Numbers 11; Joel 2:28-29; John 7:37-39; Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1; 14:26-33
Does Jesus call the church to speak in tongues to be saved?
Has anyone ever approached you and asked if you have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Or, perhaps they challenged you further by saying that unless you have spoken in tongues, you are not a real Christian. There are many people today who believe and teach that you have to speak in tongues to be saved or at least have received what they call the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. But, what is this type of Baptism? Is it Biblical, or is it just discerned from feelings and opinions? Does the Bible actually teach this? And, the main question we need to ask is, how are we to understand to what Christ calls us--based on experience, or on His Word?
My goal in this article is to show how this idea has been birthed, and to examine the Scriptures to find out what the Bible really says about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I know this will be very controversial, so I challenge you to see for yourself what the Scriptures are saying--in context--and do not rely just on what you think you know from experience, or what you may have heard. I do not wish to put anyone down--denominations, movements, or experiences. My intent is to give a clear understanding from Biblical truth, to give education and understanding to one of the greatest wonders of the universe--God working in us!
The concept, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, clearly has its roots in Scripture as the invisible energy of God, trusted upon many of the Old Testament personalities. This included artists, (Gen. 41:38; Ex. 31:2-5; Nub. 11; Judges 3:9-10; 1 Sam. 19:20-23; Mica 3:8) prophets, (Isa. 11:1-2; 61:1-3; Ezek. 36:25-29) and was given for specific tasks, endowing and empowering them with divine intervention with gifts, abilities, and powers to accomplish a work or task meant to glorify God. The actual term or phrase 'baptize in (or with) the Holy Spirit' first appeared in the words of John the Baptist, I have baptized you with water, but He (Jesus) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). This is referred elsewhere with the phrase, baptize with the Spirit, (Acts 1:5; 11:16; 1 Cor. 12:12-13). However, the Greek syntax indicates, as Luke writes (who wrote Acts, inspired by God), this phrase referring to being filled with the Spirit, (which I will explain later in the article) as the first introductory experience of the spread of Holy Spirit. Paul uses this term for the understanding of how our regeneration, or conversion, comes. We will see, from a careful look into Scripture, that we can derive a clear understanding that the Holy Spirit works once for our salvation, and continues to dwell in us for our ministry empowerment. He does not come and go like a cat, even though that is how He seemed to work in the O.T.
The modern interpretation of this subject has been one of the most controversial teachings, and the cause of countless divisions in the church, in the 20th century. This new understanding (new, meaning less than 100 years, as opposed to 2000 years of consistent understanding from all the denominations, Catholicism to Reformed) finds its start during the turn of the 20th century from several tent revival meetings throughout the United States. These were led by uneducated, undiscerning, and self-proclaimed Bible teachers. Most of these teachers were kicked out of their churches and denominations for heresy. During this time, a paradigm shift of understanding was initiated on how the invisible energy of God took place and was used in a believer. From this new theological model came the declaration of a new teaching for the church. (When you ever hear there is a new teaching, it is best to run and not walk to the nearest exit, because God's Word is clear, we are to add nothing to it or take away what is not there. Hence there are no new teachings! The Bible contains all the essential truth we need, we may get a better and deeper understanding as we grow and mature in the faith or we may find new and creative ways to apply God's truth; however, these will never be 'new' as in contradicting what is already reveled to us in Scripture (Rev. 22:18-19!) This new teaching was from the renderings of men, and not distilled from the Word of God. It had first started in, and was confined to, the Charismatic movement, and the various Pentecostal denominations. The mainline churches, as well as many of the Reformed churches, have opposed this 'new' thinking for decades. Over the last twenty years, this thinking has migrated into mainline Evangelical circles, and has touched the thinking of virtually every denomination, from Reformed, to Catholicism.
This phenomenon has its main roots in a particular revival in Los Angeles at the turn of the 20th century. The infamous event was called the Azusa Street Revival. This brief moment of church history has influenced tens of thousands of Christians, both positively and negatively. On the positive side, they awakened the Church to awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit. Up to this time, most Christian groups had ignored the work of the Spirit. In addition, several denominations, including the Assembles of God, were birthed here. However, the cost has been high, and has produced a negative approach to Biblical understanding. This new understanding, as opposed to centuries of solid Biblical scholarship, continues to cause divisions between those who seek truth from the Word, and those who seek something new from experience. Thus, this new understanding and movement has also brought some false, misleading doctrines, based on experiences and not on sound Biblical interpretations. (If you are getting mad, hold on, read on, and you will see what they say versus what Scripture says.)
