The Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
By Mark Greenwood
February 2003 / May 2007
Since the birth of the Church at Pentecost it has gone through many different periods of experience. It has gone through times of persecution and blessing, times of compromise with the world, times of spiritual dryness and times of great refreshing. We can read of wonderful revivals breaking out in America, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. These are often accompanied by spiritual manifestations as the Spirit moves upon the Church. There is also a deep conviction of sin and many souls are converted. Yet it is not long after that fleshly counterfeits appear, the true revival comes to an end and is followed by a time of spiritual dryness which causes many to fall away, and the church becomes discontented, opinionated, arrogant, carnal and blind.
These periods of dryness can last many years. It is during this time that what is in our hearts is revealed. The Christian who has had a real experience in the past will recognize this as a time to persevere in the faith. It is a time to be vigilant against the many heresies that will invade the church yet also a time to maintain our first love. Others will be misled by the different spirits that invade the church with counterfeit supernatural manifestations. Others will be lifted up at the thought of being a super person with power to perform miracles by a word spoken. Still others will feel that if God isn’t moving then they need to find carnal methods to attract the ‘unchurched’ into church.
There is also another type of person that rises up at this time. Because he has never experienced anything spiritual himself he believes the time of dryness is the only true Christian experience. Being strong and dogmatic he makes war on anything that resembles the spiritual manifestations of the book of Acts. He believes that all spiritual manifestations ceased with the Apostles and the complete cannon of scripture. He believes the louder he shouts and the more critical he is makes his word the ‘last word’ on the subject. He then sets about trying to prove what he believes from scripture. Unfortunately many are attracted to him because of their own experience of dryness. Others will jump on the band wagon because they have tried the opposite extreme which left them disillusioned and now they have a champion who they can copy.
In all this confusion we need to turn to the Lord who said “you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you”. Not so we can perform great displays of supernatural power but that we might be His witnesses. The first witness we receive is a witness to our spirits as our spirits respond to the Holy Spirit. It is a witness that this is of God. This anointing of the Spirit will not necessarily make us great speakers however it will give us the ability to minister the Spirit in our message that will witness to those who God wants to speak to. People will be drawn to the Lord Jesus by the Spirit as we speak God's word. Without the Spirit the same words would be dead and empty but with the Spirit they are alive and quickening, sharper than any two edged sword. God will speak through our words to those who will come, those who refuse to come and stop their ears will become even more angry against God. This same Spirit gives us a witness of discernment so that we are able to discern what spirit is being ministered by others who speak to the Church. Everything needs to be checked against the Word of God and the by the witness of the Spirit of God.
The question is, is the act of receiving the Holy Spirit as an anointing of power for service scriptural, and is it for today?
Men of God throughout the ages have ministered the gifts of the Spirit. The need for receiving the Holy Spirit for power to witness after the new birth has also been preached throughout the ages. Many of the reformers functioned in the gifts of the Spirit, especially the gifts of healing and prophesy. John Owen, a Puritan in the 1600’s, recognized the need to actively seek and receive the Holy Spirit. D.L. Moody, George Whitefield, J.N. Darby and many others all recognized the need for this second blessing.
I have heard many arguments put forward that would deny the need to receive the Spirit as a second blessing after water baptism. They say that everything was received at the new birth and there is nothing further to receive, they are confusing the act of receiving the Spirit for ministry (Luke 4 v 18, Acts 1 v 8) with the work of the Spirit in regeneration (John 3 v 5, John 20 v 22). By their lack of understanding they cause themselves and other Christians who they deceive to be void of the faith needed to actively receive the Spirit.
We read in John’s gospel chapter 20 v 22 that when the disciples were in the upper room, Jesus appeared to them and breathed on them saying, “receive ye the Holy Ghost”. This was spoken in the aorist tense which is the past tense, it can be interpreted, “receive at once the Holy Spirit”. He is not telling them here to wait until sometime in the future (the day of Pentecost), rather it is something that is immediate.
Later, Jesus told the disciples to wait until they received the baptism in the Spirit for service. It was a baptism of power that the disciples received when the Holy Spirit fell on them. This happened at Pentecost.
