“And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper (comforter; counselor) to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” John 14:16, 17
Ephesians 1:13: “In him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
The Holy Spirit is given to all believers, He is our seal of promise, our guarantee of salvation. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”
If you are a believer, you have the Holy Spirit.
What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
In Acts 1:5, the disciples had not yet received the Holy Spirit because Jesus was with them. But Jesus was ascending into heaven and he told the disciples to wait there in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” In verse 8 we see that the Holy Spirit would bring power to help the disciples become witnesses to the utter parts of the earth.
In Acts 2 the Bible says that the Holy Spirit came like a mighty rushing wind, filling the house where the disciples were sitting . verse 4: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Is this filling the same as baptizing with the Holy Spirit. It appears to be. Notice Acts 4:31 where it also says “And they had prayed, the place where they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
In fact, the disciples were filled many times. But there are other scriptures that speak of a baptism of the Spirit. We are not able to dive into that deep of a discourse here, but suffice it to say that Paul says to the Ephesians, “…be filled with the Holy Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…” 4:18.
So, what did Jesus mean when he talked of a baptism of the Holy Spirit? The word baptism means to be immersed, so it is an immersion in the Holy Spirit. It is being filled with the Holy Spirit. As I said, we receive the Holy Spirit at salvation but this seems to mean that the Holy Spirit covers over you and fills you in a way that you release yourself to him.
What does the Holy Spirit bring to us?
Let’s remember first that He is the revealer, the teacher of scripture, the comforter and those things which we spoke of last week. But he is also a giver of gifts and brings us into a maturity in our walk as well.
Let me first say that God is more than words on a page, He is someone to have a relationship with, and as such someone to experience. The Holy Spirit is our guide to experience with God. We must approach these experiences with faith, and also as reflected through the Word. In other words, there is no more sure thing than the Word of God, but we experience God in our lives as well, and in those experiences God reveals himself to us in a personal way. If God answers a personal prayer for us, that would be a personal experience with God.
*For example, If we ask God to help us make a decision about a job, we ask for His wisdom and He leads us to take a new job at a different company, that is God revealing Himself as a present help, as an answerer of our prayers, as concerned in a personal way with us, and as leading us on a particular path. The first question we must ask: Does that agree with the word of God? Answer: Sure, God answers prayer, grants wisdom to those who ask for it (James 1:5) and is interested in a relationship with us as personal as the one with Adam when he walked with Adam and knew his name. But which job to take is not written specifically in scripture.
So, God is to be experienced in a personal way. God is not dead or sleeping or dormant or not talking to us anymore. God is alive and personal!
And so, the Holy Spirit is very much alive and active today. One thing the Holy Spirit is doing today is giving us “fruit.” Fruit comes from maturity in our walk with Christ. Galatians 4:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desire. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” As we mature, we develop these qualities through the Holy Spirit.
Bu there is more. The Spirit also gives us gifts for the common good.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The list of gifts, which may not be all inclusive, is found in 1 Corinthians 12. Paul says in verse 1: “Now concerning spiritual gifts brothers, I would not have you uninformed.” A Greek rendering is Now according to that which is of the Spirit, I would not have you uninformed. I like this rendering better. The list actually begins in verse 7.
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, ….”
The gifts listed are wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, ability to distinguish between spirits, various kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. (verses 8-10). We don’t have time or space to describe each gift here. They are many books written on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Read them, study them and study them with your bible in hand to understand them better.
“All of these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he will.” 1 Cor 12:11
The Holy Spirit gives these gifts, and gives to each person as he wills. I think it is clear that not everyone receives the same gift or yields themselves to receive the same gift. Why? Well, if you keep reading you will see that the very next verse talks about all of us being members or parts of the same body. If we work TOGETHER we can be the complete body of Christ. But if we work apart, we will not be whole. The fact that some have or operate in one gift while others operate in another means to function fully in the gifts, we need each other!
And speaking of unity—the very next chapter describes the greatest way, that of LOVE. Love in and of the Holy Spirit. It is supernatural! For this reason we cannot argue with one another about beliefs in the body of Christ. We will differ, but in love, if we are believers in Jesus, we must work together.
Have the gifts ceased? Were they only for the original apostles?
No. These gifts are alive and well and active within the body of Christ today. Why do some people think they have ceased? They base this on the scripture in verse 8 of 1 Cor. 13 “As for prophecies, they will pass away, as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” They are correct. Prophecies and tongues and in fact all the gifts will pass—the question is WHEN? First, let’s try and answer this question in love, because the beginning of the verse says “Love never fails.”
Love will not fail and love will not cease. We are loved eternally by God, but the gifts will. When? Continue reading, verse 9 “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” So, the answer to when is simple, when that which is perfect comes. So, we have to ask the next question, What is perfect and how will we know when it comes?
Again, I encourage you to read this complete paragraph. Paul says in verse 12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” The first part of that answer is the “then face to face.” We are currently not face to face with God, so the When is not until we are face to face. The second part confirms this thought. “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” Again, we don’t know fully now, we see things in a dim mirror. And we do not know fully, even as we are fully known. That has not happened. But the word of God indicates that a time is coming when we will stand before God. Jesus will return and we will be with him. The earth will be made new. THEN, at that time, we can say that which is Perfect has come. And there will be no need for the gifts of the Holy Spirit because we will know even as we are known.
Some think that which is perfect is the Bible. But the other parts of the puzzle, knowing fully, seeing all clearly, being face to face has not happened. So, it cannot apply to the Bible.
Clearing up matters of the gifts.
Those who say the gifts have ceased see the gifts as something more than what I think the Bible says and therefore, they think they don’t happen. But anytime a prayer is answered, it is a miracle, a gift from God. If I pray for healing when I am sick and God answers that prayer and I am healed—it is a gift from God. One I need to thank him for. Is that the gift of healing that Paul is talking about? I cannot see why it isn’t.
Certainly there is a spectrum, sometimes people are healed slowly, over time, sometimes it is immediate even during a prayer. Both are healings, both are gifts and both are something we should thank God for. Yes, I prefer the immediate and would love that to happen each and every time, but the point is—I am healed and to God be the glory!
What about wisdom? James says if anyman lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and he shall have it. That Greek word wisdom is sophias. It is the same Greek word in 1 Corinthians 12 when Paul says the Spirit gives the gift of wisdom—sophias. Just like healing there is a spectrum of wisdom, but if you know to take a new job and you have asked God for that wisdom, it is a gift. God has given you a divine understanding that you would not have without him. See my example above at the *.
Finally, a word about tongues. This seems to be the hardest for people. Let’s make it easy. If you can pray silently, and God understands you, then you can pray in another language and have God understand you. If I spoke Russian, certainly God would understand that. If I speak what sounds to you as babbling, so long as it comes from my heart and is directed toward God, He can understand that. Now, as I said before there is a spectrum and there is much more to tongues than what I am describing, but what I can say is that when I pray in tongues, my mind and my heart are engaged and I speak of a love to Him that saying I love you just doesn’t seem to cover.
Again, there is much more to be had on this subject. Prayerfully continue to study. If you have questions and want to talk about this in a deeper manner or you have questions or you want to learn to walk in the gifts of the Spirit, I would love to talk with you. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will write you back.