This revival attracted thousands of people who came seeking miracles, healings, new teachings, and glimpses of hope they needed for their lives in harsh, changing, and troubled times. But, under careful historical research and evidence, there was no real revival. Many prominent Christians, who came to check it out first hand, testified this at the time. These included theologians, and people from just about every denomination and walk of life at the time. Most of these did not go there to squash it, but to embrace it. After hearing the false teachings, and wild, uncontrolled hysteria, they were very disappointed. So since the dawn of the 20th century many Christians have embarked on historical revisionism, changing the history books to fit their current thinking. (This is changing historical facts and reading in events and interpretations of those events that did not take place to fit a political or personal agenda. This practice is very popular in secular historiography, but should never be sought by those who seek God's truth!) An event called Azusa Street did occur, but what really happened is quite different from what many people today think happened, including this writer. What actually took place was an over-emotional hysteria, similar to the Toronto Blessing phenomena a few years back, that proved to be a counterfeit or fake revival. Both groups were induced by an overly emotional frenzy, coupled with zealous grandstanding by its leaders.
I am trying to be careful here in what I say, as ministering in the LA area for over 15 years has given me an ear-full from all sides of the issue. I have served on staff of charismatic churches, and I honestly believed that the Azusa Street Revival, was fact, and real. I even purchased one of the original advertising posters to decorate a youth room. On the other hand, professors in seminary were telling me it was a false revival, and that no historical evidence existed to show that it ever took place. Therefore, I set out to prove them wrong. After all, I had the poster! I did an extensive research report and checked out all of the local newspapers, denominational statements, and facts I could find, to prove that the revival did, in fact, take place. After months of careful research, personally checking every first-hand written account I could find, I was dismayed, as I did not find any support for my position--no evidence whatsoever! There was no collaboration from any source outside the current Pentecostal denominations, that looked to it as their birthplace. There were many support materials, but none of them were firsthand accounts; they were from articles written many years later. Yes, a meeting did occur, but the witnesses said the people were crazy, making up prophecies that did not come true, and claiming doctrine contrary to Scripture. It is extremely important to understand that if a prophecy is proclaimed, and it does not come true, this is a sure sign that it is not from God (Duet. 13:1-5; 18:15-22). Coupled with that, if it contradicts the Bible, then you know your proof is not from God!
Yet, somehow, it seems that God took this work of craziness and turned it for His glory, as we saw the birth of many denominations. There came an awareness that the Holy Spirit is alive, well, and working, even though it did not happen there at Azusa Street. Today, we can see how the Toronto Blessing, which had such extreme false teachings, had awaken most of the churches in the Vineyard denomination from their years of apostasy and blatant heresy in those false doctrines. Most of these, produced by self-proclaimed evangelists and teachers were leading people astray and away from the Bible, now many of them have saw their folly and have returned to the Word, the truth of Scripture.
I thought, perhaps there are many reasons for these negative reports of Azusa Street; maybe it was too harsh of an experience, and people just could not accept it. Perhaps their belief systems could not handle it; or, as one person suggested to me, perhaps Satan worked hard to cover it up. Since I was not there, I could not say for certain what really happened.
All I can do is research this well, and do an honest assessment based on facts, not merely what I want to find, or what the popular opinion is. I do know a meeting at Azusa Street took place, and it was called a Revival (it said so on my poster). There were many countless others during that time, all over the county. (By the way, according to church history, a real revival has never taken place as a result of our planning or declaring them to happen. Revival comes when God chooses to use us, when mature believers gather, who are surrendered in prayer and who seek His Will and Truth! So, do not put a "Revival" sign on your church door, and proceed to go gather people. Search the Word and pray instead; then Revival may come!) Thus, I had to rely on what evidence was at hand. I have no "ax to grind" against any of the denominations who claim its validity. In fact, we have, at ITW, many Assemblies of God people working for this ministry who are wonderful and godly people (and they may be quite mad at me for this article). However, I can only tell you the facts, and what the Bible has to say. Even if it did take place, as many people claim, and as I once did, the main issue for us is, how does that measure up with Scripture over and against any historical evidence. Why the history lesson? Because, the popular understanding of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit traces it roots to Los Angles and the fabled Azusa Street Revival. If its roots are in error, perhaps this way of thinking is in error, too.
