God/Holy Ghost like a cloud Holy Ghost pours out of that cloud
We refuse to accept Rivers of living water gushing forth
My wife and I were in marriage counselling in a Southern Baptist church in Maryland. The pastor had a funny idea – if the couple were not saved, he wouldn’t perform the ceremony. He felt that Jesus had to be in the marriage if it were to succeed. The pastor asked me if I had ever given my heart to Jesus I responded “I’ve attended Sunday School in this church from elementary school through high school.” Now this was a new pastor in the church. I don’t remember if he had been there a little over a year or a little less than a year, but he asked me again if I knew Christ. Again I responded “I haven’t missed many services either.” He looked at me and again said that wasn’t what he asked so he asked me again if I had ever given my heart to Jesus. I’m twenty-six years old in this stage of my life and one might think I could have continued to side-step him BUT the Holy Ghost convicted me in my heart with the third question that the only honest and truthful answer I could give was “No”. He asked me if I would like to and still under the conviction of the Holy ghost I prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer’ with him letting Jesus into my life. This was back in 1972 and ever since that moment I’ve known I belonged to God through Jesus Christ.
Have I always lived like I belonged to God? No, but that was the beginning of my walk and my growth in the Lord with and through Jesus. I’ve spent a life time since then yielding more and more of my life over to Christ and I must admit, that because of ignorance, stubbornness and a myriad of other reasons it has been a long slow trek for me. I will say this, that every time I think I’ve made good headway, Father shows me how little I have actually grown. Oft times I wonder if I will ever grow up!
I mean, naturally I’ve grown physically. I have aged, my body has physically changed but this is only one part of growing up. There are two more areas involved: emotionally and spiritually.
Basically emotional maturity is not letting our emotions control us, but rather we bring our emotions under subjection to ‘our spirit’, our will. We yield our unbridled will to Jesus and become subject to His leading, then we endeavor to bring the rest of our body into subjection to our will (as it is subject to Jesus, see 1 Corint. 9:27). This means our speech, our actions and our thoughts. Our goal is to become Christlike in and through our complete lifestyle, what we say, what we do and what we think.
When I was ten or eleven a bunch of us kids would go up to the top of the street to play. There was an avenue with each direction split by a grassy island, which of course had opening to allow passage both ways from each street. One night as we were playing up there, I fell and split my hand open on a piece of broken glass. I walked back to my house with my friends, my hand gushing blood and was taken to the hospital for stitches. But I told myself “What a big boy I am now.” I hadn’t shed one tear the whole time. And I didn’t shed a tear the rest of my life until my wife went to be with the Lord about fifty years later. So, am I saying that we control our emotions so that we never display them again? Of course not! Read Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven”. Don’t forget to read the rest of the chapter. Everything has a time and a place. Even Jesus got angry (Matt. 21:12-13), when He overthrew the tables of the money changers and said “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!” Trust me, Jesus wasn’t saying this with a soft still voice. He turned tables over. He was hot. And rightfully so.
When my wife went to be with the Lord, I cried. When I was alone (just me and the cats and the Lord), more than once I cried with deep sorrow that I had for my loss. She was with the Lord so it was her gain, but I missed her deeply and I even felt a little guilty that maybe there was something I could have, should have, done. Father told me later, there was nothing I could have changed. She had suffered much in her lifetime and it was her time. From that moment on Father began His work in me.
By the way, it was my loss not expressing emotions for so long. I lived in a controlled rage for most of those years. By the grace of God I didn’t ‘go off’ often but when I did, it was short, pent up bursts of emotion – no tears, just anger. I don’t know how different my life would have been over the years, but I do know now that even though it is OK to express our emotions, we don’t let our emotions go ‘haywire’. We express them when necessary, but we aren’t driven by them. I’ve always been a relatively ‘closed’ person. Didn’t share much with others, even hardly with my wife, but over the years, Father opened me up. Even now, I don’t share my business with others except when it can help them get through something. And I will say that now, more than my wife and children get hugs from me.
Spiritual growth turning our lives over to the Lord. To do that means reading the bible. If we don’t read we don’t know what it says. If we don’t know what it says, we can’t apply it to our lives. When we don’t seem to be able to understand it, we get help. Spiritual growth also mean improving our relationship and communication with Father. These two go hand in hand – communication and relationship (works in our natural lives, too). When we read the bible, we learn how to distinguish what God is telling us versus our own mind or even a demonic entity trying to put thoughts into our minds. When we pray, Father opens up our understanding of what we read in the bible. When we read more, our prayers become more effective because we learn how to pray. As our prayer life increases we understand better, as we understand better we can draw more from what we read and then get even closer to our Lord. As we interact with our pastors, church elders brothers and sisters in the Lord, we feed and draw from each other growing even more so don’t forsake the fellowshipping together (Heb. 10:25) for we overcome him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony (Rev.12:11).
