A Spirit filled people

This chapter has been taken from "Eureka" book on Holy Spirit
written by Fr. James Manjackal MSFS

So far we have seen the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in salvation-history. Now we are going to examine the necessity of a believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit for a personal encounter with Jesus and for an authentic Christian life. In recent times millions over millions both in Protestant Churches and in the Catholic Church through the Charismatic renewal have experienced baptism in the Holy Spirit. ‘Being filled with the Holy Spirit’ is a must for  every believer to journey through life which is encircled by the world with its enticements, flesh with its attachments and the devil with its temptations.

The promise and fulfilment

In the Old Testament itself we have traces of God’s promise of His Spirit to his people. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions, and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days I will pour out my spirit” (Joel 3: 1-2). Perhaps these words, that the Spirit would be poured on all flesh must have been hard for the people then to understand, as it was a time that only a few selected individuals were having the privilege of the Spirit. Prophet Isaiah too spoke something similar: “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon your seed, and my blessings upon your offspring” (Is 44: 3). “For with stammering lips and alien tongue will he speak to this people, to whom he said, this is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest; and that is refreshing: yet they would not hear”    (Is 28: 9-12). These are definitely references to the promise of the Spirit by Jesus to those who thirst for the Spirit and of speaking in tongues, one of the manifestations of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

In the New testament first it is John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus who announces the baptism in the Spirit by Jesus as seen in all four Gospels. In Mathew we see John speaking: “Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit, and with fire” (Mt 3: 11). In Mark there is an emphatic saying that ‘Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit’ (Mk 1: 80) and Luke follows the same narration of Mathew (Lk 3: 16) and John gives more explanation saying, upon whom he saw the Spirit descending and remaining like a dove is the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit (Jn 1: 32-33). From all these four Gospel narratives it is clear that it is Jesus who is the baptiser in the Spirit, although it is a gift from the Father.

Jesus’ promise of the Spirit to the believer has a far greater depth to its meaning. “If you know the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, give me to drink (that was Jesus) you would have asked of him and he would have given you living water... Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up upto everlasting life” (Jn 4: 10-14). The meaning of this passage can be explained only in the context of Jesus’ teaching on the great festival day, “If any man thirsts, let him come unto me and drink. He that believes in Me, as the scripture says, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in Him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified” (Jn 7: 37-39). This well of water refers to the waters of salvation which Christian receive in the sacrament of baptism where one encounters Jesus and obtains salvation. “Therefore with joy you shall draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Is 12: 3). The believer with the rivers of water is the born again Christian in baptism in the Holy Spirit from whom the living waters flow to many others saving them for Christ. In eschatological times too, the Lord provides the gift from the spring of life giving water to those who are thirsty (Rev 21: 6).

The greatest promise of Jesus is seen in chapter fourteen of John. “I will pray to the Father, and He shall give you another comforter that he may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him, for he dwells with you, and shall be in you” (Jn 14: 16-17). Notice that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would not only be with us but in us. It reveals a tremendous mystery. Yes, we need not go to a particular place, to a particular performance of religious acts to find God’s Spirit, just open the heart, we can find Him and experience Him. The great command of Jesus to his disciples was to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mk 16: 15). Jesus told this to his disciples after his resurrection. And He continued: “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but wait in the city of Jerusalem, until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24: 49). The disciples had to wait in order to receive the Spirit. In the Lucan narrative we can see once again the final reassurance of the promise of the Spirit: “For John truly baptised you with water but you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days hence... But you shall receive power, when the Spirit shall come upon you and you will be my witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 4-8).

The above promise was fulfilled on Pentecost day (Acts 1: 1-4). It was the birth of the Church. Peter who was too timid to confess Jesus before three people spoke to a large crowd, surely much more than three thousand with boldness and power, explaining in short the meaning of the sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, cloven tongues as of fire and the disciples speaking in other tongues; “God raised Jesus, of this we are witnesses. Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you see and hear” (Acts 2: 32-33).

