Do you have the promised Holy Spirit of the Lord?
The following is a sermon transcription that will hopefully help you to understand from the Bible what is the promised Holy Spirit of the Lord.
The Promised Holy Spirit Of The Lord
(adapted from a sermon by Pr Chin Aun Quek)
Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He instructed his disciples not to leave Jerusalem. They were 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) It is clear then that the disciples had been baptized by water, but not with the Holy Spirit. Hence, the Lord asked them to pray for the promised Holy Spirit in order to be baptized by Him. Acts 1:13-14 records how the disciples obeyed the Lord’s instruction and prayed in one accord for the promised Spirit. Acts 2:1-4 describes the descent of the promised Holy Spirit and how the disciples were filled with and baptized by the Spirit. These are clear records that tell us today, we likewise have to pray for the promised Holy Spirit of God in order to be baptized by Him.
There are some who think that the Pentecostal Holy Spirit is merely a symbol. It was given to us once and hence, there is no subsequent need to be filled with the promised Holy Spirit anymore. The apostles and believers had to pray for the Holy Spirit in their time but there is no need for us to do so now. This may be an explanation but what exactly does the Holy Bible teach us?
In John 3:5, our Lord clearly said that praying for the promised Holy Spirit of God is not symbolic. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” It is something every individual has to ask and seek for. Our Lord Jesus spoke of this issue very seriously and clearly, that unless we are born of the water and the Spirit, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. Water baptism is not symbolic. The same applies to the baptism of the Spirit – it is not symbolic.
Some others may think thus, that being born of the water and the Spirit is the same. They are not separate. It means that at the point of water baptism, one would also have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. If this explanation was true, then our Lord Jesus would be wrong when He instructs the disciples who had already been baptized, to wait at Jerusalem for the baptism of the Spirit. Would Jesus not know that these two are one? Yet, the words of Lord Jesus clearly show that the baptism of the Spirit and the baptism of the water are two separate matters.
We see further evidence of this in Acts 8:14-17, where a group of Samaritans had believed in the Lord and were baptized but had yet to receive a baptism of the Holy Spirit. The church in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to them, in order that they might pray for the Samaritans. Verse 16 shows clearly that the baptism of water and of the Holy Spirit are two completely different matters. The latter does not come automatically; there was still a need to pray for the Holy Spirit. Peter and John were sent to help pray for the Samaritans, demonstrating the importance of this matter – unless one is born of water and the Holy Spirit, one cannot enter the kingdom of God.
How do I know if I have been baptized by the Spirit and received Him? It is clear when we have been baptized by water but is it possible to know when we have received the baptism of the Spirit? Yes. Our Lord Jesus tells us that “the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8) Here, Jesus used the wind to prefigure the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the same way that we cannot see the wind but can hear it, we cannot see Him but when one receives the Holy Spirit, one is moved to speak in an unknown tongue. Peter said in Acts 2:3 that we know when we have received the promised Holy Spirit of God, because “He poured out this which you can now see and hear.”
How do we see and hear? When the Holy Spirit is poured onto someone, the person is moved to speak in an unknown tongue which can be felt personally and heard clearly by others. Acts 2:4 tells us of the physical manifestation of receiving the promised Spirit – the disciples began to speak in an unknown tongue. If we were to refer to the original text, this was described as speaking in other tongues. Two things testify that they were speaking in other tongues. Acts 2:5-8 describes the amazement of devout men from different nations when they heard the disciples speak in their native languages. “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?” The groups of people gathered there spoke a total of 15 different types of languages. Imagine the chaos if 15 people were to speak in their own language. It is probably impossible to make out what is being said. Yet each group distinctly heard the disciples pray in their own native language. In addition, with 120 people gathered together in prayer, how was it possible to decipher the contents of their prayer if they had spoken simultaneously in 15 different languages? The fact is, the Holy Spirit moved them to speak in an unknown tongue and at the same time, moved listeners to understand and interpret it in their own language. This was a miracle in itself.
There was another explanation given in Acts 2:13, where some mockingly said, “They are full of new wine.” There were some who could understand that the disciples were praising God but there were others who didn’t and even claimed that they were drunk. How was it possible if the language the disciples spoke in were known by men? This evidence clearly tells us that when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, they were moved to speak in an unknown tongue. Likewise today, we determine whether someone has received the Holy Spirit by the ability to speak in tongues.
This is the same way in which the apostles determined whether believers had received the Holy Spirit then. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” (Acts 10:44-47) This passage records how Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit while they were listening to Peter preaching. The Holy Spirit here refers to the promised Holy Spirit of God, because Peter said that “[they] who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have” (Acts 10:47). The tongue in which Cornelius and his household spoke in was the same as what we read earlier in Acts 2, the unknown tongue spoken by the 120. Speaking in tongues was what Peter used to determine whether they had received the Holy Spirit.
Today, we likewise determine in the same way whether one has received the promised Spirit. There are many who feel otherwise. These people do not deny the facts about speaking in tongues or speaking in unknown tongues. However, they feel that when the Holy Spirit descends on a person and moves him or her to speak in an unknown tongue, it is just one of the many gifts of the Spirit, not that speaking in tongues is evidence of one who has received the Holy Spirit. To them, there are many different gifts of the Spirit and speaking in tongues is just one of them.
