Conversation: Doug Clay
Baptized in the Holy Spirit
Doug Clay, general treasurer of the Assemblies of God,
received the baptism in the Holy Spirit when he was a child. Since then, he
says, the experience has proven to be ongoing, life-changing, peace-giving and
empowering. Recently, Clay fielded questions from Managing Editor Kirk Noonan
who relayed common inquiries from readers regarding the baptism in the Holy
tpe: What exactly is the baptism in the Holy Spirit?
CLAY: It is a work of God’s grace, whereby our Lord immerses
us — all that we are — in the person of the Holy Spirit. It is like
salvation, because we receive this empowerment by faith, but it is a distinct
occurrence that doesn’t take place until we are saved.
tpe: Explain some of the benefits of being baptized in the Holy
CLAY: Being baptized in the Holy Spirit gives us power to
share our faith with others. It gives us strength to overcome temptation and
sin, and imparts gifts to us that can support the work of the Church. In my
life, it has also brought peace and perspective during times of crisis. When I
don’t know how to pray, I pray in the Spirit. This has enabled me to walk by
faith when my circumstances seemed otherwise hopeless.
tpe: What is the initial evidence of being baptized in the
CLAY: Speaking in tongues.
tpe: Why speaking in tongues?
CLAY: Biblically it confirms the reception of the gift. God
takes the most unruly part of our body, the tongue, and puts it under the
control of the Holy Spirit. That’s amazing and unquestionable evidence that
something unique and deeply spiritual has happened.
tpe: Can a person be baptized in the Spirit before he or she
commits his or her life to Christ?
CLAY: The biblical pattern is that baptism in the Spirit is
different from salvation and occurs after it, but there is no reason it has to
be long afterward. Some experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit right away,
like those at Cornelius’ house in Acts 10. Others take some time and, through a
process of seeking God and gaining a better understanding of His grace and the
promise of the Holy Spirit, open their heart to receive the Baptism.
tpe: If the baptism in the Holy Spirit is relevant today,
why don’t all Pentecostal churches promote it?
CLAY: In some quadrants of the Pentecostal church the baptism
in the Holy Spirit is seldom taught. That often leads some constituents to
wonder if it’s optional. I believe it’s a necessity and privilege for believers
to experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
tpe: What advice do you give to someone seeking the baptism
in the Holy Spirit?
CLAY: If you ask people who are saved if they believe that
Jesus is real, they would say, “yes.” If you ask them whether heaven is real,
they would say the same thing. But how can they answer “yes” if they have never
seen Jesus or heaven? They speak by simple faith.
Just like that, I believe that receiving the gift of Spirit
baptism is a step of simple faith. We speak and pray in tongues out of faith
that the Spirit is supplying the language. We reach out to others in faith,
believing the Spirit’s power will make our efforts effective. We pray for the
sick with the faith that God’s healing power is manifest through the Spirit.
So, I would emphasize that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is
received through a step of simple faith, just like salvation.
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