Is Holy Spirit Baptism for Today?
So, how do we know that the baptism in the Holy Spirit
is for believers today? First of all, the Bible declares that the gift of the Holy Ghost (the promise of the Father) is given "unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call"
(Acts 2:39). This means that both Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles) may receive the Father's gift: "And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them [Gentiles] the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us [Jews]; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith"
(Acts 15:8). As evidenced by these verses, the gift of the Holy Spirit is clearly available to anyone who is called
and to anyone who believes
; no other conditions apply. "For there is no respect of persons with God"
(Romans 2:11; also see Galatians 2:6 and Ephesians 6:9).
A second reason why the baptism in the Holy Spirit is for today is because Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father"
(John 14:12). Jesus even mentioned what signs would follow those who believe: "And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
(Mark 16:17-18). Notice that these signs and miracles were not exclusively for the apostles; these signs would follow "those who believe."
Please note: Jesus was not
suggesting that His disciples tempt God by purposely handling venomous snakes, seeking demons, or drinking deadly poison. Instead,
Jesus was telling those who believed in Him that if they happened to find themselves in such life-and-death situations, His power would be available to them. A case in point occurred when the apostle Paul was bitten by a viper while collecting firewood but suffered no harm from it (see Acts 28:1-10).
Thirdly, God's Word gives no indication that believers today are excluded from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; rather, the Word teaches that divine callings require
supernatural power! Followers of Jesus in the last days need the same empowerment that the early church received, for without a doubt, "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution"
(II Timothy 3:12; also see John 15:18-19).
The power (dunamis in Greek) of the Holy Spirit actually enables Christians to stand firm in the face of persecution and do the works Jesus did.
Sadly, many Christians quench the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19) by teaching that manifesting spiritual gifts, receiving miraculous healings, laying hands on the sick, casting out demons
, and speaking in tongues "died out" in the first century. However, the Bible never implies any such thing! Has the Great Commission ceased? No, it has not. Has persecution on Christians ended? Not at all! Just as in the early church, believers today "must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God"
God's Power in Modern Times
There are, in fact, Christians around the world right now who are experiencing amazing signs and miraculous provision by the Holy Spirit, especially in places where persecution is intense (read, for example, The Heavenly Man
by Brother Yun
China). These brothers and sisters in Christ have forsaken all to follow Jesus and often risk their lives for the sake of the Gospel. They do not seek signs and wonders
but the signs and wonders follow them
. Yet most Christians, it seems, are not seeing true signs and miracles or experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives because they are not willing to forsake all, walk by faith, or depart from sin.
Such people have embraced a cheap and persecution-free gospel (which is not the message Jesus preached
) and usually live defeated and discouraged lives; "ever learning, and never able to come to the
knowledge of the truth"
(II Timothy 3:7).
Paul warned that in the last days, people would be "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away"
(II Timothy 3:4-5). Tragically, this rings true today. Many people have a form of godliness but deny or quench the power of godliness
. What is the power of godliness? It is the Holy Spirit flowing through a pure, obedient vessel. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us"
(II Corinthians 4:7). The Holy Spirit will work mightily through those who forsake fleshly and worldly ways, seek God with their whole heart, and walk in sanctification (allowing the Lord to purge all sin).
It is understandable why there is such great opposition to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. After all, false tongues
, counterfeit signs, and misuse of prophecy run rampant in many churches. However, abuses of a biblical doctrine do not invalidate the doctrine. Quite the contrary, abuses and counterfeits help to establish the importance of the genuine
baptism in the Holy Spirit! Are there false tongues and false signs
? Absolutely. The devil always counterfeits the things of God. But if there are "false" signs, by definition there must also be "true" signs and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. To find the biblical balance, we are to "prove all things; hold fast that which is good"
(I Thessalonians 5:21) and search the Scriptures like the Bereans did (see Acts 17:11).
Those who oppose the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues sometimes quote I Corinthians 13:8-10 which says, "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. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
Does this passage prove that speaking in tongues is not for today? Well, Paul refers here to prophecy, tongues, and knowledge as temporary signs
, saying "when that which is perfect is come" then those
temporary things will be done away. So we ask, what is "that which is perfect"? We don't have to guess, because Paul tells us in verse 12: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
According to Paul, that which is perfect
will happen when we see and know Jesus face to face! Until then, Paul said, we need prophecy, tongues, and knowledge to help us comprehend the supernatural things of God. What's more, prophecy and tongues couldn't have died out yet because knowledge (Greek: gnosis
) is still very much in existence. The three go together! In fact, these last days have ushered in an increase
of knowledge (see Daniel 12:4).
Paul understood the importance of the power of God
for a believer when he said, "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God"
(I Corinthians 2:4-5). God's Word gives no indication that the infilling of the Holy Spirit was exclusive to the early church; rather, Jesus Himself said that His baptism was for anyone who believes.
Those who desire to be bold and effective witnesses for Jesus and grow up into the fullness of their spiritual gifts and callings will not find what they need in clever preaching or in man-centered teachings ("enticing words of man's wisdom"). "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty ... that no flesh should glory in his presence"
(I Corinthians 1:27-29). God's power flows only through yielded vessels and humble servants