Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

I read this article a couple of years ago when I was really seeking to understand more about the Holy Spirit in my life and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  It helped me immensely, and I wanted to share it here for anyone who has the same questions that I did.I want to say that I think the Baptism/Filling of the Holy Spirit isn't about 'getting something' that you didn't yet have as a believer, but is actually about realizing and welcoming the presence and work of the Someone who is already within you, the dear Holy Spirit!  He indwells us and we simply realize that He is already in us as our closest friend and supporter and strength!  And just awakening to this fact brings such a great experience of Him and His love and power in our lives!

At least that is how it was for me!  In my life, I just didn't know very much about the Holy Spirit and really wanted to, and I had met people that had been really transformed through the experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I was also at a really low and desperate point in my life where I was really just wanting to feel and experience and God's help and presence.

Anyway, shortly after I read the article, I talked with God and asked Him to baptize me in the Holy Spirit.  I didn't feel anything, but later I told a charismatic friend that I'd prayed accepting this gift, and my friend gave a joyful laugh - and at that moment, something inside me shifted and I too felt a little twinge of joy!  Whether I felt anything or not, wow, I truly had the Spirit filling me!  It was like I was starting to see it really was true!  A couple of days later, I was standing in my bedroom and suddenly realized God's presence with me!   I felt such peace and quietness and stillness, and I realized that the heavy feelings fear and depression I had been battling for years were gone!  It was like it was just me and Jesus, face to face, and every other thing, issue or problem was just insignificant, just gone in the light of His presence! For darkness and worry and fear just cannot exist in His fulfilling, flowing presence as He just fills us up!

In the following days and months and now years, I have had the joy of having the wonderful fellowship of the Holy Spirit, His help and guidance and companionship, and His power against devilish attacks of worry and fear and sadness.  When I read about the good news of grace, I often just experience Him filling me with such joy in His presence!  When I write posts on my blog, I often feel Him loving people through my words.  Many times He has filled me with a fresh filling just before I've had to go through a crisis or hard time, and I've seen how He was inoculating me for the challenges to come and showing me that He was going to carry me through everything - and He truly has!  He is all happiness, joy and light inside me, always smiling at me and delighting in me, no matter what, whether I spend tons of time interacting with Him or whether I go off and do other things, forget about Him, or even get into mistakes and matter what, He is always there smiling and loving me!  Unconditional love and acceptance!  He is so wonderful and is truly my Best Friend.  I am so glad that I am never alone - He fills me up inside, goes with me everywhere, never leaves, always delights and smiles upon me, is always gentle and kind, never has a harsh word, is always ready to listen and understand and fellowship, is so strong in fighting against the enemy on my behalf, helps me, reveals things in the Word to me, guides me, loves me, shows me more and more about the love and grace of God and the wonderful loving nature of Christ! He has truly shown me the heart of God, and it's pure love!!

I pray that anyone out there who is interested will be blessed by this article!  I hope noone will read any 'works' or 'musts' into is all meant to be so easy..God has already given us a wonderful gift - the Holy Spirit is already given to us all, already in us all, just waiting to be enjoyed!  Faith doesn't make something happen, it is the laughter that rises up in seeing 'oh, I already have Him!!'  Anyway, hope you enjoy this article...I found it on the Spirit of God blog, posted by Dan Bowen...

"Receving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit" - Terry Virgo - Stoneleigh Bible Week 1999

I hope this will prove to be a helpful seminar – life-changing and for many of us a time when we will have a fresh encounter with God and even know what it is to be baptised with the Spirit for ourselves personally. I certainly don’t want this just to be a teaching thing only in terms of explanation though I do believe that explanation is very important for us in terms of being comfortable to come and receive from God. I don’t think it’s enough for us to simply be in the general atmosphere and hope that perhaps we are touched by it. It is much more profitable to understand what we are doing, come to God and receive from God.

So if you have your Bible would you like to turn to Acts chapter 1. I’m going to read just the opening few verses. This is Luke’s introduction. You remember having read the Gospel which we call “Luke” he refers back to that;

“The first account which I composed Theophilus about all that Jesus Christ began to do and teach until the day which He was taken up after He had, by the Holy Spirit, given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of 40 days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised which He said, “You heard of from Me for John baptised with water but you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”.

So when they had come together they were asking Him saying, “Lord is it at this time that You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”. He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times and epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth”. After He had said these things He was lifted up while they were looking on and a cloud received Him out of their sight”.

Let’s just pray.

“Father we thank You so much for Your desire to give to us the Holy Spirit. We acknowledge our great need of Him, our great desire to be filled by the Spirit at all times and Jesus we thank You for Your clean instructions here that Lord, Your early apostles here should wait for this clothing with power. So now Lord Jesus we look to You. We ask You Lord that You would come to us afresh. Holy Spirit we invited You to be our teacher now. We pray that You will take hold of these things and really Lord, quicken our faith, our expectation and our understanding. Bless us with Your truth, Lord we pray. Meet with many of us this afternoon so that it might be a memorable occasion when Your Spirit comes into many lives we pray. We ask it Father in Jesus’ Name. Amen”.

