powerful and anointed in preaching the gospel and in living right with God, so he comes against the gift of “speaking in tongues” together with the other spiritual gifts, to get Christians to where they do not even want to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
If we study what the Bible says about the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible not to conclude that without His help, we cannot fulfill God's will and call on our lives, no matter what our callings are. We are all called to preach the gospel to every creature and for which we need the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit. The success of the apostles ministry was due to the power of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship they had with Him. All the signs and wonders were the result of the Holy Spirit working through them, in the name of Jesus Christ. All through history, the most productive workers for the kingdom of God, were those that had a true relationship with the Holy Spirit.
D.L. Moody (1837-1899), was an American preacher to the multitudes and founder of the Moody Bible Institute. Moody was also baptized with the Holy Spirit, even if there are not many that share this truth. R. A. Torrey writes about Moody's baptism, love and appreciation for the Holy Spirit, in his little book “Why God Used D.L. Moody.” At the beginning of Moody's ministry, he was a pastor and preached beautiful and well-documented messages, but they had no power. Once Moody found out that he could receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (with power and anointing), he wanted it, asked for it and got it. From then on, his ministry grew exponentially and became the great ministry that we still know today, blessing millions of people and training ministers since1886.
The Holy Spirit is God, so all His work is perfect. He is always ready to help us. No matter what time it is or where we are at, for Him it is never hard or impossible to be there for us. He also enjoys seeing us desire to have fellowship with Him, because we love Him, like to be in His presence and want to know Him more. What more could we ask?
The word translated by “fellowship” in the original Greek, is “koinónia,” which means (according to Strong's Concordance): partnership, contributory help, participation, sharing in, communion, spiritual fellowship, a fellowship in the spirit. This shows that it is a person-to-person relationship with not only the Holy Spirit participating, but we do too. It is up to us to call on Him, to desire to spend time with Him, to ask and seek His help and direction and then to follow through in obedience. What a great Helper we have in Him! No wonder Jesus said it is for our benefit for Him to come and be available for every single one of us at all times! The Holy Spirit is not limited by a physical body, as Jesus was, while on earth! Aren't you glad? I know for sure, that I am!
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Sadly, because of misunderstanding the gift “of speaking in tongues” many Christians are afraid of the baptism and communication with the Holy Spirit. But by this wonderful gift we are not talking with people, we talking directly with God, as Paul says:
1 Corinthians 14:2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.”
The Holy Spirit speaks through our spirit, using our mouth and speech organs to help us with the perfect prayer that will surely be answered, because it is according to the will of God. How often do we find ourselves and our loved ones in tough situations and are clueless about how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit, as He is omniscient, knows everything and by praying prayers in the spirit with His leadership, we know we are praying the best prayers.
1 Corinthians 4-5He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
After we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we start to praise God and thank Him for his goodness, love, mercy and His sacrifice because we desire more and more to be in His presence. The Holy Spirit prays through us “in other tongues” that edifies and helps us grow. Through such intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we love our Lord more and more. Our love for others also increases and we start to have better understanding of the situations we face daily. We learn to hear more clearly on matters we seek the Lord about and by doing so, or faith will grow, too.
The Holy Spirit teaches, counsels or comforts us according to what our needs are. Also, He helps us know God's will for our situations that develop in life. He teaches us the meaning of the Bible verses and brings them to mind that we need to know and apply. We need to study the Word of God on a daily basis, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal it to us and to teach us how to apply His Word in our lives. Then, when circumstances arise, the Holy Spirit will remind us of the right Bible verses for the matter.
Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit...
Ephesians 6:10, 18Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might... praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
If we stop and consider the above bible verses, we can understand better why Jesus and the apostles insisted on the importance of receiving the baptism in water and with the Holy Spirit. It is our job to build and strengthen our “inner man” by praying in the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
When the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the believer, his body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, He doesn't come alone. Once we receive the Holy Spirit, we also receive the nine aspects of His character (the fruit of the Spirit), which He produces in the person that He indwells, as we read in Galatians 5:22-23. In the carnal nature, we still have the old character traits, but as we learn to be partners with the Holy Spirit, communicating with Him, as the Bibles teaches us, the new traits that we have in our born-again spirit start to take the place of the old ones and we start becoming transformed ”from glory to glory.”
Jesus baptizes those who want to follow and obey Him with all their hearts and ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Not all Christians have someone around that is already filled with the Holy Spirit, as in other believers that will pray for someone else to receive what they already have. This should not stop anyone from receiving from God what He wants to give and they long for. I've met many Christians that received the baptism as they prayed alone, in their closet and asked the Holy Spirit to baptize and fill them up with His presence.
Romans 14:17 ... for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God sent us the best Helper, Counselor and Comforter that we could ever ask for. God, the Holy Spirit desires to live in every single one of us and to be there for us in every situation we face. Being the perfect “gentleman” that He is, He always respects our will. He will never baptize anyone that does not want more or does not ask for it. Once He enters our hearts, He transforms us to become the best version of ourselves, causing us to become more kind, loving, forgiving, more patient and more thirsty for God.
I cannot thank God enough for the wonderful, anointed Christians that He brought into my life. God used their help, prayers and example to shape me into what I am today. When I saw their anointing and gifts, I wanted what they had too. They prayed for me and the miracle of the Holy Spirit's baptism revolutionized my life in the best way. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will use this article, and the correlated ones, to help as many readers as possible to ask and receive all that our Lord has for them.
Note: The baptism with the Holy Spirit is mentioned with different terms in the New Testament, all referring to the “complete immersion.” Some are listed here:
“poured out abundantly” - Titus 3:6
“fell upon” - Acts 10:45
“come upon” - Acts 1:18
“poured out” - Acts 2:33,Joel 2:28
“receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” - Acts 2:38,8:17,10:45
“receive the Holy Spirit” - Acts 4:31,9:17,10:47
“filled with” - Acts 2:4,9:17
“fell upon” - Acts 10:44,11:15,19:6
“baptism/baptize” - Matthew 3:11,Mark 1:8,Luke 3:16,John 1:33,Acts 1:5,11:16
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
"And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:29-31