BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
Ephesians 5:18 (KJV)
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
The Command to Be Filled
Are we asked anywhere in the New Testament to be filled with the Spirit? Did Jesus ask His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost? The answer to both of these questions is “No”. The Bible gives us an accurate recording of what Jesus said concerning the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and Jesus did not “Ask” but he “Commanded” his disciples to tarry for the Holy Ghost.
Luke 24:49 (KJV)
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
Would Jesus have been pleased with these disciples if they had chosen to ignore His command for them to tarry for the “power from on high”? Obviously the answer to the question is “No”. Jesus commands and we are expected to obey. Disobedience to the commands of Christ can sever your relationship with God and must be repented of. For me to maintain a healthy relationship with God I must obey all of His commands.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus and he commanded them to avoid alcoholic wine because it leads to excess (the Greek word is Asotia and it means: excess, riot, unsavedness). Then the Apostle gives this command to the Church, “Be filled with the Spirit”.
The wording of Ephesians 5:18 is unmistakable and in the very same tone as Jesus’ command for His disciples to “tarry ye in Jerusalem”. It is clear that being filled with the Holy Ghost is never offered as an option for the Church to either accept or reject as they see fit. As a matter of fact, nothing God commands us to do is optional and He expects us to obey Him in all things.
Many Christians believe in the Baptism in the Holy Ghost and they will heartily agree it is a real experience for today but they also believe it is optional. They have an “I can take it or leave it” attitude about this great experience. If you have that attitude then let me pose this for you to consider: Jesus thought it was necessary to be filled with the Spirit and before He began His ministry He went to the river Jordan and there the Holy Ghost landed on Him in the form of a dove and then before He left earth He commanded His followers to also be filled with the Holy Ghost before they began their ministry. If Jesus thought it was necessary for Himself and His followers why do you think it is not necessary for you?
Being “Filled with the Spirit”, or as it is also called, the Baptism in the Holy Ghost, is not like an option on a car that can easily be left off if not wanted. When buying a new vehicle you have certain items that are optional, such as a sun roof. Will a car operate without a sun roof? Yes. Can the car operate without an engine? No! The Baptism in the Holy Ghost is not a “Sun Roof” it is the “Engine”!
When I was a boy, the old Assembly of God evangelists that came through the little Church I attended preached the Baptism in the Holy Ghost was required to be in full obedience to Christ. One evangelist summed it up so well with a description of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and then he said, “It was the sin of disobedience that forfeited their right to remain in the garden – one sin of disobedience – if one sin can kick you out of paradise then one sin can keep you out of paradise!” This old evangelist was NOT saying that the Baptism in the Holy Ghost washes sins away, for he believed in repentance and the New Birth as taught in scripture, but he was saying that a refusal to follow through and obey the command to “Be filled with the Spirit”, when you know that it is a command of God, is an act of disobedience that could very well sever your relationship with Christ. Obedience is necessary!
The word “Filled” used in Ephesians comes from the Greek word “Pleroo” and it means “to fill up completely, to cram a net full, to level at the top, to furnish, to imbue, to execute an office, to finish a task, to supply, and to verify”. If you are completely filled with Him then there is room for nothing else to enter into your life, for the enemy can pour nothing into a full vessel. It is the Baptism in the Holy Ghost that gives us this fullness. You can see how important it is that each and every believer continues on to the experience of the Baptism in the Holy Ghost.
Biblical Evidence for Initial Evidence
How can I know that I have been filled with the Spirit? How can I know that I have been baptized in the Holy Ghost? God has given a scriptural method in the New Testament that was consistent and normal and that evidence is still viable today.
I want to look at the New Testament pattern of the “infilling” of the Holy Ghost as found in the Book of Acts. The Book of Acts is the first record of the exploits of the Church. All of the events occurring in this book are a part of the age of grace that you and I are now a part of. The Book of Acts has not stopped but is still ongoing today!
The Book of Acts begins with the early disciples having obeyed the command of Jesus to tarry in Jerusalem until endued with the promised outpouring of power. Over and over in His ministry, Jesus made it clear that He was going to equip His followers so they could do what He had called them to do.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 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.
