The Present-Day Ministry
Of The Holy Spirit

By William Handschumacher

Rock of Offence Special Bible Study


This is Part 1 of a two-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriate link to navigate
this material.

Part 2

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Many years ago as a young Christian, I atttended a church in the Baptist denomination. During my frequent times of Bible study, I noticed a topic that no one talked about. Both John the Baptist and Jesus referred to something called “the baptism in the Holy Spirit”. As I studied the subject, I found that the New Testament refers to this experience using other terms and phrases that mean the same thing. This confuses the average Bible student.

John the Baptist told his audience,

“I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (Luke 3:16)

Jesus, referring to the same event said,

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

I have always had a passion for Biblical truth - and wanted to learn as much as possible about this subject. After Christ’s wondrous salvation, I discovered that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the most incredible Divine blessing in the Bible. Contrary to popular church teachings, it was not something that automatically happened when I was “born again”. However, it didn’t take long to learn why most churches avoid this subject.

The argument could be made that we should ignore negative things and concentrate on the importance of this blessing. But unfortunately ... it's not that easy. This is certainly a subject that shouldn’t be tainted with bitter arguments and heated debates. However, like other provisions of Christ’s salvation, there are many unbiblical teachings that block or cloud our understanding about Holy Spirit baptism. For this reason, we must address these issues if we are to walk in truth.

God calls His Spirit, the Holy
Spirit. When you are “baptized
in the Holy Spirit”, Jesus
immerses you in His Holiness
for the purpose of empowerment.
There is no doubt that this
teaching is sacred - and Holy.

Yet, many in the Christian Church are taught to reject this particular blessing and empowerment. Popular pastors, ministers and evangelists continue to criticize and discredit these things because that’s the way they were taught in seminary. As a result, out-of-context Bible doctrine, which is put forth as God’s Word, is transferred to their congregations. For this reason, I made the choice to do what Jesus did. He taught in a way that challenged the false religious ideas and traditions that had replaced His Father’s truth. Jesus created a pathway for truth by first exposing what was false. Many times you have to reveal 'what something is not' ... before you can teach what it is. Unfortunately, this necessary approach upsets many church-going people.

The consequences that resulted from these spiritual pursuits were unexpected. It was never my intention to be divisive or to cause trouble. Yet, emotional confrontations, which was the result of false religious beliefs, occurred almost everywhere our Lord Jesus Christ ministered. Any devoted Christian should expect the same thing. Without meaning to, I walked into the middle of an intense spiritual battle zone that has raged for over a century ... and continues in many churches today. The opposition and outright hostility that came from other Christians and their leaders was astonishing. Jesus said that the baptism in the Holy Spirit equips the Christian believer with power. It makes me wonder what motivates some Christian people to reject God's power the way they do? The answer is found deep beneath the surface. Jesus commonly taught in a way that upset the wrong theology of overly religious people. I learned that many of these folks don’t want their traditional beliefs upset - even if Jesus is the one doing the "upsetting". Isn’t that a strange reaction from people who claim to represent and follow Christ? When you look at the modern Christian Church today, they obviously lack the kind of power the first century church possessed nearly 2000 years ago. Of those early believers it was said,

“These who have turned the world
upside down have come here too."
(Acts 17:6)

Gone are the days that the world says that about us. Why? Christian leaders make outlandish excuses to explain their embarrassing lack of power. They tell us, "God doesn't do those things anymore" - and they consider the problem solved just because they say so. Why some church leaders and their followers take such extreme measures to discourage God’s people from learning about the enormous benefits of Holy Spirit baptism is a constant source of frustration.