Does this mean that because it had a counterfeit birth, so to speak, there is no such thing as a Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Contrary to what some fundamental groups teach, historically, and doctrinally, every church denomination over the last 2000 years has had the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in their doctrine, because it is clearly pronounced in the Bible. So, even with a counterfeit birth -*for its popular understanding, there really is such a thing! However, how we understand this, and when it appears, are at the root of the controversy.
The popular understanding in most Evangelical churches today about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is that it comes sometime after we have been converted. This understanding has changed drastically since the Azusa Street. Previously, all of the denominations held to views originating from the Reformation, where the Baptism of the Holy Spirit referred to the beginning of the Spirit's constant, and continual presence, and work. Prior to the time of Pentecost, He only came now and then as reveled to us in the Old Testament. Many pastors and speakers today are basing their understanding of the Spirits working on their own experiences, as well as those of others, and not on a sound study in the Word--just as the leaders and people did at Azusa Street, and again at Toronto!
This popular teaching says that when someone becomes a Christian, they do not get all of the Holy Spirit--rather only a part of it, or, perhaps even none. The percentages and when and how the Spirit comes and empowers the believer depending on who is proclaiming this. These varying degrees are a matter of debate in Pentecostal circles. Then, sometime later, a Christian will have more of the Holy Spirit, Who comes upon them in greater power and authority, which is testified and confirmed by various 'signs' that manifest themselves in the Christian. Many teach that the most prevalent and important sign is speaking in tongues. So, the when, and how much, of the Holy Spirit we get becomes the great debate.
The Charismatic and Pentecostal Movements make two distinctions of how the Holy Spirit works. First, most of them teach that not everyone receives the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Although it is available to all who have enough faith, it is not 'appropriated' by all. In other words, it does not happen automatically for all Christians. Secondly, they further teach there is a time gap between a person's conversion and their receiving the Holy Spirit. This means there is a second work of Grace that is distinct and subsequent, which we need in order to be saved, because the first one was not sufficient. So, Grace alone, Christ's work, was not sufficient to save us! In addition, the only way to be sure you are saved is in the manifestation of a signed gift, such as prophecy or tongues.
Now, you should start to get alarmed. I need to point out that not all Charismatics and Pentecostals teach this, but it is becoming a more prevalent view. So, where do they get this? They get it from the Book of Acts. They make these statements because of the Christians in Acts who were already Christians, then, after a time gap, received the Holy Spirit. The confirmation was that they spoke in tongues. So, we have to ask, Is this normative in redemptive history? Is this how the Spirit works in us today? In all ages? In all parts of the book of Acts? Does this have support in other New Testament books, or in the early church? Then, we have Christians who make such claims as, I was a Christian for so and so many years, then I got the power of the Spirit. Scripture and experience seem to testify to their position. Or does it?
If this is taught in Scripture, and is so clear, as they say, why is there so much controversy? It is a basic misunderstanding and breaking of the rules on how to study and interpret Scripture, taking passages out of their historical context. We will explore the how and why later. Let us keep digging.
Even though the popular understanding is that He comes later, the Bible clearly proclaims the Holy Spirit comes before, in fact, way before! One of His roles, His essential role is actually to reveal and make known God to us through what Christ has done, which is called Divine Illumination. He works to save, and sanctify us. This work of the Spirit becomes complete when we invite Christ into our lives (John 3:3-6; 16: 13-15; Romans 5:4-5; 8: 14; 26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16; 12:3; Galatians 4:6; 2 Pet. 1:21). The Baptism of the Holy Spirit means that when we become Christians, the Spirit indwells in us, and empowers us for ministry, whereas in the Old Testament Covenant, they only had Him indeterminately and intermittently. We now by what Christ has done have Him constantly!
