Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in Acts


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.


Have you noticed the changes in the church?


Some of you may have heard about or noticed a transition in the church–a “new breed” of Christians that are arising (especially out of the pentecostal type churches).  Well, there are actually two transitions: some of the church is beginning to adopt New Age doctrine (the emergent church), others of the church are moving into a greater move of the Holy Spirit (we’ll need this outpouring in order to fight the spiritual battle at hand; Acts 2:17-21).

The two transitions seem alike without prudent discernment of the spirits.  Many in the fundamentalist churches are confused or mad about the changes.  The high percentage of Christians throughout the denominations, I think, haven’t even noticed.

I want to make it clear that the Lord freed me FROM New Age thinking.  As a result, I recognize it seeping into the church more clearly than most, and I’m not about to fall back into that movement.  That said, God has power (much more power than the enemy!) and He wants to work through His people as a demonstration of His glory.  I’m sure I’ll discuss both sides in more detail in the future.

What the church needs is to be fully opened to the Holy Spirit, and fully closed to the multiple deceptive spirits.

Fortunately we know that when we ask God the Father to reveal Himself to us that we may know and love Him more, He will not give us deceptive spirits but His Holy Spirit in abundance (Mat 7:11, Luke 11:13).  As long as we’re plugged into the right God, we’ll have the right Spirit.  If you love the Lord, there is no reason to fear what He has for you–He loves you too!

On the other hand, some personalities are so good at being open to new things, that they willingly trust and want whatever friends, family, pastors, etc advertise as being excellent ways to connect to God.  When it comes to spiritual matters, we should never trust anything but the Word of God (Psalm 146:3, Jer 9:4-6, Mic 7:5, Acts 17:11, Prov 3:5).  There are already many false prophets in the world, so it’s very necessary that we test every spirit to know whether or not it’s from God (1 John 4:1-6 and 2 Cor 11:3-4, 13-15).


Review of Real Church: Does it Exist? Can I find it? by Larry Crabb


I don’t recommend Real Church, although the title certainly caught my attention.  While Crabb asks very relevant questions with interesting discussion and surprising vulnerability, his vision of the ideal church misses the mark.  Despite all the struggling variations of churches, it seems he wants to create yet another one–a better model, perhaps, but still another man-made plan of action.

What it comes down to for me is that church isn’t ‘working’ because the Presence of God (the Holy Spirit) isn’t truly invited.  We’ve reduced Jesus and His gospel to what is humanly possible.  It isn’t possible for us to walk the way Jesus commissioned us to walk–that’s why we need Him to lead the church.  We’ve got to give up our control, stop complaining things aren’t right, and start giving our hearts to the Lord that we may know Him, hear Him and follow Him.

I admire Crabb’s honesty and his fervor to want a desire for the things of God, but his writing doesn’t reflect the leading of the Spirit.  Crabb has excellent insights into many of the church’s problems, he just doesn’t connect that the full invitation of the Holy Spirit is the bridge to us walking as Christ intended.


Holy Spirit Conference, ICLV


Ben and I returned last night from six days in Las Vegas for the Holy Spirit Conference at the International Church of Las Vegas (ICLV).  We had an excellent time.  Hundreds of people received physical healing from the Lord.

Although there were many great messages, my favorite speaker was Heidi Baker.  Her and her husband, Rolland, are missionaries in Mozambique and have experienced the supernatural side of God’s love and provision in amazing ways.  They’ve seen food multiplied, deaf ears opened, the dead raised, the sick healed, and countless other miracles.  But more impressively, Heidi carries the Holy Spirit so strongly that He is heard in her words and physically seen in her countenance.

As Heidi spoke, one theme keep coming up: how much do we want to know Him?  How much do we want His presence?

“The hungry always get fed”, she said, “how hungry are we?” (Isaiah 55)


The Holy Spirit


The Holy Spirit is literally the Spirit of God.  1 Corinthians 2:10-16 tells us that just as we have a spirit in us that knows the depths of our thoughts, so does God have a Spirit that knows the depths of His being–and that’s the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the same Spirit that resides in God the Father and Jesus themselves.  He’s the third person in the trinity God.

Since the Holy Spirit is the inner Spirit of God Himself, He knows all things.  This more than qualifies Him to be the Spirit of truth, the Helper, who Jesus promises will teach us all things (John 14:17 & 26) and guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

This is really exciting!  And it means that when we ask for more of the Holy Spirit, what we’re getting is the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16)!  Even recognizing only the surface level issues of our flesh, we know that the mind of Christ is something we need much more of; we should be diligently pursuing the Holy Spirit so that we can closely partner and connect with God in the way He intended.


