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ONE EVANGELIST THAT GOD USED MIGHTILY in years gone by rightly said that the four Gospels--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--could aptly be called "The Acts of the Lord Jesus Christ." Truly He performed many incredible ACTS OF THE SPIRIT!
Did you know that Jesus never did a miracle, never healed anyone, never cast out a devil until the Holy Spirit came upon Him? Matthew 3:13-17 gives us the account of Jesus' water baptism AND His Spirit baptism.
Why was Jesus, our sinless Lord, baptized in water, seeing that He was not a sinner as other men? Well, there are several good reasons:
1. "To fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15; Luke 16:4; Galatians 4:4-5). Jesus Christ, thru His water baptism, publically consecrated Himself to His Heavenly Father and thus fulfilled the Father's righteous requirement.
2. To identify Himself with sinners. We know it was an act of identifying, for Jesus did not need to repent of any sin (II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:24).
3. To officially associate Himself with the powerful new movement of God that was calling everyone to sincere repentance (John 1:23, 32, 33).
Spirit upon Him
Matthew 3:16 gives us the account of Jesus' Spirit baptism. Everything Jesus did--His powerful preachings and acts--He did by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit (Ghost). He could not do anything apart from the Spirit's workings (Luke 4:1, 14, 18; John 3:34; Acts 1:2; 10:38). You see, dear readers, it was and is the Holy Spirit that equips us for real ministry, not our own power (see Luke 3:22).
Jesus Himself, after His own Spirit anointing, would later baptize His followers in or with THE HOLY GHOST AND FIRE! in order for them to effectively preach and do the Acts of the Spirit (see Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5, 8; 2:4).
Book of Acts
The book of Acts is a continuation of "all that Jesus began both to do and teach" (Acts 1:1). The four Gospels were concerned with Jesus' ministry before His ascension into Heaven, and Acts is concerned with His ministry after His ascension.
John 14:12 tells us that "He that believeth on me, the WORKS that I do shall he do also; and GREATER WORKS than these shall he do." Some say that this was spoken only to the first-century Church or to Jesus' first apostles/disciples. NO! That's like saying that Jesus and the Holy Spirit would only abide with the first apostles/disciples. Matthew 28:20 tells us that Jesus and the Holy Spirit would be with His followers, "even UNTO THE END of the world (lit. 'age')" (cf. Hebrews 13:5).
The 500 who personally saw and heard Jesus after His resurrection were commanded to wait for the Holy Ghost to be poured out upon them. Luke 24:36-49 tells us that Jesus appeared to His disciples, and in verse 49 Jesus says, "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." This was referring to the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts 1:5 "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence."
"ONE OF THE CARDINAL DOCTRINES of Scripture is the baptism in the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:4-5...[and note that v. 5 may be rendered] 'baptism in' rather than 'baptism with' the Holy Spirit). Concerning the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Word of God teaches the following.
(1) The baptism in the Spirit is intended for all who profess faith in Christ, have been born again, and have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
(2) One of Christ's key goals in His mission on earth was to baptize His people in the Holy Spirit (Mat. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). He instructed His disciples not to begin witnessing until they were baptized in the Holy Spirit and endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5,8). Jesus Christ Himself did not enter His ministry until He had been 'anointed . . . with the Holy Ghost and with power' (Acts 10:38; cf. Luke 4:1,18).
(3) The baptism in the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Holy Spirit distinct and separate from His work of regeneration. Just as the sanctifying work of the Spirit is a distinct work complementing the regenerating work of the Spirit, so the baptism in the Spirit complements the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Spirit. On the day of Christ's resurrection He breathed on His disciples and said, 'Receive ye the Holy Ghost' (John 20:22), indicating that regeneration and new life were being given to them. Then later He told them they must also be 'endued with power' by the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; cf. Acts 1:5,8). For the disciples it was clearly a post-regeneration experience (see Acts 11:17). One can be regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but still not be baptized in the Holy Spirit (see Acts 19:6).
(4) To be baptized in the Spirit means to be filled with the Spirit (compare Acts 1:5; 2:4). However, this baptism occurred only at and after Pentecost. Concerning those filled with the Holy Spirit before Pentecost (e.g. Luke 1:15,67), Luke does not use the term baptized in the Holy Spirit. This would occur only after Christ's ascension (Lk 24:49-51; Jn 16:7-14; Ac 1:4).
(5) The book of Acts presents speaking with tongues as an initial sign accompanying the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 10:45-46; 19:6). Baptism in the Holy Spirit is linked so closely with the external manifestation of speaking in tongues that this should be considered the norm when receiving that baptism.