I believe that it is important for us to do a seminar on receiving the Spirit because we want to be a Spirit-filled community and in recent years we have enjoyed quite a flood of the Spirit. We have been singing songs like, “There’s a river” and we have been very aware of the coming of the Spirit associated with the Toronto church and that whole manifestation but sometimes that has left people with an experience but not quite clear about what they did experience if any. Sometimes they have been slightly bewildered about the whole thing because it has been very outward and sometimes with not much biblical teaching going with it. Many of us have been tremendously blessed but we are not quite sure where we are. Sometimes even people are coming on Alpha who have not really not yet closed the deal with Jesus, and really know that they are saved, have had the Spirit of God touch them. Sometimes people have even fallen under the power of the Spirit who have said, “Well I am not even a Christian yet” – they have just been to Alpha and felt the Presence of God there and there have been these different manifestations and often that has left people saying, “Does that mean I have been baptised in the Holy Spirit? Does that mean I have had that experience?”. Well it is important for us to know where we are.

Also during this period there has been a lot of blessing from the ministry of John Wimber in particular. Of course what came out from Toronto was very identified with the movement and Wimber’s stance. Actually John Wimber’s stance was that you received everything at conversion. In that way, strangely John although he was such a charismatic figure, theologically he stood on the same ground as evangelical brothers who believe that you have received everything at conversion and John would teach that the Spirit is received at conversion totally and later there would come a release of the Spirit – that was the language that John would use. A sort of “time-bomb” doctrine that He is with you and later on will explode but effectively you have received everything. So you find that there is a drift there, people have been wondering where are we, have we received the Spirit, is there more for us? Many of us, certainly we who organise this conference, were affected by the charismatic movement of the 60’s and 70’s when having been Christians for some time we subsequently heard about the coming of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit. Someone laid hands on us and we came into a new dimension speaking with tongues etc so it is important for us to know where we are so that we can be confident about the doctrine.

Doctrinal Narrative of Acts.
I want in a moment to take you through some Scriptures to help you see where we are coming from, what is my basis for expecting that we should receive the Spirit and I will be taking you through what happened particularly in the book of Acts. Now some people would say that you mustn’t use the book of Acts particularly for doctrine because Acts is narrative and historical – it is not theological statement like the Epistles. But the fact is that in the Gospels the outpouring of the Spirit is anticipated. Jesus talks about the fact that He has come to spread fire on the earth but He says that He is constrained or shut in until He has gone through His own personal baptism which is speaking of His death and all that He would endure. He had come to give the Spirit! John the Baptist introduced Jesus. He said, “He is the One who will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”. So the Gospels continually talk about the future aspect of the Spirit’s coming. Jesus in John 14, 15, 16 says that the Spirit will come. It will be better for you even that I go away so that the Spirit can come. You will find that the Gospels continually are looking forward to the coming of the Spirit. Meanwhile the Epistles take for granted the fact that the Christians have already had that experience – they have had the Spirit so when Paul writes his letters for instance to Galatians or Ephesians he knows that they have already had the experience of the Spirit coming upon them.

So they are looking back to an experience that has taken place whereas the Gospels are looking forward to an experience that will take place. We desperately must get into the book of Acts to see how the Spirit was actually given. If we don’t study the book of Acts we have no biblical framework for seeing how the Spirit was actually poured out upon Christians. It is important for us to look at the actual experience of those Christians and to build a theology around what God did, what God said, what the apostles said to them and how the people received. It is the context where we learn these things. For any of you who have perhaps come through a teaching background that has said, “No, no it is only the Epistles that teach”, we just need to notice that one of the Epistles says this (in 2 Timothy 3:16); “All Scripture is given by inspiration (could be translated ‘God-breathed’) and is profitable for … doctrine”. All Scripture is profitable for doctrine, not just the explicit teaching passages. All Scripture is good for teaching. We mustn’t dismiss the book of Acts somehow and again in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul writing about the history of Israel says, “All these things happened to them as an example and were written down for our instruction”. So history passages do provide instruction and it is a very limited view that says you mustn’t look at Acts for teaching because the Bible itself says – hey, you look at everything for teaching. So it is important that we become comfortable with that approach.

