Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Pastor of New Life Church Vyacheslav GoncharenkoActs 1:4:

… he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

In the second chapter of the book of Acts we see that what Jesus had foretold came to pass. 120 people came together in an upper room. Following Jesus’ command they waited for the Holy Spirit. It’s written that suddenly there came a sound like a mighty rushing wind and filled the whole house where they gathered and flames of fire, tongues of fire rested on each one of them. It says further that they began speaking in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. What God promised and prophesied in the Scripture came to pass in the beginning of our era. The prophet Joel talked about it,”… I will pour out my Spirit on all people. (Joel 2:28). You and I live in the last days because the Holy Spirit has been already poured out on the earth. He was poured out in the beginning of our age. And today the Holy Spirit is being poured out. The time we live in is the age of the Holy Spirit, the God who is on earth to do the final work.

So we saw how the Holy Spirit came on earth and rested on the disciples. The second chapter also depicts the apostle Peter preaching.

Acts 2:37-39:

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Notice verse 39. According to Peter what happened belongs to you and your children and all who are far off, all whom the Lord our God will call. The promise, the gift of the Holy Spirit belongs to them. This gift is presented for every believer to have.

Later we see a revival started. It was the Holy Spirit who did it so that people were cut to the heart. They had never heard anything like that before. They were hard-hearted. Remember Jesus said in many cities, “Your city has seen such a great power demonstrated but you still don’t want to repent. You have hardened your hearts.” Here it says “they were cut to the heart”. The Holy Spirit is able to convince even the hardest heart. Never give up on people, never say that a person has no future in God. Everything is possible for the Holy Spirit. The most awful sinners, atheists, those who never look to church, who despise Christians, can become the greatest apostles of their time because of the Holy Spirit. We read that people were cut to the heart and then three thousand people repented. That’s awesome! Just imagine how they cried, repented, invited the Holy Spirit and were added to the church.

I want us to understand that this promise is for believers, for all whom the Lord our God will call. It’s for us. The Holy Spirit is to fill up all who believe on Jesus Christ. There are a lot of opinions concerning this matter. The question on how the Holy Spirit comes on a person, when he is finally on a person and when he is not there is the one of the most complicated. Here is what I see from the Scripture.

Of course, there is an initial period when a person gets born again. This new birth comes from the Holy Spirit. No one can be reborn and become a new creation in Christ Jesus apart from the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit who touches a person, opens his or her heart to the Word of God and repentance. A person who accepts Jesus Christ becomes a child of God, a son or a daughter. In this way he or she gets a title.

But the Scripture makes it clear that the title is not enough. God welcomes us to go further and receive something that can make a great impact. Today there are many born-again believers who are saved and can firmly say, “I do believe in Jesus Christ.” But they make no impact. For this reason, the Bible says: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the moment when the Holy Spirit comes on a person and imparts power. It’s when drastic changes start to take place in the person’s life, including the sphere of influence and fruit bearing. A person filled with the Holy Spirit can lead people to accept Jesus Christ as their Savoir and be saved, healed, delivered from demons and filled with the Holy Spirit. All of these is a result of people being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Thus, baptism of the Holy Spirit supplies the power from God to do all we are called to: to preach the Good News to every man. This is what Jesus commissioned His disciples to, saying “Go you into all the world, and preach the Gospel! Cast out devils, heal the sick, raise the dead! Freely you have received, freely give.” This is what influence is all about. You can’t do this without power. No power, no influence. So it goes like this: a person becomes a child of God, a believer, and then to those who believe on Him He gives His Holy Spirit as the power.

John 14:16-17:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

This blessing is neither for unbelievers nor for the world which can’t accept, because it neither sees him nor knows him.

John 14:17:

but you know him…

Why is that? It’s because you have been born from above. The Holy Spirit has renewed your spirit and you have become a new creation. You have already had this experience with Him.

John 14:17:

…for he lives (abides) with you…

But notice what it goes on to say

John 14:17:

and will be in you.

There is a difference between when he abides with you and he is in you. It’s written that He lives with you and will be in you. God’s aim is for the Holy Spirit to be in you, for you to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and be filled with him that you may carry him wherever you go. But unbelievers can’t accept him because the Bible calls them disobedient and unsubmissive. They are to submit to Jesus Christ and accept him as their Savior and Lord and then they will receive the gift, the Holy Spirit. Peter preached about it: “Repent and then you will receive what we have received, the precious Person. He will be with you forever. But first, you are to repent and get born from above.”

