One day John the Baptist, the messenger sent from God to prepare the way of the Lord, who baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan river, said these words to the Jews: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11) and after he had baptized Jesus, he said: “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:32-34).
Therefore there is a baptism called ‘the baptism with the Holy Spirit,’ which is administered by the Lord Jesus Christ.
The promise of the Father confirmed by the Son
After His resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to His disciples over a period of forty days. And a short time before He ascended into heaven to the right hand of God, He commanded the apostles “that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5). As you can see, the promise of the Father, about which Jesus spoke to His disciples, was nothing but the baptism with the Holy Spirit. For, first He told them to wait for the promise of the Father and then He told them that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days. Therefore when they would be baptized with the Spirit, the promise of the Father would be fulfilled. So let me explain to you what God had promised, let me explain what the promise of God was, so that you may understand the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Under the Old Testament God had said that He would pour out the Holy Spirit upon the house of Israel, for He said to Israel through the prophet Isaiah: “Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: …. I will pour my spirit upon thy seed… ” (Isaiah 44:1,3). God confirmed that promise through the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 39:28,29), and also through the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 12:10). Therefore the Lord had promised to bless His people (whom He foreknew) by pouring out His Holy Spirit upon them. However, the Lord said that He would pour out His Spirit not only upon Israel but also upon the Gentiles, for He said through the prophet Joel: “And 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….” (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28). As you can see, God, by saying “upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17), predicted that He would show personal favouritism to no man, for He would give the Holy Spirit to all, that is to say, both to Jews and to Gentiles. So we have seen that God through the prophets of old promised that He would pour out the Holy Spirit upon all flesh. Now let us see when and how Jesus confirmed and predicted the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, because, as we have said, His disciples heard Him speak of the promise of the Father.
Jesus confirmed and predicted the outpouring of the Spirit while He was in Jerusalem, during the feast of the Tabernacles, as it is written: “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39 – NKJV). As you can see, the expression “as the Scripture has said” (John 7:38) shows that the promise of the Holy Spirit was in the oracles of the prophets of old, and we saw it just a short time ago. However, why did Jesus speak about rivers of living water in relation to the Holy Spirit, who would be given? Because the prophets compared the outpouring of the Spirit to rain sent upon dry and thirsty ground. For instance, the prophet Isaiah said from God: “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring…. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. ….. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water….. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes ….. and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. (Isaiah 44:3; 43:19-20; 41:17,18; 35:6,7; 58:11). As you can see, God promised that He would pour out water upon the wilderness and He would open rivers and fountains in the midst of the dry and thirsty land. And which is the water that can quench the thirst of a soul? It is the living water that our Lord Jesus Christ gives to those who come to Him, and this living water is the Holy Spirit, which becomes in them a fountain of water springing up into eternal life. However, as it is necessary for the rain to fall upon the desert in order to see rivers and fountains in the midst of the desert, so it was necessary for the Holy Spirit to be poured out in order to see rivers of living water flowing out of the belly of the believers in Jesus Christ. Therefore the “rivers of living water,” of which the Scripture had spoken, refer to the Holy Spirit, who is received by those who believe in Jesus. Yes, because in order to receive the Holy Spirit it is necessary to believe in Jesus Christ. Paul confirms this when he says to the Ephesians: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13), and to the Galatians: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14). Therefore the words of Paul confirm fully the following words of Christ: “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Another important thing that must be said in relation to the above mentioned words of Jesus is this: when Jesus spoke those words, the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been taken up into heaven. So it was necessary for Jesus to be glorified so that the Holy Spirit might be given; that is to say, it was necessary for Jesus to die, to rise again and to leave this world to go back to His Father who had sent Him, so that the Holy Spirit might be poured out (therefore the promise of the Father could not be fulfilled while Jesus was still on the earth).
Jesus confirmed and predicted the outpouring of the Spirit also on the night He was betrayed, for on that night Jesus spoke about the coming of the Holy Spirit. For instance, He said: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17), and: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which [who] proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27), and again: “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. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7-8). These last words confirm what I said before, that is, it was necessary for Jesus to be glorified so that the Holy Spirit might be given. And in fact the promise of the Spirit was fulfilled a few days after He was taken up into heaven, precisely on the day of Pentecost.
