In this document I would like to talk to you about the purpose and the power of the Holy Spirit. My goal is that today, even as you read this and pray afterwards, you will be touched by the Holy Spirit in a new way and that you will be filled with the Holy Spirit. So I want you to expect that God will touch you today with His Holy Spirit. Expect that you will be a changed person!
You have already read the true story of how my whole family came to know Jesus (if not, tell me and I will give it to you). You have read how after the car accident, my family was sad and depressed and the joy was all gone. I told you how we tired all sorts of prayers and rituals, but nothing gave us our miracle and nothing gave us peace. But then I told you how we came to know Jesus and how each and every one of us in my family was filled with the Holy Spirit and how our lives were transformed. All of the sudden we had joy and happiness. We had peace. You read about how God who had before seemed so far away became like our best friend. All of this was through the working of the Holy Spirit.
You may be wondering who exactly is the Holy Spirit and do you need the Holy Spirit? And if so, why? As I continue to share today, I hope to answer your questions through the Bible and real life examples.
What does the Bible say?
As you know, Jesus died on the cross for our sins. And three days later he rose up from the dead and came back to life. Then for about 40 days he talked with his disciples and he taught them. Then just before he went up to heaven he told them that he would send the Holy Spirit.
In the Bible in Acts 1 it says:
He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
And in Acts 2 we see the first time the Holy Spirit came down and filled Jesus’ disciples as one hundred and twenty of them prayed they waited in the upper room like Jesus had told them to do:
The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost
1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
Then skipping down to verse 12:
12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17″ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below,
skipping down to verse 21
21And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
From this passage, there is a lot we can learn about the Holy Spirit.
First, what or who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the spirit of God. He is a free gift that God will give to anyone who asks.
In the Bible in Luke 11 it says:
9″So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11″Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Second, who may receive the Holy Spirit?
In Acts 2 verse 17 the Bible says: 17″ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” (emphasis added).
So does that include you? Yes it does! If you ask for this free gift, I want you to believe that you will receive Him today!
There are no prerequisites to receiving the Holy Spirit. You do not have to be pure and holy. You do not have to be someone who prays without ceasing. You do not have to know Jesus intimately, or even fully believe in Him. You do not even have to know what is written in the Bible. The only conditions are that you must ask, and you must have a desire. Remember, the Lord says He will pour out His Holy Spirit on “all” people.
Third, after we pray, how will you know when you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
What is the sign that you have the Holy Spirit? Well, if you look at Acts 2 when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to speak in different languages they did not know. What we call speaking in tongues. Again if you see Acts 19 its says:
6When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
God gives each person a different language that we do not understand that is either spoken on earth or in heaven.
So why when we are filled with the Holy Spirit does God take control of our tongue and speak in this other language through us?
Our tongue is the most powerful weapon we have. With our tongue, with what we say, we can start wars and with our tongue we can bring peace. Our words are powerful beyond our comprehension. With our tongue, the words we speak, we can make war. With our tongue we can bring peace. As a child we are taught the rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” However, as we mature, we begin to understand that, “Sticks and stones may break my bones; but bones will one day heal. Words you speak they pierce my soul; a pain I may always feel.” Rough words someone has spoken to you, will sting longer than if someone slaps you or hits you.
And our tongue is the hardest thing for us to give someone else control over. Someone can take a hold of your arm or hand and wave it up and down. Someone can push you and make you walk forward. But no one can speak through you. So when we give God control of our tongue, we are surrendering everything to Him.
And why does God cause us to speak in a language we do not know?
When God prays through us in the Holy Spirit language, He is able to pray the perfect prayer through us. We do not know God’s heart. We do not know His plan. But the Holy Spirit knows, and He helps us to pray so that God’s plan can unfold in our lives.
The Holy Spirit never controls us or forces us. He is a gentleman. So, even when He speaks through us, He only takes as much control of our tongue as we give to Him. Thus, we can start and stop praying in the Holy Spirit language whenever we want. We can even change the words that we pray, if we so desire. Perhaps if we understood what the Holy Spirit was praying through us, we would change the prayer in attempts to make it a “better” prayer. Let me give you an example:
Suppose I want to become rich. What is the easiest way? Winning the lottery. If I win the lottery, I will become rich. And I can justify it by promising to use all the money for the Lord’s work. I will build orphanages, help the poor, care for the widows, etc. So, in my mind, I should win the lottery. My prayer would be, “Lord let me win the lottery.” Now, only the Lord knows the future. And He sees that if I win the lottery, the next day my photograph will be in the newspaper and someone will come and kill me for my money. So, I should not win the lottery. So, the Holy Spirit would pray through me, “Lord let me not win the lottery.” If I heard this prayer, not knowing what the future holds, I would change it, removing the word “not,” believing that winning the lottery is a good thing for me. But, if I do not understand what the Holy Spirit is praying, I will not change it. I will let Him pray the perfect prayer.
