The baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues

[Paul]said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:1-3

In Acts 19, Paul had come across some disciples that he thought were disciples of Jesus.  He asks them this question: “Have you received the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Or I think the King James translation says it better: “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”

This passage tells about about a separate experience that is different than our salvation experience.  Paul tells us how we can be saved: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. (Acts 16:32).”  But then Paul says, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed??” (Acts 19:2) Faith in Jesus Christ brings the gift of salvation, but there is another gift called the gift of the Holy Spirit for us to receive, also.

John the Baptist  was the first in the New Testament to bring up the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  He mentions it in several of the gospels.  In Jn 1:33 John the Baptist says that it is Jesus who will ‘baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then brings up what John had talked about in Acts 1:4-5

[Jesus] commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but 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

And then we see the fulfillment of what Jesus was talking about in Acts 2:4:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  Acts 2:4

When Peter begins to preach on that same day he also talks about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  He makes reference to the book of Joel where the prophet says that in the last day God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:16-21).  This is prophecy is speaking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Then Peter closes his sermon by explaining who the gift of the Holy Spirit is for:

For the promise is to you and to your children, and to ALL who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.  Acts 2:39

So the same baptism of the Holy Spirit that the disciples received on that day is for you, your children, and anyone else who the Lord will call!

But what is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?  Well, we know a little about the word “baptize.”  We understand that when someone is saved they are then ‘baptized’ in water.  The word baptize means to immerse. A person who is baptized is immersed in water to the point that every bit of them is dripping wet.  God gives us the same impression when He is talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  However, this is a spiritual baptism and not a physical baptism. So our flesh isn’t again baptized, but our spirit is immersed with the Holy Spirit.  When we receive the baptism our flesh is filled (since our spirit dwells in our flesh), but our spirit is drenched.  It is drenched with the power of the Holy Spirit for ministry.

Another way to understand it is look at Luke 24:29:

Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.

The word ‘endued’ in this passage is also translated in other parts of the bible as ‘clothed.’  When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit we are clothed with the Holy Spirit.  Just like Elisha received power when he was clothed with Elijah’s cloak, we are clothed with power when we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

So when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, I think it is safe to say that it means that we are simply covered, drenched, clothed, and baptized with God’s power for the purpose of ministry.  And that is what the baptism is for, it is for power to be witness unto Jesus. Look what Jesus says in Acts 1:8:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me. Acts 1:8

Now, notice how Jesus said ‘when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”  This is different from the Holy Spirit being with you and different from the Holy Spirit being in you. I know, it sounds confusing, but lets look at some more scripture.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. Jn 14:17

The disciples had the Holy Spirit with them, but soon He was to be in them.  That came to pass in Jn 20:22 when Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  But still later Jesus said that the Holy Spirit shall come upon them (Acts 1:8).   Every born again believer has the Holy Spirit in them, but not every believer has the Holy Spirit upon them.  But, every believer can have the Holy Spirit upon them. They simply need to ask God in faith for this enduement of power or have someone who is knowledgeable in this area lay hands on them and pray, and God will grant it to them.

Now, lets get over to the tongues part of it.

When you read all the bible accounts of people getting the baptism of the Holy Spirit you will always see that there was some kind of outward evidence that they had received the baptism. That outward evidence always included speaking in tongues.  Someone might say, “Do I have to speak with tongues if I receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit?” Well, if you want to be like the people in the bible, then, yes, you do.  But if you want to make up your own doctrine about why tongues has been done away, or something like that, you can do it, but you will be deceiving yourself and robbing yourself of a great blessing.  Tongues has not been done away with, nor have they yet ceased.  One day they will be done away with, but not yet.

In the bible, the book of Acts is the book that records all the instances where people were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Those instances can be found in Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 9 (somewhat), Acts 10-11 (an instance occurs in chapter 1o and then talked about in chapter 11), and in Acts 19. Lets go through each of them real quick:

Acts 2 – The 120 in the upper room receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. “They were are all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4

Acts 8 – Philip preaches to the Samaritans.  They believe and are baptized (are saved and have the Holy Spirit in them), but they haven’t received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. “(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)” Acts 8:16. This helps us clearly see that this is a separate work apart from salvation. Now, this instance doesn’t distinctly say that the Samaritans spoke with tongues, but if you compare it to other instances in the book of Acts and you note how Simon saw how the Holy Spirit was given when the apostles laid hands on them, you can safely assume that these people spoke with tongues. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” Acts 8:18-19.

Acts 9 – This instance is kind of mentioned in passing.  It is when Paul is prayed for by Ananias after he had been blinded on the way to Damascus. And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:17. (Compare with Acts 2:4) And we know for sure that Paul spoke with tongues for he said, I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all. 1 Co 14:18.

Acts 10-11 – This instance is the best instance to show that tongues are a part of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When Peter preaches to these people they believe so quickly that they are saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit at the same time. 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 1o:44-46. So you can see that Peter and the others could tell that they were baptized in the Holy Spirit because they had heard them speak with tongues.And then, in Acts 11, Peter recounts what happened to the brethren and shows how this experience was the same experience that they had had in Acts 2 (Acts 11:15-17).

Acts 19 – This instance is when Paul lays his hands on certain disciples to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit just like Peter and John did in Acts 8. And this time we know for sure that they spoke in tongues: And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied Acts 19:6.

I’d encourage you to examine all these scriptures more carefully for yourself.

Is tongues for every believer? Yes!  Else why would Paul say, “I wish you all spoke with tongues. (1 Co 14:5)”?

There is so much more to speaking in tongues that I will reserve it for another blog.  The main thing to understand is that this all has a purpose, and that purpose is to be a powerful and effective witness of Jesus Christ.  We cannot do that properly without this gift of the Holy Spirit.

See my post on tongues here: “Why you should be a tongue talker”