The feasts of Passover, the First  Fruits, and the Pentecost

To know more of the gift of the Spirit, both in historical times and today it is good to know something about the Jewish feasts, specially the feast of Passover, the First Fruits and Pentecost. In Exodus 12: 1-14 we see how God told Moses the way the Passover was to be celebrated. The head of each household was to put the blood of an unblemished lamb on the door posts and lintel of his house. All those who are under the roof of such a house would be protected from the angel of death who would kill the first-born son of every family. When the blood-mark was put with the thumb it appeared like a cross on every Jewish door!. The first Passover marked the Jews' deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Years later Jesus, the Lamb of God, hung on a cross during the Passover feast. His crucifixion took place soon after the Passover meal with his disciples (Lk 22: 7-13). The death of Jesus, the Paschal lamb, was the deliverance of mankind from sin and slavery. “You should know that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver and gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb” (I Pet 1: 18-19).

In Leviticus 23: 10-14 we read about the feast of First Fruits. It was to be celebrated on the following day of Sabbath i.e., the Sunday of the week-long festival of Unleavened Bread that was part of the Passover. The firsts fruits were offered to the Lord in the hope of greater harvest in the season to come in summer. This indeed corresponds to the resurrection of Jesus. We read in Mt. 27: 52-53 that many bodies of the saints who slept arose and appeared to many in the city of Jerusalem. These were the first fruits of the resurrection of all believers in the last days. “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall all not fall asleep, but we will all be changed in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed” (I Cor 15: 51-52). Again Paul says thus, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For just as in Adam all die so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order, Christ the first fruit: then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ”      (I Cor 15: 20-23). According to Paul the Christians who are buried with Christ in baptism into death are raised from the dead by the glory of the Father and they are the first fruits of the Spirit (Rom 6: 4;  8: 23).

The feast of Pentecost was the anniversary celebration of the giving of the Law to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. This feast fell exactly fifty days of the feast of the Passover. There is a great significance in giving the Holy Spirit on the Jewish feast of Pentecost. God was unfolding His wonderful plan of salvation through the Holy Spirit by setting the people free from bondage of the Mosaic Law. “...for the letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives life”   (II Cor 3: 6). The man who is a sinner, who has fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3: 23) cannot keep the Law of Moses in the ark of the covenant, hence God promises the Spirit to empower him to keep God’s statutes and to do what He commanded. Through the observance the ten commandments the Israelites were covenanted to God, and in the new economy of salvation through a new heart in which the new spirit is put, a believer is covenanted to God in a more intimate way, where he observes them by an inner urge. “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgements, and do them” (Ezek 36: 27-27). The author of Hebrews says that by keeping the laws in our minds and hearts (instead of keeping in the Ark) the believer shall enter into a new covenant where his sins and iniquities are blotted out (Heb 10: 16-17). Hence it was proper that on the day of the Jewish Pentecost when the law was given the Christian Pentecost takes place by the outpouring of the Spirit enabling one to keep the commandments and laws.

God had an ulterior purpose in sending the Spirit on Pentecost day for it was the day when thousands of people gathered in Jerusalem for the feast. Many of them came from foreign countries speaking various languages. The descent of the Spirit on the apostles and those who were gathered then was witnessed at least by sixteen different group of cultures, and languages (Acts 2: 9-11). God’s intention was to take this message to all parts of the world through these eye-witnesses. They saw all that happened there and the effects of it on the apostles who received various gifts and charisms along with boldness and courage. As it was the feast of the harvest, we can aptly say, the Lord had an amazing harvest of souls. Yes, with the maiden speech of Peter, the first cast of the new net, at least three thousand people were added to the band of believers (Acts 2: 41). Later, five thousand more were added (Acts 4: 4). The great harvest started on the day of Pentecost continues today and will continue until the end of time. The prayer of Jesus to send more labourers to the plentiful harvest continues!. The priests, pastors, nuns and those who are called to spread the good news must equip themselves with the power of the Spirit through a Pentecostal experience.

A Pentecost in the Gulf with the Muslims

In 1996, I was invited to preach retreats to the immigrant Christians in U.A.F. In one of these retreats thirty three Arab Muslims had taken part without the knowledge of anyone because they were not allowed by the law to take part in any of the Christians program. The Christians in these countries are not allowed to speak of Christianity to the Muslims or to give a Bible or Christian literature to them. On the fourth day of the retreat they came and requested me for a Bible program for them alone because they wanted to know more about Christ alone and I conceded to their request.

