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*Frequently asked questions*
The Bible, the written word of God, is our sole authority in answering all questions pertaining to our spiritual life. However, in reading the Bible, we must keep in mind that the Bible is not written like a book of science where each statement is exact and complete in itself, nor like a book of law where the goal is to elaborate matters in sections and sub-sections so as to avoid loopholes. The Bible is written for the heart, and can be understood in its proper sense only by those who are spiritually minded (1Co.2:14), and who desire to do the will of God once it is revealed (Jn.7:17). Those who want to argue against the word of God can always find arguments, and those who do not want to obey what God says can appear to find words of God themselves to support their stand. Please read the following with an open heart and a willingness to know God's ways and obey them. - Jacob Ninan
The baptism in the Holy Spirit
1. Is there something called the baptism in the Holy Spirit?
The angel told Mary that her Son should be called Jesus because He would save the people from their sins (Mt.1:21). Another thing that Jesus would do, as John the Baptist mentioned, is to baptise them in the Holy Spirit and fire (Mt.3:11).
2. Is the baptism in the Holy Spirit the same as the baptism in water?
No. John the Baptist contrasted his baptising people in water to Jesus baptising them in the Holy Spirit (Mt.3:11).
3. What does it mean?
'Baptism' means 'immersion'. When we are baptised in the Holy Spirit, we are immersed in Him.
4. Is the baptism in the Holy Spirit the same as being filled with the Holy Spirit?
When we are immersed in the Holy Spirit, we are, of course, filled with the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, 'being filled with the Holy Spirit' is a more general term. Many people in the Old Testament also were filled with the Holy Spirit. But 'baptism in the Holy Spirit' is used only with reference to what happened on and after the day of Pentecost to those who believed in Jesus.
Jesus told His disciples just before He ascended to heaven that they would be baptised in the Holy Spirit shortly afterwards (Ac.1:5). This is what happened subsequently on the day of Pentecost. Peter recognised a repetition of this when the Holy Spirit came on those who were gathered in the house of Cornelius later (Ac.11:16).
The phrase 'baptism in the Holy Spirit' is used specifically for the first time when the Holy Spirit comes upon those who have believed in Jesus. These believers do receive the filling of the Holy Spirit even afterwards, and and are exhorted to be always filled with the Holy Spirit (Ac.4:31;Ep.5:18).
5. What does the baptism in the Holy Spirit do for us?
a. The baptism in the Holy Spirit gives power to the believer to be a witness for Jesus, both in word and life (Ac.1:8).
b. A believer is baptised into the body of Christ through the baptism in the Holy Spirit (1Co.12:13).
c. God gives various gifts of the Holy Spirit through the baptism in the Holy Spirit (See 1Co.12:7-10 in connection with v.13).
6. Are not all who believe in Jesus and born again also baptised in the Holy Spirit?
Those who are born again are born of the Spirit (Jn.3:3,5). Jesus was born of the Spirit when He became a Man (Lk.1:35). But the Holy Spirit came upon Him after He was baptised in water (Mt.3:16). The eleven disciples of Jesus 'were already clean' (regenerated) by the word had given them (Jn.15:3;13:10). They had received the Holy Spirit after Jesus died and rose from the grave (Jn.20:22). But they were asked to wait in Jerusalem till the Holy Spirit came upon them, and this happened subsequently on the day of Pentecost. Certain disciples in Ephesus who had believed in Jesus had not been baptised in the Holy Spirit till Paul laid hands on them and prayed (Ac.19:1-6).
7. Are not all who are baptised in water into Christ (Ro.6:3) also baptised in the Holy Spirit?
Baptism in water is different from baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was after Jesus was baptised in water that the Holy Spirit came upon Him (Mt.3:16). In the case of those in the house of Cornelius, they were baptised in the Holy Spirit even before they were baptised in water.
8. Did not the gifts of the Holy Spirit cease with the apostles?
There are many Christians who believe this based on an assumption that after the Bible was completed in its full form, there was no need for any further revelation from God, quoting 1Cor.13:8-10. However 'perfect' actually refers to the time when we are face to face with God in the life to come, because that is what Paul has in mind in the context (v.12). The baptism in the Holy Spirit is to endow us with power to be witnesses for Jesus in this world (Ac.1:8), and all true believers sense the need for that power, irrespective of the fact that the Bible is complete. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are also needed for ministering to the others according to their needs (1Cor.12:7), and all those who seek to serve others see the need for these gifts even though the Bible is complete.
Of course the Holy Spirit is not going to give us revelation now in ways that are contrary to what He has already given in the Bible. But don't we need revelation to know what to say or do in specific situations, and the power to carry them out? All who work as servants in God's kingdom become very aware of their need for specific guidance from the Holy Spirit in addition to and in line with the values, principles, instructions and guidelines the Scriptures give us.