(6) The baptism in the Holy Spirit will bring the personal boldness and power of the Holy Spirit into the believer's life in order to accomplish mighty works in Christ's name and to make the believer's witness and proclamation effective (cf. Acts 1:8; 2:14-41; 4:31; 6:8; Rom. 15:18-19; 1 Cor. 2:4). This power is not some impersonal force, but is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit by which the presence, glory, and works of Jesus are present with His people (John 14:16-18; 16:14; 1 Cor. 12:7).
(7) Other results of a genuine baptism in the Holy Spirit are: (a) prophetic utterances and praise (Acts 2:4,17; 10:46; 1 Cor. 14:2); (b) enhanced sensitivity to sin that grieves the Holy Spirit, a greater seeking after righteousness which conforms to Christ, and a deeper awareness of the judgment of God against all ungodliness (see John 16:8; Acts 1:8); (c) a life which glorifies Jesus Christ (John 16:13-14; Acts 4:33); (d) new visions (Acts 2:17); (e) a manifestation of the various gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-10); (f) a greater desire to pray and intercede (Acts 2:41-42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:4; 10:9; Rom. 8:26); (g) a deeper love and understanding of the Word of God (John 16:13; Acts 2:42); and (h) an increasing awareness of God as one's Father (Acts 1:4; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).
(8) The Word of God cites several conditions by which the baptism in the Holy Spirit is given. (a) We must accept by faith Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and turn from sin and the world (Acts 2:38-40; 8:12-17). This involves surrendering our wills to God ('to them that obey him,' Acts 5:32). We must turn from that which offends God before we can become 'a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use' (2 Tim. 2:21). (b) We must desire to be filled. Christians should have a deep hunger and thirst for the baptism in the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39; cf. Is. 44:3; Mat. 5:6; 6:33). (c) We often receive it in answer to definite prayer (Luke 11:13; Acts 1:14; 2:1-4; 4:31; 8:15,17). (d) We should expect that God will baptize us in the Holy Spirit (Mark 11:24; Acts 1:4-5).
(9) The baptism in the Holy Spirit is sustained in the believer's life by prayer (Acts 4:31), witness (4:31,33), worship in the Spirit (Eph. 5:18-19), and a sanctified life (see Eph. 5:18). However powerful the initial coming of the Holy Spirit upon the believer may be, if this does not find expression in a life of prayer, witness, and holiness, the experience will soon become a fading glory.
(10) The baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs only once in a believer's life and points to the consecration of the believer unto God's work of witnessing in power and righteousness. The Bible teaches that there may be new fillings with the Holy Spirit after the believer has been baptized in the Holy Spirit (see Acts 4:31; cf. 2:4; 4:8,31; 13:9; Eph. 5:18). Thus, the baptism in the Spirit brings the believer into a relationship with the Spirit that is to be renewed (Acts 4:31) and maintained (Eph. 5:18)."
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Have you received this powerful infilling? The promise is for YOU! (Acts 2:39). YOU can experience the real TONGUES OF FIRE! Thank God, over 36 years ago, when my wife and I were led into a prayer of salvation by a lone evangelist, we received this miraculous baptism; we spoke in tongues. We were never taught that it had CEASED after the first century. Don't ever BELIEVE it has!
The first Ekklesia (Body of "called-out" ones) was a Spirit-filled assembly that showed forth abundant supernatural acts. Sadly, nowadays, too many churches are "DRY BONES," unable to glorify God by demonstrating in the Spirit. Most churches are content with THEIR--not God's--programs, doctrines, Bible schools, degrees, methods, and personalities. We need God's way! We need to demonstrate in the Spirit and continue to show forth abundant supernatural acts.
The prophet Joel prohesied about this Spirit outpouring that I'm writing about. Read Joel. God's outpouring is HERE. Acts 2:4 says, "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit enabled them" (NIV). ALL received the baptism in the Spirit and spoke in tongues.
SPEAKING IN TONGUES
Acts 2:4 "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
"SPEAKING IN TONGUES OR GLOSSALALIA (from Gk. glossais lalo) was considered by N.T. Christians as a God-given sign accompanying the baptism in the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:4; 10:45-47; 19:6). This Biblical pattern for the Spirit-filled life is still valid for us today.
TRUE SPEAKING IN TONGUES. (1) Tongues as a manifestation of the Spirit. Speaking in tongues is a supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit, i.e., a Spirit-inspired utterance whereby the believer speaks in a language (Gk. glossa) he has never learned (Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 14:14-15). It may be in existing spoken human languages (Acts 2:6) or in languages unknown on earth (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1). It is not 'ecstatic speech,' as rendered in some translations, for the Bible never uses the term 'ecstatic utterance' to refer to speaking in tongues.