Someone may ask me: ‘If the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, and the disciples received Him on the day of Pentecost, which followed His ascension to heaven, why is it written that when Jesus appeared to His disciples He said to them: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”? The answer is this: because when Jesus (the day on which He rose again) said to His disciples: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22), the disciples received a certain measure of the Holy Spirit, but they did not receive the fullness of the Spirit (that is to say, they were not filled with the Holy Spirit), because one receives the fullness of the Spirit when he is baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then you will say: ‘Why do you say that the disciples were not baptized with the Holy Spirit on that occasion?’ Well, because forty days after His resurrection, Jesus said to them: “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5). I ask you: ‘How could we say that they were baptized with the Spirit on the day Jesus appeared to them and spoke to them those words, if forty days later Jesus Himself told them that in a few days they would be baptized with the Spirit? Don’t you think that if the disciples of Jesus had been baptized with the Spirit on the day Jesus rose again, forty days later Jesus would not have told them that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days? Don’t you think that if on that day the disciples of Jesus had been baptized with the Spirit, Jesus would have contradicted Himself by saying to them just before His ascension that a few days later they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit?
The fulfilment of the promise on the day of Pentecost
So Jesus told His disciples that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days (I say it again, He said this forty days after His resurrection). And His words were fulfilled a few days later, just as He had said: for on the day of Pentecost, which according to the law is seven weeks after the Passover, at nine o’ clock in the morning, while the disciples were praying, they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Here is the biblical record of the fulfilment of the prediction concerning the baptism with the Holy Spirit: “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). So at nine o’ clock in the morning on the day of Pentecost, the disciples received the Holy Spirit, and ‘rivers of holy words,’ spoken in other tongues, began to flow out of their belly. Being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33).
It must be said also that on that day those who received the Holy Spirit were Jews by birth, there were not any Gentiles among them. However, after some time the Gentiles also received the Spirit. The first Gentiles who received the Spirit were Cornelius, a roman centurion, and his household. One day, the apostle Peter was sent by God to the house of Cornelius to preach the Gospel to him and all his household, and while Peter was speaking to them the Spirit fell on them and they began to speak with other tongues, as the apostles and the other disciples did on the day of Pentecost. Here is what Luke says: “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. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-46). That event confirmed that the promise of the Holy Spirit was not only for the Jews and their children but also for all those whom the Lord would call, as Peter had said to the Jews on the day of Pentecost: “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 2:39). And after Cornelius and his household many other Gentiles received the Spirit in the days of the apostles. Till now millions of Gentiles across the world have received the Spirit.
The fact that the Holy Spirit was received first by the circumcised believers and then by the uncircumcised believers, confirms also that just as the Gospel of the grace of God had to be preached first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46-47; Romans 15:8-12), so the promised Holy Spirit had to be received by the Jews first and then by the Gentiles. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for His great faithfulness. Amen.
The sign of tongues
As we have seen, Luke says that when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit “they began to speak with other tongues” (Acts 2:4). So let us dwell upon this spiritual manifestation which occurred when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
Speaking with other tongues was a phenomenon that had never occurred before that day. It is true that under the Old Testament when the Holy Spirit came upon someone a particular thing happened. For instance, every time the Holy Spirit came upon Samson, He gave him a superhuman strength (Judges 14:6,19; 15:14); when the Spirit came upon Saul he prophesied among the prophets (1 Samuel 10:10); and when the Spirit came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, he prophesied against the people (2 Chronicles 24:20). However, no one began to speak with other tongues when the Spirit came upon him, for it was on the day of Pentecost that men started to speak in other tongues when the Spirit came upon them. In other words, for speaking in other tongues began to mark the coming of the Spirit upon men from the day of Pentecost on. That is confirmed by the following facts written by Luke in his second book to Theophilus.
Here is what happened to Cornelius and his household immediately after they believed in Jesus: “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. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-46). The apostle Peter was at the house of Cornelius, a roman centurion, and was speaking to a group of Gentiles, and while he was preaching the Gospel to them, the Spirit came upon those Gentiles, and they began to speak with other tongues. The believing Jews who had come with Peter to the house of Cornelius, were astonished at seeing that the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also, because they had thought till that moment that the promised Spirit was only for the Jews. But how did those circumcised believers realize that God had given the Holy Spirit to those Gentiles also? They realized it because while Peter was speaking they suddenly heard them speaking with other tongues.