Already when I visited the Sultanate of Oman, I had consecrated the whole Muslim world to the Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Tomb of Anna and Joachim at Salalah. When I went to visit there out of curiosity because I never knew that such a monument existed anywhere, about fifty Muslims were praying there for various healings. One man came forward and testified many healings that took place there when they prayed. They had a book in which all about Mary and her Son Jesus the prophet from their holy book Koran was written. The man said that when they prayed from this prayer book healings took place because Anna and Joachim were the parents of Mary the most chaste Virgin ever lived on earth from whom the prophet Jesus who alone did miracles and healings was born. When I heard it from the mouth of a Muslim I was surprised, there I lifted my heart to Jesus and gave the whole Muslim world to Him. Already I had a vision in a prayer where Jesus had told me to go to the Arab Muslims to preach. Islam, Judaism and Christianity are the closest religions with similarities of faith revelations and culture, with the same historical and geographical backgrounds. If these three religions could come together as one and work together then it will be the new heaven and new earth prophesied in the Holy Scriptures!.

When I went to preach the Gospel to the Muslims in a tent in the desert two hundred and fifty six Arab Muslims were waiting to hear of Jesus. In the beginning I started with their book Koran where many of our Old Testament passages could be read. On the third day I explained to them the ten commandments. From their own book I explained to them the punishments and curses that would follow those who did not observe them. When I asked them a solution to sin they had no answer. According to them God, Allah, is a supreme judge who judges the righteous to heaven which is a place with much material comforts and pleasures, a hundred fold compared to what we have here on earth and the wicked to hell with much physical tortures and mental sufferings unimaginable beyond any measure. So men should live a righteous life according to the prescriptions of Koran specially with much alms-giving. They could not give a sufficient answer about the possibility of sinners in the world to find a way to heaven by obtaining forgiveness of their sins. A God of mercy and compassion seeking after a sinner is unimaginable for a Muslim “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” is the norm of Islam.

Then I explained to them that the breaking of the commandments was an infinite offence to ‘Allah’ as they were given by him and that he only could atone our sins. No man can find atonement by his personal effort of righteous living or alms giving. I quoted them two scriptural passages: “It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings he endured, he was pierced for our offences, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that make us whole, by his strips we are healed.... If he gives his life as an offering for sin he shall see his descendants in a long life and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him”         (Is 53: 4-10). When I asked them of the one who suffered for our sins and offered himself as a
sin offering, they could not find any such one from the list of any of their prophets or holy ones. Again I read Zechariah 12: 10, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition, and they shall look on him whom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn...”. They had no answer to give about the one who was thrust through.
It is here I explained to them by quoting various scripture passages from the New Testament about Jesus the only son of Allah who came down to do atonement for our sins taking our offences, punishments, curses and the consequent sickness and suffering on his body on the cross. I did not have much knowledge of Islam, I never learned it systematically. I don’t know how wisdom and intelligence came to my mind and lips to speak boldly of Christ for about four and a half hours!. I fully believe that all what I spoke to them was not mine but was of the Spirit. “Don’t worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say, you will be given what you are to say at that moment, for it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Mt 10: 19-10) was finding a fulfilment in me. I knew that by my knowledge or skill I could never convince the Muslims that Jesus is God!. In the long hours of my speech I spoke to them of Trinity, Incarnation, life of Christ in short, Crucifixion, Resurrection and the Coming of the Spirit. I myself can’t clearly remember the speech I delivered to them. At the end of the talk I saw the so called hard-hearted Muslims on tears! I ended my talk and pretended going away saying that I had told all about Jesus. Then a strong young man caught my arm tight with a piercing look and told “Father no, you can’t go. Look at us we are weeping for our sins as told in the book of Zechariah. Because we have refused to accept Jesus, the Son of God we are dead in our sins, Father please pray for the forgiveness of our sins and for an infilling of the Holy Spirit, we are ready to follow Jesus and the Bible”.