38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
39(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Jesus made it clear to His disciples the He had to leave them, but after doing so He would send the Holy Ghost back to earth as their comforter. First the physical then the spiritual. The physical form of Adam was formed first from the dust of the ground then God breathed the spiritual into him and made him a living soul. This progression was maintained in Christ first coming in the flesh, leaving, and then sending back the Holy Ghost. While on earth the devil had to deal with Christ in one location but now the Holy Ghost is everywhere that the Church is.
Jesus' final words before He left this earth concerned the importance of the Church being equipped with the "Power" of the Holy Ghost(Acts 1:8) and Jesus commanded his disciples to tarry "until they were endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). This is what the disciples did and on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was outpoured. The initial evidence of this occurrence was speaking in other tongues.
Just as Jesus had promised, the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, had arrived. The first outpouring of the Holy Ghost is recoded in Acts chapter two.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
There were several supernatural evidences that occurred in this initial outpouring, but as you will see in further study, there is only one that is associated with all the other outpourings of the Holy Ghost found in scripture.
In the first outpouring there was: 1) “a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” 2) “cloven tongues like as of fire” and 3) speaking “with other tongues”. In all subsequent outpourings of the Holy Ghost you will not find the sound of a rushing wind or visible flames over the heads of the seekers, but you will find speaking in other tongues. It is not to say that those events cannot take place but they are not the prescribed Biblical evidence – speaking in unknown tongues is. As a matter of fact, tongues are not only endorsed in the Book of Acts but in the writings of the Apostle Paul. My friends, speaking in other tongues is Biblical, and whether you like it or not, is a part of the New Testament Church.
The word used in Acts chapter two for “Tongues” is the Greek word “Glossa” and it is interpreted correctly in the King James Version Bible as “Tongues”. It is not “Ecstatic Speech” as some theologians have tried to suggest but it was tongues/languages that had been previously unknown to the speakers. This is bore out by the response of those that witnessed this supernatural event.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
If this would have been “Ecstatic Speech” or the enthusiastic babbling of a group of people caught up in a religious frenzy then there would not have been this response from the onlookers. Saying this brings up the other claim by some that speaking in unknown tongues was a real event but it was only for that one time in history to help spread the Gospel to the crowd that was present. The Word of God alone dismisses such claims for twenty five years after Pentecost in a closed meeting of twelve men at the Church at Ephesus the Holy Ghost is poured out:
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
7 And all the men were about twelve.
If speaking in unknown tongues was purely for missionary service then God would not have bothered to produce this type of an experience in a group of likeminded individuals. No! The pattern had been set at Pentecost and it continues in each case either by direct mention or implication. Before I get too far ahead of myself we need to go back to the chronological order as found in the Book of Acts.
The next mention of group of individuals being filled with the Holy Ghost is in a gathering of the original believers not long after Pentecost. This group was made up of many, if not all, of those that had originally experienced the first filling in Acts chapter two and no mention of tongues need be mentioned as this is a re-filling.
Acts 4:31 (KJV)
And when they had 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.
The next time we read about believers being baptized in the Holy Ghost for the first time is at the City of Samaria. We can read about this in Acts chapter eight.
Acts 8:14-17 (KJV)
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
After reading this you may be thinking, “It says they received the Holy Ghost but tongues is not mentioned”. You are correct. This passage does not mention speaking in unknown tongues but something visible did happen. Look at the next verses that follow.
Acts 8:18-19 (KJV)
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
There was a man named Simon present that watched as Peter and John laid hands on the Samaritans. The Bible says he “Saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given”. There was some type of visible, tangible, manifestation that occurred to make a carnal man like Simon understand that something supernatural had occurred. What was it? In this particular passage we are not told. But if we follow the New Testament pattern we must assume that what he saw was speaking in unknown tongues. Why would God venture beyond what he had already established as evidence? The Apostles understood this evidence and so did some sinners. Oh, it could have been a rushing mighty wind, or tongues of fire sitting on top of the heads of the Samaritans but in no other passage in the Bible do we see those two phenomenon repeated. What we do see repeated is speaking in tongues. Brothers and Sisters, I submit to you that unknown tongues is what Simon saw that day in Samaria. Even Paul said this about unbelievers witnessing the Holy Ghost being manifested:
1 Corinthians 14:22 (KJV)
Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not:
In this case tongues were most definitely used as a sign to the unbelieving Simon that something supernatural had taken place.
