The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Christ in me, the hope of glory
The baptism of the Spirit is the process where the Holy Spirit fills a man and unites with him. Jesus is the baptizer of the Holy Spirit, and the process is entirely determined by Him. Jesus alone knows whether a person loves Him and desires to walk in His ways. However, baptism of the Spirit is not an option but a necessary process towards abundant living. Many who were baptized in the Spirit experienced tremendous spiritual growth in faith, wisdom and power. They exhibited hunger in the pursuit of intimacy with God and to live out the truth. They possess purpose, a passion for life and the boldness to fulfill their dreams. Many young believers even in their “infancy” can exercise certain spiritual gifts with such ease and confidence for Christ is working directly through them.
The fact that Jesus did not exhibit super-human capabilities during His growing up years and yet was able to fulfill His calling as the Messiah attest to what the Holy Spirit can do through every man and woman today. It is indeed the presence of the Spirit which enables Jesus to do all including His perfect life of obedience. Hence, every believer regardless of his race, gender and natural abilities can live a glorious life like Jesus did during His time on earth. As we yield ourselves continually to the guidance of the Spirit, we as a church can do greater works today than what Jesus alone did in the days of the Gospels (John 14:12). Through the indwelling Spirit, Christ now does His work through believers on a global scale. Through Spirit-filled believers, Christ continues to exert His influence and establish His Kingdom on earth.
In this chapter, we will discuss the following:
1. What did Jesus teach concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
2. What did the prophets prophesy concerning the New Covenant?
3. What is the revelation necessary for us to receive the baptism of the Spirit?
4. What must I do to be baptized in the Spirit?
5. What are the characteristics of a Spirit-filled person?
Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Early Church
In the book of Acts, we can clearly see that the early Church clearly accepted water baptism in Jesus’s name as the first step towards a full experience of abundant life. Water baptism is an external seal of the covenant with Christ and a commitment to walk in His ways. Baptism of the Holy Spirit leads believers towards unity and fellowship with Jesus resulting in believers becoming Christ-like in character, wisdom, and power. By the Holy Spirit, Jesus continues to do greater works through believers (John 14:12). Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, living the Christian life is virtually impossible. Paul wrote that the Gospel does not come in words alone, but accompanied with power (1 Thessalonians 1:5, 1 Corinthians 4:20). The believer receives the baptism of the Spirit either by his own communion with God or through impartation from a minister of the church, as a testimony of his inclusion into the church. Baptism of the Spirit is a necessary step in the process of discipleship. Jesus said in Luke 6:40, that a pupil has to be trained as a disciple through which he becomes like his teacher.
The early church received the baptism of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). After that, they experienced tremendous blessings of health, prosperity, and many were added to the church through power evangelism. Similarly, if we desire to experience the blessings and growth of the early Church, we must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit brings divine power with blessings and church growth.
What are the teachings of Jesus concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
1. Baptism of the Spirit is a necessary step for righteous and abundant living.
The Bible says that all who desire to enter the Kingdom of God must be born of water and the Spirit. In John 3:5, Jesus said,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot experience the abundance of the Kingdom in its full measure. Water baptism is an external seal of the covenant to enter the Kingdom as sons of righteousness. It is a commitment to walk in the ways of God. The baptism of the Spirit empowers the believer to walk in God’s laws and to live as sons in the Kingdom. Being born of water is a covenant that a person makes with God imputing righteousness to him. Born of the Spirit refers to the baptism of the Spirit that empowers the believer to experience the covenant of righteousness and abundant life. Jesus said to John the Baptist in Matthew 3:15, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus meant that it is necessary for Him to be baptized in water and Spirit so that by the Spirit’s enablement, He may fulfill the Father’s will and establish God’s Kingdom. Jesus after being baptized by John the Baptist received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16).
2. Jesus holds the key to the baptism of the Spirit.
As John the Baptist baptized with water, he also asserted that Jesus is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16, John 1:33). John answered them,
“As for me, I baptize you with water; but the One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thongs of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Luke 3:16.
Jesus Himself commanded His disciples to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).
Ministers are sent by Jesus as His ambassadors to baptize believers in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18). However, Jesus still holds the ultimate authority to baptize. Jesus at the right hand of God is given the sole authority to pour forth the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33).
Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. (Acts 2:33)
Some sought to be baptized with the Spirit for their own selfish gains. Hence, it is important that Jesus holds the key because He alone knows the secrets of man’s heart.
Is it possible for one to be saved and yet not baptized in the Spirit?
The answer is Yes. Baptism in Jesus’s name and the baptism of the Spirit are both distinct and separate events. One could be saved and fully committed to the ways of faith and yet not experience the Spirit’s baptism. In the passage below, the people of Samaria had received the Gospel through the evangelist Philip and were baptized in Jesus’s name. However, they knew that they have yet to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Hence, Peter and John were sent from Jerusalem to lay hands on them so that they may receive the baptism of the Spirit.
Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17)
Why did Philip not baptize them in the Spirit? It is possible during those days that Philip the evangelist might not have the full revelations of the Spirit in his teachings. However, the apostle Peter, personally taught by Jesus concerning the Spirit and given the authority was fully equipped to baptize the believers in the Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
The Old Testament prophecies concerning the New Covenant
The prophets of the Old Testament prophesied concerning the New Covenant what God was about to do with Israel and the Gentiles. God spoke to Prophet Jeremiah,
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
According to this prophecy, God said that a New Covenant would be made with Israel which would supersede the Old Covenant: God said, “I will make a new covenant… not like the covenant which I made with their fathers…” (v.32). Both the Old and New Covenant promise blessing for obedience to God’s laws. However, the system of animal sacrifices, which was part of the Old Covenant law could not break the people’s bondage of sin. The Old Covenant clearly showed the way towards righteousness and prosperity, but it could not empower them towards fulfilling it. Hence, the people tried obeying the law using their natural moral ability and resolve but they could not. Many applied a cosmetic appearance of obedience but without conviction of the heart.
The Old Covenant shows the way to prosperity
The New Covenant gives the power to experience it
In the New Covenant, the Spirit breaks the bondage of sin and embeds God’s law in their hearts: “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it” (v.33). This is the process of regeneration where God puts His law into man’s heart through the baptism of the Spirit. What is this law? This is the law of love resulting in reconciliation between God and man… “and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (v.33). This reconciliation is the work of the Spirit based on the New Covenant. God also promised that the curse of sin will be removed from them; “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
In another passage, God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel concerning the New Covenant:
“25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:25-28)
In the above prophecy, God said He will wash them clean from their sins and give them a new heart and a new spirit (v.25). He will regenerate their hearts by removing the heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh (v.26). He will put His Spirit within them and cause them to walk in His ways (v.27). He will be their God and will restore to them their land and prosper them (v.28).
