There is a deeply profound spiritual experience waiting for every sincere Christian. This wonderful experience is called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This baptism, not to be confused with water baptism, is promised by the Lord Jesus Himself in the Book of Acts 1:4-5. Here we read, “And being assembled together with them, (Jesus) commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which He said ‘you have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days from now.“
This baptism was to be perhaps the single most important experience in the lives of the disciples short of their personal faith in Jesus Christ! Speaking of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit Jesus said “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”Matthew 28:19-20
Though the twelve apostles were destined to spread the Christian faith throughout the world, they were commanded to wait for the empowering of the Holy Spirit before they embarked on their mission. We, as Christians, believe in one God, manifested in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Much like it is important and necessary to invite Jesus, God the Son, into your life, it is important to invite God, the Holy Spirit into your heart and life as well.
There are many Biblical examples of people receiving the Holy Spirit. The first example we see in the New Testament is the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2:1-4. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
The next place in scripture we see the Holy Spirit being poured out is in Acts 8:14-17. “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; (For as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.”
According to the above scripture, the people of the city of Samaria had heard and believed the preaching of the evangelist Philip. As a result of his preaching they had even seen many miracles (verse 13), and many of them had been water baptized (verse 12). However, they had not received the Holy Spirit. This demonstrates that a person may, indeed, be a water baptized believer and yet not be filled with the Holy Spirit! Repeatedly in scripture we see the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as a separate and subsequent experience to salvation.
The next outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurs in Acts 10:43-48. In this scriptural account we see the first time the Holy Spirit was given to non-Jewish people. There is contained in this account several interesting facts. Let us read. “To Him (Jesus) give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision (the Jews) were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”
Here we see the Holy Spirit given to the Gentiles. The Bible only says the leader of the group, Cornelius, was a devout man who feared God, with all his house. Having been visited by an angel (Acts 10:3) Cornelius was instructed to send for the apostle Peter. Upon Peter’s arrival he began to preach to the people. In the midst of Peter’s message the Holy Ghost fell, and again, consistent with scripture, they began to speak with tongues.
It is interesting to notice that in an earlier reference the people had been water baptized yet had not been filled with the Holy Spirit and here we see that those who had not yet been water baptized also received the Holy Spirit. This is to reveal to us that though God does have standards and patterns in scripture He is not limited to doing things in a certain way every time. However, though the sequence was different, there is something that is consistent; they spoke with tongues!
As we move forward we encounter another record of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This time the experience involves the apostle Paul and takes place in the city of Ephesus. “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; finding certain disciples, he said unto them, have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he (Paul) said unto them, unto what then were you baptized? And they said, unto John’s baptism (water baptism).Then Paul said, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him, that is, on Christ Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them: and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.” Acts 19:1-6
The Lord Jesus gave a clear command when he said, “Receive the Holy Ghost!” As we read earlier, He said it is the promise of the Father. As Christians, we should desire to receive all that our Father has for us.
Now that we have established the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience separate from salvation, let’s consider the way in which the Holy Spirit is received.
Jesus Himself tells us “And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:9-13
The way you receive the Holy Spirit is by asking Jesus, the baptizer, to baptize you with His Holy Spirit. If there is someone who can “lay hands” on you and pray with you, that is good, provided that person is a Spirit-filled believer.
When you ask the Father for the Holy Spirit you should expect two things: you should expect to receive the Holy Spirit, and you should expect to speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Tongues are important to your spiritual life and therefore should be received by faith and without hesitation.
The Bible makes many references to speaking in tongues. In I Corinthians 14:39 the Bible says,“Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.”
Further the Bible says, “For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto man, but unto God: for no man understands him; howbeit in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” I Corinthians 14:2. Speaking in tongues is one of God’s mysteries. Your own, distinct, prayer language is “mysterious” in that it is not a language that you have learned. Your “new tongue” is a spiritual language of prayer that God gives to you, in an instant, and as a gift!
The apostle Paul goes on to say in I Corinthians 14:14-15, “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful (not participating). What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding (my own natural language) also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”
When you pray with the spirit, your spirit, not your mind, is praying. Your spirit, which is in communion with God, will pray according to the will of God. Many times you will not clearly know the will of God in a particular situation. That is when praying in tongues is of a tremendous value. One final point about the apostle Paul, perhaps the greatest individual who ever lived other than Jesus Christ himself. This mighty apostle says with his own words, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all.” I Corinthians 14:18
For those of you who are sincere, born again believers who desire to receive this blessed experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, we offer this prayer. If you desire, you can make this your prayer, or you may use your own words. Jesus knows your heart.
Let us pray…
Father, in the name of Jesus, I come before you in faith. The words I have just read concerns your personal promise to me, a believer. Your promise is that I might receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus said all I must do is ask. Father, in Jesus name, I am asking you for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I am asking to be filled to overflowing with your Spirit. Jesus said that if I ask, I will receive. Father, I’m asking, and I believe I receive. Because I believe I receive, I thank you now for filling me. I also know that with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit comes the wonderful gift of speaking in other tongues. I believe I have received my own personal prayer language. Again Father, I thank you for your kindness to me. Thank you Father for filling me with your Holy Spirit.
Now just start praising God. Lift your hands toward Heaven and thank God for His promises. Thank Jesus for baptizing you in the Holy Spirit. Let the tears flow. Let the praises flow and let the most unruly member of your body (your tongue) flow with a new heavenly language.
Praise God in the Highest!