Foreseen in the Old Testament.
Just one more thing before we get into the book of Acts, namely that the concept of receiving power goes right back into the Old Testament. The passage I just read to you from Acts 1:8 where Jesus says to the apostles, now you wait until you receive power – that wasn’t a new concept! It wasn’t as though they said, “What on earth does that mean?”. What could such a thing mean? They were good Jewish guys and they knew their Bibles and they would have known that back in the Old Testament the Spirit frequently came “upon” people. So for instance you would find that the Spirit came upon Gideon and Gideon together with many of the other Judges was transformed by the Spirit coming “upon” him. That is how he performed his ministry. It would appear from Judges 6 that naturally and temperamentally Gideon was not a leader-type. He was a fearful man – He felt his own limitations and then the Spirit came upon Gideon and he arose as a great national charismatic leader. He was anointed to lead because the Spirit came “upon” him! Similarly with other Old Testament figures – the Spirit came upon David when Samuel laid hands upon him, poured oil upon him and the Spirit came upon him. He became a great leader. You remember Elisha said to Elijah; “I must have the Spirit that is upon you if I am to fulfil the ministry”. So the concept of being anointed with the Spirit in order to do what God wants us to do is a very established principle routed in the Old Testament and then there comes a time in the Old Testament hinted at in Isaiah but more explicitly mentioned in Joel where God says, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophesy – your old men and your young men shall see visions”. Now that was totally new.

In the Old Testament the outpouring of the Spirit tended to be on individuals usually people with particular ministries like anointed to be king, anointed to be prophet, even priests had anointing oil to be put upon them – so anointing tended to be associated with special tasks. Now Joel is saying that a day is coming when the Spirit is poured out widely, indiscriminately, old and young, male and female. There is going to be an amazing outpouring of the Spirit which will be unlike anything that had happened before. The nearest thing you can get to it before was when Moses said, “I can’t handle this whole job alone” and God said that he should choose 70 other guys and the 70 would come and it is said that they prophesied. It is a kind of miniature Pentecost back there in the Old Testament – an example coming of the Spirit coming on a group. So it is always important to know what would have been in their minds hearing something. When Jesus said them, “Wait until you receive power from on high” you have got to think what would have been in their minds. What would have been in their minds was “Well we know that happened before – that’s happened many times when the Spirit has come upon people and they have performed ministry”. Even Jesus Himself for 30 years was without this powerful anointing that came upon Him at His baptism. It is hard for us to think about Jesus without anything. But the Bible says that when He was baptised the Holy Spirit came “upon” Him and then He declared in Luke 4 that, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach, to bring deliverance etc”.

So Jesus Himself was anointed with the Spirit’s power and He said to the apostles, “Now you wait until you are endued with power from on high”. Jesus is telling these people to get ready to wait. John the Baptist actually introduced Jesus in these terms. It is reported in every Gospel and he introduced Jesus in two ways; “He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” and then he said, “I baptise you with water but there is One coming after me and He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire”. So Jesus was introduced as the One who will baptise with the Holy Spirit. David Pawson in his very helpful book, “Jesus Baptises in One Holy Spirit” says this that when John the Baptist actually made that declaration probably the word “the” would not have been understood by the people and the word “the” doesn’t have to be translated in Greek. They would probably have not had a developed Trinitarian understanding. So He would have said, “He will baptise you in Holy Spirit” or “Holy power”. Then Pawson says also that word “baptise” for us has a kind of religious feel for us. It isn’t a word we tend to use in any other context when we say “baptise” we being fairly religious know what we are talking about. Baptism has certain connotations for us. He said that if you need another word, you could use the word “drench”. So what Pawson said very helpfully is that John the Baptist preached saying, “I have baptised you in water. I have drenched you in water for the forgiveness of your sins. If you are a sinner and you are coming to John and he says, “Repent and change your life” – it is great to hear that I can have my past dealt with! Thank God for a forgiven past! He says, “I will drench you in water for the forgiveness of your sins”. Thank God my past is being dealt with. But how will I live for the future? How will I live a new style life? John the Baptist says – listen, there is someone coming after me who will drench you in holy power. That sounds better doesn’t it than ‘He will baptise you in the Holy Spirit’? He will drench you in holy power! It sounds a good deal to me!

I know when I was first saved in my teenage years and was struggling to know how to live this kind of life coming from a non-Christian background and a very worldly lifestyle. I thought how do you actually live this new life? I was very much needing to get drenched in some holy power to change my life. Here Jesus is promising us that we can get drenched in holy power. Hallelujah! So let’s quickly look – I am going to take you through the book of Acts to see what took place. Jesus promised them that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. That’s what we read initially in Acts 1:8. So we know the apostles and others were waiting for this event – this coming of power that was going to take place. They were waiting and I am sure we are very familiar with this passage so I won’t go into loads of detail but just read the opening verses of Acts 2;

“When the Day of Pentecost had come they were altogether in one place. Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, a noise like the sound of a violent rushing wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves and resting on each of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance”.

Suddenly the Spirit came upon them! Suddenly this enduing of power which took place as recorded there in Acts 2 and with that some fairly unique things took place. Wind-fire but they also knew this new language which they began to speak and we are familiar with what happened next. They burst out from wherever they were to the streets. Thousands gathered and they began to preach the gospel. Some people used to think that the speaking in new languages was for preaching. It is quite clear that the speaking in new languages gathered the crowds and then Peter stood up and preached presumably in Aramaic, maybe in Greek, a language that they were all able to comprehend, get hold of and they were cut to their heart. When they heard the people speak in other tongues they said, “Wow the wonderful mysteries of God” because they recognised their languages but when Peter preached they were cut to the heart in a language that they could understand and was preaching the Gospel.

