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Common Barriers to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

When God gave prophetic messages to individuals to speak, or to write in the case of the biblical text, he gave them a message in their mind and they had to obey and open their mouth or pick up a pen. Tongues works in much the same way. Tongues are a type of prophecy. The syllables come to the mind of the speaker from the Holy Spirit. However, the speaker remains in control; there­fore, he doesn’t make up what comes out of his mouth. We must also understand that Holy Spirit will not move your mouth, which means we must act in obedience to work in cooperation with the Spirit—it is a partnership.


5. Overwhelming Feelings of Unworthiness

This mentality comes from the fear of rejection. A great fear for people who seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit, is that God will pass by them, they won’t be good enough, or maybe they will be the only ones that will not receive the baptism. Many times individuals come forward for prayer seeking the Spirit’s baptism and nothing happens, so they develop overwhelming feelings of unworthiness because they feel like they have been passed over again. Others erroneously assume that speaking in tongues reflects some sort of spiritual maturity, and assume that if they don’t speak in tongues, the Spirit does not consider them spiritu­ally mature enough.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is for you because of what Jesus fully accomplished in his death and resurrection.

An effective way to help overcome this barrier lies in the as­surance that Jesus is worthy and supplies all the worthiness in ev­ery spiritual transaction. We don’t deserve anything, but live and operate in the mercy and grace of Jesus. When we realize who we are in him, and what the Spirit wants to do through us, feelings of unworthiness begin to fade away along with the barriers to receive all that God has for us. For those who assume tongues serve as a sign of spiritual maturity, we must remember that the Holy Spirit determines when and where individuals receive the baptism experience and its accompanying gift. Paul’s letters to the Corinthian Church give evidence to realize that spiritual ma­turity has nothing to do with the baptism experience. The Bible does not make that connection, and the Corinthians obviously struggled with the use of a gift they had due to their spiritual im­maturity. One of Paul’s most powerful statements related to this very issue reminds us that, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).


6. Seeking the Gift Rather than the Giver

This mentality comes from the desire to receive the gift of speaking in tongues rather than on intimacy with the Giver himself. Many people fall into the same error as Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:18-19). People become mesmerized by the glamor of tongues, and like Simon, desire the evidence rather than the actual baptismal experience. Since tongues are a gift, then we should not seek the gift with selfish intentions, rather we should seek the Holy Spirit and allow him to give when he determines (1 Corinthians 12:11). James warned those who seek with mal intent stating, …

You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (James 4:2-3).

Jesus sends the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit gives the gifts.

At a young age, my wife, Marj found herself mesmerized by this gift. She saw individuals in her church receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. Her infatuation with the gift made her desire it. She would come forward on a regular basis at the end of a church service for prayer and constantly seek the gift of tongues, but to no avail. She would consistently leave disappointed until an elderly sister in the church helped her. She encouraged Marj to stop seeking the gift and begin to seek the Giver himself. She likened it to a child who seeks a toy from their parents versus a child who just seeks intimacy with their parents. Not long after Marj began to re-orient her perspective did she find herself alone at home, seeking the Lord when something different and beautiful began to pour from her lips as she prayed.

To effectively overcome this barrier, we must stop seeking the gift. Don’t come to a church service hoping that some big-name preacher will do something for you. Remember that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit (John 16:7), and the Holy Spirit gives the gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11). Seek God!

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Category: Spirit, Summer 2018

About the Author: Jeremiah J. Campbell, D.Min. (Talbot School of Theology, Biola University), M.Div., M.A. (Global University), M.Ed. (Washington State University) is a missionary to Bolivia with the Assemblies of God World Missions, and an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God. He is also an adjunct professor for Northwest University, and associate professor for Global University, and the national director for Global University in Bolivia. Jeremiah previously served as the national director for Chi Alpha Bolivia, an organization he developed into a national ministry. Before the missions field Jeremiah was a youth pastor at Neighborhood Church in Sunnyside, WA. He also worked as a public school teacher and educational coach for the Grandview School District in Grandview, WA. Jeremiah is the author of The Foundation of the Assemblies of God of Bolivia: A Perspective through the Eyes of the Founding Missionaries (2016), and Say What?: A Biblical and Historical Journey on the Connection between the Holy Spirit, Prophecy, and Tongues (Wipf & Stock, 2018). Jeremiah married his best friend, Marjorie in 2005, and they live with their two children in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Facebook. LinkedIn. Website.

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