(2) Tongues as a sign. Speaking in tongues is an inspired utterance whereby the spirit of the believer and the Holy Spirit join in verbal praise and/or prophecy. God linked speaking in tongues with the baptism in the Holy Spirit from the very beginning (Acts 2:4), so that the 120 believers at Pentecost, and believers thereafter, would have an experiential sign or confirmation that they have indeed received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 10:45-46). Thus this experience could be objectively validated as to place and time of reception. Throughout the history of the church, whenever tongues as a confirming sign has been denied or lost from view, the truth and experience of Pentecost has declined, been distorted, or been ignored entirely.
(3) Tongues as a gift. Speaking in tongues is also described as a gift given by the Holy Spirit to the believer (1 Cor. 12:4-10). This gift has two main purposes: (a) Speaking in tongues accompanied by interpretation is used in public worship services to communicate the content of the utterance to the congregation, in order that all may enter into the Spirit-directed worship, praise, or prophecy (1 Cor. 14:5-6,13-17). (b) Speaking in tongues is used by the believer to speak to God in his or her personal devotions and thus to build up one's spiritual life (1 Cor. 14:4). It means speaking at the level of the spirit (14:2,14) for the purpose of praying (14:2,14,15,28), giving thanks (14:16-17), or singing (14:15; see 1 Cor. 14).
FALSE SPEAKING IN TONGUES. It must be recognized that the mere occurrence of speaking with 'other tongues,' or any other supernatural manifestation, is not absolute or uncontestable evidence of the work and presence of the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues can be counterfeited by human initiative or demonic activity. The Bible cautions us not to believe every spirit, but examine whether the spiritual experiences we have really do come from God (see 1 John 4:1).
(1) Speaking in tongues, in order to be valid, must be 'as the Spirit [gives] utterance' (Acts 2:4). To follow the norm in the book of Acts, speaking in tongues must be the spontaneous result of the initial filling of the Holy Spirit. It is not a learned phenomenon, nor can it be taught by instructing believers to speak incoherent syllables.
(2) The Holy Spirit explicitly warns that in the last days of this age there will be, within the church, hypocrisy (1 Tim. 4:1-2), signs and wonders from satanic powers (Mat. 7:22-23; cf. 2 Thes. 2:9), and deceitful workers disguising themselves as servants of God (2 Cor. 11:13-15). We must heed these warnings from the Holy Spirit as they relate to counterfeit spiritual manifestations and signs (Mat. 7:22-23; 2 Thes. 2:8-10).
(3) In order to discern whether our speaking in tongues is genuine, that is, truly of the Holy Spirit, we must look for the Biblically defined results of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. If someone claiming to speak in tongues is not committed to Jesus Christ and the authority of the Scriptures, and is not attempting to obey the Word of God, whatever manifestations he may have are not of the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:6-10; 4:1-3; cf. Mat. 24:11,24; John 8:31; Gal. 1:9)."
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It was eight years after Peter's great, powerful, Holy Spirit inspired ser/mon at the day of Pentecost that the Holy Ghost was still being poured out. Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, was gloriously filled with the Holy Ghost, along with his family--they ALL spoke in tongues (Acts 10:44-46).
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit does not describe God's work of regeneration in the believers but His coming on them for power (Acts 11:15, 17). Salvation comes first, then Holy Spirit baptism.
Cornelius and his entire family spoke in tongues as the convincing sign or evidence to Peter and the other Jewish believers that the Holy Spirit had certainly come upon them in baptism. So it remains today. Holy Ghost tongues are the evidential sign of Spirit baptism. Don't ever let anyone tell you that tongues or the Holy Ghost manifestations have passed away! These manifestations will be here till "that which is PERFECT" is come--and "that which is perfect" is not the canonized Bible. Some actually believe that all we have now is the written Word. How foolish!
Now if Jesus Himself was filled with the Holy Ghost for service, don't you think all Christian ought to be filled too, especially ministers? Listen to this: "...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and POWER, and...He went around DOING good and HEALING all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him" (Acts 10:38).
Be Filled, Be Baptized...Which?
The confusion over various terms the Bible uses may seem to have no end, but the truth is quite simple: there is NO difference between "receiving" the Holy Ghost from that of being "filled" or being "baptized." The Holy Ghost can "come upon", "fall upon", be "poured out", be "given", and one may "receive the promise of the Father."
Acts 1:4-5 The blessed "promise of the Father" mentioned in verse 4 is being "baptized with the Holy Ghost" in verse 5.
Acts 1:8 How exactly is a Christian "baptized" in the Holy Ghost? (i.e., How does a Christian receive "the promise of the Father"?) The Bible clearly says it is by the Holy Ghost coming "upon" the believer.