These misunderstandings, from the popular perception, are compounded further as people compare their experiences and feelings to those of one another, rather than searching the Scriptures, as we are called to do (Acts 17:10-12). Therefore, when people claim the Spirit comes later, their ideas come from false or misunderstood teachings, and over-enthusiasm, which is compounded further by relating it to their own experiences; thus, causing the misunderstanding and propagation of this view.
I need to point out here that we can never discredit the experience of a person in his/her growth in Christ, since the Holy Spirit is indeed active in the growing Believer's life; He is at work, but we can give a proper understanding of what this means from the teachings of the Word, not from our experiences alone. All too often, we confuse our excitement and experience with fact, and read into them what is just not there. Therefore, emotional experience in a church service is confused with more power from the Spirit, not considering that a similar, even identical emotional experience can be seen at a sporting event. Furthermore, any good stage magician or hypnotist can easily duplicate the manifestations they claim to experience. Just go to Las Vegas. These experiences are often elevated in believability over Scripture. In addition, when Christians feel more of the Spirit working in them to a greater or lesser degree, it is because they are either more receptive, yielding, and open to Him, or they have previously closed themselves off to Him. He was there all along in the same power and authority, but was blocked by pride and busyness. So, does that mean there is no extra outpouring of the Spirit on us after we become a Christian? Well, hold on, and we will get there.
In light of all this, what does the book of Acts really teach? Our Pentecostal friends are somewhat correct! There is a distinction between our Regeneration (God saving us from our sins through Christ's work of Grace, giving us our new life) and the work of the Spirit in our Sanctification (John 15:26; 2 Cor. 3:17-18; Gal. 4:6; Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Pet. 1:15-16). Both are works of the Spirit. But the second work is not about grace or salvation, nor is the evidence of the signed gifts necessary as confirmation.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is often misrepresented or confused as being only extra power for our salvation after proclaiming our faith before. They do not see what is clearly reveled in Scripture that we already have Him at work in us when we accept Christ by faith alone. Scripture does teach us that the Holy Spirit can, and does, for God's timing and purpose, give us extra empowering for working in His service and glory. But, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not always that extra empowerment; it is He, Who is already at work in us. How wonderful that we have Him; we need not wait for some special outpouring. He is already here amongst us, seeking for us to grow in faith and maturity, enabling us to glorify Christ and proclaim His Word! This should excite us!
We need to understand that in Biblical interpretation, we must never assume that a specific phrase such as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit means precisely the same thing every place in which it occurs. Good interpretation lets a word or phrase mean whatever the context indicates. Remember, Greek is the most precise language ever conceived. So, the words, grammar, and what comes before and after, the context, gives us a very 'precise' meaning that may not be as clear in English, a very 'imprecise' language. It is important, for proper understanding of Scripture, not to try to make the same phrase mean the same thing everywhere, but rather dig deep in the language and context to see if it has the same meaning. What is the authentic meaning or expression of that phrase? Romans and Acts do not use the exact phrase, baptized with the Spirit for the same meaning (1 Corinthians 12:12,13). The Gospels use it as the promise of His coming; Acts uses it to show us how He comes, and Paul uses it to show how He unifies all who believe. These are stages in His coming; first, the prophecy; second, His coming; and thirdly, the unity we have in Him since Pentecost.
A common question arises from this: Does this mean that some Christians have more of the Spirit than others? This is of debate amongst Reformed theologians. But, the confusion is derived from that fact that some Christians become more mature and viable because they are responding and yielding to the Spirit, whereas other Christians ignore His illuminations and remain pew sitters. Both groups have the same Spirit and power availed to them. One group responds to Him, while the other ignores Him! In saying that, Scripture also teaches God can and does, for His purpose and glory, give us extra Spirit empowerment for specific, temporary tasks that will serve and glorify Him.
Now, for what everyone has been writing in and asking for: Is there one word in Acts that tells us that the popular understating of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is normative? Do we receive the Spirit as a second work of Grace, after becoming Christians? The answer is, No! Read the passages in their historical context. This argument comes because of silence on the subject in the first few chapters in Acts, but more pronounced in other NT passages. So, what does this tell us?
