The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is so essential for our walk with God and it’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone talk about this subject. Ever since I gave my life to Jesus I’ve practiced “praying in the spirit”. In a nutshell I got addicted to enjoying the Presence of God! Turning on some worship music I would engage with God in my heart by just praying in tongues. My heart was connected to the Father in such an intimate way that nothing compared to the simplicity of being with Him. Today I still enjoy that same blessing. When you find the reality of His Presence for your life personally – you always know where to turn! it’s never a thought to go anywhere else. Our God is good and He is the best!
An Experiential Baptism
At age 16 I was water baptized in a little Baptist church out in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma. I just wanted to dedicate my life to God. Little did I know that it would be an amazing experience. When the pastor dunked me under the water I came up CHANGED! The friend who invited me to his church was shocked at what had transpired. I was speaking a million miles an hour, not in tongues but english, feeling totally renewed in my heart.
After that day I knew I had and experience with God but really didn’t know what to do with it. My home was in OKC and I had no idea what to do – so I pretty much went on with life as usual and my lifestyle was still the same.
Speaking in a New Language
A few years past, then at a home bible study I was asked if I had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I had not so they prayed for me to receive it. Next thing I know I’m speaking in an unknown language. At this point I’d found the full meal of what God wanted to pour into my life. I had received the overflow of His Spirit, community and He opened my spiritual eyes to understand His Word – before it was beyond what I could grasp. I found the Author of the Book. He was helping me to understand through the spirit of revelation.
Since then, I’ve continued to pray with my spirit and obviously in English. When we pray with our spirit it is mysteries – as Paul says.
“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.”1 Corinthians 14:2
A Suddenly Experience
Just recently I felt to share with someone about how they might want to pursue being baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. It was early in the day when I shared this with him. Crazy enough, he went to a meeting in the evening where people are praying in the Spirit (speaking in tongues). He is thinking to the Lord, “I don’t know what to do or where to start to receive this.” Then suddenly he begins speaking in tongues! It was like the cork popped and boom!
People have many views on this experience. For me it has been an essential part of my life and faith. In the Book of Jude we are told to “build up our most holy faith by praying in the Spirit.”
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”Jude 1:20-21
The Language of A New Creation
When you are born again your spirit is made “alive to God”. Everyone is a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17) That new creation, even your spirit man, has the potential to pray in the spirit – to speak in tongues. It is a heavenly language that bypasses your natural mind and opens you up to a life of revelation.
This is why Paul says that one who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless one who speaks in tongues interprets what is being said. (1 Cor. 14:5) That is the spirit of prophecy or revelation being activated. He also then says, “I will pray with my spirit and with the understanding.”
“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.”1 Corinthians 14:14-15
Many times as you pray in the Spirit God gives you words, thoughts, ideas, pictures or visions that are actually the interpretation of what you are praying in tongues.
Releasing the River of the Spirit
Again, everyone who believes in Jesus is a new creation in Christ. When you are baptized in the Holy Spirit it is like your spirit is being released or activated to pray in tongues. It is the release of the river of the Holy Spirit out of your spirit. These are the rivers of living water Jesus spoke of that would spring up to eternal life. Another way to see it is if you picture a wine bottle where the cork is popped! The Holy Spirit causes your cork to pop. The potential of release is there but it is sealed and needs opened.
We see in the Book of Acts where people receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues in many different contexts. This happens before water baptism and after. God has no formula to it. This is the release of your spirit to commune with God – spirit to Spirit.
Baptized in the Holy Spirit, then Baptized in WaterActs 10:44-48
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.”
Baptized in Water, then Baptized in the Holy Spirit
“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”Acts 19:1-5
And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.”
In 1 Corinthians we see how the spirit of revelation is awakened in Christ as we commune with God’s Spirit with our spirit.
“For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”1 Corinthians 2:11-12
Saul Who Became Paul
Many in Christian religious circles associate Paul as a very intellectual man – which he was! This man was spearheading the charge against Christians and sanctioning the deaths. At the time Saul, was knocked off his horse as a blinding light from heaven came, even Jesus, revealing Himself to Saul. This one encounter with God shifted Paul’s life from darkness to light. After this Saul became Paul. There are many things to note in the life of Paul so that we have a clear perspective on who he really was.
