Many people mistake the experience of salvation (when we are forgiven our sin and cleansed of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. However, the example Paul gave of the disciples who were baptized in the Holy Spirit in Ephesus, gives us a model for the receiving of the Holy Spirit today.
"While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied." (Acts 19:1-6)
While it is most common for people to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands, God cannot be put in a box. For instance, Sue and Brent, a young couple in Beaverton, Ontario, questioned whether the baptism of the Holy Spirit and gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today. They are both veterinarians, and Brent was on the board of a Church.
When it was advertised that I would be speaking in the area they lived, Sue felt drawn to attend. Brent was more than annoyed; afraid that she would be "sucked in" to the foolishness of false doctrine. That night of the meeting, Sue came forward and asked for prayer to receive the Holy Spirit. When I laid hands on her, she was slain in the Spirit and lay on the floor speaking in a new language!
That night when Sue went home and tried to tell Brent of the happenings, he would not listen and feared that his concerns had been realized. As the week progressed, however, he saw undeniable changes in his wife's demeanor, attitudes and behaviour.
Finally, one morning, he asked the LORD to give him what his wife had. Right there in the shower, God sovereignty baptized Brent in the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues! There was no question. This was proof of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in their home.
In the following months, despite the excitement of God's presence in their lives, the couple went though intense struggles as the Holy Spirit cast light on areas of their lives that needed cleansing; gradually bring deeper understanding and healing between them than they could ever have otherwise know.
They continued to hold on to God, keeping their eyes fixed on Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. As they continued to grow together, God led them into a very special ministry where He would give Brent a message in tongues and the interpretation would then be given to Sue - a tremendous encouragement to many people and wonderful legacy to their little girls.
"It is the power of the Holy Spirit that provides daily help, guidance and the opportunity for permanence in an exciting marital relationship" (Ephesians 4:23, Romans 12:1-2).
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