Next we come to the conversion of the Apostle Paul.
Acts 9:17-18 (KJV)
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
The question is this: Did the Apostle Paul speak in tongues when he was filled with the Holy Ghost? The historical account in the Book of Acts is very brief and no detailed explanation is offered. Fortunately for us the Apostle left us with other writings that shed light on his experience in the Holy Ghost.
1 Corinthians 14:18
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
1 Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear in these scriptures and many others that he was a part of the tongue-speaking experience. He uses the same language that is found in the book of Acts to describe his experience, “I speak with tongues more than ye all”, and no, Paul is not referring to being fluent in several foreign languages, for the context of his statements are about the supernatural gifts of the Holy Ghost. Paul mentions “Tongues” at least twenty five times in his Epistles. This was an important subject to the great Apostle and should be to us as well.
The next time we read about the Holy Ghost being poured out on a group of new believers is found in Acts chapter ten. This passage is very important to us because this is the first time that Gentiles were filled with the Holy Ghost.
Acts 10:44-47 (KJV)
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45 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.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
Again we see the same pattern repeated. This time the account clearly states that the Gentile believers spoke in tongues. The Jews that were traveling with Peter were astonished that God was pouring out His Spirit upon the Gentiles in the exact same manner as he had been doing upon them. What was the visible evidence that convinced these Jewish believers that God was pouring out his Spirit upon the Gentiles? It is found in verse forty-six, “For they heard them speak with tongues”. The statement alone in verse forty-six makes it clear that tongues were the expected sign to look for when a person was baptized in the Holy Ghost. The New Testament Church had their benchmark to compare everything to and this is exactly what they did: “which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” Folks, it cannot get much clearer than that.
When Peter was asked to explain what happened at the gentile home of Cornelius he replied with this statement:
Acts 11:15 (KJV)
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
Peter tells the Church at Jerusalem that God was continuing what He had started in the beginning. God was pouring out upon the Gentiles what he had at first poured only upon the Jews. Speaking in unknown tongues was the irrefutable evidence of the infilling of the Holy Ghost. Peter reaffirmed this position again in Chapter fifteen at the council in Jerusalem with these words:
7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
It is important to note that Peter recognizes that the pattern was established in Acts chapter two at the Upper Room and that the early Church continued to look back on that experience to judge all subsequent baptisms in the Spirit. This reinforces speaking in other tongues as the normative evidence expected in every Spirit baptism. Evidence such as this would stand up in any court!
Now we come back to Acts chapter nineteen and the Church at Ephesus. Remember that I stated earlier that this occurred some twenty-five years after the initial outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Again speaking in other tongues is the evidence associated with the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. Speaking in tongues is not an aberration, as some would have us to believe, but it is the normal experience of each person that is baptized in the Holy Ghost.
The Importance of Initial Evidence
Now we have established the Biblical pattern. We now need to address the reason why a physical evidence is important.
(1) Visible Evidence. We as people are oriented to what we can see. Now, I know that the Kingdom of God is invisible but we still like to latch on to what we can see. Speaking in tongues gives us a visible sign that something has occurred. God could have given us an inner “feeling” or any other sign but, in His wisdom he chose to give us speaking in other tongues. Most Pentecostal groups refer to “Speaking in other tongues” as the “Initial Physical Evidence”, meaning that it is the first visible evidence that a person has been baptized in the Holy Ghost. It is the first but surely not the last. If a person limits the Baptism in the Holy Ghost to a tongues-only experience they will surely end up shallow and be easily deceived. We need evidence to prove many things in life and God did no less when sending us the Holy Ghost.
(2) Viable Evidence. The word “viable” means real, practical, workable, the ability to grow and expand, to develop. Speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance is an evidence that is workable, whereas a rushing mighty wind and tongues of fire hovering over the heads of the seekers is not. It is a simple evidence that can be expressed in any setting at any time. It does not interfere (for the most part) with the normal functions of the Church but works within the framework of a spiritual gathering.
