This doctrine has been quite a divisive issue in many Christian churches over the past 100 years. A quick search of the internet shows that people have strong opinions about whether Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a valid experience for today and there is a lot of discussion around the use of the gift of speaking in tongues. It is important to acknowledge that these differences-in-opinion are based on three major factors:
1. The faith tradition you come from will influence whether or not you have seen Baptism in the Holy Spirit as a normative experience and whether or not you have come to expect believers to speak in tongues.
2. The way in which your faith tradition interprets the Bible will influence how you apply various Scriptures.
3. Your personal experience in the past either reinforces or negates what you believe to be true about this doctrine.
That’s why it’s vitally important that this doctrine is discussed with understanding and grace!
Baptism in the Holy Spirit: What it’s NOT
1. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is NOT a requirement for salvation. (See John 3:16 and Ephesians 1:13-14). The minute we say “yes” to Jesus, the Holy Spirit enters our lives and we have a ‘conversion’ experience.
2. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is NOT a sign that you are ‘uber-holy’ or ‘super-spiro’. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a GIFT and all we need to do is receive that gift. Just because someone has been baptized in the Holy Spirit does not mean that they are more spiritually mature or more holy than someone who has not.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Simply put….
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience that occurs following conversion. Jesus “baptizes” us in the Holy Spirit so that we are saturated, soaked, filled and overflowing with the Holy Spirit. When that happens, we are given the gift of speaking tongues, which allows us to speak directly to God in spiritual languages unknown to us. (We acknowledge that some people may not immediately speak in tongues at that time, but we believe that all people are enabled to speak in tongues).
This is the traditional “Pentecostal View” and is the basis for what we believe at CityLife Church.Different views about Baptism in the Holy Spirit
1. “Cessationist View” -- There is no such thing as Baptism in the Holy Spirit. That term is describing what happens when a person becomes a Christian. It has nothing to do with the gift of speaking in tongues or any other gifts – God no longer moves supernaturally in that way.
2. “Oneness Pentecostal” – If you do not speak in tongues, you do not have the Holy Spirit. And if you do not have the Holy Spirit, you are therefore not a Christian. (This is inconsistent with Scripture (Eph 1:13-14) and is considered to be a false teaching by all Christian faith traditions.)
3. “Charismatic View” -- Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an infilling that occurs after conversion and some people might receive the gift of speaking in tongues.Looking at the Scripture….
If the Pentecostal view is valid, we should be able to see examples in the New Testament where people who became Christians and accepted Jesus were later baptised in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
• Acts 1:4-5 “You will be baptised in the Holy Spirit”
• Acts 1:8 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”
• John 20:19ff – Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the terrified disciples. This was the first time in history that the Holy Spirit could indwell and remain within believers. Jesus says “Receive the Holy Spirit” and they were born again.
• Acts 2:1-18 – After the disciples’ conversion experience they waited in Jerusalem as Jesus had instructed. They were ALL baptised in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. Peter was no longer “hiding away in fear”, but now he was bold as he addressed the crowd.
All other examples of baptism/infilling with the Holy Spirit
• Acts 8:4-25 -- Samaritan revival
• Acts 9:1-19 -- Paul’s conversion
• Acts 10:44-46; 11:15-18 -- Cornelius’ household
• Acts 19:1-7 -- Ephesians believers (more than 20 years after Pentecost)
In all five examples listed above, (including the disciples), we see that baptism in the Holy Spirit occurred after conversion. In three of the five examples it explicitly states that the receivers spoke in tongues. In Paul’s case, it doesn’t say that he spoke in tongues, but we know that he did as he wrote about it in 1 Cor 14:18. The last example is the Samaritan revival where is doesn’t explicitly state that they spoke in tongues, but it does say that Simon “saw” something, which could have been the gift of tongues.Summary……
• We ALL receive the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as Lord (Eph 1:13-14)
• There is a specific experience called baptism in the Holy Spirit that occurs after conversion and is available to everyone (Acts 1:4-5)
• We do not need the baptism in the Holy Spirit to be a Christian, but we do need it if we desire to move in the power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives and if we desire to be powerful witnesses to others. (Acts 1:8)
• When a Christian is baptized in the Holy Spirit they receive the gift of speaking in tongues and are able to speak to God in spiritual languages. (Acts 1:4-5; Acts 10:45-46; Acts 19:6-7; 1 Cor 14:2)Why do I even need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues?
Jesus told his disciples that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). Baptism in the Holy Spirit fills us with the presence of the Holy Spirit and gives us power to move in all the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12-14) and to be bold witnesses.
There are two main uses for the gift of speaking in tongues.
1. Private Prayer & Praise: The gift of tongues is vital for our ability to pray without ceasing. It enables us to bypass our own will and understanding and pray in line with God’s heart. We can pray and praise God when our hearts are broken and we have nothing left to pray. We can pray and praise God when our hearts are overflowing with love and gratitude and we no longer have the words to express our love. We can intercede for situations of which we have no human understanding. Praying in tongues is like dialling out the static on a radio and tuning into God’s voice with clarity. (1 Cor 13:1; 1 Cor 14:2, 4, 15,18 )
2. Corporate Worship: The gift of tongues together with the gift of interpretation of tongues is used to communicate God’s heart to his people. In the corporate church setting when a person lifts their voice and makes a declaration in tongues, the gift of interpretation of tongues is then used to interpret the message from the Holy Spirit. These two gifts are used together in the same way as prophecy. (1 Cor 14:5,13,18-19,26-27)How do I receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gift of speaking in tongues?
1. Ask! (Luke 11:9-13)
2. Thank God for what He is going to do.
3. Begin to speak out in faith whatever is there. (Acts 2:4)
It’s important to remember that although the gift of speaking in tongues is a supernatural gift from the Holy Spirit, it none-the-less operates through believers in a very ‘natural’ way….... We form and speak the words in faith believing that the Holy Spirit has “enabled” us. (Acts 2:4) If we wait for some kind of explosive, spectacular event, we may never fully embrace this gift, which usually operates in a very ‘naturally-supernatural’ way.Questions for Reflection
1. What has been your personal experience in regard to this teaching?
2. Why do you feel this subject has been surrounded by so much emotion and controversy in the past?
3. How would you counsel someone who has been baptised in the Holy Spirit, but has not yet spoken in tongues?
4. Discuss any personal stories you may have of a time when praying in the Spirit was of great spiritual benefit to you.
5. Have you ever heard the gift of speaking in tongues, together with the gift of interpretation of tongues, used in a corporate worship service? If so, what were your impressions?
6. Take some time to pray for one another – especially that you would be filled again with the Holy Spirit.