What caused the revival to happen in the first century? The Holy Spirit came on people and they went to the whole world and preached. In Acts, 8th chapter we read that Philip went to Samaria and God did amazing miracles through that man. The entire city was on the move; people were healed and saved.

Acts 8:14-16:

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We can see that they accepted Jesus Christ and were baptized in water but there was something more. Many believers don’t move further. They have accepted Jesus Christ and they say, “Now I am a believer, it’s enough.” But they make no impact. God wants to enlarge us.

Acts 8:17:

Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Here it says that the Spirit was given when the apostles placed their hands on people. And everybody could see it. The Scripture doesn’t say what happened next. The amazing thing is that there was a man who practiced sorcery. He noticed that something had happened and those changes were so obvious that he came up to the apostles and said, “I will pay you, give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” He saw something happened when the apostle laid their hands.

In the 9th chapter of the book of Acts we read what happened to Saul, the well-known persecutor of Christians. He got letters from the high priest and was on his journey to Damascus to arrest members of God’s church. On the road to Damascus he met Jesus. Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him and he heard a voice, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He fell down from his horse and asked, “Who are you, Lord?”. And the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.” It was the moment when Saul was reborn. He came to Damascus and kept on fasting and praying for three days. It confirms the fact of his new birth. After that the Holy Spirit showed Saul to the brother Ananias in a vision, “Go to the house, he is praying there.”

Acts 9:17:

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Ananias called Saul brother which implies that he had already become a child of God. Saul had already accepted Jesus as his Lord and later received the Holy Spirit. This is the logic we can see here.

There is another interesting story written in the 10th chapter. It tells of a Roman officer and his household receiving the Holy Spirit. There lived a man by the name of Cornelius who did many good things and God saw his heart. One day while he was praying an angel appeared to him. Cornelius was a Gentile, a Roman. The angel said, “There is a man called Peter. Send for him to come and he will tell you something that will bring salvation to you and your home.” Cornelius sent his servants to call for Peter. Right at that moment Peter saw a vision and a voice said, “Go downstairs, there some people came looking for you. Doubt not, go with them. I am sending you there.” A Jew who had never fellowshipped with the Gentiles found himself in such a situation. Just think of what it meant for Peter to go somewhere with the Gentiles. But in full obedience he followed into Cornelius’ house. He met many people there. Cornelius told him, “An angel appeared and ordered me to call for you that you may tell us something.” And Peter spoke. It’s one of my favorite passages in the Scripture.

Acts 10:44-46:

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

The Holy Spirit came on the Gentiles, was poured on them and they started speaking in tongues and praising God. The Holy Spirit came while Peter was preaching. Thus, the laying of hands is not the only way he comes. Once I saw that the Holy Spirit came on people who had just repented. They listened to the Word of God and began speaking in other tongues. It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit desires to fill each heart, to drive away every evil spirit and to make a person complete, to make him the image and likeness of God again.

And look what happens next. Some disciples in Ephesus received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 19:1-6:

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”"John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

And here again the Holy Spirit came when the apostle Paul laid his hands. It’s written that when He came people started speaking in other languages and prophesying. What does it tell us? We see over and over that when people were baptized in the Holy Spirit they began speaking in tongues, prophesying; gifts of the Holy Spirit began manifesting. It belongs to believers. They received the Holy Spirit via either the laying of hands or hearing the Gospel. All who were baptized in the Holy Spirit started speaking in other tongues, prophesying and praising God. They were filled with great joy.

Many people ask me, “Do you think a person can be filled with the Holy Spirit but not speaking in tongues? Can it happen?” I think it can and will explain why.

How does it happen that people speak in other languages? You must understand that we are not talking of a kind of training when people practice something, break some stereotypes and then have a breakthrough. We are not talking about that. We are talking of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, not of human abilities. When the Holy Spirit comes on a person he fills him to the level that it starts overflowing and a person can’t contain it inside. It comes out like a river breaking a dam. It comes out in the form of speaking in tongues. It’s astonishing.