In yet another passage, God spoke to the prophet Joel,
“28 It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29)
In the passage above, God promised a mighty salvation not only for Israel, but for all humanity. In Joel’s prophecy, God will make a New Covenant with the people where the Holy Spirit will be poured out on humanity enabling them to walk in God’s ways. God called the people to prepare themselves for this day through repentance. In this context, God promised to pour forth His Spirit on all believers regardless of their race enabling them to see the vision of the coming Kingdom and to establish it globally.
The Old Covenant envisages salvation for Israel
The New Covenant envisages salvation for all humanity
The above prophecies were fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
What changes occur after a believer is baptized with the Spirit?
God evaluates a person’s spirituality through his capacity to love God and to love others as himself. The baptism of the Holy Spirit works in continuously regenerating and empowering the believer to do so. Without the Spirit’s grace and empowerment, it is impossible for any person to grow in loving God and others.
What changes occur within a believer after he is baptized with the Spirit? We will first examine how the Spirit interacted with man in the days of the Old Testament and also after the Day of Pentecost. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell inside believers. During the days of the Old Testament, the presence of the Spirit resided outside man. And the only way God could influence man is through the teaching of the written Law, which is external to man. However, there were exceptions where the Spirit did baptize a few men to fulfill the offices of the prophet, priest and king. Nevertheless, the normative work of the Spirit was external and not within man.
On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was sent by the resurrected Christ to dwell inside man, and that changed everything. From that day onwards, God exercises His influence on the man from the inside.
In figure 6.0, we see figures of two men each representing the New and the Old Covenants respectively.
The figure on the left represents the man who is baptized by the Spirit (under the New Covenant) and the figure on the right represents one who is not (the Old Covenant). For the figure on the left, the Holy Spirit dwells inside him, whereas for the man on the right, the presence of the Spirit is external to him. The arrows show how both men are being influenced: For the man under the New Covenant, the Spirit becomes the center of influence over his whole being that includes his discernment (mind), his volition (emotions), and his actions (body). Hence, the Spirit directly enables his understanding, giving him insights and wisdom. The Spirit convicts him of love, bringing positive emotions of peace, and joy. The Spirit also inspires his confidence giving him courage and boldness for mighty exploits. Even though he may not fully understand the doctrines of the Bible, because he desires to be one with God, the Spirit enlightens him. As 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” He that is one spirit with God is able to think and do mighty works as God does.
However, for the figure on the right (under the Old Covenant), the Spirit influences the man from the outside as he meditates on the written Law. What results is knowledge without conviction. The mind may know the law, but his heart could not conform to it. A brother once commented concerning his inability to forgive his wife who cheated on him. He said, “I could not bring myself to love her like before.” Even though he tried to forget the incident, the Spirit was not present within him to break the bondage of hatred and empower him to forgive and to love again.
In another example, the law states that murder is sin. However, a person overcome by hatred may still find other ways to cause harm without committing murder. Because he could not quench his thirst for revenge, his heart takes on a life of its own, devising ways to cause hurt short of murder. A man under the Old Covenant may know the laws, but he can not restrain his passion for lust and sin. It is also impossible for him to experience the joy of the Spirit every moment of the day. Because the mind is intrinsically negative, true peace is only possible through the indwelling Spirit.
In the New Covenant, as man meditates on God’s truth, the Spirit regenerates his heart from within (Jeremiah 31:34). As he yields himself to God, the Spirit empowers him supernaturally to exercise dominion over his emotions, desires and actions.
When the Holy Spirit baptizes a man
He dwells and influences him from the INSIDE
Since the Spirit lives within, is there a need to meditate on the Word and renew our mind with it? Yes indeed! Familiarizing ourselves with God’s ways through His Word will help us recognize the ways of the Spirit so that we can flow with Him. It also serves as a constant reminder of the faithfulness of God which keeps us strong and hopeful during difficult times. Without the knowledge of God’s Word, we would let our fears, and false worldly values deceive us and hinder the Spirit’s ways.
Is there a need to encounter God as a person with our emotions and natural senses? Yes indeed! We need to keep intimacy with God and feel His love daily. All these are done through the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
A man who knows God’s laws, who is secured in God’s love and yielded to the Spirit will think like God, speak like God, and perform miracles like God. It is effectively Jesus speaking and doing His works directly through the believer. One who is filled with God’s Word in his mind and God’s love in his heart will live and move with the “DNA” of Christ every moment of the day.
The revelations necessary for a believer to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit
1. The baptism of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins should go together.
God made a New Covenant with humanity through Israel that He would do two things: God will put His Spirit into man and forgive their sins. The covenant God as spoken by Prophet Ezekiel:
“25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. …. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
God said, “I will cleanse you from all your filthiness” and again God said, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues.” The forgiveness of sins and the baptism of the Spirit should come in one single package resulting in righteousness. One cannot do without the other. The word “forgiveness” in Greek means “being released from”. Hence, in the forgiveness of sin, we are released from the bondage of sin through the Spirit. Forgiveness of sin also means having the records of sin taken away (Colossians 2:14). The forgiveness of sin declares us as righteous (being sons of God), and paves the way for the Holy Spirit to dwell within. The apostle Peter said:
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Peter means that if you are baptized in Jesus’s name, then you have the right to receive the Spirit’s baptism. The forgiveness of sins and the baptism of the Spirit should go together. If God would forgive your sins, then He would also give you the Spirit. Without the baptism of the Spirit, though his records of sins may be wiped out, he still could not overcome bondage in his flesh to live abundantly.
2. The Holy Spirit is promised to all believers regardless of gender, status, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
The difference between the work of the Spirit before and after Jesus’s ascension is this: before Jesus’s ascension, the Spirit is given only to a selected few. After the ascension, the Holy Spirit is given freely to ALL believers. Peter said on the Day of Pentecost concerning God’s promise to Israel and humanity:
“I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18, also see Joel 2:28-29)
In the Old Covenant, the role of the Holy Spirit was to facilitate the administration of God’s law in the nation of Israel. Hence, the Spirit worked to anoint the offices of prophet, king and priest so that they could govern the people according to the Law. However, the Old Covenant could not change the rebellious nature of their hearts. Even as the people agreed to walk in the law, they remained in bondage to sin because of the hardness of their hearts
In the New Covenant, bondage of sin and hardness of heart are removed by the Spirit freeing all believers to love God and to walk in His ways.
