When it comes to receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, it may seem like a lot of mysterious mumbo jumbo. There are a lot of mind traps that keep us from receiving this gift.
Most of the time when the subject of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit comes up, it’s a lot like when Paul goes to the Ephesians in Acts 19 and they say, “we have not so much heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
Most of the time I hear, “I’ve just never heard it explained before.”
Sometimes I hear, “I’ve heard that it is wrong, so we just stayed away from it.” But we need to see what the Full Counsel of the Word of God has to say! If it was so important that it becomes some of Jesus’ last words to his guys….so important that he says not to go into ministry without it…then it should be important to us, right?
Other times people are ready to receive this gift, but there are many mind traps to overcome before it can happen. Remember what I said in Part 2. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He will only go as far as we will let Him go.
In this installment, we will look at how to receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit and “Mind Traps” that keep you from it. All of these questions are ones that I’ve encountered from people of various denominations, as well as those who earnestly “desire spiritual gifts.”
1. Isn’t this kind of thing for that “weird church down the street?”
2. I’ve always heard that speaking in tongues is evil, out of order, or chaos.”
3. But the Bible clearly says that there is “One Baptism.”
4. Does it mean I’m not saved if I don’t speak in tongues?”
5. Maybe the gift of tongues isn’t for everyone?”
6. Are you saying that if I don’t speak in tongues, I don’t have the ‘Baptism of the Spirit?'”
7. Are you saying I’m a subpar Christian if I don’t speak in tongues?
8. I prayed for it, but it didn’t happen. Does that mean there’s something wrong with me? Does God love me? Is He mad at me?
9. When I prayed for it, I felt it rising up, but then I clamped down and it went away. What now?
10. Do you just make up the words? How does this thing work?
- Isn’t this kind of thing for that “weird church down the street?”
This statement is a lot like the Ephesians of Acts 19 who say, “We haven’t heard about this.” Usually when someone hasn’t heard about something, they instantly take a negative view on it. “That’s weird,” they may say. Cool. But so are a lot of things in the Bible, like gifts of healing (that’s not normal), and prophecy (Hearing the voice of God), and feeding the 5000, not to mention splitting the Red Sea, dipping in the Jordan seven times to be healed of leprosy, and the list goes on. God tends to do some pretty bizarre stuff. Are you going to let your judgmental attitude toward the the church down the street stop you from getting what scripture shows us to be available to all believers?Listen, there were plenty of people standing by watching Jesus as he passed by the crowds. It was the woman who did something “a little weird” by the standards of her day when she crawled on hands and knees, and pressed through the bystanders, in desperation to be healed of her “issue of blood.” We know her story because God honored that kind of faith and it was written down. We don’t know the stories of those standing by.
Don’t be that guy, or church, that makes fun of people reaching out to receive the gift that He has made available to all. Just remember that when David’s wife made fun of him for dancing somewhat “undignified” that she remained barren for the rest of her days because of it. 1 Thessalonians 5 says “Don’t quench the Spirit.”
- I’ve always heard that speaking in tongues is evil, out of order, or chaos.
I was sitting across the desk of a minister friend of mine. He thought the gift I’d experienced was evil. I said, “you may want to be careful that you don’t ‘quench the Spirit'”
He said, “You may want to be careful because when you pray in tongues, you may be praying demons in.”
We agreed to disagree….well, I agreed to disagree. I’m not sure if he agreed. Where he was coming from was that he’d seen some kind of satanic cult chanting in an unknown language, and therefore all tongues must be considered evil.My take was that demons are merely fallen angels….they probably didn’t change languages when they fell from heaven. Who knows what human language was spoken before the Tower of Babel? Could it be that we all once spoke with angelic tongues? Who knows.
Also, language is just like money. It is “amoral” and the “good” or “evil” of it depends on how one uses it. These are all speculations by the way. What I do know is that if Jesus said that it was important before He left this earth, so I’d say it’s probably not evil.
- But the Bible clearly says that there is “ONE BAPTISM”
Right. You’re talking about Ephesians 4 where it says…
Ephesians 4:3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.A few verses later, it says that from this One God, He distributes to the church apostles, evangelists, prophets, pastors and teachers. I don’t have time in this post to go into the 5 fold ministry, but let’s break this down logically.