So on the Day of Pentecost the Spirit fell on these disciples who were told to wait for the promise of the Spirit. I will quickly show you some five areas where the Spirit is freshly given, then some common features and bring from that a summary that I believe will help us this afternoon. 1. 120 in the Upper Room were filled with the Holy Spirit. I would say that they were already children of God. They were already believers – they believed in Him but this subsequently was an enduing with power for ministry. Acts 8 – 2. You will find the next clear outpouring of the Spirit when Philip the evangelist went down to Samaria. It says in Acts 8:12;

“Then they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ and they were being baptised men and women alike”.

So here were people saved through the gospel preaching of the evangelist Philip. Their testimony if they had given it was that we were saved when Philip preached about the Name of Jesus and the kingdom of God. We were baptised to demonstrate the reality of our conversion. We were now believers. But then it says in (v14);

“When the apostles heard that Samaria had received the Word of God that they sent down Peter and John down to them who prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit for He had not yet fallen on any of them. They had simply been baptised in the Name of Jesus and began laying hands on them and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles hands he offered them money”.

We won’t get into Simon – it is a bit of a side track but here is the simple fact. Some people were evangelised, converted, baptised but had not yet received the Spirit. So the apostles went down, laid their hands on them and the Spirit came upon them. Their testimony now would have been saved through Philip’s preaching, subsequently received the Holy Spirit when Peter and John laid their hands on them. There is no reference there to them speaking with tongues, no wind, no fire – something happened that Simon the sorcerer was impacted by and was willing to pay money that he might be able to do this. So we are not talking about something that is simply in the mind. It isn’t something where they said, “Oh thank you very much”. I don’t think Simon would have paid much money for that. He was a magician and was used to seeing some power around and here he saw something that made him willing to pay money for it. There Acts 8 at Samaria – the coming of the Spirit.

3. Then in Acts 9 you see Paul’s conversion. Paul gives testimony to his conversion twice in the book of Acts. He always refers to what happened on the Damascus Road. That was his conversion. He saw the Lord and God commissioned him. God who commanded light to shine in darkness shone into his heart and he was soundly converted on the Damascus Road. No question. But then you will find in (v17) of Acts 9 that Ananias (whoever he was – we really don’t know) entered the house and after laying hands on Paul or Saul and said, “Brother Saul”. You see he is calling him a brother – he is a Christian brother. “Brother Saul the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road on which you were coming has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit”. So Paul got filled with the Spirit three days after his conversion. He was converted on the Damascus Road, led away blinded by the light, Ananias comes subsequently to lay hands upon him for his sight and also that he might be filled with the Spirit. Notice incidentally that Ananias didn’t say that you need to go and pray and find some Upper Room somewhere and wait. He just laid hands on him and immediately the Spirit came upon him. 4. Next Acts 10. We have done three – two to go. Acts 10. Again I am taking some background for granted. I expect you to know these stories. Peter went somewhat reluctantly to the home of Cornelius who was a Gentile and preached the Gospel in that home. It says, (v46);

“While he was preaching the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also for they heard them speaking with tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, surely no one can refuse water for these to be baptised who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did. And he ordered them to be baptised”.

So this is a different kind of style. Here he is still preaching and while he is preaching I guess he said enough (if you look at the context you will find that he has preached about Jesus – he has given them the essential content of the gospel) and I guess people were beginning to believe and as he was still speaking the Spirit fell and they began speaking with tongues. No laying on of hands – no delay. He hasn’t even finished preaching and the Spirit fell. 5. Then lastly Acts chapter 19. In doing this I am showing you every place that the book of Acts records a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These are all the places where that is recorded. In Acts 19 you will find that Paul arrives at Ephesus and there he asks some disciples (they are so called in verse 1) “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” or “Have you received the Spirit since you believed?” – it depends which translation you are reading from. I don’t particularly want to press that point one way or another. The question is – do you have the Spirit?

They said “No – we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit”. He says to them (v3) “Into what then were you baptised?”. He is confused because he took them to be disciples and so how come you don’t know what’s going on? So he asks them what they were baptised into. They said John’s baptism. Now which John was that? John the Baptist. So Paul says, “John baptised with a baptism of repentance telling the people to believe in Him who is coming after him – that is Jesus”. In other words these were disciples of John the Baptist so far. He thought they were Christian but they plainly say that they only have known John’s baptism. You remember that all Judea went out to hear John. He had his own disciples and here are people who have only had John’s baptism thus far. So Paul immediately tells them about Jesus at the end of verse 4. So in other words he preaches the gospel and tells them about Jesus. When they heard this (v5) they were baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus. In other words they are now believing in Jesus and he has led them to Jesus! Because they have now come to Jesus he baptises them in water. He brings them right through just like some of the early followers of John the Baptist like Andrew and others had come to John the Baptist and had no doubt been baptised by him but subsequently came to Jesus. So here we find these guys who had heard John the Baptists message and came to hear about Jesus and are immediately baptised by Paul. Then (v6) you almost get the context that they are still dripping with water when Paul laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came on them and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. So here on the same day they are converted and then subsequently have hands laid on them to receive the Spirit after which they begin speaking with tongues. So two stages but in one day.