At this moment I was in total confusion as to what to do next. I knew I was in the Gulf and among the Muslims where I was not allowed to do any sort of evangelisation or conversion. I told them that I spoke to them only with a pure motive of making them know of Christ and I had the least intention of converting them. They all said “we don’t want to be converted to your religion but we want a conversion of heart to Jesus in whom alone we can find solution for our sins and miseries!”. In tears I asked the Holy Spirit for his Wisdom and guidance as I was scared and frightened, thinking of the risk involved. The Spirit told me clearly to go ahead with courage as they wanted. Each one of them touching my Bible with both hands said, “I accept Jesus Christ as our only God and I decide to follow His way”. On each of them I laid hands and prayed for the forgiveness of their sins and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They were singing a few songs of praise which I had taught them and added their own songs too. I could hear them singing some songs in Arabic. Incredible to explain all that followed this prayer which lasted for another four hours or more. I could hear them shouting out loud praises, clapping hands and dancing together with loud songs of joy. Some of them were seen prostrated on ground and praying in silence. At the end they began to share testimonies of healings. All of them felt a wonderful flow of the Spirit which cleansed them and made them a new people. Although I did not speak to them anything about the gift of tongues or visions, many of them prayed and sang in tongues and almost all of them had the vision of Jesus crucified. As a souvenir of their Pentecost experience they gifted me with a gold Crucifix which I wear always now. When they were shouting out praises, rejoicing and sharing testimonies I was in tears of happiness and joy and the Spirit was whispering in mind “This is the first Pentecost of the Muslims and many will continue”. Then I was just imagining in mind the first Pentecost at Jerusalem when a handful of Jesus’  disciples having filled with the fire of the Spirit made such a loud noise as to move the big crowd of the Jews who had gathered there from not less than sixteen countries. Like the old Simeon in the temple of Jerusalem I too was saying in my heart, “Now Lord, you may let your servant go in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation prepared from all eternity for the gentiles”       (Lk 2: 29-32). But the Lord did not let me go away, He took me again and again several times for such experiences. And now thousands are experiencing the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in those countries where circulation of Bible or any Christian literature is forbidden, thousands and ten thousands of Bibles in Arabic are being circulated. I praise the Living Lord who works mighty deeds with his little ones.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit

It is a controversial subject for Catholics even today. After all, Jesus and his followers were controversial people and their teachings too evoked controversies!. Hence when a true believer or a Christian preacher is called a controversial person or a disputed person, I think they are  the best and most suitable titles given to him!. Jesus was born of the Spirit, He was good in speaking, arguing and answering and was zealous in carrying out His Father’s business (Lk 2: 46-49). But after having found Him in the temple His mother brought Him back and we would hear nothing of His life styles until after His baptism in river Jordan. Only after He was filled with the Spirit on receiving the official approval of His Father in the voice “this is my beloved Son in whom I’m well-pleased” did He start his ministry of preaching, healing and doing miracles. When the apostles were with Jesus they went about healing the sick and casting out demons. But as soon as Jesus was crucified, or when He was away, they stopped doing anything, in fact, some of them went back to fishing. But they awaited in prayer for the fulfilment of the Lord’s promise and when they were filled with the Spirit on Pentecost they started evangelising and preaching which accompanied signs and wonders. Hence an authentic Christian, who is called not only to live a life in pursuit of his eternal life but also to bear witness to Christ, should have this infilling experience of the Holy Spirit.

Many Christians, specially Catholics, think that after all, the Spirit was given in sacraments specially in baptism and confirmation and hence where is the need of baptism in the Spirit?. I remember once when I was called to preach a Charismatic retreat I was forbidden by the local Ordinary to lay hands on the participants for the baptism in the Spirit and to speak in tongues!. But it was a great retreat in which all the participants had a marvellous experience of the Spirit, with expressions of praying in tongues, seeing visions, etc. They were filled with the Spirit while preaching the word of God even without the laying on of hands, because I fully obeyed the Bishop. The Spirit comes in obedience only. What came to my mind then was Acts 10: 44 in which the people who heard the Word of God from the mouth of Peter were filled with the Spirit speaking in tongues and praising God!

