The pentecostal blessings


The gift of the Holy Spirit entails the new and dynamic ministry of the Spirit in the last age, in fulfilment of the promised blessings of the covenant given by God to Abraham, cf., Acts 3:25-26. It involves the coming of the Spirit in a believer's life, and the ministry which He exercises in that life, especially making real our sonship. We may describe it as the experience of both: coming into a close and beautiful relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and knowing God as our Father, Rom. 8:14-15, 1Cor.12:1-3.

1. Baptised with the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:1-13 describes the baptism of (with) the Holy Spirit. This baptism was prophesied by John the Baptist - "he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit." Jesus said, "do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit", Acts 1:2-5.

Bible usage

The phrase in the Bible is not "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit", rather it is verbal, ie., "Baptise(d) with (in) the (Holy) Spirit".

Jesus uses the phrase to remind his disciples of John's prophecy, "Before many days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit", Acts 1:5. Peter described this event in his sermon as the promise of the Holy Spirit which is "poured out". Some years later Cornelius too is "baptised with the Holy Spirit", Acts 11:16, ie., he receives the "gift of the Holy Spirit", Acts 11:17.

These phrases describe the one experience. To be baptised with, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, describes the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit upon believers. Every true believer is "baptised in the Spirit", receives "the gift of the Holy Spirit", for "anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him", Rom. 8:9.

  a] Original use by John the Baptist

John the Baptist was the first to use the phrase when he said that the "one who comes after me will baptise with the Holy Spirit", Matt.3:11. Here he is referring to the coming Messiah who would do a great work in pouring out the Spirit of God, cf., Ezk.37, Joel 2:28-32.

  b] Use by Jesus

Jesus said that the "hour" has arrived. In Jesus, all the prophecies were fulfilled - the last days would soon be upon mankind, and the Spirit would be bestowed on all believers.

To the Samaritan woman, Jesus said, " Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water I shall give will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life", John 4:14.

To the crowd during the feast of Tabernacles Jesus said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink, he who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water'. This he said of the Spirit, which those who believe in him were to receive: for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified", John 7:37-39.

So, Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit, a life-giving Spirit who would quench our longing desires for communion with God. The Holy Spirit is none other than the Spirit of Christ. So, when Jesus promised that the disciples would be "baptised with the Holy Spirit", Acts 1:5, he meant nothing more than what he had already taught.

  c] Use by Paul

In 1Corinthians 12:13 Paul wrote, "For by one Spirit we were all baptised (immersed) into one body, Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and all were made to drink (watered, saturated or made to drink) of one Spirit." Paul is certainly not introducing a new theology of the Spirit here. 1Corinthians 12 deals with different aspects of the Spirit's work:

iHe converts us and we call him Lord, 12:3;

iHe makes us part of the body of believers, 12:12-13;

iHe gives spiritual gifts, 12:11.

In 1 Corinthians 12:13 Paul is speaking of a Spirit baptism which occurs when we believe in Jesus, ie. Jesus comes into our life.

When is a believer baptised with the Holy Spirit?

Peter's words in Acts 2:38 are normative, "Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." A person who believes immediately receives the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Paul verifies this truth. A person is forgiven their sins when they believe (Rom.10:14-17), and at the same time receive the Holy Spirit (Gal.3:1-5). Acts has some problem sections, but the norm remains:

iThere is the account of the Samaritans who believe, but who did not receive the Holy Spirit. We are not told why, but it was certainly not the norm, Act.8:16. It seems they were short on information and thus had not come to truly put their faith in Jesus; see Commentary

iThere is also the account of the twelve John the Baptist sectarians in Ephesus. "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" Acts 19:2. Their answer showed that they had neither heard of the Holy Spirit, nor of Jesus as Lord. They had only known the teaching of John the Baptist, ie., they weren't yet Christians. On being baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus (immersed in sound teaching) the Spirit came upon them.

Spirit baptism as an aspect of conversion

Every person, upon believing in Christ, is justified and baptised by (in) the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, cf., 1Cor.12:13, Eph.1:13. At the moment of conversion we enter into a full relationship with the Holy Spirit and possess in fullness all that God offers us in Christ, Col.2:10. This is our Christian standing. It doesn't mean that we are perfect, which must await the Parousia, 1John 3:2, or that we have no need to grow and live out our Christian fullness. We may see a parallel in Christian holiness, cf., Heb.10:14, 1Pet.1:2, 2:9. Just as we are Holy in Christ, so we are full, yet we must seek to express that fullness in our Christian life. By grace through faith we will begin to be what we are already in Christ.

The gift of the Spirit and assurance

It is possible to speak of "baptised" as an experience of Jesus' intimate involvement in our lives through the indwelling Spirit. Such an experience can be a very moving and results in a firm assurance of God's love for us. It is something we may experience many times in our Christian life. Consider the following aspects of assurance:

  a] Assurance in conversion

The Old Testament prophets spoke of the day when the Holy Spirit would be given, Joel 2:28. John the Baptist renewed that promise, Matt.3:11. Jesus pointed to it after his glorification, John 7, Acts 1:8. On the day of Pentecost the promise was fulfilled. The promise was for a personal confrontation with the living God. When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples they met Jesus and again experienced his gentle touch. The Holy Spirit was for them the "Spirit of Christ", cf., 2Cor.3:17-18.