People jump straight to “One Baptism” to say that all we have is one baptism, meaning water baptism, ie “salvation.” Water baptism is a whole other subject that we will not be going into here. The context here in this passage is that “baptism” is synonymous to “salvation.”He’s talking about unity here. That’s the main point of this passage. So there is “one body,” meaning that there is no longer Jew and Gentile (as it breaks down in Ephesians chapters 2-4). There is “one Spirit” talking about the Holy Spirit. There aren’t many gods. There is “one Lord” Jesus Christ.
And there is “one baptism.” So now we need to put on our Inductive Bible Study glasses. One of the rules of Interpretation is that Scripture will not contradict Scripture. John the Baptist says in Matt 3:11 that he baptizes with water but Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
But Mikey, “John’s baptism” isn’t the same as “Jesus’ baptism.” Go back to the first post “Holy Spirit Part 1” and see how we broke down John’s Baptism.
Acts 19:4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” So “John’s Baptism” was an indicator to be looking forward to Jesus.
So then…19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then, after they were baptized, Paul lays his hands on them and they get what other verses call “the Baptism of fire.” This is a 2nd work. 19: 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Also, in chapters 2, 8, and 10, we see that water baptism (salvation) is a separate thing from fire baptism (empowerment). We covered this in Part 1.
So we have to decide if perhaps the context of Ephesians 4 is speaking about “one baptism” in a way that may be a little more complex, ie. that he’s not contradicting himself, but rather saying from his list of words and commas that all of this is from the same God, that there is no “other way,” that we aren’t on different teams, that one baptism is like saying there is only one way to salvation. This makes more sense since.
- Does it mean I’m not saved if I don’t speak in tongues?
Again, the Gift of the Spirit was a second work meant to empower believers, not to save them. The Holy Spirit does Regenerate the believer through repentance and faith in Christ. That saves your soul. We see this in John 20 when Jesus breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” They are Regenerated right then. They are saved.
But the Baptism of the Spirit is for another function: Power for a purpose. That empowerment caused guys like Peter, who were hiding during the crucifixion, to be BOLD witnesses after the Outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2.
- Maybe the gift of tongues isn’t for everyone?
Again, we have to go to Scripture. So you may be thinking of this passage in 1 Corinthians 12.
1Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
So the gifts are given for the edification of all according to 1 Corinthians 12-14. God appoints apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. and he finishes with “varieties of tongues”
What we see from the pattern of Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19 is that the Baptism of the Spirit was evidenced (meaning: people could tell that it happened) because they saw them and heard them “speaking in tongues” and magnifying God. A proper understanding of the “variety of tongues” may be important to understand.
What seems to be the pattern is that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the gateway that opens up into a variety of Gifts of the spirit. One neighborhood within that castle wall may be the prophecy neighborhood, then the healings neighborhood, and then the tongues neighborhood, etc.
In the “tongues neighborhood” is a variety of tongues, which either means that there are various kinds of languages, or that there are a variety of ways in which tongues are used, or both.
I believe it is “both.” We see one kind of tongues in Acts 2 where everyone is speaking in tongues and people in the streets hear them speaking their human languages.
Another kind of tongues, as discussed in the previous blog post was the “message in tongues” to be spoken and then someone else interprets to the whole congregation, and then there’s the “prayer language” as spoken of in Romans 8, Jude 20, and 1 Corinthians 14. There are stories of missionaries speaking in tongues they didn’t know to indigenous people that happened to be in their language. So there are many kinds of tongues. Which leads me to the next question…
Are you saying if I don’t speak in tongues, I don’t have the baptism of the Spirit?
I believe that the Initial (or first) Evidence of the Baptism of fire would be speaking in tongues. Why do I think that? Because we see the same pattern play out throughout Acts. Notice I did not say, the ONLY evidence of the fire baptism, but that this prayer language is the FIRST one we see.
What is the conclusion to all or this? That the Baptism of the Spirit is the gateway to the other gifts perhaps? And if that is so, then this gift is for the purpose of empowerment. Not all have the “gift of tongues” to give a message to the whole congregation, or maybe the “gift of interpretation” to interpret it. But all have the option to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit, with the first evidence of that baptism being a “prayer language.” That’s why it says in Acts 2:39 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.”
- Are you saying I’m a subpar Christian if I don’t speak in tongues?