Acts 2:1, 4 What actually happens when true Christian believers are "baptized in the Holy Ghost"? God's Word says they are "filled" with His Spirit (2:4).
there is no difference between receiving "the
promise of the Father" (1:4), the
baptism in the Holy Ghost (1:5), having the Holy Ghost "come
upon" you (1:8), or being
"filled" with the same (2:4).
They are ALL the one and same experience.
Acts 2:16-18 In these verses we read about God pouring out His Spirit. This pouring out of God's Spirit is when God gives His Spirit to believers that they may be "baptized" with/in the Spirit, be "filled", receive "the promise of the Father" and have the Holy Ghost "come upon" them.
Acts 2:33; 2:38; 2:39 For further clarity, read these three texts. They are all speaking of the same thing (i.e., the promise/gift of the Holy Ghost).
of the Holy Ghost at Samaria
Acts 8:5-20 tells the account of Phillip's preaching at Samaria. The Samaritans mentioned were already real born-again believers (i.e., they were saved) but had not been baptized in the Holy Ghost--THEY CERTAINLY NEEDED TO BE!
You see, Matthew 28:19 tells us that we are to make disciples (i.e., get the unsaved saved!) and then baptize them (in water). The order is also plainly specified in Acts 2:38. After salvation, the new Christian may be baptized in the Spirit.
in Water, but not the Holy Ghost
Those who believe that every Christian automatically receives the baptism of the Holy Ghost at conversion must read Acts 8:6, 12, 15-17. Many converts do get the Spirit baptism at conversion, but many do not.
One must be saved before water baptism is experienced. Likewise, one must be saved before one can be baptized in the Holy Ghost. The Bible NOWHERE teaches the doctrine that every Christian convert automatically receives the baptism of the Holy Ghost at conversion.
Note: Even after one has been genuinely saved by the blood of Jesus and been baptized in water, one can still be constantly tempted to do iniquity. Take Simon for example (Acts 8:9-13, 18-24). In fact, even Spirit-filled Christians are capable of committing sins. Therefore we must ALL continually keep up our guard against sin.
This wonderful work of the Holy Spirit is given to FILL Christians, causing the believer to be identified with Christ and His great power.
Note: The Holy Spirit is a Person, not some nebulous substance. Jesus declared, "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 (not 'it') unto you" (John 16:7).
Peter's striking sermon to the curious crowds declared, "Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by MIRACLES and WONDERS and SIGNS, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know..." Praise God! Now Christ has a new Body on earth to do His mighty work through--the many-membered Body of Christ. The Bible says we'll do GREATER works than Jesus did!
My dear readers, where, oh where, are the mighty works of God in today's Church? "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name (Jesus Christ) they will DRIVE OUT DEMONS; they will SPEAK IN NEW TONGUES; they will PICK UP SNAKES WITH THEIR HANDS; and when they drink deadly poison, IT WILL NOT HURT THEM AT ALL; they will PLACE THEIR HANDS ON SICK PEOPLE, and they WILL GET WELL" (Mark 16:17-18, NIV).
Trust me, I have seen many real miracles over the years. I have used the power of God to heal the sick and to cast out devils. Once, and only once, I prayed for a dead child in Mexico City, Mexico, and she came back to life--truly a miraculous deed done by the power of the Holy Ghost!
All these signs and miracles are meant to announce the Gospel of the Kingdom (see Matthew 10:1; Mark 3:14-15; Luke 2:2; 10:17; John 14:12). Now let me add this: not everyone prayed for gets healed. Why? Don't know why. Only God knows for sure.
The Bible does speak of false or demonic manifestations. The Bible does speak of false prophets/teachers that are able to perform miracles (see II Cornithians 11:13-15). Sadly, these are deceitful workmen, masquerading as true apostles of Christ. I believe that much that is passed off in churchianity, especially in charismatic circles, is demonic. I've seen and heard too much to believe everything "is the Lord" as they say. Some of the teachings that have gone forth in the last 25 years or more are just fake. For example, all this "prosperity" teaching is very misleading, to say the least. (Write for my five-part series on "Militancy and Miracles" that exposes the issue of "Need, or greed?".)
Working in deliverance for years now, I have witnessed so many demonic spirits working in and thru church people, ministers included. I wish I didn't have to write this, but it is so true.
All this "attractive" preaching today is nothing short of demonic. Where is the real Holy Ghost power? I mean POWER TO HEAL, CONVICT, EXPEL DEVILS, EXPOSE HIDDEN SINS, EVEN JUDGE? Honestly, this church age has become Bloodless, Spiritless, and powerless!
In light of all this truth, should we not ALL strive to become men and women "approved of God"? Remember: Spiritual blessings and Godly deliverance cannot come from unholy sources.
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