So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
Paul immediately could tell these men were sincere but empty. He rebaptized them in water and then laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. The Bible says they instantly could speak with tongues and they prophesied.
Now this is where it gets really uncomfortable. Being a Seventh-day Adventist I am trained to stick to the Bible and study everything out. The Bible always gets the final word. So I took the Bible and I looked for every instance where a person or people were baptized with the Holy Spirit. There are some movements in Christianity that will tell you that unless you can speak in tongues you don't have the Spirit. Let me shatter that misconception from the beginning. How do I know? Because the Bible tells me so. :)
Jesus was filled with the Spirit in a supernatural and undeniable way when He was baptized but there is no mention of speaking in tongues. When Saul was struck with blindness on the way to Damascus and Ananias met him and baptized him he too received the Spirit. No mention of speaking in tongues though.
In fact study it for yourself. The disciples at Pentecost got tongues of fire and a mini earthquake/wind storm. The family of Cornelius received the Spirit before they were baptized with water and they spoke with tongues and magnified God.
When Saul/Paul received the Spirit there was no gift of tongues, no mighty wind, no fire on his head. Instead he got his sight back.
The only consistent thread that runs through every single Spirit baptism is that something supernatural and undeniable took place. That's it. There is no pattern, no formula, no identifying mark that says one person has the Spirit and another does not. In fact the whole notion that anyone "has" the Spirit is false. We never possess God. At the same time He never possesses us either. Our God has respected our freedom from the beginning and He desires and is willing to fill us with His Spirit but it is not a possession.
Spirit filling does not mean a sinless condition either. Peter was Spirit filled yet still struggled with prejudice and racism.
So what does it mean to be Spirit filled? How does it happen? When does it happen? How would I know?
These were the questions I wanted answers to. I even wrote to the Biblical Research Institute to see what insights they might have. Sadly the response was short and lacking in any real investigation. They said it was synonymous with water baptism. Jesus was the example cited and the fact that we baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I don't say this to criticize. It just was obvious they hadn't really looked into the subject. I was in no position to judge because until that point I had never considered it either.
Some of you have written to me to tell me you wish I was going faster on this. I understand. Let me say this: You may not be satisfied with where this ends up. Tomorrow I will share with you what happened to me in 2005. I will share with you what has happened since. I will share with you where that leaves us presently. It's more bad news than good but it isn't all bad and it will get better. The Story will not end with the present condition of things. Better days are coming. His Spirit will fill His people. Undeniably supernatural things will happen. The truth of the love of God will go to the world as a witness, and Jesus will return.