During the Sunday service, Pastor Richmond Leigh, my husband, continued preaching on the theme ‘Power from on high’. His main text was taken from the Book of Revelation: “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen” (Rev 1:17, 18; NKJ). He said that as a church, we are entering a new season, into a higher level of anointing. We need to be Baptized and Filled with the Holy Spirit. Nobody knows all the functions of the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The major work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ! He reveals Him to us; opens our eyes to His Majesty so that we can worship Him. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and helps us believe and understand the Word of God.
Pastor Richmond Leigh said that it is possible to be born again and not be baptized with the Holy Spirit. It is true that no one can be saved without the work of the Holy Spirit in his soul (Rom 8:9). One of the symbols of The Holy Spirit is the water. The effect of the water is that it wets you or it quenches your thirst. There are degrees of these effects. For example, the rain is drizzling outside. A man goes in the rain. After some time, he will get wet. But if the rain is torrential, he will get wet faster. If a man drinks a cup of water, he will be filled (gets wet) in the inside. But if a man is dipped into the ocean, he will become ‘wet’ instantly both outside and inside. He will be overwhelmed by the water. All these illustrations show degrees of ‘wetness’ from the same water.
In Greek, the Word ‘baptism’ means to submerge, to immerse or to overwhelm. (It is a pity that in many churches, they have lost the true meaning of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They call it a ceremony by which the Christian becomes an official member of the church). The true Baptism of the Holy Spirit is when a child of God is suddenly ‘immersed in the ocean of the Holy Spirit’ by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and fire! It is a unique, specific and powerful experience! The baptism with the Holy Spirit is always a definite experience, something clear and unmistakable. It is recognized by the person to whom it happens and to others who look at him. Regeneration is something unconscious, the secret work of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of man. It is non-experiential. Nobody knows exactly the moment when he became born again. It takes time to discover the fruits of the Holy Spirit ‘growing’ in your spirit. But the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is different. It is conscious, experiential, definite and clear. It will literarily ‘shake’ you! Once you experience this baptism you can describe the experience with your own words. Your life will never be the same again. You shall receive ‘power from on high’! You shall receive boldness to preach the Word of God, to witness for Jesus! You receive an unshakable assurance that you are saved forever! This is the command of God: “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:17, 18; NKJ).
The manifestations of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit are identical in character but vary in degrees of expression. Some people are more passionate than others. It is not wise to compare two people who each has been baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit can create a wonderful energy, a passion, a holy zeal and ‘a fire’ in the church. This is called revival. We should pray for it. We should desire it. But we should be careful that the fire will not do damage to the name of God as we manifest the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The other extreme is to act in fear and to quench the move of the Holy Spirit. That is also wrong. We need godly wisdom to welcome the Holy Spirit, to host Him in our services and to allow Him to move freely in our midst.
What are the signs, the marks and the manifestation of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Basically, there are two types of experiences: Subjective and Objective. The objective signs are what others see about you as you are baptized with the Holy Spirit. The subjective signs are what you experience inwardly when no one can see, as you are baptized with the Holy Spirit. Apostle Paul describes the objectives signs in 1 Corinthians 14. The believers were manifesting different gifts at the same time. These were all genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit, but Paul was concerned about the disorderly manner of the assembly. He reminded them that God is a God of order and even if they are baptized with the Holy Spirit there should be holy order in the fellowship.
The subjective manifestation is what the believer says about his personal experience. When a child of God is baptized with the Holy Spirit the first inevitable sign to him is a sense of the glory of God, an unusual sense of the presence of God. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit makes real to him the things he has previously believed by faith. Things difficult to explain, the mystery of the union with Christ, heavenly things, these become so real to him. It is an immediate awareness of the glory of God. Generally, we walk by faith and not by sight. But at the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, the spiritual sight becomes so clear in an immediate way. Suddenly, doubt vanishes, and faith becomes very strong. The assurance of salvation is established, and none can shake it. It is almost impossible to describe these things with words. If you have experienced them, you will know them. If you have not experienced them, you cannot understand them. If a Christian grieves the Holy Spirit and backslides, he will lose some of his spiritual sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and his faith will become weaker. He will still believe that he is a Christian, but he will not as confident as in the past in his witness to others. These glorious things he once delighted in become pale in his mind. His salvation remains but his faith and joy decrease.
The subjective manifestations are not described in the Bible. Peter and the other disciples did not describe how they felt at Pentecost. The reason is that each person has his own words to describe the holy experience. Not two are the same. As Believers we walk by faith and not by sight. This is true! But the experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is above and beyond faith. The following are some examples of what can be described as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Moses was in awe of God as He encounter Him amid the burning bush. “Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God” (Ex 3:6). Isaiah also thought that he will die as he had a glimpse of the glory of God. He cried out: “Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips! For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts” (Is 6:5). In the first five chapters, Isaiah felt confident to rebuke the backslidden nation. But now, after seeing God on the throne, I found himself undone and he discovered that he too needs to repent before such a holy God.