It is often said that God gives the Spirit without measure (John 3 v 34). What they mean by this is that when a person is saved they receive the Spirit and that is it, they are given all the Spirit they will ever need. They are quoting from John chapter 3 v 31b-35, "--He who comes out of heaven is above all and what he has seen and has heard, this he testifies; and no one receives his testimony. He that has received his testimony has set to his seal that God is true; for he whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives not the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things to be in his hand."
Matthew Henry comments on this verse, "The words of Jesus were the words of God; he had the Spirit, not by measure, as the prophets had, but in all fulness". A. T. Robertson in his book, Word Pictures in the New Testament, says concerning this verse, "God has given the Holy Spirit in his fulness to Christ and to no one else in that sense".
God the Father gives us the Spirit through Jesus Christ. Therefore Christ is the giver of the Spirit. God gives the Spirit without measure to Christ for Him to give to us accordingly.
When a person believes on Jesus they are born of the Spirit. John Owen calls the initial receiving of the Spirit, a passive reception. We receive without actively seeking to receive the Spirit. It is after this that a person actively seeks to receive the Spirit in order that they might witness with all boldness and power concerning Jesus.
The scripture says that having believed we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, however this is not the full measure but just the earnest of our inheritance (Ephesians 1 v 13-14). The earnest is the small down payment given to us to seal us unto the day of redemption. It is the first fruits of the Spirit given to us that we might know we belong to God and might long for the day of our glorification. The small down payment shows us that there is much more for those who are thirsty.
Ephesians 1 v 13, “--- In whom also, having believed, ye have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance to the redemption of the acquired possession to the praise of His glory”.
What is Paul referring to when he says “the Holy Spirit of promise”?
In Acts 1 v 4-5 Jesus tells his disciples to wait for the promise of the Father because they are soon to be baptised with the Holy Spirit.
The promise of the Father is what was spoken of in Acts 2 v 16-21.
What happened at Pentecost was a fulfilment of the promise God made by the prophet Joel which Peter quotes to all the people.
In Acts 2 v 38-39 Peter tells the people that if they repent and are baptised in the name of Jesus Christ they will receive the gift of the promised Holy Spirit.
In Ephesians 1 v 13-14 Paul tells them that they have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit who is the down payment (earnest) of our inheritance. Romans 8 v 23 tells us that we have the first fruits of the Spirit. Hebrews 6 v 4 tells us that when we partake of the Holy Spirit we are, tasting the heavenly gift.
Just a taste, the first fruits, a down payment. This is a wonderful experience of heaven and yet only a fraction of what we will receive one day on that day of redemption.
This promised Holy Spirit also seals us. Does this mean we are not God’s children if we haven’t been sealed?
Before Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at Jordan he was still God’s Son. Before He was officially acknowledged by God to be His Son, he was still the Son of God. This was his sealing and adoption (sonship, being acknowledge by the Father as officially representing Himself). When Abraham received the seal of circumcision it was as a sign of the faith which he had before circumcision (Romans 4 v 11). When we are sealed by God it is because of who we are in Christ already, it does not make us God’s children; we already are God’s children.
2 Corinthians 1 v 22 tells us that God ‘has sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts’. When did He put the Spirit in our hearts, when we were saved or baptised in the Spirit? Galatians 4 v 6 says, “and because you are sons (we are sons already), God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father”.
This sealing is the Spirit witnessing to us that we are God’s children (Romans 8 v 15-17). This sealing is to the day of redemption when we receive the full realization of our adoption or sonship. It was acknowledged by the Father that Jesus was His Son at his baptism, but also on the mount of transfiguration God acknowledged Jesus giving him His full authority. When we receive the spirit of adoption there is such a love of God shed abroad in our hearts causing us to cry Abba Father (Romans 5 v 5, Romans 8 v 15, Galatians 4 v 5-6). This in itself is a witness to our spirit that we are the children of God (Romans 8 v 16).
It has also been said that the “so called, baptism with the Spirit is an emotional experience of the flesh that is unscriptural”. Well an emotional experience of the flesh may be unscriptural but the baptism with the Spirit is not an experience of the flesh and is not unscriptural. There will no doubt be a physical reaction to the joy and gratitude that fills our souls but that is scriptural. Many people experience a spiritual blessing or touch but that must not be confused with the baptism with the Spirit. The baptism with the Spirit is a witness of the Spirit to our spirit and a revelation of Jesus to our souls. Our spirit is quickened by the Holy Spirit causing a spiritual river to burst forth from our inner most being flowing out of our mouth in ministry to God or others. There is a witness of the spirit within, deep calls to deep. Up to this time there may not be an awareness of our spirit within, but now we are conscious of the Spirit with our spirit. Our worship of God outside of this sphere now seems cold and dry, our ministry without the flow of the Spirit seems dead and of the flesh.
