The baptism by the Holy Spirit must not be confused with the initial regeneration work of the Spirit, which takes place in a person that accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He can be regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit, but miss the actual baptism.
Unlike the process of regeneration, baptism by the Holy Spirit is not required for salvation. But it’s important. This morning even as we are celebrating another day of Pentecost I am going to share with you three reasons why this is an experience that all of us should seek after.
1. Our divine privilege
In the Pre-Pentecostal era the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers was twofold. In the book of Judges the indwelling was selective and temporary. The Holy Spirit “came upon” the various judges whom God raised up to deliver Israel from their oppressors. God’s Spirit assisted them fulfill a specific task, (Judges 14:6; Judges 3:10; Judges 15:14) and left once the task was completed. Then there were people like David and Saul who had God’s special favor on them. The Spirit actually indwelled them yet departed if they sinned and fell short of divine favor, (1 Samuel 16:14; Psalm 51:11).
Many years later the prophet Joel prophesied that God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh, (Joel 2:28-29). Upon young men and women, the old, men and women and all servants regardless of age or social standing. This prophecy reflects Moses’ hope (and prophecy) in Numbers 11:29. The prophetic outpouring of the Holy Spirit no longer limits to a chosen group. This makes it a divine privilege that we all must seek earnestly.
2. Our source of power
Personal empowerment for service is the main goal intended by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, (Acts 1:8). The Bible says that Jesus was baptized by the Holy Spirit at the same time he was baptized by water, right before he launched his public ministry. The disciples had to be clothed with the same power if they were to continue Jesus’ mission (Luke 24:49). This empowerment generates 3 elements needed for God’s service.
Read Acts 2:1-36
The disciples didn’t dare appearing in public even after the resurrection. Although the day of Pentecost is a day of celebration, the disciples were hiding in the same upper room in which they observed the Passover 50 days ago. But the situation completely changed when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Peter, once was the worst coward of them all, began to preach and confront the same Jews he feared so much, (Acts 2:22-24; Acts 3:12-16; Acts 4:8; Acts 4:20)
Boldness is an indispensable characteristic of any effective ministry, (Luke 13:32). There’s nothing much we can accomplish without it because in ministry we have to deal with many risks. Boldness cannot be faked but can only be achieved by baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Read Acts 2:37-40
Five thousand were converted to Christianity within few days, when Peter preached with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2:40; Acts 4:4). The Bible says the converted were convicted of their own sinfulness after listening to Peter, (Acts 2:37)
In Greek the term “Pentecost” means fifty. It’s the fiftieth day after the Passover celebration. It is also the period the Jewish farmers harvest their crops. God in pouring out the Holy Spirit on the same day, implied preparing his disciples to harvest a spiritual crop, (Luke 10:2).
We cannot harvest God’s spiritual crop without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, because words without the power of God cannot convict the sinner, (1 Corinthians 2:4). Eloquence or charisma must not be misunderstood as anointing. Such manly qualities cannot open the spiritual eyes of sinful people. This is why an eloquent preacher can preach three thousand sermons but not win a single soul. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is the only weapon that could penetrate the hearts and souls of the lost.
(C) Supernatural Power
Read Acts 3:1-6
Miracles must accompany the act of preaching, because miracles are signs by which Christ confirms our act of witnessing. They confirm the existence of divine power and encourage faith.
The healing of the lame beggar is the first account of miraculous healing recorded in the book of Acts. As Jews the disciples prayed in the temple 3 times a day. Early in the morning, at the ninth hour of the day (probably 3:00 p.m) and once again at the Sunset. The beggar had been in that spot for 40 years and the disciples had not paid him any attention before.
This time instead of walking away they looked at the beggar and said, “Look at us!” When they had the man’s attention Peter said “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you”. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” The Bible says, instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong when they took him by the right hand and helped him up. He jumped to his feet and began to walk.
Peter stated that he had no silver or gold, but would give the crippled beggar something much more valuable. Churches that possess a fair degree of material property should ponder these words of Peter. Many churches today can no longer say “Silver and gold I do not have,” nor do they seem capable of saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
3. Our source of help
Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. (John 16:13). The convicting work of the Holy Spirit is not limited to the unsaved but also operate in believers and the church in order to teach, correct and guide them into truth, (Matthew 18:15; 1 Timothy 5:20; Revelation 3:19). He speaks to us concerning sin, the righteousness of Christ and the judgment of evil in order to,
(A) Conform us to Christ and his standard of righteousness, (2 Corinthians 3:18)
(B) Guide us into all truth
(C) Glorify Christ
Thus, the Holy Spirit works within us to reproduce Christ’s holy life in our lives.
Now that you are aware of the importance of the baptism by the Holy Spirit and its spiritual rewards, your question should be how can you have this wonderful experience.
(A) Every believer is a candidate
First, remember that you are a candidate like any other believer because baptism by the Holy Spirit is a gift from God. It’s called a gift because no one can expect to be baptized by the Holy Spirit depending on his merit. It’s another gracious act of God. If the outpouring of the Spirit depended on such conditions even the most committed and genuine Christians shall not qualify.
When Peter in the day of Pentecost quoted the Spirit baptism from the book of Joel for the first time, used this same theme and stated that the promised gift is for you (Jews) and your children (their generation), and for all who are far away, (Acts 2:39). The most appropriate interpretation for “all those who are far away” would be “gentiles” or us, (Ephesians 2:13-17).
(B) Submission and anticipation
In being a candidate you must possess an appropriate attitude. You should be willing to submit to God’s authority and be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. You cannot force the work of Spirit on yourself by speaking in a fake tongue. (Tongues is the initial physical evidence of baptism by the Holy Spirit.) You must work together with the Holy Spirit – The disciples’ experience on the day of Pentecost is of utmost importance here. Each and every one of them spoke in unknown tongues as the Spirit gave them the ability, (Acts 2:4).
(C) Prayer with praise and worship
In the lesson where Jesus taught God is more than willing to baptize us by the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), also stressed the need for perseverance (Luke 11:9-10). In the Septuagint these verbs actually are rendered in the present continuous tense, (i.e. keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking). This must not be confused with hopeless petitions though. This is the actual foundation of the fourth beatitude, (Matthew 5:6). Do not forget even the disciples were praying before the day of Pentecost came, (Acts 1:14).
Your prayers and petitions must be combined with praise and worship. Bible says that the disciples continued to remain in the temple and praised God (Luke 24:53). Later it was of great assistance to the prayer offered in the upper room. Praising God in your own tongue provides a smooth transition to heavenly tongues. Besides when the disciples spoke in tongues, they actually magnified God and his works in a language not known to them, (Acts 2:11; Acts 10:46). It’s even more interesting that the day of Pentecost is officially an occasion where people thanked God for his goodness and provision.
(D) Acknowledge that God is sovereign
Finally God definitely answers prayers. But his timing may not be parallel with your own, because of very special reasons known only to him. Lets not forget however that unexpected outpourings of Holy Spirit are evident in the book of Acts as well as church history.
Quoting from my personal experience, I once belonged to a group of youngsters that waited to experience the Spirit baptism for a great length of time. Then one day all of us were suddenly baptized by the Holy Spirit and my sister was the first to receive the experience. After a while I was also baptized in the Holy Spirit unexpectedly, while spending time in my bed room praying and worshiping.