Here is what happened in Ephesus to some disciples of the Lord: “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve” (Acts 19:1-7). Those persons whom Paul met at Ephesus were disciples of the Lord, therefore they were believers, and Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit after they believed. Now perhaps somebody will say: ‘When someone believes in the Lord, he receives the Holy Spirit, doesn’t he? Why then did Paul ask that question to those believers?’ Because ‘to receive the Holy Spirit,’ according to what the Scripture teaches, means to be filled with the Holy Spirit, that is to say, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Had those believers received the Holy Spirit when they believed, Paul would not have asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit. Don’t you think? So when a person believes, he receives the remission of his sins and eternal life, but he does not receive the Holy Spirit, that is to say, he does not receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, for the baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience subsequent to the new birth. The new birth and the baptism with the Holy Spirit are two different experiences, for when one is born again he is purified from his sins, while when he is baptized with the Holy Spirit he is endued with power from on high and he begins to speak with other tongues. Please note that those believers who were in Ephesus did not say to Paul: ‘No, we have not yet received Him’ but: ‘We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.’ Then Paul realized that they had not yet received the Holy Spirit, and after he knew that they had received John’s baptism, those believers were baptized in water in the name of Jesus, and after Paul laid his hands upon them, they received the Holy Spirit and they began to speak with other tongues and to prophesy. As you can see, after the Holy Spirit came upon those believers, they not only spoke in other tongues, but they also prophesied; that shows us that when a believer receives the Holy Spirit he begins to speak in other tongues, and he may prophesy, if the Spirit enables him to prophesy, of course.
Some people say that these Bible verses (that is, Acts 2:4; 10:44-46; 19:6) are not enough to state that when we receive the Holy Spirit we begin to speak in other tongues; on the contrary, we say that they are sufficient for us to declare that if a believer has received the Holy Spirit he speaks in other tongues, but also that if a believer does not speak in tongues by the Spirit, he has not yet received the Holy Spirit (that is, the fullness of the Spirit or the baptism with the Holy Spirit).
With regard to speaking in tongues I want to say one more thing, the words spoken in other tongues (that is, in the Spirit) are directed toward God, for Paul says to the Corinthians: “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God ….” (1 Corinthians 14:2 – NKJV). I will come back to this subject shortly.
The Holy Spirit is given when and how God wills
The Holy Spirit is the gift of God, therefore we can’t earn or merit it. The Bible verses which attest that the Holy Spirit is the gift of God are these: “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” (Acts 2:38); “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 10:45).
Therefore, since the Holy Spirit is the gift of God, it is lawful to ask God for Him, as Jesus said to His disciples: “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). Perhaps you will ask: ‘Does God give immediately the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?’ If by ‘immediately’ you mean ‘on the same day they ask God for the Holy Spirit,’ my answer is this: ‘Sometimes yes, some other times no.’ However, we know that God has made everything beautiful in his time, therefore whether He gives the Spirit immediately, or some days or months or years later, we know that the Holy Spirit comes upon the believer at the time set by God and not by men.
‘How do believers receive the Holy Spirit from God?’ Some receive Him through the laying on of hands and others without the laying on of hands. Just as in the days of the apostles; for the believers who were in Samaria, the disciples whom Paul met at Ephesus, and Timothy and Saul of Tarsus received the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, as it is written: [the believers who were in Samaria] “Then laid they [Peter and John] their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:17); [About twelve disciples in Ephesus] “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); [Timothy] “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6 – NKJV); [Saul of Tarsus] “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:17). While the disciples on the day of Pentecost and Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit without the laying on of hands, as it is written: [The disciples who were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost] “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); [Cornelius and his household] “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. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-46).