Many people don’t understand this. Do you think the apostles who were baptized by the Holy Spirit knew what was going to happen? Jesus said, “You will receive the Holy Spirit.” What Jesus didn’t say is that they were going to speak in other languages. He said, “The Holy Spirit will come on you.” So they looked for it and thought, “How will it happen that the Holy Spirit comes on us? And what will happen next?” When the Holy Spirit came and filled them up what Jesus had said came to pass, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”(John7:38). This river will break out, it will flow out of your spirit, out of your belly. It will flow from within you spontaneously. And now be attentive. Why did I say that it can be the case that people filled with the Holy Spirit do not speak in tongues? The reason may be that they haven’t got enough understanding of the matter, they are just afraid of it. It seems strange especially when people around hear it. That’s why they just stop this flow.

You may ask, “Can this flow be restrained?” Yes, it can. For instance, the Lord is telling you, “Speak into the life of this person! Tell him or her this and that.” And it’s up to you either to release it or to restrain. You can stop the knowledge the Lord reveals to you. In the same way you can stop a new tongue which you are supposed to speak when God fills you up. The apostle Paul asserts that we should not do this.

1 Thessalonians 5:19:

Do not quench the Spirit.

Don’t quench the Holy Spirit because he is meant to be a blessing to you. I feel the Holy Spirit prompts me to tell you of these dried up streams. Many have blocked them up. Though you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, tasted him and experienced his joy and triumph but you don’t pray in the spirit anyway. All you pray is with words (your mind, understanding) (1 Corinthians 14:15). It’s written that when you pray with understanding you edify your mind. But your spirit becomes weak if you don’t edify and recharge it.

I was greatly impressed by one pastor from South Korea. I visited his church on a prayer mountain and afterwards during lunch he said, “God has worked through me all miracles mentioned in the Gospels except one: I haven’t walked on the water. I have raised the dead, driven out demons, healed the afflicted with all sorts of diseases.” He said that very boldly and assertively. He looked at us, pastors from all over the world, and cried, “Why don’t you pray in tongues?!” He sounded so strongly that I still remember my spirit started crying and grieving. I began to understand how much we lose when we dry up divine streams (fountains). We are missing something when we don’t pray in tongues. We see no signs, no wonders, have no God’s power and his presence all because we don’t edify ourselves in the Holy Spirit because we either feel embarrassed or say we have no time.

Today, on the day of Pentecost, I want this truth to shine for us anew so that we could refresh our understanding and begin to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gives us utterance, so that these pure springs, rivers of living water could resume flowing through us, so that you could feel God’s power, God’s authority again and be bold preaching others about Christ. For this reason the apostle Paul pleads, “Don’t quench the Spirit.”

You may speak of some contradictions in the Scripture so I would like to clarify some of them.

1 Corinthians 14:22-23:

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

This passage defines tongues as a sign for unbelievers, on one hand, but, on the other hand, it says that unbelievers can consider tongues as satanic manifestation. I want to make it clear. I have asked the Holy Spirit to give me words that you may have no doubts in concern and flow boldly in the rivers of God’s blessing.

There are four types of tongues mentioned in the Scripture which the apostle Paul refers to. Tongues may be used either for public or for personal, secret ministry.

The first type is tongues as a sign.

We have read: “… a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers” (1 Corinthians 14:22).

This sign was revealed on the day of Pentecost when people from many nations came to Jerusalem and they heard apostles speaking in their language. So this type of tongues is used when you speak in foreign language you have never learnt but a person you speak to understands it.

Church history knows stunning stories when God demonstrated such signs for unbelievers. My father Leonid Korneevich tells one of the stories in his book “Blessing in deep water”. When he was in prison he had an experience of talking to some Jewish guys in pure Jewish language though he himself didn’t understand a thing. They were shocked and asked how he came to know the language. My father told that he never knew it. The Jews explained that he told them about Messiah, Jesus Christ. This is the kind of miracles the Holy Spirit works out. We can’t make them but when you are baptized in the Holy Spirit he can make you a sign for another person.

One brother from our church, a fellow named Victor, told me of incredible things that happened to his grandmother during World War II. German soldiers led people to be executed and that woman spoke to an officer in pure German language. The things she said made him put down his hands and cancel the shooting. Thus the entire village was saved.