All these various ways recounting the coming of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts originate from six main stories. In every one of them, the coming of the Spirit is with signs or effects. We also see, in these passages, an outpouring from one people group to another as the Spirit spreads about, from His first manifestation to the early church of Jews in Acts 1:8, to the Gentile world in a step by step manner. Previously, before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was not available to all, nor was He omnipresent, or 'everywhere'(Psalm 51:11; Isa 63:10-11). He, being fully God, was obviously capable of being omnipresent, but He chose only to be available when the need arose (see our article on the Trinity in the Doctrine channel). He came when God directed. Now, as a Christian we receive Him, and continually have Him living within us!
- The early Christians were led to Christ by Christ, Himself, or His disciples. Christ had His disciples wait for the Spirit, and did not give the Spirit until Pentecost.
- Acts tells us that the Jews received the Spirit first (Acts 2).
- We see three more episodes of the Pentecost (coming of the Spirit), with the Samaritans (Acts 8), the Cornelius household (Acts 10), and then the Ephesians (Acts 19). It starts with the 'chosen ones,' the Jews, who held the responsibility of being evangelists to the world (Gen 12:1-3). Next, the God fearing Greeks, then the Samaritans, and the rest of the Gentile world.
Take a careful look in Scripture for more proof:
1. Luke 24:47-49 tells us that Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Spirit. The Spirit would give them power to be Christ's witnesses. The point and reason for being empowered was to serve Jesus, not to bring attention and glory to themselves.
2. Acts 1:4-5 tells us that the early Christians needed verification that Jesus was really alive and victorious over death, so God caused His Spirit's inaugural commission to come first upon the disciples in His holy city of Jerusalem. Pentecost was the event of the first introduction of the permanence of the Holy Spirit for all Believers. It also took place to give them further instructions about serving in the kingdom of God. This was their baptism by the Holy Spirit as promised by John the Baptist and the OT prophets (Judges 3:10; 1 Sam. 10:6; Psalm 51:11; Isa. 11:2; 63:10-11; Luke 3:3-6). It refers to the coming and staying of the Spirit in Believer's lives. No longer do we have Him coming and going; we have Him continually!
3. Acts 2:1-12 tells us that a rush of a mighty wind filled all the house. The disciples were all gathered together. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in 'other tongues,' that is, languages they did not previously know, so that the other people around could understand what was being said (Ex. 3:2; 13:21; 24:17; 40:38; 1 Kings 19:11-13; Ez. 37:9-13; John 3:8).
4. Acts 2:13-21 tells us that the early Christians were mocked because they appeared to be in a drunken frenzy. Peter, in verse 14, gives an explanation of what was happening, that it was the baptism with the Holy Spirit, by quoting Joel (Joel 2:28-32; 3:1-5).
5. People quickly point out 1 Corinthians 12:13 as their proof that there is a separation between conversion and receiving the Spirit, but this is not the same thing as what is happening here in Acts. The 1 Corinthians passage refers to the unity of all Believers, through circumcision that unites them to Christ. This includes us today, as we are part of His body and with Him for eternal life.
6. Acts 1 and 2 do not tell us that the Baptism of the Spirit is a conversion or some kind of rebirth (John 13:10; 15:3; Romans 8:9; John 3:5)! Rather, the focus was on the promise in Joel 2. The central point, reason, and purpose for us to have the Spirit working in us, is to be empowered for ministry. That is what is described as a FILLING. This is always associated, in Scripture, with extraordinary power for ministry, doing something to further the Gospel and cause of Christ. It is never meant to draw attention to us or to put on some kind of show!
The popular understanding of being Baptized with the Holy Spirit is when a person, who is already a Believer, receives the Spirit again, or for the first time. However, this view is not normative in Scripture. We can be given more extraordinary spiritual power intended for Christ-centered ministry that exalts Him, and not ourselves. But, we receive the Spirit when we proclaim our faith in Christ as Lord. So, when you feel there might be more of Him working in you, Great! Praise God! However, He does not come upon you more. Rather, you become more aware and yielding to Him. You are more aware of His presence in you as you become more mature in the faith through the Spiritual disciplines of Scripture, worship, and prayer. Furthermore, there is ample Scriptural evidence that He can give you extra spiritual gifts and more power for specific tasks as you grow and become more faithful. However, remember, these are to glorify Him and are not part of your salvation or for your personal edification. When you become a Christian, you already have the Spirit (unless you were in the early church and He had not come yet; if so, you would be very old today!)