And now we come to the real reason why many do not receive this gift. This idea is built on an “inferiority complex.” If you look at Christianity as a series of do’s and don’t’s, or a list of achievements that you must unlock like a video game….then this looks like the next achievement to unlock. And if that be true, then someone who has this gift is further down the “spiritual road” than you, and therefore, more valuable, and a better Christian. There is so much wrong with this idea, and due to the pride of man, it’s amazing to me that this gift can ever be poured out on anyone. Let me ask you this: Are people who are unmarried less valuable than those who are married? NO! They have different experiences, but their value is the same. If you look at life with a timeline that says, “I have to be married by this age, have children by this age, retire by this age, etc.” then you miss out on so much of life.This is what I would call a DESTINATION vs DIRECTIONAL way of living. If you are DESTINATION based, then you are always looking to unlock that next thing before you can be happy. DIRECTIONAL means that you are pointed in a certain direction. This is a “Journey based” way of living.
I’ll tell you one thing, if God has more for me to experience, then I want all He wants to give to me! If He wants me to experience the power of the prayer language, then I want that. I want that more than I care about how I measure up against other Christians, where they are in their journey vs. where I am in mine, who gets what, and so on and so forth.
As we look at the Disciples all throughout the gospels, we see them positioning themselves and comparing themselves against each other, and Jesus rebukes them every time. “Don’t worry about John, Peter. You just keep your eyes on your journey!”
“BUT JESUS, I CAN’T LET JOHN BE AHEAD OF ME! I’m older than he is!” But then you realize how prideful that is and you resettle your soul. So, what if you’ve disarmed the “pride landmine,” and you’re walking through the jungle and you step on the next one…
- I prayed for it, but it didn’t happen. “Does that mean there’s something wrong with me? Does God love me? Is He mad at me?”
Listen, your worth in God’s eyes is of INFINITE VALUE, so much so that He leaped the cosmos, joined creation as a dirty human being wrapped in flesh, and lived a completely selfless and sinless life, dying on a cross at the end of it….and He would have done it if there was just one person on earth. You are His SON! you are His DAUGHTER! He loves you.
This has nothing to do with your value any more than a couple who is struggling to have a child is less valuable than the couple that pops them out like jackrabbits. There is nothing wrong with you. There are mind traps that you have to peel back. there is doubt and fear that has to be torn away, but your value whether you ever speak in tongues or not, is just the same.
Remember this: He wants this for you more than want it for yourself. But He’s going to do it in the right timing, and sometimes working through those mind traps takes a lot of mental energy.This reminds me of Weddings. On several occasions, after marrying a couple, they will come back into my office troubled. They may say something like, “We thought something was wrong with us because we couldn’t [consummate] on the first night…in fact, it took half a week!” The girl usually puts the most pressure on herself and can tend to feel like a failure if it doesn’t “work out” at first.
I remind them that in premarital counseling we talk about how there can be a lot of pressure on this one night. Your whole life is building up to it, it seems. The girl has a whole lot of pressure, especially if she’s remained pure her whole life and if they haven’t fooled around during dating. This is all new. And now it’s a good thing, but it’s scary. This kind of thing takes time. There are a lot of fears to peel back, safety has to be secured, trust has to be established.
A kind husband may say something like, “hey, it’s okay. We have time. We don’t have to do anything you aren’t comfortable doing.”
But there have been instances when a guy may put pressure on her and demand husbandly rights. This locks the poor girl down and can create a horrible experience that she may resist each time it comes up in the future. Maybe in this analogy, a church was forceful with Baptism of the Holy Spirit, maybe they pushed you down in the prayer line, or made you felt inferior because it hadn’t happened to you yet.
I tell the groom to back up, take it easy, slow down. I tell the bride to stretch a little past the comfort zone, but not a whole lot. We see this happen in Song of Solomon (which is both a picture of a real couple, as well as a prophetic picture of the Groom and the Bride of Christ).
In Song of Solomon 7:13 after many years of marriage they are about to go on a date and the lady tells him that she has prepared “All manner, new and old, Which I have laid up for you, my beloved,” meaning that she has old ways of connecting, but she is still laying up NEW ways of connecting with her husband. She didn’t settle in to an old routine. She’s always stretching into new ways, little by little.