3. Jesus desires to baptize the believer with the Spirit.
In the passage below, Jesus taught about the Father’s will to baptize with the Holy Spirit.
“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:11-13)
Jesus contrasted the nature of our Heavenly Father with our earthly father who though being imperfect is willing to give us what we need. How much more would the perfect Heavenly Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. According to His wisdom the Father may not give us everything that we ask for, but concerning the Holy Spirit, He will certainly give to ALL who ask, to ALL who are willing to be led by the Spirit.
Preparations for receiving the baptism of the Spirit
Jesus alone holds the authority to baptize in the Spirit according to the readiness of each person. God said to Samuel, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). God will baptize us with the Spirit when our heart’s motives are right and when we seek to gain His glory and desire to do His will.
1. Seeking God’s face with the desire to gain His glory.
Let the attributes of Christ and His mission be your ultimate goal. Apostle Paul taught in 2 Thessalonians 2:14 that “it was for this”, which refers to the believer’s ultimate goal and purpose in which we were chosen.
God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
The ultimate goal of our salvation… “that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.14b); It was for the purpose of restoring us to the glory of Jesus that we were saved. The glory of Jesus includes all the attributes of God: His wisdom, sacrificial love and power. What then is the role of the Spirit here? The Spirit sanctifies the believer, as written, “through sanctification by the Spirit” (v.13). This sanctifying action of the Spirit enables the believer to gain the glory of God. In figure 6.1, we see the combined response from the giving of the Law, the coming of Jesus in the flesh and the baptism of the Spirit, so that believers may gain the glory of Christ.
Many believers seek to be baptized with the Spirit but do not receive because they seek power for selfish and fleshly gains not God’s glory. They misunderstand the role of the Holy Spirit and the grand purpose of the New Covenant. Their ultimate goal is to be blessed by the material things of this world, and to fulfill their fleshly dreams and desires. In figure 6.2A, we see the mentality of the Old Covenant: The pursuit of blessings, being self-seeking, and earthly, belongs with the mind-set of the people under the Old Covenant. However, in figure 6.2B, the mentality of the New Covenant is no longer set on earthly blessings but the pursuit of God’s attributes and glory.
The sure reward for gaining the glory of God is eternal wealth. Jesus made a difference between temporal treasures and eternal riches. In Luke 21:13-20, Jesus told a parable of a rich man who was set on acquiring earthly treasures but not the glory of God. One day, God said to the rich man, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared? So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” When a man dies, he cannot bring along his earthly treasures. However, he would gain eternal blessings and glory by being rich towards God.
Some believers ask if they would receive earthly blessings under the New Covenant. The Bible says that God will give to His children all things on the earth and in the heavens. Both earthly blessings and eternal glory are given as inheritance to believers by grace upon justification. Ephesians 1:3 says,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
Spiritual blessing refers to the believer’s inheritance (earthly and heavenly) which are received by faith through the ministry of the Spirit. We must understand that justification is the believer’s starting point. Here, the believer is like a young child placed under custody until a time when he is ready to exercise authority over his inheritance. As the believer matures in the glory of God, the inheritance of earthly blessings and heavenly blessings will be given to him. So, let us persevere in seeking the glory of God as our ultimate goal.
It is wise to exchange the temporal riches on earth
For the eternal glory of Christ in heaven
In figure 6.3, we see that a child though an heir, does not yet possess the key to his inheritance.
But the key will be given to him when he matures through sanctification and gains the glory of Christ. Paul taught that justification is the starting point, an entrance to something much greater, which is the glory of Christ. Hence, justification is the door, the goal is the glory of Christ, and the journey is sanctification. Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14,
Through sanctification by the Spirit,… that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
Eternal blessing is the inheritance and reward for one in pursuit of the glory of God. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is given to the believer who desires to be sanctified towards that glory. The glory of God as seen in Jesus is represented by His sacrificial love for humanity and His absolute obedience to the Father. Through the pangs of sanctification, the believer is tested for his obedience and his love for God. If he remains faithful to God, the glory of God will be his. But, if he does not progress in sanctification, his inheritance will continue to remain under custody until he matures. In justification, the believer gains the royal status of child of God. In sanctification, the believer gains the glory and authority of the Son to access his inheritance.
Through His resurrection and ascension Jesus showed humanity the way to the glory of God. When He ascended to the Father, He gathered nothing from this earth; for His position at the Father’s right-hand is His ultimate reward. Jesus was baptized with the Spirit because He was willing to obey the Father and gave Himself at the cross. Baptism of the Spirit involves the commitment to do all that God commands. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Many sought God for the purpose of fulfilling their own fleshly agenda and desires. Some desire the Spirit’s power to work miracles in order to gain popularity and fortune. They desire the glamorous works yet despise the mundane and lowly tasks of service towards others. True love is sacrificial; it is doing what God desires even if it costs us our lives.
Romantic love on the other hand is self-centered, driven entirely by the desire and feeling of being loved. I have seen many single men and women who prefer the life of dating and seeing different people without marital commitment. They wanted emotional and sexual gratification without being “tied down” to one person. Such is the case for many Christians today who do not want to be “tied down” by the one true God.
The question remains: why do we desire the baptism of the Spirit?
1. Are we willing to do all that the Lord commands even at the expense of our own well being?
2. Are we diligent in all the tasks given to us by our human authorities?
3. Do we care for tasks which are unnoticed and lowly?
4. Do we work by godly wisdom or are we driven by fleshly pragmatism?
5. Having set our hearts right, are we open to new experiences or do we hold tight to our traditions and comfort zone?
2. Preparing ourselves through fasting and prayer.
Fasting and prayer is a process that sets apart time to allow God to renew our minds so that we may encounter Him and be one with Him. Fasting has the potent effect of putting to death the desires of the flesh so that we can be sanctified. The practice of fasting sensitizes our spirit to the things of God. Thus, we are able to understand the will of God with more clarity. A longer fast facilitates a deeper and more profound work in our hearts as compared to a shorter fast. Fasting would be of great benefit to those who have been consistent and disciplined in their daily prayers and Bible reading. I would suggest for all to prepare themselves by fasting one meal a day. Fasting the dinner meal would be preferable, as you would also be resting from work. Select passages from the Psalms and meditate on them as they direct our attention to God. After you are used to fasting one meal a day, you are ready to fast a few meals over the weekend. Be sure that you spend much time alone during this period. Longer fasts which stretch beyond a week require the believer to have already established a consistent discipline of prayer and meditation.
