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Dr. J. Rodman Williams

Theology Q&A

By Dr. J. Rodman Williams
Theologian

Dr. J. Rodman Williams answers theological questions, exclusively on CBN.com.

More from Dr. J. Rodman Williams


10. The Holy Spirit


Category Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 QA Index

 

 

 


What does the Bible say about the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Is it a bad thing? As I understand it, it is FULLY submitting your WHOLE self to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Our church is in conflict over this. We are not Pentecostal or charismatic. Can you please help?

Your definition of baptism in the Holy Spirit is well spoken. It is a matter basically of submission to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Certainly this is a good thing! A church does not have to be Pentecostal by denomination to lay emphasis on this special working of the Holy Spirit.

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How can I receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Jesus Himself provides the answer: "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13). Asking earnestly is the key. Jesus a few statements earlier declared: "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you" (verse 9). If God is your heavenly Father, but you have not received this heavenly gift, He has promised to give it to anyone who truly asks.

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I am from a Reformed denomination but have had the Holy Spirit manifest in me in ways that "only Pentecostals" have. I have questioned and wondered many times what is happening to me and hope that the Reformed faith and the charismatic world can be brought together.

One question I have is that if the Holy Spirit is given to us at the time of salvation and that is all we ever need, why do we have outpourings and "rain" of the Holy Spirit at specific events or occurrences? Is there a difference between the Holy Spirit's presence residing in us and His presence as we may sing "fall on us" or "rain on us"? From experience I would say that yes, we have the Holy Spirit living in us yet there definitely is a difference when the Holy Spirit falls on us? How is this to be explained biblically?

To explain this biblically is to note that there are two basic differences between the Holy Spirit's activity in the Christian life: the first, salvation brought about by the Spirit's indwelling; the second, the filling by the Spirit which may occur at any and every point along the Christian way. Praise God, you have obviously experienced both!

If you have my three-volumes-in one book Renewal Theology available, I suggested you concentrate on chapters in volume two on the Holy Spirit (examining the footnotes carefully as well as the text) for not only a fuller answer to your present questions but a more complete grounding in the work of the Holy Spirit.

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Is it proper to praise the Holy Spirit?

It is entirely proper to praise the Holy Spirit since He is also God. He is the one God in the third person of the Trinity. So do we sing praise to Him in the familiar Doxology "Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" (Ghost = Spirit).

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How did Jesus become God?

Jesus did not become God. He was God in human flesh. Read John 1:1-14 carefully, noting especially the opening statement that "the Word was God." The "Word" clearly refers to Christ. This same Word became flesh (verse 14) without ceasing to be the eternal Word. In the mystery of the Incarnation, Christ was both the eternal God and a human being.

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We see from Acts 2:38, 39 that the promise for the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all that are called of God, that is for every believer. The evidence of that Holy Spirit baptism was tongues in Acts 2, 10, 19. Mark 16:17 says that one of the signs is tongues, and Paul clearly said that he spoke in tongues more than all of the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 14:18). It seems clear to me that this is a serious Bible doctrine. Paul said that if anyone preaches another gospel than the gospel he preaches let him be accursed. What is your opinion?

I heartily agree with your statement above of biblical doctrine about baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. However, I deem it unfortunate that you seem to equate this biblical doctrine with the gospel of salvation that Paul preached and taught so vigorously. Otherwise, your statement about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues is well put.

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I was told that if a person did not have the Holy Spirit, he would not make it into heaven. Is that true? I know people who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior but have not asked for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. I have the Holy Spirit, but it haunts me to think that saved people can still go to hell.

It is true that if a person does not have the Holy Spirit, he will not make it to heaven. For every born-again believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him and is thereby saved. The infilling of the Holy Spirit is a different matter. Not all believers have received it-a reality not for salvation but that makes for a fuller Christian life and ministry.

So do not be anxious about saved people going to hell because they do not have the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

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My church believes that you have to speak in tongues to have the Holy Spirit. Is this correct?