(3) Verifiable Evidence. This evidence can be verified. It can be heard and witnessed by others as well as the one that is speaking in tongues. It is not hidden so therefore it is open and subject to inspection. Yes, tongues can easily be counterfeited and quite often are, but in the long run it is still advantageous for the Church to see verifiable evidence that someone has pressed forward and received the infilling of the Holy Spirit. I know from having prayed many people through to the Holy Ghost that this evidence is quite important to those of us praying as well as those receiving. The early New Testament believers constantly looked for this verifiable evidence and when they found it they quickly testified of the evidence having been present. If we in the Pentecostal Church do not demand that the evidence of speaking in other Tongues remains then in just a few generations it will be completely lost.
(4) Victorious Evidence. This evidence is verbal and therefore often filled with joy. This evidence never brings defeat and sorrow but always fills the hearts of all within hearing with victory and joy.
You might say that speaking in other tongues is the M.O. (Modus Operandi – mode of operation) of the Holy Ghost. Speaking in other tongues is the outstanding method of operation, it is the outstanding Biblical pattern and we would be foolish to ignore this simple pattern.
The Dangers Associated with Tongues
I will be the first to tell you that there has been much abuse in the area of tongues. The problems with tongue-talking did not start in the 20th century but started back in the first century. The Apostle Paul had to address the issue of tongues and gifts in his letter to the Church at Corinth.
When mentioning the Church at Corinth let me say right here that I have had to explain to individuals on more than one occasion that there is a difference between the tongues associated with the Baptism in the Holy Ghost and the tongues as a Gift of the Spirit. The Baptism in the Holy Ghost evidenced by speaking in other tongues is for all believers but the Gift of Tongues as recorded in different passages of first Corinthians is a distinct gift that is given out as God sees fit for the edification of the Body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:8-11(KJV)
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Nine gifts are listed here and one of them is Divers Kinds of Tongues which works hand-in-hand with Interpretation of Tongues. The Apostle Paul laid out specific instructions on how these gifts are to operate decently and in order. The Gift of Tongues (Divers Kinds of Tongues) is used to arrest the attention of the Body of Christ while in a worship setting and then once that is accomplished the utterance is interpreted by someone with the Gift of Interpretation. The tongues that are associated with the general infilling of the Holy Ghost are similar in function but different in purpose from the Gift of Tongues.
Often an over emphasis on speaking in tongues results in an under emphasis of holiness. We see this quite frequently in the neo-Pentecostal churches of today where people speak in unknown languages but do not possess a holy walk with the Lord. Frequently these tongue-talkers wear skimpy and immodest clothing; frequent questionable places, use foul language, and engage in filthy habits. This, my Brother and Sister, ought not to be.
The Fallacy of Prayer Language
I have heard people say, “When you pray in tongues the devil cannot hear you.” The scriptures teach no such thing. A prayer does not have to be in unknown tongues for it to be a spiritual prayer. I have heard others say, “When you pray in the Spirit you will speak in tongues.” While I agree that praying in the Spirit may involve speaking in tongues it is not limited to speaking in tongues. A person can be just as spiritual in a known language and just as unspiritual in an unknown language. Walking in the Spirit is not just about tongue-talking. Walking in the Spirit is walking in the Will and the Word of God.
It has become quite popular today to refer to speaking in unknown tongues as a “Prayer Language”. The Word of God never refers to this evidence as a prayer language. Certainly, when you pray you may speak in other tongues, but to fail to do so does not make you any less spiritual than those that do.
Speaking in the “Tongues of men and angels” is the initial physical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Ghost but it is not the only evidence. There are many additional evidences, and any growing Christian will begin to immediately show others as they continue to walk in the Spirit.
Other evidences of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost in a believer’s life are an increased love the Word of God, a greater desire to be a witness, a heightened disgust with sin and compromise, an overwhelming hunger for holiness, and boldness to speak the Word of God. These evidences work closely with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.
It is important to note that Churches and individual believers that limit the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives to tongues only are sure to find their spiritual life suffering and their growth stunted. The Baptism in the Holy Ghost is so much more than just speaking in tongues. Tongues will come initially and believers that have been baptized in the Spirit will continue to pray in tongues throughout their walk with the Lord but they will grow in many other areas as well.
Errors Concerning the Baptism of the Holy Ghost
Quite frequently I run into people that completely reject the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. Their line of reasoning runs from the benign, “It was real but not for us today” to the hostile, “Speaking in tongues is of the Devil”. Very few people are neutral on this subject.
