This is a testimony from Jeremy (Ohio who travelled to four nations with Ralph) about his experience with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit …
My name is Jeremy Wachtel. I currently work in a small, local business. I have helped with a few church plants and I am co-leading a ministry training school through my local church. I believe fully in doing what Jesus did while He was on earth: teaching, evangelizing, healing, deliverance, and I believe it is only really possible through the power of the Spirit. For believers to walk out their calling and fulfill the Great Commission we must be born again and baptized in the Spirit. This is the story of my journey to being baptized with the Holy Spirit and how I have come to understand the Holy Spirit baptism biblically.
I grew up going to a charismatic church up until I was around 12 years old. I watched many things that happened in the church, as people would be prayed for and fall down, many people who would break out speaking in tongues. I asked questions to my parents about how it happened or what it would feel like because I did not fully understand what I would see. I remember going up for prayer from my pastor, but I never felt anything. Others would receive prayer and shake, weep, fall on the ground, but I never experienced any of that. Even now, as I write this, I have never felt any of those manifestations.
It was during those years as my family attended that church that I was given an initial understanding of the moving of the Spirit, but I also grew up with many wrong views and bad assumptions that were never addressed or taught clearly from the leadership of the church. When I was around 12 years old my family left the church and my parents decided to attend another church much closer to where we were living. This church was the total opposite of the previous church. They believed in the Bible and taught very well, but there was no real belief in the moving of the Holy Spirit or speaking in tongues. No real power in prayer, healing or deliverance, and very little teaching on the Baptism. In fact, there were only two things they taught regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit. One, that when you were saved you were filled with the Spirit, and two, regarding speaking in tongues, their reply was, “Seek not, forbid not.”
This led to further misunderstandings and confusion for me regarding what baptism in the Spirit was and what is was not, how to get baptized in the Spirit, what speaking in tongues was, and what to expect regarding prayer for any of these things. I never totally disbelieved in the need for being baptized in the Spirit because of what I witnessed while growing up in my previous church, but I misunderstood much of it. I always believed that my new church was missing something but I never fully realized what exactly that was. First of all, there are two different situations, being saved and the Holy Spirit coming to dwell in you, and you being baptized and receiving the power of the Spirit and the gifts. Secondly, ‘seek not, forbid not’ goes against scripture. 1 Corinthians 14:1 says to pursue love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially prophesy.
When I was 17, in my last year in school before I would leave for University, a couple of my friends had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and started speaking in tongues. I was very intrigued by it and asked many questions about it, listened to their testimonies, but still did not understand from a Biblical perspective what had happened and what to expect. We never had someone to teach this to us either. There were several adults that did not agree with them speaking in tongues or even the baptism. When I talked with my youth pastor about my friends he said that it was a demon in them. I knew that was not true but I did not know enough of the Bible to argue it. I was frustrated and I wanted to know more but I did not know how to get this baptism. Even though I had grown up around it, I still did not understand it.
That same year several of my friends and I attended a youth and young adult conference in another city away from my home. This place believed in the Baptism of the Spirit and all of the gifts, even taught on it. They would even pray for people to receive the Baptism. During this conference I was longing to receive this Baptism. I received prayer many times from people to receive it. I watched as people all around me would begin speaking in tongues, would shake and fall down. I never felt anything and nothing happened. I left the conference disappointed and confused, but more determined. Over the next six years I received prayer from many people, many groups in different places, but never felt anything and nothing happened. I kept studying the Bible, praying, asking God for more, and reading about other people who had received the Baptism because I knew, at least from scripture, how important it was.
Before Jesus left the earth at His ascension, He told His disciples, in the book of Acts, to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, then they would be His witnesses in all the earth (Acts 1:8). Jesus obviously believed this was very important for them to accomplish His mission. He knew that on our own we couldn’t complete it, but that we would need God’s power through the Holy Spirit. Jesus actually taught the disciples multiple times about the Holy Spirit and about how important it was the Jesus left so that He could send the Holy Spirit to them (John 16:7). For us, what was more important than having Jesus on earth? Having the Holy Spirit.
I new it was very important but I did not understand how to receive the Baptism. Over the next 6 years as I sought the Baptism the Lord taught me many things about seeking and how to receive it, but it was not until after I had started speaking in tongues that I understood all of it. I always assumed that in order to be baptized I had to speak in tongues. Many denominations teach that the evidence of being filled is speaking in tongues. While that is true that speaking in tongues is evidence, and is demonstrated in Scripture, just because you do not speak in tongues does not mean you are not baptized. It is an evidence of being baptized but it is not the only evidence. When the Holy Spirit comes we know He brings the power of God into our lives. When He comes He also brings gifts with Him (1 Corinthians 12).