Be filled with the Holy Spirit

“Filling” is a usual word found in the Bible to express baptism in the Spirit. At Pentecost all those who were assembled were FILLED with the Spirit (Acts 2: 4), when there was a controversy about the miraculous healing of the lame man the apostles were arrested and were
brought before the Sanhedrin and then Peter was again FILLED with the Spirit to defend themselves (Acts 4: 8). Then a fear arose among the Christians and they assembled together with one heart to pray to the Lord and they were all FILLED with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4: 23-31). The seven deacons were all Spirit-FILLED people (Acts 6: 5) and among them Stephen was FILLED specially with grace and power, working signs and wonders among the people (Acts 6: 8) and nobody could withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke (Acts 6: 10). AT Stephen’s martyrdom we see him being FILLED with the Spirit looking up to heaven to see the glory of the Holy Trinity (Acts 7: 55-56). Saul who became Paul after his conversion was FILLED with the Holy Spirit at the laying on of hands by Ananias (Acts 9: 17). The Acts of the Apostles is full of examples of individuals and groups getting FILLED with the Spirit on various occasions. The believers who were already FILLED with the Spirit at Pentecost were receiving an infilling experience again and again as there was need. That is why St. Paul wrote thus, “Be continuously FILLED with the Spirit” (Eph 5: 18). Hence it is clear that the Spirit of God is available to fill and refill men and women who ask for it.
Many Christians received the Holy Spirit in baptism at an infant stage when they did not know what the Spirit was or what the Spirit would do in them. At baptism it is someone else standing as Godparents who makes the profession of faith. Although they are supposed to be given the experience of the Spirit in their Christian growth, many are not brought up in this experience of the Spirit. Although the sacrament of confirmation is supposed to be a filling experience of the Spirit making the believers real soldiers of Christ, as it is the practice today it too remains a ritual without any deep experience of the Spirit. Many Christians go on with their prayers and practices of religion by way of rituals and symbols without knowing the very unction and action of the Spirit. In charismatic gatherings the believers are led to an adult conscious commitment to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour after a thorough repentance of their sins. Then by the laying on of hands the Spirit who is dormant in them, so to say, stirred up. “For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control” (II Tim 1: 6-7). A baptism in the Spirit could be called a renewal of all commitments one has made at the time of receiving various sacraments and a release of the fullness of the Spirit and grace received. That is why, although it is not a sacrament, many people have greater experiences at the reception of the baptism in the Spirit than at the reception of sacraments. Indeed my experience of God during the baptism in the Spirit was greater than the experience which I had at the first holy communion, or religious profession or even the ordination!. It is true that every believer has the Holy Spirit but not everyone is filled with the Spirit. Jesus said "the Holy Spirit is in you" (Jn 4: 17), but one must be baptised in the Spirit (Acts 1: 5).

Baptism in the Spirit is explained in various vocabularies in the New Testament. 1. Clothed with power from on high (Lk 24: 49)  2. Receive power (Acts 1: 8)  3. Filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 4)  4. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 38-39)  5. The Spirit was fallen upon (Acts 8: 16) 6. The Holy Spirit fell on them (Acts 11: 15). All these descriptions show that one should receive and be filled with the Holy Spirit, be bathed and soaked in the Spirit so that he can live a life in the Spirit which is expected of every Christian.

Holy Spirit is for all

Some people doubt if this gift of the Spirit is for anyone and everyone. Let us see the expression of Peter about the promise of the Spirit in his first speech soon after the Pentecost experience. “Repent and be baptised, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of  the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2: 38-39). It is for all who desire and ask in total obedience to God. A thorough and real repentance which is a change of life style (Metanoia) is a pre-requisite for receiving the Holy Spirit. If any vessel is to be filled, first it has to be emptied and made clean. So too a believer’s heart must be cleansed from all sins and by emptying (Kenosis) of pride, of worldly attachments and of desires, of doubts and prejudices, opening himself to the Spirit of God. The vessel, the heart, must be brought to the water-source of the living water, the open Heart of Jesus.

It is with faith that we should ask for the precious gift of the Spirit. “Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us... that the blessing of Abraham might be extended to the gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal 3: 13-14). Hence one should believe in the promise of God without any condition because our God is a faithful God, faithful to his promises. Faith means a complete surrender of all that one is and all that he has at the feet of Jesus. By a complete surrender one accepts Jesus as his Lord and a Saviour of life. Here he allows Jesus to do anything in his life, like a clay in the potter’s hand, and then He will set the Spirit free in him with all His fruits and gifts. Thus in deep faith and surrender one must go on asking for the Spirit. St. James accuses us saying that we are not receiving because we are not asking       (Jas 4: 2-3). For the Lord Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive... for everyone who asks receives... how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Lk 11: 9-13). Lack of genuine faith, doubts, fear and prejudices block the path of the Spirit. “But one should ask with faith, not doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave driven and tossed on the sea by the wind. Such a person should not expect anything from the Lord. He is a divided man and his conduct will always be insecure (Jas 1: 6-8).