More Scriptures on which to meditate:
1. Acts 4:8 -13 tells us that Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit to the point that the Jewish leaders were amazed at his boldness.
2. Acts 4:31 tells us that the disciples were praying, and the place where they were was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. The result was, they spoke the Word of God with extraordinary boldness and Christ-exalting power, so that others could understand, each in his own language. Tongues are never to give you, or even your church, glory; their purpose is to allow others to understand, and the occurrences are very rare (the real ones that is; many people fake it!). There is no other purpose in Scripture for tongues except for a form of special prayer between the Spirit in you and God, that you do not utter by yourself (Acts 2:3-11; 10:46; 19:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; 12:28-30; 13:1; 8; 14:5 -6; 14:18-14:23; 14:39; Rev. 16:10)!
3. Acts 6 tells us how Stephen, who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit, manifested power, and did signs and wonders among the people. We also see that when he spoke, the leaders could not resist his wisdom from the Spirit. He was an example of having a fullness that gave him extraordinary power for glorifying Christ. Notice Stephen was not glorified; he even died!
4. Acts 9:17-22; 13:9-11 tells us that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit at his conversion, and immediately spoke to proclaim Christ as Lord with such astonishing power, that, later, the Jews of Damascus were confounded, because before this, Paul had them imprisoned and killed. A few years later, Paul was filled again with the Holy Spirit when he spoke to Elymas, the magician, and God gave him the power to blind Elymas.
5. Acts 11:24 tells us that Barnabas was filled with the Holy Spirit and faith, and many people responded and were added to the Lord.
As we can see clearly from Scripture, being baptized with the Holy Spirit refers to our receiving the Spirit when we become a Christian. In addition, it can refer to extra empowerment for ministry, not a second work of Grace. For the first few Christians in Acts, the Spirit was not given yet, so they received Him later. That does not mean we do the same, since He was given over 2000 years ago. Also, the Spirit comes upon the Believer when a committed Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit, thus receives extraordinary power for ministry that witnesses to and glorifies Christ as Lord to all the nations (Luke 24:49). As you can see, it can easily be confusing if you do not read the passages in their context. Many Bible teachers say the Spirit comes later for us, too, thus causing confusion of the issue.
The Spirit is never used in Scripture as a tool to glorify self or to grandstand! His purpose is for ministry, and empowering the mature Believer with more ability to get the job done. Not all Christians will receive His extra empowerment, nor does it last continually. These extra empowerments have nothing to do with our saving faith. Christians who receive them are no better that those who do not, as we all are His children. We all have the same Spirit working in us, unifying, and helping us to be sanctified.
The Pentecostal understanding of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a definite second experience, after conversion, that contributes to, or is our saving Grace (depending on whom you follow), is not normative for us since Pentecost. They further say that we are to seek it, and enjoy it as a blessing and anointing, manifested by speaking in tongues. This understanding is not necessarily so either (Acts 8:14-17)! Yes, this is found in Scripture, but always remember the context. If you grew up Pentecostal or are part of a denomination that teaches this, you are probably getting mad at me, but take your mind to God's Word, not the words of men! Here are further Scriptures to consider:
6. Acts 8:4-8; 14-19, tells us that the Samaritans were already converted to Christianity, then there was a second experience of the Holy Spirit that they did not have before. So, the point in this passage is that Spirit had not fallen on them before they received Christ. How do we know they were Believers? Because it is inferred by this text as well as in other passages (Acts 8:39; 16:14; 19:5).
7. Acts 11:16-18; Acts 19:2 tells us that this passage is a quote of John's baptism, foretelling the Spirit that was to come (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3). However, many people proclaim these passages as normative for us today--to have the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a second experience after conversion. However, they do not see the text plainly!
8. At Paul's conversion, there was amazing boldness and empowering given to him to change 180 degrees--from a fighter of Christ, to a proclaimer, and a witness of Christ to people right there on the spot (9:17 - 22)! This is an example of the Spirit's extra empowering remember Paul had already accepted the Lord, and already had the Spirit in him.