My Dad was raised Baptist and when my Mom got saved and began taking my brother and I to a small Assembly of God Church he boldly told her, “That is fine for you and the boys but you will never catch me dead in that Pentecostal Church”. I am happy to testify to you today that my Dad did give his heart to the Lord and was in the Pentecostal Church for thirty-two wonderful years, and yes, he was filled with the Holy Ghost.
Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that God has done away with the Baptism in the Holy Ghost or speaking in tongues. I asked a man once why he believed speaking in tongues had been done away with and he quoted this scripture:
1 Corinthians 13:8 (KJV)
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
This scripture does say that tongues shall cease but it also says that knowledge will cease. Fortunately for all of us we still have both. Most certainly there will come a day when much of what we do now in the Church will not be necessary but as of right now we are still waging a spiritual warfare and trying to fulfill the Great Commission, neither of which we will be able to do without the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Another common error is to teach that one is not saved until they have spoken in tongues. The Bible does closely tie conviction, repentance, regeneration, sanctification, water baptism, and the baptism in the Spirit closely together but it also makes it clear that a person is “Saved” once they repent of their sins (they make a decision to stops sinning). It is at this point that they are Born Again and become new creatures in Christ Jesus. The Holy Ghost will only fill a clean temple. B. H. Clendennen always said it this way, “The Holy Ghost landed on Jesus at the River Jordan after He was baptized in water by John the Baptist and today the Holy Ghost will only land on Jesus. When the Holy Ghost comes to fill us He looks to see if Jesus is there and if He sees Jesus He will land.”
1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
It was obvious that these disciples were believers that Paul had met in Ephesus. Though they were believers they were operating on a limited understanding of what God had provided for His Church. Paul would not leave them in that state but proceeded to share the good news with them of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. I have had people tell me before to tune it down and leave people alone that are living for God without the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. Why would I want to leave them out! Surely it would be better for them to have all that God has offered. I love this scripture for it says it so well:
24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
This is exactly what we need to do. Aquila and Priscilla expounded unto Apollos all of the things that he was missing out on. This only heightened and strengthened Apollos’ ministry.
Why Should I Seek to be Filled with the Spirit?
Here is just a short list of a few things for you to consider.
(1) We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. Make no mistake about it, God is not asking our opinion on this matter. God has made it clear that He expects us to “Be filled with the Spirit”. He commanded his disciples to “tarry in Jerusalem” until they were “endued with power from on high”. No options, no loop-holes, and no bargaining. Throughout His entire ministry, Jesus stressed that He would be leaving and that He would be sending the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, back to earth. This is one point that He did not want them to miss and Jesus stressed this great truth over and over – even more so as he neared his ascension.
(2) It is impossible to fulfill the Great Commission without the power of the Holy Ghost. There are two directives that Jesus gave to His disciples before he ascended into the Heaven. The first was to “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” and the second was, “Tarry ye… until ye are endued with power from on high”. The command to “Go” will never be accomplished without the command to “Tarry”. The first thing the disciples did was camp out in the Upper Room for ten days. They were not in the streets preaching. They were not in the streets praying for the sick. They were not writing books. They were not out witnessing to the lost. What were they doing? They were waiting for the promised Comforter. Just minutes before Jesus ascended into Heaven in Acts chapter one he said to His followers, “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).” Power to be what? Witnesses! The power to fulfill the great commission is behind the door to an Upper Room! If you try to bypass the Upper Room for your own ideas then you will be going without the promised power. There is no other alternative.
(3) Jesus saved you so He could fill you. The question must be asked, “Did the disciples belong to Jesus before they entered the Upper Room or after?” We need look nowhere else than to the Word of God. Read Jesus’ prayer in John 17 and you will see that Jesus tells the Father that “They are thine” and in the next verse He says, “And all mine are thine”. Such terminology makes it clear that those climbing the stairs to the Upper Room already belonged to God. Jesus sent them to that Upper Room so that His life could be lived through them by the Holy Ghost. The Baptism in the Holy Ghost is a definite experience but it is not the new birth. The imperative of every sinner is to repent and the imperative to every born again believer is to be “filled with the Spirit”. There is too much at stake for you to reject this wonderful baptism because you are uncomfortable with it or because you have witnessed someone misusing this gift for personal gain. No one’s experience is greater than the Word of God!