During those 6 years of seeking and asking and receiving prayer from many people I always thought I was not baptized because I did not speak in tongues. I always thought I had not received it because I did not fall down and erupt with this foreign language flowing out of my lips uncontrollably. That is how I thought it happened when I read all the stories in the Bible. One night I was attending a teaching on prayer at a family’s house. After the teaching I began asking many of them questions about speaking in tongues. I was desperate for it and asked them how they received it and how they felt when they did. Many of them shared how they did not have this grand experience and even then they were shy about speaking in tongues. They were not comfortable and confident in it. I asked them if they thought I should go home and just keep praying these strange 3 syllables I had in my mind. It did not feel like anything powerful or special. They said I should just continue to pray, and encouraged me to do it while taking a shower or turn on some loud music and while the music played to continue to pray. So I did.
I went home that night and went to my room. I shut the door and told the Lord I was doing it until I received it no matter how long it took. I spent a long time that night saying these few syllables, feeling absolutely foolish. I went to bed that night frustrated because I did not know what I was doing. The next morning I got up and resolutely went back to praying telling the Lord I was not stopping until I was speaking in tongues. It was about an hour in that morning as I was saying these weird syllables and trying to worship the Lord that something shifted inside me and it began to just flow. All of the sudden my tongue just started moving and it seemed like I finally slipped in line with the Holy Spirit. I started to laugh when it happened and the Lord spoke to me and said, “Jeremy, from the first time you asked I gave this gift to you, but you did not know how to open it.” He then emphasized the next part, “I LOVE YOU, and I give good gifts to my children”!
In that moment I finally understood much more of what the Lord was trying to teach me. I have since studied more in depth the stories in the Bible and what it actually says about being baptized. Understand, first of all, feelings have very little to do with it. It is faith. This journey we are on is a journey of faith. We were saved by faith. We were not saved because we prayed a pray. We were not saved because we encountered truth or even encountered Jesus. We are saved when we believe. We are saved when we put our faith in Jesus. We receive salvation then by faith (Galatians 2:16). We receive the baptism by faith. We know that someone does not have to feel something to be saved, because their salvation is not based upon feelings. I do not wake up some days and say, “Wow, I don’t feel saved today.” I am saved. I may feel frustrated or have a bad day, but that does not mean that I am not saved.
When we approach being baptized, we do so the same way. We asked Jesus to save us – and He did. We believed in Him. We transitioned from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of Light, but many people do not realize or notice that transition. It happens nonetheless. When we pray and ask God to fill us with His Spirit we must believe we have received it. We may not feel any different but we take it on faith (Galatians 3:2,5). God is a good Father, and He will give us His Holy Spirit when we ask (Luke 11:13). Many do not believe they have received the Baptism because they prayed but never felt like anything happened. That is what happened to me. I was waiting for an experience or a feeling that never came and has still never come. I knew when I finally opened the gift. I knew when I was finally in sync or lined up with the Holy Spirit. Even though I had not spoken in tongues before that does not mean I was not Baptized, or even that I had not received the ability to speak in tongues. I just did not know how to access the gift by faith. I did not understand how the Holy Spirit moved to work with Him and allow Him to pray through me in tongues.
During those six years I was asking and seeking I had been used in prophecy and healing. Never once did anyone explain or teach that those were evidences of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit just as much as speaking in tongues. When you are baptized you get access to the gifts of the Spirit and the ability to allow Him to pray through you. Everyone must still learn how to partner with Him in all of this. They must learn how to use the gifts. Even when I felt foolish praying those few syllables it does not mean I was wrong or that it was not biblical. I was learning to work with the Holy Spirit and eagerly desired it. God is not angered or bothered by my attempt to try to pray in tongues. He actually likes it because we are trying to partner with Him.
Just because you do not feel anything when you pray or ask for the baptism does not mean that it does not work or that nothing happened. People actually seek these manifestations more than is necessary or even good. While there is good Biblical evidence that these manifestations occur the Bible does not spend much time explaining them or giving attention to them so neither should we. People falling over are not a sign of someone’s anointing. It does not mean God favours them more. The Bible actually suggests that the true manifestations of the Spirit are the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7 NKJV). These should be the experiences or manifestations we are truly eager to pursue. Anything else can lead us away from the true Biblical model and can quench or grieve the Holy Spirit.
While my experience is unique to me, I share it to emphasize what I misunderstood and what I was not taught concerning the things of the Spirit. I fully believe that ever person must be baptized by the Holy Spirit and is able to speak in tongues. I do not believe that it is a requirement for salvation. You can be saved, go to heaven without being baptized. However, you will not be able to fulfill all of what God has called you to do, your calling and ministry, without the Helper. The Baptism is a vital aspect of our journey as believers. We must have His help, His aid, and His work in our lives.