Summary of Various Positions.
Now I would like to sum up some of these. Just to try and sum up – when I was first saved I must confess I went through a pretty bad time for four years. Very backslidden. I knew I was born again no question but I was often very defeated and certainly lacked courage to be a witness about Jesus. I could not find freedom to say “Jesus is the answer to your need”. I really didn’t tell anyone and was a secret Christian behind closed doors as Duncan Watkinson said. I knew limitations and I knew defeat. About four or five years later I met a Pentecostal guy. Before I met him I was getting very hungry thinking, “Surely there is more for me”. I began to read books and testimonies. I didn’t know quite what was more but I could see that the apostles seemed to have more. Now at that time there seemed to be two or three teachings about the Holy Spirit. The main one in those days was that everything that is going, you got at conversion. You had received it. You just grow gradually and you get more and more full of the Spirit as you grow in the Christian life. Men like John Stott who I had very great respect for would teach that, that you just grow in the Spirit and you just gradually grow. Then I went to the Keswick Convention and the Keswick Convention seemed to be saying that there is a second kind of blessing but it comes with sanctification and maturity. It is like a later crisis when you are much older in God and as you get more mature you will get full of the Spirit. It is for the mature – those walking with God for some years.

So some were saying that you got everything at conversion and grow gradually and others were saying, no there is more but it is for mature believers and you can have that later. Now I was desperate for something now please! Then I met this Pentecostal guy and he said, “What you need is to be baptised in the Spirit”. I said, “Whatever you call it – I want it!”. I was hungry but very confused reading different books that seemed to be saying different things and I found that undermined my faith a bit. That’s why I wanted to take time here today to explain it from the Bible.

“It Happens at Conversion”.
Now just to go back to those teachings: The teaching that says you have received everything at conversion automatically simply doesn’t seem to stand up to several of those passages that I have read. Certainly the apostles themselves had not received everything. They had to wait for power from on high. Jesus explicitly told them. Paul on the Damascus Road did not receive everything automatically and Ananias had to lay hands on him three days later. It was not automatic. If I said to a guy from Samaria, “Come up and give your testimony” he would have to say, “I was saved when Philip preached and then a few days later the news got down to Jerusalem and Peter and John came up then we received the Holy Spirit”. To say that it is definite or automatic, that once you are born again you have received everything does not stand up to Scripture. It simply doesn’t! So the first teaching that says you have automatically received everything at conversion is not what happened in the book of Acts. It did happen in Cornelius’s household! The Spirit came upon them immediately and I will come back to that in a moment. There is the possibility of it but it doesn’t automatically happen. I am not saying that you can’t be filled with the Spirit from day one or from the first moment – it is possible but it is not automatic. We need to know whether we have received or not. So the first teaching that was given was that you must accept that you already have it – which wasn’t good news for me. I felt I wanted something more.

“Keswick Teaching”.
The second teaching which was that when you are much more mature as a Christian you will have another experience. Maybe you have been walking with God for years and come to a crisis of freshly handing your life over to God and in those sort of Keswick teachings you will see loads of illustrations about glasses that are full of stuff and you have to empty it out in order to be filled with God. I would say that it is muddled with sanctification teaching. If you empty out your old life then God will fill you. It is a matter of devotion, yielding a second time to God. Well I am afraid that again that just doesn’t stand up to Scripture because that isn’t what Peter and John when they went down to Samaria did. They just said, “You haven’t received the Spirit” and laid hands on these guys who had been saved a few days. They were not now amazingly mature and having a crisis of handing over their lives in a new deep profound way. They were just lacking the Spirit so he lays hands on them. In Cornelius’s house Peter can’t even finish his sermon and the Spirit is on them. So the concept that you have to wait a long time doesn’t quite stand up even when Paul comes to Ephesus and explains to them about Christ and baptises them, then laying hands on them – there is no question about them being told about a later experience off in the future. He lays hands on them immediately and they receive the Spirit. It is for them – immediately. Immediately! It is available.