Your church's faith as described is entirely backwards. It is the other way around: you have to have the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues.

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What should Pentecost mean to me?

Pentecost is both a historic and contemporary event. Historically, it first occurred on the Day of Pentecost with some 120 persons being baptized in the Holy Spirit. They were believers in Christ before being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Today, Pentecost occurs again and again with believers who are open to receive it. History, thereby, becomes a living reality!

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How do you know when you have received the Holy Spirit? Do you receive it the minute you are born again? Do you receive it when you are baptized with water? I have been born again, but when people ask have I received the Holy Spirit, I honestly don't know. I know that God loves me and is with me, but I have never spoken in tongues.

In salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within the Christian. In this sense, you have received the Holy Spirit the moment you were born again. Baptism in water is a sign of the cleansing that the Holy Spirit brings in salvation and new life. The reception of the Holy Spirit refers also to a further experience of the Holy Spirit's filling known as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues is a sign of this having occurred. The basic thing here is the Spirit's filling for which you may ask as a child of God.

For a full discussion of this, see my Renewal Theology, 2: chapter 11, "The Reception of the Holy Spirit."

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How do I get the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Hear the words of Jesus: "And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened….If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:9-10, 13). If God is your Father by virtue of your faith in Jesus, you may ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. By persistence in asking, seeking, and knocking, you may be sure that God delights to give the Spirit to the ardent seeker.

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How do I explain the difference in receiving the Holy Spirit at the time you are saved and the baptism of the Holy Spirit? I struggle with explaining this to people who insist that we receive the Holy Spirit at salvation.

At the time of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within. For example, the risen Christ breathed on the disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). At Pentecost, there came about a later experience of the disciples being baptized in the Holy Spirit, primarily for ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5-8 and 2:4). Two separate experiences: one for enlivening by the Holy Spirit for salvation; the other for empowering by the Holy Spirit. We need both!

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My husband and I have been on a quest with the Lord to see Him and know Him more. We have both received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. We both speak in tongues. What do you think it is? Is it a language that only God can understand? Our church is in much turmoil and part of it is over doctrinal differences. The pastor believes that all the gifts died with the apostles. Whom do we believe? We are reading our Bibles but still are not sure. Please help us. We want to be in God's will.

It is a joy to know that you both have received the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a language known only to God. As Paul says, "For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God" (1 Corinthians 14:2). On the matter of the gifts of the Spirit: there is no reason to believe, biblically or experientially, that they died with the apostles. If you want to be in God's will, continue to seek all the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14). You will be blessed!

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I have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and I want so badly to serve God in my Presbyterian church, but neither of my pastors is at all open to the whole idea. They have made it very clear that we will not have that kind of thing happening in our church. There is a group of 15-20 people who all have had the same experience and have stayed in the church. We are all frustrated and have no idea how to proceed. Do you have any suggestions? The church has about 500 members.

Show yourselves all the more loving and kind toward those who oppose you. So long as the pastors allow you to stay, reach out to them in a spirit of cooperation. Though you may as a group meet separately at times, do not isolate yourselves from the wider church family. By all means, do not give the impression of being a superior group from the rest of the church but demonstrate humility in all things. And may the joy of the Lord be your strength!

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Previously you answered a question regarding the baptism in the Holy Spirit and about how one doesn't necessarily have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to enter the kingdom of Heaven. How can you say we don't need it, when it's the most important necessity in our journey? In John 3:5 Jesus declared "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and of the Spirit." Peter also spoke about it in Acts 2.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not for the purpose of salvation; rather it refers to a special empowering of the Holy Spirit for those who have already been saved. Being born of the Spirit is background and condition for being baptized in the Spirit. You are right about the basic importance of being born of water and the Spirit whereby we enter the kingdom of God. The first disciples were baptized in the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) with power to bear witness to the gospel. They had already been born again several weeks earlier (John 20:22). So the distinction continues to this day.