A testimony of my baptism. In July 2007, I was baptized in the Spirit after four weeks of fasting. The purpose of my fast was different from previous fast where I sought God’s power to work miracles. After numerous vain attempts to “acquire” the powers of the Spirit, this fast stemmed solely from the desire to see God face-to-face. When I embarked on the fast, I experienced a fresh confidence that God was with me and would empower me to be successful in my endeavors. I experienced a light feeling and I felt fire and electricity all over my body. I sensed God was near sharing my thoughts and my emotions. Ever since then, I feel the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit every moment of the day. Miracles of healing and the gifts of the Spirit are a constant manifestation. I can also sense and locate angelic and demonic activities. I felt I have received the anointing and the mandate to be an ambassador of Christ to the world.
The characteristics of a Spirit-filled person
What are the characteristic of the believer who yields himself to the Spirit? As seen in figure 6.4, yielding to the Spirit results in the believer exhibiting the following characteristics:
a. Mind: a new thinking pattern, a wisdom that is not of this world
b. Heart: a life motivated by love for God and for others
c. Body: a lifestyle of faith and discipline
When one prays in the Holy Spirit, he facilitates the baptism of the Spirit by yielding his body to God. Now we discuss the effects the filling of the Spirit has on a person’s mind, heart and body.
Mind – Thinking with the mind-set of the Spirit
The thinking pattern of God goes beyond the realm of the present reality. He does not take into consideration our present physical constraints of environment. In the mind of God, everything is possible. Before the world was created, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep” Genesis 1:2. But God had in mind what the earth should be like and He created it according to His vision. Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” It means the earth was made exactly to His specifications. In the creation process, there are two realities: the first reality is conceived in the mind, which is the vision. Thereafter, divine resources will be given to reproduce the second reality, which is success in the physical world (figure 6.5).
The process from the first reality (vision), to the second reality, which is the fulfillment of the vision, requires grace and persevering faith. As the Holy Spirit fills us, He enables us to conceive the vision and provides the grace to fulfill it. Most people want to see the evidence of resources first before they dream or conceive vision, but, divine resources come only after the vision is conceived.
The balloonist is very familiar with this concept: before the hot air balloon can go anywhere, it must first be filled with hot air. The pre-flight set up includes the process of filling the balloon with air and heating it with a burner. Once the balloon is filled with air, it will automatically rise and the flight gets underway. Vision is like the hot air in the balloon. Without it, the balloon remains grounded. But once, the vision is conceived, your life begins to soar and take flight. And issues concerning resources and know-how’s will eventually fall into place.
Many people have a defeatist mind-set. They are afraid to dream because they do not believe. Instead, they are occupied with the concerns of livelihood; “What will we eat? Or what will we drink? Or what will we wear for clothing?” (Matthew 6:31). But Jesus taught that man should first seek to see the visions of God’s Kingdom, and then all things will be added to them. Learning to allow the thoughts of God and His visions to arise in our mind is the first step towards abundant life. Once we see the vision clearly, we can then make subsequent steps towards fulfilling it.
The mind-set of God operates on unchangeable principles or wisdom. People tend to seek for a solution to their problems without first understanding the principles that God has established. They look for the route of least resistance or for tried and tested solutions. Solutions are embedded in the wisdom of God that can be found in the Word. Hence, a person who thinks with the mind-set of God is principle focused rather than solution focused. When you find no solution to a problem, then you must continue to hold fast to the principles of God, which are the ultimate solution.
Heart – divine love enables perseverance
The heart grounded in the love of God enables perseverance towards fulfillment of dreams and vision. Love to the heart is like petrol to a car. A heart that is filled with the love of God supplies faith for perseverance towards success. A heart filled with love believes that all good things comes not from man’s abilities but from God. Divine love gravitates towards one whose heart is pure, transparent and humble. James 1:17 says,
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
This above passage explains that it is the Father who created the earth and the luminaries (lights) of the heavens, and who also freely gives us all things: the air that we breath and the water that we drink. It is God who gives success beyond our natural capabilities. The heart needs to constantly release unsolved problems to God taking joy in having fulfilled the tasks of the day, for success comes entirely from God. Figure 6.6 represents a person who believes that success comes from natural abilities and hard work. In this case, due to limited resources and strength, he is constantly laden with fear and anxieties. Figure 6.7 represents a person who depends on God’s grace to provide supernatural or spiritual abilities.
He believes that success is entirely the work of God. Hence, his work is one of obedience, rest and creativity: he does not lose sleep over the lack of results. He is not pressured into making decisions in order to produce immediate results; he carefully considers the righteous principles of God.
Success is entirely up to God
Obedience is wholly up to us
After Christ has finished His work, He cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). His work was finished and done while He waited for the resurrection, which is the ultimate victory that comes from the Father (Ephesians 1:20, Romans 6:40). Even though He possesses the authority to lay down His life and to take it up again (John 10:17-18), the Father is still the One who puts all things in subjection under Christ’s feet (1 Corinthians 15:27). Jesus prayed,
“I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:4-5)
Jesus said that He had lived the life of obedience to the Father having made the decision concerning the way of the cross. Now, He asked the Father to glorify Him by raising Him from the dead. Christ’s part was to glorify the Father by living in absolute obedience, and the Father’s part was to glorify the Son through His resurrection. Therefore, it is our obedience and the grace of the Father that gives our overwhelming success in all our endeavors.
God rewards us with success when He sees our maturity and obedience to the mission at hand. At the same time, He fills up the measure of our weakness with His strength and gives success beyond our expectations.
Man equates success with capabilities; it is man’s basic instinct to link success with natural capabilities. Hence, whenever man faces unsolvable problems he becomes petrified. But when we realize that success comes through the grace of God, stress and anxiety disappear and peace and faith emerge.
Body – The words of our tongue reveal the state of our heart and mind
The things of the heart and the mind are normally invisible to this physical world. It is through the tongue that such things become heard and known. Matthew 12:34 says,
“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” (Matthew 12:34)
Hence, the tongue reveals the state of the heart just like a tree is known by its fruit (Matthew 12:33). By the words we speak, we know the state of our heart and mind. However, when we endeavor to speak creatively and positively concerning our circumstances, we affirm God’s grace and truths in our circumstances. Jesus said, “For by your words you will be justified.” (Matthew 12:33). By that, Jesus meant that we will be made righteous and blessed by the very words that we speak.