I remember when I was teaching in Hove Town Hall. My home town is Brighton and Hove – they are like two towns as one. We used put on celebrations and I remember very well when a girl responded to the gospel one night there and got saved. She was a student and I led her to Christ and she was born again. It was very exciting and she said, “There is more here isn’t there. There is a kind of power in this place”. I said, “Yes that’s true”. She said, “Can I receive this?”. I said, “I tell you what – come to my home next weekend and I will tell you more”. So I made arrangement for her to come and the following weekend (her name was Celia) she came to my home and she came with her roommate. Her roommate was not yet a Christian and she said, “This is my roommate and I think she wants to become a Christian”. So she said, “Yes what happened to her?!”. So I explained to the second girl about becoming a Christian and she was born again and she received Christ. Then Celia said, “I really came here to be prayed for to receive the Holy Spirit”. So I went through the stuff I am going through with you now. At the end of my time with them, she said “Well can I receive then?”. She had been saved a week. I said, “Of course!”. Then the other girl who had been saved 20 minutes now said, “Well what about me?”. With this passage open I said of course! So I explained about the laying on of hands and they said sure yes please! So I laid hands on them and they both immediately received the Spirit, both immediately started singing in tongues with one being saved a week and one 20 minutes. So the gift is immediately available! You don’t have to think that this is for the very holy or sanctified. No! This girl had been 20 minutes saved!

The gift is for every one of us and that is what Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost. He stood there and said, “The promise is for you and for your children and as many as the Lord our God has called”. The promise of the Spirit is for everyone who has been called. So the promise is not down the road, have you proved yourself, are you holy enough. Sometimes I hear people who have been prayed for and they get a bit passive (which I will deal with in a minute) and they say, “Oh perhaps I am not ready yet”. Well that is not a Biblical concept. Or “perhaps God doesn’t want me to have the Holy Spirit”. No that isn’t biblical! God wants you filled with the Spirit! In fact He says in Ephesians 5, “Be filled with the Spirit”. It is like a command. Be filled! So let’s not have in our minds that I am perhaps not holy enough or not been a Christian long enough or it isn’t for me. It is for everyone! If you are saved then it is for you. Even if you are not saved and would like to be saved then it is for you. So the promise of the Spirit is freely available. You don’t have to wait.

You might say, “Well wait a minute – isn’t that the very opposite of what Jesus said? Terry – you are saying that we don’t have to wait. Jesus said wait!”. Well let’s just think about that. Jesus did say to these men, “Wait in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high”. So to understand that verse I would like you to turn to John 7:37. It says there that on a particular feast day when they would pour out water ceremonially because they were celebrating the fact that God gave them water in their journey through the wilderness Jesus pushed though the crowd and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty let him come to Me and drink”. But if you had gone forward that day He would have said, “Well not yet” because the verse goes on;

“This He spoke of concerning the Spirit which those who believed in Him were to receive. But the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified”.

The Spirit was not yet given – why? Because they were not yet holy enough. They had not yet proven themselves enough. No – nothing to do with them! He didn’t tell them to wait because they weren’t ready. He told them to wait because He wasn’t yet ready. That is very important especially when some of us feel that we are not ready yet. That isn’t even the issue. He says to them if you are thirsty come to Me and drink – this He spoke of the Spirit which those who believed in Him were to receive. But the Spirit was not yet given because He was not yet ready – because He was not yet glorified. The fact is that now He is glorified! He was speaking of what He was to experience in the Cross and then also the Resurrection and particularly the Ascension. He is glorified! Come to Me and drink – but not yet! Now on the Day of Pentecost Peter effectively preached on this verse almost. Peter stood publicly and said, “This Jesus whom you crucified, God has now raised up of whom we are witnesses and He now, ascended to the Father and has shed forth this which you now see and hear”. He IS now glorified! He has now fulfilled the “not yet” clause. If He is now glorified then this text is up to date! So now we can come to this text without the “not yet” clause that the apostles had. The apostles were told to “wait until”. Not until they had prayed long enough in the Upper Room. That wasn’t the point. It was until the Day of Pentecost had come and so the outpouring of the Spirit would fulfil all sorts of Old Testament types about harvest.

Now He has ascended and the Spirit is available! The Spirit is available now – you can receive the Spirit now just like this girl I prayed for. She received and had believed for 20 minutes. You can receive before you leave this shed this afternoon. I say that with all confidence. You can receive the Holy Spirit this afternoon – I know it! Now what does it say in the verse? 1. It says if anyone is thirsty. It doesn’t say if anyone is mature or holy. It says if anyone is thirsty. That’s all you have to be – thirsty. You are demonstrating some kind of thirst by being here this afternoon. That is the only thing. That’s what Jesus said. The other idea is that if you do well then you will get the Holy Spirit later. It is rather like a general of an army saying – now you go out and fight and if you do well you can have a gun next time. It is crazy! We need guns now! We need the Spirit as soon as possible!

