What happens when the Holy Spirit comes upon someone? I shared earlier about my own experience with the baptism in the Holy Spirit, including the initial evidences in my own life. Now, I’d like to simply list some of the accounts in the book of Acts where believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit, along with the physical evidence that the Spirit-filled believers manifested at this time:
Acts 2: Devout Jews and proselytes from every nation had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot, when the Holy Spirit came upon them and filled them. They each heard the gospel in their own languages and many received salvation through Jesus. Then, Peter explained to the crowd what was happening, because this was the first time the Holy Spirit was poured out corporately in this way.
What happened when the Spirit came upon them:
- The Holy Spirit was heard/felt as a violent rushing wind (Acts 2:2)
- There appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and the fire rested on each one of them (Acts 2:3)
- They began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance–most likely other human languages (Acts 2:4-11)
- They acted as if they were drunk (Acts 2:13-16)
- Peter connected the event as a partial fulfillment to Joel 2, which prophesies that both men and women, both young and old, both slaves and free-men, will have dreams, visions, and prophesies from God when they receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17-21)
- The effects of the Holy Spirit were both seen and heard (Acts 3:33)
- Everyone felt a sense of awe (Acts 3:43)
- Signs and wonders were taking place (Acts 3:43)
- The people had one mind and became a unified community, even sharing their possessions with each other, eating together, and praising God together (Acts 3:37-47)
Acts 4: A group of believers, including Peter and John, is arrested for teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
How did the Holy Spirit evidence Himself:
- Peter and John–uneducated and untrained men–spoke with clarity and boldness (Acts 4:8-13)
- They had earlier healed a man, and it was recognized as a noteworthy miracle (Acts 3:1-10; Acts 4:14-16)
- They had unprecedented boldness and were unable to stop speaking about what they had seen and heard (Acts 4:20, 31, 33)
- They were unified as one body, sharing everything (Acts 4:32-37)
Acts 7:54-60: Stephen is stoned to death while full of the Holy Spirit.
How did the Holy Spirit evidence Himself:
- Stephen was able to gaze into heaven and see the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God
- He was given the power to forgive them as they were violently killing him
Acts 9: Saul’s conversion: Jesus appeared to Saul and spoke audibly to him (so that even the men with him could hear). The experience left Saul blind. Then, Ananias was led by God to visit Saul (a big deal, since Saul persecuted Jewish believers like Ananias). When Ananias laid hands on Saul and prophesied over him, he was filled with the Spirit.
What happened when the Spirit came upon him:
- Saul received spiritual wisdom (the scales fell off his eyes)
- His physical blindness was healed
- He became a completely different person: not only did he stop persecuting the Jewish believers, he began to proclaim Jesus openly in the synagogues
Acts 10:34-48: As Peter was preaching, the Holy Spirit fell upon those who were listening.
What happened when the Holy Spirit came upon them:
- Both Jews and gentiles received the Spirit (Acts 10:45)
- They spoke in tongues and exalted God (Acts 10:46)
- In this case, the baptism in the Holy Spirit came before the baptism in water (Acts 10:47-48)
Of course, this isn’t a complete list; the book of Acts is long, and (being that it focuses on the “Acts of the Apostles”) includes multiple records of signs, wonders, and miracles that I neglected to mention. It is also interesting to note that although the Holy Spirit was available in the Old Testament, this was the first time that the Holy Spirit was available in fullness (not that we receive in fullness, but that He was fully given by God). Earlier I had mentioned Shavuot–rather than the Greek, Pentecost–because it is worthwhile to understand the parallel between the giving of the Holy Spirit and the giving of the Torah to Moses. Just as the Torah was fully given to Moses, but gradually and continually understood, so is the Holy Spirit fully available but gradually and continually absorbed. This is why the baptism of the Holy Spirit is so important–not just as a one time event, but continually as we walk with God.
I also want to note that, although the followers of Jesus were completely devoted to Him while He was on earth (and baptized in water by John), it was not until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit that they were able to connect with Jesus intimately from His place in heaven, and to effectively begin their ministries. In fact, I don’t think they even understood their ministries until they were filled with the Holy Spirit–after all, right before Jesus ascended, they asked if it was the time for the restoration of Israel. They were focused on themselves, and their nation, but the “great commission” was and is for the whole world. Without the fullness of the Holy Spirit it is impossible to fulfill the great plans of the Lord.