Answering the most frequently asked questions about the baptism of the Holy Spirit
My life is filled with amazing people. Recently, a widow I know pointed to a midnight intruder and boldly commanded him to leave her house. He did! Another friend refused to panic when her teenage daughter ran away. As she was calling the police, the Holy Spirit revealed the girl’s exact location to her. Another woman—a shy single mom—overcame a 12-year battle with bulimia. Today she teaches a weekly Bible study to women with addictions. Are these people superheroes? No, they’re just ordinary Christians who have received the extraordinary baptism of the Holy Spirit.
When people are baptized in the Holy Spirit, they are filled with God’s ability. Natural people do supernatural things. Lives of chaos find serenity and purpose. Shy people become bold, and selfish people experience radical changes in their priorities. Sadly, many Christians today don’t seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit because they don’t understand it. They don’t know what they’re missing! Here are some of the questions I hear most frequently.
What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not salvation; it’s a secondary experience to salvation. God’s gift to sinners is Jesus the Savior. God’s gift to believers is Jesus the Baptizer.
When Jesus became your Savior, He cleansed your sin by His blood; but when Jesus becomes your baptizer, He fills you with His Spirit. The result of salvation is forgiveness; the result of the baptism is power.
I like to compare the baptism of the Holy Spirit to fuel for a car. Your car may be paid for, but you won’t get very far in it without a full tank of gas. Yes, through salvation, your sins have been paid for; but your journey in life will be easier and more productive if your “tank” is full. The fuller your tank, the further you can go with God.
What is the evidence of it?
The evidence of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit is, first of all, supernatural power. Power over what? Fear. Anger. Disease. Doubt. Discouragement (and more). This dunamis power helps you overcome anything that hinders you from experiencing God’s abundant life. It also helps you do things you never could have done in your own strength. Take Peter, for example. Before he received the Holy Spirit’s power, he denied the Lord Jesus three times. Afterward he healed the sick, raised the dead and won 3,000 souls with his first sermon!
The second evidence of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a glorious prayer language, also known as “speaking in tongues.” Now, I understand that many wonderful Christians may disagree with me on this point. But my personal belief—and I think Scripture bears me out—is that speaking in tongues is a wonderful gift that every believer can embrace.
People ask me, “Do I have to speak in tongues?” My reply is: “You don’t have to. You get to.” Speaking in tongues is the Holy Spirit praying through you, speaking mysteries to God. How wonderful!
Why speak in tongues?
By my count, the Bible gives 31 reasons for speaking in tongues. Since I don’t have room to list them all here, I’ll just share with you my favorite five.
- Experiencing spiritual refreshment
Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Do you get bored with the routines of life? Speaking in tongues is a spiritual “refreshing” that causes “the weary to rest” (Is. 28:11-12, NKJV). Often the Holy Spirit has prompted me to get alone and worship God in other tongues. In minutes, I feel as if I’ve enjoyed a two-week vacation.
- Overcoming weakness
According to Romans 8:26, speaking in tongues helps strengthen you in areas of personal weakness. Are you tempted with lust? Tormented with worry? Do you struggle with discouragement? Need help with your eating habits? Pray in the Holy Spirit often, because He is your Helper.
- Praying God’s perfect will
Speaking in tongues helps you to always pray the perfect will of God (see Rom. 8:27). When you pray in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit prays God’s will through you, addressing issues and circumstances that are often too complicated for you to understand.
Here’s a personal example: When my beautiful friend Ava was killed by a drunk driver, I wanted that irresponsible drunk locked up forever. But as I continued to pray in tongues, I became aware of the man’s path toward hell. I prayed for his soul and gave the legal outcome to God. Praying in the Spirit caused my desire for revenge to yield to the wisdom of God.
- Having the mind of Christ
According to 1 Corinthians 2:16, having “the mind of Christ” is synonymous with knowing the will of God. That means that when you pray in the Spirit, you not only pray God’s will, you actually have the mind of Christ.
The question often arises, “Did Jesus speak in tongues?” No, I don’t believe He did. He didn’t have to—He already had the mind of Christ! He knew the Father’s will because He and the Father were one.
- Building up your “inner man”
Speaking or praying in tongues edifies and strengthens your “inner man” (see Jude 20; 1 Cor. 14:4). It builds you up and makes you strong in God. How much praying in the Spirit do you need to do? Well, how strong do you want to be?
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