Pentacost by Jean II Restout (Photo Credit Wikipedia)
The Holy Spirit Better Than a Burger?
At church the other night our pastor directed anyone interested in receiving prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to go to the prayer room after the service.
I was amazed.
Only a half dozen or so showed up. On a normal summer Sunday, our church offers free burgers and the line is a mile long. How much better is God’s Holy Spirit than a burger? (I was also amazed at a very different response just five months later. If you’re interested, you can read about it at “here’s the part where I eat crow.“)
I recently wrote a guest post about the importance of the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit for Not Ashamed of the Gospel and this prompted someone to ask, How do I know if I have His Holy Spirit?
The person asking the question is referring to God’s Holy Spirit being poured out upon someone in such a way as to provide supernatural inspiration. As distinguished from having the Holy Spirit inside you. Every believer, every person who’s received Christ, every Christian has God’s Holy Spirit dwelling inside them. But not every Christian has received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them. (see 1 Corinthians 6:19 and Acts Chapter 2)
What It Looked Like When Jesus’ Disciples Received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit:
John the Baptist referred to this phenomena of outpouring as the baptism with fire. (Matthew 3:11) And the classic example of believers receiving God’s Spirit in this way occurs in the book of Acts. In Acts chapter 1 Jesus tells His disciples, “…wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)
So in obedience to Christ, they stayed in Jerusalem where they all joined together constantly in prayer. (Acts 1:14) A while later, at a time when many Jews were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks, 120 disciples who were gathered together in one place experienced this outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. They saw fire that came to rest on each one of them.
Tremendous fruit was born that day, as 3,000 of the Jews gathered there were saved.
But some mocked the disciples and said they were drunk. (see Acts Chapter 2)
What It Looks Like When You or I Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit:
So here’s the thing about the baptism with the Holy Spirit. In Acts, each disciple has this fire resting on top of them, so each one sees the fire on his fellow disciples, but can’t see his or her own! (If you look closely, you’ll see this depicted in Restout’s Pentacost painting shown at the top of this post) It’s similar to when Samson’s hair was finally cut, and the Philistines attacked him. Judges 16:20 says he did not know that the Lord had left him. (Judges 16:20) Samson couldn’t distinguish between when God’s Spirit inspired strength was with him, and when it wasn’t. It’s similar to when Moses came down from spending 40 days with God and his face was glowing: Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone. (Exodus 34:29-35 KJV) Moses had the residual effects of spending time in God’s presence manifested by a glowing face, but he didn’t even realize it.
That’s how it is with the Holy Spirit. On rare occasions people experience a sign from heaven, or the blowing of a wind, or a burning sensation as from fire, or waves of liquid love. But more often than not, you can’t tell if you have inspiration from God’s Holy Spirit. The only consistent indicator is the bearing of fruit for God’s kingdom, like the 3,000 saved in Jerusalem. The only problem with that is you may plant seed under the inspiration of God’s Spirit, but you may or may not be around when the season of fruit bearing arrives.
But take heart, there’s a solution.
You Can Know:
Did you notice the disciples received God’s Holy Spirit after praying constantly? (Acts 1:14) And also notice they received the Holy Spirit after spending three years with Jesus, three years living with Him, day in and day out, three years of intimacy with Him.
So, even though we usually can’t feel the inspiration and outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, we can be sure we have His Holy Spirit by committing to two simple actions:
1) Like the disciples, we have to spend time with Jesus to ensure we’ll receive God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (see John Chapter 15) Apart from Jesus we can do nothing, and that includes receiving the Holy Spirit! Like the disciples in Acts, We have to spend time with Him, we have to live our lives with Him, day in and day out, we have to become intimate with Him, before we’ll receive His Holy Spirit. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine,” Jesus said. (John 15:4)
2) Like the disciples, we have to pray constantly. (Acts 1:14) Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13) So, we have to ask. And the way to ask is the way the disciples in Acts asked, we have to pray constantly. Jesus says, if we pray like the woman who persistently pestered the unrighteous judge, God will not put us off, but He’ll answer our prayer. (see Luke 18:1-8)
So there’s the answer. There’s no immediate consistent indicator to let you know God has poured out His Holy Spirit upon you. We usually can’t see any readily discernible manifestation of His Holy Spirit when He’s upon us. But we can know, for sure, we have Him, or will have Him, because Jesus said it, that we can receive God’s Holy Spirit as long as we abide in Jesus, and, as long as we pray constantly, persistently, continually, incessantly for God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us.
There’ll be no bold font letters spelling “God” in the from field in your email box, with the words, “Holy Spirit Poured Out Upon You” in the subject line. But because Jesus says your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! If you ask as the disciples asked, and if you spend time with Christ as the disciples did, you can know, you’ll receive God’s Holy Spirit.
Dennis J. Bennett, Nine O’Clock in the Morning, Read How You Want, 2011
Chuck Smith, Living Water, The Word For Today, 1996
Leona Frances Choy, Powerlines, Christian Publications, 1990