The baptism with the Holy Spirit and the new birth are not the same experience
Some believers think that on the very moment they were born again they received the baptism with the Holy Spirit. In other words, they think that the new birth is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. They associate the baptism with the Spirit with the new birth, saying that the baptism with the Spirit occurs at regeneration. To them the baptism with the Spirit spoken of by John the Baptist and the new birth of which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus are one and the same event occurring at justification. However, that is wrong, for the baptism with the Holy Spirit is received after the new birth, that is to say, after one has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; the example of the disciples on the day of Pentecost and that of the disciples (about twelve) whom Paul met at Ephesus show this very clearly.
In relation to the first example, we read in the Gospel according to John that when Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He said to them: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). Now listen, this happened about 50 days before the day of Pentecost, on which – as you know – the apostles were filled or baptized with the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. It is evident, therefore, that when Jesus told them to receive the Holy Spirit they did not have the same experience that they had about 50 days later. Don’t you think that if on that day (that is, the first day of the week, on which Jesus appeared to them) the apostles had experienced the baptism with the Holy Spirit or the infilling of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, just before ascending into heaven, would not have spoken to the same apostles saying that within a few days they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5)? Therefore, as you can see, before the day of Pentecost the apostles had a measure of the Spirit, but they were not yet filled with Him. So this is what must be said about those Christians who have not yet received the baptism with the Holy Spirit: they have the Spirit but have not yet received the fullness of Him. Of course they have the Holy Spirit in their heart, how could they call God “Father” without the Holy Spirit? How could they feel in their heart they are children of God without the witness of the Holy Spirit? Is it not written: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ ….” (Romans 8:14-17 – NKJV)? But they are not yet filled with the Holy Spirit. I mean that they are not yet full of the Holy Spirit, for the filling up with the Holy Spirit is experienced only through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Therefore every born again Christian who is not yet baptized with the Holy Spirit has a measure of the Holy Spirit but is not full of Him. And He must seek this fullness asking God for the Holy Spirit.
In relation to the second example, we read that when Paul met those disciples he asked them: “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19:2). Now it is evident that if Paul believed that the baptism with the Holy Spirit occurs at regeneration, or that a man is filled with the Holy Spirit when he believes, he would not have put that question to those believers. Therefore Paul believed that a man receives the baptism with the Holy Spirit after he has believed in the Gospel. I know that some people say that Paul asked them a different question, for both the NKJV and the NIV read: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2), but this is a mistranslation, for according to the original Greek this question must be translated as was translated by the translators of the King James Version. Nevertheless, I would like to point out to you that this mistranslation does not nullify the doctrine of the baptism with Holy Spirit, because we know that those disciples answered that they had not even heard that there was a Holy Spirit, and that after Paul laid his hands upon them the Holy Spirit fell upon them and they began to speak in other tongues; which means that Paul believed anyway that when a believer receives the Holy Spirit he begins to speak in other tongues. Therefore, even if we grant for the sake of argument that Paul inquired if they had received the Spirit when they believed, the reception of the Holy Spirit must be immediately followed by speaking in tongues. So I would like to put this question to all those believers who reject speaking in tongues as the outward sign (that is, the evidence) of the baptism with the Holy Spirit: ‘If – as you say – Paul believed that the Holy Spirit is received at regeneration, if Paul believed – as you think – that a man receives the baptism with the Holy Spirit when he believes, why did you not speak in tongues when you received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, as the disciples in Ephesus did after Paul laid his hands upon them? I tell you the answer, because when you believed in the Lord you did not receive the fullness of the Spirit, that is to say, you were not baptized with the Holy Spirit. You received another baptism when you believed, which is the baptism administered by the Holy Spirit, as it is written: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13 – NKJV). This baptism – as I said before – is administered by the Holy Spirit and through it we all became members of the Church when we believed. But the baptism with the Holy Spirit is administered by Jesus Christ and through it He clothes those who believe with power from on high.