It says in the Bible that when we pray in the Holy Spirit language, it edifies us, or builds us up. Sometimes we do not know what prayer we need to pray. We think, “I am a good person. I try not to hurt people. I try to do what is right.” But still, we all have areas in our lives that could use improvement. We often do not see our own faults. The Holy Spirit helps us to pray for those things. For example, once there was a rich woman who was filled with the Holy Spirit. She thought she was very important and she was very snobbish. When she was praying in the Holy Spirit; she was praying in Swedish. She did not know Swedish, but another man there understood and she was praying “God make me a humble person.” This was a prayer the woman needed to pray, but she probably would not have prayed it on her own. But the Holy Spirit knew what she needed, so He helped her to pray the prayer she needed.
Also, the Holy Spirit prays through us for other people who need prayer. One preacher who comes to our church, he tells this true story:
He was once staying at a friend’s house. Then he went away from there for some meetings in another city. In the middle of the night the preacher woke up and felt like he needed to pray. He did not know what to pray about, so he just prayed in the Holy Spirit language. He looked at the watch when he woke up it was 3:00 AM and when he stopped praying (he felt the prayer had ended) it was 3:20 AM. He went back to sleep.
A few days later when the preacher went back to his friend’s house, the preacher casually asked his friend “How are you?” The friend replied, “I almost died a few days ago!” The friend told the story of how a few nights earlier he had woken up in the middle of the night bleeding from his mouth. He was having a brain hemorrhage. The friend’s wife called the doctor, but the doctor gave the friend no hope and said the friend would die. The friend’s wife was too scared to pray. The friend himself was too weak to pray. So he prayed, “Jesus have someone else pray for me.” Then about 20 minutes later, Jesus walked into the friend’s room and placed His hand on the friend’s mouth and the friend was healed. It was 3:20 in the morning.
When they compared notes, the preacher had prayed at the same time that the friend had needed prayer; God used the preacher to pray for his friend.
Now, you may ask, why do I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit? What are the benefits?
Well, in the Bible in Galatians 5 it says
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control.
So when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, He increases each of these traits in our lives, if we allow Him. The Holy Spirit helps us to have more love in our hearts. He helps us to be kinder and more good and gentle. The Holy Spirit gives us peace and patience and faithfulness and self control.
Then there are the gifts of the spirit. From experience we have observed that everyone who receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit receives at least one of these gifts:
8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12: 8- 10. The more we pray, the more God will use these gifts through us.
In the bible in Mark 16 it says:
15He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
It says “these signs will accompany those who believe.” Do these signs follow you? Do you pray for the sick and see them get well? Do you speak in other tongues? Once you have the Holy Spirit in your lives, these signs will follow you.
Let me share with you a true story that shows many of these gifts in action:
When my family first started believing in Jesus, one day my mom called my cousin in Michigan. She was talking to him and casually asked, “How is your wife?” He replied, “Nisha is crying.” My mom inquired why and was told that Nisha Bhabhi was in extreme pain. Her hand and feet were swollen and she had been diagnosed with some sort of arthritis. She was in her late twenties or early thirties at the time. The doctors told her there was no cure for the arthritis. They could give her medicine to ease the pain, but that was about it.
My mom offered to pray for Nisha Bhabhi. Nisha Bhabhi said that she was at a point where she was willing to try anything. A few days later, Nisha Bhabhi called again and said that she had felt much better after prayer and would like more prayer. Soon, she started calling every day for prayer. After prayer she would be fine. The next morning and be able to go to work, but when she got home, she would be in pain again. After several weeks of this, it was decided that Nisha Bhabhi would come from Michigan for in person prayer.
The night Nisha Bhabhi came, she and Mom were praying and Mom felt like God was telling her to tell Bhabhi “Do not limit God. Do not say God do only this much. Ask for a complete healing. God can do a little and He can do a lot. There is no limitation in His storehouse.” This would be either a prophecy or a word of knowledge.
After Mom said this, Nisha Bhabhi revealed, “Oh, now I understand. Whenever you would pray, you would say ‘God heal Nisha completely.’ But when I would pray, I would say ‘God heal me enough so I can go to work tomorrow!’ So I was getting what I was asking for.”
The next morning another cousin of mine called and asked if he could come over for prayer. He had been moving a refrigerator in his house and had injured his back. The doctor had prescribed 10 days bed-rest and lots of pain pills; but my cousin was still in so much pain that he could not even sit and was almost in tears. When my cousin came over, he laid down on the sofa and we began to pray with him. After we prayed for about 5 minutes, my dad told my cousin to do something he could not do before. So my cousin sat up. Then he stood up. Then he bent down and touched his toes and began to cry. He said “I was hoping God could heal me just a little, I had never imagined He would heal me completely!” This would be the working of the gifts of miracles and healing.
