Who is the Holy Spirit?
What does the Holy Spirit do?
Why isn't spiritual power more evident?
Are human beings spirits?
What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
How does one obtain the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
God is spirit, but God the Father resides in heaven. The Holy Spirit is God manifested in power in men and the physical universe, an agency distinct from and superior to natural power.
In pre-ancient times, the Holy Spirit came upon select men who were rulers or prophets (or both) like Moses, Gideon, Samuel, David, and Ezekiel. The Holy Spirit gave such men the words of God to deliver to the people and performed miracles thru them. When Jesus ascended to heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to all who believe in him.
The Holy Spirit in the world deals with the hearts of men by witnessing the truth of the Gospel, testifying of Jesus, and convicting men of sin in their conscience. Men have ever resisted the Holy Spirit in this effort, resulting, among other things, in a reduced life span.
But for those who receive the Spirit, there is communion with God. The Spirit of God in us will do the following -
|Guide us to truth
|Relay messages from God
|Reveal the future
|Teach us the things of God
|Bring the Word of God to memory when needed
|Enable each of us to control his body, freeing us from enslavement to its lusts
|Fill in the gaps in prayer when we do not know what to pray for
|Make us loving
|Give us a sound mind
Most importantly, the Holy Spirit assures us that we are sons of God.
The Spirit of God upon us conducts specific works of God's power, known as gifts, for the benefit of others. Unlike the above benefits which are universal, the gifts are distributed diversely according to the Holy Spirit's own purposes.
There are multiple reasons why spiritual power is not evident to many and only sparsely evident to some.
The first reason is one of perception. The natural man cannot perceive the things of the Holy Spirit. And the doings of those who have the Holy Spirit cannot be comprehended by those who do not. So the Spirit can be active around a person who does not perceive it.
The second reason is one of availability. God hides himself, and men must seek him to find him. However, a man will turn not to God unless God draws him first. God resists those who are proud and gives grace to the humble. Jesus performed many miracles, but would not give a sign to those whose disposition was against God. His miracles belong to those who believe, not to unbelievers. However, there are times when God will visit people unexpectedly.
The third is unbelief, where the testimony of those who witness miracles is disregarded, so people do not come into the life where they might experience God's power -
Wherefore I [Paul], after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places..[Eph 1:15-20].
Finally, manifestation of the Spirit has been limited by negligence. Though all believers accept the Holy Spirit's influence in their thoughts, few believers actually receive the Holy Spirit in power, hence the manifestations of the gifts do not occur. Believers must receive the Holy Spirit as commanded by Jesus. Where this is not taught, the people do not even know they can have this power. Those diligent in preaching repentance and water baptism should follow through to impart this gift through prayer and the laying on of hands as did the apostles.
The Bible describes the human construct as body, soul and spirit. The soul is us - our identity or self. Obviously, the body is both part of and serves as the soul's interface with the physical universe. The spirit is a man's interface with God. The illustrative models for this are Israel's Tabernacle of God and later the Temple in Jerusalem. A temple is house for something holy. Our bodies are called the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Within the Tabernacle and Temple there was a Most Holy Place where the presence of God dwelt. Similarly within ourselves is a dwelling place for God.
It was God's Spirit that made man a living soul. It is the soul that sins, and acts through the body or the spirit, hence is the seat of decision. The soul can long for another, or anguish, and may either despise God or exalt him, and may opt to be dead to the body and alive to the spirit. The soul has the power to bless.
The mind however is part of the body, but the Holy Spirit has the mind of Christ, so it is possible for a man to be double-minded with divided loyalty between flesh and spirit. It is through renewal of the mind, that a person is transformed from doing evil to doing good.
The mind and soul together are referred to as the heart, which contains one's inner reasoning and both good and evil motives and characteristics.
Though the soul may desire God, it is the spirit that seeks God. The spirit of man desires to understand the mysteries of God. The spirit of man serves God, receives testimony from the Holy Spirit, and is the place of worship. The spirit makes a man conscious of what he really is.
The spirit and soul together may rejoice in God. The difference between spirit and soul can be distinguished acutely by reading the word of God.
In an unbeliever, the spirit is dead. But even the dead can be brought back to life by God. Those who believe the Gospel are reborn in spirit. Like a newborn, they are spiritually immature and undeveloped, but will grow spiritually with the help of ministers. Nevertheless, while we live in the flesh, our inherent spiritual sensitivity and understanding are limited. Because the human spirit is an interface with God, not with the spirit realms per se, we need the Spirit of God to reveal to us spiritual things.
When a man dies, his body returns to the earth, and his spirit returns to God. But the soul either departs to God, or to hell.
The Holy Spirit was on earth before men were created, and thereafter came upon select men as mentioned above. When the Holy Spirit came upon 70 leaders selected to assist Moses, he wished that all of his people had the Spirit of God. The prophet Joel foretold the pouring of God's Spirit on all people. John the Baptist foretold the coming of Jesus who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire, then identified Jesus in person as the one of whom he spoke. So the giving of the Holy Spirit was not his introduction upon Earth, but an expansion in the scope of his mission.
It was through Moses that the law of the old covenant was given from God on Mount Sinai, celebrated annually by Israel as the Feast of Pentecost. Jeremiah prophesied that God would make a new covenant with Israel, writing his law in their hearts. Significantly, the Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost, the annual commemoration of the giving of the law. Paul writes -
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart [2Co 3:3].
After Jesus was glorified, the Holy Spirit was given to all believers. No one can confess Christ except by Holy Spirit. But before that, Jesus, while speaking to his disciples, drew a distinction of how the Holy Spirit comes to believers -
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you [Jn 14:16-17].
In old times the Spirit of God could be taken away before death, but now he abides forever with those who believe.
The most commonly cited evidence for the Holy Spirit coming upon a person for the first time was prophecy before the Day of Pentecost and speaking in unknown languages or "tongues" thereafter. Speaking in tongues in this manner is simply prophesy spoken in a language unknown to the speaker. At Pentecost there were many proselytes to Judaism present and they all heard prophetic exhortation in their native languages, even though the speakers did not know the languages they were speaking. Other evidence of the Holy Spirit coming in power is a physical shaking of locality of those who receive him, and boldness in declaring the word of God.
At the Day of Pentecost, Peter affirmed both the universality of the promise of the Holy Spirit, and the need for this baptism to be concurrent with repentance and water baptism -
Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." [Ac 2:38-39]
The New Testament cites three methods by which believers attained the baptism of the Holy Spirit -
1. Through prayer -
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren...And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance [Ac 1:14, 2:1-4].
And when they prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness [Ac 4:31].
[Jesus said] If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? [Lu 11:11-14].
2. Through the laying on of hands -
And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him.. [De 34:9]
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost [Ac 8:14-17].
And he [Paul] said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should 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 upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied [Ac 19:3-6].
3. Through the hearing of faith -
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God [Ac 10:44-46].
[Paul writing -] This only would I learn of you, Receive ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? [Gal 3:2].
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law...that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith [Gal 3:13,14].
Based on these precedents, it follows that anyone who wants to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, should do the following -
1. Pray to the Father, asking him for the Holy Spirit.
2. Seek out a minister that preaches the baptism of the Holy Spirit who can impart the gift through the laying on of hands.
3. Have faith to let the power of God move through you. This faith comes from hearing the Word of God, whether by reading scriptures like those cited above or hearing them spoken.