The preaching of Christ’s Gospel in the early church included receiving the Holy Spirit's power. The first century apostles considered it a mandatory ministry practice following a person’s salvation. Jesus felt it was important enough to repeat on the day He ascended back to heaven. Peter told those gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost that this experience involved what the prophet Joel foretold when God "poured out his Spirit upon all flesh". Some critics attempt to limit the baptism in the Holy Spirit to something given only to the Jews. If that doesn’t work they have hundreds of ways to convince you that this truth isn’t for us today - all “seemingly” based on Scripture from the Bible. But Peter, some seven years after Pentecost, announced that the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house (Acts chapter 10) received the exact same experience that the Jewish believers received when the Holy Spirit arrived on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts chapter 2). The Bible tells us about this monumental event when God poured out His Holy Spirit, for the first time, on the Gentiles. This Heavenly act shocked all the Jewish believers that accompanied Peter on his evangelistic mission. Why were they shocked? Because they believed that the gift of the Holy Spirit could only be received by Law-abiding Jews.

"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision (the Jews) who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God." (Acts 10:44-46)

Receiving Holy Spirit baptism equips the believer with power. It's a totally separate event from the “sealing with the Holy Spirit” we receive when saved (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30). It is not something given only to Christ’s disciples or the Jews in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. It's often removed from modern-day evangelism.

Jesus Gives Believers A
Special Calling

Toward the end of His earthly ministry,
Jesus made an extraordinary statement.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." (John 14:12-14)

What works did Jesus do? Wherever He preached ... the sick were healed, the blind received their sight, the lame walked, demons were cast out, the dead were raised and thousands were fed from a few loaves of bread and some fish (with basketfuls left over). Jesus considered these works an important part of preaching the authentic Gospel. He said that these things glorified the Father. Strangely, very few churches today attempt to preach the Gospel this way. But, Jesus went on to say that the Christian believer would do even greater works than the ones He did - after He returned to the Father following His crucifixion and resurrection. Why is this return to heaven important? The Holy Spirit (also known as “the Comforter”) could not come to earth until Jesus returned. (John 16:7)

It takes supernatural empowerment to obey Christ and perform His miraculous works. Mere human beings cannot operate in these things. Only “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) meet the qualifications for this assignment. The kind of power to perform miracles comes from God’s Holy Spirit.

Why don’t we see these supernatural
works today? One reason is that the
baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is
the doorway into God’s power, has
been removed from the gospel message
of the Church. A vast majority of
believers are spiritually "robbed"
and don’t know it. The loss is a
costly one.

Many church leaders (but thankfully not all) tell us that God doesn’t do these things anymore. However, this is only an excuse as to why they do not possess the power that Jesus said His “believing people” would have. The inability to do the works of Christ is one reason the world has lost its respect for the Christian Church. Our Sunday sermons, yearly conferences, social events and “fair speeches” are void of power and do not get the job done. Jesus tells us how real spiritual power is obtained. Aligning ourselves with His instruction on this subject is the only way true spiritual power comes. Only sincere repentance and a return to the truth of Christ’s new covenant Gospel will fix this problem.

These studies examine this important Divine provision. We attempt to give the hard Scriptural facts along with a firm, yet loving response to those who attempt to dissuade believers from seeking this New Covenant provision. As stated in several places on this website - the preaching of the Gospel involves two primary responsibilities. First, we tell others about Christ’s great salvation. Second, we attempt to expose cleverly designed aberrant Bible teaching that can lead new and inexperienced Christian believers astray in their faith. Almost no church or ministry today practices this second evangelistic responsibility because it offends too many tithe-paying church members. Yet, Jesus and His first century apostles practiced both.

Many churches teach their congregations that “the baptism with the Holy Spirit” is something the modern-day Christian receives at the same time they are “saved” or “born again”. For this reason, church members are told that it is wrong (some preachers call it a sin) to seek any additional "experience". While these provisions can be received simultaneously in some situations, the New Testament suggests that receiving Christ’s salvation - and “receiving Holy Spirit baptism” (or what Jesus referred to as "an enduement of power from on High") are two separate and distinct events and should be treated as such. There is a rather vocal fundamentalist movement within Christendom that attempts to discredit, sometimes in anger, several of the nine 'Gifts of the Holy Spirit' such as "speaking with tongues". This gift often accompanies Holy Spirit baptism in the New Testament. The gift of healing (also one of the nine "Gifts of the Holy Spirit") comes under the same kind of attack. They oppose these gifts because they sincerely think that God no longer uses them in the modern church. Some theologians refer to those who teach this doctrine as “Cessationists”, because they believe that several of the nine New Testament spiritual gifts, discussed in 1 Corinthians 12, have “ceased”.

