I was compelled to preach this sermon because of two unmet needs in the modern church.
(I) The high percentage of believers who have never received the Holy Spirit Baptism.
(II) The high percentage of believers whose knowledge about the Holy Spirit Baptism and its purpose is inadequate.
I believe that Christian leaders (Pastors, Evangelists, and Teachers) like me that are responsible for teaching and guiding the church in God’s word are accountable for meeting such needs. It’s not the scope of this sermon to discuss the evidence for the Holy Spirit Baptism, however. I already covered that here. Neither this is an effort to defend the doctrine of initial physical evidence of the Holy Spirit Baptism.
The purpose of my sermon is to provide some suggestions to help you receive the Holy Spirit Baptism and to help others who have already received it, to understand the strength of their experience. Simply because, as your Pastor, I am obliged to provide counseling and guidelines to you in areas such as the Holy Spirit Baptism. The following instructions are for you who has not received the Holy Spirit Baptism yet. [Adopted from an article by Dr. William Chelliah. Scripture quotations are taken from the Amplified® Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org]
1. We are candidates for this Phenomena
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 is no longer limited to a chosen group.
When Peter on the day of Pentecost quoted the Holy 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). (If you are preaching from this note see to it that you convince the candidates that this is an experience solely intended for them.)
2. The Holy Spirit dwells in us Already
It’s important to emphasize that the Holy Spirit dwells in every born-again Christian regardless of the fact whether they have received the Holy 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 him. Afterward, instead of leaving, He continues to dwell within the new convert.
3. The Holy Spirit Baptism is God’s Gift
The Holy Spirit Baptism 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 Holy Spirit depended on such prejudice it will prevent the Holy Spirit from acting sovereign – even in the most committed and genuine Christians.
4. The Genuine experience and the Fake
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. The Role of 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 principle 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 principle 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 receive the Holy Spirit Baptism.
6. The crucial role of Prayer and Worship
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 when they received the Holy Spirit Baptism on the day of Pentecost, (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 than the day of Pentecost is officially an occasion where people thanked God for his goodness and provision.
7. Honoring God’s Sovereign Authority
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 the unexpected outpouring of the Holy Spirit is 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 bedroom praying and worshiping.
8. If you’ve received the Holy Spirit Baptism
The Holy Spirit baptism is often followed by common questions such as “What is the purpose of speaking in tongues during the Holy 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 the Holy Spirit Baptism be experienced over and over again?” Genuine Holy Spirit Baptism results in the following.
(A) Speaking in Unknown/Heavenly Tongues
While the act of “speaking in tongues” is the initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the believer may find many other spiritual rewards in it. It is, for this reason, Paul the apostle wrote in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 14 from verses 2 to 4.
“For one who speaks in an unknown tongue does not speak to people but to God; for no one understands him or catches his meaning, but by the Spirit he speaks mysteries [secret truths, hidden things]. But [on the other hand] the one who prophesies speaks to people for edification [to promote their spiritual growth] and [speaks words of] encouragement [to uphold and advise them concerning the matters of God] and [speaks words of] consolation [to compassionately comfort them]. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church [promotes growth in spiritual wisdom, devotion, holiness, and joy].”
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 are 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 chapter 14 verse five of his first epistle to the church in Corinth.
“Now I wish that all of you spoke in unknown tongues, but even more [I wish] that you would prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater [and more useful] than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he translates or explains [what he says], so that the church may be edified [instructed, improved, strengthened].”
In addition to the above, expert interpreters of scripture point out St. Paul’s statement in chapter 8 verse 26 of his epistle to the church in Rome.
“In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words.”
(B) Permitting the Manifestations of the Holy Spirit
The recipient of the Holy 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 led by the Holy 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) reveals the gifts were manifested not only in the New Testament era but in 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 necessity for leading a 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 lifestyle. Truly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the act of being immersed in the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the name given to the Spirit of God in the New Testament. He walks hand to hand with individual holiness. The problem with the Corinthians was 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 exercise 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: Lessons from 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 the Holy Spirit Baptism is obvious. Among them is a life full of joy, a desire to serve, thanksgiving, mutual submission, and respect become significant, (Ephesians 5:18; 6:9).
Here it is appropriate to note that the Holy Spirit Baptism 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 the 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) The Holy Spirit Baptism gives power to Witness
Any recipient of the Holy Spirit baptism that neglects to bear 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 congregants in their need for the Holy 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 Holy Spirit and finally its role in witnessing to the lost. The Holy Spirit baptism is a lot more than doctrine on paper. It’s a fruitful experience manifested across the believer’s relationship with God, fellow believers, and in his witness to the world.
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