11.0 What is the fullness of the Holy Spirit?
"Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). The Bible teaches us to not only receive the Holy Spirit but to also seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Those who are full of the Holy Spirit bear the spiritual fruits such as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. They walk according to the Spirit, not in accordance in their sinful nature as described in Galations 5, bearing the fruit with all aspects of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). They are able to reflect the nature of Jesus Christ, exhibiting god-like qualities of love, faith, hope, humility, purity, power, and wisdom.
According to our Lord's promise, the Holy Spirit will fill those who believe in him and humbly ask him through constant and earnest prayer. It is a continuous process, ever filling, continuously flowing, and achieving a spiritual transformation through a daily renewal as indicated in Titus 3:3-7:
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life
The fullness of the Spirit is like the continuous flowing out of living water. The Lord Jesus said, "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14). If we are full of the Holy Spirit, we will never thirst again because God dwells in our hearts and fills our souls with peace, comfort, and joy.
11.1 Your church claims that baptism can cleanse sins (Acts 22:16), sanctify and justify (1 Cor 6:11), regenerate (Tit 3:5), raise to life (Col 2:12) and save (1 Pet 3:20-21). Then why do we need to receive the Holy Spirit at all? Baptism would be sufficient.
- The saving effects of both water baptism and the Holy Spirit are closely related; neither one should replace the other. While baptism is essential for salvation, receiving the Holy Spirit is also a necessary step of salvation. One must be born of the water and of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5; see Tit 3:5).
- Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ (Holy Spirit) does not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9). The Holy Spirit also testifies that we are the children and heirs of God (Rom 8:15-17; Gal 4:6-7). He is a seal of our future inheritance (Eph 1:13-14).
- A person who is dead spiritually must be revived by the Holy Spirit (Ezek 37:14; Rom 8:11). The Holy Spirit will also raise the believers from the dead and transform them into spiritual beings on the last day (cf Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 15:22-23). God has given us the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing our future resurrection (2 Cor 5:1-5).
11.2 The phrase, “be born of the Spirit” in John 3:5 does not refer to receiving the Holy Spirit.
- “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’” (John 3:5). It is clear that being born of the Spirit is essential for salvation. From other parts of the Scripture, we also see that receiving the Holy Spirit is a requisite for salvation. For example, Titus 3:5 states that we are saved by the washing of rebirth and the renewal of the Holy Spirit; in verse 6 it explains that this Holy Spirit has been poured out on us generously.
Similarly in Eph 1:13 it discusses that the believers have been marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit (i.e. received the promised Holy Spirit), who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. So to be born of the Spirit does indeed refer to receiving the Holy Spirit, which is necessary for salvation.
- To be born of the spirit involves receiving a new spiritual life. A person who has died spiritually must be revived. That is why “to be born of the spirit” is also referred to as being born again. This spiritual resurrection occurs when God’s Spirit (Holy Spirit) lives in and renews a believer in his daily life (Rom 8:11; see also Ezek 37:14).
11.3 The New Testament never instructs believers to pray for the Holy Spirit. God has complete authority to give His Holy Spirit to anyone He pleases. The Holy Spirit is given, not acquired.
- In Luke 11:13, the Lord Jesus clearly states, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
- In John 4:10, the Lord said to the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink’; you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (living water refers to the Holy Spirit; see John 7:37-39).
- The Lord Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matt 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10). Does this statement contradict or deny the authority of God as the giver of all blessings? (Of course not.)
- In addition to being the promise of God, receiving the Holy Spirit also requires prayer and asking on the part of human beings. This point is clearly illustrated in Luke 11:13 and John 4:10 (quoted above). The pouring out of the Holy Spirit is also contingent upon the obedience of the Lord’s instructions (see Matt 28:20; Acts 5:32). Praying for the Holy Spirit does not deny the authority of God; instead, it is a natural expression of our faith (Matt 15:22-28; Rom 10:14), earnesty (Luke 11:5-8), and persistence (Luke 18:1-8).
11.4 After the ascension of the Lord, the disciples “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” in the upper room (Acts 1:12-14). Verse 14 only says that they prayed together and does not say that they were praying for the Holy Spirit. In fact, the disciples would have received the Holy Spirit anyway even if they had not prayed, since the Lord’s promise never fails.
