THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
The doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit has often been confused with the doctrine of the baptism into the body. As a result, some teach that when a person has received the born again experience, he has automatically received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Contrary to what is taught, the Bible shows forth very clearly that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not an automatic experience. Sometimes people received it at the same time as the born again experience but many times they do not because of a lack of teaching.
Five Incidents of Spirit Baptism
The disciples of Jesus Christ had received the born again experience and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit before the day of Pentecost. Jesus breathed into them and opened their understanding to the Word of God (Jn .20:22; Lk. 24:49). It was only forty days later that they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the speaking of tongues (Acts 1:5-8; 2:4).
The Samaritans received Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and were even baptized in water by Philip (Acts 8:12). It was some time later that Peter and John came from Jerusalem and got them baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17).
Paul was born again on the road to Damascus. He had to be born again because Jesus commissioned him to the ministry (Acts 26:16). Jesus will not commission someone who is not born again. Moreover, Paul in his encounter with Jesus called Him ‘Lord.’ (Acts 9:5). Paul in giving his personal testimony traces the beginning of his Christian life and ministry to the heavenly vision he received on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:19). Moreover, Ananias called him ‘Brother Saul.’ (Acts 9:17). It was only three days after his conversion that Paul received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:9).
Cornelius and his whole household received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the born again experience at the same time (Acts 10:44-46). The Jews were convinced that the Gentiles had received because of the evidence of tongues (Acts 10:46). This was the only case of people receiving the conversion experience and the baptism in the Holy Spirit simultaneously. It was more an exception rather than the norm. The reason for this was the tremendous spiritual hunger demonstrated by Cornelius (Acts 10:1,2).
The fifth and final incident of people receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit was the Ephesians. Paul baptized them in water first (Acts 19:5). After that Paul laid hands on them to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6). Whether Paul laid hands on them immediately after the water baptism or they came out and changed their clothes first, there was a time lapse of several minutes.
In the above study, we see that in four out of five incidents, people received the baptism in the Holy Spirit after the born again experience and it was definitely not taken to be one and the same experience. Nor was it an automatic occurrence. Even in the case of Cornelius, the time he had spent in spiritual hunger, prayer and fasting had brought the special move of the Holy Spirit among his household.
We have seen people baptized in the Holy Spirit simultaneously in our meetings but this has been more the exception that the norm. To those who claim that they had the Cornelius experience, my question is why didn’t they speak in tongues like Cornelius?
The Evidence of the Spirit Baptism
In Jerusalem, one hundred and twenty disciples all spoke in tongues when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). Cornelius and his whole household spoke in tongues (Acts 10:46). The Ephesians spoke in tongues (Acts 19:6). Paul was a tongue-talker (1 Cor. 14:18). Even though there was no record of tongues in the case of the Samaritans, there was evidence that could be seen and heard (Acts 8:17, 18). To be consistent with the Bible the evidence that could be seen and heard points back to the same evidence on the day of Pentecost which Peter says could be seen and heard (Acts 2:33). The baptism in the Holy Spirit does result in the speaking of tongues.
Some people say that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is the evidence of the Holy Spirit. We have nothing against the fruit of the Holy Spirit (In fact it will be covered in Volume 11 of this series). But we must be Scriptural in regard to the doctrines we hold. It was certainly not the fruit of the Holy Spirit that the people in Jerusalem saw in the one hundred and twenty disciples, it was tongues! (Acts 2:7, 11). Neither was Simon the magician watching the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Samaritans, it was a visible evidence that was demonstrated and immediately tangible! (Acts 8:18).
It takes time to see the fruit of a life. Sometimes we even have to live with a person and watch them react to the circumstances of life, to conclude that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is present in their lives. The fruit in our lives are the result of our close walk with the Lord Jesus and a demonstration of the transformation and maturity in our Christian lives. The baptism in the Holy Spirit can and should lead us to a closer walk with the Lord. But if we judge the evidence of the baptism by fruit, then we can only conclude that the Corinthian church were not baptized in the Spirit because of the lack of fruit in their lives, which would not be true (1 Cor. 1:11).
In Cornelius case, it was definitely not the fruit in their lives that convinced the Jews that the Gentiles had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Anyway, there was not enough time to observe for fruit for they hardly knew them then. However Peter concluded that they had definitely received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the same manner as at Pentecost (Acts 11:15-17). It was the tongues that convinced them (Acts 10:46).
Yet some others say that power is the evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Again we point to these people that in the case of the one hundred and twenty disciples, there was no evidence of a single miracle being performed and yet they were definitely baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). The Samaritans did not demonstrate any miracle and yet Simon the magician saw that they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:18). Neither did Cornelius demonstrate any miracle in his life and yet the Jews acknowledged that they had been baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:47).
The reason why Christians do not show power is because many times they are ignorant of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:1) and not because they were not baptized in the Holy Spirit. A lack of teaching and grounding in the Word is the cause for the lack of fruit and power and not the lack of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Bible standard of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the speaking of tongues.