Moving without the Spirit?


A friend of mine started going to a new church and invited me to check it out with her.  It was a pretty charismatic church: passionate speaking, dancing, and singing.  The atmosphere was intimate, warm, and intense.  I mostly enjoyed myself.

There was one problem: I personally had a really hard time connecting with the Holy Spirit.  And I began to realize that just because the people were moving and singing and loudly proclaiming blessings over themselves, didn’t mean that the Holy Spirit Himself was moving through them.

This isn’t to say that it wasn’t a good church (maybe I was having an off day?) or to criticize any type of worship (we have so many personalities and each connect to the Lord best in our own ways).  It is important to remember though that when the Holy Spirit moves it happens in the hearts of the people first and overflows in various personalities, so loudness and physical movement aren’t necessarily an indication of His presence.


Jesus IS the Word; the Bible is His transcript.


The Bible is the key to the heart of God.  There’s power in it, because it’s the testimony of the true God, and He Himself speaks in and through it (literally).  It’s a powerful thing to capture the words of the Lord–and this is just what the Bible has done.  It’s the transcript of dialogs with God throughout history.

A friend asked me once whether we can trust the Bible since the translations vary slightly from language to language and version to version.  She, being linguistic minded, felt it wrong to credit God for potential human errors–and how can we say that each are the inspired Word of God when they aren’t exactly the same?

All good questions.  But here’s the thing: it is the HOLY SPIRIT who reveals the Word to us (John 14 & 16).

Well, wait!  What about the Bible?  Yes, it starts with the Bible.  Our lives should revolve around the Bible because it IS the inspired Word of God–it’s His transcript to us.  But Jesus is the Word that became flesh (John 1).  The Holy Spirit is the spirit of God Himself, and it’s the Holy Spirit speaking through the Bible that makes the Word come alive for us (1 Cor 2)!  In essense, it’s the Bible plus the Holy Spirit–the Bible is the living Word only when read with the Holy Spirit’s divine guidance.  So, it’s all about the Bible (which is Jesus, the Word, as a lingual transcription for us); and it’s all about Jesus, who is the Word Himself and still speaks through His Spirit!


Creative ways to read the Bible without a devotional book


Who wants to spend $15 on a devotional book when you can read the Bible in a fulfilling way for free! 🙂

Here’s a list of some of my favorite ways to get more out of the Word of God.  And remember, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to guide you into all truth (John 14:26 & John 16:13), so remember to pray for His help before you read!

The prayer I typically pray is: “Holy Spirit, help me to understand everything I read today and write the words of scripture on my heart. Give me wisdom, and help me to gain a better understanding of Jesus so I can be a faithful witness to Him.”

If you’re a young Christian:

Start reading the Bible at the beginning of the New Testament; this is where Jesus’ life and teachings are described, so it’s the most relevant for Christians. Jesus’ time on earth is described in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (which are called the Gospels). John has a bit more theology and is harder to understand, so I recommend starting with one of the other three. The first time I read the Bible with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I started in Luke, then went back to Matthew and read the whole New Testament in order.

For the more mature Christian:

Make it a treasure hunt. Remember how Proverbs says to search for wisdom like precious gold and silver? I’ve found it really satisfying to search the Bible for the answer to a particular question. For instance: “What has Jesus commanded Christians to do?”, “What does the Bible promise?”, “How did David worship the Lord?” And then prayerfully search the scriptures for as much wisdom as you can glean. -Or- ask the Lord to give you the question AND the answer! (Those seeking wisdom really excite the Lord!)

Focus on one book. Many Bible studies do this, but it’s even better to do it on your own. I recommend reading the book over and over and over again, paying attention to the big picture first (who is writing the book to whom and why? Can anything be gleaned about the historical context?), then the smaller details (what is the Holy Spirit speaking to you personally?). Since the books were written as individual units, it is essential we also read them that way.

Focus on one author or audience. Read and compare Paul’s letters, or all of John’s writings.  Or focus on one church (say Ephesus), or one people group (say the Philistines) and follow that audience through the scriptures.

Make a comparison. Try comparing one book to another (say, Genesis to Revelation, or 1 Cor to 2 Cor).  It can be especially interesting to see how the Old Testament mirrors the New.  Or watch to see how different apostles reveal unique aspects of the same mysteries.

