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How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:4 says that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (NIV) Here is a combination of humans moving in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, both taking their respective roles. Concerning the Holy Spirit’s role, Stanley Horton reminds us that this is a divine visitation when he mentions that “… the words did not come from their minds or thinking. The Spirit gave them utterance which they expressed boldly, loudly, and with obvious anointing and power” (Horton, Acts, p. 33). Evangelist Robert Abbott notes the human element in this with the person involved willingly participating in speaking in other tongues, under the Spirit’s guidance, even though what they say is supernatural (Abbott, pp. 171-172.). There is no contradiction here. The words “they began to speak” suggests the role of the disciples while the words “as the Spirit enabled them,” suggests that the Holy Spirit was working in cooperation with their spirits. We must be careful, however, of pressing this combination too closely. Erlie Reyes, among others, says that she did not have control of her tongue when she was baptized in the Holy Spirit (interview, September 12, 1999).

I will never forget my experience in this regard. One day, believing that the Holy Spirit would just take over my mouth and lips if I simply invited him to do so, I laid back on my bed, opened my mouth, and just lay there waiting. What happened? Nothing. It may just not have been God’s time, but I didn’t receive the Baptism until I understood that I had a role to play by speaking as the Spirit gave me the words.

The apostles received the Baptism simultaneously, but Horton is correct in saying that while they “were all filled at the same moment, the filling itself was an individual experience” (Horton, What the Bible Says, p. 139.). I received it in the basement prayer room of a church in San Diego. Kaye Cole, missionary to the Philippines, received it in the altars of her home church in Birmingham, Alabama (interview, September 13, 1999). While many receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit in some form of prayer meeting or worship service, you can receive it anywhere. Some have received it in their homes. One man received it while driving down the highway and missed his exit by nine miles! The place doesn’t matter. It’s the attitude of the heart that counts!

In Acts 2:1-4 and 10:44-47 no one touched the person receiving the Baptism. In Acts 8:1-25, 9:17-18, and 19:1-6, however, God used someone to lay hands on the recipient. While this is not necessary, it does have Biblical precedent. Paul (now David) Yonggi Cho writes that if you want to receive the Baptism you can receive it, even if your own prayer is weak, when a Spirit filled brother or sister lays hands on you (Cho, The Holy Spirit, p. 120). I received when someone laid hands on me, and I have laid hands on others for the same purpose. Others have also testified to receiving when someone laid hands on them.

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2000

About the Author: Dave Johnson, M.Div., D.Miss. (Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines), is an Assemblies of God missionary to the Philippines. Dave and his wife Debbie have been involved in evangelism, church planting, and Bible school and mission leadership. Dave is the Managing Editor of Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, the director of APTS Press in Baguio City, Philippines and coordinator for the Asian Pentecostal Theological Seminary's Master of Theology Program. Facebook Twitter

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