Evidences of Holy Spirit Baptism
In the book of Acts, the most common sign of Holy Spirit baptism was the expression of unknown tongues. "They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance"
(Acts 2:4; also see Mark 16:17; Acts 10:44-48, 19:6). Why was the sign of tongues
the most common evidence of Holy Spirit baptism? Well, probably because a person's tongue is the most unruly member of the body (see James 3:2-10), so when the tongue is brought under the inspiration and influence of the Holy Spirit, there can be no doubt that the whole person has been immersed in the Holy Spirit.
Some churches teach that speaking in tongues is the sole
evidence of being filled with the Spirit, but this is not altogether true. The biblical examples indicate that in addition to tongues, evidences of being filled with the Spirit include prophecy
(Luke 1:41, Acts 19:6), boldness
(Acts 4:31), miraculous healings
(Acts 5:15-16), spiritual songs
(Ephesians 5:19), wisdom
(Acts 6:3), faith
(Acts 6:8), and joy
(Acts 13:52). Tongues were the common
sign, but it was not recorded in every instance (see Acts 8:15-17 and
9:17-19). Also, some believers received the Holy Spirit infilling after water baptism
(see Acts 10:5-6); others received it before
water baptism (see Acts 10:44-48). Man often likes to put God in a box and predict the move of God's Spirit with restrictive formulas, but the Holy Spirit works best with repentant, humble hearts that are yielded to Him and are willing to go with the flow. Like a heavenly wind, the Spirit comes and goes in perfect agreement with the will of the Father (see John 3:8).
Paul taught that the sign of tongues was meant for prayer and personal edification, for building up the Body of Christ, and as a sign to unbelievers (see I Corinthians 12:4-11, 14:4-5,22). Paul said, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all"
and "Wherefore, brethren, covet [desire] to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues"
14:18,39). Although tongues are beneficial, speaking in tongues should not be the focus
of Holy Spirit baptism but rather fully yielding oneself in worship to Jesus. A language of the Spirit will often come spontaneously when the heart is so full of the Spirit that common words are insufficient for expression. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered"
(Romans 8:26). The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah experienced this kind of fullness, like a fire within: "But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay"
(Jeremiah 20:9). What did Jeremiah do? He prophesied with boldness to the people of Judah as the Spirit gave him the words to say.
The apostle Paul said that every member in the Body of Christ is necessary, and not all will speak in tongues. "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
(I Corinthians 12:30). There are, in fact, nine
gifts or manifestations of the Spirit and "diverse tongues" is just one of them. "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is
given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will"
(I Corinthians 12:7-11). Each of these nine gifts is a different manifestation of the same Spirit.
Every believer has at least one spiritual gift, distributed by God as it pleases Him (I Corinthians 12:11). The gifts are given to edify the Body of Christ in love. "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love"
(Ephesians 4:16). A believer must exercise faith
in using his or her gift, because the gifts are initially undeveloped and must be exercised to grow and become fully mature over time. The goal, however, is not for us to be self-focused on our spiritual gifts, but to honor Jesus Christ and walk in His footsteps of humility and servanthood.
The oil of the Holy Spirit consecrates us and lights our spiritual lamps, while the fire of the Holy Spirit purges sin (a process called sanctification
) and ignites a flame of passion (love for Jesus) in our hearts. As believers in Christ, we are responsible for keeping our vessels pure and the oil full like the five wise virgins in Jesus' parable (see Matthew 25:4) so that the light of Christ may shine brightly within us (see Matthew 5:14-16).
Those of you who have been filled with the Holy Spirit in the past but have let the oil run out of your spiritual lamps, we encourage you to go to the Lord and ask for a fresh infilling of the Spirit. The Bible says, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip"
(Hebrews 2:1). The Greek wording of this verse could be translated "lest at any time we should run out as leaking vessels."
You, dearly beloved ones in Christ, are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Your spiritual light is completely dependent upon the oil and flame of the Spirit of God. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us"
(II Corinthians 4:6-7).