How to drink from the Living Waters

We shall see some of the ways in which the Holy Spirit is imparted to believers. The Holy Spirit came to those who were prayerfully waiting with one accord (Acts 1: 12-14, 2: 1-4). I know of several individuals who have received the gift of the Spirit by praying alone with faith awaiting the coming of the Spirit. They might not have formally attended a life in the Spirit-seminar or a Charismatic retreat, but their faith and awaiting resulted in the reception of the Spirit. I have come across many people who claimed to have received the Holy Spirit while reading a good testimony, the Bible or some spiritual books. Recently I met a woman at Augsburg, Germany, who told me that she received an infilling of the Spirit with all his gifts after having read my prayer book “27 Charismatic Gebete”. After reading the prayer for inner healing of the heart and infilling by the Spirit she shed tears over her sins of the past and decided to make a good confession and accepted Jesus as the only Lord by touching a Crucifix and a Bible, then suddenly she felt the power of the Holy Spirit clothing her with grace. She said it was like a prolonged electric shock!. I know of a Hindu girl in Bangalore, India, who was living a very bad and wrecked life, suddenly felt the power of the Spirit shaking her up and changing her life as she was looking at a Cross in front of the Church. She told me of her deep conversion of life and acceptance of Jesus as her Lord of life and the gift of vision, power of healing and the gift of prayer which she received instantaneously. Now she is a leader of a big charismatic group mainly consisting of spirit filled Hindus.

The Holy Spirit was given by the laying on of hands (Acts 8: 17;  9: 17;  19: 6). This practice is very common today. People assemble for a retreat or a seminar where the Holy Spirit is well explained. Then the anointed preacher lay hands on everyone and imparts the Spirit, or the people lay their hands on each other while the anointed leader invokes the Spirit to come and rest on the gathering. In Acts of the apostles in chapter ten, we already saw that the Spirit came down powerfully, during a spirit-filled proclamation of the word. I have seen in retreats, conventions and healings services, when people are open to the Spirit, they receive the infilling of the Spirit with all its attendant expressions. Recently when I went to Slovakia, a part of the former Checkoslovokia, for a few days, the crowd was large and as it was late at night, it was impossible to pray over each one. I asked them to lay hands on each other and pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and incredible were the experiences they shared after the prayer. In Croatia or in Bosnia when I preach I see a large number of people coming for the spiritual renewal with faith as in India in my own country, and they pray for each other for the filling of the Holy Spirit and indeed miracles happens. In East Europe, in South America and in Asian countries I see people coming to the Lord with child-like faith, hence miracles and wonders take place. People with much “weight” in their head with “whys” and “hows” often fail to receive the gift of the Spirit.

What happens when one is Spirit-filled?

From the Holy Scriptures we could know how people reacted when they received the Spirit. In the Old testament believers prophesied when the Spirit filled them. “And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you and you shall prophesy” (I Sam 10: 6). Thus Saul the king of Israel prophesied (I Sam 10: 10-12). The seventy elders prophesied (Num 11: 25-26). The messengers of Saul prophesied (I Sam 19: 20-21). Although written in the New Testament, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and Zechariah could be considered as believers in the O.T period as they lived before Christ. They too prophesied by the filling of the Spirit         (Lk 1: 41;  1: 67). The prophets had visions (Ezek 2: 1-10).

At Pentecost there were the expressions of wind, fire, prophesy, tongues and preaching           (Acts 2: 1-4). When the apostles prayed over the believing Samaritans something visible and miraculous like healing or speaking in tongues took place. That is why Simon the sorcerer desired for it (Act 8: 14-19). When Paul was baptised in the Spirit through the laying on of hands by Ananias, he was healed of his blindness (Acts 9: 17). Cornelius and other Gentiles experienced tongues (10: 44- 48). When Paul prayed over the Ephesians there were tongues and prophesy (Acts 19: 1-7). In the N.T. speaking in tongues is a common phenomenon on following baptism in the Spirit. Perhaps Paul too had the same experience at his reception of the Spirit, that is why he said “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all”         (I Cor 14: 18). Although it is not mandatory for believers, it is good to have this experience. For Paul says, “I wish you all had the gift of speaking in tongues” (I Cor 14: 5). Another Biblical sign of baptism in the Holy Spirit is that one becomes a witness. The promise of Jesus was thus: “when this helper comes, he will be my witness, and you, too, will be my witnesses, for you have been with me from the beginning (Jn 15: 26-27). “When you receive the Holy Spirit you shall have the power and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth (Act 1: 8). In the O.T. all those people who received the Spirit were great warriors for God, they had such power and courage to stand for God even unto death. So too was the case with Jesus and His followers when they received the Spirit, they all received power to become martyrs. Hence more than tongues, healings, and prophesy, I would affirm that if a believer has the attitude and willingness to die for Jesus by bearing witness to Him, this is an unquestionable and remarkable sign that he has received baptism in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit sets one free from the fear of death too  (Heb 2: 15). Many and various are the experiences of those who receive the fullness of the Spirit. Many are the good deeds the Lord enables a charismatic to do. The Lord said “Amen, Amen I say to you, whoever believe in me will do the works that I do and will do greater ones than these because I am going to the Father” (Jn 14: 12-13). Many and various are the effect of the Baptism in the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit gives a new life in Christ:

- Baptism in the Holy Spirit opens up one’s heart in a sublime way to have a personal relationship with God the Father and the Son. In other words, a believer experiences God's Trinitarian life within himself.

- As a result one will find reasons galore for thanking God and praising the Father and the Son always for every event in one’s life.

- With the inflow of the Spirit one will begin to appreciate more and more the power of the sacraments and will live in them with personal experience.

- The Spirit will enable one to enter into fellowship with other Christian, displaying great regard and respect for the Church and its authorities.

- The Spirit will instil in one a great desire for the Word of God, the Holy Scripture. Reading the Bible becomes quite meaningful and lively, opening one’s vision to God’s plan.

- By the infilling of the Spirit one will be more aware of satan’s activity and how to withstand it. The power of the Spirit will guard one in resisting the attacks of evil powers.

- With baptism in the Spirit one becomes more prayerful. The Holy Spirit in him will arouse his heart towards God and enable him to get rid of his weakness in prayer.

- The Spirit gives Wisdom to know more about God, ourselves and others. Various mysteries will be revealed.

- Baptism in the Spirit lifts one up to a spiritual realm where he experiences his Christian life more powerfully, more effectively without compromises.

- The Spirit of love enables one to recognise Jesus in others, and encourages him to dedicate his life to care for others.

- The power of the Spirit strengthens one to speak about Jesus to others in such a way as to cause them to become believers. There will be a genuine enthusiasm for evangelisation.

- The Spirit empowers and equip one with various gifts and charisms (more about in forth coming chapters). The Spirit helps one to form prayer-groups, to attend prayer-groups, to visit the sick at home or in hospitals and to pray for them for their healings.

- From the experience of the fruits of the Spirit through baptism in the Spirit one will become more joyful, peaceful and powerful. Even in times of sufferings and rejections he will be strengthened to follow Jesus in a closer way.

- With the power of the Spirit, Jesus becomes central to one’s life with the consequence that he lives a life in, with, through Christ and for Christ. A Christo-centric life will enable him to grow in Christ and to become like Christ with a real transformation by the action of the Spirit that one will be able to say it is no longer I that live but Christ lives in me.

- The Holy Spirit urges one to live a holy life. It is the real Christian vocation. The indwelling Spirit enables one to overcome flesh, the world and satan so that having experienced holiness deep within, he will radiate it to others through his words and actions. The Spirit of holiness in a believer will give power and light to others.

- The Spirit helps one to help works of evangelisation not only by tithing but even with much more.

- Through the Spirit one may discern properly his vocation in life and embrace it as God’s will and will find happiness in it.

Let us pray thus:

Holy Spirit Lord, I thirst for you. I am sorry for the times I have lost you by my gravious sins, I am sorry for grieving you by keeping unforgiveness in my heart. I ask you pardon for times I have quenched you in my heart and I have opposed you in my life. Now I come to you without any doubt or confusion, fear or prejudice, enter into me and fill me with your grace and power that I may have a new life when I have met my God with great love, and in peace and joy, and ceaselessly I may praise your Name forever. Amen.

   Precious Spirit come
   Holy Spirit come,
   Come into me now to touch and heal
   Precious Spirit come, Holy Spirit come
   Come in now and set my life on fire.

    Oh! Let my heart burn with love
    With love for my Lord
    Let the mighty power flow
    And set me free

    When times of trial come,
    And temptations come my way
    Let me cling to Thy precious love
    Prepare me for the day
    That great and glorious day
    When my Lord comes back to take me home

    Oh! Let my heart ....

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