The tongue is also the catalyst that brings the dreams of our soul into reality. The word of the tongue is the vehicle of delivery between a dream and its ultimate fulfillment. Jesus said,
“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” (Mark 11:23)
Whenever a believer conceives a vision in his mind and exercise faith with his heart, he will begin to declare with his tongue the fulfillment of his dreams leading to action and success.
The filling of the Spirit is the key to transforming our mind, heart and might towards success. Hence, we endeavor to be filled with the Spirit every moment of the day, speaking positive words. Ephesians 5:18-20 says,
Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father. (Ephesians 5:18-20)
Figure 6.8 illustrates this progression: In being filled with the Spirit, we reinforce the mind-set of God and the heart of faith by giving thanks to God with our tongue leading to action.
The Story of Gideon
Gideon became a different person when the Holy Spirit came upon him. We see that the Spirit transformed the way he thought (mind), his faith (heart) and the words he spoke (body). Judges 6:34 says,
So the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; and he blew a trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called together to follow him. (Judges 6:34)
Here we see, the manifestations of a Spirit-filled person: Gideon sounded a trumpet. By sounding the trumpet he made a declaration of strength and victory against the enemy. The sounding of the trumpet was a testimony of his faith in victory against the Midianites.
In this episode, we could see that Gideon was schooled in the wisdom of God. Victory comes not from numbers or physical resources. God told Gideon to choose 300 men out of the 32,000 men who gathered to fight against the Midianites. With these 300 men, Gideon thought of a plan to confront the Midianites without drawing a sword. Later that night, the 300 men approached the Midianite camp and blew the trumpets. The chorus of trumpets surprised the Midianites setting their own swords against one another. On that day, with just 300 men, and without drawing a sword, 120,000 enemy troops fell under Gideon (Judges 8:10). Gideon had learned to reason and think with the mind of God.
The Spirit changed the way Gideon faced insurmountable challenges. As Gideon and the 300 men pursued the 15,000 Midianites who fled, wearied from the pursuit, the leaders of Succoth refused to provide bread to them thinking they would not succeed. Gideon said, “All right, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna (leaders of the Midianites) into my hand, then I will thrash your bodies with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.” Judges 8:7. After he slaughtered the Midianites, he returned and disciplined the men of Succoth (Judges 8:16).
The Spirit inspires the thoughts and the wisdom of God. The Spirit gave faith and strength to accomplish the impossible. As we learn to yield our mind, our heart and our body to the Spirit, He directs our every move.
In the book of Ezekiel, when Prophet Ezekiel was called into the ministry, the very first thing he learned was to yield to the Spirit. When God spoke to him, he yielded. The Spirit then entered him and directed his every move; his standing up, his travelling, and his speaking (Ezekiel 2:2, 3:14,22-24,27).
In the New Testament, Jesus started His ministry anointed with supernatural power after being baptized by the Spirit. Yielding and flowing with the Spirit is an intentional and conscientious effort on our part. It is a daily discipline of thinking with the mind of God, resting in His grace, persevering with faith and speaking positively with our tongue.
A Spirit-filled thought-life
In order to succeed in our endeavors, we have to continue to maintain our thought-life and not let negative thoughts enter our mind and emotions. We do this by continually yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit. We could facilitate the filling of the Spirit by apportioning our thought life into three parts involving our mind, heart and tongue (figure 6.9).
Firstly, we fill up our minds with the truths of God and the commission of Christ. We ask the question: How should we relate with others today? How should we approach difficult problems with limited resources? Here, God gives us the wisdom of the Spirit and insights into problems that seemed impossible to solve. Through the Spirit-filled mind-set, we continue to maintain our dreams and vision for life.
Secondly, we receive the grace of God with an open heart and strengthen our faith. Here, we remind ourselves that success comes entirely from God who fills up our weaknesses with His measure of strength. Hence, success is entirely the work of God, but faithfulness to the mission at hand is wholly our responsibility.
Thirdly, we speak positively and emphatically concerning the success that awaits us. We lay down the tasks of the day and prioritize them. Here, the Spirit gives strength and confidence to fulfill each task well.
Purpose, Passion and Power
As we maintain our thought-life through the continual filling of the Holy Spirit, we begin to display purpose, passion and power in our daily endeavors. Purpose, passion and power are the hard evidence of a Spirit-filled life. Figure 6.10 illustrates the progressions: faith gives rise to passion, wisdom gives rise to purpose concerning God’s Kingdom, and creative words give rise to power and confidence to accomplish the tasks of the day.
Having a clear life purpose is the result of the mind being filled continually with God’s wisdom. James 1:5-7 says,
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach… For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-7)
In the above passage, the author said that a person who lacks wisdom is also a double-minded person, unstable and without a clear purpose in life. However, we can ask for wisdom from God who will give generously; wisdom and purpose are inter-linked.
A person whose heart is filled with grace and faith exuberates passion for life and God’s Kingdom purpose. A heart without the grace of God is pessimistic, weighed down with anxieties of life; he is constantly occupied with life concerns. Passion for life and dreams arise when the heart is freed from fears, self-centeredness and strongholds of sin. Faith in God leads to passion for life and God’s Kingdom purposes.
Creative words are a result of a wisdom-filled mind and a faith-filled heart. Creative words facilitate the filling of our body with the strength of God. Creative words are spoken either with understanding or through the gift of tongues. Creative words gives rise to power and confidence to fulfill our dreams and life purposes.
In the next section, let us discuss in greater detail the evidences of purpose, passion and power in a Spirit-filled life.
1. The Spirit-filled man could envisage God’s Kingdom and fulfill God’s purpose in his life.
On the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter quoted the prophecy of the prophet Joel that young men will see visions and old men will have dreams. These visions point to the coming of God’s Kingdom upon nation and community. These visions carry motivation, and a fire that consumes and propels believers. Businessmen visualize the success of their companies in revenue growth and investing into the local community. Young people visualize themselves venturing into things never been done before. Older people believe its never too late to achieve their childhood dreams. The Kingdom of God is a place where dreams are fulfilled. It is a place of joy, righteousness and prosperity.
Before the filling of the Spirit, visions are usually self-centered and humanistic. They are centered on the pride of life, material wealth and the lust of the flesh. With the baptism of the Spirit, the Spirit sanctifies the believer’s vision to see God’s Kingdom. Those who see it are so consumed by its grandeur, they would lay down their lives to fulfill it. Paul, previously known as Saul, being led by his own carnal vision, was the persecutor and murderer of Christians. The Lord Jesus appeared to him in a vision while he was en route to Damascus (Acts 9). The vision of Christ and His Kingdom turned Paul around from being a self-righteous murderer to a self-professed sinner and martyr. Before a person can experience the abundance of the Spirit, he must first lay down his own vision in order to see God’s Kingdom. His carnal vision fueled by the pride of life and the lust of the flesh must die before a new vision can come forth.
