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Encounters With the Holy Spirit

by Barb Hummel on May 14, 2024

If someone were to ask you today, Who is the Holy Spirit? or What have you been taught about the Holy Spirit? or How has your life been impacted by the Holy Spirit’s presence?–how would you respond to these questions? Chances are, if you asked these same questions in a large group of Christian believers, their experiences and understanding would vary.

This coming Sunday, the Christian Church celebrates Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the first disciples of Jesus. After the Holy Spirit’s arrival, the Church has never been the same.

Jesus promised to send an “advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, who will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). Acts 2 records the fulfillment of his promise. But let’s take a closer look at the biblical pattern of how the disciples experienced, understood, and practiced the Holy Spirit. That will help us grow in our own relationship with the Spirit in a way that is powerful and biblical. From the scriptures, we discover three encounters with our Advocate that God has designed for every believer. These will transform your life.

Before the Disciples

Even since the beginning of Creation, we see the presence of the Holy Spirit at work. “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” In the Old Testament, we see evidence of the Spirit leading the Israelites with a cloud by day and fire by night. The Spirit worked through the prophets as they prophesied the Word of the Lord to people. In the New Testament, Jesus states, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him or knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). Notice how Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as being with you now and will be in you in the future. As we look at the disciples' experience, take note of the positional words that are powerful and link us to the Spirit’s purpose.

First Encounter:  The Holy Spirit takes up residence in us at rebirth.  

Disciples’ Experience: In John chapter 20, we see that after the resurrection of Jesus, he appeared to the woman at the tomb, and then, much to their astonishment, he appeared to the disciples, who were gathered together. Here, they saw, with their own eyes, Jesus’ resurrected body, the wounds on his hands and side. In verses 21-22, “Jesus repeated his greeting, ‘Peace to you!’ And he told them just as the Father has sent me, I’m now sending you.” Then, taking a deep breath, he blew on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This encounter transformed the lives of the disciples. This was the moment they were born again by the Spirit of God, the moment the Holy Spirit took residence within them. Before Jesus ascended, he instructed the disciples not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there until they received the gift he had told them about. He shares that there is another aspect of the Holy Spirit yet to come. In Acts 1:5,8, “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit-but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judah and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Second Encounter:  The Holy Spirit comes upon us with an empowering baptism.  

Disciples’ Experience: As the disciples continued to wait in the upper room, Acts 2:2-4 recounts that “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” This encounter with the Holy Spirit impacted them greatly. The crowds even questioned if they were drunk, but Peter testified of who Jesus was, and he preached the good news. The crowds were moved and responded to the revelation as Peter said that this promised Holy Spirit was for them and their families. From this point on, the disciples went, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and spoke the good news of the gospel to those they met. The community of believers grew in number as the Holy Spirit equipped the believers with purpose to share the gospel of Jesus. We see this pattern throughout the book of Acts. The disciples would lead people to faith in Jesus, baptize them in water, and then lay hands on them to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This baptism was given in addition to what a person received when they were born again. 

Third Encounter:  The Holy Spirit fills us with fresh infilling.  

The Disciples’ Experience:  In Acts 4:31, we witness a group of believers who already were baptized in the Holy Spirit. They were crying out in prayer for the Lord to empower them to speak the Word of God boldly and to move through them in power, to bring forth healing, signs, and wonders in Jesus’ name. The Scripture says, “at that moment the earth shook beneath them, causing the building they were in to tremble. Each one of them was filled with the Holy Spirit and they proclaimed the word of God with unrestrained boldness.” This third encounter with the Holy Spirit renewed the disciples and filled them afresh with power for the work of God’s Kingdom.


As we celebrate Pentecost this week, let us lean in, acknowledge the Spirit’s presence, and ask for more of him. Like the first disciples, we have the opportunity to encounter the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways. If you are a follower of Jesus, his Spirit already lives in you. The gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an additional gift, just like salvation. It is nothing you can earn; it is freely given to all who ask and believe—not just to certain people. 

The Holy Spirit has the power to transform us, equip us, and renew us as we grow in our relationship with God. The Spirit is a person we should “walk in step with.” He wants to be active in your life and in the lives of those around us. We can grow in sensing his nearness. He gives us power so we do not depend on our own strength. He gives us boldness to testify of who Jesus is and to share our God stories with others. Finally, he transforms and equips us to do the works of building God’s Kingdom here on earth. What a wonderful gift the Holy Spirit is to us!


Tags: holiness, wisdom, power, kingdom, holy spirit, gifts, strength, disciples, pentecost, boldness, equip, encounters, baptism of the holy spirit

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