The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. Like the Father and the Son, He has specific roles and functions. A few of His activities are to guide us into all truth (John 16:13), lead us (Rom. 8:14), teach us (John 14:26), comfort us (Acts 9:31), empower us (Luke 24:49), glorify and testify of Christ (John 15:26, 16:14), transform us into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18), and distribute spiritual gifts and manifest Himself through the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:8-11).
Prior to His death and resurrection, Jesus told His disciples, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us (1 Cor. 3:16) when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. In this new birth we receive a measure of the Holy Spirit, but the Bible tells about an experience subsequent to salvation called baptism, or filling, of the Holy Spirit.
Before Jesus was taken up to heaven, He told His followers they would be empowered as never before. “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5). “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1: 8).
Acts 2:2-4 tells us what happened to Jesus’s disciples when the Holy Spirit came. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Speaking in tongues was, and still is, the initial evidence of believers receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 8:14-19 it says, “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” This was not the gift of the Holy Spirit given at salvation, for they already received that when they believed. This was an additional infilling. We can assume they spoke in tongues and perhaps even worked miracles because Simon saw something. Only these things would make a sorcerer interested in purchasing Holy Spirit power.
Another example of baptism in the Holy Spirit after conversion is found in Acts chapter nine. This is where Saul, later called Paul, had a personal encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus. A few days after Saul’s experience, God instructed Ananias to go to him. After a short protest, “Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). Saul believed in Jesus when he met Him on the road to Damascus. He was considered a “Christian” by Ananias because he referred to him as “brother.” Although not directly stated here, we can assume that Saul spoke in other tongues when he was filled with the Spirit, as he later wrote in his letter to the church at Corinth, “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all” (1 Cor. 14:18).
Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” Aside from being a command of God, there are many benefits to being filled with the Holy Spirit. More on that next week…