I cannot overemphasize that the visions and dreams of the Kingdom are the vital manifestations of the Spirit. Many people led by their selfish desires, insecurity and pride of life are lost in the pursuit of temporal material things which perish. The prophet Jeremiah said, “My people have been lost sheep.” (Jeremiah 50:6). Jesus saw the people like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). The Holy Spirit gives believers divine purpose and empowers them to do things never done before. A believer baptized with the Spirit will definitely possess a desire to build God’s Kingdom and excel in all his endeavors.
The mission of Christ was stated in His first sermon; Jesus said,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)
All who are baptized in the Spirit will possess the mission of Christ to establish God’s Kingdom. They will heal the sick, lift up the weak and the poor. After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to His disciples and told them that the Father was sending them out with the mission and authority of Jesus. He breathed onto them the Holy Spirit and said,
“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22)
God gave me a vision of reaching out to hundreds of thousands in Asia with the teachings and the power of the Gospel. In a vision, I saw a train of dominos that stretches as far as the eye could see. But as the first slab tips over, it knocks the adjacent slab, and it continues to ripple along its length. The first piece functioned as a catalyst by providing the momentum and thereafter, it set off a chain of events. However, the former pieces have no more influence over the direction and behavior of the latter pieces. It is the momentum of the Holy Spirit to carry the fire of revival and salvation to the nations. God gave me a vision of a prospering Singapore, a generation with a renewed heart, who walk humbly, who love justice and mercy.
The source of the vision is the Lord Jesus Christ. By seeking the face of Christ, we will in due time receive His vision. As we lay down our own agenda driven by insecurity, fleshly desires and the pride of life, we will see His vision in greater clarity.
2. The Spirit-filled man has a passion-filled life.
The baptism of the Spirit brings freedom to our soul and releases us into a life of joy and purpose. Passion is comprised of joy and purpose of life. Joy is an emotional response upon obtaining what you have always dreamt of. Joy comes from the Holy Spirit given as guarantee for the fulfillment of our dreams (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Happiness on the other hand is purely an emotional response derived from external circumstance and is ever changing. We cannot control what people would say or do to us. We have no control over the decisions our institutional authorities make. Many times, we feel happy when we get a compliment or when the stock market is heading north. We feel lousy when our work is not appreciated or undervalued by others. But joy unlike happiness is not susceptible to environmental fluctuations. As long as we make a decision to persevere with the Spirit and not be distracted by circumstances, we have joy every moment of the day.
Passion is a strong desire to accomplish and to obtain something of great importance. Romans 7:5 spoke of the passions of sin which are self-centered bringing forth death. A believer filled with the Spirit has passions that are birthed from the love and holiness of God. He is passionate in serving others and in bringing forth the Kingdom of God upon the earth. Jesus was consumed with the passion to do the Father’s will and to save humanity from the penalty of death. Paul in Philippians 3:10 wanted to have fellowship with Jesus and share in His passions (which is also translated as sufferings) for bringing salvation to humanity. Only people of passion, those who are willing to lay down their lives for others, can bring real and permanent change in this world. The world is looking for authenticity and a true expression of kindness. People can easily see through social niceties and “kind” protocols depicting a gentle and sensitive culture but without sacrifice. Pastors and ministry workers, while they strive to be “professional” in their work, may see their members as mere numbers and lack genuine concern for them.
As we allow the Spirit to sanctify and heal our hearts of the negative emotions of hurt, hopelessness, unforgiveness and sorrows, we will begin to experience the joy and passions of life.
3. The Spirit-filled man has dominance over his own weaknesses and impacts the world around him.
The root of every kind of suffering and chaos in this world is the bondage of sin which resides in every man and woman. It is pride, greed and murder which controls territories and resources of nations. The power that could change the world is not found in physical might or economic resources. Jesus’s strategy to change the world does not lie in the use of physical might like that of Moses and Elijah. Neither riches nor wisdom could bring permanent prosperity to the nation of Israel during the time of King Solomon. Jesus did not resist His enemies, but surrendered His life in obedience resulting in resurrection. Jesus transformed the world by first gaining victory over His human weaknesses through obedience. The resurrection of Christ has made it possible for every believer to gain victory over sin and to transform the world towards a new order.
Hence, every believer can begin to exercise this power over himself. He must overcome his evil desires of lust, pride and envy by the power of Christ’s perfect and resurrected life. The power of the Spirit frees the believer from the bondage of sin and weaknesses which hinder his success. The point here is being freed from sin as opposed to being sin-free. Every time, when a believer yields himself to the Spirit, he will find freedom from the bondage of sin to fulfill his dreams.
A Christian brother once went on a prayer retreat with me. He had an addiction to nicotine, which he could not overcome despite much effort and various methods. On an average day, he consumed two packets and has been smoking for the past 20 years as a way to distract himself from the stresses of life. This addiction cost him a hefty $600 a month. In preparation for the trip, he purchased a stockpile of cigarettes to share with two others who came along. They hid the cigarettes from me and occasionally “disappeared” from the main group. During one of the prayer sessions, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and the addiction to nicotine was broken. Cigarettes now had an uncanny bitterness to them and they no longer tasted the same. Daily, he depends on the Spirit to give him peace to relieve the stress of work. The temptation to use cigarettes comes occasionally, but as he yields to the Spirit, the addiction disappears.
A believer who is not baptized in the Spirit is left to depend on his own moral determination for victorious living. He constantly struggles with the power of his fleshly desires. Even though he has committed himself to live righteously, yet his flesh is weak. For the Jewish people, the Law became to them a code of conduct which covered their hypocrisy and bondage. Jesus taught that whoever looked at a woman lustfully had already committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:28). Paul mentioned that condition in Romans 7:23 where his moral determination (“law of the mind”) was not able to overcome the power of the flesh (“law of sin in my members”)
I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:23)
Figure 6.11A illustrates the condition where the bondage of sin resides in a person. He can not achieve victory and success. However, Paul found freedom from the bondage to sin through the Spirit: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:2). Whenever the believer yields himself to the Spirit, the bondage of sin is broken and he gains freedom to live the victorious life (figure 6.11B). Freedom is defined here as the ability to walk in victory.