The Two Types of Tongues
The confusion of many Christians in the realm of tongues is that they do not realize the two types of tongues. One is the speaking of tongues (praying in tongues) unto the Lord which does not need interpretation. After all, God understands every tongue. The other is the speaking in tongues (a ministry gift of the Holy Spirit) which need interpretation.
The speaking in tongues unto the Lord is praying in the spirit. It is our spirit man praying (1 Cor. 14:14, 15). Every born again Christian need to allow the spirit man to pray. And when their spirit man prays, according to the apostle Paul, their understanding will be unfruitful (1 Cor. 14:14). That means that it is the speaking of tongues each time the spirit man prays. All Christians have a spirit man and all their spirit man needs to pray.
On the other hand, there is the speaking of diverse tongues in the church which is a gift that only some will manifest (1 Cor. 12:10, 28, 30). This manifestation of tongues needs to be interpreted because it is not speaking unto the Lord but it is speaking for the Lord unto men. Since men do not understand tongues (unless as in some cases, the tongues is in a known language to the hearer although unknown to the speaker), we need to allow this gift of tongues to function orderly with interpretation in our Christian services.
The Importance of Speaking in Tongues
Many Christians, after they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, do not continue exercising prayer in tongues because they are not taught the benefits. Remember that Paul said the praying in tongues is praying in the spirit (1 Cor. 14:14). When we pray in tongues, we are spending time in the spirit realm and therefore are growing more sensitive to the spiritual world.
In the early days of my ministry, I did not realize the benefits of speaking in tongues until I had a spiritual experience in the spiritual realm in regard to tongues. I was praying in tongues one day while seated on a balcony in a flat. I prayed for about one hour when suddenly I felt difficulty praying in tongues. Every word I spoke felt artificial and it was only with great effort that I managed to pray. However I persisted in praying in tongues and after some time it was easy again to pray.
I did not understand that experience but that night the Lord showed me in a dream, the exact picture of me praying in tongues on the balcony. I saw myself praying in tongues with ease. Then suddenly a black hairy demon came and went round and round me saying, ‘Yakity, Yakity, Yak, Yak.’ Of course I did not realize that the demon was there in the day time as I did not see it. But there it was, the same incident replayed for me like a movie with the spiritual dimension added.
It was no wonder then, why I experience difficulty praying in tongues with that hairy demon running round and round me. As I observed, I saw myself continue praying in tongues although it was a struggle. Suddenly, out of my lips came a white light that looked like a laser beam and it knocked the demon out. The demon screamed and slowly crawled away from me in fear. Immediately, I got up and heard the Lord speak to me about the importance of speaking in tongues and the impact it has on the spiritual world.
In another vision, I saw the world covered by a dense thick cloud of darkness. From the earth I could see powerful beams of light breaking through the darkness and reaching to the Throne of God in heaven. In the vision I saw that the beams of light were the prayers of Christians, many of them praying in tongues.
From these two experiences, I began to seriously pray long hours in tongues. I noticed that when we pray long hours in tongues, there is a moment when our mind suddenly becomes still. When we reached that point, the awareness of the presence of God in our lives is heightened. At first it may take us six to eight hours of prayer to reach that stage but as we become familiar to the experience of God’s presence, we will take a shorter and shorter time to reach it. With experience, we reach the quietness of mind within five minutes. It was also in this quietness of mind that the inner voice of God seems loud and clear.
In one of my spiritual experimentations, I prayed in tongues non-stop for forty-eight hours. I was in a different realm by that stage. I literally saw into the spiritual world as if they were natural objects. The full benefit of praying in tongues has yet to be tapped by the church of Jesus Christ.
It is important to spend at least an hour of prayer in tongues every day. One hour seems to be the break-even point of the spirit realm over the soul and body. Jesus asked His disciples if they could wait in prayer an hour (Matt. 26:40, 41). If you have never experience the stillness of mind yet, take time off to spend a whole day in prayer in tongues.
Ten Benefits of Praying In Tongues
The following are ten reasons why we should pray in tongues:
1. When we pray in tongues, it is our spirit man that prays (1 Cor. 14:14). Our spirit man is activated and dominates our whole being as we pray in tongues.
2. Our spirit man is built up and energized when we pray in tongues (1 Cor. 14:4).
3. When we pray in tongues, we are speaking unto God and magnifying Him (Acts 10:46;1 Cor. 14:2).
4. Praying in tongues, which is praying in the spirit, is a part of our spiritual weapon against Satan (Eph. 6:10-18).
5. When we pray in tongues, we are built up on our most holy faith (Jude 20).
6. Prayer in tongues helps us in our prayer life (Rom. 8:26).
7. Prayer in tongues is prayer in the perfect Will of God (Rom. 8:27).
8. Prayer in tongues helps us against infirmities (Rom. 8:26). The word ‘infirmity’ is the same word that is used when Jesus is said to have borne our infirmities and sicknesses (Matt. 8:17). Praying in tongues creates a spiritual force in and around us that makes us immune to sicknesses.
9. When we pray in tongues, we enter our spiritual rest (Heb. 4:8-10;1 Cor. 14:21;Isa. 28:11,12).
10. Praying and singing in tongues helps us to worship God at a higher level than our understanding permits (1 Cor. 14:15; Jn. 4:23, 24).