Here is another wonderful story happened in the times of war. A person who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit was taken to an execution point. On the way there the Holy Spirit filled him and he began speaking in pure German, “Don’t you dare to kill the anointed of God!” So the Germans told him, “We can’t execute you, go away!” and let him go. Hadn’t he been baptized in the Holy Spirit he couldn’t have been filled by him.

There are many startling stories on how God gave signs for unbelievers. One book tells a story of a woman who asked before being operated on, “Doctor, let me pray.”  He consented, “Go ahead.” While praying she suddenly began speaking in pure Latin. Doctors listened to her; she gave them clear instructions on how to make the surgery.

This is what a sign is about, a tongue used to speak to unbelievers. Hearing such things makes unbelievers stop, ponder and ask questions.

The second type is tongues for interpretation.

1 Corinthians 12:30:

Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

Tongues can be interpreted. It’s not a word by word translation. An interpreter conveys knowledge that the Holy Spirit reveals when another person is praying. The one who says a prayer also can be given an interpretation. If we ask to have the gift of tongues, we should also ask to have the gift of interpretation. God can grant this gift for you to understand the divine information flowing from Heaven to you, your relatives, others or to the church. An interpretation reveals Heaven’s holy information. This tongue differs from the one we usually use when we talk to God. We will touch upon this in a moment. This is the information God relates by the Holy Spirit using our lips. How is this tongue different? Phrases and sentences are distinct and clear; you can’t confuse it.

Sometimes at our prayer meetings I can hear somebody speaking in this manner and it’s as if the words flow directly from Heaven, distinct and clear. It’s not just a person who prays but God speaks through him or her. The thing is that sometimes we don’t know what to do with it. We may feel great power in our words and goosebumps running up and down. In such moments you realize that something supernatural is happening. So we need to ask for the gift of interpretation that we won’t miss what God is giving. I believe that every Christian should seek and pray, “Lord, give me the gift that I won’t miss what you are telling me!”

The third type is a prayer tongue.

1 Corinthians 14:2:

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.

Here it’s talking of your everyday prayer life. You don’t speak for people to hear; this talk is between you and God. This tongue is given for us to build up our spirit or recharge our spiritual battery.

1 Corinthians 14:14-15:

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.

This passage says about your prayer state (condition), prayer position before God.

Jude 1:20:

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit

Building yourself up in faith means that your spirit is building up, recharging and is being filled with God. Building yourself up should be believer’s life style! We shouldn’t walk at ease. We should walk like warriors of Jesus Christ. We should have great strength. Many want to see mighty things happen but, in fact, power should first grow on the inside of you. You should recharge your spiritual battery. Many complain, “We have no power.” Surely, if your cell phone is dead you won’t be able to talk unless you recharge it to get more power. You can hear me talking because the microphone’s battery is full. But if it happens that you stop hearing me, people of the technical team have to run to the front to change the battery. The same is in our life. You can be either incredibly strong or incredibly weak. Why? The reason is whether you pray in the Holy Spirit or not.

What does the prayer in the spirit when a person uses his prayer language produce?

Proverbs 20:27:

The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD…

The human spirit is the core, the center where God shines His light making it the lamp of the Lord. When you pray in the spirit you take in and at the same time take out what God fills you with. Your spirit contains all answers to give you life and joy of revelation.

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what to do, start praying in tongues. It might not happen immediately but in a while you will get a clear understanding of what you should or shouldn’t do. Divine peace will overtake you when God will show solutions to your questions. If anxiety is still there don’t rush to action, keep on praying. Wait on God to make it clear for you. But be aware that all answers are hidden within you. This awareness makes God so close and available. No need to cry out, “God, who are in Heaven, please come and help me!” God, the Holy Spirit, is right inside of you to do His part and help you out.

John 7:38:

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

These rivers of living water should flow from within you. Let them flow out of your spirit. Let the light of God’s revelation rise up in you and flow out.

1 Corinthians 2:12:

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

Why have we received the Holy Spirit? So that we may know what God has given us, has granted us. How is this knowledge revealed? It’s through the prayer in tongues. Though you understand neither what you are saying nor what is happening, God fills you up and gives you knowledge so that finally you come to know. This is the purpose of this prayer language.

The fourth type of tongues is tongues to intercede for others.