But, the Bible does not
teach this anywhere

Cessationists are not necessarily centralized in any one denomination or church organization. But, there are several denominations that dogmatically embrace this doctrine. The movement’s influence can extend, in varying degrees, across all denominational lines.

At this point the reader might
ask, “So ... what’s the real
problem here?”

Answer: The controversial and
offensive subject of “tongues” is
often the problem.

Here's the reason why...

In nearly every situation recorded in the New Testament, “speaking with tongues” is the confirmation that follows those who have genuinely received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The New Testament reveals that these two things go “hand-in-hand”. We see it in the major Biblical accounts of Acts chapter 2 in Jerusalem, Acts chapter 10 at the household of Cornelius - and in other places referenced in this study. Yet, this one topic can be found at the center of some of the most vicious debates that occur in the modern church.

We often hear some Christians comment;

“Don’t talk to me about that tongues
nonsense" ... I’ll never believe
in that stuff!”.

This kind of rhetoric often carries
an attitude of bitterness or hostility
that should never come from the lips of
a true believer in Christ. Yet, the
Bible declares that this “tongues
nonsense” (as some call it) is part of
our necessary “spiritual equipment”
that Jesus gives to the believer living
during the current “Church Age”. We can
never be successful Christians (in the
way God intends) if we follow the
counsel of some church leaders who
teach us to reject the gifts that Jesus
gives to us - not only for our benefit,
but also for the benefit of the entire

The following is the real problem
that you will never hear addressed
from the pulpit.

Some churches and denominations poison their congregations with religious misinformation (or out-of-context Bible teaching). This is usually done in ignorance. It is both common and unfortunate. Many choose to ignore the problem because they love the traditions and social life of their church more than the truth of God’s Word. Jesus commands us to conform our lives (He uses to term “abiding in Christ”) to His values and priorities, especially the ones that tend to offend us. As our Lord and Master, He has the absolute right to make this request.

Jesus does not ask that we conform
to Him only in the areas that meet
the approval of our Christian peer
group. The real test of our devotion
to Christ occurs when He asks us
to obey something from His Word
that initially offends us or threatens
our reputation (or position) at
church or in our immediate family.

If you’re a new Christian, don’t make the mistake of thinking that God will never ask you to make these sacrifices ... He will. (Read Matthew 10:34-39 and all of John Chapter 9) Our Lord Jesus was rejected by the religious establishment of His day and executed as a criminal because of the truth He preached and the miracles He performed. Scriptural truth always upsets and angers religious people and the church organizations they attend. As a Christian who has pledged your devotion to Jesus, don’t expect to be treated any better than your Lord. Many church members fail to see this simple, yet costly aspect of following Christ.

Why are we making these comments? I’ve seen this very popular toxic doctrine that opposes Holy Spirit baptism evolve into anger and disdain toward the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit. These emotions tend to cloud and even block all efforts to discover the real Biblical facts - and should never exist among those who claim to follow Christ.

Anyone who wants to discover the
truth about Holy Spirit baptism
should be aware of the sacrifices
involved. If you decide to embark
on this great adventure into the
knowledge of Christ, it can
literally turn the Christian world
you think you know, upside down.
Prepare yourself for major change.
When Jesus empowers us with His
Holy Spirit, it is for the purpose
of change. It involves a change
from what we are now - into being
conformed to the image of Christ.
(Romans 8:29)


This is Part 1 of a two-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriate link to navigate
this material.

Part 2

Return To Next Step Index Page
Return To Basics of Salvation Page
Go To Home Page


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Most recent revision July 2018