Q. I have a question concerning baptism of the Holy Spirit. Recently I was in a conversation with another Christian and was asked if I was saved. When I replied yes, they then asked if I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and could speak in tongues. I told them that when I accepted Jesus as my savior I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, but I can not speak in tongues. They then showed me Acts 8:12-17. It would seem that receiving the Holy Spirit is a separate event apart from salvation. They conclude that the sign for this event is the person’s ability to speak in tongues. Though the passage doesn’t mention anyone speaking in tongues, they make the remark that in verse 18 Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given. It is said by the person I was talking to that no one can see the Holy Ghost for he is a spirit, so naturally, there had to be a physical sign and that sign was tongues.
Could you please help me to understand what is going on in these passages, if I haven’t been filled with the Holy Spirit, perhaps I should get that done. Thanks and God bless.
A. The view that baptism of the Holy Spirit will always be evidenced by the manifestation of tongues can not be supported by Scripture. 1 Cor. 12:7-11 clearly states that Spiritual Gifts are distributed to each of us by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit, and goes on to describe that having every believer receive the same gift would be like a body with all eyes or all ears. And Ephesians 1:13-14 says the Holy Spirit was sealed within you at the first moment you believed.
As far as being a physical sign, what’s to prevent a person from spouting gibberish to make others believe he’s received the gift, something I’ve seen happen a number of times, since no one can understand tongues anyway? In the two instances in the Book of Acts where baptism was accompanied by tongues, it was to show the Jewish believers present that God could give the Holy Spirit to gentiles as well. (Acts 10:44-46 & 19:6-7) And in both of those cases it was a unique experience, not a general ability.
You don’t have to prove to anyone else that you’ve been saved. It’s between you and God. If you want to inquire of God what your spiritual gifts are and ask someone to pray with you to reveal them that’s one thing, but don’t let anyone try to question your relationship with God based on a particular gift.