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"We didn't even know there was such a person as the Holy Spirit!" That's what the new Christians in Ephesus replied when the apostles asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit.

A lot of people in the body of Christ today could almost make a similar confession.

I'm convinced the Holy Spirit is the least understood member of the Trinity. Many people in the body of Christ know little or nothing about Him.

This lack of information concerning the Holy Spirit's ministry doesn't keep Christians from having strong opinions about Him. He is often the source of great controversy among believers.

Some people believe you get all of the Holy Spirit one can get the moment you're born again. Others contend there is a second event called the baptism of the Holy Spirit but that it does not necessarily result in speaking in tongues. Still others believe God's Word teaches the baptism of the Holy Spirit will always be evidenced by speaking in a heavenly language.

We'll examine all of these questions in light of the Word of God, but first let's find out what the Bible has to say about the Holy Spirit Himself.

The Purpose of the Holy Spirit
The widespread neglect of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is a distressing thing. Particularly because His ministry is primarily one of enabling us to do the things God has called us to do. Without the Holy Spirit operating freely in your life, you're not going to fully realize all your potential in Christ.

Another aspect of the Holy Spirit's ministry is that of "Revealer." He reveals the plan of God in the earth. The Holy Spirit unveils the plan of redemption. He unveils the Father. He unveils the Son, Jesus Christ. And it is through these revelations that the other well-known facets of His ministry - Comforter, Guide and Teacher - come into view.

For example, when the Spirit reveals Jesus as "the Healer" to you, comfort is the result. When He reveals God's plan to you, guidance is the result, and so on.

It may take many different forms but the overall ministry of the Holy Spirit is one of enabling and revealing. Jesus said as much to His disciples right before He ascended into heaven.

"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

The Holy Spirit has come to empower the Church to be witnesses. As He gives us a revelation of God's Word, faith springs up in our hearts. As He reveals who we are in Christ, we become bold about sharing our faith with others.

The revealing and enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit empowers us to become world changers.

When Jesus said, "ye shall receive power," He used the Greek word dunamis which means miracle-working power. This is the kind of power available to you and me through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

I'm talking about power that shakes and changes your home, your neighborhood and your community. Now, I realize that most Christians are not presently operating in that kind of power.

We all know Spirit-filled, born-again Christians who seem to have a big power void in their lives. Why is that? I think in many instances, it's because they don't understand or appreciate the role of the Holy Spirit. They don't realize that His mission is empowerment.

It is no wonder most Christians greet the idea of sharing their faith with stark terror. They don't realize all the awesome power of the Holy Spirit is at their disposal if only they will draw on it.

Witnessing shouldn't be something we get real uptight about. When you are energized by God's Spirit, it is just a natural outgrowth of daily living. It's a lifestyle.

Just don't get the cart before the horse. Don't get focused on the power (miracles, healings, words of wisdom and knowledge) without first recognizing what that power is to be used for-sharing the Gospel with your lost and dying neighbors.

Power Tools for Witnessing
Once you make a commitment to be that kind of witness, you'll soon sense the Holy Spirit equipping you to take advantage of witnessing opportunities as they arise.

What equipment does the Holy Spirit provide? We find a partial list in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11:

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.

The Holy Spirit wants to use you to bring these gifts into operation in order to make you a more effective witness.

The Holy Spirit: Receiving His Presence
Up to this point, we've been looking at the "what" and "why" of the Holy Spirit's ministry. In other words, His purpose. Now it is time to explore the "how" and "when." This is where much misunderstanding and controversy arises.

Now, we'll examine some of the issues surrounding "the Baptism of the Holy Spirit" and see how a correct understanding of them can help make you a powerful, victorious believer.

The "I got all of the Holy Spirit when I got saved" controversy.

As this title would indicate, there are many non-charismatic, or non-pentecostal believers who contend they got all of the Holy Spirit there is to get the moment they were born again.