DIFFERENT MEASURES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The most remarkable quality of the Holy Spirit is the quality of being measured. The Holy Spirit was given in measures in the Old Testament. Elisha had a double portion of Elijah’s anointing (2 Kings 2:9). Moses had the measure of the Holy Spirit upon him taken and divided to the seventy elders (Num. 11:17). Some say that we cannot divide the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at the moment dwelling in the spirits of born again Christians. We do not understand how He could be in our hearts and yet in another Christian’s heart. But we do know that He can be omnipresent.
The Salvation Measure
When a Christian is born again he receives a measure of the Holy Spirit that we shall call the ‘born again measure.’ Some Christians say that at that time a Christian only has the Holy Spirit with them but not in them (Jn. 14:17). However, Jesus was referring only to the disciples who were not born again yet. They only had the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament sense.
When they were born again, the Holy Spirit could now dwell in their new spirits. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God (1 Jn. 4:15). And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given to us (1 Jn. 3:24). The Holy Spirit definitely dwells in us when we are born again (Rom. 8:9-10).
Paul prayed for the Ephesians to receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation even though the Ephesians were born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:17, 18). We can receive progressive measures of the Holy Spirit. As we grow measure by measure, we will reach the full measure and stature of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:13).
The Baptismal Measure
Jesus said that whoever drinks of then water that He gives will never thirst but shall become in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (Jn. 4:14). I believe that this refers to the salvation measure of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus also said that if anyone is thirsty, let him drink and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (Jn. 7:37, 38). Rivers convey the meaning of a greater measure of water than a well. Here Jesus is referring to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a clothing and an immersion in the Holy Spirit (Lk. 24:49). Not only is the Holy Spirit in us but He is upon us (Acts 1:8).
When a person is baptized in water, he gets wet. There is evidence of his being baptized in water. When a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit, there will be an evidence of his being baptized in the Holy Spirit. To be baptized in the Holy Spirit is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Since the tongue is the control centre of our beings, it would be natural for the Holy Spirit to first take control of our tongue when He controls us (Jam. 3:2-7).
If James were to write his epistle today, instead of comparing the tongue to a ship’s rudder or a horse’s bridle, he would have compared the tongue to the steering wheel of a car (Jam. 3:3, 4). If we want to take control of a car, it would be most natural to take control of the steering wheel. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit controls and fills our lives, one of the first things He does is to take control of our tongues.
The Holy Spirit Baptism of Jesus
There is a difference between Jesus’ baptism in the Holy Spirit and ours. When the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, He came in the form of a dove and Jesus did not speak in tongues (Lk. 3:22). When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, He came in the form of fire and they spoke in other tongues (Acts 2:3,4). John the Baptist testified that Jesus shall baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Lk. 3:16).
There are two differences between Jesus and us: Jesus had no sin nature and no unrenewed mind. All of us have a sin nature and an unrenewed mind prior to conversion. Therefore when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit’s fire purifies us and continues to burn in our lives to preserving us from the weaknesses of inherent in our sin nature. We were also given an ability to pray bypassing the limitations of our mind, which is still in the process of renewal. When we pray in tongues, our understanding does not comprehend (1 Cor. 14:14,15).
God has equipped us with spiritual weapons to overcome our sin nature and our unrenewed mind in order that we can be like Jesus was when He was manifested on this earth.
Increasing Measures of the Holy Spirit
Charles G. Finney in his book ‘Revival Fires’ speaks of continual baptisms in the Holy Spirit. I believe that we received the baptism in the Holy Spirit once and after that we can continue to receive greater and greater measures of the Holy Spirit. The disciples in the book of Acts, upon being persecuted, turned to God in praying and asked for boldness to speak the Word (Acts 4:29). God answered their prayer by filling them with a greater measure of the Holy Spirit even though they were already baptized in the Holy Spirit.
The disciples were filled afresh and spoke the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:30). Note how the Bible records that they witnessed with great power (Acts 4:33). A greater measure of the Holy Spirit produced an increased measure of power.
The Ephesians who were already born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit were prayed for by Paul that they might receive the Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph. 1:17). Paul prayed that God would give them the Holy Spirit even though they already had received the Holy Spirit. Paul was praying for an increased measure of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
The Holy Spirit in Heaven
The Apostle John saw a vision of Jesus Christ and the seven Spirits before the throne (Rev. 1:4; 4:5; 5:6). The very manifestation of the Holy Spirit in heaven speaks to us of the fact that the Holy Spirit has the peculiar quality of being measured. It is beyond doubt that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. But being a person does not limit Him from the ability to be measured as shown in His work through human vessels all through the Bible.
The number seven represents the full measure of the Holy Spirit which Jesus had. It is the Will of God that the church of Jesus Christ receives the full measure of the Holy Spirit. The church is destined to reach the full measure of the stature of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:13).
Understanding the person and quality of the Holy Spirit would help us to humble ourselves at the feet of God constantly so that we learn to ask for and receive measure upon measure of the Holy Spirit. Don’t stop where you are. Press on deeper into the fullness of God. Press on deeper into the greater measures of the Holy Spirit.