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Questions and Answers about the Holy Spirit

Q: When an individual is seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit, can anything be done to prepare his/her life or environment that will quicken the infilling?

A: The believer should seek the Baptizer rather than the Baptism. A seeker should focus his/her attention on Jesus rather than on an experience.

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Questions and Answers about the Holy Spirit

Also, (1) Understand that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a gift from God and should be received with thankfulness to the Giver. It cannot be earned or merited; it can only be accepted. (2) Be fully persuaded that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is both biblically and doctrinally correct. (3) Confess any known sins and resolve to live righteously with God’s help. (4) Begin to worship the Lord with expressions of praise and adoration. (5) Express to the Baptizer a desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit for His glory. (6) Yield to any "welling up" within and allow that inner surge to break through in expressions of worship, praise and adoration in a language unknown to the individual but meaningful to God.

Q: Can a person be filled with the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues?

A: On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell upon the assembled believers and "all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues" (Acts 2:4). Later, as Peter was preaching at the house of Cornelius, "the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message" and they were "speaking in tongues and praising God" (Acts 10:44,46). Again, as the apostle Paul was ministering to the Ephesian disciples, "the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied" (Acts 19:6). Paul himself was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17) and spoke in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:18). These Scriptures show that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

The early believers were filled and spoke in tongues, and the same is true today. Millions of believers worldwide share the same testimony: When they initially were baptized in the Holy Spirit they spoke in unknown tongues. The prophecy of Joel 2:28,29, cited by Peter in Acts 2:16,17, links today’s Spirit-filled believers with those who were filled with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

We teach these truths because they are based upon the pattern in God’s Word. Speaking in tongues is not proof of superior spirituality; it simply is a precious promise written in God’s Word and fulfilled in our lives. To ignore it is to come short of the New Testament pattern.

Q: Is tongues the only evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit? Will there be significant changes in one’s attitudes and actions after being baptized in the Spirit?

A: The first physical sign of the infilling of the Spirit is speaking in tongues. This is the one physical sign that is consistent in its recurrence. However, the Baptism is not a goal but a gateway — a door to Spirit-filled living. It marks a beginning, not an end. Speaking in tongues is but the initial evidence and is to be followed by all the evidences of Christlikeness that mark a consistent Spirit-filled life.

The apostle Paul described this life in the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

It is a life to be lived, not just an experience to be remembered. Some have been satisfied to recall that wonderful moment when the Holy Spirit came in His fullness and they magnified the Lord in other tongues. Failure to progress beyond that point is a tragedy. The question is not only, "Have you been filled?" but "How have you lived since you were filled?" The apostle Paul wrote, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the introduction to a victorious Christian life in the Spirit.

Q: Do Christians receive the Holy Spirit when they are saved? If so, how is that experience different from the baptism in the Holy Spirit?

A: Yes, when persons accept Christ, the Holy Spirit begins a work in their lives. The Spirit convicts them of sin, convinces them of righteousness and dwells within them (John 6:44; 14:17; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13). No one becomes a Christian without this gracious work of the Holy Spirit.

However, there is an additional and distinct ministry of the Holy Spirit called the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Baptism is an empowering gift from God the Father that is promised to every believer (Matthew 3:11; Luke 11:13; 24:49; Acts 2:33,38). It helps the Christian to live a holy life and also brings a new devotional attachment to Jesus Christ, making Him very real and precious. The primary purpose of the Baptism is to give greater power for witnessing (Acts 1:8). Other benefits include a greater joy in spiritual service and a heightened sense of one’s mission to the world.

Q:Can a person receive eternal life in heaven without the baptism in the Holy Spirit? If so, why should we be baptized in the Spirit?

A:Receiving eternal life does not depend on being baptized in the Holy Spirit, for salvation is by grace through faith alone (Habakkuk 2:4; John 6:28,29; Galatians 3:6; 5:6; Ephesians 2:8). It is a gift purchased for us by Christ when He was crucified. All we have to do is accept the gift. Just as the repentant thief on the cross next to Jesus was assured of entering paradise that very day, we too are assured a place in heaven with the Father if we believe in Jesus Christ. It is most unfortunate that some have said, "Unless you have spoken in tongues you will not go to heaven." This is contrary to the Scriptures.

At the same time, the Bible does tell us that Christ commanded His first followers to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). The Bible commands us to "be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). This personal encounter with the Holy Spirit should be sought and cherished by every believer. With it come a new and fuller dimension of spiritual understanding and a flow of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 2:9-13).

Q: Do we play a role as to whether or not tongues and other gifts will operate in the church?

A:Human availability has always been an essential part of the unfolding of God’s plan. Throughout Scripture there is an obvious blending of God’s sovereign purposes and people’s availability in implementing those purposes. While this interrelationship is impossible to fully comprehend, it is consistently recorded in the Bible.

Spiritual gifts operate only with human availability. While the gifts are supernatural both in source and operation, they require willing and obedient hearts through which they might find expression. Jesus commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had been "clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). It was not until they had placed themselves at the Spirit’s disposal that they were "filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them" (Acts 2:4).

This interrelationship between the Holy Spirit and human availability can be expressed by the following progression: The believer must (1) have a clear understanding of the biblical base for promised gifts; (2) be touched in his/her heart with a desire for the gifts to flow; (3) be willing to submit to the inner sense that the Spirit is seeking expression; and (4) offer to the Holy Spirit his/her heart, emotions, will and voice by which those gifts may operate. The key is obedient availability coupled with a sincere desire to please God.

Q: Who should be baptized in the Holy Spirit?

A: When the believers were praying on the Day of Pentecost, "all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them" (Acts 2:4, NIV). It was not just the apostles who were filled, but all the men and all the women in that company of 120 persons. Then the apostle Peter told the onlookers that they should be filled: "The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:39).

As Peter said, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is for every believer in every generation.

All sidebars adapted from The A/G – Our Distinctive Doctrine ... The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, produced by the Office of Public Relations of the Assemblies of God.

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