According to recent polls, the majority of people that live in this country believe God can heal people supernaturally. In the recent article, they gave these statistics, “the majority of American adults (66%) believe people can be physically healed supernaturally by God. This majority is made up equally between those who either strongly (33%) or somewhat (33%) agree that it’s possible to be physically healed supernaturally by God. The remaining one-third (34%) are skeptical, comprised of those who either strongly (19%) or somewhat (15%) disagree.”
The subject of the Holy Spirit is one of the most misunderstood of all religious topics. Many people claim to have the gift of the Holy Spirit, but don’t know in what measure they have it. Others say that it is impossible to get it all, and still, others that only a select few can obtain it. And then there is disagreement about how one will react if he does have it. For that reason, I want to take a few minutes and study this issue with you.
The Gift Through the Laying on of Hands
The laying on of hands always imparted supernatural power; the gift just discussed never imparted supernatural power. Only apostles could impart this gift of supernatural power. It was imparted through the laying on of the apostle’s hands. There were nine such gifts as we read in 1 Corinthians 12:8-12. The nine gifts may be outlined as follows:
- THE GIFT OF THE WORD OF WISDOM
- THE GIFT OF THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE
- THE GIFT OF SUPERNATURAL FAITH
- THE GIFT OF HEALING
- THE GIFT OF THE WORKING OF MIRACLES
- THE GIFT OF PROPHECY
- THE GIFT OF THE DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
- THE GIFT OF TONGUES
- THE GIFT OF THE INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES
Let us now ﬁnd an example of this type of gift of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. In Acts 8:14-19 it reads, “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was not fallen upon any of, them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid their hands. On them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the Apostle’s hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.”
This is an example of laying on the apostles’ hands-on people and imparting the power of the Holy Spirit unto them. Realizing the possible gain from such, Simon wanted to buy the power. But of course he couldn’t. I need to emphasize the fact that nobody, other than the apostles, had this power of imparting gifts.
Baptismal Measure of the Holy Spirit
There is only two cases of it in the entire Bible. Let us notice both of them carefully. The ﬁrst is Acts 2:1-5: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it ﬁlled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of ﬁre, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all ﬁlled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”
This case of Holy Spirit baptism is given to the apostles only. It enabled them to preach and perform miracles in spreading the gospel of the kingdom. They also spoke in “other tongues” which happened to be other languages. However, this speaking in tongues was not some nonsense which could not be understood. The next case of Holy Spirit baptism is in Acts 10:44-48 and takes place at the conversion of Cornelius and his household. The purpose is to show that God has accepted the Gentiles, and given them every right and privilege to obey the gospel of Christ, as was given to the Jews. In fact, Cornelius was told by the angel, as referenced in Acts 10-11, to send for Peter “… who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” Notice Acts 10:44-48: “While Peter yet space these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”
This covers the two examples of Holy Spirit baptism in the New Testament. To confuse this gift of the Holy Spirit with the other two is a very serious mistake that is responsible for much of the confusion in the world today.
Since the apostles, and those in Acts 10, are the only ones who ever received Holy Spirit baptism, we have no reason for supposing that it still exists today. No one, except the apostles, was ever promised it. It never was a general promise to all people. Also, since the apostles were the only ones who could lay hands on a person and impart spiritual gifts, it logically follows then that when the last apostle died, this power ceased. When the last man died upon whom an apostle had laid hands, then there were no longer miraculous manifestations of the Spirit in existence. This leaves only the common gift of the Spirit in existence today. That gift which every obedient baptized believer receives is salvation through Jesus Christ. Only through faith in Him and obeying the Holy Scriptures that the Holy Spirit gave us can we obtain that common gift. However, remember that even in the days of the apostles, this common gift carried no miraculous power with it. Thus, there is no reason to assume that it carries any with it today, regardless of the fact that some people claim to do miracles that are just an illusion shadow of what Jesus and the apostles did.