To be filled with the Spirit brings us into a closer personal walk with Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus is seated in heavenly places however the Holy Spirit makes His presence real to us. He reveals Jesus to us so that we may know Him intimately. By the presence of His Spirit Jesus is with us always.
A scripture that is sometimes used to discredit the doctrine of a second blessing, i.e., the baptism in the Spirit, is 1 Corinthians 12 v 13a “By one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body--”. They emphasise the word ‘all’, saying that all Christians have been baptised by the Spirit. To back this up Ephesians 4 v 5 is quoted “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”.
One baptism! Yet the bible clearly speaks of more than one baptism. The book of Hebrews in chapter 6 v 2 talks of the doctrine of baptisms (plural).
The three main baptisms would be, water baptism in the Name of the Lord, the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the baptism into the body by the Spirit. So why does Ephesians 4 v 5 say that there is “one baptism”?
The context of the passage is the Church’s relationship with God. There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.
We have one Lord Jesus Christ and by one faith, which is in Him, we are placed (baptised) by the Spirit into the body of Christ.
When we first believe on Jesus the Spirit seals us and places us into the body of Christ.
In water baptism we witness to everyone that we are identified with Christ. We are baptised in His Name and therefore belong to Him. It is something we do as a witness. When we are baptised in the Spirit it is something the Lord does to us as a witness to our spirit that we are accepted by Him. We also receive the power to witness.
To be baptised or placed into the body is something that the Spirit does to us as a result of our faith in the Lord. All three acts are saying the one same thing, that we are baptised or placed into Christ as part of the whole body.
The Church is the body and the body is the Church, they are the same. However the meaning of Church is that we are a called out people. We are called out of the world, but it doesn’t end there, the whole point of being called out of something is that we might be placed into something else. We are called out of the world and placed into the body. We witness to this by water baptism and the Lord witnesses to this by baptising us in His Spirit. However we are ‘in Christ’ by faith so it is not a condition of salvation that we are baptised in the Spirit.
Why does Paul say we are baptised into one body and not just put into one body?
The word ‘baptism’ is a word whose original meaning from the Greek is, to dip, to submerge, overwhelm, place into, or bring into union with something else to change its condition.
We can see there is more substance to the word 'baptised' than plain 'put'. We are placed into the body and are united with that body becoming part of the one body.
Charles Hodge, in his study of 1 Corinthians chapter 12, says that the Spirit is said to be poured out so the word baptism can be used whether it is for regenerating, sanctifying, or inspiring influences.
We therefore need to be specific in what we are referring to.
The word ‘baptism’ in the bible is used for many different things. When we are talking about the second blessing which is commonly called the baptism in the Holy Spirit we can say we are to be submerged into or overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit. If we are submerged into, or, overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit then we will most likely have a witness to this in our spirits.
John the Baptist witnessed of Jesus that He would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Matthew 3 v 11). Later Jesus Himself said to the disciples, “For John truly baptized with water but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1 v 5). We know the story how the disciples, on the day of Pentecost, were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Peter said that this was the fulfillment of that which was spoken through the prophet Joel where he said that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh ---. These are the last days, they didn’t finish two thousand years ago. We are still living in the last days.
Some time later Philip preached the word to the Samaritans who received the word with joy and were baptized in water however at this stage the Holy Spirit had fallen on none of them (Acts 8 v 16), only they were baptized to the name of the Lord Jesus. Eventually Peter and John came down from Jerusalem and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. So there was a distinct gap between believing unto salvation and receiving the Spirit.
Peter was also sent by God to the house of Cornelius, after having preached the word to them he was surprised to see them receive the Holy Spirit. They were Gentiles and he thought the gift of God was only for the Jews. He would never have baptized them in water or prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit, however on seeing that God had given them the gift of the Holy Spirit he realized that salvation was to the Gentiles as well as the Jews and ordered that they be baptized in water.
When Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him why he had gone to Gentiles. He explained to them how God had sent him and how the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles as he had done in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. When this happened Peter remembered the word of the Lord how He said, “John indeed baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost”. He knew that the Gentiles had received the like gift as they had done in the upper room therefore to refuse them water baptism would be to resist what God was evidently doing.
