Ever look at a Christian brother or sister and wonder why their life seems to have so much power? Why they used to be a drug addict or alcoholic, or an adulterer, and yet now it’s like they’re transformed and only keep growing and becoming better and better? It’s been years, yet they continue to go up rather than struggle with a roller coaster cycle of up AND down or just stay the same for a long time with not much change or growth. They are just filled with a passion for The Lord that never seems to go out.
Then you look at yourself, and wonder why your life doesn’t look similar, why you still struggle with sin and “bad habits.” Why you’re not as joyful. “Don’t we both believe in Jesus?” You ask. “Don’t we both go to the same church every Sunday and listen to the same pastor? Don’t we have the same Bible?”
The reason their life has been transformed is simple: because they’ve been transformed by the power and filling of the Holy Spirit. They have not only been baptized with water to repentance, but with what John the Baptist called the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire.
“While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? ” “No,” they told him, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” “Then what baptism were you baptized with? ” he asked them. “With John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the One who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began to speak in other languages and to prophesy.” (Acts 19:1-6)
“When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had welcomed God’s message, they sent Peter and John to them. After they went down there, they prayed for them, so the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”(Acts 8:14-17)
The second passage shows there’s a difference between water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The first passage is one of many that demonstrate when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit, the outcome is the person either speaks in tongues or speaks prophecy, or both.
Every believer can experience this most powerful filling of the Holy Spirit, however, I believe there are two obstacles standing in the way: sin and fear.
Some of us want Jesus, but we also don’t want to let go of something: a relationship, an addiction, a career, you name it. And with Christ, it’s all or nothing.
Then there’s also a simple and completely understandable fear. Many charismatics have given the beautiful and powerful gift of the baptism of God’s Holy Spirit a bad reputation. They run around all out of control when a fruit of the Holy Spirit is actually self-control, they tell people to babble a certain phrase or a certain way, they speak in a tongue with no interpreters, and quite honestly, they look crazed. Some of them might actually even be possessed because of all the chaos, disorder, and confusion, which are in complete contrast to God’s Holy Spirit which is peace, order, and self-control.
When I received the gift of tongues, I was praying quietly by myself to God the Father through Jesus, in a pitch black cabin in Romania with over ten women sleeping all around me. I did not fall to the ground and convulse. I did not scream and get hysterical. I felt a wind inside of me (just as Acts 2:2 describes), and at first, I was fearful. I never felt something so amazing and spiritual, it was brand new to me. And the moment fear crept in, that spirit did not pounce and overtake me, throwing me to the ground. It did the opposite: it started to leave. Christ is gentle, He does not force Himself upon anyone, ever. In fact, I had been praying for the gift of tongues for four months before I received it. God patiently waited until I was ready. So, when His Spirit started leaving me, I rebuked my fear and began telling Jesus, ” Yes, Lord, I say yes to your Spirit, I want Your Spirit, Jesus.” And it came back, quicker, until my body was filled and it consumed my heart. The moment it filled my heart, my tongue truly ” loosened” (again, just as the Bible describes it), and I was speaking in tongues. I was filled with incredible joy, just quietly speaking in tongues. It was the most amazing feeling, a taste of Heaven where in God’s presence there’s fullness of joy. From that day onward, I kept growing and growing and have continued to have an increasing passion and boldness for Jesus Christ.
This gift is given to those who truly forsake their old life and desires, and choose Jesus 100% and ask Him for it.
“So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”-Jesus (Luke 11:9-13)