- The Lord Jesus had told the disciples the importance of receiving the Holy Spirit and specifically instructed them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). The disciples themselves must have been eager to receive the Holy Spirit; that is why they prayed constantly. The only logical conclusion was that they were praying for the Holy Spirit. If they weren’t praying for the Holy Spirit, what were they praying for?
- Waiting involves prayer and asking (see Ps 40:1). To say that the disciples would have received the Holy Spirit without prayer because it was the Lord’s promise would also imply that we do not need to pray for anything that the Lord has promised.
- For example, in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus promised that God would see that His chosen gets justice, and quickly (v. 8). If this promise were to fulfill anyhow without prayer, why did Jesus give the parable to show that the disciple should always pray and not give up (v. 1)?
11.5 In Acts 8, the Samaritans did not join together to pray for the Holy Spirit. Similarly, in Chapter 10, Cornelius and his relatives and friends received the Holy Spirit without even asking or praying.
- The believers in Samaria received the Holy Spirit when the apostles prayed and laid hands on them (Acts 8:15, 17). The passage does not record that the believers prayed for the Holy Spirit; but neither does it say that the believers just sat there to watch Peter and John pray for them. It is only logical that they must have been praying constantly for the Holy Spirit just as the disciples had once been in the upper room. Peter and John were there only to assist them in prayer.
- The miracle at Cornelius’ house was God’s direct sign that He “has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18). Several miracles occurred to show the apostles and other circumcised Jewish brothers that God also gave his grace to Gentiles: 1. Cornelius was told in a vision to send for Peter 2. Peter was revealed in a vision that he should not regard the gentiles as unclean 3. The listeners received the Holy Spirit without the laying of hands.
- This event is a special case, and this special case in no way implies that believers should not pray for the Holy Spirit or receive the laying of hands.
11.6 The baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost would never reoccur. The Holy Spirit was given once for all and has been staying in all the believers ever since.
- The baptism of the Holy Spirit reoccurred over and over again during the period of the early rain. We can find individual cases throughout the Book of Acts to show that receiving the Holy Spirit is an individual experience:
- The Holy Spirit came upon the believers in Samaria when Peter and John laid hands on them (Acts 8:14-17).
- Cornelius and his relatives and friends received the Holy Spirit while listening to Peter’s preaching (Acts 10:44-48).
- The disciples in Ephesus received the Holy Spirit after being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:1-7).
- The apostle Peter confirmed that the household of Cornelius had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit just as the disciples had on Pentecost (Acts 10:47; 11:15-17).
- The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit would abide in the church as long as the church teaches and obeys the truth (see Matt 28:20; Acts 5:32). Yet church history shows that heresies prevailed in Christendom a few generations after the apostles; so we do not read about the experience of receiving the Holy Spirit in church history. But in the last days, during the period of the latter rain, the Holy Spirit will again be poured out (Zech 10:1; Jer 5:24; Joel 2:23; Hos 6:3). This promise has been fulfilled in the true church today.
11.7 In John 20:21-23, Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” At this point, the disciples received the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s promise of the Holy Spirit in John 14:16 and 16:7 was fulfilled.
- The Lord Jesus said, “for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you” (John 16:7). At this point the Lord Jesus had not yet ascended to heaven, thus he could not have yet given the Holy Spirit to them.
- The apostle John writes, “for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). The Lord Jesus had not yet been glorified when he appeared to the disciples (being glorified refers to ascension and exaltation; Acts 2:33; 5:31; Phil 2:9-10); so he could not have given them the Holy Spirit at this point.
- If the disciples had already received the Holy Spirit here, why then did the Lord Jesus tell them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem? (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5). The Holy Spirit was actually given to the disciples on the day of Pentecost—a few days after Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 2:1-4,33).
- The words, “receive the Holy Spirit” is a promise and an assurance, not a fulfillment. The same sentence structure is found in “Peace be with you” (vs. 19, 21), which is also an assurance and promise.
11.8 Everyone who says “Jesus is Lord” has already received the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3).
- The verse reads, “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). It does not say that anyone who acknowledges Jesus as Lord has received the Holy Spirit. A person who has not received the Holy Spirit may also be moved by the Holy Spirit to acknowledge Christ as Lord.
