Joseph Herrin (07-02-2013)
Perhaps you have been the recipient of such a question. Last week I had four different individuals, all unknown to one another, write to me regarding the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Father uses such occurrences to direct my focus to topics He would have me to teach upon. Discerning that there is a great amount of false teaching, deception, and confusion surrounding this issue, I believe many saints will be benefitted by giving this subject some further thought.
I was about twenty years old (thirty-two years ago at the time of this writing) when I first encountered the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I was in a Christian bookstore and noticed a rack with some pamphlets and small booklets on the subject. Some other terms used to describe the Baptism of the Holy Spirit were “Second Blessing,” and “Anointing.”
I picked up several of these short writings and took them home to study. I was very zealous for the Lord from my early years, and at the age of twenty I very much wanted to be used of the Father in some ministry capacity. As I read these writings, a common theme was established. The authors spoke about men such as John and Charles Wesley, Charles Finney, and some other saints with whom I was less familiar. Examples were given of men whose ministries had been transformed by the individual receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Claims were made that, prior to receiving the baptism, these men had little power, and very little fruit to show for their efforts. They could scarcely draw a handful of individuals to hear them preach, and conversions were rare. At some point in each individual’s life it was declared (not necessarily by them, but certainly by the authors of the booklets I was reading) that these men received the baptism of the Holy Spirit resulting in a radical transformation. Now when they held meetings, multitudes flocked to them. People hearing these men speak fell under the power of the Holy Spirit. There was brokenness, weeping, and desperate cries of repentance. Hundreds, even thousands, were saved in meeting after meeting. It was said that these anointed men could walk into the presence of godless, sin-hardened crowds, and people would fall under conviction.
According to the booklets I was reading, this remarkable increase in power was attributable to only one thing. These men had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Frequently, some minister promoting the baptism of the Holy Spirit will set forth certain requirements for receiving it. The list might resemble something like the following:
How Do We Receive The Baptism of The Holy Spirit?
• Our hearts must be properly prepared through repentance. (Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19)
• There needs to be a real hungering and thirsting for it. (Matthew 5:6)
• There must be a sense of expectation. (Luke 11:9-13)
• There must be an active response to your faith. (James 2:2)
Such teachings lead the hearer to desperation as they begin to plead to God to grant them the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The individual is taught that if they believe such a baptism to be real, and that it is available to those who ask for it, and if they have an expectation that they will receive it if they cry out for it, then it can be theirs.
As I read the pamphlets before me, and considered their message, a desperation began to well up inside me. From what was set forth through numerous testimonies (whether factual, or not), I became convinced that there were two types of Christians in the world. There were those who had not received this second blessing, this baptism of the Holy Spirit. Such Christians had very little power in their lives. No matter how much they toiled, the fruit simply did not come forth. Then there were the Christians who had received the baptism of the Spirit. These ones moved in power. When they showed up, miracles happened. When they preached, multitudes fell under conviction. These ones bore abundant fruit.
To my mind, as a twenty year old Christian who was eager to be used of God in ministry, I concluded that there must be two types of believers. There were those whom I described as second class citizens of God’s kingdom, and there were those who were first class citizens. As I looked at my life, the absence of power, the lack of miracles, the dearth of conversions, I was convinced that I was a second class Christian. I began praying for God to grant me the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
I do not know how long I wrestled with this issue. It was not long, according to the testimony of some others I have heard from. Some have written to me confessing that they have been crying out for years for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What my struggle lacked in duration, it made up for in intensity. Sometime during the week in which I had first read these writings promoting the need for a second baptism of the Holy Spirit, I found myself on my knees beside my bed. I was crying out to God with a desperation I had never experienced before.
I became so distraught at the thought of remaining a powerless Christian when there was power to be had, I told the Father that if I could not be a first class Christian, having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I did not want to be a Christian at all. Please understand, I was not inclined to rash statements spoken to the Father. I walked in the fear of God, and would not have intentionally spoken irreverently to Him. My words were born out of the desperation I was experiencing after having received this teaching on the necessity of receiving the “second blessing.”
As I was on my knees, experiencing emotional and spiritual anguish, I had an encounter with the Father that I remember clearly to this day. I had never experienced anything like it previously. It was the first time in my life that I heard Yahweh speak to me in such clear and precise words, that I could recite them syllable for syllable. Yet, the voice I heard was not an external one such as Paul experienced on the road to Damascus. It was an inner voice, spoken Spirit to spirit.
Right after I expressed to the Father that I did not want to continue on as a Christian if He would not grant me the baptism of His Spirit and endue me with power for ministry, He spoke to me. These are the words the Spirit declared:
“Those who are faithful with little things will be given greater things.”
These words were attended by an immediate impartation of understanding. I KNEW what these words meant. Yahweh opened up my spirit and mind to perceive clearly what He was communicating to me. The same God who could open up the mind and intellect of Solomon to give him understanding as the breadth of the sea, had opened my mind to perceive truth at that moment.