These Christians deny the need for a second experience frequently called "the Baptism of the Holy Spirit." Let's turn to God's Word for clarification of this issue.

Without a doubt, the Bible teaches that a person does receive a measure of the Holy Spirit at the moment of the new birth. This must be so, because the Spirit is actually the agent of regeneration (rebirth) and sanctification (purifying and setting apart).

But having a measure of the Spirit is not the same as having the fullness of the Spirit.

"But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph. 4:7).

What is "the gift of Christ"? The Holy Spirit! In John 14:16 Jesus says, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever...."

So according to Ephesians 4:7 every believer is given a measure of the Holy Spirit. But is that all the believer should expect to receive? Not according to God's infallible Word.

In Acts 8:5, the apostle Philip goes to Samaria and preaches. Many people were born again as a result. Now look at verse 14: "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them)" (Acts 8:14-16).

Here is clear biblical evidence of the need to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit after being born again. These Samaritans were clearly born again and yet "the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them."

We see this confirmed in the 19th chapter of Acts. There, Paul comes across some new Christian believers in Ephesus. These people had been born again through the ministry of Apollos.

"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit" (Acts 19:1-2).

Here, the apostle Paul testifies that these are believers and yet asks them if they have received the Holy Spirit. Obviously Paul considered these to be two separate and distinct experiences!

This view is confirmed in Acts 2:4, Acts 8:5,14 and Acts 19:1.

Yes, a measure of the Holy Spirit has been given to every believer. But why stop there when so much more is available? There is a fullness of the Holy Spirit that is obtainable by every believer. It opens a reservoir of power to us that isn't available any other way. And I've got good news for you. You don't have to "tarry" for it.

No Need to "Tarry"
If you're fairly new to the charismatic renewal movement, or come from a non-charismatic background, the concept of "tarrying" for the Holy Spirit is probably an unfamiliar one. But if you had a Pentecostal upbringing you know precisely what I'm talking about.

Many people have been taught that to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit they must "tarry" or wait for Him to come upon them. "You've got to be patient and just wait," they're told.

I've actually talked to Christians who have been tarrying 10, 15 and 20 years and still haven't received the baptism of the Holy Spirit! The real tragedy is that all this waiting is not scriptural. Where did the practice originate? From a misunderstanding of a single scripture: "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).

Just before His ascension into heaven, Jesus instructed His disciples to "tarry" in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them.

The pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was a one-time, once-and-for-all event. Besides, if you're going to take that verse as a literal injunction to wait for the Holy Spirit you'd need to go to Jerusalem to do it, just as Jesus instructed.

No, for us the applicable biblical principle is "ask and it shall be given you," (Matt. 7:7).

Jesus also said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him" (Luke 11:13)?

If you desire the fullness of the Holy Spirit, there is no tarrying involved. Jesus said, "Just ask."

The Issue of Tongues
There are few, if any, issues in the body of Christ more divisive than the question of "speaking in tongues." Regrettably, many discussions of the subject tend to generate more "heat" than "light."

That the Bible declares tongues to be a valid manifestation of the Holy Spirit through a believer is hard to argue against (although some try). What some people do contend, however, is that tongues does not always accompany the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit always evidenced by the recipient speaking in tongues? Let's let the Bible answer that question.

Acts 2:4 records the very first instance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Remember the Ephesian believers in Acts 19? "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied" (Acts 19:6).

Look at Acts 10:45,46: "And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God."

Over and over again in scripture we see people receiving the Holy Spirit and evidencing it by speaking in tongues. In fact, in only two places in all of scripture do we read of people being baptized in the Spirit without also being explicitly told that they spoke in tongues. A closer examination of both of those passages (Acts 8:17,18 and Acts 10:44-46) gives us strong reason to believe that tongues were evidenced there as well.

When you look at the entire witness of the New Testament, it's difficult to escape the conviction that where the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is, speaking in tongues is present also. You can't separate them. They go hand in hand. It's a clear case of cause and effect.

Copyright © Mac Hammond Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.

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