So, what Peter is saying here is that the Holy Ghost ‘fell’ on the Gentiles in like manner as He also fell on them on the day of Pentecost. They spoke with tongues and magnified God. This he associated with the words of the Lord when He promised them they would be baptized with the Holy Ghost. The disciple’s terminology for the baptism in the Spirit is always “receive the Spirit”, in this case Peter confesses that this receiving of the Spirit is the same as the baptism in the Spirit. This receiving and being filled with the Holy Spirit is necessary for our outward expression in our life, rather than it being our own efforts at glorifying the Lord Jesus in our witness. Our Lord also spoke of this when He said that out of our belly shall flow rivers of living water meaning the Holy Spirit (John 7 v 38-39).
In Acts 19 we read that Paul, arrived at Ephesus. Apollos had recently left Ephesus and was now at Corinth. Having found certain disciples Paul asked them, “having believed, have you received the Holy Spirit?” now, due to what transpires next I believe he could just as easily have said, “having believed and been baptized in water, have you received the Holy Spirit?”
Paul was uncertain about these men and had the impression that even though they had believed in Jesus, which he presumed, it was possible that they hadn’t yet received the Holy Spirit.
When they said that they hadn’t even heard if there be a Holy Spirit he then asked them, “unto what then were you baptized?” This relates back to Acts 2 v 38, “Then Peter said unto them, repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost—”. This is the message for those who believe on Jesus. The first step of obedience in a new believers life is to be baptized in water, then they are encouraged to receive the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Him. This was the practice in bible times. Believers were baptized in water and received the Spirit.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 v 1-2 that the Israelites were baptised in the cloud and in the sea. The pillar of cloud would lead them by day and a pillar of fire by night. The sea is the baptism in water and the cloud and fire is the baptism in the Spirit.
It is often said that these men at Ephesus were followers of John the Baptist and not Jesus, this is not really relevant to the point I am making but I think most good commentators see Apollos as preaching Jesus as the Messiah but only with the understanding of John the Baptist who, preached the coming of the Messiah, baptized Jesus, identified Jesus as the Son of God, and had proclaimed the baptism with the Holy Spirit. However John the Baptist had not seen the cross nor the resurrection of Jesus. Apollos and these disciples needed the scriptures opening up to them more fully. Quite obviously these disciples had a very poor understanding of Jesus Christ.
The point I am making is that after explaining to them more fully, Paul then baptized them in water, after that he didn’t leave it there as most would do today (in fact most wouldn’t even have baptized them in water today) but rather he went on to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. In other words there was a time gap between them believing the word, being baptized in water and receiving the Holy Spirit, perhaps only minutes or hours but it followed the sequence of first believing, then being baptized in water and then receiving the Holy Spirit.
These Ephesians also finally received the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and prophesying.
So here we begin to see a pattern, believing unto repentance followed by baptism in water and then receiving the Spirit. Only in very special circumstances like Cornelius’s household, will believers be baptized in the Spirit before being baptized in water.
When Jesus started His ministry, He came to John the Baptist for him to baptize Him in water. The bible says that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mothers womb but when he saw that Jesus had come to be baptized he forbade Him saying ‘I have need to be baptized of thee’. Jesus replied and said, “suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3 v 15).
After being baptized in water the Holy Spirit like a dove descended and alighted on Jesus. Yes, He was already the Son of God who had been conceived by the Holy Spirit and had the favour of God upon Him, but here He was fulfilling all righteousness by being baptized in water and then anointed with the Spirit and power for service (Acts 10 v 38).
The bibles description of a dove, in contrast with the raven, is that it will not land upon anything dead or unclean (Genesis 8 v 9). Neither will the Spirit come upon and anoint anything dead or unclean.
Luke chapter 3 v 22, to, 4 v 19 says that the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him and being full of the Holy Ghost he returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Still in the power of the Spirit He returned into Galilee and going into the Synagogue read from Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He have sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord”.
Are we more righteous than the Lord? Or do we need to be obedient and follow His footsteps?
The coming upon us of the gift of the Holy Spirit is the anointing that the Lord gives to His children for power for service. This same anointing abides within us and teaches us all things (1 John 2 v 27). Anointing means to, light upon, to rub with oil, to consecrate to an office or religious service. We might say that the Holy Spirit is consecrating us for service.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter, filled with the Spirit commanded them to, “repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call”.