Some may question why we hold the view that speaking in tongues is evidence of having received the Holy Spirit. They may refer to 1 Cor 12:10-11, where Paul talks about the varied gifts of the Holy Spirit given to men. Amongst these gifts, there is one that allows someone to speak in different kinds of tongues. They acknowledge that some may speak in tongues, but claim that it is not everyone, because Paul asked in verse 30, “Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” Of course not. Not everyone can heal, so similarly, not everyone can speak in tongues. Some may even question that if speaking in tongues is an evidence of the abidance of the Holy Spirit, then if someone has the gift of healing, does it then mean that that person also has the abidance of the Holy Spirit? If this person already has the abidance of God, is there still a need to pray for the Spirit of God?
This argument may seem logical but there is a distinction here. When you are moved by the Holy Spirit, or you are given a gift by the Lord through the Holy Spirit and able to perform miracles or heal, you can say that the Holy Spirit is with you but you cannot claim that you have received the Holy Spirit, not claim that you have been baptized in the Spirit. Only when we pray and ask, then we will be baptized by the Spirit. On what basis do we say this? The 70 disciples whom Lord Jesus sent were moved by the Holy Spirit and the Lord abided with them. They gave up all things and were willing to suffer. They were also gifted by the Holy Spirit because they were able to heal diseases and cast out demons. They performed all this through the power of the Holy Spirit who abided with them. Their works have been clearly recorded but had they received the promised Holy Spirit of the Lord then? No. Jesus said that those who believed in Him, out of their hearts will flow rivers of living water. He spoke concerning the Spirit whom those who believed in Him would receive (Jn 7:38-39). At that point when Jesus spoke of the promised Spirit, this promised Holy Spirit had yet to descend. This was why John recorded that the Holy Spirit was not yet given.
Could this be John’s mistake? Was he not aware that the Holy Spirit worked in them, abided in them and helped them to cast out demons and heal diseases? In John 1:32-34, John recorded the testimony bore by John the Baptist, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” Here, it clearly records the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus. In Lk 1:34-35, it records how the Holy Spirit came to be with Mary. Lk 2:25 also tells us of another man, Simeon, whom the Holy Spirit came upon. We can clearly see instances where the Holy Spirit not just came onto Jesus, but was also upon Simeon and Mary. When Jesus sent out His 70 disciples, they all had the Holy Spirit abiding in them, empowering them to preach the gospel, to cast out demons and to heal diseases. Having seen all these, how is it that John still said that the Holy Spirit has not descended? Was he trying to tell us that there are two kinds of spirit – the Holy Spirit who has already descended, and the promised Holy Spirit who has yet to descend? Of course not. There is only Holy Spirit. He wanted to highlight that though it is the same, the Holy Spirit has different work to fulfill.
One purpose of the Holy Spirit is to move man to repentance or the completion of tasks which God wants him to accomplish, to prophesy or to heal and cast out demons. These works are done through men, by the moving of the Holy Spirit. Another important work of the Holy Spirit is to become evidence that one is the son of God. This is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which testifies that we are the children of God when we receive the promised Spirit. Having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we receive a seal of promise into the kingdom of God. Hence, the promised Holy Spirit of God is also known as the spirit of sonship. He is a guarantee until we acquire the heavenly inheritance.
Some may question why the Holy Spirit who descended on Jesus is not able to testify that a person is the son of God, if he or she has already believed, is a follower of the Lord and has received water baptism. John explained that because then, the Lord had yet to be glorified, meaning the Lord had not accomplished salvation by overcoming death then. Before salvation was established, the sins of men had not yet been redeemed and the Holy Spirit could not testify that one was the son of God. Only with the establishment of salvation and the ascension of Jesus into heaven, was the Holy Spirit sent to men and this receiving of the Holy Spirit testified of one’s sonship.
Paul clearly explains the salvation of Christ in Gal 4:4-7, where he talks about how Christ not only delivers us from sin, but also allows us to receive this status as an heir of God. We know we are truly a child of God because “God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” In Eph 1:13-14, we are also clearly told that when we receive the promised Holy Spirit, we are sealed with this Spirit. Just like Jesus said, unless a person is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. The promised Holy Spirit is given to us as a proof, like a seal, and as an acknowledgement that we are His children. Being children of God, we can receive the inheritance in the heavenly kingdom.
There are still some who may concede that prior to the completion of salvation, it was so. However, now that the Lord has fulfilled salvation, why can’t the Spirit who has been abiding with us testify that we are children of God? Why do we need to take that further step to pray for the promised Holy Spirit?
If we were to look at the apostles and disciples back then, they were moved by the Holy Spirit and were gifted in casting out demons and healing diseases. Yet, that did not stop them from praying for the promised Holy Spirit or think that since Jesus had ascended to heaven and salvation was fulfilled, the Holy Spirit who had been abiding with them automatically testify they are sons of God since it is the same spirit. Instead, they just obeyed the instructions of the Lord because they understood the will of God. There is a difference between the works of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can work on one, move one to repentance, to speak in tongues, or make one gifted so that the works of God can be accomplished. The Holy Spirit can work on anyone in accordance to His will, but does that mean that those who are moved have received the promised Spirit or been baptized by the Spirit? No. We see clearly the difference when we read of the acts of Peter and the other disciples. We also see clearly how, on the day of Pentecost, the promised Holy Spirit descended on them and they were moved to speak in an unknown tongue. This alone provides evidence that one has received the promised Holy Spirit of God.
Hence, speaking in tongues is the only evidence that we have received the promised Holy Spirit and it is clearly different from how the Spirit works to move people. This is the baptism of the Spirit everyone needs to go through in order to enter the kingdom of God. You have been baptized by the water but have you been baptized by the Holy Spirit? Have you prayed for the promised Spirit of the Lord?