When the mind is firmly anchored in the love and the ways of God, the Spirit strengthens the heart and heals it of its wounds. A committed mind and a wholesome heart overcomes the bondage of sin. It is good to keep in mind that the baptism of the Spirit does not shield us from making wrong decisions when we face temptations. However, God will not allow us to face temptations that we cannot bear. Apostle Paul wrote,
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Hence, we should not be fearful of temptations, but to take authority over them for God is faithful to help us overcome. As the believer exercise authority over thoughts and desires, he achieves personal victory and begin to gain power and influence over the world around him.
People do not necessarily believe what they hear, but they will believe what they see through a person’s behavior. Unless they see the truth being lived out in a person, there is little credibility. The believer’s private victory becomes the foundation to achieve public victory. From the foundation of his private victory, he sets out to influence the vision, the values and culture of his organization. A vision is not self-centered, but kingdom focused. He sets the example by putting aside his personal interests for the benefit of all. He seeks to bring out the best in others by reminding them of their intrinsic worth in God. He shepherds them skillfully and causes them to flourish and bear fruit.
The other characteristics of the Spirit-filled man are as follows:
4. The Spirit-filled man sees the supernatural as an integral part of the natural world.
Believers who are baptized in the Spirit have the potential to work miracles and the supernatural at will provided he is willing to be discipled by a gifted minister and learns to yield to the flow of the Spirit. He will expect the supernatural in his daily endeavors, and do things that have never been done before. The anointing of the Spirit in his life will continue to grow as he remains faithful to the mission entrusted to him. With great confidence, Spirit-filled believers will transform their businesses and careers. They will expand their territories with divine wisdom and courage.
The difference between the Old and the New Covenant is that the supernatural seemed to occur primarily in connection with one prominent leader at a time, such as Moses, Elijah or Gideon. When Jesus came, miracles are no longer confined to Jesus, nor did miracles die out when Jesus ascended to the Father. Jesus taught the disciples that when the Spirit comes, they could do the works that He did and even more (John 14:12). Peter said in Acts 2:18, “I will pour out my Spirit; and they (men servants, maid servants, young man, old man) shall prophesy.” All who are baptized in the Spirit have the potential to work miracles. Even in the early churches where there were no resident apostles, miracles were performed. Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Galatia, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:5). Similarly, to the believers in Corinth, he mentioned “workers of miracles” (1 Corinthians 12:28) and “working of miracles” (1 Corinthians 12:10). Jesus, when He was about to ascend into heaven commanded His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations with signs that will accompany them:
“These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)
These signs include the power to cast out demons, healing, prophecy and divine protection from all harm. In another passage, Jesus, after His resurrection appeared to the disciples and declared,
“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:21-23)
Jesus sent the disciples out with the same mission, authority and power as He has received from the Father. By breathing the Holy Spirit into them, He enabled them to break the bondage of sin of whomever they chose. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit is giving all believers supernatural power to save the world from the darkness and the bondage of sin.
Why do some believers who seem mature and faithful in the things of God, yet lack supernatural abilities? The reasons are mainly four:
a. The teachings that are necessary to produce faith for the supernatural are lacking. Teachings particularly in the area of justification, which is the bedrock of faith and blessings are lacking. Faith arises from a clear understanding of how Christ’s death and resurrection affect their current circumstance. And how they could be raised out of dire situations through the supernatural just as Christ was. It is no surprise that many of such churches subscribe to the notion that the miraculous is by and large confined to the realm of heaven. Yet Jesus prayed, “Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!” (Matthew 6:10). Jesus’s miracle in turning water into wine at a marriage ceremony in Cana attested to the presence of the supernatural even in the ordinary and customary rituals of life (John 2:1-11).
b. There are no ministers available who could teach and demonstrate the faith to perform miracles. We see a common situation whereby it is either the miracle worker who can perform miracles but cannot teach the word clearly, or one who teaches but cannot demonstrate its power. Paul wrote, “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Paul wrote, the true Gospel must carry with it the teaching of the Word, as well as the power of the Spirit to perform miracles.
It is also written in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory…” Humanity could see God’s glory, when Jesus came in the flesh and demonstrated His miraculous works. The teaching of faith (the Word) must be demonstrated in the work of faith through miracles (became flesh). Truth, in order to show its authenticity must be proven. Unless ministers come with the clear teachings of the Word substantiated up by the power of the Spirit, the local church may never see the glory of God and learn to walk in faith. Jesus said, “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-38). Jesus explained to the Jewish people that His miraculous works attested to the authenticity of His message as well as His identity as the Son of God. If the Jews who knew the power of God need to see in order to believe, how much more, the world today who has never heard of the Gospel need to experience first hand the power of God.
c. The level of maturity and faith of the believers in the local church is still being developed. As the operation of Spiritual gifts requires both faith and wisdom, the more the church matures, the more power it will be entrusted with. The church that focuses on understanding the truth and living it out will eventually move in great power and miracles. Moses in the Old Testament is a classic example. He was entrusted with great power 40 years after he escaped as a fugitive having worked as a shepherd where he learned humility and obedience.
d. The leadership and culture of the local church unintentionally suppresses the operations of the Spirit and the gifts. Leaders of such churches often do so out of fear because they cannot recognize the characteristics of the Spirit’s manifestations. They unintentionally enter into a “protective” mode and discourage the operations of spiritual gifts that could otherwise bless their members. Some leaders cannot understand, given the same Bible, why spiritual gifts are given to some and not to others. Hence, they became overly cautious towards the unfamiliar and uncharted waters. They are also fearful that their congregation may be caught up in a movement they could not handle or perpetuate. Some ministers may even prefer the congregation to take after their personality and view spiritual gifts as a preference or option rather than a essential part of church life.
If leaders would humble themselves and cleanse their hearts, God would bring a mighty move of the Spirit to establish His Kingdom in every church. Jesus faced similar objections in Nazareth so that He could not work many miracles there because of unbelief (Mark 6:5).
Ministers and pastors need to seek the Spirit for revelation to operate the spiritual gifts in their local congregations. They should be discipled by mature ministers who operate in both gifts and teachings.
A Christian brother who was preivously a Buddhist came to know Jesus in my church and was baptized after a year. He was a humble brother who constantly acknowledged his lack of understanding of the Bible. As he was a new believer and had never attended church, the church discipled him and taught him about the presence of the Spirit and how to commune with Him. We did not instruct him in the steps towards performing a miracle. One day, a man with legs of uneven length walked into the church office. This brother though having no prior experience of healing laid hands on the man and miraculously corrected the problem. The faith needed to operate in the gifts of the Spirit cannot be trained, but can be received through communion with the Spirit.
