Must tongues be interpreted?
The answer is, sometimes. The Bible mentions two different gifts of tongues. The first one, which is associated with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is your personal prayer language. This is a language only God understands.
The language in Japan is Japanese, and the language in France is French. But personal prayer language is what I like to call Heavenese—the language of heaven.
The second gift of tongues is one of the nine gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:10. It needs interpretation so that everyone who hears it can be encouraged (see 1 Cor. 14:26-28).
You might say that your personal prayer language is man talking to God; it doesn’t need interpretation because God understands. The gift of tongues, on the other hand, is God talking to man. Other people can’t be edified unless someone interprets the message.
Is the baptism for everyone?
I believe the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for everyone. Jesus Himself said the Father would give the Holy Spirit to everyone who asks Him (see Luke 11:13). Later, Peter said the gift of the Holy Spirit “is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off” (Acts 2:39).
I once ministered to a dear woman who desperately wanted to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She had been told the Holy Spirit wouldn’t fill her until she quit smoking cigarettes. She tried for 14 years to quit, with no success. She felt condemned and hopeless.
“God doesn’t fill you with His Spirit because you are so good, but because He is so good,” I told her. She left that service speaking in tongues and with supernatural power to break her addiction. She quit smoking within one month!
In 1980 I was invited to minister the baptism of the Holy Spirit at a convention in Belize. Most of the 300 women attending were Catholics who recently had come to Christ. As I preached, I sensed great resistance toward the baptism. I wondered if the “brick wall” was a cultural response or a reaction to the mention of my Methodist upbringing.
I whispered a quick prayer for direction, and a flash of wisdom came. “How many of you want everything that the blessed Virgin Mary had?” I asked. Those devoted Catholic women perked up, and everyone raised a hand.
“Our precious Mary was one of the original 120 who received the Spirit’s power and spoke in her own prayer language,” I said. “Lift your other hand and receive the Holy Spirit, just as Mary did.” In minutes they were speaking in tongues.
Can I be Spirit-filled and not speak in tongues?
I personally know many precious believers who don’t speak in tongues yet lead godly lives filled with the fruit of the Spirit. Are they Spirit-filled? Yes, I believe they are Spirit-filled—just not Spirit-full. They are wonderful, God-fearing people who have learned to yield to and depend upon the Holy Spirit, but they have stopped just short of fullness.
In his classic book Bible Doctrines, the late P.C. Nelson put it this way: “You may heat water to 150 degrees, then 175, then 200, then 210, but it still does not boil. But, if it reaches 212 degrees, there is no doubt the water will begin to boil.
“Many believers have mighty anointings with the Holy Spirit who have not received the fullness of the Baptism. So you may be anointed almost to the fullness, but until you speak in tongues, there’s still more to receive.”
How can I be baptized in the Holy Spirit?
The book of Acts shows believers receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit in many different ways. Personally, I received the baptism all alone while in my bedroom in 1972. I’ve known people who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit over the telephone.
The key is to be thirsty for all that God wants to give you. Since the Holy Spirit moved into your Spirit when you received Jesus as your Savior, He is already in you.
Simply ask Jesus for the fullness of His gift to you. Then, in faith, begin to magnify God in your new prayer language. It might seem awkward at first, but keep going. Don’t give up!
Just as a baby starts with a few words, begin with a few syllables, saying them aloud. God will honor your faith. He is the baptizer—and He will fill you to overflowing.
The Holy Spirit will not come down from heaven. Rather, He will bubble up from within your spirit. Remember—because you received Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit is in you already.
Many people make the mistake of praying to be filled—then waiting. I’ve watched thousands of sincere believers reverently waiting at the altar for God to “do something.” They don’t need to wait for God; He is waiting for them!
Will I need a ‘refilling’?
I believe all of us should frequently receive a refilling of the Holy Spirit. In the often-quoted verse, “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), the Greek word for filled means “a frequent, repetitive infilling.” In Acts 2:4, the disciples were filled; later, in Acts 4:31, the same disciples were refilled.
Why do you need a refilling? Because we dare not depend on our human logic or natural abilities to reach a hurting world. Instead, we must remember Zechariah 4:6:
“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Determine today to know Jesus, not only as your Savior, but also as your baptizer. Ask Him to fill you and refill you with His Holy Spirit. You and I may be ordinary people, but with God’s dunamis power working in us and through us, we can do extraordinary things.
Rachel Burchfield and her husband, Tommy, are the co-pastors of Believers World Outreach Church and the co-founders of Burchfield Ministries International. Her ministry is based in the Houston area. For more information, go to burchfield.org.
Want to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? We’ll join you in prayer at spiritbaptism.charismamag.com
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