Whether we will admit this to be true or not, the facts are the facts. In many of our Pentecostal/charismatic churches (and the various ministries within the churches), few of the people are Spirit-baptized. I would venture to say that extremely few boys and girls in our Sunday school classes and children’s churches have been given the opportunity to be filled with the Spirit. The children in our children’s churches and youth in our student ministries that are Spirit-baptized generally are filled with the Spirit at a Kid’s/Youth Camp and then return back home never to hear of the Holy Spirit until the next Summer’s retreat or camp. Few adults in our Sunday morning auditoriums are Spirit-baptized and are ever given the opportunity to receive the promise of the Father.
Have you ever considered how this current trend runs contrary to what we see in the Book of Acts? Consider our scriptural prototype …
1. Before Jesus ascended back to heaven, He commanded that His followers stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father. To Jesus, the believers in His Church weren’t to be given an option. Jesus knew that they must be filled with His Spirit. (Acts 1:4)
2. In Samaria, God was doing great things. People were being saved and then water baptized. People were freed from demonic powers. Miracles abounded. Great great joy was in the city. But, Jerusalem’s church leaders knew that it couldn’t be optional for the Samaritan believers to have the much needed benefits of the Spirit-filled life. Peter and John were sent out from Jerusalem for the sole purpose of laying hands on the believers so that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17)
3. Upon having an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, the now blinded Saul was led into town. Three days later, God sent a follower named Ananias to him so that the newly converted “Brother” Saul (indicating Saul’s salvation) could receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:17)
4. In ministering to the Gentiles in Cornelius’ home, Peter preached a salvation message and saw salvation immediately followed by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit with the believers speaking in other tongues and magnifying God. (Acts 10:44-46)
5. When Paul entered into Ephesus and encountered believers, we find that his first question to these believers was, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?”. To Paul, the believers being filled with God’s Spirit was a priority. (Acts 19:1-7)
Can you see the priority given to the believer being baptized in the Holy Spirit in the scriptures? And, can you see how today’s church (and perhaps your ministry) has minimized what the Book of Acts maximized? Sadly, we’ve lost the urgency for today’s believers to follow Jesus’ command to be filled with the Spirit. From the lack of our teaching and preaching upon being filled with the Spirit, our silence is showing today’s believer that Jesus’ priority isn’t our priority. Consequently, our “add-on, optional” mentality has produced a church that isn’t clothed with the power from on high (Luke 24:49) to be able to withstand the attacks of the enemy.
What is the answer? We must once again introduce the Person of the Holy Spirit to those in our ministry. Let’s demystify the third Person of the Godhead. Let’s give the children and youth in our ministry the opportunity to have a relationship with the Comforter (aka … Parakletos, the One who is called to walk alongside of us) which begins with being filled or baptized in the Holy Spirit. We must make this a priority!
Before I close, let me add one more thought … did I post this blog to suggest that today’s believers won’t go to heaven without being filled with the Holy Spirit? No, a thousand times no. Nowhere do we find that in the scriptures. But, I do know this to be true … the saint that is filled with God’s Spirit and enjoys the benefits of the Spirit-filled life will have the power to get to heaven and carry much fruit with them. Carrying fruit to heaven in itself is enough reason to once again make the preaching and teaching about being filled with the Holy Spirit a priority.