To be baptized with the Holy Spirit is; a promise to be claimed, a gift to be received, and a command to be obeyed. The question is then, What should a person do in order to receive this experience? The answer in its simplest form is just this: ask God for it. Jesus said the Father will “give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him” (Luke 11:13).
However, halfhearted seekers will never receive the blessing, for the Lord said, “You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13) Neither will doubters. God demands unwavering faith on the part of those who ask Him for the spirit. James 1: 6&7 says, “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.”
Human nature likes to feel self-sufficient, but our natural strength cannot cope with the demands of the Christian life. We need spiritual power for spiritual living, and the only source of that power is the spirit of God.
The word “dynamite” is derived from a Greek word dunamis. It is often translated, “power”. The Lord told His disciples they would be endued with power (dunamis) from on high (Luke 24:49). Later He explained this wold follow the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them (Acts1:8). They did indeed receive a spiritual force that was dynamic in its effects, for it exploded in miracles of salvation, healing, and other mighty exploits to advance the cause of Christ.
Thirst After God
It is the hungry souls God feeds, and it is the thirsty ones on whom He pours His Spirit (Luke 1:53). What do you desire in life more than anything else? Is it money, fame, pleasure – or do you thirst after God? Do you feel your greatest need is to know Him and be baptized with His Spirit? If that is how you really feel, you can receive the divine blessing to satisfy that desire. Is that the way you feel? Is your spirit parched? Do you long for God the way the desert longs for water? Do you thirst to the point of desperation? If you do, He will satisfy your thirst, for He has promised; “I will pour water upon him that is thirst, and floods upon dry ground: I will pour My spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah 44:3).
Be Sure Your Motives Are Right
There are two basic conditions to be met: you must thirst, and you must pray. For God’s promises are not self-executing.
We read in Acts 5:32 that God gives the Holy Spirit “to them that obey Him,” so if there is any way in which you may have disobeyed the Scriptures, you should confess your sin, forsake it, and ask God’s forgiveness. Only when our hearts are free from condemnation can we ask in faith and receive the blessing. The Word says, “Beloved, if our heart condemns us not, then we have confidence towards God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3: 21 & 22).
It is possible to ask from a wrong motive. Do you want the experience for personal gain of some kind? Will it give you favor with certain people if you are baptized with the Holy Spirit? Is it the ecstasy of the Baptism that appeals to you? Do you want to be filled merely to enjoy an “emotional binge” that will make you “feel good”? If so, you will be disappointed.
Let Nothing Discourage You
The Bible encourages us to be persistent. In Luke 11:5 is a story of the man who wakened his friend at midnight to borrow some bread. The friend rose and granted his request simply because because the man kept asking. Jesus told this story to illustrate what He meant when He said, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” If you keep asking, seeking, and knocking long enough your request will be granted. But those who stop praying, or who seek the blessing from a wrong motive, will be disappointed; for James 4:3 says, “You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts.” The opposite of that is Psalm 37:4. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Mingle praise with your prayer, and while asking for greater blessings, do not forget to thank the Lord for the blessings you already have. If a friend gave you a check, would you wait until you cashed it before thanking him? You have God’s promise. Thank Him, even now, that the promised Gift is yours-by faith. By thanksgiving and praise you will hasten the moment of your personal Baptism.
Keep Looking To The Lord
The Bible presents the Baptism from the standpoint of the Giver, rather than the receiver, for a very good reason. It is to keep us from being introspective – to keep our thoughts directed toward the One who gave the promise. A reason some people do not receive the Baptism is that they keep their minds on themselves. They think of their feelings; they wonder if they have enough faith; they try one posture after another; they accuse themselves of being unworthy; when all the time God is holding the gift in His hands ready to bestow it as soon as they reach out and take it. That is why the Bible emphasizes God’s side of the Baptism instead of ours. He wants us to forget the receiver and look to the Giver.
What Are the Immediate Evidences?
Power to Witness for Christ
Jesus told His disciples, “You shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me” (Acts 1:8). This is the prime purpose of the Pentecostal enduement and a prime evidence of the Baptism. Spirit-filled people witness for Jesus.