In no way did the Spirit supersede Jesus, cf., Acts 1:1. Jesus is always Lord and Saviour. The Spirit gives all glory to the Son. From Pentecost on, everyone who gives their life to Jesus, who repent and believe, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38, Eph. 1:13. In the simplest terms it means that Jesus becomes intimately involved in our lives for eternity.

Thus on becoming a Christian, by faith alone, a believer receives the Spirit in fullness, Gal.3:2,5. Forgiveness, Sonship, liberty and fullness are ours from the moment of believing. Gal.5:5, Col.2:6-10.

For many, the moment of conversion can be a powerful release, the removal of oppressive guilt, a gentle touch of the Master's hand. For some believers it is a powerful spiritual experience. Their meeting with Jesus (the infilling of the Holy Spirit) serves to assure them of His eternal love. Yet we all need to be reminded that for many, the conversion experience can be quite mundane.

  b] Assurance in the Christian life

The experience of the Spirit's presence prompts assurance in the Christian life:

iA new understanding of forgiveness. It is a powerful experience when we glimpse the mercy of God. It can touch us and bring us to our knees in gratitude, Mi.7:18. A mighty blessing indeed!

iA new repentance. No Christian lives up to their standing in Christ. We are infected with the problem of "carnality" ie., we opt for the "flesh" rather than the "Spirit". There are two possibilities before the Christian. We may choose to follow the flesh or the Spirit, Gal.5:13-25. So, there is always a gap between a Christian's standing and their performance. Thus the Bible encourages us to "walk by the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh", Gal.5:16; "Live by the Spirit", Gal.5:25. "Be Holy", 1Pet.1:15-16. etc. An awareness of the gap between performance and standing, reminds us of God's amazing grace in Christ. Such moments can be very moving and powerful, a moment of great blessing.

iA new understanding of God's promises. The mind boggles when we focus on God's promises to us. When we rest on those promises we find ourselves greatly moved. Not only do we find their eternal verity touching our lives, but we also find ourselves encouraged by one of the most profound of theological truths - the perseverance of the saints. A faithful reliance upon the promises of Jesus promotes a sense of assurance, a very powerful experience indeed.

God's promise to us is Jesus' intimate involvement in our lives; "I am with you always even to the ends of the earth". His promise for us is that we will know him and experience him as a friend right here and now. Few Christians have experienced the potential of this relationship in their lives (it's release). The apostles certainly experienced the intimacy of Jesus' personal involvement in their lives. Pentecost, for them, was a personal confrontation with the living Jesus.

2. Filled with the Holy Spirit

Depending on the context, the term "filled with the Holy Spirit" may mean exactly the same as "baptised with the Holy Spirit", but at the same time, it is often used to describe the activity / filling of the Holy Spirit within the life of believer, so enabling the exercise of ministry - in particular, proclamation. Today a word like "the release of the Holy Spirit" is sometimes used to convey the Spirit's activity in a believer's life. It is likely that Acts 2:1-13 describes such an infilling of the Spirit within those who were baptised with the Spirit.

On the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of Christ came on the disciples, they were filled with the Spirit and prophesied. In the years before, the disciples had ministered with Jesus, and through him they had done wonderful things. When he left them, he promised he would not leave them comfortless, he would come again to them. Pentecost is the answer to this promise. When the Spirit of Jesus came again to the disciples, they found that, as before, they had unlimited power to proclaim, in sign and word, the wisdom of God. They experienced being filled with the Spirit, filled with Christ's power to prophesy.


The following can be said of the infilling of the Holy Spirit:

iAlthough the term "filled with the Spirit" sometimes means the same as "the baptism / gift of the Holy Spirit", it does often take on its Old Testament meaning of the application of, or release of, the Spirit's power in ministry, particularly in proclaiming God's word.

iA number of Old Testament personalities were filled with the Spirit, as well as John the Baptist, Zechariah and Elizabeth. This infilling is therefore not new.

iAs part of the fulfilment of Joel's prophecy, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people", the infilling of the Spirit is available to all followers of Jesus. For this reason Paul is able to say, "you have been given fullness in Christ", Col.2:10.

iBeing filled with the Spirit is an ongoing occurrence in the Christian life, not a once only experience. Luke describes numerous fillings of the Spirit for the first disciples, eg., Acts 4:8, 4:31, 13:9.

iPaul says, "be filled with the Spirit", Eph.5:19. He prays, "that you might be filled to the measure of the fullness of God", Eph.3:19. Therefore, the filling of the Spirit is something that should be sought.

iThe filling of the Holy Spirit expresses itself in the Christian life primarily in powerful proclamation:

At Pentecost the disciples were filled and "declared the wonders of God."

John the Baptist was filled for his prophetic work, Luke 1:15.

"Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and in a loud voice she proclaimed", Luke 1:41-42.

"His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied", Luke 1:67.