- If everyone who can say “Jesus is Lord” has received the Holy Spirit, why then is it that the people in Samaria did not receive the Holy Spirit even when they had accepted the word of God and had been baptized? (Acts 8:12-17). Were they still not able to say, “Jesus is Lord”?
- The disciples in Ephesus had not received or even heard of the Holy Spirit when they had already believed in the Lord. It was not until Paul laid hands on them that the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 19:1-6).
11.9 The Lord Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38-39). Paul asked the Galatians, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal 3:2) He also wrote to the Ephesians, “…having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13). So anyone who believes in the Lord, regardless of his race or status, has received the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor 12:13).
- The correct interpretation of Ephesians 1:13 must be based on Acts 19:1-7, where it tells us exactly how the Ephesians received the Holy Spirit. They did not receive the Holy Spirit when they believed. They did not receive the Holy Spirit when they were baptized. They only received the Holy Spirit when Paul placed his hands on them. So the Ephesians wouldn’t have taken Paul’s letter to mean receiving the Holy Spirit instantaneously upon belief.
- A person must believe in “the word of truth, the gospel of salvation” in order to receive the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13). If a person believes in a false gospel, he would not be able to receive the Holy Spirit.
- The verse “Having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” means that every believer of the true gospel will receive the Holy Spirit, but it does not mean that he receives the Holy Spirit the moment he confesses Jesus as Lord.
- Those who listened to Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost were told to “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” before they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). True faith consists of following the commands of the Lord Jesus (Jas 2:17, 22).
- Paul was writing to the churches in Galatia and Ephesus, which were established by the Holy Spirit and have believed in the truth. The word “you” in both passages do not refer to all present-day professed Christians.
- In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Paul is stressing the unity and oneness of the believers, who are members of Christ’s body and have received the same Spirit (v. 13). Again, verse 13 does not refer to all modern day churches.
- A person does not automatically receive the Holy Spirit the moment he believes (see previous question). The sign of receiving the Holy Spirit is speaking of tongues (Acts 10:44-46; 19:6; 2:4).
11.10 Anyone who has love or faith, or the fruit of the Holy Spirit, or whom God works with, has been filled with the Holy Spirit.
- A person who is filled with the Holy Spirit would naturally have love and faith, and God would work with him. However, a person who has love and faith or whom God works with is not necessarily filled with the Holy Spirit.
- The fruit of the Holy Spirit is a result of a believer’s submission to the Spirit (Gal 5:16-18). But we may not conclude that a person who has not received the Holy Spirit is filled with the Holy Spirit just by looking at their good character.
- Cornelius was a devout man who had both love and faith (Acts 10:1-2; cf Acts 19:1-6); yet he did not have the Holy Spirit before he accepted the gospel from the apostles.
- Apollos was a learned man who was well-versed in the Scriptures, and fervently preached Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, he had not received the Holy Spirit when he met Priscilla and Aquila because he knew of only the baptism of John (Acts 18:24-28; cf Acts 19:1-5).
- Speaking in tongues is the sole basis for discerning whether a person has received the Holy Spirit (see Acts 10:44-46; 19:6; 2:4).
11.11 We should not base a doctrine on historical recordings. Luke simply recorded things as they happened. But he did not say that this was the way it has to happen all the time. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that everyone who receives the Holy Spirit will speak in tongues.
- “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (italics added; 2 Tim 3:16). Historical writing, including Acts, make up a major portion of the Scripture. It is not wrong to base doctrine on historical recordings as long as the passages in question are interpreted correctly.
- In 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, Paul did not hesitate to base his teachings on history. What happened to the Israelites was recorded for a reason. They serve as warnings for present-day believers.
- In the case of speaking in tongues, Luke as well as the apostles did interpret the occurrence of tongues in relation to receiving the Holy Spirit:
- Acts 8:16 it records, “For as yet He [the Holy Spirit] had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The people of Samaria had believed in the Lord Jesus and been baptized. If tongues are not the necessary sign of receiving the Holy Spirit, on what basis did Luke conclude that they had not yet received the Holy Spirit?
- In Acts 10:44-48, Peter knew that the people had received the Holy Spirit just as the apostles had on the day of Pentecost. Peter interpreted the evidence of tongues according to their own experience. Likewise, based on the experience of the apostles, we also know that a person today has received the Holy Spirit when he speaks in tongues.