Victory Over Sin
What is wanted is not that we should get more of the Spirit, but that the Spirit should get more of us. This is the secret of victorious Christian living. We begin to learn it when we yield ourselves fully to God. Without the Baptism we are likely to fight temptation in our own strength and lose. When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, we find the sins that formerly tripped us have lost their power. “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Rom. 6:14). “They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5). It is a privilege to be temples of the Holy Spirit. We are host and hostesses to Deity! We can turn a deaf ear to the accusations of Satan and know that there is “no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walked not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1)
Speaking With Tongues
One immediate and spectacular sign of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is “speaking with other tongues”. Jesus had said, “These signs shall follow them that believe…they shall speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:17). His words were fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell on the 120 disciples in the upper room. “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Act 2:4). These are tongues of supernatural utterance by the Holy Spirit in languages never learned by the speaker, nor understood by the speaker, and nearly always, not understood by the hearer. It has nothing to do whatever with linguistic ability, nor with the mind or intellect of man. It is a manifestation of the mind of the Spirit of God, employing human speech organs. When a person is speaking with tongues, their mind, intellect, and understanding are quiet. It is the faculty of God that is active. Man’s will is certainly active, and his speech organs; but the mind that is operating is the mind of God through the Holy Spirit. Some may wonder why God chose this particular sign as an evidence of the Baptism. James 3:8 may give a clue. “The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Of all the members of the human body, the tongue is the most difficult to subdue. If the tongue can be controlled, the whole body can be controlled.
The Holy Spirit comes to abide, not merely to visit. Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16). The Baptism is not a passing event bu the beginning of a lifelong experience.
The command, “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), signifies not only an initial filling, but a constant inflow to keep us full of the Spirit. The Greek verb used there, ‘plerousthe’, means the act of ‘continuously being filled’. This is the great lasting benefit of the Baptism – a Spirit-filled life of power, joy and love. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us” (Romans 5:5). This divine love causes us to love others more than ourselves. It constrains us to exalt our Lord rather than ourselves.
It is also a life of purity. We are “baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Matt. 3:11), and the fire purges or purifies and removes the dross. The Blood cleanses and the Fire purifies. It takes the blood of Jesus to make us clean and the Spirit’s fire to keep us clean. The flaming presence of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity in our lives keeps us purged from impure thoughts, unclean speech, and unholy deeds; as we live after the Spirit and not after the flesh.
Walking In the Spirit
Paul said, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). In other words, if we receive spiritual life through the Holy Spirit we should give our lives daily to the Spirit, and let Him lead us and use us for God’s glory.
In Bible times, oil was the chief means of illumination at night. A parable in Matthew 25: 6-13 tells of 10 virgins (the body of Christ), of which 5 were foolish and 5 were wise. The 5 wise virgins kept their lamps filled with oil at all times (symbolizing – remaining filled with the Holy Spirit). So, when the Groom (Christ) came at midnight, the 5 wise who had been ‘watchful’ (Spirit led, listening and discerning) were able to meet Him and go with Him. But the 5 foolish were unprepared and so missed His coming. When we keep filled with the Holy Spirit our lights keep burning. We are saved from darkness and our light also draws other to Christ. The indwelling Spirit also keeps us in perfect peace. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).
Fruit of the Spirit
When filled with the Spirit we can bear the fruit of the Spirit. This long-range benefit of the Baptism is basic in the Christian life and supremely important. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” Gal. 5: 22&23).
These nine ‘fruits’ can be divided into clusters of three, as follows:
1.) “Love”, “Joy”, “Peace” – are qualities which affect our relationship to God – We love Him. We joy in Him. We are at peace with Him.
2.) “Long-suffering”, “Gentleness”, “Goodness” – speak of Christ-like attitudes toward others – We are patient toward everyone. We treat them gently. We are good to them.
3.) “Faith”, “Meekness”, “Temperance” – are inward characteristics which the Spirit develops in our lives – We become marked by faithfulness, loyalty and dependability. We are meek, not self-willed. We are disciplined and temperate, not extremists.
For the work of the Holy Spirit is to make us like our Lord Jesus always and in every respect.
Gifts of the Spirit
Another great benefit of being baptized in the Spirit is to receive spiritual gifts. This is a study unto itself and will be covered in the article, “The Gifts of the Spirit”.