Peter before the Sanhedrin "filled with the Holy Spirit said...." Acts 4:8.

The gathered disciples "filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly" Acts 4:31.

Peter was filled and preached, Acts 9.

"Saul filled with the Holy Spirit.....said...." Acts 13:9.

iThe scriptures promise the infilling of the Spirit. "Do not worry what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." Matt.10:19-20.


The release of Jesus' power within the disciples is expressed in powerful proclamation. At Pentecost they received the Spirit and so were filled with the Spirit to speak boldly for their Lord.

3. Other Tongues

The baptism of the Holy Spirit ensures our place within God's plans for this final closing age; the Spirit of the living God covers us and thus we are secure. Through the gift of the Spirit we are empowered to serve our God, particularly in powerfully making known his Word. We are filled to overflowing.

Yet, where does tongue speaking fit in with all of this? In Acts 2:4 we are told "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." What can we make of this strange occurrence?

Tongues present as a miraculous prophetic word

The crowd that gathered to hear the disciples, heard them speaking in their "own native language" v8. The problem is, what did they actually hear? There are three possibilities, along with possible combinations of the three:

  a] Ecstatic prophecy

This form of prophecy may range from the intelligible to the unintelligible. It is fairly clear that ecstatic prophecy developed within the Corinthian congregation and is addressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Paul uses the same word to describe the Corinthian experience as Luke uses in Acts, yet he does not seem to describe exactly the same experience. In Acts, tongues are understood by different language groups, although the content is mysterious. In Corinth, it doesn't seem to cross over between different language groups, but is clearly ecstatic (mysterious) and it is for this reason that Paul is critical of its use in church. In 1Cor.14:20-22 Paul actually describes it as a sign of judgment upon God's people. Using the prophecy of Isaiah 28:9-13 he points out that a people who have failed to listen to a clear word from the Lord will end up hearing meaningless sounds. Sav lasav sav lasav, kav lakav kav lakav is a word of judgment, not blessing. Jesus used parables in the same way with his own generation, Matt.13:11-17. Parables were a form of judgment upon a people who failed to respond to the clear word of the coming kingdom. So, Paul in 1 Corinthians gives instructions as to the proper exercise of the gift of tongues, and particularly with their replacement by a clear prophetic word.

  b] Foreign languages

It is possible that the disciples spoke in foreign languages enabling the gathered Jews of the dispersion to understand in their own dialects. The Cornelius episode is the same, but did anyone need to speak in different languages on that occasion? If the tongues at Pentecost were different languages, how would they have sounded? It would have been a cacophony of sound, a "Babel" indeed.

  c] A miraculous word

Luke seems to describe the event as a miraculous occurrence where there is a unity in what was said and heard. There may, or may not, be a language content in what was said - Luke gives us little to go on. What he does tell us is that the people heard as one, even though they came from different language groups. So, at Pentecost, we may have a miraculous word from God, clearly heard by all, although mysterious in content.

The tongues were a discernible prophetic word

It is clear from Acts, that on the three occasions when tongues evidenced the outpouring of the Spirit upon an ever widening humanity, it was understood by those present.

"We hear them declare the wonders of God."

"We heard them speaking in tongues and praising God", Acts 10:46.

"They spoke in tongues and prophesied", Acts 19:6.

A knowledge of the content of what is said, even though mysterious, implies an understanding of what is said.

Tongues identified gospel extension

As such it evidenced the outpouring of the Spirit on all mankind. cf., the Cornelius debate in Acts 11:1-18.

Jews at Pentecost.

Samaritans - although tongues are not specifically mentioned.

Gentiles - Cornelius.

The followers of John the Baptist.

Therefore, tongues seem to be a miraculous prophetic word unifying the hearers as one people.


The significance of the tongue-speaking events in Acts lies in their reversal of the judgment of God on mankind at the tower of Babel. At Babel the nations were scattered through their loss of a common language. Mankind was divided and broken through diverse language (culture). In time, the prophets spoke of a coming age when the nations would again be united, a time when the Gentiles would come into the kingdom with the remnant of Israel. Isaiah 11:10, 42:6, 49:6, 60:5-6, Mal.1:11.

When God calls in one voice to the nations to gather the lost from the four corners of the earth, know that the final age has dawned and that the day of judgment draws near. At Pentecost, the call went forth - the clear trumpet was sounded. It was the disciples' voice that sounded the closing age and the coming judgment upon the nations (depicted in the prophecy of Joel), Acts 2:19-21. In fact, in the gospel the judgment of the world is now. From Pentecost on, the unifying of the nations is a reality in the church, Rom.1:16, Col.3:11. The unifying of a new people unto God is also, in its fullest sense, a future glorious hope, Gal.2:4ff, Rev.22:2-3. The day will soon come when all people will be united under two banners, either Christ, or the Anti-Christ.


We are complete, full in Jesus. He has given us everything, but we often fail to realise the potential we have as members of Christ's body. So, Paul prays that we might be "full" (Eph.3:14-19), and he exhorts us to "be full" (Eph.5:18), ie., to realise our potential as Spirit-filled Christians.


Acts Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]