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I would like to know if it is required for someone to be sanctified (a second work of grace) before receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

There is no biblical evidence for sanctification as a second work of grace before receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

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I am a "confused" Pentecostal. I have a desire to serve God, but I hear that to serve Him effectively I need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, or to receive a second blessing. When you read the likes of Packer, Carson, etc., they seem to have good arguments against this second blessing. Where does a committed Christian go to find out who's right and who's wrong?

I think you may find my three-volumes-in-one Renewal Theology helpful -- especially volume two, my chapters on the Holy Spirit. Also, see my home page on CBN.com for articles and papers of mine on the subject.

Blessings on your search!

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I've studied a lot about Charismatic theology as well as the Third Wave theology. What is your response to the Third Wave theology concerning the Baptism in the Holy Spirit? Do you agree with them or disagree and why?

I have concerns about Third Wave theology in that it fails to affirm a distinct Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The emphasis of Third Wave is almost totally on certain gifts of the Holy Spirit. By playing down the power dimension, I believe that there is a diminution in the effectiveness of the gifts. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is more than conversion; it is an empowering for ministry.

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Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit automatic? Somebody used the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River to affirm this, but I disagreed. What do you have to say?

There is nothing automatic about being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself was the forerunner by being baptized in the Holy Spirit at the Jordan River. Years later, after His resurrection, He told the disciples, "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" and "you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses." (Acts 1: 5, 8). Again, there was nothing automatic about this happening. The disciples waited and prayed expectantly for ten days, and as a climax to their waiting and prayers the Holy Spirit came in power upon them. So it remains to this day. God gives the Holy Spirit in power to expectant believers to enable them better to share in the mission of Christ.

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Who is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is God. All the attributes of full deity are possessed by Him. He is also within the mystery of the Godhead a distinct person from the Father and the Son. As one of our hymns puts it: "God in three persons, blessed Trinity."

For further information, see Renewal Theology, 2: chapter 6, "The Holy Spirit."

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If as a born-again Christian you already received the Holy Spirit, why is it that some Christians pray and ask for God to fill them with His Spirit if they already have it?

Filling with the Holy Spirit is both a point in time action as well as a continuing experience. It can be repeated. Paul writes, "Be filled [the Greek word means 'continuously filled'] with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). Actually, there are never times that we do not need to be refilled. Therefore, you may well pray, "God, fill me again and again."

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Could you please explain John 20:22 where Jesus breathed on the disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. If they received the Holy Spirit at that point, why were they told in Acts 1:4 to tarry in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was outpoured?

When Jesus breathed on the disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit, He thereby imparted new life and salvation. This occasion marked the beginning of new life from the risen Lord whereby the Holy Spirit came to dwell within them: their regeneration. The command in Acts 1:4-5 refers to a later occasion when the Holy Spirit was promised to give power to the disciples for witness about Christ. The initial reception of the Holy Spirit recorded in John 20:22 was for new life. The later reception was to be a fullness of the same Holy Spirit, also designated as the "baptism with the Holy Spirit": a veritable outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the waiting disciples. (See Renewal Theology 2: page 174 for more details).

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I have been dealing with this question for several years. I was taught that "speaking in tongues" is the sign that you were filled with the Holy Spirit. And if you didn't speak in tongues you weren't filled with the Holy Spirit and will not be able to enter into the kingdom or heaven. Please explain.

Speaking in tongues is the initial sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit--based on Acts 2:1-4, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:1-6, and also countless numbers of believers' testimonies since then. However, this filling with the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. The Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues happens against the background of the experience of salvation.

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I understand that speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is also evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Can you be filled with the Holy Spirit without the evidence of speaking in tongues?

Based on Acts 2:1-4, on the occasion of Pentecost, the believers assembled were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. It would be proper to say that the Pentecostal experience normally includes being filled with the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues is tangible evidence of being filled with the Spirit.

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  What is meant by the phrase "Grieving the Holy Spirit"?

