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Foundations for Christian Life

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Study verses: Acts 2:1-4

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."

A further part of the blessing of our salvation is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Salvation, new birth, comes when we repent of our sin and receive Christ by faith as our Saviour and Lord. Baptism is the outward, public confession of the inward experience that has already taken place. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is that great act of Jesus Christ in giving a Christian power from on high, that energy-full endowment of the Holy Spirit. Although these three experiences are distinct, they are not necessarily to be thought of as being separated by any great length of time; indeed scripture shows the reverse to be the case.

We find nothing in the bible to think of water baptism as optional or its being carried out after a great space of time after conversion. Nor are we able to find in scripture any idea of the baptism of the Holy Spirit being available only after a period of probation or as being granted as a reward for service. An unbiased look at the word of God must lead to an increasing conviction that the three great steps of Acts 2:38-39 are basic to the complete Christian experience and fundamental to a victorious Christian life.

He wants us not only to enjoy the new life He has given us, but also to be effective messengers in communicating the gospel to others. Acts 1:8 - "But 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." This blessing is not just for a select few but for all believers. Acts 2:17 - "...I will pour out my spirit on all people." Acts 2:39 - "The promise is for you and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call." Besides, if all God's children are to be his witnesses, and if it is impossible to be an effective witness without the baptism in the Holy Spirit, then all God's children should expect to receive Him.

There are different ways of receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Sometimes God baptises in a sovereign act; this is what happened on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and to the household of Cornelius in Acts 10. At other times, it is received by the laying on of hands, as in Samaria, Acts 8 and in Ephesus, Acts 19:1-6. Individually, however, we receive the Holy Spirit baptism in the same way as we receive all the blessings of God - by FAITH.

Acts 2:38 - RECEIVING THE GIFT - "Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" Jesus in Luke 11:9-13 says, "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

We see here the importance of asking Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Having prayed, believing God has heard our prayers, we begin to praise God and worship Him with thanksgiving. This is a powerful means of drawing near to His presence to receive the Holy Spirit. James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and He will come near to you."

When we receive the Holy Spirit we become eligible for the gifts of the Spirit and our own spirit becomes sensitive to the voice of God's Spirit. We receive power (Acts 1:8) and ability (Acts 9:17-22) and begin to live our daily lives in the Spirit by the Spirit's power and should be constantly being filled with the Spirit (Eph.5:18, Col.3:16). As we become aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit, there is a breaking within us and our spirit springs up to respond to the Spirit of God. At this point we are enabled to pray in the Spirit and sing praise in the Spirit, as distinct from normal prayer and praise expressed in ordinary language, (see Rom.8:26-27, 1 Cor.14:15).

The question arises, "Must those who receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit always speak in tongues?" The simple answer is yes; in 1 Cor.14:5 Paul says, "I would like every one of you to speak in tongues..." Well that makes it very clear. However, the verse continues, "... but I would rather have you prophesy." What He is in fact saying is that you should both speak in tongues and prophesy. When you receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit you can speak in tongues, you should expect to speak in tongues and you will speak in tongues, provided you do not let prejudice or fear hinder the flow of the Holy Spirit. Remember, it is you who speaks in tongues not the Holy Spirit. According to James 3:8, the tongue is the hardest member of the body to tame and God wants to demonstrate His mighty power in the toughest member first.

So expect to speak in tongues when you are baptised in the Holy Spirit ... expect also to prophesy. The Holy Spirit rests upon us, he stimulates us to praise the Lord. As our own words seem inadequate, so the Holy Spirit leads and encourages us but never forces us to speak in tongues. Our mouth speaks out strange words and syllables as we yield to the Spirit's prompting. Once we begin we should expect the language to be spontaneous and fluent. We will not understand the words we are saying, nor should we expect to. 1 Cor.14:2 says, "For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no-one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit."

So you see, speaking in tongues is like having your direct line to God which no-one can understand or interrupt, even Satan. Speaking in tongues is also a means of building yourself up in the Spirit and in faith. Jude 20 says in the NASB, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit..." There will be no doubt, either to yourself or to others as to whether or not we are filled with the Holy Spirit when we speak in tongues.

Have you received since you believed? Since it is within every believer's power to cleanse their conscience before God and men, and to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we believe this blessing should not be missed by any believer and would make available an opportunity for you to be ministered to if you so desire.

The Lordship of Christ / Spiritual Gifts