- In Acts 19:1-7, Paul asked the Ephesian believers, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” and the response was negative. Why did Paul have to ask such question if there is no physical sign when a person receives the Holy Spirit, or that a person receives the Holy Spirit the moment he believes? After they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, why didn’t Paul just tell them, “you have now received the Holy Spirit”? When the Holy Spirit came on them, there is clear evidence of speaking in tongues (v. 6). If the external signs were not evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit, how did Luke conclude that the Holy Spirit came on them when Paul placed his hands on them and not when they were baptized?
11.12 In Acts, the believers always received the Holy Spirit in groups and never individually. If we base the necessity of tongues on Acts, why is it that in your church, people receive the Holy Spirit individually?
- The necessity of tongues is based on the way Luke and the apostles interpreted the occurrences of receiving the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10:44-48, Peter and the brothers knew that the Holy Spirit came on them when they heard them speaking in tongues (v. 46). This was the evidence on which they based their judgment. The Bible does not say that the Holy Spirit came on them because entire groups received the Holy Spirit at once. Therefore, receiving the Holy Spirit as a whole group is not a necessary evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit.
- It is not true that the believers never received the Holy Spirit individually. Paul received the Holy Spirit after his conversion when he was with Ananias (Acts 9:17).
11.13 Speaking in tongues cannot save a person and is as such insignificant. We should not insist that every believer should speak in tongues.
- Speaking in tongues is the sign that a person has received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-48). Every true believer of Christ must receive the Holy Spirit (evidenced by speaking in tongues) to be saved (John 3:5; Eph 1:13-14; 2 Thes 2:13; Tit 3:5). Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9).
- Even though we are not saved by speaking of tongues per se, speaking in tongues in itself is also very important. A person who speaks in tongues speaks to God and edifies himself (1 Cor 14:2,4). This edification is derived from the intercession of the Holy Spirit expressed in spiritual tongues (see Rom 8:26-27).
- While we do not insist that every believer should preach in tongues, we do emphasize that every believer must pray for the Holy Spirit, who helps us to sanctify ourselves so that we may be saved (2 Th 2:13; see 1 Pet 1:2). When a person receives the Holy Spirit, they will naturally be able to speak in tongues in prayer.
11.14 If speaking in tongues is a necessary sign of receiving the Holy Spirit, every believer must speak in tongues to be saved. This teaching is against the Bible. Are you telling me that people such as John Calvin, Martin Luther, Mother Teresa, and Billy Graham cannot be saved because they couldn’t speak in tongues?
- Neither the Bible nor the True Jesus Church ever commands anyone to speak in tongues to be saved. Speaking in tongues is given by God rather than an action to take. We cannot command anyone to speak in tongues to receive salvation.
- But the Bible does promise that everyone who believes in the true gospel and is baptized will receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38,39; Eph 1:13). The believer also needs to pray and ask for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). When he receives the Holy Spirit, he will speak in tongues.
- It is our duty to preach the full gospel according to the Bible. We are not in the position to conclude whether anyone who has never known the full gospel or heard of the true church will be saved. If we deny the words of the Bible based on people’s experience, then we could even go as far as saying that believing in Christ is not necessary because countless good people in history had died without believing in Christ; are they not saved? What is important is personal accountability. If you have heard of the gospel but refuse to obey it because someone else had never heard of it or received the experience, you are still personally accountable to God.
11.15 Speaking of tongues is one of, and the least of, the spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:10-11). Furthermore, not every believer must speak in tongues (1 Cor 12:30). So speaking of tongues is not an absolute sign of receiving the Holy Spirit.
- In 1 Corinthians 12:10, Paul is referring to preaching in tongues, which must be interpreted (see 14:26-28). The gifts mentioned in this passage are for the edification of the church. Speaking of tongues here does not refer to the speaking of tongues when receiving the Holy Spirit which need not be interpreted.
- “Do all speak with tongues?” (v. 30) also refers to preaching in tongues because it is followed by “do all interpret?” In other words, not everyone has the gift to preach in tongues.
- Though not every believer can preach in tongues to edify the church, everyone who has received the Holy Spirit speaks in tongues. Speaking in tongues is definitely the sign of receiving the Holy Spirit. The apostles received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and spoke in tongues (Acts 2:1-4). Peter and the other disciples were certain that Cornelius and his relatives and friends received the Holy Spirit because “they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-47; see also Acts 19:6).