Ask for divine guidance. One of the easiest ways to practice hearing and identifying the voice of the Holy Spirit is to ask Him where in the Bible to read and then pause and listen for what He says. He will absolutely tell you something! Dig deep in prayer and wait for His voice! Often He’ll take you to surprisingly relevant and personal truths!

Look for Jesus. Every story in the Bible points to Jesus, and reveals something unique about the nature of God. Pick a chunk of scripture or a book and start praying that the Holy Spirit would allow you to know Jesus in a deeper way.  You could even ask specifically, “Holy Spirit, show me how this passage reveals Jesus’ first (or second) coming,” or, “Holy Spirit, reveal a facet of the Father’s nature that I’ve never seen before.”

Take it slow. Read a very small portion (especially of something already somewhat familiar so you don’t accidentally take it out of context) and meditate on it throughout the day, or during a “quiet time” with the Lord.

Pray the scriptures. It can be really powerful to connect to God by agreeing and proclaiming what He’s already spoken in His word. You could do this by praying a Psalm, or one of the prayers of the saints already recorded in the Bible. Or you could turn something else into a prayer. For instance, take the words Jesus spoke and start dialoging with Him about them, and proclaiming and pledging your allegiance to Him and His wisdom.

Pick a historic time period. For example, strive to learn us much as you can about the church right after Jesus ascended into heaven, or the building of the first temple, or the time of the first Diaspora, and then search the scriptures for everything pertaining to that specific time (including those looking back, or prophesying forward, to the time period of interest). If you were looking to understand the time of the building of the second temple, for instance, you could read Ezra, Nehemiah and even parts of Daniel and Isaiah.

Other Ideas:

  • I like to write, underline and highlight in my Bible so that I know what I was thinking at various times I was reading. Sometimes I’ll put question marks in the columns or write out what I don’t understand–the next time I read the passage I am often pleasantly surprised that the Lord has addressed my concern or question.
  • Keep a journal to record what the Lord is showing and teaching you.
  • Use a website like blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com to analyze the Biblical language on a word level or to check out other translations of the Bible.

An encouragement on facing long periods of rough times…


Julie Meyer (of IHOP-KC) spoke recently on how the wilderness often becomes a door of hope and divine encounters:

Hosea 2:14-15 says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her / Bring her into the wilderness / And speak kindly to her. (15) Then I will give her her vineyards from there, / And the valley of Achor as a door of hope. / And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, / As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.”

Another example of this is when Moses was in the wilderness and then in doing his daily routine the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush–when he turned and looked, God opened the door to him…

She exhorted the church to therefore be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5-6), meaning to cheerfully submit to God’s plan even when He gives your dream to another–humility, she said, is the willingness to be ignored by men and serve the lowest of the positions for Jesus’ sake.  We have to find great Joy where He has us–even when it’s the back row.  When we truly humble ourselves, God brings opportunities we couldn’t imagine: 2 Chron 7:13-14, Prov 8:34-35.

I’ve heard and read John Bevere speak with a similar heart about how God transforms us from the wilderness to power in the Holy Spirit. He’s said, roughly, that the Lord is raising people up in the wilderness–training them in a powerful way through obstacles that others aren’t having to go through so that He can give them the Elijah anointing (which was also given as a partial fulfillment to John the Baptist).  The wilderness is like a special boot-camp to strengthen us in the Lord.  Then, we will proclaim the Truth (there will be a stress on repentance) without the fear of man because we have such a strong fear of God.  The fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom.

John the Baptist was trained for ministry in the wilderness, then, “Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him” (Mat 3:5).  We don’t have to worry about the details of our ministry if the Lord is behind us because “a man’s gift makes room for him…” (Prov 18:16).

The key is consecration to the Lord–it’s a spiritual wilderness (though sometimes with physical realities).

We are led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, but come out of the wilderness in the Power of the Holy Spirit.  Think Jesus as He’s tempted in the desert… or Joseph… or Abraham… or Moses… or John the Baptist… and so on… most every powerful leader is trained in the desert before facing the giants–and supernaturally releasing the power and glory of the Lord.