I have heard the expression "Grieving the Holy Spirit" most of my Christian life and wonder if you could give me more detail.

The expression relates to Paul's words in Ephesians 4:30-"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Since the Holy Spirit is a holy person who dwells within the believer, He will be grieved by any sinful actions. Read also verses 29 and 31 for Paul's description of some of the words and deeds that may bring pain to God's Holy Spirit. (See Renewal Theology, 2: page 152.)

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  When a person has been saved, is that person "Spirit-baptized," or "filled with the Holy Spirit," at the some moment? Is "speaking in other tongues" evidence?

Spirit-baptism, or Spirit-filling, may or may not occur at the time of salvation. The first disciples in Jerusalem had been saved (see John 20:22) for some time before they were Spirit-baptized, or filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8 and 2:4). Years later, in Caesarea, the Holy Spirit was "poured out" (equals "baptized") on Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:45) in conjunction with their coming to salvation. In both cases, in Jerusalem and Caesarea, speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4 and Acts 10:46) immediately followed. Tongues were specifically said to be evidence in Acts 10:45-46. Since then many people have spoken in tongues as confirmation of a profoundly spiritual experience. (See Renewal Theology, 2 :chapter 8, "The Coming of the Holy Spirit," and chapter 9, "The Phenomenon of Tongues.")

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  Is receiving the Holy Spirit necessary to go to heaven? What sign must I look for to know I have received?

Receiving the Holy Spirit is a frequently occurring theme in the Book of Acts. See Acts 2:38; 8:15, 17-19; 10:47; 19:2. This expression refers basically to receiving power for witness (Acts 1:8-Jesus' words). Receiving the Holy Spirit is not for salvation ("to go to heaven") but for those who are saved a special endowment of power to bear witness to Christ. Speaking in tongues is often a sign that the endowment has been received. See Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6. In our present day, great numbers of believers testify that their speaking in tongues is clear evidence of their having received the Holy Spirit. (See Renewal Theology, 2: chapter 11, "The Reception of the Holy Spirit.")

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  When does a person receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit who is everywhere present indwells those who believe in Christ. Jesus said to His disciples about the Spirit of truth (the Holy Spirit) that "He abides with you, and will be in you" (John 14:17). Later in the Upper Room, He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). They had come to faith in the risen Christ so that now His Spirit dwelt within them. Later they were to be "filled with the Holy Spirit" on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit occurred at the moment of a living faith in Christ. So with us.

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  What exactly must be done to be filled?

I have been saved for about 8 months. I believe in tongues and all other spiritual gifts. I have been told that speaking in tongues is a sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit. I have not had the experience of tongues. What exactly must be done to be filled?

To be filled with the Holy Spirit requires a total yielding to God. The disciples at Pentecost who were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues (Acts 2:4) had been in prayer for ten days as they more and more yielded themselves to the Lord. The length in time, however, is not important but only the surrender of everything including the tongue. Sometimes the laying on of hands, as Paul did to some Ephesian disciples in Acts 19:6, helps in receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. (For more on yielding, see Renewal Theology, 2: pages 302-305.)

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  Are there any scriptures on this subject and what are your thoughts?

I have been hearing a lot about "being slain in the Spirit." I have heard both sides, pros and cons, of its validity. Are there any scriptures on this subject and what are your thoughts?

I prefer the language of "falling in the Spirit." The biblical illustration that stands out is Revelation 1:10 where John says he was "in the Spirit on the Lord's day" and after recounting a vision of Jesus says, "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man" (verse 17). Falling in the Spirit may genuinely happen when one senses the glory of the Lord.

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  Does baptism in the spirit mean the same thing as filling with the Holy Spirit?

In a recent response to an email you said that the Holy Spirit indwells each believer and that this is different from the baptism in the Holy Spirit. How is it that baptism (immersion) in the spirit means the same thing as filling with the Holy Spirit? If they are the same, why are there such disagreeing English words?

