THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST
PART ONE: BEING BORN AGAIN
This article is in response to a subscriber’s question:
“How do I receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost?”
Now, due to the fact that there are 100’s of Christian denominations in existence today, the author is mindful that not everyone reading this article is going to agree with what is written here. However, he will do his best to answer this question by conforming to scripture as best as he is able. So, for those of you who do not believe in this second “gift” from the Father (if I may use that terminology), then I pray that you will only read with an open mind & heart and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth unto you (and, may God bless you richly for your study in His Word)!
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)
Since only those who have already received Christ as their risen Lord and Savior can receive this “gift”, let’s start at the beginning … being “born again”!
Every true born again believer knows the scripture:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
This scripture is the very foundation corner stone of those who seek eternal life. They know through the scriptures that ONLY through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross and His subsequent resurrection can ANY man or woman receive ETERNAL LIFE!
“For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
And when a man or woman “confesses” that Jesus Christ is their “Lord”, and “believes in their heart” that God has raised Jesus from the dead … at that very instant … they are BORN AGAIN … whether they “feel” anything at that moment or not.
The Word of God can not lie … and the Holy Ghost comes into their heart instantly and grants that person eternal life. They are BORN AGAIN of the Spirit of God … and NOTHING will ever change that fact or be able to remove the Spirit of God from their heart. They may “backslide” or not live fully for the Lord during the duration of their life … but God REMAINS FAITHFUL and will resurrect that individual on the Day of His return! They possess eternal life … they have been made a “new creature” in Christ. No one can change that immutable fact!
“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:” (Hebrews 6:17)
“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast…” (Hebrews 6:18-19)
And again, it is written:
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
So, this all begs the question:
“When did the Apostles get ‘born again’?”
They certainly weren’t born again when Jesus went to the cross … they all “forsook Him and fled”! The disciples might have called Him “Lord” when He walked on the Earth … but when did they “believe in their hearts that God had raised Him from the dead” according Romans 10:9?
Well, the scriptures go on to tell us plainly. And the following scriptures describe the VERY FIRST TIME THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED after His resurrection … and it was spoken by these women who were His VERY FIRST “witnesses”!
“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.” (Luke 24: 1-3)
“And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:4-5)
“He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:6-7)
“And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.” (Luke 24:8-10)
And what, pray tell, was the “faithless” apostles’ reaction to this “first-time” preaching of the resurrection of Christ (i.e. the Gospel)?
“And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they BELIEVED THEM NOT.” (Luke 24:11)
WOW! The apostles DIDN’T BELIEVE the preaching of the Gospel when they heard it! They knew of His death … but they didn’t believe in His resurrection from the dead!
Well, I guess there weren’t any “born-again” disciples that time around! That would come a little later on:
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19)
“And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20:20-21)
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22)
At that VERY MOMENT, the apostles were “born again” … and received the Holy Ghost and the promise of eternal life! But the PROMISES of God did NOT (and do not) end there!
PART TWO: THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST
Let’s now move from the Gospel of John to the Book of Acts. Before His ascending into heaven, Jesus gave a direct command to those disciples who were now “born again” (and who would also hear and obey His voice).
“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
Hmmm … did you catch that? Jesus is telling them that there is a “promise” from the Father coming to them AFTER He ascends into heaven! But that they are to “tarry” in Jerusalem UNTIL they receive it! In other words, don’t go out and try to fulfill my command to “preach the Gospel to every creature” UNTIL you have received “power from on high”.
In Acts 1:8, we find Jesus Christ instructing His disciples:
“But ye shall receive power, AFTER that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Now, how many actually obeyed God’s command to “tarry”? Only about 120. And we find them doing exactly that … tarrying in prayer and worship:
“Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John … These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples …the number of names together were about a hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:12-15)
Then something AMAZING happened:
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)
This is not the “born again” experience … this is something else altogether. Peter, now endued with “power from on high” explains in his first “sermon” to all of those looking upon this amazing sight:
“… this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16)
“… it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18)
Peter went on to explain that this receiving of the Holy Ghost was a “gift”:
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
So, what is actually happening here? Was this just a one-time event just for those who were in the “upper room”? Hardly! It was the very promise of the Father’s Holy Ghost being poured out upon the believers.
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (John 14:16)
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John15:26)
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7)
The promise of the Comforter is for ALL believers … even as the scriptures go on to declare. On one of his journeys, the Apostle Paul came across some believers who had not yet received the baptism of the Holy Ghost:
“He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed (i.e. these were already “born again” believers)? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” (Acts 19:2)
“And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6)
Sounds like the “upper room”, doesn’t it? And again, when God gave the Apostle Peter a vision concerning the salvation of the Gentiles, a man named Cornelius (along with some of his friends) came to Peter’s house to inquire about the things of the Lord. So, while Peter started sharing the Gospel with them, an amazing thing happened:
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 10:44-45)
And how did they know that Cornelius and his friends had received the GIFT of the Holy Ghost?
“For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” (Acts 10:46)
Speaking in tongues, though not a requirement, is an outward fruit of an internal work! It’s an outward expression of the Holy Ghost within them speaking forth mysteries unto God.
So, in conclusion:
“How does one receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost?”
First, by believing that such a “gift” exists for the born-again believer … because “without faith it’s impossible to please God” (Hebrews).
And, secondly, by seeking God just as the disciples did. There’s something about hungering and thirsting after more of God that prepares a vessel to receive the Holy Ghost. Those in the “upper room” sought God by “tarrying” … Cornelius and his friends sought God by inquiring at Peter’s house … and those that received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by Paul were expectant disciples of John the Baptist who had already received the Gospel by the hands of Apollos and had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
But thirdly, and most importantly … BY ASKING THE FATHER … and then trusting Him to create the circumstances by which you will receive. It might happen during a personal time of prayer … it might happen at a church when a trustworthy brother or sister lays hands on you believing God with you … or it might even happen in the midst of a great trial in which you are crying out to God for deliverance. The means and circumstances are as diverse as each individual.
Personally, this author received the baptism of the Holy Ghost when a Baptist preacher (who didn’t believe in the baptism of the Holy Ghost) prayerfully laid his hand on my shoulder in an attempt to comfort me concerning a rough time I was going through. How strange is that?
So, when this author started shouting “Hallelujah” and praising & worshipping God in a loud and joyful manner … that Baptist preacher thought this author was “nuts”!
Therefore… Jesus says unto you:
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Luke 11:9)
“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Luke 11:10)
“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?” (Luke 11:11)
“Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?” (Luke 11:12)
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13)