There is even a third example I can mention to confirm this, it is the example of the believers of Samaria. Listen to what Luke says: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:5-17). Now it is out of doubt that those people in Samaria had believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, they had believed in the death and the resurrection of Christ, therefore they were born again, for the new birth is experienced when one believes. Yet the Scripture says that the apostles who were at Jerusalem sent Peter and John to those believers to pray for them; why? Because those believers, those born again Christians, had not yet been baptized with the Holy Spirit (the expression used by Luke is “for as yet he was fallen upon none of them”). Of course, they had a measure of the Spirit, by whom they could say that they were children of God, but they had not yet experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit, that is to say, they had not yet had the same experience that the apostles had on the day of Pentecost. Now I know you will ask me: ‘Why then didn’t Luke write that when they received the Holy Spirit they spoke in other tongues?’ Because the Holy Spirit did not move Luke to write it. Those believers spoke in other tongues, as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance, but it is not clearly written that they did speak in tongues, as it is written in the case of the disciples at Jerusalem as well as in the case of the disciples at Ephesus. I have said ‘it is not clearly written,’ for in this particular case Luke wrote some words concerning Simon which imply that those believers spoke in other tongues. Here are the words of Luke: “And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:18-19). As you can see, Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given. What did he see? What kind of spiritual manifestation did he see, which convinced him immediately that the Holy Spirit was given to those believers through the laying on of the apostles’ hands? Of course he saw those believers speaking in other tongues.
The utility of the baptism with the Holy Spirit
I have shown you from the Scripture that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is for all believers, for both Jews and Gentiles; that it is received freely from God by faith; that it can be received through the laying on of hands or without the laying on of hands; that when a believer receives it the Spirit enables him to speak in other tongues, and I have explained that it is an experience subsequent to the new birth. Now I am going to explain to you why the baptism with the Holy Spirit is useful to the believer.
It is useful because it imparts power to those who receive it, for Jesus said to 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” (Acts 1:8) and also: “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). Therefore whoever has been baptized with the Holy Spirit has received power from on high, that is, he has been endued with power. Nobody can say that he has received the baptism with the Holy Spirit but he has not received power from on high. Power to do what? Power to bring the Gospel to the lost (that is, power to witness for Jesus), for Jesus said to His disciples that when the Spirit would come upon them they would be witnesses to Him (Acts 1:8); power to be strengthened in the inner man, as it is written: “That he [God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16); power to fight more efficaciously against the devil and all his schemes, for when a believer is baptized with the Spirit he begins to pray in the Spirit (that is to say, he begins to pray in other tongues) and the prayer in the Spirit is one of the spiritual weapons God has given to the believer to fight against the devil, as it is written: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
Let us dwell upon the prayer in the Spirit. Paul says to the Romans that “the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27 – NKJV). How does the Spirit make intercession for the saints? Here is the answer. As I said before, whoever is baptized with the Holy Spirit speaks in other tongues to God, as the Holy Spirit gives him utterance. What does he say to God? Paul says: “In the spirit he speaks mysteries” (1 Corinthians 14:2 – NKJV). What are these mysteries? Sometimes they are intercessions made by the Spirit for the saints. So anyone who prays in the Spirit, that is to say, who prays in other tongues, does speak mysteries in the Spirit because the Spirit makes intercession for the saints, asking God to do certain things on their behalf which are unknown to him who is praying in other tongues, for the Bible verse “we do not know what we should pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26) means that we, because of our limited knowledge (which is one of “our weaknesses”), do not know what we should ask God to do on behalf of the saints. For instance, we don’t know the specific need in which a believer (whether we know him or not) may suddenly find himself, but the Spirit knows it, for He knows all things. What does the Holy Spirit do then? He helps us (that is, he helps our lack of knowledge) making some specific intercessions for that believer through our mouth, for this is what happens when somebody prays in other tongues: the Spirit is praying for the saints. The “groanings which cannot be uttered” are those groanings that the Spirit makes a believer utter when he prays in other tongues. As we have seen, Paul says that the Spirit “makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). What does he mean? He means that the Spirit asks God to do certain things on behalf of the saints which are according to the will of God for them, that is to say, He asks God for things which they need and are according to the will of God for their life. Certainly you have read these words of John: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15). Well, I want you to know that whenever we pray in other tongues (that is, in the Spirit) we ask God for things which are according to His will because the Spirit makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Therefore the baptism with the Holy Spirit is useful because it enables believers to pray in other tongues.