As these words entered my being I comprehended that the Father was declaring to me a promise, and a principle of His kingdom. If I would be faithful to walk in the light I had been given; if I would obey His commandments when He spoke to me; if I would be faithful to use what gifts He had given to me, being led of the Spirit in doing so; He promised that no good thing would ever be withheld from me. If there were a greater anointing of His Spirit to be given, He would give it to those who were faithful in the use of that measure of the Spirit they had already received. I need not fear that Yahweh would withhold something good and necessary from me simply because I had not asked for it with enough fervency. He would give me what I needed at the time He deemed to be right.
A moment before Yahweh spoke to me my entire being was filled with anguish, confusion, and desperation. I was anxious, miserable, and crying out desperately. The very moment that Yahweh spoke, and the understanding of His words entered my being, I experienced a palpable manifestation of His Spirit that gave further evidence to the fact that I was hearing from God. A wave of peace swept over my body. The experience registered both physically in my body, as well as in my soul. The anxiousness and desperation I had been experiencing suddenly dissipated. In its place was left a profound peace and quietness throughout my entire being. I KNEW that I had an encounter with the living God.
The Spirit of Christ further affirmed the message communicated to me by drawing my attention to the following passage of Scripture.
“For [the kingdom of heaven] is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his servants, and entrusted his possessions to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground, and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.' The one also who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted to me two talents; see, I have gained two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the earth; see, you have what is yours.' But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. And cast out the worthless servant into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Yahshua is setting forth a principle of the kingdom of God as He declares this parable. Yahweh will reward those who have been faithful with the little entrusted to them by granting them greater things. This principle applies to the measure of the Holy Spirit that is given to a person. The coin that Christ has left to His disciples to transact business is the Holy Spirit.
In the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit is at times compared and contrasted to the money of this world. Peter stated on one occasion:
"I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Yahshua Christ the Nazarene - walk!"
What Peter had was the Spirit of Christ dwelling in his members. This was what He used to accomplish the will of the Father. It is the Spirit that Christ delivers to His servants that they might bring forth increase in the kingdom of God in His absence. When He returns, Yahshua will call all His servants to account for what they did with that which was entrusted to them.
In the parable spoken by Yahshua, He made mention of a man of substance departing for a lengthy period of time. Before he departs, he gives to his various servants varying numbers of “talents.” A talent was a sum of money, measured by weight. It was typically either silver or gold. What is implied, then, when Christ speaks of the wicked lazy servant who took the talent given to him and buried it in the earth?
Man’s flesh was formed of the dust of the earth. Even so, God has chosen Adamic men to be vessels containing His Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?
II Corinthians 4:7
We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves...
There are many servants of Christ who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. These ones have been born again spiritually, yet many fail to bring forth increase for His kingdom. These lazy, wicked Christians take the anointing that has been entrusted to them and bury it in the earth of their flesh. There it remains hidden until the Master returns to ask for an accounting.
By failing to crucify the flesh and yield their lives to live at the direction and pleasure of the Father, these unfaithful servants are like an alabaster (stone) cruse of precious perfume that remains sealed. Unless the alabaster jar is broken, that which is inside cannot come forth to alter the atmosphere around the individual, and reveal the presence of the Holy Spirit.
And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.
Is this experience not a parable? The very costly perfume contained in the stone vessel is an image of the Holy Spirit that dwells in the temple built of living stones. As individual vessels, we must be broken, submitting ourselves to the work of the cross, that the aroma of Christ might be loosed into the world around us. If there is no breaking of a man, neither is there a manifestation of the life of Christ. Such ones are like the wicked, lazy servant. Because they have hidden the gift of God in the earth of their flesh, they stand to lose that which was entrusted to them.
I Corinthians 3:13, 15
Each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work... If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss...
Yahshua expects His servants to diligently employ the resources He has given them for the increase of the kingdom of God. Please understand that you are NOT called to pursue works according to the leading of your soul. The only works that profit are those initiated by the Spirit of Christ. Each saint is to be Spirit led in all they do. (For more on this subject, I recommend the book titled Sabbath.)
Every person who has been born again of the Spirit of Christ has been given a measure of the Spirit. Yahshua told Nicodemus “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. You must be born again.” I would not seek to convince any person that they have been born again if they are unsure of this matter themselves. Every person needs to arrive at their own assurance of having been born of the Spirit. The apostle Paul declared:
II Corinthians 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Yahshua Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?
How can a man, or woman, fail to observe that Christ is in them? If they have been born again they will discover that they have been given a new heart and mind. There is a part of them that will yearn to walk pleasing to the Father. The Spirit in a man will be grieved when the child of God sins. The Spirit within will make known the thoughts of God to the individual saint.
I Corinthians 2:12-13
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
Those who have been born again of the Spirit will also find that the Spirit bears witness within them that they are children of God.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God...
Is this your experience? Do you pass the test? Do you recognize that you are a child of God? Then you have been given a measure of the Spirit and Christ intends for you to bring forth increase as you exercise that which has been entrusted to you. The Spirit also imparts gifts to each individual according to Yahweh’s determination.
I Corinthians 12:4-11
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
It is possible to have received spiritual gifts while failing to exercise them in a faithful manner. Recognizing this, the apostle Paul spoke the following to the young minister Timothy.