So yes it is scriptural and it is for as many as the Lord calls.
When believers actively and specifically receive the Holy Spirit then, according to scripture, it is the Holy Spirit falling upon believers (even after Pentecost), filling and anointing them with power for service. The Holy Spirit is received by faith, but the receiving is a witness to the personal love of God that is experienced and known by the recipient.
Jesus Christ told His disciples that the Spirit of truth would be in them (John 14 v 17). We know that the New Covenant is that God’s laws shall be in our heart and in our mind. The word tells us that we must be born again of the Spirit (John 3 v 5) and the Spirit of God now dwells within us (Romans 8 v 9). When we believe on the Lord Jesus with all our heart then we are saved (Acts 16 v 31).
Not only did Jesus tell His disciples that the Spirit would be in them but also that the Holy Spirit would come upon them to give them power for witnessing (Luke 24 v 49, Acts 1 v 8). Paul told the Corinthians that his preaching to them was in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power.
In the Old Testament Aaron was anointed with the holy anointing oil for service. As I have already shown, Jesus was anointed at the commencement of His ministry, and so too should those ‘in Christ’, be anointed with the Holy Spirit in order to serve God and be His witnesses.
The Apostle Paul knew from his own experience the importance of being filled with the Spirit for service and that this was a separate experience to his surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ.
We know the story how; when he was on the road to Damascus to persecute the Christians the Lord Jesus confronted him. Paul asked the Lord who he was, to which he was told that it was Jesus. What was his reply on realizing it was Jesus? His reply was one of full surrender, “Lord what will thou have me to do”, first he called Him Lord, which is recognition of someone of higher authority, and second he asked the Lord Jesus what He wanted him to do. I would say at this stage Paul believed and gave his life in full surrender to the Lord Jesus. He was told by Jesus to go into the city and he would be told what to do.
Being now blind he was led into the city and spent the next three days in prayer and fasting. After those three days Ananias came to him and told him that the Lord had sent him that Paul might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Immediately his sight was restored and he arose and was baptized. We are not told about him receiving the Spirit but we do know that it was one of the reasons Ananias came to him and later Paul tells the Corinthians that he spoke in tongues more than them all.
God gave man free will, He will not force His will on anyone. Every step that a person takes in their relationship with God begins by opening the door and allowing the Lord to come in (Revelation 3 v 20). It is to the believer that He gives the Holy Spirit, not to the unsaved (John 14 v 17), The Holy Spirit will only fall upon that which is already born of the Spirit of God. He will not come upon anyone who is dead or unclean. Whatever the Father gives to us must be received and appropriated by faith. Receiving anything from the Lord is an act of faith (the faith of a child) where the person receives specifically and with thanksgiving.
Jesus said that if we want the Holy Spirit we should ask the Father who will give us the Holy Spirit (Luke 11 v 13). Some would say that this was for the Jewish period and not the church period, but the Holy Ghost was not yet given so they would have to wait until the church period before they could receive this wonderful gift from the Father. Jesus was also looking at this from a father and child position which means they would have to be born of the Spirit. They can only ask their Father for the Holy Spirit if they are already born again.
Having received the Spirit is it possible to revert back to walking in the flesh? It would appear so. Paul commands us to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5 v 16). This is something that we must do. The Galatians had begun in the Spirit but were now living by the flesh (Galatians 3 v 3). In Ephesians 5 v 18 it is a command to be continually “filled with the Spirit”.
In the Old Testament we read that individuals were anointed with the Spirit for a specific purpose or calling. King Saul was given the anointing of the Spirit for his calling as king but he lost it because his own spirit wasn’t right with God, he didn’t have a clean heart towards God. David on the other hand was a man after God’s own heart. When he was anointed with oil, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16 v 13). When David had sinned with Bathsheba what was his heart cry? That God would create in him a clean heart, renew a right spirit within him, cast him not away from His presence, and “take not thy Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51 v 11). This was David’s heart cry, he didn’t want to have grieved God, nor be cast away from the presence of the Lord nor to lose the anointing of the Spirit so he repented of his sin and asked God to cleanse him and renew him. The anointing was for his service as king. He could still be king without the anointing but the difference would be known by David and seen in his ministry.