Whoa Mikey, we are taking a weird turn here!!! What does that have to do with Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Everything. We are the bride of Christ. He is always willing to connect with us. It is the bride that is not always ready to connect with Him. Like the girl in the Song of Solomon, early in marriage, he comes to her and she is too tired to be intimate with him. Because he is a gentleman, he backs away to give her space. And it’s his kindness that makes her want to rise up and go be with him.
We are the ones who are too afraid, or too tired, or too busy….not Him. And it may take us awhile to get to the place where we are ready for the Holy Spirit to empower us, so we have to prepare ourself to connect with him by stretching ourselves out of our comfort zones. He doesn’t want to invade, so we have to invite Him in.
Imagine if a bride, after intimacy not “working out” on the wedding night, decided that this just wasn’t for them!!! Oh man! That would be very sad for that couple indeed.
Which leads us to our next “mental trap”
- When I prayed for it, I felt it rising up, but then I clamped down and it went away. What now?
Fear. This is quite normal. As you get into an atmosphere of worship, and ask him for this gift, and open yourself up to receive it, and as you begin to sing the wonders of Him, you may begin to feel it rising up.
Many times as I’m praying down the prayer line, I run into people who have contorted looks on their faces, as if they are struggling through all of these mind traps. Some are begging. Others are measuring themselves us against the guy who’s getting it but they aren’t. Others are crossing their arms as if to say, “If he wants it to happen, it will happen.” These are the common mind traps.
You have to beat all these other mind traps before you get to this one. As it begins to rise up, they may even speak a few words, but then freak out and clamp down.
“What was that?” they may say. I say, “that’s the Holy Spirit!”
I remember when it first happened to me. Just a few words came out, and then it didn’t happen for another year. I was too afraid of it. I was afraid of being out of control. I was afraid that I might do it wrong. I was afraid of sounding stupid. I was inhibited by fear.
But like what we said in question 8, I pressed myself out of my comfort zone, broke through my inhibitions during worship (kinda like stretching before a race), and as I asked him (not begged him) for the outpouring of the Spirit, and then just relaxed into the love He has for me, not allowing myself to be POSITIONAL but rather DIRECTIONAL on this journey with Him where my worth is beyond words….what ended up happening is that my focus turned from myself, my inadequacies, how I measured up against others, whether I had this achievement unlocked or not, and it TURNED TO THE FACE OF JESUS
When that happened…when I began to focus on Him, it just began to roll out of my mouth. At that point, I had an option to clamp down again, but I decided not to, and let it roll as long as I possibly could. And “Oh the Joy that floods my soul.” It changed me forever.
- Do you just make up the words? How does this thing work?
There have been times that as I’m praying over someone, when I say, “Let it happen,” they may interpret that to mean they have to start making up words. Oh man….I stop them and remind them what happened in Acts.
We see in Acts 2:4 that “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.It is the Spirit that gives the UTTERANCE. And to me this is the most beautiful picture that there is.
Imagine this! God is a God that never overrides the human will. Only Satanic forces hijack the will. God never does in scripture. There is always a choice.
In the Old Testament, the Spirit comes upon Samson for super human strength. It’s still Samson’s body, will, mind, and emotions. Samson can still choose to run if he wants to. Or he can partner with the Holy Spirit and defeat the enemy!
When the writers of the Bible penned the words of God, some would say that God Possessed them and they wrote down what God said. This is a theory called “Mechanical Dictation,” but it is ludicrous because we see the different personalities of each of the writers, word choices, flavors if you will, shining through the writing, while still remaining “God Breathed.”
“God Breathed” illustrates this idea of CO-OPERATION, meaning 2 in operation together, like a dance. It’s a 2 stepping country dance that the Spirit is leading, while the Bride of Christ allows herself to be led.
This means that one has to loosen up, and allow God to partner with us and give you the “Groanings that cannot be uttered” on your own. You have to allow him to fill your mouth, tongue, voice, but you still have your will. You can shut it down or keep going, go louder or softer, pray “in the spirit, or in the understanding.” It’s the ultimate dance of co-operation.
As the song says, “You provide the fire, and I’ll provide the sacrifice.” It is the Spirit that gives the utterance, but it is your job to work through each of these mental traps and peel back the doubt to make it where you are ready to receive this beautiful Gift of the Holy Spirit.
Know this: God is patient. God wants this Gift to be opened by you. He wants to see your face when you do. But He won’t make you do it. Stretch yourself. Trust His goodness. And let your mind be blown by His Mighty Power.