(4) Jesus was filled with the Spirit and we should do as He did. Make no mistake about it - Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost. Jesus performed no miracles and did no works until He first received this infilling. Peter preached these wonderful words in Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” It is very clear that what Jesus did in His earthly ministry He did by the power of the Holy Ghost. This same power has been made available to you and I. It is not a power to speak in tongues but it is the power to do the works of God on this earth.
(5) The Holy Ghost is the seal on our redemption. There are several scriptures that point out this great fact. Here are a few:
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
2 Corinthians 1:22
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Practical Advice for those Seeking the Baptism in the Holy Ghost
It is very important that you seek to be baptized in the Holy Ghost. You have probably noticed by now that there are several terms that refer to this mighty infilling, but all of them mean the same thing. Whether it is “Filled” or “Baptized” or “Poured Out” you and I must seek for this great Holy Ghost to come and make Christ alive in our life. Here are a few things to help you as you seek the Baptism in the Holy Ghost:
(1) Repent. Before you begin seeking for the Baptism in the Holy Ghost, “Ye must be Born Again”. The Baptism in the Holy Ghost is not for the unregenerated and it is not an initiation into the Body of Christ. Repentance of any hidden sin must be made before seeking to be filled with the Spirit - repent of anything you know is wrong - repent of filthy habits - repent of unforgiveness, bitterness, envy, and such like. Sin will prevent the Holy Ghost being poured into your life.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
6 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
From the time I was thirteen years old I had started seeking to be baptized in the Holy Ghost and it took me two years of seeking to receive this great infilling. Why? It was not God’s fault but mine because during those two years I was listening to Rock & Roll music. One Friday night sitting on an outside bench at the Polk County Campmeeting the Lord spoke to me and said, “If you will give up that rock & roll music I will fill you with the Holy Ghost”. I went home that night and broke the few records I had in my room and the next morning at prayer meeting the Lord filled me with the Holy Ghost. Repentance cleansed the temple and the Holy Ghost moved in.
(2) Ask. The Bible tells us to ask. We must ask Jesus – He is the Baptizer. We must ask out loud and we must be bold. Do not ask those praying for you to baptize you, don’t ask the preacher. Seek the Lord Jesus! He is the Baptizer. John the Baptist said of Christ, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).
9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11 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?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 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?
This is not just a simple asking as most picture in their minds. It is an asking that requires that something inside of you dies. B. H. Clendennen used to illustrate this principle by citing Psalms 2:7-8, “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” This is a prophecy concerning Jesus’ coming to this earth in the form of a man. The Father said to him, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance”. Jesus knew that if he were to ask for the heathen then He would have to die. If we ask to be filled with this precious Holy Ghost, we must know that something within us must die.
(3) Worship. After you ask Jesus to fill you with the Holy Ghost you need to begin to worship Him. Worship Jesus out loud – Don’t whisper, don’t mumble. Praise Jesus with all your might – worship Him fervently. Look up. Lift up your hands. Do not curl up in a ball – you are never going to receive the Holy Ghost that way. I have seen so many come to the altar to seek for the Holy Ghost and they curl up in a little ball and bury their head underneath their arms. Lift up your head and lift up your hands. Ask Him to fill you and then praise the Lord.
(4) Yield. You must give over control to the Lord. Why did God choose speaking in tongues as the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost? Because the tongue is the hardest part of the human body to yield to God, and if the tongue is yielded then it should be no problem for the rest of the man/woman to be yielded.
Women tend to receive the Holy Ghost easier than men (because to some extent they are accustomed to submission – but this is changing in our modern world). Pride will hinder many people from yielding. They are worried what others may think of them. One Evangelist was praying for a man to receive the Holy Ghost and the man was very proper and had nice head of hair with not one hair out of place. Once the Evangelist messed up the man’s hair he was filled with the Holy Ghost.
(5) Tarry. The Bible tells us that the original recipients of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost had to tarry for ten days in the Upper Room.
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
I am not saying you will have to wait for ten days but you must be willing to tarry in the altars. If you pray for a while your arms and legs may begin to cramp up on you. Get up if you need to. Sit on the altar if you need to. Walk around if you need to. But, keep on seeking to be filled with the Holy Ghost.