Spiritual growth is ‘how close are we willing to walk with Father?’ What does it take to walk closer with Father through Jesus Christ? And that, my friends, as Paul Harvey used to say ‘is the rest of the story.
My baptism in the Holy Ghost came in 1978, nearly six years after I had given my heart to the Lord.
Briefly, my wife and I went to a rally in Frederick, Maryland presented by a noted spirit-filled, evangelical speaker, who was also a pastor in a Virginia church. At the end of the rally they broke us (those who professed an interest) into three groups: salvation, healing and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. My wife and I went for the baptism. We had been hearing and learning a little about this from some charismatic friends and decided since we were already ‘saved’, weren’t interested in a healing so what was left? As we gathered, there was a group of maybe a dozen or so people. The leaders of the group explained what we could expect and what we needed to do. After some prayer they tried to ‘jump start’ us (they said some words in the Spirit and asked us to repeat after them). By the end of the session. Everybody, including my wife, was speaking in their spiritual language. Everybody that is except me. I was hurt, concerned and maybe even a little angry. I knew the bible, I
could feel God’s hand on my life and I was more spiritual than my wife (I thought) so what was wrong with me?
My wife and I went home and talked and prayed about it some and she was getting tired (it was well after midnight) so she went to bed. I stayed up talking with Father more. He finally gave me some instruction and by the time we (God & I) were done I had received baptism in the Holy Ghost, including the evidence of speaking in tongues (my spiritual language). Now I know that Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:44-46) were saved AND baptized in the Holy Ghost at the same time, as Peter yet spoke. So I see in scripture that salvation and the baptism in the Holy Ghost can happen at the same time or there might be a time lag as in Acts chapter nine when Saul (Paul) met our Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus and gave his heart to Him but it was later in Damascus that Ananias came to him and he (Saul) received the baptism of the Holy Ghost then (Acts 9:17-18). I’ve been reading Kenneth Hagin and he, too experienced a lag in time between his salvation experience and his baptism in the Holy Ghost experience (“The Holy Spirit and His Gifts”).
Indwelling and Infilling
So what I’ve been learning recently is terminology. I’ve personally known what I experienced and have seen confirmation in what I’ve been reading, I just didn’t know what things were called.
The Holy Ghost comes to dwell within the hearts of all believers. Those who have repented their sins, confessed jesus Christ and believed that God has indeed raised Him from the dead are ‘believers’ (1 John 1:9 & Romans 10:9).
After the ‘Passover Supper’ Jesus talked with His disciples and in part “…Nonetheless, I tell you the truth, it is expedient that I go away for if I don’t, the Comforter will not come, but if I depart, I will send Him to you…” Jesus had to experience the crucifixion and the resurrection before His disciples could receive the Holy Ghost.
So after the resurrection, fearing the Jews, the disciples were gathered together when Jesus came and stood in their midst. Part of what Jesus said to them was “Receive the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you remit, they are remitted to them and whose sins you retain, they are retained.” (John 20:22-23). And so the disciples received the Holy Ghost. But this wasn’t the baptism (infillng) of the Holy Ghost which occurred in Acts chapter two, but rather this was the indwelling, where because of our faith, the Holy Ghost takes up residence in our hearts.
Paul shares with us that because we believe in Jesus, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise and He ils the earnest (downpayment) of our inheritance (salvation) until our redemption (Eph. 1:12-14), or with Jesus in eternity.
In his book “The Holy Spirit and His Gifts”, Kenneth Hagin explains the difference between the ‘indwelling’ and the ‘infilling’ of the Holy Ghost.
Jesus talking with His disciples in the temple said “He who believes on Me, as the scripture said, rivers of living water shall flow out of his belly.” But He was speaking of the Spirit which believers would receive for the Holy Ghost was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:38-39). This is the baptism of the Holy Ghost. And Jesus promised when He said to them “But you shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you and to be (this is not ‘to be’, but AND) witnesses for me in Jerusalem … and to the farthest parts of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8).
What has helped me the most in understanding the difference between the indwelling and he infilling is looking at John chapter four and John chapter seven. Jesus tells the woman at the well “If you knew the gift of God and He who was talking with you, you would ask to be given the living water.” … and “Who drinks this water (from Jacob’s well) will thirst again, but he who drinks the water I will give him will never thirst, but it shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:10-14). This is the Holy Ghost taking up residence in us at our ‘salvation experience’ and equates to when Jesus breathes on His disciples and says “receive the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22-23) which is the indwelling. But the ‘rivers of living waters’ flowing out of our bellies (John 7:38-39) is the full operation of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the infilling, or the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit builds us up as an individual. It confirms our salvation (Romans 8:14-16), leads us into all truths (John 16:13) and helps our infirmities (Romans 8:26-27). It’s like, as Paul says, the praying in tongues builds up the individual, me, (1 Corinth. 14:4). Paul goes on in the same passage to push prophesying as being better because it edifies the church (1 Corinth. 14:4-6) but) tongues (as the outpouring of the Holy Ghost may be used with the conditions given in v6, by revelation, knowledge, prophesying or doctrine, each which come down to an interpretation of the tongue. And Paul tells us that the tongue in church should be with interpretation (1 Corinth. 14:26-31) so all can benefit.