Baptism in the Holy Spirit and filling with the Holy Spirit are expressions that refer to the same event. Jesus told His disciples, "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1:5). Then several days later "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4). These are not "disagreeing words" but refer to two aspects of the same experience. From one perspective, it is a total immersion as in water; from another perspective it is an infilling or total permeation with the Holy Spirit. Other terms used in Acts are "the Spirit's coming upon," "falling upon," and "outpouring on." (For a discussion of all these terms see Renewal Theology, 2: pages 190-203.)

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  Does everyone have to speak in tongues?

On the three occasions when in the book of Acts people were said to speak in tongues-Acts 2:4; 10:46; and 19:6-all of them did so. They so spoke as a result of the Holy Spirit's action upon them, but there is no suggestion of necessity. Rather, tongues are the free expression of praise to God. Such a deed is not required but highly blessed. Accordingly, Paul says, "I wish that you all spoke in tongues" (1 Corinthians 14:5). It is not a matter of must but may.

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  I want to learn to speak in tongues. Please help me.

Speaking in tongues is not a matter of learning. What would you study? Tongues in the New Testament are spoken without any prior knowledge. Look up Mark 16:17, the words of Jesus: "They will speak with new tongues." On the Day of Pentecost, the first speaking of new tongues occurred thus: "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues" (Acts 2:4). They were able to speak with tongues because they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Tongues were a kind of overflowing praise to God (Acts 2:11). So pray earnestly for the Spirit's filling and open your mouth. Do not speak English and new tongues will gladly be given you. You may receive a full language or only a few syllables or words that will increase day by day as you continue to pray. (See Renewal Theology, 2: chapter 9, "The Phenomenon of Tongues.")

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  Can you lose the baptism in the Holy Spirit? I got it a while back, but now it seems like the power I once had has left me. Does the Holy Spirit ever leave you?

To answer the second question first: In at least one case, that of King Saul, the Scripture says that "the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul" (1 Samuel 16:14). The baptism in the Holy Spirit refers to a Christian experience of being "filled with the Holy Spirit" (e. g., Acts 2:4; Ephesians 5:18). It is possible to "quench the Spirit" (see 1 Thessalonians 5:19). Thus it is important to be filled and to keep on being filled- which is the fuller meaning of Paul's words in Ephesians 5:18. Be much at prayer, seek the Lord's presence, and ask for the continuous renewing of the Holy Spirit. He will surely grant it!

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  Are you saying you can go to heaven without receiving the Holy Spirit? In regard to the question, "Is receiving the Holy Spirit necessary for going to heaven?" you answered No. Are you saying you can go to heaven without receiving the Holy Spirit?

One needs to be "born of the Spirit" to go to heaven, but "receiving the Holy Spirit" is for another purpose, namely, the believer's power for witness and Christian living. For more detail, see my Renewal Theology, 2: chapter 11, "The Reception of the Holy Spirit."

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   I'm having trouble with the yielding part. I just don't know how!

I have some questions regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Is it possible for this experience to occur when alone in prayer or does it always happen in church or in the presence of a pastor, etc.? Is there any advice that you could give on how to actually yield to the Spirit? How does one set aside his mind and his own understanding and just yield? I'm having trouble with the yielding part. I just don't know how!

The experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit may occur in almost any setting, alone or with others present. Ordinarily, the church is involved in Spirit baptism because this baptism is basically to strengthen one's life of praise and ministry in the church.

Yielding is the heart of receiving the gift of God's Holy Spirit. For it is only when a person lays himself totally at the disposal of God and holds back nothing that the Spirit moves in to take full possession. There are no shortcuts, no simplistic formulas, no outward manifestations that can bring this about. The Spirit is given only to those who let everything go, who are empty before t he Lord, who thereby may be filled with His fullness. This yielding may mean the willingness to give up earthly reputation, security, and ambition so that God may be glorified. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender.

(For a fuller understanding of yielding, see my Renewal Theology, 2: pages 302-05.)

