“Somebody needs to get baptized in the Holy Spirit tonight…”
Jessie and I lead a youth group in Oconomowoc, on the outskirts of Milwaukee. I’ve been teaching a series on the harder things that Jesus said, such as “You will be hated by all on account of me” and “If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Sayings we hear and sometimes gloss over because they’re really hard to surrender to.
This past Wednesday night, I planned on teaching on Mary and Martha and how Jesus said of Mary, “One thing is required, and Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” In essence, Jesus was saying that knowing Him and learning from Him were more important than all our busywork for him. Sounds good, but this is really hard to do in actuality. So I was planning on teaching on this passage, and I was really excited about it.
We don’t have a worship band right now, so we’ve been streaming worship over the internet from Bethel Church in Redding, California. It was a little awkward at first, but now we’re all used to it.
During worship Wednesday night, out of nowhere, God spoke to me very clearly in my heart, “Somebody needs to get baptized in the Holy Spirit tonight.” “Cool,” I thought, “I’m down for that.” And then I got lost in the worship and completely forgot about it.
After worship, I was talking with some of the teenagers and getting ready to give my message on Mary and Martha when Dave, one of our adult leaders and a guy I’ve been discipling over the past year, came up to me and said, “Hey, God told me during worship that someone needs to be baptized in the Holy Spirit tonight.”
“What?! That’s so crazy awesome!” I exclaimed. “God told me the exact same thing but I forgot it. Cool, well, I’ll change plans tonight and teach on baptism in the Holy Spirit instead.”
Then as I was thinking things through in my head, Zorena, a student who got dramatically saved, healed, and filled with the Holy Spirit a few months ago and started seeing her whole life change, came up to me, “Hey, could you read this?” She handed me a piece of paper with her testimony of recently getting saved and then baptized in the Holy Spirit.
I read it, it was really awesome (I knew the story already, but it’s so cool to see her processing what God’s done in her life), and so I asked Zorena if she’d share her testimony tonight. She of course said yes.
So Zorena shared her testimony, I taught on baptism in the Holy Spirit, and then I asked if anyone wanted us to pray with them to receive it. One girl, Laura, raised her hand right away. We all gathered around her, prayed, and God started filling her with Himself. She got crazy hot, she started speaking in tongues, and she said she felt God’s presence closer than ever before.
Then Alex, a girl who got saved just a few months ago in the youth group, quietly snuck over by me and my wife – “I want to get baptized in the Holy Spirit too, but can we do it downstairs? I’m a little nervous around so many people.”
So we went downstairs, prayed for Alex, and God filled her too.
Over the course of the night, two people got filled with the Holy Spirit and God healed someone of back pain they’d had all day and another person from pain in their ankle and legs they’d had for a couple days. God is good!
I don’t want to do a huge teaching on baptism in the Holy Spirit, but let me just say that I believe the Bible very clearly teaches that when you’re saved, you receive the Holy Spirit, but that there is a second infilling of Him where you are empowered for service. This second infilling is usually but not always accompanied by speaking in tongues.
In Acts 1:4-5, after Jesus rose from the dead, He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the “promise of the Father” which He had spoken of much (Luke 24:49, Luke 11:13, John 7:38, John 14:26 for example). He told them, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” This is after Jesus had breathed on them and they “received the Holy Spirit” in John 20:22.
Jesus’ last words before rising up to Heaven to sit next to the Father were on the same topic. Further explaining what was to happen, He told them in Acts 1:8, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
This is the point of baptism in the Holy Spirit – power to be witnesses. You receive an infilling of God’s Spirit to live in holiness, to move in supernatural power, to speak in tongues, to hear God’s voice clearer, to be filled with boldness, etc. Baptism in the Holy Spirit isn’t so you can feel tingly and warm all over – it’s to give you power to declare the Gospel! God may manifest Himself very dramatically, or you may feel nothing at all, but that’s not the point anyway. The point is yielding to Him so He can have access to more of you, allowing Him to empower you for His service. And who wouldn’t want that?
So Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and give them power, and in Acts 2, you can read all about that. The Holy Spirit falls on the disciples, flames of fire appear on their heads, they start speaking in tongues, people think they’re drunk, Peter preaches with boldness, and 3000 people are added to the church as a result.
From that point, you see people getting baptized in the Holy Spirit in Acts 4, Acts 9, Acts 10, Acts 19, and maybe other places I can’t think of right now. Paul refers to it a lot in his letters. It’s not something you can just dismiss as a Christian or just write off as “too expressive” or “too emotional” or “just not for me” or “passed away with the disciples.” You’re doing yourself a discredit and you’re not being honest with the Scriptures if you refuse to investigate it and seek it out.
Anyway, Wednesday night was fun, seeing God completely change my plans and do something way more cool.
For a good book on speaking in tongues, from a skeptic’s perspective, check out They Speak with Other Tongues by John Sherrill.
For an in-depth Biblical teaching on baptism in the Holy Spirit, check out this site.