A family member of mine was dealt with by God in a dream and he gave his heart to the Lord. He began attending the Church where my Father-In-Law was the Pastor. Not long after his conversion he began to seek for the Holy Ghost but had yet to receive. My Father-In-Law, Pastor Elbert Kinard, asked me to hold their Sunday services because they were going to be out of town. Sunday night I preached on the Baptism in the Holy Ghost and said in my message that you need to make up your mind that you are going to receive before you come to the altar. I said, “Go get you a drink of water, go to the restroom, get all of that out of the way and then come to altar ready to tarry until you are endued with Power from on High.” I just knew that God was going to fill this loved-one with the Holy Ghost that night. When I gave the altar call everyone came to the altar except for him – he went out the back door. I was troubled but I had others to pray for so I went on praying in the altars. About ten minutes later he came back in the Church and went straight to the front where the others that were praying. I walked over and laid my hands on his forehead and immediately he began to speak in tongues. Oh, how glorious it is to see God work in peoples lives. I was curious about his departure and after Church I asked him where he had gone. He told me that he had went to the parsonage to do what I had suggested in my message and drank a glass of water, went to the restroom, and got all of that out of the way. His act of faith and obedience produced wonderful results. God had gloriously filled him with the Holy Ghost and he did not have to tarry.
(6) Utterance. In Acts 2:4 it says, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them the utterance.” The Word “Utterance” used here means that the Holy Ghost will give you the “Words to speak”. This means that the Holy Ghost will put the words in your heart and mind. Now, you must speak them out. We do not believe in “baiting” people with certain words or phrases to help them receive the Holy Ghost. Here are a few of the most ridiculous phrases that have been reported to me over the years.
3. I-Should-A-Bought-A-Honda. An evangelist related that a friend of his had visited a Church and was handed a piece of paper as he entered in the door with these words written on it: “I SHOULD A BOUGHT A HONDA”. Later in the service they were all instructed to pull the paper out and begin reciting out loud that phrase and God would fill them with the Holy Ghost. What a tragedy! No one is going to receive the Holy Ghost by reading tongue twisters, riddles, and rhymes. Only the Holy Ghost can give you the words to say.
4. C-O-K-E. A dear minister friend of mine that is great preacher of truth today shared with me that when he had found the Lord it was in a Word of Faith Hagin-Copeland Cowboy Church (what a mess!) and not long after there was a revival in the Church and the evangelist told them all to say C-O-K-E over and over until God filled them. Folks, this is absolute apostasy! My friend told me that he knew very little about God at that time but he knew that was not right. Thank God a short time afterward the Holy Ghost led him to a Church that preached the true Word of God.
The Holy Ghost will give you the “utterance”, He will give you the words, but you must speak them. He will not force your mouth open and your tongue to move. You must do so.
(7) Speak. You must speak out loud. No one has ever received the Holy Ghost quietly. You must speak as loud as you can. Raise your voice in worship. You do not mumble when you speak to your friends and family – so speak up! When the Holy Ghost gives you the utterance stop speaking in English and speak the words that He has given you. If you speak the words the River will flow!
I have heard Bro. Clendennen tell this story many times of his infilling with the Holy Ghost. He said that he sought to be baptized in the Holy Ghost for the first year and a half after he was regenerated. The Church he attended was conducting a “Brush Arbor” meeting outdoors that started on Easter and went all the way until the next fall (frost). Bro. Clendennen said that he just could not understand why he could not receive and asked the Lord why. The Lord spoke to him and said, “I have tried to fill you but you won’t let me”. He told the Lord then, “I will let you! Fill me tonight”. He went that night determined to be filled. He and Sister Clendennen went to the altar and he looked down and she was speaking in tongues, next he jumped straight up in the air and his hand went through the chicken wire on top of the arbor and he could not pull it back down, but the he realized he was speaking in tongues. God had filled him with the Holy Ghost! Why? Because he opened his mouth and began to speak the utterance and the river flowed.
(8) Persistence. Persistence will pay off. If you do not get filled with the Holy Ghost the first time you seek for the Baptism, don’t stop - keep on going back to the altar. The casual seeker will never be filled with the Holy Ghost. You must seek with all your heart. You must not allow anything to dissuade or discourage you. It is God’s will for you to be filled with the Holy Ghost.