9. Ephesians 5:18 tells us that we need to be filled with the Spirit. So, what does this mean? Being filled with the Spirit basically means having great joy from our commitment to God (Nehemiah 8:10). It also means we are to seek His power with joy, for the overcoming of our sins, for the courage to witness, and for the job of ministry, even to people we do not like. This joy means radiant joy, meaning we can be filled up with the joy that flows among the Persons of the Holy Trinity. That is the very love God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit (One God with three personalities or manifestations, not three Gods) have for one another. This Joy will overflow from us to the others around us! This Joy becomes sealed in us as we mature in the faith and as we are filled with His Word (John 14:16-26; 16:12-15; 17:17; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30; Col. 3:15-16). It is the power to enjoy Him in worship, as a lifestyle that will affect all aspects of our life as well as the others around us, and then will empower us for His service, for His glory. This is what we are to seek so it can be repeatable; we are not to seek it for our betterment or attention, rather for Christ's sake! We are to be filled with Joy, by being in His Word, because we are in Christ! This is the extra power He gives us to glorify and serve Him!
Again, I need to point out that all of these passages can be confusing. You must read them in their context! Do not read into them what is not there, or take away what is there (Rev. 22:18-19). Commit to see what the Word says, and not what you think it should say, or what others have told you it says. Scripture is plainly true. It means what it says, and says what it means (95% of the time, parts of Revelation and Daniel are an exception). There are no hidden meanings, no new teachings, no codes, and no deeper truths, other than our ability to comprehend and understand further as we grow and mature in Christ!
To understand this further, allow me to give you a general overview of:
How the Holy Spirit works in Acts
1. The Holy Spirit endows Believers with the power to spread the Gospel of Christ (Acts 1:8).
2. The Holy Spirit is given to all Believers as a gift (Acts 2:38; 5:32; 8:18-20; 10:45; 11:17; 11:17; 15:8).
3. The Holy Spirit falls upon people in consecutive people groups starting with, and pointing back to Pentecost (Acts 1:8; 2:38; 8:15-17; 10:44-47; 11:15; 19:6).
a. The Holy Spirit is poured out on the Jews (Acts 2:4-21).
b. The Samaritans (Acts 8).
c. The Gentiles through Cornelius' household (Acts 10:45-48; 11:16).
d. The Ephesians (Acts 19).
4. Speaking in tongues coincides with praising and glorifying God as an extra ability and power to witness to others in their own language (Acts 1:8; 2:4, 11; 10:46; 19:6).
5. Acts 5:29-32 makes it clear that obedience to God is a mark of His presence, not tongues!
So, the Holy Spirit comes into this world permanently, starting with the Chosen Ones, the Jews, who held the promise that would be shared to the rest of the world, and who also held the responsibility to be evangelists to the world (Gen 12:1-3). Then, He went to the God-fearing Greeks, then to the Samaritans, and then to the rest of the Gentile world. (Yes, this is the third time I have said this, but most people still do not get it!)
What we see in the book of Acts are diagrams, or illustrations, of what the Spirit's power looks like as it comes upon different groups. It comes with speaking in tongues for some, but not all (2:4; 10:46; 19:6), and always for a purpose for non-believers, or to help others understand in their own language. (Again I cannot emphasize this more: Tongues are never said in Scripture to be in and for itself, such as being a sign of blessing for a church, or that a person has a special insight or message directly from God that is not contained in the Bible. When this happens, this is not of God, but of human pride and grandstanding (or a work of Satan!) The Spirit comes with the gift of prophecy for some, but not all (2:17; 19:6; cf. 10:46). He comes with overflowing praise of God's glory and greatness (2:11; 10:46), never to lift people up, or to distract from Christ. He comes with a call for obedience and the formation of our character to follow God's will (5:32). He comes, giving us courage and boldness to witness and serve (2:14-36; 9:17-22). And, He brings us the power through various gifts, (Heb. 2:4) miracles, (Gal. 3:5) signs, and wonders, (Acts 6:8) that point to Him and give God the glory.
How the Holy Spirit works in the rest of the New Testament:
1. The Holy Spirit is our support (Mark 4:37-41; Matt. 14:28-33; John 20:19-22).
2. The Holy Spirit imparts new life to us, is essential to our salvation, and sensitizes us to God (John 3:3-6; 16; 1 Cor. 12:3).