Apostle Paul was journeying on the Road to Damascus when suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting… So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do (Ac 9:3-6). John the Beloved fell like dead at the feet of the resurrected and glorified Christ (Rev 1:17). As you can see, each believer experiences a sense of awe of the presence of God hard to describe in words. But one thing is clear, his life is never the same again. He now has a new unshakable and bold confidence concerning the assurance of his salvation. It is like he went to heaven and back. The experience is so real! He can now effectively witness for Jesus no matter the opposition!
This is another way to describe the Baptism with the Holy Spirit: The love of God is ‘shed abroad in our hearts’. This experience is more powerful than generally knowing that God loves you. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that gives the believer supernatural peace, joy, hope, boldness and patience thru tribulations. The child of God loses any form of shame or timidity concerning the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ and Him Crucified (Rom 5:1-5). After the Baptism of the Holy Spirit we have the assurance of the love of God which is also the assurance of our salvation. It is this assurance that gives rise to witnessing. Our Lord said to His disciples before ascending to heaven: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Ac 1:8). Once the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you receive a supernatural sense of ‘I know it! I was there when the Cross happened! I saw my Lord on the Cross! I know the Gospel is true! I know that Jesus Christ is Lord!” This ‘knowing’ is more than knowing the doctrines. This knowing becomes part of you until you see Jesus face to face. The Holy Spirit tells us in the most unmistakable manner that we are children of God. Deep down we know that God loves us in Christ and that His love is by His grace alone. The power of such an experience ‘shocks’ some people and they start speaking in tongues. The truth is that only a heavenly language that can describe such a mighty outpouring of Love from above!
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:15, 16). The Holy Spirit is also described as ‘The Spirit of adoption’. The Holy Spirit does two things. First, He makes our spirits cry ‘Abba, Father’. This is a deep involuntary spiritual cry. Only the children of God cry like this. Just like in the natural, the children cry: ‘Daddy, Daddy!’. Like David said: ‘deep calls unto Deep’ (Ps 42:7). Secondly, the Holy Spirit witnesses to our true spiritual identity, confirming to our spirits that we are indeed children of God. Every man can identify with this experience. For example, a father and his beloved son walk together along the road. Suddenly, moved by some inward impulse, the father takes hold of his child and picks him up. He holds him tight in his arms, embraces him and showers him with kisses. After this moment of manifested love, he puts the child down and they continue to walk along the road. That’s it! Even before this moment of manifested love, the child knew that this man walking with him is his father. But oh, the loving embrace, that extra outpouring of the love of the father; this unusual sudden manifestation of it. This love, this embrace, these kisses… they add fuel to the flame of filial love. In a simple way, this example describes the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the highest, the most absolute and glorious way of experiencing the assurance of our salvation. This assurance is more than the one received from deductions, as we read the scriptures. We could arrive at this assurance by the process of reading the Bible, praying for understanding or for the revelation of the scriptures. We could arrive there by a process of self-examination and self-analysis. All these methods are right and true. But the glory of this highest form of assurance is that it is neither anything we do, no deduction that we draw, but it is the direct assurance given to us by the blessed Holy Spirit. There is none like it! That is why God alone takes the glory for every experience of Baptism of the Holy Spirit!
Finally, these are good questions: Are you baptized with the Holy Spirit? Do you understand these things? The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a wonderful supernatural experience granted to them who are already born again and who pray for it. Jesus Christ, our High Priest in heaven, is the Baptizer. Child of God, you must seek this experience, until you receive it. It may be accompanied with speaking in other tongues or not. But one thing is clear, this ‘power from on high’ is granted to the believer, to preach and to pray. Educated or not, the believer will be able to witness to his Savior and Lord with great assurance and conviction. He will fear God more than he will fear men! Signs, wonders and miracles will follow the spoken Word. This is the basis for all true ministry. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is needed by all believers but especially by them who evangelize. After His resurrection, our Lord commanded His disciples: Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49). But Peter got tired of waiting. He led the others to the Sea of Galilee to go ‘fishing’. They were supposed to wait for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to empower them for ministry. But they got discouraged and went back to their old profession, fishing. The Lord met them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He helped them to re-focus on their primary ministry as lovers, worshippers of Jesus and secondly, as ‘fishers of men’.
This baptism is the explanation of revival, when the move of the Holy Spirit changes nations. Oh, how much we need that! We need revival in Nigeria! ‘Holy Spirit please come and fill our hungry hearts! Revive us again! Baptize us with power from on high! In Jesus’ name we pray!’ Worship the Lord!
Come reign Holy Ghost! Come reign in my heart! Come reign in my soul! Ever reign!
Holy Spirit Thou art welcome in this place! Omnipotent Father of mercy and grace, Thou are welcome in this place!
Come, Holy Spirit we need You! Come sweet Spirit we pray! Come in Your fulness and power! Come in Your own special way! Amen!
(In the picture, my husband, Pastor Richmond Leigh, preaching today)