So if anyone is thirsty then what? 2. Come to Jesus. I want to invite any of you who want to be prayed for this afternoon in a few moments to come to Jesus. I will probably also invite you to come to some place. Maybe the front up here. But if we are coming to have the laying on of hands (which I have shown you is a biblical concept – the laying on of hands is biblical) as you come to have hands laid on – you are coming to Jesus. Now I say that because when I was younger I went to a church where I was told, “That guy will pray for you”. I went to a special meeting one Sunday afternoon and he went round the circle. As he went round the circle they got very happy! I thought, “Wow here he comes” and as he got to me I felt his hand on my head and he prayed a prayer and guess what I felt? I felt a hand on my head. That was it – nothing less, nothing more. After he had prayed his prayer he moved on to the next guy and I was devastated. Because I had thought fireworks were coming and then nothing! I believe what happened to me at that very moment was that I got my eyes on a specialist man who would do it for me, who would wave the wand over me. But Jesus said, “Come to Me and drink”. So in a moment when I invite you to come and be prayed for I want you to remember in your heart that you are coming to Jesus to drink. I am not coming to a specialist – I am coming to Jesus although the laying on of hands is biblical whether it is Peter and John or Ananias – it doesn’t matter whose hands, we are coming to Jesus. It’s biblical!

Then it says, 3. And Drink. It doesn’t say come and plead, come and cry, come and wait. It says come and drink. Drinking means receive. Come and receive. He that believes in Me is the next phrase. In other words Galatians 3 says that we receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. We must believe in Him. We come to drink. He has promised to give the Spirit to those who ask so we must come believing that He will give. Some of you may remember the day or night that you got saved. You came and believed. You said, “Lord I ask you – come into my life”. Maybe you have done that quite recently. It is the same kind of thing – we come to Him expecting Him to do what He promised to do. He will give the Spirit to those who ask. Luke 11 says if we who are evil know how to give good gifts to our children how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. So we come asking expecting to receive. He that believes in Me out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. This He spoke concerning the Spirit. There is a flowing out, an overflow of the Spirit. He will begin to flow out of us and it is simple – we just come and drink!

I remember years ago I was talking to a couple of friends of mine and the husband had recently been converted. They asked me about being filled with the Spirit so I went to their home and we were sitting talking and the husband said to the wife, “Could we have some coffee?”. So she went to the kitchen to get some coffee and after a few minutes she ran back in saying, “It’s wonderful! It’s wonderful!”. She had received in the kitchen! She had understood enough and said, “Please Lord!” and got hit in the kitchen! She is overwhelmed with God – “he that believes”. I didn’t even get to lay hands on her! The Spirit came upon her. I have prayed with groups and you are going round the circle laying hands over here and someone starts speaking in tongues down here. It is not that there is some kind of particular thing … God just comes! Come and drink come and receive, come and take. Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water, this He spoke of concerning the Spirit. I prayed for one lady and had to go to the station to collect someone just after I had prayed for her. I said, “Wait on God and pray”. When I got back she was speaking in tongues like mad and she said, “It is like rivers of living water flowing from within my inner man”. So I said, “I’m not sure that’s what that verse means” but I do want to say a few words about tongues.

Speaking in tongues or in unlearned languages is often referred to at the time of the giving of the Spirit. In the passages that I have read out to you, you will find that speaking in tongues frequently occurs. Now it would not be right to argue that you must speak in tongues to demonstrate that you have been filled with the Spirit. That would be going beyond what the Scripture says – the Scripture never says that. But it is often there. It is there more than it isn’t! So when I lay hands on people for the filling of the Spirit I expect them to speak with tongues because it seems to be fairly normal but I don’t get uptight if they don’t because it doesn’t say that they did every time. So my expectation is that they will but if they don’t it isn’t the biggest deal. What we find is that when this girl said speaking in tongues is like a river flowing from the inside, I would like to say some things about tongues and I would like to encourage you that if you would like to be prayed for to expect to speak with tongues. It is what happens most often. It is you who speak with tongues – it isn’t God. God doesn’t speak in tongues – you do. Sometimes when one prays for people you can take on passive mode and don’t speak with tongues. The Bible says, “They spoke with tongues”. They did it! Let me put it this way; if you don’t speak with tongues, you won’t speak with tongues. Let me say that again because it’s very simple but very true. If you don’t speak with tongues, then you won’t speak with tongues. You do it! God doesn’t do it for you. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “I will pray with my spirit, I will pray with understanding”. That reference, “with my spirit” in context is clearly talking about tongues. I will do it. I will pray with tongues – I will pray with my mind.