What David recognized was how catastrophic it would be for him to lose the anointing and be cast away from the presence of God. Many today would object to that, “Don’t you know David that God is everywhere? No matter where you go, God is there”.
Moses had the Spirit upon him for the work he had to do but even so it became too much for him. God told him to choose seventy of the elders of the people and he would take of the Spirit that was upon him and put that same Spirit upon them that they might support Moses and bear the burden of the people with him (Numbers 11 v 17). When the Spirit came upon them they prophesied. Moses said “would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them”. However, where were these men a few chapters later when the whole camp stood against Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua and refused to go into the promised land?
Of course, today, God has put His Spirit in His people. They cannot lose the Holy Spirit. The anointing for service however, I believe, can be lost, in that we can grieve the Holy Spirit and quench the Holy Spirit. While ever we walk according to law and not faith we are fallen from grace and need to repent. The Holy Spirit has come to point to Jesus and glorify Jesus. When our whole emphasis is on the Holy Spirit or spiritual manifestations we will grieve the Holy Spirit. We need to get back to honouring the Lord Jesus.
The church has authority in Jesus Name but more than that she has also received power, dynamite power, by the anointing of the Holy Ghost (Acts 1 v 8). This power is not theirs as such in the sense they can use it for their own ends but rather it belongs to the Holy Spirit who anoints the believer to minister the gifts of the Spirit.
In Acts chapter 3, after Peter had raised a man who had been crippled, he said to the crowd that gathered, “--- why marvel you at this? Or why look so earnestly on us as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man to walk” (v 12). This power, this dynamite, miraculous power which made this man to walk, is the power of the Holy Spirit who came upon Peter for the purpose of glorifying Jesus (v 13-26). In the last days, the Apostle Paul says, there will be some who have a form of godliness but deny the power associated with it. Peter said that both the godliness and power belong to God but by faith he was able to appropriate them. In these last days there are those who have a form of godliness but deny the power. They deny the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the power for service.
To be filled with the Spirit is not a one off thing, if we are to minister in the power of the Spirit it is essential that we keep on being filled. When Jesus said that out of our bellies shall flow rivers of living water, He was referring to the Spirit. Only when we are filled, can the Holy Spirit flow forth in ministry through us. To trust in the arm of the flesh and walk in the power of the flesh will quench the Spirit from being able to use us fully.
Today there are two extremes of people in the church. There are those who focus on signs, wonders and miraculous manifestations, and the opposite extreme are those who deny the power of God. Thank God for those who see the need for the baptism in the Spirit to glorify Jesus and who focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection.
There are many godly respected ministers from the past who believe in the baptism with the Spirit or as it is sometimes called the second blessing. The finer points of their understanding might change but on the whole they are talking about a spiritual experience after the new birth. These all believe in an experience that revolutionizes our lives.
There are such men and women as, D. L. Moody, F. B. Meyer, A. B. Simpson, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, George Whitefield and John Wesley.
John Bunyon (according to Burton, John Bunyan’s friend), said that the secret of ministerial power, which is more important than all the university degrees a person can get, is namely, union with Christ, the anointing of the Spirit, and experience of temptation.
I do not believe that there needs to be a long gap of time between getting saved, being baptized in water and receiving the Holy Spirit for service or as a witness with our spirit. Why isn’t there more emphasis in the bible of the need to receive the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Well that is simply because in those times it was expected when a person got saved they would be told that they now must be baptized in water and receive the Spirit. When they obeyed and were baptized then they were prayed for to receive the Holy Spirit. It was a natural step from salvation to being baptized in water and then receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2 v 38). These days they don’t often follow up with water baptism until a long time afterwards. The actual effect of being baptized in the Spirit can vary greatly between people, from a quiet unmistakable witness in the spirit to a mighty falling upon of the Spirit.
Frances R. Havergal writes that she was conscious of having loved the Lord for many years but felt that her experience was not up to the standard of full consecration and spiritual power. One day (December 2nd 1873) she knew she had received the blessing which lifted her whole life into sunshine, of which all she had previously experienced was but as pale and passing April gleams, compared with the fullness of summer glory. “The practical effect of this was most evident in her daily, true hearted, whole hearted, service for her King, and also in the increased joyousness of the unswerving obedience of her home life, the surest test of all” (as told by her sister). Frances, who wrote “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee”, believed there needed to be a full surrender before full blessedness.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones quotes J. N. Darby as saying, “That a person may be born again and not having received the Holy Ghost is perfectly certain according to the scriptures” then he quote from Acts etc to prove it.
