As I travel and minister in various churches in different nations I have noted that the idea of being “Spirit filled” or baptized in the Holy Spirit looks different in many churches. And, in most of them there is an apparent misunderstanding of the purpose of being baptized in the Holy Spirit or what is commonly referred to as being “Spirit-filled.”
Jesus told His disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they had received the promise of the Father which was a prophetic word found in Joel, Chapter two. The promise was supernatural power…
Luke 24:49 “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
He further explains this experience just before ascending into heaven …
Acts 1:5 “… John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Jesus goes on to explain the purpose of this ‘baptism’…
Acts 1:8a “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…”
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit comes with supernatural gifts that release this power so that people’s lives can be impacted with the Gospel of the Kingdom…
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”
However, in practice, in local churches we see a variety of situations in regard to the promise of the Father, the power received in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit.
We have people trying to impact the lives of others without the supernatural power and the gifts of the Spirit – born again but not baptized in the Holy Spirit
Paul states that without the power received when Baptized in the Holy Spirit you have done only half the job of presenting the Gospel of the Kingdom
Romans 15:18-19 “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.”
Words and no manifestation of power is a job half done.
We have people who received the experience and simply do not use their private prayer language and certainly don’t flow in the supernatural gifts – so an experience but little else. A gift that was never unwrapped.
Their lives exhibit little of the “life of Christ” who lives in them and they are often defeated by life’s circumstances and situations. They live in a manner that makes it difficult to distinguish the believer from the non-believer.
We have people who are baptized in the Holy Spirit and simply “pray in the Spirit” but do not flow in the gifts and seldom tell others about Jesus.
It is good to “pray in the Spirit” as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14 but this is not one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. And, the person who simply prays in the Spirit and does not use the supernatural gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 to touch the lives of non-believers has missed the point of the experience we call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit – “you shall be My witnesses…”
We have people who are baptized in the Holy Spirit, pray in tongues, and witness to others and don’t take advantage of or use the gifts of the Spirit. Again, no signs and wonders proving that the Gospel of the Kingdom is true and that Jesus really is alive and very active in the world.
Often this is a result of not being taught how to flow in the gifts and given the opportunity to practice while with others who are more mature in the ministry of the gifts of the Spirit. Sometimes it is simply fear that keeps people from moving out and transforming lives with the power of the Gospel. However, for whatever reason the purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not released and thus is lost.
We have people who are moving in the gifts of the Spirit and seeing people impacted with the Gospel of the Kingdom and so lives are being transformed supernaturally.
This is what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is all about. It is real. It is more than speaking in tongues as good as that might be. It is moving in supernatural power released by moving in the gifts of the Spirit and seeing that power touch and change lives. This should be a daily experience in the life of Spirit-filled believers as we are called to “be” a witness (see Acts 1:8). So, moving in the gifts should happen as we live life and thus our whole life is being a witness to others as we move in the Spirit and speak words that impact people for Jesus in every day situations.
Anything less is simply ”playing church.”