There are many notable aspects of the life of Paul. Here we want to take note of the supernatural aspects as they are often the most neglected in religious circles.
Paul was a man of:
- Intimacy with Jesus. All his experience, knowledge, being a Pharisee of Pharisees, Hebrew of Hebrews, and expert in every sense of one raised up in Judaic traditions. He counted all of this LOSS to know Jesus. (Phil. 3:2-7)
- Encounters with God. Paul’s God encounters where so profound that he was not able to share in words what he had seen. In other words, he was not just living from his intellect or the natural mind. But by the spirit of wisdom and revelation imparted by God’s Holy Spirit. (2 Cor. 12:1-6)
- Depth in Worship. He exhorted believers to “be filled with the Spirit”. How? By singing to one another in song, hymns and spiritual songs. (Eph. 5:18)
- Signs, Wonders and Miracles. Paul not only experienced the power of the Spirt, he was a vessel of God’s power. After failing to intellectualize the gospel with the philosophers in Athens, he changed his approach saying in I Corinthians that he would only lean on the power of the Gospel of Christ which is foolishness to men, but the power of God to us who believe.
- Faith & Gifts. His emphasis was on a life of faith, gifts and living by the Spirit vs. leaning on the works of the law or man created legalisms. (1 Cor. 14:1) Paul spoke in tongues regularly. (I Cor. 14:18)
Divine Pursuit of Spiritual Gifts
In a materialistic society it is common for people to put their faith in what is seen (which is idolatry), even leaning on the natural mind and what is possible with man, rather than that which is unseen and what cannot be accomplished without God. Yet we are called to walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7)
God has created you to experience the fulness of His Spirit and Presence – to have such an exceptional divine communion with the Lord. The gift of tongues is not a mandate but a choice. If you eagerly desire you will be filled, if not you probably won’t. There has to be a legitimate hunger for God where you’re not just “open to it” but you “pursue it”. That is what Paul encouraged believers to do – “eagerly desiring”. Many more of the gifts of the Spirit are released when the gift of tongues is released in your life.
If you don’t speak in tongues it does not mean you are not saved. A person’s salvation is based on repentance of sin, renouncing a lifestyle of sin and giving your life to Jesus – because you have believed upon Him to be your Lord. However, being able to pray in tongues is a devotional maximizer in regards to your relationship with God. He who prays in an unknown tongue does not pray to men “but to God”. (1 Cor. 14:2) It is, in my experience, a “hotline” to heaven from the angle of prayer. But it is important to realize that we have access to God through the blood of Christ alone. (Heb. 10:19) Tongues helps us in prayer when we don’t know how to pray as we ought. (Rom. 8:26)
Don’t settle for less than God’s very best for your life. Tongues is a wonderful gift that is a door-opener for so much more – even awakening your life to the reality of the Holy Spirit Who is “Christ in you the hope of glory”. It is most effective for your devotional life with God – even helping you to NOT lean on your own understanding as we are to trust in the Lord with all of our heart.
Be an Intentional Pursuer!
God gives us gifts because He is good, not because we are perfect. Jesus is our ultimate example. We are complete “in Him.” At the same time, He does give us gifts by His Spirit to reveal His Kingdom to others while we are here. These are “occupational gifts” as we are “occupying” until He comes!
For those who have not experienced this gift, understand that the gift of tongues IS subject to your will. As Paul says, “I will” pray with my spirit and “I will” pray with the understanding. We do still have the choice. God will not force anything upon us, but does expect us to pursue in faith believing.
Even though we are filled with the Spirit we still get choices. He is not a dictator. He is your Lord that you willing choose to submit to. His gifts function much in the same way. It is all base on the degree that you yield to Him. In the measure that you surrender to Him, in that same measure He will bless your life. If you trusted your life to Jesus for salvation, this is just another level of surrender. Nothing more, nothing less.
Be intentional to pursue spiritual gifts so that you can life out of the overflow of His Presence! Ask for the fullness of the Holy Spirit in your life, even the Helper, and pursue spiritual gifts – for this is the will of God for your life!