Later that day Nisha Bhabhi and my mom went to see my pastor for prayer. When they were there, my pastor told my Bhabhi that there was a cyst on her side that was causing the problem and that in 3 months she would be completely healed. My Bhabhi was the only one who knew she had a cyst. This was the working of the gifts of knowledge (knowledge about the cyst) and prophecy (about the time frame for the healing). And my Bhabhi was completely healed in 3 months! (the gift of healing).
Another benefit of the Holy Spirit is that the Holy Spirit is our Counselor and Guide.
In the Bible in John 14 Jesus says:
15″If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever– 17the Spirit of truth.
The Holy Spirit is our guide. If we ask Him, He will guide us in all aspects of our lives. The Holy Spirit will guide you for your future. For example, when my sister was in 12th grade, one day the pastor gave a sermon and he told about how God had guided him. When the pastor was 13 years old, one day he asked God, “Jesus, what do you want me to be when I grow up?” And he heard a voice from heaven tell him that he was to be a preacher. Then when he was about 18, he heard the same voice from heaven tell him to join the Canadian army. This was during World War II. During WWII, a time when most people would be trying to avoid joining the army, God told him to join. He was obedient and joined. He was stationed on an island and there one day he was eating in a restaurant and he looked up and saw the waitress and thought “What a nice girl”…and God told him “She will be your wife one day!” And now it has been over 50 years since they were married! The pastor told many more examples of how God had guided him every step of his life. At the end he challenged the young people to ask God what He wanted them to do. My sister did this and God gave her a vision of her being a doctor. And today she is a doctor!
The Holy Spirit also gives us boldness. For example in the Bible, after the soldiers came and took Jesus away to kill Him, all of his disciples scattered and were scared. They went and hid. Peter even denied that he knew Jesus 3 times. But if you see Acts 2 (quoted above), as soon as they received the Holy Spirit, the disciples became bold and came out of hiding and proclaimed the good news about Jesus.
In the same way, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, God will give you the boldness and the wisdom of how to share about Jesus with your family and friends so that they will believe too.
Are you ready to receive?
If you want, you too can receive God’s free gift of His Holy Spirit. Although there is no “formula” for receiving the Holy Spirit, we have seen that the easiest way to receive is if you do the following three things:
1) Just ask. Say, “Jesus, please fill me with Your Holy Spirit.” You only need to ask once. You do not need to beg or please. The Bible says, “Ask and you will receive.”
2) As I mentioned, the sign of the Holy Spirit is that God speaks an unknown language through us. Now the difficult part is allowing God to speak through us. Because remember, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He never forces you. He will only speak though you as much as you allow Him. So how do we allow Him to speak through us? How do we give Him control of our tongue?
After asking once, “Jesus please fill me Your Holy Spirit,” then just begin to say “Thank you Jesus” over and over again. As you are thanking Him, God will change what you are saying and begin speaking through you. Just say “Thank you Jesus” over and over again and do not change what you are saying, let the Holy Spirit be the one to change it.
If you repeat one phrase multiple times, you soon stop concentrating on what you are saying. It is then that the Holy Spirit can take control. If you keep changing what you are saying, then you are too busy concentrating on what to say next, that it is difficult give God control.
You will notice that as the Holy Spirit tries to take control of your tongue, you will think you are slurring your language or not speaking properly, but do not correct yourself, let whatever comes out come out…and you will begin to speak in the Holy Spirit language. At first you will think you are making it up, but if you allow it to continue, you will soon be assured that it is not you…it is the Holy Spirit speaking through you.
3) If you want the Holy Spirit to speak through you, you have to pray out loud, not in your mind. Do not whisper. Do not shout. Pray in a normal speaking voice. Do not worry about what those around you will think. The more you let yourself free. The easier it is for the Holy Spirit to take control.
Remember, receiving the Holy Spirit is just between you and God. If you have the desire and you ask Him. He will fill you. You do not need anyone to pray for you (although, if you have a believer pray with you to receive, he or she can encourage you and help you to receive). You just have to ask and be willing to receive. God will give you the Holy Spirit regardless of what kind of person you are or any mistakes you may have made in the past. It is a free gift for anyone who asks and once you receive the Holy Spirit. After you receive the Holy Spirit, He helps you to become a better person.
Also, the Holy Spirit will never control you. You will not go into a trance. You will not lose consciousness. You will always be in control and be able to start and stop as you wish. He will only guide you and tell you what is right and wrong, it is up to you to decide if you will follow His guidance. No one will know you have the Holy Spirit unless you tell them.
Note: In this document when I talk about receiving the Holy Spirit, I talk about receiving the power of the Holy Spirit.
In John 20:22 the Bible says:
And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit."
Then later, right be His ascension, in Acts 1:4-8, the Bible says:
4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So, if what Jesus did in John had any meaning (which I believe it must have, or why would Jesus do it), this seems to indicate that there are two experiences. One, you have the Holy Spirit with you when you believe. But, two, you need to specifically ask for the power. And it is the latter that I discuss in this document.