That brings me to my second point. When I pray with tongues, it says in 1 Corinthians that my mind is unfruitful. It is my spirit that prays. In other words when someone speaks in tongues they are not engaging the intellect. Their spirit prays without using the intellect. That is the whole point that you are getting into another way of expressing worship to God. Like sometimes melody lifts you out in expressing worship to God as such intellect – intellect is another sphere to melody. So speaking in tongues is like Charles Wesley saying, “Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my Great Redeemer’s praise”. I wish I had something else to say! Sometimes people say that they don’t know what to say in prayer. Well it says in Romans 8 that the Spirit prays through us and for us when we are limited. The Spirit is expressing things which are not coming from our mind. Sometimes when people begin to speak in tongues they start listening and sometimes start analysing. They think, “I wonder what I’m saying” and instead of worshipping they become somewhat preoccupied and distracted and even say things like, “I think I am just saying that”. Now I got baptised in 1962 and it is now 1999 and I have laid hands on thousands of people over the years and I have heard so many say, “I think I am just saying things”. I wonder whether it is a law that people say that. That happened to me! When they laid hands on me and nothing happened they said, “Just praise God” and I said, “What for?”. “Do you believe the promise? Have you come and drank?”. I was struggling and I think I was probably the most difficult case that there ever was. I argued and didn’t want to make anything up. I am very sympathetic with people because I was there. I too didn’t want just sounds. But the problem is when we start listening and analysing and instead of speaking to God we are speaking to our ear. “Wonder what that is?”. I want to encourage you – your mind will not understand and remember what it says in Luke 11. If we ask for fishes will He give us a serpent? If we ask for bread will He give us a stone? We must have a faith element, “Lord I am asking you and I am believing you”.

Then as we receive we begin to speak. I understand that 65 of the 14/15 year old kids received the Spirit and spoke in tongues. 65 of them! Just received and spoke. That is only the ones who knew they received – that was yesterday here on the Stoneleigh site. God gives that gift and you do the speaking. You do it. If you say you are waiting for God then He won’t do it. You do it. It is like many of the miracles in the Bible you will find that there is that initial step that comes from you. You will find that Joshua is told to shout at the Jericho wall and it will fall down. I think I would have said to God, You make it fall down and then I will shout as much as You like! But they had to walk around it and then down it came. Do you remember that they were told to fill up the water pots and then go and pour out wine. It was the pouring out I believe.

The illustration in the Old Testament of the woman who ran out of oil was told to go and collect the vessels and then had to pour out the little amount of oil that she had in that vessel. Little oil and into as many pots as she wanted to. Now the temptation is to think that if I pour that oil out then it is only in that point and not in this. But the miracle isn’t that she sat there saying, “Come on oil” – the miracle came in the pouring. When she started, the oil kept coming. Speaking in tongues is like that. The miracle is that as you begin to speak God will give you the utterance.
So we don’t want to be passive. Jesus was walking on the water and Peter asked if he could come to him. He said, “If you want me to come to you”. Very smart statement! It is Jesus responsibility now. So Jesus said, “Come”. Now it is Peter’s responsibility. Peter didn’t sit in the boat and say “I am sure that it will come anytime now. Here it comes … here it comes … I am sure the spirit of walking on water will hit me anytime now”. It isn’t like that. He had to get out of the boat and trust himself into another dimension. He used his walking apparatus in another dimension. Speaking in tongues uses your speaking apparatus – tongues, teeth, lungs – and you speak in another dimension. A language you’ve never learned and you find yourself speaking it out. You don’t sit there thinking “I am waiting for God”. You begin to speak – God gives you the utterance. Some have said that they utter a few words and then stop. Actually what happens is that you run out of air! (*laughter*). Because I am speaking English and you are all used to this, you probably haven’t noticed that I keep stopping and filling my lungs and then go again. I keep exhausting my lungs but that do it again. I don’t stop when my lungs are full – I just do it again. People speaking in tongues do that and panic! No – just breathe in!

Now I spent some time on that because I know that so many people over the years have worried. I prayed with a lady at Hove Town Hall and she said to me, “I have been prayed with by so many people and have never received”. So I said, “May I speak with you for a little while”. She said, “Yes”. So I taught her how tongues works and asked if anyone had told her that before. She said, “No! I just thought it would happen”. I said, “Do you understand now?”. She said, “Oh yes!”. So I said, “Shall we pray now?”. “Yes please!”. BOOM! She’s away! Happy as Larry! God filled her with the Holy Spirit! Now she had been waiting for the moving of the water. Jesus said if anyone is thirsty then come to Me and drink! He that believes out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. I want to encourage you if you want to come and be prayed for – we have ministry team and would love to pray for you. There is no reason why many will not receive. Today could be your day. Maybe you have had an experience with the Toronto move and are not sure where you are. I find my faith is more secure if I know this is Biblical. If I come from a certain line of teaching and are not sure that this is Biblical then it is not a good idea to just “see”. Faith doesn’t come from that. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God and thinking, yes I believe that! That is an honest interpretation of Scripture and I come to Jesus today. I will believe God and will receive. I have taken a long time because I believe that the more you have received in your understanding, the simpler it is to receive.

“Father I thank You that the promise is for everyone that the Lord our God shall call. We thank You that Peter could confidently say that the promise is for you. We thank You that Day of Pentecost that many thousands were baptised and received the promise of the Spirit. Lord we thank You for down through the centuries and especially in these last few decades millions are receiving the Spirit and launching into a dimension of charismatic gifts. Father we thank You for Your Presence right here and now and we ask You for clarity of thought and of faith for those who have come to drink this afternoon. Bless us now as we are before You in Jesus Name. Amen”.
May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14