Much is argued nowadays about the role and continued operation of the Holy Spirit. Some claim it was only given for the time of the Apostles and the Early Church. Others state that the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) is just as alive now and working in the believers as ever before. The latter is what I believe. Holy Ghost power was given 2000 years ago and is still given today but primarily as power to be a witness. This is also referred to as the filling of the Holy Spirit as compared with the indwelling, which all believers receive at salvation (John 3:5). (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used.)
Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
At Pentecost (a day in the Jewish calendar, festival of Shavuoth) the Lord’s disciples were gathered together after His resurrection: all were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:1-5 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
People from around the known world were gathered and the disciples, filled with the Holy Ghost, went out and witnessed to the crowds.
The Holy Ghost came on all these who heard the Word of God preached. God is the one who decides where and when the Holy Ghost goes. The Jewish believers were astonished because God is no respecter of persons and gave it to the non-Jews also.
Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision [Jews] which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles [non-Jews] also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
After they were clearly saved and received filling of the Holy Ghost they were water baptised. The water baptism was symbolism that they were believers; it is the repentance of heart that is key to salvation, not the water.
Initially this man only knew John’s baptism then believed in Jesus, but he was saved through grace.
Acts 18:25-28 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him to them, and expounded [explained] to him the way of God more perfectly [accurately]. 27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: 28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
Acts 19:1-6 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said to them, To what then were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should 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 his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.
Here the disciples Paul met believed through John’s baptism of repentance and then on Jesus. After that Paul put his hands upon them, and they were baptised with the Holy Ghost and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. They were clearly saved believers before they received the filling of the Holy Ghost.
To whom does God give the Holy Spirit?
Luke 11:11-13 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
The answer: To them that ask him. God will not withhold it from those who truly seek the Lord for the power of the Spirit to serve Him and witness to the world.
John 7:38-39 He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.39 (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
The Holy Spirit shall instruct and comfort us.
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you.
The Comforter is the Spirit of truth. He shall instruct you from the word all things you need for His service.
John 15:26,27 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And you also shall bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
There has been much doubt, in recent times, about the gift of tongues in scripture, especially with all the weird behaviour in some pentecostal churches and the strange behaviour of the Vinyard (holy laughter) churches and their associated ‘games’ that they spread around the world, teaching in churches. In my opinion, tongues is clearly a private gift given to some (not all) and it was for personal praise of the Lord, not for the assembly. It is still a gift of the Holy Spirit today.
1 Corinthians 14:4-5, 12 He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies [builds up] himself; but he that prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would that you all spoke with tongues, but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 12 Even so you, forasmuch as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the edifying of the church.
In the assembly (the gathering of believers) speak with understanding not with unknown tongues.
1 Corinthians 14:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
This is not a game. It is about reaching the unsaved (unlearned), the unbelievers, and as such, God does not want us playing games with His gifts.
1 Corinthians 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad?
If no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church. Otherwise the unsaved will think you are mad.
1 Corinthians 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
How important then it is to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit, to give us the courage and power to be a witness for Christ. Let’s spread the gospel in Christ’s name.