The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
THE PENTECOSTAL EXPERIENCE
It was very significant that Jesus Christ, our "Passover Lamb" (I Corinthians 5:7) was crucified on the very day that the Jews kept the Feast of the Passover. It was just as significant that God should choose to pour out His Holy Spirit on another Jewish feast day, while the Jews filled the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost (also called "Feast of Weeks," and "Feast of the Firstfruits").
The word "Pentecost" is a Greek word that simply means "fiftieth." This feast was to be kept fifty days after the Feast of the Passover. It was to commemorate (celebrate) the beginning of the wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22). On this particular day, the Jews were required to bring, besides their animal sacrifices, two loaves of bread made with the newly gathered wheat, that they might be waved in worship before the Lord. (Leviticus 23:16-21).
How significant are the words, "And when the day of Pentecost
was fully come. . . ." The Jews had kept the Feast of Pentecost
hundreds of times before, but there was never a Feast of Pentecost like
this one, because God, in His divine providence, chose to make this
day the Birthday of the Church, and the beginning of the ingathering
of souls into the kingdom of God!
The day of Pentecost ushered in a new age for Israel--and for all who would become "spiritual Jews" through faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. When the Holy Spirit came upon the approximately 120 believers, there was a sound from heaven of a rushing mighty wind. (The Pentecostal experience came from heaven!) Then tongues of fire sat upon each of them. After the apostle Peter preached, about another 3000 people were filled with the Holy Ghost
These phenomena are never mentioned as having been repeated again in
the book of Acts. It does not mean that they never did, but it was not
to be expected as Biblical evidence of having received the promised
Holy Spirit. However, in the four historical accounts given in the book
of Acts of people receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost, speaking
with tongues (other languages) was either clearly stated or implied
as having taken place.
There were Jews present from at least seventeen different nations who were shocked to hear these Galileans speaking in the language of their country.
Some argue that this "speaking with tongues" on the day of Pentecost was given only to allow the believers to preach to the crowd who gathered around them after they received the Holy Ghost. However, there was no need for a miracle of this nature, because all of their observers were also Jews (verse 5), and would be familiar with the Hebrew language, and most probably the Aramaic as well.
There was no language barrier. Whenever it was time for a sermon, Peter stood and preached to the crowd without interpreters.
Others argue that the "speaking with tongues" was really "the gift of tongues."
While there is a similarity, all the rules governing the operation of the gift of tongues would have been broken if this was indeed the gift of tongues. (This gift is actually called "divers or different kinds of tongues.") In I Corinthians, Chapter 14, Paul devotes the entire chapter to the operation of the gift of prophecy, and the gifts of tongues and interpretation. Paul gives these rules governing the "gift of tongues":
1) The gift of tongues is not to be exercised unless someone interprets what is being said (verse 5).
2) Only one person should speak at a time. There should never be more than three messages in tongues in one meeting, and that by course (verse 27).
These rules were not kept by the approximately 120 people, because their "speaking with tongues" was not the manifestation of the "gift of tongues," but was the unmistakeable audible proof that they had received the Holy Ghost.
The "speaking with tongues" that occurred on the day of Pentecost drew mixed reactions from the crowd of observers. Some mocked, and said, "These men are full of new wine." Others were in doubt, but said one to another, "What meaneth this?"
Remember that these were all Jews, most of whom had come from other countries to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Pentecost. They had been taking part in the formal temple activities until they heard of the miraculous events that had taken place in an upper room of the house where the believers were assembled.
When the question was asked, "What meaneth this?" Peter stood up with the eleven and began to preach, first answering the question:
"This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy" (Acts 2:16-18).
This answer by Peter is the conclusive evidence that the "speaking with tongues" that occurred on the day of Pentecost was the audible witness or sign of the coming of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of the believers.
Important Bible doctrine should always be backed by more than one verse of Scripture, however, so let us continue with the other three accounts in the book of Acts of people receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
2. The Samaritans.
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to the people. There was a good response. There were many remarkable healings that took place, demons were cast out, and there was great joy in the city. Philip baptized many of them in the name of Jesus Christ, including one man who had practiced sorcery (witchcraft). His name was Simon. (Acts 8:1-13).
When the apostles at Jerusalem heard about the great revival in Samaria, they sent Peter and John unto Philip. Although many had been baptized in Jesus' name, none of them had received the Holy Ghost. ( Peter had been given the authority to open the "door of salvation.")
"Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 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 8:17-19).
This is the only account in the book of Acts of people receiving the Holy Spirit where "speaking with tongues" is not mentioned. Yet, we see from the above verses that something miraculous must have taken place. Otherwise, why did Simon offer money unto Peter and John.
Simon offered no money to have the power to heal the sick, after he witnessed many sick people being healed during Philip's ministry. But when Peter and John laid their hands upon people, and they received the Holy Ghost, Simon made his infamous offer.
Every unprejudiced Bible scholar agrees that what Simon saw was these
people speaking with tongues as the Spirit of God gave them the utterance.
Cornelius, a Roman centurion--thus, a Gentile--was a "devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always" (Acts 10:2). Yet, he needed to be baptized in Jesus' name and receive the Holy Ghost!
God gave him a vision and told him to call for Peter "who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts 11:14). He believed, he feared God, he gave, he prayed--but he needed to be born of the water and the Spirit!
Peter came and preached to Cornelius and his household. In the middle of Peter's sermon, Peter said, concerning the name of Jesus, "through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins":
"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed (Jews) were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." (Acts 10:44-46).
The Jews who had accompanied Peter to the household of Cornelius were convinced that these Gentiles had received the baptism (also called "gift") of the Holy Ghost. Why? "...they heard them speak with tongues."
4. The Ephesian Believers.
Paul met twelve men in the city of Ephesus which seemed to have such good character and behaviour that he had to ask them, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" (Acts 19:1-2).
Not only had they not received the Holy Ghost, they also had not been baptized in Jesus' name. Paul baptized them in Jesus' name, and then prayed for them to receive the Holy Ghost:
"And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came
on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied" (Acts 19:6).
From this evidence, we have every right to anticipate and expect that
when people truly receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit they will speak
with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance!
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).
This is the most important question that a person could ever ask. Yet, most people are seeking the answers to other questions that they feel are more important, such as:
How can I get rich?
These questions involve only this earthly life, which at the most is only seventy years, or so. They involve the body only. But man is much more than just a fleshly body. We are body, soul, and spirit (I Thessalonians 5:23).
Our soul is going to live on forever somewhere. We can be wrong about
some things, and it's not too important, but we must have the right
answer to the all important question, "What must I do to be saved"