Just before Jesus completed His earthly ministry, He commanded His disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15)
In doing so, He committed the future of His bride, the church, to a small group of men who, only a few days previous, had fled in fear, abandoning Him to the cross. (Mt 26:56) We could reasonably ask, “were these men equipped for the task?”—because if not, Jesus had no plan B!
Jesus, however, knew exactly what He was doing. His disciples certainly weren’t equipped, but He had plans to change all that and make them incredibly effective witnesses. Immediately before He ascended into heaven, He gave them one final command, “Don’t depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father which you have hear of Me.” (Acts 1:4)
Jesus had previously told the disciples it would be in their best interests if He went away, because then He would send the Holy Spirit to them (Jn 16:7). Now as He left them, He confirmed that promise: “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1:5) “ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
This is exactly what happened. On the Day of Pentecost, they were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak in tongues as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4).
In that instant, an amazing transformation took place in those believers. On three occasions, Peter had denied even knowing Jesus (Jn 18:17, 25, 27), but on that day, he stood up with the other disciples in front of the assembled multitudes and preached an impromptu sermon in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:14). About 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2:41). The apostles began to do many signs and wonders (Acts 2:43), and it quickly became apparent that Jesus hadn’t made a mistake! Men and women were being saved and added to the church daily! (Acts 2:47)
There can only be one explanation for the change that had taken place in the disciples—the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Even spending there-and-a-half years with Jesus, observing His miracles, hearing His teaching and experiencing everyday life with Him hadn’t changed them, but after Pentecost, they were utterly transformed, boldly witnessing (Acts 4:8, 18-20), powerfully preaching the Gospel, doing mighty works (Acts 2:37, 41, 43), and fearlessly facing persecution and death (Acts 5:16-18, 27-33). It was the baptism of the Holy Spirit that made the difference!
In those days, it was the norm for believers to be baptized in the Spirit. Often, it occurred almost simultaneously with the new birth, but on those occasions when the apostles encountered believers who not been baptized in the Spirit, they laid hands on them, and the Holy Spirit filled them (Acts 8:17; 19:2,6). Sadly, it is far from being the norm nowadays, but it is not because God is any less willing to give the Holy Spirit to believers now than He was then. It’s because many believers today are unwilling to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and throughout the church worldwide, whole denominations have rejected the very means of their own empowerment!
By contrast, in those instances where sections of the church have embraced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, there have frequently been great outpourings, miracles and massive growth to their assemblies!
Let’s look at some of the things that happen when the Holy Spirit comes to us. Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit came, He would abide with us forever (Jn 14:16), He would be our Teacher and remind us of everything the Lord had said (Jn 14:26), He would help us to be witnesses (Jn 15:26-27; Acts 1:8), He would guide us into all Truth, and He would even show us things yet to come (Jn 16:12-13). Jesus also explained that spiritual power would accompany the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Paul told us that the Holy Spirit comforts us through all our challenges and difficulties, and He enables us to minister God’s comfort to others (2 Co 1:4). In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul gives us a description of the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes. These are the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues and the interpretation of tongues. The Holy Spirit decides who receives which gifts, but the last verse of 1 Corinthians 12 tells us to covet earnestly the best gifts (1 Cor 12:31) implying that this will have some bearing on the Holy Spirit’s decisions.
Every baptized-in-the-Spirit Christian receives at least one spiritual gift and that is the gift of speaking in tongues. It is possible for us to not use this gift, because the Holy Spirit will never make us do anything against our will. However, there is no reason to fear tongues; we are always in control (1 Cor 14:32), and we decide whether to speak in tongues or not! As we use tongues, we build ourselves up spiritually (1 Cor 14:4), keep ourselves in the love of God (Ju 1:20-21), receive rest and spiritual refreshment (Is 28:11-12), and speak the hidden wisdom of God (1 Cor 2:6-7; 1 Cor 14:2) Our spirits always know how to pray perfectly for situations, for ourselves and for others, so when we don’t know how to pray for a specific situation or person, we can pray in tongues, which is perfect prayer! (Rom 8:26-27) Speaking in tongues was the way Paul received revelation knowledge, and as we follow his example, we will too! (1 Cor 14:4)
Apart from the private use of the gift of tongues, the spiritual gifts we receive are really to promote the Kingdom of God. We can see this quite clearly as we read the book of Acts. Many were healed, delivered and added to the church as the Spirit-filled believers did signs and wonders and performed miracles. As we contemplate the “revivals” happening in many places today, we again see Spirit-filled believers performing these same signs and wonders, bringing life and vitality to the church and acting as a trumpet call to bring men and women under the sound of the Gospel.
How to Receive
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Perhaps you would like to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
As His child, your loving heavenly Father wants to give you the supernatural power you need to live this new life:
“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened...how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Luke 11:10, 13). All you have to do is ask, believe and receive!
Pray Out Loud
Pray, “Father. I recognize my need for Your power to live this new life. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit. By faith, I receive it right now! Thank You for baptizing me! Holy Spirit, You are welcome in my life!”
Some syllables from a language you don’t recognize will rise up from your mouth (1 Cor 14:14). As you speak them out loud by faith, you’re releasing God’s power from within and building yourself up in the spirit (1 Cor 14:4). You can do this whenever and wherever you like!
It doesn’t really matter whether you felt anything or not when you prayed to receive the Holy Spirit. If you believed in your heart that you received, then God’s Word promises you di. “Therefore I say unto you, ’What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them.’” (Mk 11:24) God always honors His Word. Believe it!