3. The Holy Spirit is our companion, and always indwells in us (John 14: 1-3; 15-17; 23; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 3:16-17; Heb. 13:5-6).
4. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate (John 14:16-17).
5. The Holy Spirit declares the truth about Christ (John 16:13-14).
6. The Holy Spirit enables us to minister and witness (Acts 1:8).
7. The Holy Spirit is God, and powerful. He is able to act in power and strength through us to do what is needed (Acts 1:8; 4:31; 10:45)
8. The Holy Spirit pours out God's Love to us (Rom. 5:4-5; Gal. 5:22-23).
9. The Holy Spirit is essential for our sanctification, growth in maturity, and faith in Christ (Rom. 7:21-21; 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Thess. 2:23).
10. The Holy Spirit indwells (Rom. 8:9-11).
11. The Holy Spirit bears inner witness that we are His children (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 4:6).
12. The Holy Spirit intercedes and pleads for us, in our weakness, in our behalf, before God. (Rom. 8:26).
13. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to use in His service to glorify Christ, to build His church, and to spread the Gospel (1 Cor. 12:4-11).
14. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to exhibit godly character (Gal. 5:22-23).
15. The Holy Spirit enables us to give God the glory (Eph. 3:16).
16. The Holy Spirit regenerates the Christian (Titus 3:5)
17. The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).
The Spirit initiates our salvation, as that is His role; this is the true Baptism of the Holy Spirit! The Spirit can also call a person who is already a Christian, but has been relaxed or distant in the faith, to wake up. This is called rededication. The Holy Spirit empowers us for ministry with gifts that can grow as we grow in the faith. Also, we can be renewed in our faith, be enlarged in our faith. This is called sanctification. It is these last three aspects that people misinterpret as a Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Maybe it is semantics; maybe it can be a total disregard of true Biblical understanding, depending on what the person believes. But, the fact is, there is no gap between conversion and the Baptism of the Spirit. The only gap that may be is that we are called before the foundation of the world, and then we make a profession of faith. So, actually, the Spirit comes first, then the conversion!
Allow me to make this clear. There is no place in the book of Acts, or any place in Scripture that tells us that when we receive the Spirit, we all will speak in tongues or prophesy. Paul makes this very clear in 1 Corinthians 12 -14! The point in Acts 1:8 is that when the Spirit comes upon us, we will receive His power; and His power will enable us to serve Him in evangelizing the whole world. That is the main point. Unfortunately, people get so wrapped up in the tongues and the Spirit baptism thing, they forget the main call we are given, and they forget what it is all about! Satan gets us so riled up over nothing and we are so busy fighting amongst ourselves, we have no time or energy to do what God has called us to do!
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is real, and is for us today. It is His empowerment for us to do ministry. He was the inaugural endowment of the Church in permanence and unity. That is, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was the initiation of the Spirit to come upon and stay with the universal body of Christ. The Spirit in the early church empowered the disciples and Christians for ministry, just has He does today. He also has many other roles that we have seen.
So, to answer the question, "Did you receive the Baptism of the Spirit when you became a Christian?" you first need to ask the person what they mean by the term, Baptism of the Spirit. "Yes," is the answer, as you have received the Spirit even before you accepted Christ by faith (John 3:3-6; 16; 16:13-14; 1 Cor. 12:3). Because the Spirit introduces us to Christ's work before we are even evangelized, so we are able and willing to believe and except. And yes He may give you extra gifts and power for His glory in ministry when God deems it necessary, when you yield yourself to Him, and when you are mature enough to handle it. If you are not sure if He is at work in you, if you feel there has been some kind of delay or a blockage in the manifestation of God's fullness in your life, then you need to seek for His fullness through prayer. Perhaps sin or your refusing to surrender has blocked your awareness. Seek His character (See our articles on Drawing near to the Heart of God, Are you a Character and What is Discipleship) to help you grow. If you feel you are growing in maturity, maybe you just do not realize He is at work in you, doing more in your life than you think.
Next we will continue with Part II with, How to Apply His Spirit In Your Life For Living and Ministry.
© R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/
Make sure you base your theology on what the Scriptures say, and not what you think they should say!