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  Is one who is baptized in the Spirit, spiritually superior to one who is not?

Doesn't the doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues suggest that one is superior spiritually to one who has not experienced this blessing? What is the proper way to minister to those who have never experienced this and feel offended because they feel "less spiritual" than those who have experienced the baptism? Doesn't the emphasis on this doctrine suggest division in the body of Christ because some do not experience this?

A proper understanding of baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues does not point to some superior spirituality of the believer. All believers by virtue of their salvation are already spiritual persons with the Holy Spirit indwelling them. As such, they may grow in spirituality through the process of sanctification. Baptism in the Holy Spirit refers not to salvation or sanctification but to a special act of empowerment by the Holy Spirit.
Recall Jesus' words to His waiting disciples that "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1:5) and also "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). These disciples were all believers, and the Holy Spirit was at work, but they needed this extra baptism of power. This was not that they be more spiritual but better equipped to be witnesses for the Lord.
Speaking in tongues as a sign of special empowerment was not the heart of the experience. However, it did demonstrate the powerful impact of the Holy Spirit in breaking forth in a new language. So it continues to this day.
There should be no division in the church of those who have and those who have not. That belongs to the arena of salvation. But to those who have, they may have more. That is where baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues comes in. Praise God for all His blessings!

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  Is it proper to speak of the personhood of the Holy Spirit?

The personhood of the Holy Spirit is clearly affirmed in the Fourth Gospel where Jesus says, "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things" (John 14:26), and thereafter adds that "the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness to Me" (15:26). Note that personal pronouns are used in regard to the Holy Spirit.

There are many other references in the New Testament that depict the Holy Spirit functioning as a person. A few may be mentioned: "The Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them'" (Acts 13:2); "the Spirit Himself intercedes for us" (Romans 8:26); "do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God" (Ephesians 4:30); and "the Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come'" (Revelation 22:17). There are many other similar references that portray the Holy Spirit as a person.

Hence it is important not to think of the Holy Spirit as merely an attribute of God, such as power. There are passages that might suggest the Spirit to be God's power in creation (e.g., Genesis 1:2), or in regeneration (e.g., John 3:5), or at Pentecost where the Holy Spirit is promised and the disciples receive power for their witness and ministry (Acts 1-2). The fact that they were "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4; cf. 4:31) might sound more like being filled with energy than with a person. However, in all these instances the important thing to recognize is not that the Spirit equals power, but that where the Spirit of God is there is power. Moreover, we are to understand that to be "filled with the Holy Spirit" is not simply to be filled with a substance or force but to be fully possessed by the Holy Spirit, the personal Spirit of God.

In the spiritual (or "charismatic") renewal of our time, one of the most outstanding testimonies is that of how real and personal the Holy Spirit has become to many individuals. Thus, deepening Christian experience marvelously confirms the biblical record.

(See Renewal Theology, 1: chapter 4, "The Holy Trinity.")

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  Can you be baptized in the Holy Spirit and not be filled with the Holy Spirit?

According to the Book of Acts, Jesus said to His disciples, "You shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (1:5). When the Day of Pentecost arrived, the text reads, "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (2:4). Evidently, baptism and filling refer to the same experience. The two terms express different aspects of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. However, the word filling is used for the initial experience but also for later occasions (Acts 4:8; 4:31; 13:9; Ephesians 5:18 -- "Keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit" literally). In other words: one baptism but many fillings.

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  Should every believer pray in tongues?

It is not a question of whether every believer should pray in tongues but that every believer may. On the Day of Pentecost, the one hundred and twenty believers gathered together "were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). Note the word all. The Apostle Paul later said to the Corinthians, "I want you all to speak in tongues" (1 Corinthians 14:5). It is a high privilege of Spirit-filled people so to speak. Is it a necessity? No. A privilege? Yes.

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  Is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit an essential of being born again?

The answer is no. However, the reverse is true: You must be born again to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (For a full discussion of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, see Renewal Theology, 2:190-194.)

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