Recently, we had a powerful Sunday morning service where many people experienced physical healing in their bodies. God’s presence was intoxicating that morning. That afternoon as I was meditating on the goodness of God we had seen on display, I heard these words in my heart heart:
“The Lord wants to restore the Holy Spirit to His church.”
This could be a confusing statement to some as many will say that Jesus never leaves us or forsakes us and that His spirit abides with us forever. How could He restore something that never left? Great question. Let me explain.
According to John 14:16 the Holy Spirit does abide with us forever. He will never leave us or forsake us, however, many times we leave and forsake Him. We don’t prioritize seeking His direction, hearing His voice, and allowing Him to move in our lives the way He wants to.
This is particularly true in the way many modern churches do service on Sunday mornings. Entire services are planned out to the minute, the lights que up at the right moments of songs, speakers are always trying to make pithy retweetable statements that are “profound” and “relevant.”
Here is where someone reading this is may be expecting me to bash all of these popular elements of the modern church. I’m actually not because churches that do these things are trying to use the wisdom of planning, technology, and excellence to fulfill their mission to reach people. Wisdom is a primary manifestation of the Holy Spirit. I”m not against any of those things. I”m for them 100%.
With all that said, however, sometimes in our effort to plan, we can actually plan the Holy Spirit right out of our church services. We limit Him to just operating in the realm of what we have planned and forget to leave room for Him to pour out in other ways He may choose such as gifts of miracles, healings, prophecy, impartation, and much more.
I believe God wants to restore the experience of walking in the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the church globally as part of His strategy for end time revival. We need the power of God to see large numbers of people reached and transformed by the gospel. God began His church on the day of Pentecost with a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit and He wants to continue to pour out His spirit on all flesh during the last days we are living in. These two events are commonly referred to as the former and latter rain (Hosea 2:23, Joel 6:3).
The day of Pentecost discussed in Acts 2 was the fulfillment of the former rain. As 120 disciples of Jesus prayed in the upper room of a building in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit poured out and they begin to speak in other tongues. People groups from all around the world began to hear the gospel in their language and 3,000 were converted to Christianity that day.
Acts 2:4 says these were believers in the upper room were filled or baptized with the Holy Spirit. This was a fulfillment of John the Baptist’s words in Matthew 3:11:
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
This brings up two important questions:
- What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
- And why would we want to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?
This is a pretty controversial subject so I want to spend the rest of this article explaining what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is and why we should want it. The word baptize means to be immersed or covered. To be baptized in the spirit means to be immersed or covered with the Holy Spirit.
Being baptized in the spirit is different than the initial salvation experience where the Holy Spirit moves inside us. When we are baptized we are filled to the full with the spirit and covered with His power. The baptism of the spirit is a subsequent experience to being saved.
Here are a few examples of this from scripture:
- In Acts 2 when the 120 Christians in the upper room were filled with the Holy Spirit. This happened after they were already saved.
- Believers were filled with the spirit in Acts 4:31 and boldness came upon them. We read in Acts 5 about many miracles that were performed because of this powerful encounter.
- In Acts 8, Phillip went to Samaria and preached the gospel and many were saved. In Acts 8:14-17 Peter and John went to Samaria and asked if they received the spirit when they were saved. They prayed for them and they were all filled.
- In Acts 19 Paul led several people in Ephesus to the Lord and then subsequently laid hands on them and they were filled with the spirit and began to pray in other tongues and prophecy.
Now that we’ve established the baptism of the spirit is a subsequent experience from salvation, let’s tackle the question of why we would want to be baptized with the spirit. Jesus said in Acts 1:8 that power comes upon us when we are baptized or filled with the spirit. The Greek word for power is dunamis which is where we get our word dynamite from. When dynamite is detonated it brings powerful change. When we are filled with the spirit we have this dynamite power of God operating through us.
When Jesus told the disciples to go into all the world and make disciples He gave them authority to do this assignment. The word authority means legal right. Before the disciples were to go into all the world, however, He told them to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with the spirit to get the power needed to do the assignment.
The best way I can illustrate the difference between authority and power is the example of a police officer. When a police officer is commissioned he has authority to enforce the laws of the government he works for. He doesn’t have any power, however, until he is given a weapon. It’s the power of a weapon that empowers the cop to enforce his legal authority.
Think about it, a cop can tell a criminal to put down a bag of money he has stolen, but if the cop doesn’t have a weapon, the criminal isn’t going to listen. The cop needs the power of a weapon. An officer who only has authority but no power (weapon) isn’t going to be able to completely fulfill his assignment. The same as true with us as Christians.
We need the power of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives to do all Jesus wants us to do. The ability to preach the gospel effectively, live holy, love unconditionally, and do miracles without the empowerment of the spirit is impossible.
I want to make one additional point to bring clarity on the baptism of the spirit. It is on the subject of speaking in tongues. While the Bible teaches that many people who were baptized in the spirit spoke in tongues and that gift still operates today for anyone who wants it, speaking in tongues is not the main reason God gave the Holy Spirit. And I say this as a person who speaks in other tongues. The reason the spirit was given is for power – could be tongues sometimes, but could be many other things based on what is needed in the moment!
I bring this up because many have reduced the baptism of the spirit to just speaking in tongues and don’t know how to operate in many of the other gifts of the spirit like the word of wisdom, word of knowledge, gift of faith and so on. We need to learn to operate in any and every gift the Holy Spirit has for us in order to see the fulness of God’s plan for our lives.
Aside from the operating in the gifts of the spirit, one additional reason we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit is it will ignite a passion for Jesus in us! This is why Bible says He baptizes us in the spirit and fire. Fire speaks of passion! When I got filled with the Holy Spirit I got on fire for Jesus and haven’t stopped burning yet! This passion is something that will never come with a mere head knowledge of Jesus! We have to let him fill us!
As I close I want to encourage you to get and stay filled with the Holy Spirit. If you have never asked Him to fill you before, all you have to do is ask. Jesus said in Luke 11:13 if we know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. I believe as you ask in faith, our Heavenly Father will immerse you in His love and power and your life will never be the same!
If you would like more information the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, check out this teaching I did called “Immersed.” Hopefully it can answer additional questions you may have. If you need more information please contact our office at Grace Life Church.