”But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The teaching of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues has caused much hurt and division in the body of Christ. On the extreme of both sides we have some accusing others of being of the devil and we have others claiming that those who have not experienced it are at best “second” class citizens. Both extreme views are nonsense. It is a very serious thing to call the work of the Holy Ghost “of the devil” and there are no second class citizens in the Kingdom of God.
Confusion has set in because we don’t study the Scripture in context. Those of you who have studied with us for awhile will know that there are many different kinds of the “Coming of Christ” and also that there are different aspects of salvation. In both cases, a study of context is necessary to determine the type or aspect being taught. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. In relation to this particular topic there are three ministries of the Holy Ghost. Confusing or blending them has led to much turmoil.
The first ministry or relationship is called the “With” relationship. This is the Holy Spirit accompanying an individual. In the Old Testament we see this relationship as the Spirit came upon certain people, but it was not an abiding presence. Today, the Holy Spirit can be “with” the unbeliever convicting them, giving them faith, and regenerating them. He is “with” them, involved in their lives, and yet He is not “in” them.
The second ministry is called the “In” relationship. This is His indwelling relationship with believers which they experience initially at salvation. The Holy Spirit comes to live within. He will never leave us. He has come to live within our hearts. In this relationship He directs us, opens the Scriptures to us, reveals Jesus to us, and witnesses to us that we belong to God. Every believer has the Holy Ghost “in” them. This can also be referred to as the baptism into the Body of Christ. It is; however, different from the third ministry.
The third ministry is called the “Upon” relationship. This is an experience which may happen at the same time as salvation, but often happens after the conversion experience. It is an additional, and important, ministry of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. One of the major reasons for the “Upon” relationship is that we would have power to serve God according to His will. There is no doubt that God calls each of us into a ministry which is beyond what we are capable of handling in our natural strength. The coming upon of the Holy Spirit enables us to perform whatever God has placed before us.
The Biblical evidence that the Holy Spirit has come “Upon” someone is the speaking in tongues [i.e. an unknown language]. We cannot say a person who does not speak in tongues does not have the “Upon” ministry of the Holy Ghost, but we can say they have not yet presented the evidence of it.
Some people have made speaking in tongues simply a self-centered experience. They look no further than self-gratification. They have the experience, but in practice they have denied the purpose. Often when we simply seek the evidence we lose the power. The purpose is to be empowered to be witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ and thereby expand the Kingdom of God. The vision of God is always to others and the “Upon” relationship is for a purpose not an experience.
Some object by saying that there are great men and women of God who do not speak in tongues. Very true. There are two ways we would respond, a] they may have had the “Upon” relationship but not been open to releasing the evidence, or b] it is the Holy Spirit who does the work and we can only wonder how greater their ministry many have been if they had had the “Upon” relationship as well.
It is a sad misuse of the gift which degenerates simply into emotionalism and refuses to allow the Holy Ghost to fulfill the purpose of the gift. It is also sad that many object to this baptism in the Holy Spirit and so miss out on something great that God has for them.
If this is a source of controversy or confusion to you, prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you study the subject. Keep an open mind and prayerfully ask the Holy Ghost to reveal His truth to you. Remember, if you are a believer, the Holy Spirit is in you - that is not in question.