“You shall receive power” (Acts 1:8).
By David Brandt Berg
Everyone who has ever received Jesus into their heart, everyone who is saved, has received a measure of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God. In fact, you can not be saved without the Holy Spirit, because salvation is a work of God-being “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Otherwise you’d be saved by works, and you can’t be saved by your own works.
But just because you’ve received salvation doesn’t mean that you’ve received the full anointing, in-filling, or “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. This is usually a subsequent experience to that of receiving Jesus. The Greek word baptizo means to be fully covered or completely immersed. Thus to be “baptized” in the Holy Spirit means to be completely filled to overflowing with the Spirit of God.
A glass of water makes a good illustration: A glass may not be a full glass of water, but if it has some water in it, at least it’s not completely empty. It is a glass of water, even though it’s not full to overflowing . Well, many Christians are like glasses with just a little bit of water-a little bit of God’s Spirit-in the bottom. They have received just enough of it to save them.
But being baptized with the Holy Spirit is as if water was poured in till the glass was filled up and running over. In other words, you’re so endued with power from On High that you’re full to overflowing.
Jesus Himself said, “He who believes in Me … out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing on Him would receive” (John 7:38-39).
My mother used to say, “Do you know what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is?-It’s a baptism of love!” –Love for the lost, love enough to witness, love enough to win others to the Lord, such love that you just love everybody! That baptism of power that Jesus said would flow like rivers of water from within you is a baptism of the power of His love. In fact, the Holy Spirit of God is love, because “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
So the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a baptism of the love of God! Of course, at the same time, it’s also a baptism of the power of God –the power that enables you to tell others about Jesus, to be a witness, to share His love with others. It is a baptism of so much love that you cannot contain it- you simply must overflow on others. When you feel you’ve just got to tell someone about Jesus, you feel you cannot hold it in, you just have to tell them-this is the overflowing, the baptism of God’s Spirit!
When I was young, before I was baptized with the Holy Spirit, I was so very, very shy and timid that I could hardly do anything! But when I was 19, I prayed very earnestly and asked God to fill me with His Holy Spirit. And immediately after this experience in which I received more of His Spirit, I was suddenly no longer worried about what other people thought; I had a boldness, a sort of a fearlessness, a greater God-given courage.
After I received the powerful complete baptism of the Holy Spirit, I became as bold as a lion. All that mattered to me was knowing I was right and doing the right things and saying the right things. As long as I knew I was in the will of God and doing what He wanted me to do, then the Spirit of God gave me this boldness.
I didn’t care about myself anymore. I was no longer self-conscious –I was Christ-conscious. I was really empowered by the Spirit! It’s just like what you read about in the Book of Acts in the Bible, when the disciples were filled with His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and they stood up and boldly preached to the people. Right after he was filled with the Spirit of God, Peter-the same Peter who had been so afraid when Jesus was under arrest that he denied Him three times-was suddenly a very courageous and bold man who preached fearlessly to the multitudes.
Before he was filled with the Spirit, almost everything Peter did was a mistake. But that showed that whatever got accomplished was not him, but Christ who lived first with him and then in him. “For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). So we all certainly need the baptism of God’s love and power to be what He wants us to be!
It’s not essential to be filled with the Spirit in order to be a Christian. You do not have to be filled with the Spirit in order to be saved, nor even to be a witness! But if you want to be a better Christian and a better witness and win more souls and have more power and accomplish more for the Lord, you need to be filled with the Spirit.
Right after His resurrection, the Lord told His apostles, “Tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). He further explained, “You shall receive power when the Holy Ghost has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This baptism of power will make you want to tell and show others that Jesus loves them.
This is the primary purpose of the power of the Holy Spirit: to help you to be a witness; to fill you with such power that you will blast off of your launch pad into all the world, to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). And you can only have that kind of love if you have the Spirit of God-a real baptism of His love, supernatural love to love people you don’t even like or don’t even know.
The famous evangelist and soul-winner Dwight L. Moody said, “Before I was filled with the Spirit, I won my hundreds …” That’s pretty good for someone who hasn’t received the baptism of the Spirit! He got out and witnessed so zealously with what little Spirit he had that he won hundreds to Christ even before he had the Baptism of the Holy Ghost! “But after I was filled with the Spirit,” he said, “I won my thousands!” So it makes quite a difference!
You don’t have to be baptized with the Holy Ghost to win souls. All you need is the Bible and the love of Jesus and the desire to preach the Gospel, and then you just need to go out and find receptive souls and give them the simple plan of salvation. But if you’ll add the power of the Holy Spirit to that, then you’ve got a witness that nothing and nobody can stop. –You’ve got a powerhouse!
And when you’re overflowing with the Holy Spirit, people will recognize it as something great. But you have to remember that it is not you, it’s something divine! It’s the anointing and Spirit of God! It comes from God because you’re yielded and you love Jesus. Others will recognize that they’re not just seeing you, they’re seeing the Lord in you-and this is what will inspire them to receive you and your message of His love!
So if you want to be a good witness, a real soul-winner, “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). You’ll explode with the love of God and want to tell everyone about Jesus!
When we receive this wonderful baptism, the Lord not only fills us with His love and power, but also gives us what the Bible calls “gifts of the Spirit.” The most common gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith through the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:4, 8-10). These are all gifts from a loving heavenly Father to His simple little children to help communicate understanding of Himself and His will.