Now, even though speaking in tongues (our personal prayer language) and the ‘prophetic’ tongue all come by the same Holy Ghost the capability to pray in the spiritual language is received with the baptism in the Holy Ghost. Note again, personal prayer builds us up as an individual and the ‘prophetic tongue’ builds up others.
Father has given me something I can live with and that is a correlation with the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in respects to my personal prayer language, in that it builds me up but stays within me (or between God and me) (I drink and will never thirst). Where the ‘prophetic’ tongue is the outpouring of the Holy Ghost or the power of th Holy Ghost manifested through me (rivers of living waters). I know that there are those who would probably argue this, but I said it was something ‘I can live with’ or helps me understand the difference between the indwelling and the infilling (baptism) of the Holy Ghost. I mean it is still the same Holy Ghost, just a difference in how He operates or manifests Himself in us or through us, the difference, again, is edifying me or edifying those around me. Having said all this, I am aware that the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost is the speaking with other tongues (Acts 2;1-4, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:6, three witnesses). I’m not saying we have ‘tongues’ without the baptism of the Holy Ghost, for we don’t have tongues, our heavenly prayer language, without the baptism, but it does help me understand the relationship between the indwelling and the ilnfilling of the Holy Ghost.
Now, keep two things in mind: 1)We should not quench the Spirit (1Thess. 5:19), that is extinguish to put out; and yield ourselves to God as servants of righteousness, for whom we yield ourselves to, we serve (Rom. 6:13-19). 2)We yield ourselves to serve God and don’t forbid or deny the Holy Ghost to operate in us and/or through us by rejecting what Father has freely given us. When we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness He will provide all that we need (Matt. 6:33). Let us receive it, with rejoicing.
God/the Holy Ghost is like a cloud
A while back, Father brought to my remembrance a rain cloud I had seen on the distant horizon. It was raining and as I watched, fingers reached down from the cloud to the earth and there was no disconnect between the cloud and the earth.
Eventually the fingers blended together so the cloud reaching down to the earth had become one single mass. It looked like the cloud itself was reaching down to the earth’s surface and settling on it. Of course, the rain cloud eventually emptied, the rain stopped and the cloud dissipated.
However, God’s ‘cloud’ never dries up and never dissipates. Father spoke to my heart saying “In similar fashion I pour out My Holy Spirit on those who will receive Me.” Again, this is the situation we read in Acts chapter two with the apostles and disciples in the upper room. They were expecting to receive the Holy Ghost as Jesus promised, they just weren’t sure only soon (Acts 1:5). They were expecting Him and they received Him when He came.
When God led Israel out of Egypt, He did so in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exod. 13:21-22) so I’m not surprised He would relate to a cloud to demonstrate this truth as He blessed the disciples.
We can fend off the raindrops
When it rains, we use raincoats and umbrellas to help stay dry. As depicted in the picture, with our umbrellas up, the rain can’t get to us and we stay dry, untouched by the raindrops. Now I’m talking about the baptism in the Holy Ghost, our receipt of power from on high. Our umbrellas are our doubts, fears or even (maybe) our denial that the Holy Ghost is for today (as some believe). We may even believe but then say “It’s not for me.” because we don’t know how to receive or are maybe even afraid to receive Him because we don’t truly understand how the Holy Ghost works. We reject, for whatever reasons, therefore we don’t receive the power from on high Father offers to all believers.
John 7:38 says “out of his (the believer's) belly shall flow rivers of living water. This is an outpouring from us, this is expressed in the picture of the geyser. The baptism gives us the power to be vessels for God through Jesus Christ because the Holy Ghost is alive, well and operating within us, not just the salvation experience, but true power from the Father to do the works Jesus has called us to do (John 14:12) and do them most effectively.
Apollos preached a strong word (Acts 18:24-28) but when he ‘bumped’ into Aquila and Priscilla, they explained the ways of God more perfectly and the implication is he (Apollos) had more power behind his word than before. Even Later, Paul alluded to the fact that Apollos had become a major player in spreading the gospel as he referenced him in his letters (1 Corinth. 3:3-7). After all who were Paul and Apollos? Nothing more than ministers of God’s Word for us.
We can only do so much with our salvation experience, but we can do so much more when we receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost receiving power from on high - to live our lives for Him and then to more effectively do whatever ministry He to which He has called us. Amen.