When I asked the Lord why it would take a wilderness experience to find that door of hope and that power of the Holy Spirit, He immediately brought to my mind the following answers:

  • We have to be completely God-focused, submitting to Him entirely (willing to do God’s will even at the loss of jobs, friends, respect, material things, etc).  If God is not our number one love, the wilderness will help us to put that love back into focus.
  • We have to STRONGLY hear our Lord’s voice and be lead by Him alone.  Too often, we rely on crunches (other people’s faith/experiences, religious tradition, …) because they’re available, and we forget to inquire directly of the Lord.  There are so many ways He can speak to us.  Let’s not limit His voice.
  • We have to see the power/things He will give us from His perspective so that we are good stewards of them.  Everything we do must be filtered through a pure Love for Him; we can have no attachment to things (though of course we appreciate them) and Jesus Himself must have a higher place than any power/gift He gives us (though, of course, we are commanded to walk in power, which means first spending a lot of time at His feet).
  • We have to be purified from every encumbrance that is hindering us from running the race.  In this way, the wilderness becomes the place where baptism in fire occurs: it’s a chance for us to allow the dross (wicked/foolish/fleshly desires) to surface so we can ask the Lord to take them out once and for all.
  • We build endurance, maturity, and a rightful view of the Lord’s character despite what others are saying (or not saying) of Him (assuming, of course, we’re pursuing righteousness in the midst of the wilderness experience like Job).  In other words, because there are no physical pleasures to dull our spirits in the wilderness (over-indulgence of the flesh dulls the spirit–which is one reason why we fast), we are able to deeply align our spirit to the Father’s and gain His wisdom, thus maturing, and strengthening us.  Job received a rightful view of the Lord through His trial; His friends (though some of their statements to us may seem ‘logical’) didn’t have it!
  • We connect so strongly to the heart of God that we desire to extend that Love to others.  In this way, we learn how to fulfill the first commandment (to our best ability) and it begins to overflow into obedience.
  • We build Faith that if He can sustain us in the wilderness, He can continue to sustain us no matter what.  We can also encourage others with our testimony.  Faith helps us to walk worthy and confident in our callings.

Individual faith; intimate relationship


This is a short segment of an email I wrote today responding to a discussion based on an article about hearing from the Lord (the author of the article argues that dreams and visions have no place among today’s Christians and therefore, come from a demonic or natural source when experienced):

In the Old Testament, God’s relationship with the people was corporate—if the husband of the family was saved, the rest of the family would also be saved and so on.  It was because of the people’s sin that they could not interact personally with the Father, and, in fact, the Glory of the Lord acts so powerfully against sin that they could not safely approach the places where the Lord would choose to rest His presence (the Mountain, the Holy of Holies, etc).

The Holy Spirit was not fully available, so God would pick only one or a couple of the most righteous people to send the Holy Spirit to, that they would be able to speak to His people.  Notice that in Numbers 11, Moses wanted the burden of prophet/judge to be split among other men because it was so much for him to bear, so God led him to appoint seven elders to share leadership.  And God does something surprising: He says, “I will take of the Spirit that is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it alone.”  The Holy Spirit wasn’t fully available yet—and couldn’t be under the Mosaic Covenant—so God the Father split the portion He gave to Moses so that they each had a piece of the responsibility (for that instance; after they had prophesied once, they never did again: Num 11:25).

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection was the sealing factor in a new covenant—the Messianic Covenant—and as a result, He promised that the Holy Spirit would now be available to every believer.  Not only that, but because God could now communicate with each individual person, people would be judged individually for their sins.  We’re now entirely responsible for our own relationship to the Lord; and Jesus promises that His sheep will hear His voice (John 10) and that the Holy Spirit would be with us to lead us into all Truth (John 14 and John 16), but we do have to diligently ask to receive the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13)—not just one time, but consistently so that we can truly walk in the Spirit.  The power of the Holy Spirit became fully available at Pentecost, but we can only receive as much as we can handle and as much as we want, and since we are continuously sanctified and growing in faith, we need to continue to ask for Him so that the world doesn’t seep into us instead.

Also, God does speak to us through the Bible, and we should always compare everything to it.  However, it’s important to realize that when Hebrews 1:2 says God speaks to us through His SON, it means exactly that—Jesus is Living and He speaks.  He speaks to us through the scriptures (which are the inspired Word of God through the Holy Spirit), but He also speaks to us through prayer, dreams, visions, the gift of tongues with interpretation, and even through other people as they are led by the Holy Spirit.  I agree that we should test every spirit to see if it is of God—the devil is speaking too, and since he doesn’t have the power to create as God does, he uses the gifts that God has already set up for his purposes.  Many people think they’re hearing from Jesus through dreams, visions, pastors, prayer, tongues and a variety of other sources when they’re really hearing from deceptive spirits or false prophets!  That’s why it’s so important to stay in the Bible (John 8:31-32) and to spend lots of time practicing hearing the Lord’s voice.  We can’t assume that all of the God-given gifts are bad, but we do have to be very aware so that we can discern whether the voice being heard is from God or the devil.