On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus had given the apostles the Great Commission – to go into all the world.
With such a great task, one should expect that some kind of strengthening or encouragement would be given.
They had to wait in order to receive the Promise. Its not just a switch on – it needs preparation.
When we try to fulfil the Great Commission or do the work of God without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we will fail because we are not equipped to do the job.
Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
Time spent seeking the Spirit is NOT time wasted. In fact, we waste time and effort by trying to fulfil the Great Commission without the Holy Spirit!
B. What is the purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an empowerment to be.
We often think only of the manifestation of gifts, but the main reason for the baptism of the Hoy Spirit is to BE something.
We often use the term “witness” as a verb. “I’m going to witness to someone”. However, here “witness” is a noun – you will BE my witnesses. It’s not something you do, but something you ARE.
Also we are baptised with the Holy Spirit to develop the Fruit of the Spirit not just to demonstrate the Gifts of the Spirit.
C. How can we be baptized with the Holy Spirit?
1. We must wait.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the Promise of the Father and it is dependent on God’s timetable.
Example: I was baptised with the Holy Spirit before I even knew there was such a thing but a friend of mine waited for many years.
However, it’s not just passive waiting; it includes prayer and seeking the Holy Spirit. My friend prayed every day and took every opportunity to come forward for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She never gave up.
The disciples obviously took this command to wait as an active command, because, as we read in Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
And there they were praying when the Holy Spirit came down.
2. We must pray and seek the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
Those who have already been baptized in the Holy Spirit should pray for us.
There is nothing in Scripture about coaching people on how to be filled. We simply pray for them to receive!
D. What is the sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit?
The initial physical sign in Scripture is speaking in tongues. Acts 2:4, Acts 10:4, Acts 19:6
1. This was proof enough to Peter to accept Gentile believers into the faith, which until then had been an exclusive Jewish sect.
“For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.
2. There may or may not be other physical signs, like wind and fire.
3. The main sign is a change in life: a new dependence on God, evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace etc) and a witness in word and character which draws people to faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ.
People often put much emphasis on “speaking in tongues” but it is not the end, or even the purpose, of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
E. Speaking In Tongues
This is, and has been, a big issue in the church. Some say it was for times past, others that it was just other human languages and some see it as something more, deeper, in our relationship with God.
I see tongues as an integral part of my faith life; I have never thought that it was not a real and valid experience. By the same token, I know that there are many strong Christians who produce much spiritual fruit in their life but who do not speak in tongues. I have no problem with either and do not see one group as being more important than then other; though I expect that Jesus is likely to be more interested in whether we produced spiritual fruit in our lives than in whether we spoke in tongues. However, if we speak in tongues it should also go without saying that we produce spiritual fruit; this may be the reason for the waiting upon the Holy Spirit.
In considering whether we want to speak in tongues we do probably need to ask ourselves how intimate with Jesus we want to be.
Consider for a moment the wonderful possibility that we can communicate with our Heavenly Father in a way that is totally unlimited by our finite minds. A way that we can receive from Him in fresh, wonderful new ways. If this appeals to you, I encourage you to approach speaking in tongues with an open mind, and an open Bible.
I. So what is speaking in tongues?
First,let’s look at a few things that speaking in tongues is NOT:
1. Tongues are not a status symbol, indicating that one Christian is more spiritual than another. The Corinthian church was a hotbed of tongues speaking, yet the Apostle Paul still chastised them for being carnal (1 Corinthians 3:3.)
2. Tongues are not a shortcut to instant spiritual maturity.
3. Tongues are not a hypnotic, zombie like state in which the person has no control of his faculties.
Speaking in tongues is, to put it simply, Holy Spirit inspired speech in a language unknown to the speaker. It can be spoken in a Christian’s private prayer life, or in a public worship service with interpretation.
People do tend to have a natural hunger for the supernatural. Unfortunately, many turn to the false, satanic supernatural found in psychics, the New Age,and other cultic activity rather than seeking the true supernatural power of God. This is tragic. God is a supernatural God! He can fulfil the deepest longings of our hearts with His love and power. Tongues are one of the avenues that He works through in order to do this.
