In all the scriptural evidences we’ve examined so far, there is no suggestion that the people in the Early Church were ever taught to tarry to be filled with the Holy Ghost. And if we want to be thoroughly New Testament, we should never teach anyone to tarry for the baptism with the Holy Spirit either. You might ask, “But what about the Day of Pentecost? Didn’t those 120 believers tarry in an upper room in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on High?” (See Luke 24:49; Acts 1 and 2.)
It’s true that this is the only instance in the Book of Acts where people were baptized with the Holy Ghost after tarrying. But those 120 believers were waiting or tarrying for the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had commanded them, “. . . TARRY YE in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). They had to tarry because the Holy Ghost hadn’t yet been poured out on the
earth to carry on Jesus’ ministry!
Then on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to this earth like a rushing mighty wind to carry on Jesus’ ministry, and the Holy Spirit has been here ever since. From that day on, it’s just a matter of receiving Him, not a matter of waiting for Him to come.
Tarrying for the Initial Outpouring
Just read back through those five instances of people being filled with the Holy Ghost in the Book of Acts, and you will notice that after the initial outpouring, people never again
waited to be baptized in the Holy Ghost. Not one single time did they wait! After all, why should they wait? The Holy Spirit was already here! Let’s go back to what Jesus said to the disciples in John 14:
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive . . . .
Remember what we discussed earlier about this passage of Scripture. We know that the world can receive the work of the Holy Ghost in the New Birth. That means Jesus is not talking about the salvation experience here. He is saying that the world cannot receive the infilling of the Spirit of truth—the baptism in
the Holy Spirit—because that is a gift reserved for believers.
Later in John 16:13, Jesus went on to say, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
Notice those words, “… when he, the Spirit of truth, is come. . . ”
The Holy Ghost in His fullness had not yet been manifested in the sense that
Jesus was talking about here.
Jesus’ words in this verse were fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost,
when the Holy Ghost came like a rushing mighty wind to this earth and
120 believers in an upper room were suddenly baptized with the Holy
Spirit and began to speak with other tongues. We might experience supernatural manifestations when the Holy Ghost is moving, including something that seems like wind. But never do we experience the mighty outpouring of the Holy Ghost as those 120 believers experienced it on that first Day of Pentecost more than two thousand years ago.
What About the Other Four
Instances in the Book of Acts?
As you move on to Acts 8, you won’t find the least suggestion that the people of Samaria were taught to tarry for the Holy Ghost. These people believed in Jesus, got saved, and were baptized. Then the apostles who were in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had received the Word of God and sent unto them Peter and John. When Peter and John came down to Samaria, they laid hands on them and prayed for them, and the Samaritans received the Holy Ghost. There is no mention whatsoever that the Samaritan believers tarried before they were able to receive the free gift of the Holy Spirit.
The same is true for Saul of Tarsus, who later became the Apostle Paul. We already looked at what happened when Saul .was filled with the Holy Ghost. But let’s look again at Acts 9:17. We see Ananias arriving at the house where Saul had been waiting and praying for three days, ever since his conversion on the road to Damascus.
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou earnest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST.
Ananias knew nothing at all about Saul’s spiritual condition other than the fact that Saul had been praying, because the Lord had told that to Ananias in a vision (Acts 9:11). Yet it seems that there was no doubt in Ananias’ mind that Saul would receive the Holy Spirit at the moment he laid hands on Saul. There is no suggestion of Saul needing to tarry or wait to be filled with the Holy Ghost either, yet Saul probably didn’t know a thing in the world about the Holy Ghost until Ananias came and laid hands on him! Then in Acts 10, we see that Cornelius and his household didn’t have to tarry at all to be filled with the Holy Ghost.
44 WHILE Peter yet spake these words, THE HOLY GHOST FELL ON ALL THEM [in Cornelius’ household] which heard the word.
45 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.
46 For they heard them SPEAK WITH
TONGUES, and magnify God. . . .
Those in attendance at Cornelius’ household were all Gentiles. They
were not saved until Peter came and preached to them.
13 And he [Cornelius] shewed us [Peter and his Jewish companions] how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
14 Who shall tell thee words, WHEREBY
THOU AND ALL THY HOUSE SHALL BE
Cornelius and his household were saved as Peter preached to them.
That means they received salvation and were baptized in the Holy Ghost almost simultaneously! When people first get saved is often the best and easiest time in the world to get them filled with the Holy Ghost. No one laid hands on the people of Cornelius’ household, yet they all received the Holy Ghost virtually at the same time. Not one in the room
failed to receive.
As we noted earlier, it was these Gentiles’ speaking with other tongues that fully convinced Peter’s Jewish company that the Gentile believers had received the Holy Spirit. The Jewish brethren were
astonished that the Holy Ghost had been poured on the Gentiles. But let
me stress again: The fact that these Gentiles immediately began to speak
with tongues and magnify God indicates that these people did not tarry
or wait even for a moment to be filled with the Holy Ghost!
Finally, let’s go on to Acts 19 and see if the believers Paul met in Ephesus had to tarry to receive the Holy Ghost.
1 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 unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto 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 spake with tongues, and prophesied. As we saw earlier, these were Gentile believers who were walking in the little bit of spiritual light they had. Then Paul baptized them in the Name of the Lord Jesus. But Paul didn’t stop there! He also got them filled with the Holy Ghost. Here is the point I want you to see for this discussion: The moment Paul laid his hands upon these new converts, the Holy Ghost came
upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. They all received the Holy Ghost without exception and without the slightest suggestion of tarrying!
Modern-Day Examples of Receiving Without Tarrying
In a certain meeting after I had taught along the line of faith, I invited
folks to come and receive the Holy Spirit, and three people came forward. All three belonged to denominational churches that didn’t believe in the baptism with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues. I said to these three people, “You will receive the Holy Ghost right now as soon as I lay my hands on you.” Then I laid hands on them, and they were all immediately filled with
the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues. After the service, a denominational minister who had recently been filled with the Holy Spirit came over to me and said, “Brother Hagin, that was amazing! I stood right there and listened to you say that three people would get filled with the Holy Spirit—and then they did in a matter of seconds! But I want to ask you a question, Brother Hagin. How did you know they were going to receive the Holy Ghost?”
“Well,” I said, “I didn’t actually know they were going to receive—but there wasn’t any doubt in my mind that they could and that they should receive! So I just believed that since they had come forward with a desire to receive the Holy Ghost, they would!”
I continued, “The reason I could speak so definitely is that the Lord once appeared to me in a vision and said to me, ‘Go lay hands on believers to receive the Holy Ghost!’ And since Jesus is the One who sent me to lay hands on believers to receive the Holy Ghost, I expect them to receive. And, thank God, most of them do!” Of course, once in a while someone doesn’t receive the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it takes awhile for folks to get their minds renewed with the Word of God. That’s particularly true if they’ve gotten confused with different ideas, such as the teaching that says it’s necessary to tarry to receive the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking with other tongues.
It can take some time to reeducate these people and to help them get their thinking straightened out. It would be wonderful if all Christians were simply taught from the very beginning of their walk with God what the New Testament says about the Holy Spirit and praying in tongues. Then they wouldn’t have such a struggle with it! I remember holding a three-week meeting in a certain place. During those three weeks, we had 82 folks receive the Holy Ghost. In fact, everyone who came forward got filled with the Spirit. No one failed to receive. