God's Gift of the Holy Spirit

"…How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

In the above verse, (Luke 11:13) Jesus is inviting those within his kingdom to ask for the endowment of the Holy Spirit. May I emphasize the fact that this is not an invitation to the lost sinner, but to those within the kingdom! The promised gift of the Holy Spirit is often confused with salvation; and for this reason, I would like to differentiate between the two experiences:

  1. The Holy Spirit at salvation.
  2. The Holy Spirit as the promised baptism from heaven.

The Holy Spirit at Salvation

On the day that Christ rose from the dead, He supernaturally appeared to his disciples behind the closed doors where they were gathered. The Lord Jesus showed His fearful disciples that it was indeed He, they saw His wounds and they knew that this was no ordinary person who had appeared to them. It was here that they first believed on Him as the Son of God. It was here, upon their revelation of Jesus as their Lord that Jesus breathed upon them, and said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost!" (John 20:22).

The disciples had experienced salvation; they had experienced the breath of life, the second birth – being born of His Spirit. The Apostle Paul will later tell us that if we have not His Spirit, then we are not His! We are set apart by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). Was this the promise of the Father as mentioned in Acts chapter one? Not at all! Forty days later as Jesus is about to ascend to Heaven, He gives a charge to this same group of disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit: "And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts 1:4-5).

The experience of the Holy Spirit at salvation took place 50 days before they experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even the Feasts of Israel will bear out this point. There were seven feasts given to Israel that were symbolic of spiritual experiences. These feasts were to be declared in their season. For example, the first feast, the feast of Passover was kept by Israel for about 1500 years. This feast was fulfilled in Christ, as He became our Passover lamb. Paul declares Him as our Passover in (1 Corinthians 5:7).

The Seven Feasts:

  • Passover- Salvation
  • Unleavened bread
  • Sheaf of the first fruits
  • Feasts of weeks (Pentecost) - Baptism in the Holy Ghost
  • Feast of trumpets
  • Day of atonement
  • Feast of tabernacles

The feast of Pentecost was fulfilled exactly 50 days after Christ arose. [See Lev. 23:15-16.] Definitely not the same experience!

The Promise of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

John the Baptist said this: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" (Matt. 3:11). John is referring to Jesus in this passage, and yet Jesus never fulfilled this during His earthly ministry. As you will recall from Acts chapter one, Jesus exhorts his disciples to go to Jerusalem to wait for this promise. (See Acts 2.)

Acts chapter two scarcely sounds like what happens at salvation does it? If you compare all of the references that relate to this awesome gift of the Holy Ghost, you will find that the baptism in the Spirit is generally associated with supernatural manifestations and Divine power! "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses…" (Acts 1:8).

When the Feast of Pentecost was initially experienced in Acts chapter two, Jerusalem was smitten with awe and conviction. Something supernatural had happened, the disciples were bathed with fire, and they were all speaking in other tongues (languages). Peter began to explain that this was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy…" The anointing was so heavy upon this group of 120 disciples, that they appeared to be drunk.

After Peter had concluded his sermon, the men of Israel cried out: "What shall we do?" Peter responds: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye 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." The promised gift of the Holy Ghost was a promise to all of the redeemed, for the whole of the Church age! (The last days.)

Although many would tell us that the phenomenon that empowered the church in the book of Acts was uniquely for the first century; church history would disagree! In spite of the Church’s declension into the dark ages, there were still those in the third century who were still speaking in tongues and prophesying. In fact, there are quite a few accounts since the reformation. George Foxe’s Quakers experienced quite a baptism in the seventeenth century. They spoke in tongues, prophesied, and preached the word of God with power! Something must have happened to bring in 50,000 converts within two years! (To see more on this subject- click Corinth.)

There are volumes that could be, and have been said on this subject, but our real intention in presenting these few pages is to encourage those who are thirsty, and long for greater spiritual reality in their lives. The promise is for those who thirst, as Jesus said: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)" (John 7:37-39).

How can I receive this gift?

In Scripture, we find two ways that people generally received this baptism:

  1. Waiting upon the Lord is often the best way; as the disciple did in the upper room, they were praying, fasting, and seeking for the fulfillment of the promise. There is something done in our spirit as we wait upon the Lord. Faith is developed, motives are often checked, and often times there are areas in our life that God wants us to bring into obedience! (God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him – see Acts 5:32.)
  2. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much
    more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
    (Luke 11:13)

  3. The laying on of hands by the ministry is another way people receive this gift. The Apostle Paul himself was baptized in the Holy Spirit by a disciple who laid his hands upon him. (See Acts 9:17, also see Acts 8:15-17.) You will also find that later Paul imparts this gift by the laying on of hands. "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied" (Acts 19:6).

There are other instances where there was a revival, and God just poured out His Spirit on them all: " While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word… For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God" (Acts 10:44-46). We must not limit God to some formula. Some would say that we must be holy before we can receive this gift, but the Corinthian Church disproves that. In fact, we have known instances where Christians who did not even believe in this experience happened into a service where God was moving in this way, and they found themselves speaking in tongues – even as they were trying to make their escape!

Is speaking in tongues the evidence?

Speaking in tongues is most assuredly the sign that accompanies the baptism of the Holy Spirit! The reason that there is a lot of confusion on this issue, is because much of the commentary on the subject comes from ministers who have never experienced the baptism, or they deny the relevance of this experience for today.

Allow me to draw a distinction between the gift of tongues, and tongues as a personal witness and prayer language. When I was baptized in the Spirit; I spoke in tongues. I still speak in tongues every day. I pray in tongues. I worship in tongues. In fact, our whole church often worships the Lord in other tongues during the worship service, and often, we all pray in the Spirit together – and there is no interpretation! O, is not that out of order? Not at all! Because our prayer is unto God, and our worship is unto God and no interpretation is necessary. Perhaps this is what Wesley describes in his hymn: "O for a thousand tongues to sing my Great Redeemers praise…"

However, the gift of tongues are different. It is a gift to edify the Body of Christ, and I have been very privileged to see some that genuinely possessed this gift. Let me share one example: There was a convention and one of the ministers that came down for prayer was from India. There was another minister there, who began to pray for him in a most embarrassing tongue. However, when the prayer ended, the Indian brother said: "You not only prayed for me in my language, but in my unique dialect." In the case where there is a message in tongues to the Church, then there needs to be an interpretation! That was one of the abuses of gifts in Corinth, there was one tongue after another without any interpretation. Paul said, " Let it be checked at three, or until there is an interpretation before proceeding."

The best way to be convinced in your own heart is to "sincerely" ask. Begin to set aside a time to seek for this gift, or better yet, seek the One who promises to baptize with His Spirit! Everyone that asketh shall surely receive! Set aside the pre-conceived ideas and fears that you may receive something that is evil! Jesus said: "…Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?" (Luke 11:11). God does not allow people to receive an evil spirit when they are seeking Him for His Holy Spirit!

Thirst is the key

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground:
I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
(Isaiah 44:3)

The early church was baptized in the Holy Ghost and fire. It was a compound experience. I say this because the baptism of fire can be a separate experience. In fact, that happened to be my experience. I experienced a baptism of fire two years after I had experienced the baptism in the Spirit. In conclusion of this subject, consider a few descriptions of this baptism, and the fire, and some of the signs that followed:

  • Likened unto a thresher separating the chaff from the grain
  • Likened unto a baptism of Holy Ghost fire
  • A promise of power to witness
  • Evidenced by supernatural manifestation of speaking in other tongues
  • Likened unto a refreshing rain
  • Accompanied by great conviction and repentance
  • Accompanied by supernatural gifts such as healing and prophecy etc.
  • Evidenced by authority over demons
  • Evidenced by a greater understanding and comprehension of the mysteries of God