- If Paul regarded speaking in tongues as insignificant, why did he thank God that he spoke in tongues more than all the believers? (see 1 Cor 14:18).
11.16 In Acts 2 3,000 people were baptized. Yet we do not see any hint of speaking in tongues by these people. Similarly, the Bible does not say that the believers in Samaria spoke in tongues when they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17).
- The Bible does not record that the 3,000 people received the Holy Spirit, so it is also not necessary to record that they spoke in tongues.
- Although the Bible does not mention that the believers in Samaria spoke in tongues, we can infer that there was a clear sign to show that they received the Holy Spirit, for “when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given” (Acts 8:18).
- The apostle Peter must have heard the believers in Samaria speak in tongues. For him, speaking in tongues was the sign of receiving the Holy Spirit (see Acts 10:44-47).
- That speaking in tongues by the believers was not mentioned in either incident does not lead to the conclusion that they did not speak in tongues.
11.17 On the day of Pentecost, the disciples spoke in foreign languages, which were understood (see Acts 2:4-11). In your church, however, people speak in tongues that are completely unintelligible even to themselves.
- “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him” (1 Cor 14:2). Prayer in tongues, unless interpreted, cannot be understood.
- The disciples did not actually speak in foreign languages. But God opened the ears of the Jews so that they heard the disciples speaking in their own languages (see Acts 2:8, 11).
- Ordinarily if several people speak in more than two or three languages at once, no one else can make out what is being said. On the day of Pentecost, however, 120 people all spoke in tongues, and the Jews from about 15 language groups were able to understand that they were “speaking the wonderful works of God” in their own tongues (Acts 2:8-11).
- The tongues were not intelligible to everyone in the crowd. While the devout Jews understood the tongues, others thought that the disciples had had too much wine (Acts 2:13). If the disciples were indeed speaking foreign languages, why then did only the devout Jews understand what was being said? And why did the ungodly think the disciples were drunk?
- God intended to save the devout Jews and therefore allowed them to understand the tongues, which declared the wonders of God. Consequently, many believed and were baptized into Christ (see Acts 2:37-41). The mockers, on the other hand, could not understand.
11.18 To claim that Christians today may also speak in tongues is to add to the Scripture. The Bible is the only divine authority for present day Christians, and there must not be additional divine interventions (see Rev 22:18). The New Testament churches might have had the gift of tongues. However, after the Bible was completed, all tongues and other signs had ceased.
- To say that the divine work has ceased after the Bible was completed is essentially to say that all the promises in the Bible have ceased and do not apply to modern-day Christians. This assertion subtracts from the Scriptures.
- Revelation 22:18 refers to adding teachings or claims that are beyond or contradictory to the Bible. Receiving the Holy Spirit is a promise in the Bible and definitely applies to Christians today.
- Speaking in tongues is the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-46; 19:6; 2:4). If Christians today may not speak in tongues, does it mean that Christians today may not have the Holy Spirit in them?
- The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to everyone who believes in the Lord (John 7:38-39), who is baptized (Acts 2:38), and who asks for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:9-13). This promise is timeless and is certainly given to Christians today as well.
- The Lord Jesus promised his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20). This abidance of the Lord refers to the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-20). In other words, as long as the believers obey the Lord’s commands, the Holy Spirit would be with the church to the very end of the age. Therefore, today, believers in the true church that is established by the Holy Spirit may also pray for and receive the promised Holy Spirit.
11.19 In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul discourages the believers from speaking in tongues during service. He writes, “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33). But some churches today, in contradiction to the Bible, ask the congregation to speak in tongues all at once during service without any interpretation.
- “Yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (v. 19). Here Paul is referring to preaching (prophecy) in tongues, not prayer in tongues. When there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet and “speak to himself and to God” (v. 28). Thus, Paul discourages preaching in tongues without interpretation but never discourages praying in tongues during service (see 1 Cor 14:39)
- Paul says that “God is not the author of confusion but of peace” because during church service in Corinth, the members would preach in tongues even when there was no interpreter and many would speak at once (see 1 Cor 14:27-30). All this caused confusion and disorder.
- Prayer in tongues is directed to God and needs no interpretation (1 Cor 14:2). When everyone prays in tongues during church service, there is no confusion nor disorder. Rather, there is a spirit of unity.
