I was compelled to write this article because of two needs that the modern church seem to have.
(A) The high percentage of believers who have never received the Spirit baptism.
(B) Their inadequate knowledge about the Spirit baptism and its purpose.
I would like to suggest that Christian leaders (Pastors, Evangelists, and Teachers) that are responsible for teaching and guiding the church in God’s word are accountable for providing the antidote for such issues.
It’s not the scope of this article to discuss the evidence for Spirit baptism however. I already covered that here. Neither this is an effort to defend the doctrine of initial physical evidence of Spirit baptism. It’s my purpose to provide some suggestions to Pastors as how to help Christians to receive the Spirit baptism and to help others who have already received, to understand the strength of their experience. In reality the leader is obliged to provide counseling and guidelines to the church in areas like this one. The following instructions are for the believer who has not received the Spirit baptism yet.
1. Every believer is a candidate
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 is a reflection of Moses’ hope (and prophecy) we read in Numbers 11:29. This prophetic outpouring of the Holy Spirit no longer limits to a chosen group.
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 gentiles would be the most appropriate interpretation for “all who are far away” (Ephesians 2:13-17). The pastor or the teacher must be careful to convince the candidates that this is an experience solely intended for them.
2. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit
It’s important to emphasize that the Holy Spirit dwells in every born again Christian regardless of the factor whether they have received the Spirit baptism or not. Each time an individual repents and chooses to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration within the new convert. Afterwards instead of leaving He continues to dwell within the new convert.
3. The Holy Spirit is a gift
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift from God. It’s called a gift because no one can expect to be baptized in the Holy Spirit depending on his merit. It’s another gracious act of God. If the outpouring of the Spirit depended on such prejudice it will prevent the Holy Spirit from acting sovereign – even in the most committed and genuine Christians.
4. Fake experiences
Some Christians have an insecure feeling that they will speak a made up tongue of their own or a tongue given by a demonic Spirit. This can never happen (unless the person in question lives a compromised Christian life). Such believers need to be assured according to Jesus’ words found in Luke 11:11-13. Such sensitive and insecure Christians must be encouraged to release the urge to say unfamiliar words by actually pronouncing them.
5. Submission and anticipation
Every individual must possess an appropriate attitude though. He should be willing to submit to God’s authority and be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading at the same time. No one can speak in tongues of his own. The recipient must work together with the Holy Spirit – The disciples’ experience on the day of Pentecost has a vital principal here. According to Luke’s narration each and every disciple spoke in unknown tongues as the Spirit gave them the ability, (Acts 2:4). This principal of anticipation is a perfect antidote against the false teaching that, one must wait upon the Lord for a long period and work hard to be baptized by the Spirit.
6. Prayer 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). We cannot afford to forget even the disciples were praying before the day of Pentecost came, (Acts 1:14).
The candidate’s 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.
7. God’s sovereignty
God definitely answers prayers. But his timing may not be parallel with our own, because of very special reasons known only to him. Let’s 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.
8. For the baptized
Spirit baptism is often followed by common questions such as “What is the purpose of speaking in tongues during the Spirit Baptism?” “Speaking in tongues – is that all to it?” “What are some purposes and divine goals of the experience?” “As some Christians believe is it necessary to be filled again?” and “Could baptism of the Holy Spirit be experienced over and over again?” Genuine baptism of the Holy Spirit results in the following.
While the act of “speaking in tongues” is the initial physical evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit, the believer may find many other spiritual rewards in it. It is for this reason Paul the apostle wrote, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:2-4) This is the devotional application of tongues, (1 Corinthians 14:16-17). It is included in the teaching of praying in the Spirit, (Ephesians 6:18; Jude 1:20 – Also see Sermon on praying in the Spirit?) Thus speaking in tongues is a practice through which the believer edifies himself which is why it is called the language of prayer. Thus tongues is recognized as an essential feature of grace. Besides, the exercise of tongues is not limited to the initial moment of the spirit baptism. It’s repetitive in nature. This is well manifested in the statement St. Paul mentioned in his first epistle to the church in Corinth. “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:5)
In addition to the above, expert interpreters of scripture point out St. Paul’s statement in Romans 8:26 that says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.” resembles the same meaning as praying in tongues.
(B) Permitting the manifestations of the Holy Spirit
The recipient of the Spirit Baptism is entitled to exercise the entire suite of spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible. This is a natural phenomenon experienced by any individual that surrenders himself to the Holy Spirit with a desire to be lead by the Spirit. St. Luke’s usage of the Greek term “apofthengomai” (God breathed) to describe St. Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost confirms this.
A careful examination of biblical references to spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10; Ephesians 4:11) reveal the gifts were manifested not only in the New Testament era, but the Old Testament era as well. Disciples performed miracles such as healing the sick and driving out demons even before the Pentecostal experience, (Luke 10:9-17; Matthew 10:8). Furthermore history records these spiritual gifts have been manifested in one form or the other through Christians in every generation. As edification of the church is the purpose intended for public exercising of spiritual gifts, Christian believers must hunger and thirst after them eagerly.
(C) The life of righteousness
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is associated with the life of righteousness. The 7th statement in the Statement of Fundamental Truths of Assemblies of God reads “…with it comes the enduement of power for life and service…” where “power for life” means the supernatural strength for a holy life style. Truly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the act of being immersed in the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit is the name given to the Spirit of God in the New Testament. It walks hand to hand with individual holiness. The problem with the Corinthians were although they all spoke in tongues, were not willing to change their lifestyle. Christian believers baptized by the Spirit must realize their obligation to bear spiritual fruit, not just exercising the gifts.
Besides the phenomenon of fiery tongues witnessed on the day of Pentecost has its roots in God’s holiness. This concept is common to the entire Bible, (ex: The burning bush – See also: The burning bush). This indicates a connection to the candidate’s sanctified nature. The Spirit baptism doesn’t carry out a quick cleaning process, (nothing does). But it provides the believer with the extra strength helpful to live a life that pleases God. The outcome of a Spirit filled life that results from Spirit baptism are obvious. Among them are a life full of joy, a desire to serve, thanks giving, mutual submission and respect become significant, (Ephesians 5:18; 6:9).
Here it is appropriate to note that fullness of the Spirit is not limited to a single occasion. In addition to the daily work carried out in the life of the individual the Holy Spirit provides with guidance needed in times of crisis as well as meeting special needs. Such occasions are often known as “in-fillings of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:8-31; 13:9, 9:52).
(D) Power to witness
Any recipient of the Spirit baptism that neglects to witness to the Spiritually lost, contradicts the conditions concerning the experience. Although the primary act of witnessing is verbal Jesus’ promise for power included performing miracles in his name. The Acts of the Apostles present us with an index complete with these gifts of the Holy Spirit. Among the gifts mentioned are verbal gifts, gifts of healing, driving out demons and raising the dead.
I attempted to deal with a number of topics such as the responsibility of the Christian leaders to instruct the followers in their need for the Spirit baptism and prepare them to receive the actual experience; The need to teach the goals and results of the experience in a broad manner; the need to remain filled with the Spirit and finally its role in witnessing to the lost. Spirit baptism is lot more than doctrine on paper. It’s a fruitful experience manifested across the believer’s relationship to God, fellow believers and in his witness to the world.
Original article by Dr. William Chelliah
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