William Kelly, another of the great Brethren preachers around the year 1867, says that believe and repentance are possible without receiving the Holy Spirit in this special sense. He is talking about receiving the Holy Spirit as the Apostles received Him on the day of Pentecost. He says it is a subsequent operation, it is an additional second blessing.
John Owen, a leading Puritan pastor and theologian, recognized two distinct works of the Holy Spirit towards believers. In the first work we have the sanctifying Spirit who comes to all who believe on the Name of the Lord. Here the receiving of the believer is passive, however when the Holy Spirit comes as comforter the believer needs to be active in receiving Him. John Owen says that none can receive the Spirit as Comforter unless they have first been brought to life by the Spirit of sanctification. Believers can receive the Spirit as comforter because they know Him as sanctifier. This is an active receiving of the Spirit. Two distinct functions of the same Spirit. (Communion With God by John Owen, abridged by R. J. K. Law. Page 172-173).
There are many, many sound bible teachers that believe in a second blessing according to scripture. However that doesn’t prove anything because there are also many Bible teachers that don’t believe in it. No matter what scripture might be shown, which to me would show to prove it, others are not convinced, at the end of the day except God reveal it to a persons heart then nothing else will change what a persons believes.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Luke 3 v 16, Acts 1 v 5, Acts 11 v 16). Who does the Lord Jesus baptize with the Spirit? John 7 v 37 tells us it is to those who thirst and go to Jesus to drink. Acts 5 v 32 says that God gives the Spirit to those who obey Him. Luke 11 v 13 says that the Father gives the Spirit to those who ask Him.
But how do we receive the Holy Spirit? I praise God that I have been baptized with the Holy Spirit but even now I am not sure how to tell someone of the best way to receive.
Everyone who believes in Jesus as Saviour and Lord should be encouraged to be baptized in water and receive the Spirit. After being baptized in water they should be prayed for and encouraged to receive the Spirit by faith. There may be an immediate witness to the spirit or there may be a period of waiting while God deals with the person before the witness is felt and it is at this time that faith with thanksgiving is maintained while all the time expecting the manifestation of the Spirits anointing.
The emphasis is on the giving and giver, rather than on our action to take by faith. Romans 5 v 5 says that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us.
However, we do still receive the Holy Spirit by faith from the Father through Jesus. It is not man's faith that says, "I believe, therefore I now have Him" and then trust in the confession like positive thinking, but rather a faith that comes to us from God whereby we know that God's promise is for us personally. It is a faith that opens our heart to receive the promise of the Spirit. All the promises of God are received by faith but it is a faith that God puts in our heart at the right time to make us receptive to receive the promise. I believe that we do have to wait sometimes but not so much for the Spirit but for ourselves to receive the faith that opens our heart to receive the promise. This faith from God puts us in the right attitude to receive from God.
Perhaps this can be best explained by looking at what Jessie Penn-Lewis has to say.
In the book, War On The Saints by Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts, after stating that before Pentecost the disciples needed to wait for the Holy Spirit but after Pentecost we need to receive Him rather than wait, they then say, "The Risen Lord poured forth the stream of the Spirit again and again after the day of Pentecost, but in each instance it was without "tarrying", as the disciples did at the first (see Acts 4 v 31). The Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father through the Son to His people, is now among them, waiting to give Himself unceasingly to all who will appropriate and receive Him (John 15 v 26; Acts 2 v 33, 38, 39). A "waiting for the Spirit", therefore, is not in accord with the general tenor of the truth given in the Acts and the Epistles, which show rather the imperative call to the believer to put in his claim, not only to his identification with the Lord Jesus in His death, and union with Him in His resurrection, but also to the enduement for witnessing, which came to the disciples on the day of Pentecost.
On the believer's side, we may say, however, that there is a waiting FOR God, whilst the Holy Spirit deals with, and prepares, the one who has put in his claim, until he is in the right attitude for the influx of the Holy Spirit into his spirit, but this is different from the "waiting for Him to come", which has opened the door so frequently to satanic manifestations from the unseen world".