II Timothy 1:6
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
There are a number of denominations and churches that place a great emphasis upon receiving the baptism of the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Among them are various Pentecostal and Holiness churches, and Assemblies of God churches. Those who promote a belief in a second experience wherein a person receives a greater anointing of the Holy Spirit, base their teachings on various Scriptures that they have failed to understand. Following is one example:
There Are Two Distinct Experiences in the Holy Spirit.
The new convert is saved or born again through the Holy Spirit, but there is yet another work of grace. We find an example of this in the lives of the early disciples.
1. The early disciples were born of the Spirit when Jesus breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit". (John 20:22)
2. Jesus then told these same disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the promise of His Father. (Luke 24:49)
Statement number 1 is false. The early disciples were NOT born again until the day of Pentecost. Christ was merely acting out what was soon to occur to them when He breathed on them. The actual event did not occur until Pentecost when the breath of Christ arrived as a rushing, mighty wind, and tongues of fire stood over the head of every person gathered in the upper room. Christ could not send forth His Spirit until AFTER He had departed. He declared this to be true in the following words:
“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”
By misunderstanding the Scriptures, many have built support for the idea that there are two distinct experiences, or impartations, of the Holy Spirit.
A second error is believing that the gift of tongues is given by God as evidence that one has received the Holy Spirit. I will quote once more from the website I have been referencing.
The Evidence of Having Received the Baptism of the Spirit & the Pentecostal Experience.
It is more than taking it by faith. God gives a tangible supernatural sign in your body. Your tongue will speak a language you have never learned. This is called "speaking in tongues". (Mark 16:17, Acts 2:4, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:1-6)
The Two Kinds of Tongues.
The apostle Paul elaborates on this truth quite extensively in the Book of 1 Corinthians. He explains the difference between tongues as a sign of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues.
1. The gift of tongues must be followed with an interpretation.
2. The devotional tongue comes with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Please understand that I am not picking on Mr. Birks, who has this information posted on his website. I have no familiarity with the man. I have used his website as it is a very typical example of what is taught on this subject. The same claims and statements could be found in the writings of hundreds of other ministers.
Mr. Birks does not elaborate on his statement that Paul, in I Corinthians, “explains the difference between tongues as a sign of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues.” I have found nowhere in the text of this epistle, or any other New Testament writing, where tongues are ever set forth as a sign whereby Christians might recognize those who have received the baptism of the Spirit. There are a couple of instances where men and women spoke in tongues after receiving the Holy Spirit, but we are not told that tongues must always accompany this experience. We also find that those who received the Spirit not only spoke in tongues, but they also prophesied. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit moved upon the 120 gathered in the upper room to prophesy of Yahshua the Messiah to all the men gathered in Jerusalem. Peter also prophesied on that occasion, and 3,000 souls were saved as they heard His words. Later in the book of Acts we see tongues and prophecy associated with the receiving of the Holy Spirit again.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. And there were in all about twelve men.
Furthermore, Peter on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was first given, quotes the prophet Joel.
‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; Even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy.’
If a person wanted to develop some test of having received the Spirit, prophesying has just as much precedence as does speaking in tongues. Why then choose tongues as the litmus test for having received the Spirit? In actuality, Christ never intended spiritual gifts to be used as evidence to determine who had received His Spirit. Christ did speak of a means to recognize those who were partakers of His Spirit. It was by means of examining the fruit of their lives.
“For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit; nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit.”
If a person wants to determine whether another is a partaker of the Spirit of Christ, they need to look for spiritual fruit in their lives, NOT spiritual gifts.
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
I have both observed, and heard horrendous accounts, of men and women who boasted that they had received the baptism of the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, yet these same individual’s lives revealed gross sin, debauchery, covetousness, envy, and every form of carnality. Pride is NOT a fruit of the Spirit, yet many who have embraced the doctrine of the baptism of the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, manifest great pride. They babble publicly in tongues as if it were a badge of honor revealing that they are part of the “in crowd” with Jesus, having received the second blessing.
Mr. Birks, and others who assert similar things, do err by saying that “devotional tongues” come with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They often call this a person’s “prayer language.” An examination of Acts chapter 2 reveals that those who spoke in tongues on that day were NOT speaking in a prayer language, nor a devotional type of tongues. They were prophesying through tongues, telling forth the works of God to those gathered.
“We hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”
I suspect that some have made this false distinction that they might get around the following words that Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth.
I Corinthians 12:29-30
All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
These seven questions asked by the apostle Paul are rhetorical. The implied answer for all of them is “No!” Not all Christians speak in tongues. Not all prophesy. How then can one use the gift of tongues as a litmus test to determine who has become a partaker of the Holy Spirit? They cannot. Yahweh never intended men to employ such a test. When Paul admonished the members of the church in Corinth to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!,” he did not intend for them to prove the matter by attempting to speak in tongues.
Let me state clearly, I do believe there is a legitimate gift of tongues that is in operation today. I am in no manner seeking to deny the legitimacy of gifts of the Spirit, nor their continued operation among the people of God to this day. I am declaring only that tongues were never intended to be used by the church to judge who has received the Holy Spirit, and who has not.
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