The chief outcome of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not speaking in tongues, but divine power – spiritual power. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said that we would receive power when the Spirit comes upon us and be witnesses unto him as a result. Although the book of Acts shows us that the outward evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is the speaking in tongues, one cannot help but notice multitudes of Christians, including ourselves, who speak in tongues but do not have much spiritual power. What has happened to the power that was promised to disciples of Jesus who were baptized with the Holy Spirit? Where is the power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, preach the gospel, suffer for the gospel and to live holy lives? Have we really received the baptism with the Holy Spirit? Or have we just received the ability to speak in tongues because we have sought tongues and not power? Or have we quenched the power of God by constantly sowing to the flesh? I believe that there are a few reasons for this lack of power in our lives –
1. We have received the Spirit in a limited measure. In John 3:34, John says that the Father gave Jesus the Spirit without measure. We, the disciples of Jesus have received the Spirit in a limited measure. Although why this seems to be so cannot be identified with certainty, it may have to do with the extent of brokenness in a person or the extent of thirst one has for God. It is worth noting here that we can receive greater measures of the Spirit.
2. We have desired tongues and not power, and got what we desired. Some of the methods used nowadays in getting people to “receive” the baptism with the Holy Spirit are bizarre, to say the least. They range from “repeat what I say” to “blank your mind” to repeating “Hallelujah” amongst others. The entire focus is on speaking in tongues and the moment the person starts uttering a few syllables, he is declared to have been filled although he has not even experienced the Spirit “coming upon” him. Some of these dear believers are clearly oppressed before and remain unchanged after the experience.
3. We have grieved the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to be yielded to and followed all along the way. James tells us in 4:5 that the Spirit within us yearns jealously as He does not want us to be defiled by the world. He can be grieved (Eph 4:30) and will not strive with us or compel us to follow his leading. If we choose to do things our way, He will just allow us to – after trying to get our attention prior to that.
4. We have sown to the flesh. Gal 6:8 shows us that sowing to the flesh will result in a harvest of corruption. No matter the dosage of the teaching about grace we may have been fed, sowing to the flesh will always result in reaping decay and death. I know only too well of the periods when I have experienced the power of God working through me, for it to cease when I have given in to the flesh.
5. We have not been out on the front-lines. The power of God is absolutely critical for those on the front lines of the work of preaching the gospel and making disciples. For those who are content to just stay at home, this power is not necessary – only a measure will do. The soldier who is at the beach on a sunny day needs an umbrella, not a weapon. This divine supernatural power is necessary when we are occupied with following the Great commission – so that we can use it to demonstrate the truth of the gospel. Jesus is the baptizer with the Holy Spirit. The only condition that was to be met before the Spirit could be poured out was the ascension of Jesus to the Father’s right hand. Once that was done, He received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and He poured out “what you now see and hear.” Its not about the upper room or the ten days of waiting or the sound of the rushing wind or the tongues of fire – its just about desiring the baptism fervently and looking to Jesus. We have spent too much of our time and lives having replaced the shields of gold with shields of brass like the Israelites did of old. What we have is not what was promised and the sooner we recognise this, the sooner will be our emancipation. Let us cry out to God for a greater measure of the Spirit and yield completely to Him that He may work out his perfect will through us.