What Jessie Penn-Lewis is saying here is that we don't sit round waiting with a passive mind until the Lord sends the Spirit upon us but rather we receive by faith, but the actual coming upon us of the manifestation of the Spirit may have to be waited for due to the Holy Spirit having to deal with and prepare us for Him to come upon us.
I would say we receive by faith looking to the Lord Jesus to give us the Holy Spirit and believing there will be a manifestation at the right time. To just take by faith will leave the Lord Jesus and the manifestation of the Spirit out of the equation. The emphasis needs to be on the Lord Jesus rather than on the Spirit. However I would encourage the seeker to ask God for the faith to receive His promise of the Spirit. The seeker may also need to be assured that he is forgiven and accepted in the beloved as any doubts will cause a hindrance in his heart to receiving the fullness of the Spirit.
MLJ says that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is the special assurance given to Christians. It is something we should all enjoy, but it is not essential to salvation. He says that Ephesians 5 v 18 “Be filled with the Spirit” is referring to holy living and Sanctification, and not Assurance, the second blessing is the personal assurance that God gives to His children. We are responsible for being filled with the Spirit but we are not responsible for the baptism with the Spirit apart from being thirsty.
MLJ says that to receive the Holy Spirit there must be a desire. If we have a desire then we will try to please the one we love with our living. Then we must pray for the blessing and seek it, expressing a longing for it. (Matthew 7 v 7).
Romans 8 v 16 says that the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. This is no “take it by faith” but the Holy Spirit giving us the blessed Assurance. By faith we believe in our spirit the word of God, that we are children of God, but there is more than that for us. The Holy Spirit bears joint witness with us that we are children of God. I believe that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us then our spirit which is one with the Holy Spirit responds by rising up within and giving expressions of love, adoration and praise to Jesus, which may be expressed in tongues. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that this experience may be accompanied by various gifts such as speaking in tongues but these are variable factors, what is invariable and absolute is the witness we get from God’s Spirit that we are His children.
I was brought up to believe that speaking in tongues would always be a result of being baptized in the Spirit. I am glad I was because it meant that I didn’t accept only a portion of what God had for me, However for many years now (late 70’s or early 80’s) I have had to admit that the bible does not say that tongues is the proof of being baptized in the Spirit, but rather power to witness is the proof. Jesus said that we would receive power after that the Holy Ghost was come upon us, so as to be His witnesses (Acts 1 v 8). Speaking in tongues is the natural result of being baptized in the Holy Spirit but not the proof of it. When we are baptised in the Holy Spirit the tongue is the vehicle of expression for the mighty rivers of living water that are flowing from our innermost being in praise and worship to God.
Before I was baptized in the Spirit I was extremely shy, nervous and fearful of doing anything at all that would cause folk to notice me. I would not do a thing in church as I was too afraid. After the baptism my life was revolutionized. I never lost my nervousness but now it didn’t stop me from doing things. Now I am not saying we will receive all power (that belongs to Jesus). Neither am I saying we will receive what the Apostles had, but we will receive an unction to minister and serve God more than what we had before.
After the Holy Spirit had come upon Jesus (Matthew 3 v 16), Jesus said, (upon His return from the wilderness), "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, BECAUSE he has anointed me to preach glad tidings to the poor; he has sent me to preach to captives deliverance, and to the blind sight, to send forth the crushed delivered, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4 v 18-19). So, here was the reason for the anointing. Jesus later said, "as the Father has sent me so send I you" (John 20 v 21). And later still, "You shall receive power, the Holy Spirit having come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1 v 8).
It was John Fletcher, a co-worker with John Wesley who first called the second blessing the baptism with the Spirit although people were saying before then that they had been baptized with the Spirit.
I realize that many folk do not believe in a second blessing, that is okay, as George Whitefield taught, ‘everyone should have the experience, everyone should seek it, but it is not essential and there are many Christians who have never had it’.
I personally would see it that as a person believes with the heart (which would include repentance) and receives Jesus as their Saviour, the Holy Spirit quickens and becomes one with their spirit making them alive to God. However there needs to be a release of the Spirit into our living. This is the active side, power for living. That is given as we fully surrender and seek Him for this gift. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us then we receive the power to live for Him as a living witness. Our duty is to keep being filled.
All Christians have the Spirit of God. Therefore let us encourage one another to grow and be filled with the Spirit continually, perfecting the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.