Holy Spirit, Baptism and Gifts

A. OLD TESTEMENT PROPHESY

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was prophesied in several Books of the Old Testament, inter alia in the Book of Joel.

And it shall be afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams; your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28).  

B. PURPOSE

The baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts were given to the church o equip it to carry out its calling of making disciples of all nations.

But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Act 1:8).  

Early in his ministry the Lord Jesus already expressed his desire for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.

I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire, if it is already kindled? (Luk 12:49).  

C. THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit caused people to be born again, so as to be able to walk with God, as explained earlier on. He also came upon certain chosen people, like kings, priests and prophets, anointing them for the work they were to perform on God’s behalf.  This type of work was very limited in those days and was mostly confined to the nation of Israel.

D. THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT IS FOR THE MAKING OF DISCIPLES

After the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the whole world had to be conquered for Christ. This required a dramatic increase in the number of workers to be involved and in the power in which they were to operate. Jesus then prayed the Father to send down/pour out the Holy Spirit to take care of this massive action which will continue till the end of this dispensation.

E. THE DAY OF PENTECOST

This outpouring occurred on the Day of Pentecost.

And in the fulfilling of the day of Pentecost, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly a sound came out of the heaven as borne along by the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And tongues as of fire appeared to them, being distributed; and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Act 2:1-4). 

This was a dramatic supernatural occurrence, clearly an act of God which spoke powerfully to the hearts of many of the peoples gathered in Jerusalem, overcoming their skepticism against the Gospel. Secondly, it was very practical in that it enabled the speakers to speak in the languages of the listeners, so that they could understand what was preached. The impact was enormous, and 3000 people got saved.

F. PROOF OF BEING BAPTIZED IN THE SPIRIT

There is some controversy in Christian circles as to whether or not the speaking in unknown tongues is to be seen as proof of the fact that the speaker has been baptized in the Holy Spirit. There is no real need for settling that dispute; the essence of the matter is that a Christian needs to be equipped for service to enable him to carry out the Great Commandment of making disciples of all nations. As he moves out of his comfort zone to reach the lost, the Spirit will come to his aid and equip him in ways best suited to accomplish his goal.

When Paul was in jail in Philippi, the Holy Spirit caused an earthquake which was helpful to him to lead the jailor to trust in Jesus, but when Paul was jailed in Rome, the Spirit kept him there but gave him supernatural wisdom to write the Epistles that have been a mighty blessing to the Church.

Let the spiritual impact you are having on people, serve as measure of the degree to which you are filled with the Spirit.

G. GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT

The Spirit dispenses nine different gifts, as He pleases, each suited for a specific need to do his work. These are mentioned in 1 Cor 12 namely:

  • A word of wisdom.
  • A word of knowledge.
  • Faith (for a specific purpose).
  • Gifts of healing (or healings).
  • Workings of powers.
  • Prophecy.
  • Discerning of spirits.
  • Kinds of tongues.
  • Interpretation of tongues.

An in-depth discussion of these gifts is not feasible in the course of this study, but let it suffice to say that the Holy Spirit considers them necessary to get the discipleship job done and in 1 Cor 14:1 He implores us to earnestly desire, or search after, spiritual gifts. These are God’s power tools and must be used or would you rather use a gang of men with picks and shovels to build a 100km tarmac highway while thousands of vehicles are lining up, in a hurry to reach their destination?

H. TALENTS

A final word: there is a vast difference between supernatural gifts of the Spirit entrusted to God’s servants and natural talents which unbelievers may be richly endued with.

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