So, in the light of what the Scripture teaches about the baptism with the Spirit, no wonder that today some Christians say that the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a false doctrine and thus it must not be taught to the Church!! For we know that the devil hurls himself against every true doctrine, because every true doctrine edifies the Church of the living God, and the devil does not want the Church to be edified. And therefore he has deceived these Christians into believing that this doctrine is false. That’s why we are not surprised to see that those who receive the Holy Spirit and begin to speak in other tongues, begin to be persecuted and reviled even by some believers, who don’t know the Scriptures nor the power of God. Is it not true that the devil tries to discourage the children of God from doing whatever opposes efficaciously the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, and the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places? And the prayer in the Spirit is a powerful weapon the Church has received from God to fight the good fight. Therefore, brothers in the Lord, don’t be surprised to see that Satan has deprived some believers of this weapon by deceiving them into believing that tongues are not of God, or that they are not useful, or that they have ceased. I want you to know this: had the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit been a false doctrine it would have proved to be a lie and thus it would not have edified the Church of God and would not have helped to save many souls, and besides this, God would not have confirmed this doctrine in such a powerful and marvellous way.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit imparts power to the saints and produces love in them, and it opens the door to the gifts of the Spirit; that’s why our enemies make every effort to prevent believers from teaching it and desiring it. But thanks be to God because the baptism with the Holy Spirit, even though it meets with much opposition, is taught diligently across the world; and not only taught, but also received by many Christians and the effect it produces in them is the same effect that produced in the early disciples. To the One who in His faithfulness baptizes with the Holy Spirit, be the glory now and forevermore. Amen.
Since I am acquainted with the situation of the Pentecostal Churches in this nation also, I feel I have to warn those who are seeking the baptism with the Holy Spirit, so that they may not fall victim to the devices of the devil.
Today among many Churches many believers are deceived by many Church leaders into speaking with false tongues. Now I am going to explain to you how these Church leaders deceive these believers. Usually, during the prayer meeting or an evangelistic crusade they ask those believers who want to be baptized with the Spirit (or filled with the Spirit) to come forward so that they may pray for them. And while they are standing near the pulpit or the platform, the church leaders tell them to begin to speak a word then another word and so on, or they even put strange words in the mouth of these believers, or they begin to shout in their ears, ‘Speak in tongues, speak in tongues, come on, speak in tongues!’, or they pound their backs, so they, being influenced by these Church leaders and this kind of atmosphere, begin to utter syllables and vowels, which give the impression to themselves as well as to those who hear them speaking that they have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, for the Scripture teaches that speaking in tongues is the sign that accompanies the reception of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. However, they actually have received nothing, for those strange words they speak are not true foreign languages which the Spirit enables them to speak, but just meaningless words. So these believers have deceived themselves, for they think they have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, while as a matter of fact they have not yet received it. Of course, those church leaders who act in this way have deceived themselves too, because it is evident that since they teach believers to do these things they also one day were deceived into speaking meaningless words. Unfortunately, this is something that has been dragging on for many years and has brought forth bitter and evil fruits.
Therefore, brothers, lest you be deluded into thinking that you have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, besides praying God in faith so that He may give you the Holy Spirit, you must wait confidently (and without any anxiety) for the Holy Spirit to come upon you and enable you to speak in other tongues. Do not worry, because it is the Holy Spirit who will make you speak in other tongues. You will have to open your mouth, and the Holy Spirit will make you speak. That you may understand what I have just said, I will cite what happens to demon-possessed people as an illustration. Now, as you know, there are some people who are moved by evil spirits and when these spirits seize them they begin to say things which they do not know and do not want to say, and the reason is that the evil spirits seize their mouth and make them say what the spirits want them to say. So, on the contrary, when the Spirit of God, who is holy and good, comes upon a believer a similar thing occurs, for He seizes the mouth of the believer and makes him speak in other tongues (and even prophesy, if God wills). Therefore, in the light of what I have just told you, it is evident that if one puts together some words which look like foreign words, for he thinks that this is the way the Holy Spirit enables believers to speak in other tongues, he deceives himself, for those words are only a figment of his imagination, and not words in a foreign language which the Spirit enables him to speak.
Perhaps someone, in reading these words of mine, comes to the incontrovertible conclusion that he is one of the victims of this deception. I want to say to this person: You do well to acknowledge this; therefore stop uttering those meaningless words you invented and wait for Jesus Christ to baptize you with the Holy Spirit.