5. The Spirit-filled man thinks with the mind of Christ and understands His truth.
Thinking with the mind of Christ. In thinking with the mind of Christ, whatever thoughts you harbor, would be the thoughts of Christ. You no longer had to wait for God’s answers to come upon on you, for your thoughts are His thoughts! There is therefore no distance between God’s mind and yours. God is thinking His thoughts through you in real time without you being intentional about it. Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” The more we meditate on God’s Word and discipline our mind to dwell on pure and positive things, the more it becomes natural to think God’s thoughts and speak God’s words. Jesus told His disciples when they were brought before kings and governors for His sake:
“When they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” (Matthew 10:19-20)
However, it is possible that believers are deceived supposing their thoughts are of God when they are in fact of the devil. Peter, the disciple of Jesus prevented Jesus from going to the cross thinking that to be godly advice. However, Jesus rebuked and commanded Satan to back down. A selfish and fleshly mind-set is the devil’s sounding board.
You will have divine revelations and understanding of the Word. A person baptized in the Spirit will receive revelation, being enlightened through the words of the Bible. The Spirit enlightens their minds to receive revelation from God. They experience a surge in their faith, with joy and thanksgiving. Such believers do not approach the Word with skepticism. Rather they believe and receive the promises as coming from the mouth of God. Jeremiah 31:34 says, the people will no longer need to be taught the Word for they shall know God as the Spirit illuminates their heart. 1 Corinthians 2:15 says that the Spirit causes the believer to understand all things spoken by God (1 Corinthians 2:12). However, the natural man without the Spirit may see these things as foolishness because he cannot understand them (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Spirit helps believers understand God’s Word. The application of God’s Word brings growth in wisdom and discernment.
6. The Spirit-filled man displays a love and desire to commune with the Holy Spirit.
Those who are baptized by the Spirit are able to sense the fullness of God within them. Jeremiah said,
“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:34)
The word “know” in Hebrew is “yada”, which depicts intimacy like that of a husband and wife. We can also commune with God face-to-face through thoughts, emotions and physical senses. It is an intimacy, a fellowship that is not self-centered. Baptism of the Spirit is truly the answer to the promise of the Emmanuel, “God with us” in which we have fellowship with Christ every moment of the day. We can be aware of the Spirit’s presence while driving. We converse with Him when walking along the street. We enjoy His presence while taking a shower or even when sleeping!
If you have committed your life to Jesus and have the desire to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, I invite you to join with me in the following prayer.
Prayer for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
I recognize that baptism in Jesus’s name opens the door to eternal life. But the baptism of the Holy Spirit brings the presence of God and a full heavenly experience (John 15:9-11). The baptism of the Holy Spirit helps me envisage God’s Kingdom, gives me joy unspeakable and the power to establish His Kingdom. I believe the Holy Spirit is the immanent presence of God where I can interact with Him face to face (1 John 1:3). In the process of communion with the Holy Spirit, I can experience in my heart His peace, love, joy, gentleness, patience, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and inner strength (Galatians 5:22-23).
I now receive the Holy Spirit and cast off the works of darkness in my life. I abandon the life of recklessness and drunkenness and am fully controlled by your Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). I take pleasure in the things of the Spirit, which are goodness, righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:8-9). I take no delight in the pleasures of the flesh leading to emptiness and death.
As I receive the Holy Spirit into my life, I recognize that all the gifts of the Spirit are in operation to do the works of Jesus (John 14:12). Use me to work miracles at will for the building up of the church and to preach the Gospel. Let signs and miracles be a daily occurrence in my life bringing glory to Jesus Christ. Amen.
At a glance…
The baptism of the Spirit is the process where the Holy Spirit fills a man and unites with him. Jesus is the baptizer of the Holy Spirit and the process is entirely determined by Him. Jesus alone knows whether a man’s heart is ready to love Him and to follow His ways. The baptism of the Spirit is not an option but a necessary process towards spiritual growth and abundant living.
Baptism in Jesus’s name is an external seal of the covenant with Jesus as Lord and Savior. Baptism of the Holy Spirit brings the fellowship of the Holy Spirit with the believer to manifest the presence of Christ to the world. Baptism in Jesus’s name and the baptism of the Spirit are two distinct and separate events. One can be saved and committed to the ways of faith and yet not be baptized in the Spirit.
The Old Covenant hinges on obedience to the laws. But, the people could not turn from their wicked ways and experience lasting prosperity. However, in the New Covenant, the Spirit breaks the bondage of sin and puts God’s laws directly into their hearts enabling them to walk in God’s laws. The baptism of the Spirit in the New Covenant reconciles God and man in the law of love. In the New Covenant, the Spirit exercises His influence by regenerating man’s heart directly from within. Here, as man yields himself to God, the Spirit gives him power to overcome his own weaknesses and to do the works of righteousness.
To receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we must first recognize that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins go together as a package. Secondly, we must recognize that the Holy Spirit is now given to all believers regardless of gender or status, orcultural and ethnic backgrounds. Thirdly, we need to believe that Jesus will baptize us in the Spirit when we ask with right motives.
The characteristics of a Spirit-filled person are: vision and purpose concerning God’s Kingdom, passion for life and God’s work, and power and confidence to accomplish vision. The Spirit gives believers the ability to perform miracles as Christ would. The apostle John says,
By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1 John 2:6
They will think and discern with the mind of Christ. Those who are baptized will also experience consistent joy and passion for being a blessing to the world.
A glance at the next chapter…
Let us look at some of the practical works of the Spirit e.g. the gifts of prophecy, healing and tongues. We will also discuss how believers flow with the ministry of the Spirit.
Issues to ponder…
1. Is the baptism of the Spirit a one-time event or something that occurs on a daily basis? How can we tell if we are filled with the Spirit?
2. What are the daily disciplines needed for you to be continually filled with the Spirit?
3. Do you find your fellowship and experiences with the Spirit have reached a plateau? What do you think are your hindrances?
4. Since Jesus is the baptizer of the Holy Spirit, why do Christians relentlessly pursue “anointed” ministers and attend conferences after conferences? What do you think such Christians are looking for?
5. As the baptism of the Spirit causes us to become like Christ, why do Christians imitate the mannerism or the signatures of “anointed” ministers whom they see as gifted? How can we keep Christ as the ultimate standard while learning from gifted ministers?