Is it unimaginable that God continues to do miracles, healings, etc., through His servants these days when the need is so huge? Should we limit Him to just 'natural' acts now that the Bible is complete? When Satanic forces of darkness are becoming more and more active in the end days will God leave His servants without His supernatural assistance?
9. Who can be baptised in the Holy Spirit?
It is those who are born again by repentance and faith in Jesus who can be baptised in the Holy Spirit. Normally Jesus baptises people in the Holy Spirit after they have been born again and baptised in water. But sometimes, as in the case of Cornelius, even those who have not been baptised in water receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
10.How can we know if we have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit?
This is something we can know in a definite sense, just as we know our sins have been forgiven. Otherwise it would not have been meaningful for Paul to have asked the disciples in Ephesus if they had received the Spirit (Ac.19:1-6).
There are several instances in the Acts of the Apostles where people spoke in unknown tongues after they were baptised in the Holy Spirit. However, the Bible says that not all speak in tongues, referring to people who are baptised in the Holy Spirit and have other gifts (1Co.12:30). One sure sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is an endowment of power to be a witness for Jesus. This is what Jesus promised (Ac.1:8).
11. How can we receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit?
Ask, and receive by faith. God waits for us to ask. He is eager to give us good gifts (Lk.11:13). We must keep asking till we receive, because many times God tests us to see if we are really eager to receive what we ask for, by delaying His answer (Mt.7:7,8).
12. Do we need to ask someone to lay hands on us and pray for being baptised in the Holy Spirit?
In the Book of Acts we see instances of people receiving the Holy Spirit after the apostles laid hands on them and prayed (Acts.8:17). In one instance it was not an apostle bt an unknown brother, Ananias, who laid hands and prayed for Saul to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts.9:17). In the case of Cornelius and others who heard Peter preach, they were filled with the Holy Spirit without any laying on of hands (Acts.10:44). What we see from these is that those who have been baptised in the Holy Spirit themselves can lay hands on others and pray for them, and also that it is not always necessary for someone to be laid hands upon in order to receive the Holy Spirit.
13. Do we need to tarry for the Holy Spirit?
No. We can receive as soon as we have believed and been baptised. But we must ask in faith. If there is delay in our receiving, it is good for us to examine our hearts. Perhaps there is some sin we have not given up, something in which we are not willing to obey God, etc.
Of course it is true that Jesus told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts.1:4,5). This had to do with waiting for the Day of Pentecost for the Old Testament to have its fulfilment. Pentecost in Greek meant the fiftieth day, referring to 50 days after the Passover. The Jews celebrated this fiftieth day as the day of harvest. It was fitting that the spiritual harvest should be inaugurated on the fiftieth day after the death of Jesus the Passover Lamb. But once that day was fulfilled by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, it was not necessary that Christians should need to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After that day we see people being baptised in the Holy Spirit immediately after they were prayed for.
14. Can one be a believer without being baptised in the Holy Spirit?
Certainly. But he will be lacking in power which Jesus wants to give him (Ac.1:8).
15. Is it not possible that we may open ourselves up to evil spirits in our seeking after the Holy Spirit?
Jesus made it very clear that if we ask Him for the Holy Spirit, He would not give us anything else (Lk.11:9-13). In fact we can take it that He would protect us from such deception when we sincerely and earnestly seek Him in order to do His will and to glorify His name. Our Heavenly Father will not give us a snake when we ask Him for fish (v.11).
However, there is a danger that if we are not seeking for the Holy Spirit in submission to God and for His glory but seeking for the thrill of supernatural experiences, or making ourselves great, evil spirits would only be too happy to offer us deceitful counterfeits. This explains many people who claim to be baptised in the Holy Spirit are showing weird manifestations without the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Jesus has told us that the way to judge these manifestations is to look for the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who offer such experiences and the lives of those who have received them (Mt.7:15-17).
Jesus used a parable of a man going to his neighbour in the night, asking for food to give to his friend who had come to his house (Lk.11:5-8). This man was not seeking anything for himself, but for his friend. When we remember that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for ourselves but for serving others, we can understand why Jesus used this parable before exhorting us to ask, seek and knock for the Holy Spirit (vv.9,13). If we ask like this, Jesus assures us that He will not allow us to get a counterfeit.
Someone has pointed out that it is because the genuine gifts are very precious that Satan offers counterfeits. It is also because the genuine gifts of God are dangerous for Satan's kingdom that he offers counterfeits that are not only cheap, but they also ultimately draw the recipients into his snare.
16. Many people who claim to be baptised in the Holy Spirit live lives that are a disgrace to Christ. Why should I seek such an experience?
This is true of many people who claim to be born again, baptised in water, are members of a church, and who even serve God full time! Just because there are people who have either not received the genuine experience or after receiving it misused it for their own pleasures, it does not mean that there are no godly people who have received and who serve God with power. We need to earnestly seek after spiritual gifts out of love and a strong desire to serve the others in God's name (1Cor.12:31;14:1).
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