II. Are tongues still valid today?
Yes, there are more Christians on earth today who speak in tongues than there have been at any other time in history! Although they have always been around in varying degrees throughout church history, there has been a strong revival of tongues in this century.
It is true that the Bible refers to a time when tongues shall cease (1 Corinthians 13:8). However, this same passage also tells us when this will happen: When perfection comes, we see face to face, and we know, even as we are known (verses 10-12.)
We don’t always know how to pray properly. This is why God has made available to us this heavenly prayer language, that takes us beyond our limitations and helps us pray with the Spirit making intercession with us through groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26.)
We need the Holy Spirit to help us this way just as much, if not more,than the first century church did.
III.How does speaking in tongues operate?
In order to answer this question properly, we must recognise that the Bible describes three different manifestations of speaking in tongues:
- Evidential tongues-The initial physical evidence when someone is baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1- 4;10:44-46;19:2-7.)
- Intercessory tongues-the ability to pray in other tongues, or “In the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:14- 16; Ephesians 6:18;Jude 20) in order to pray beyond our limited human understanding, speak mysteries to God ( 1 Corinthians 14:2) and edify (build up) ourselves (1 Corinthians 14:4).
- The ministry gift of tongues, described in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14, involves giving a message in tongues in a public worship service, which is to be interpreted (12:10).This is a powerful sign to unbelievers ( 14:22).This gift is only given in certain situations, as the Spirit wills. Therefore, not all Christians are used in this gift (12:30.)
IV. Are tongues really all that important?
In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul gives us a basic primer on the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues and interpretation of tongues. Since tongues and interpretation are the last gifts which Paul mentions, some have taken this to mean that tongues are the least important of the gifts, and that we shouldn’t really be concerned with them. However, I would respectfully reply that this argument is based on a very presumptuous and inconsistent approach to Biblical interpretation.
Chronological order of how something is listed is not necessarily an indication of importance. For example, in 1 Corinthians 13:13 , Paul tells us that faith, hope, and love remain, yet the greatest of these is love, despite of the fact that it is listed last. Likewise, in a list of sinful activities recorded in Galatians 5:19-21, murder is named near the end of the list. Does that mean that murder is a less serious sin than the others? Of course not.
Paul definitely did not view tongues as being unimportant. In fact, he devotes an entire chapter in the Bible to teaching on the subject (1 Corinthians 14). In this chapter, he tells the Corinthian believers that he desires that they all speak in tongues (verse 5), and thanks God that he speaks in tongues more than all of them! (verse 18) Three times in Scripture we are exhorted to covet (Pursue with passion) the gifts of the Holy Spirit-including tongues (1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1, 39, the same Greek word is used in all of these Scriptures.) Note that this is worded as a commandment, not an option.
V. Why are we afraid, or nervous of this gift?
Tongues are a wonderful tool God has given His people to enjoy His presence more fully and intimately, and to make us more effective in our service for Him.
Being a supernatural phenomenon, speaking in tongues is approached somewhat hesitantly by many Christians. However, this is nothing new. In the Bible, when God’s presence showed up in a tangible manner, it was not unusual for onlookers to respond with fear. We see this in events like the angelic vision the shepherds had when Jesus was born (Luke 2:8-12,) when the disciples saw Jesus walk on water (Mark 6:45-50,) and when John had his vision of the risen Jesus (Revelation 1:4-17.) Notice that each time,the first reaction of the people who witnessed these supernatural occurrences was to be afraid. However, in each of these cases, these people were assured to “Fear not,” or “Be not afraid.”
In Luke 11:9-13, Jesus makes the solemn promise that if you ask God for bread, He isn’t going to give you a stone. According to verse 13,the context of this verse is asking the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life is something to be cherished, not feared.
F. What happens after the baptism with the Holy Spirit?
Remember that a baptism is an initiation.
Your water baptism is not the fullness of your Christian walk. It merely marks the beginning of your Christian walk.
You still must take advantage of that initiation every day, by continuing in the Christian life.
Likewise, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the end-all to your experience of the Holy Spirit. Instead, it marks the beginning of your living in the fullness of the Spirit.