11.20 If a person must receive the Holy Spirit in addition to being baptized to be saved, then would baptized believers who pass away before they could speak in tongues be saved? What about baptized infants who pass away? They cannot even pray, let alone speaking in tongues.
- The promise of the Holy Spirit for those who have been baptized is also given to children (Acts 2:38-39). Children, of course, include infants. So infants, or children in general, not only can be baptized, they can also receive the Holy Spirit.
- Since receiving the Holy Spirit is necessary for salvation, God would give the Holy Spirit to those who have been baptized before they pass away. There have been members in the True Jesus Church who received the Holy Spirit shortly before they pass away (they spoke in tongues during prayer).
- Speaking in tongues helps us discern if a person has received the Holy Spirit. But infants or adults who receive the Holy Spirit immediately before they pass away might not have the opportunity to speak in tongues. Nevertheless, they have received the Holy Spirit for a moment, however brief it might have been.
- Could infants be saved, who are not able to “confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord”? If the answer is yes, then does it mean that it is not necessary to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord? We should not use exceptions of believers who are prevented by circumstances to speak in tongues to conclude that speaking in tongues are not necessary. Exceptions are not rules. Those who are not in such circumstances should still pray for the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes on them, they will speak in tongues.
11.21 Romans 8:9 states that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ do not belong to Christ. What about those who have been baptized into Christ but have not yet receive the Holy Spirit? Do they not belong to Christ?
- Those who have been baptized into Christ certainly belong to Christ (Gal 3:27-29).
- As far as God’s salvation is concerned, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are two sides of the same coin. The promise of the Holy Spirit is given to everyone who accepts God’s grace through baptism (Acts 2:38-39). Believers who have been baptized belong to Christ, though they might not have yet received the Holy Spirit. Through faith, they have accepted Christ and his baptism, and the promise of the Holy Spirit is already theirs. In time, they will receive the promise.
- Romans 8:9 should not be applied to believers who have been baptized. Yet those who do not believe in Christ and Christians which do not seek the promised Holy Spirit must take this verse as a warning.
11.22 The Lord Jesus strictly warns us not to repeat the same words in prayer (Matt 6:7). Yet some people teach others to pray for the Holy Spirit by repeatedly saying “hallelujah.”
- The Lord Jesus is teaching us to pray from our hearts, for God is not persuaded by prolonged and meaningless repetitions of words (see context: Matt 6:5-6, 8). But this is not to tell us that we should not make long prayers or pray for a specific goal with similar words. The Lord Jesus repeated the same thing when he prayed three times in Gethsemane (Matt 26:44); he also prayed all night (Luke 6:12).
- “Hallelujah” means “praise the LORD.” This phrase is found throughout the psalms (see Ps 104-106; 111-118; 135; 146-150) and even in the vision of heavenly worship (Rev 19:1-6). Saying “Hallelujah” is completely based on the Bible and is the best way to pray since God is worthy of our praise. And a person should also pray from the heart while he praises God with his words.
- In the True Jesus Church, countless members have received the Holy Spirit by repeating “Hallelujah” and praying with sincerity.
11.23 Could I receive evil spirit when I pray for the Holy Spirit?
- A person who sincerely yearns for the Holy Spirit must accept the true church—the body of Christ, which is established by the Holy Spirit. Anyone who wishes to receive the Holy Spirit must obey the true gospel taught by the church and pray in the way that the church instructs. The believers in Samaria (Acts 8:14-17), Paul (Acts 9:3-17), Cornelius and his relatives and friends (Acts 10:1-8, 44-46), and the disciples in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7) received the Holy Spirit only when they came into contact with and obeyed the disciples of the Lord. Similarly, those who yearn to be baptized by the Holy Spirit must also seek the true church and accept the true gospel.
- The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17). A person must believe and obey the truth to receive the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-16,21,23; Acts 5:32). Those who reject the truth or refuse to accept the true church that preaches the truth might receive evil spirit even if they pray for the Holy Spirit.
- If a person prays with wrong motives or unrepentant heart, he allows room for evil spirits to work. But anyone who accepts the truth, follows the way of prayer instructed by the church, and prays sincerely for the Holy Spirit will not receive evil spirit. The Heavenly Father will not allow evil spirit to possess those who sincerely ask him (Luke 11:11-13).