Romans 8:26-27:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

In fact, often we don’t know for what we are to pray. We may not know what our relatives are going through. We have no idea of what we are going to face tomorrow. We know nothing of Satan’s intentions, what he is plotting against us. We don’t know it all. But the Holy Spirit can get us ready. We don’t know but we can intercede. A tongue of intercession differs from other tongues. The Spirit is written to intercede for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. It can be just a sound or a word which you keep on saying a thousand times not understanding why. It can be like a sound of war, a battle, like you are fighting.

There are a great number of amazing stories related to tongues of intercession when people woke up at night not knowing why God had awakened them. But they submitted to the Holy Spirit and interceded not understanding an object for their prayer. Later they met people who told awful stories they were facing and they didn’t know a way out. But at a certain moment God’s light, help, healing rushed in; God released his protection, sent his angels to prevent catastrophes or crashes. I have got a stunning revelation that when we pray in tongues angels come to serve us. This prayer commissions angels to defend your life or the lives of people we intercede for.

1 Corinthians 13:1:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels…

This is the tongue of angels. We are called by God to such a high level.

Here is my question to you, brothers and sisters: are you going to speak in tongues or not? Are you going to pray in the spirit or not?! I can feel by the Holy Spirit that I have hit the nail on the head. You can definitely tell for yourselves when your rivers of the Holy Spirit get dry and you are at risk of becoming religious Christians who find it hard to get on fire while praying, like wet wood, when your prayer gets complicated and heavy.

The Holy Spirit is the God of this earth who moves and baptizes those who are thirsty. God always pours out his power on the thirsty. The Holy Spirit who will pray through you using other tongues will lead you to enter your calling and fulfill your ministry. Come to realize that without him your life will be passing by. Nothing will happen until you get to understand what a great gift you have been given.

It’s time for you to get on your feet, pull yourself together and say, “Lord, forgive me! I have quenched your Spirit. I have blocked his flow. I felt ashamed.” Many people don’t pray in tongues because they feel ashamed, those words they utter seem strange to them. Never be ashamed of the Holy Spirit! Love him more than anything else! Some say, “I love Jesus, he lives in my heart!” But according to the Scripture Jesus Christ is in Heaven at the right hand of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the God who is here on the earth. People say, “I would like to see Jesus. Had Jesus walked on earth…” In Jesus’ time, people spoke about the Father the same way: “Had the Father…” What did Jesus say? “My Father and I are one.” If you say you want to see Jesus why don’t you see the Holy Spirit? He may be the most neglected person in the entire universe even by the children of God and the church of God. You disregard him when you have no fellowship with him, when you don’t make friends with him, when you block him and pay no attention to him, when you don’t talk to him. But he came to help you live the life of Christ, to give you the light of revelation, to heal your sick body. He is within you, he is very near, he is in your mouth and in your heart to help you resolve your many problems.

Why do you neglect the Holy Spirit? May be it’s time to say, “Lord, forgive me that I have quenched your Spirit, that the rivers of living water have dried up and stopped flowing. But I would like to get into the flow again. Help me!” Eagerly desire the spiritual gifts, be thirsty, prophesy, cast out demons, heal the sick. Let the Holy Spirit who lives in you reveal Jesus of Nazareth in your life again. Let us rise up and witness to people with all boldness and power as apostles did, with no fear and confusion, fully convinced of the truth we declare. This world doesn’t know the truth. No one can offer a better alternative to the Bible, the Word of God. Neither any philosophy nor anything else can replace what the grace of God has given us. No one of this world can comfort your heart better than the Holy Spirit. No one can make such miracles as the Holy Spirit does. No magician, wizard, sorcerer, astrologist can be compared to the Holy Spirit. I want you to know that Satan cannot compete with God. God has no contract with Satan. God doesn’t use Satan to humble his own children. God is good and He will always be God. And he has given us authority to tread on all the power of the enemy. God has given you authority to trample on every evil force. Why don’t you advance?! Why don’t you believe on the power of God? Why don’t you believe on this power to overcome everything? The reason is that the rivers have dried up; there is no faith. You feel deficient. Lack of prayer produces lack in all things.

But this day God wants to enrich you all. He loves you! You may feel convicted in your spirit. But it will do you good, accept it. Come before the Lord and say, “Lord, let me flow in the Spirit again! Open up the streams you have for me and I will flow!”

 

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