On one of the most holy Jewish feasts of the year, the Feast of Pentecost, we find an event in the book of Acts that changed the world. A prayer meeting was held in an upper room, attended by 120 disciples of Jesus, and something unusual happened. The power of God fell, and as a result, a great noise occurred. The prayers and praise of this small group caused such a commotion that a crowd gathered outside.
They were amazed and perplexed as they heard the disciples speaking in tongues and demanded an explanation. The apostle Peter was one of the leaders, and we have his first sermon recorded in Acts 2. As he concluded his message about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, he gave the invitation to all who heard:
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 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.”
Peter was encouraging his audience to be saved and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit just as the disciples had. This was an important day in church history and a life-changing moment for those who received this power from on high. They went from that place, preaching the gospel with signs, wonders and miracles. This gift is still available today and is still being offered to believers. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. What He did for them back then, He will do for us now.
The Bible uses a variety of terms for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and it is spoken of in several passages. To better understand this gift, it will be helpful to look at the words the Scriptures use to describe it.
In the previous verse, Peter called it “the gift” and “the promise.”
Jesus also called it “the promise” in Luke 24:49. He said, “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 promise is used because this gift had been promised centuries earlier by God through the prophet Joel:
And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
The promise was also made through the prophet Isaiah:
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring;
This powerful experience was foreordained by God and reserved specifically for this new dispensation of grace. The apostle Paul highly recommended this gift as well. He called it “receiving the Holy Ghost.”
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
—Acts 19:1-2 (KJV)
After questioning these disciples of John the Baptist and realizing they had not yet been born again, Paul got them saved, baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands.
And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
When the Spirit was initially poured out in Acts 2, Luke, the writer of Acts, called it “being filled with the Holy Spirit.”
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
John the Baptist spoke of the gift in graphic terms, describing it as “a baptism with fire.”
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
In summary, we have various men of God, promoting and describing the gift of the Holy Spirit, using different terms and different descriptions:
- The gift of the Holy Spirit.
- The promise.
- Receiving the Holy Spirit.
- Being filled with the Spirit.
- The pouring out of the Spirit.
- Being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
All these terms refer to the same experience, and as we’ve seen, it’s recommended by an impressive group of apostles and prophets—including Isaiah, Joel, Peter, Paul, John the Baptist and Jesus Himself.
This gift was so important in doing the work of God that just before He ascended to heaven, Jesus commanded the disciples to wait until they received it before they attempted anything else.
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.
Having been Spirit-filled for over 40 years, I would like to add my endorsement to those above. Receiving the Holy Spirit is one of the greatest experiences of my life, second only to receiving salvation. I’ve never been the same since I was baptized with the Holy Spirit in 1979, and I can tell you from experience, there is nothing more helpful in living the Christian life than the power of the Holy Spirit!
Most of what we know about the gift of the Holy Spirit comes from five accounts in the book of Acts where individuals were filled with the Spirit. By studying these accounts, as well as other passages from the Old and New Testaments, the teaching in this book will explain from the Scriptures what the gift of the Holy Spirit is, who this gift is for and how to receive it. Several chapters are devoted to the subject of speaking in tongues and its importance in the life of a believer, and some of the most common questions about speaking in tongues are answered in the final chapter.
Whether you are seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit for yourself or desire to lead others into this rich experience, this book is designed to be a handbook on the subject and equip you with the truths you need.
My prayer is that this teaching will help many who are hungry for more of God receive this wonderful gift!