So you not only need the in-filling of the Holy Spirit to give you the power and strength to witness to others, but also to help you in your own personal relationship with the Lord. For example, when you speak in a language you never learned, as empowered by the Spirit (Acts 2:4), the Spirit is speaking or praying through your own mouth, and there’s a real yielding to the Lord. You’ll then know the spiritual ecstasy of which physical love-making is merely an illustration, and it will help you have a much closer relationship with the Lord.
The Lord is more willing to give us His Spirit and His gifts than we are to receive. We just have to be willing, yielded vessels. And just like with salvation, we receive the Holy Spirit by faith-which means you do not always get immediate, supernatural, physical evidence right when you ask God to fill you with His Spirit. Some people get immediate evidence, and others don’t for years.
When some people receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit they receive the gift of tongues. That is a supernatural experience that they can feel-it’s a physical evidence, they know they’re inspired. “For he who speaks in an [unknown] tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him: however in the Spirit he speaks mysteries” (1 Corinthians 14:2). But not everybody receives the gift of tongues when they receive the baptism of the Spirit, and you don’t have to have this gift of tongues to prove that you were filled with the Spirit.
Some people who receive this baptism of power but didn’t get any immediate evidence or big supernatural physical experience are disappointed because the Lord’s Spirit didn’t manifest itself in some way right there and then. Well, when you open the door and invite a guest in, what do you expect and want Him to do? –Start giving you a song and dance right off the bat? Give God a chance! Maybe it’s not His time. Maybe He wants to wait till it will do somebody else some good too.
But don’t worry, the Holy Ghost will manifest Itself. It may be at that very moment, or it may not be until later. “For the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one to profit all” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Lots of people receive the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues –although I’m inclined to believe that sooner or later most people who have the Holy Spirit are apt to speak in tongues, because it’s a wonderful way of praying. It’s one of the most common gifts, although it’s actually the least useful as far as witnessing or helping or leading others is concerned. Speaking in tongues is mostly for your own benefit, to edify your own spirit. “He who speaks in an [unknown] tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the Church” (1 Corinthians 14:4).
I know I was baptized with the Holy Spirit when I was 19, and I was especially led of the Spirit from then on. I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence and I know I was Spirit-filled and Spirit-led, but I never spoke a word in tongues till many years later.
So with or without the gift of “tongues,” once you have received the divine anointing of His Spirit, the mantle of His power, if you stay obedient to the Lord and in tune with Him, you’ll always be on the right track and led by His Spirit, protected, supplied, blessed and prospered by the Lord. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14).
Under the Old Testament plan, only certain kings, prophets and leaders received the Holy Spirit, and the whole burden of leadership fell on them. But when the New Testament age dawned, on the day of Pentecost, God completely threw out the old system of making them so totally dependent on human leadership for their guidance, and He made every single individual Christian directly responsible to His own Holy Spirit.
The Lord said, “In the last days … I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). Now everyone is personally responsible. They can no longer blame everything on their leaders, because everyone can have just as much of the Holy Spirit as they want or can take, and everyone should be led individually of the Lord. The Lord did this to diversify and decentralize the Church, to prepare them for an age when it was going to have to survive a lot of persecution and its members would need to be individually led by Him.
So you certainly need to “be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). You cannot do the Master’s work without the Master’s power-and the power He has provided is His Holy Spirit. So “do not be drunk with wine … but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Get a good dose of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit!
You can have some wonderful experiences in the Spirit, and it’s a wonderful release. The Bible says that God’s Spirit-filled children “have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the Age to come” (Hebrews 6:4-5). It’s a little foretaste of Heaven-a foretaste of the afterlife.
The Holy Spirit is also spoken of as the “guarantee” of our salvation. “The Holy Spirit of promise, which is the guarantee of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13-14). Guarantee in this sense means a deposit or down-payment, a sample. The Holy Spirit is a sample here and now of what we’re going to receive in the afterlife, in Heaven!
Jesus, when encouraging His somewhat down-hearted disciples who were saddened by the news of His imminent departure from this life, told them, “I will not leave you comfortless.” He then explained that it was expedient for Him to depart so that He could send them His Spirit, whom He called “The Comforter” (John 14:16-18, 26). And if His precious Holy Spirit is anything, it certainly is a comforter. In some ways it is like a loving mother who is always so concerned for her children, always gently loving, wooing, comforting, winning, soothing and healing.
So “did you receive the Holy Ghost when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). Have you received the overflowing power of God’s Spirit in your own soul since you received Jesus and were saved? Do you have any of the beautiful gifts of the Spirit-God the Father’s wonderful gifts for you, His child, to enjoy and use as tools in your ministry? If not, you can have them right now! Just ask Him (Matthew 7:7-11). That’s all you have to do! You can’t earn it or deserve it or be worthy of it. It’s a gift, but you have to receive it.
Jesus Himself promised, “Ask and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:9-13).
When you ask God for the Holy Ghost, you’ll know you’ve received it because He’s promised it. How do you know you got saved? –Because the Bible says so and you believe it. “For faith comes by hearing … the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). You know you’re saved because God’s Word says so, not because you feel different or had some big experience.
So how will you know you’ve received the Holy Ghost? It’s the same as with Salvation –because the Bible says, “Ask and you will receive.” If you believe it and you ask Him for it, you’ve received it and you have it! It’s just that simple! I don’t care how the Spirit manifests itself; you have it if you ask God for it and believe it!
Do you believe it? Then ask God for His Holy Spirit right now, if you haven’t already! Why wait? He’s more willing to give than we are to receive! So receive God’s precious Holy Spirit today so you can powerfully witness the love and truth of Jesus and His salvation to all your family, friends and neighbors. God bless and keep you in the Spirit! Receive power now!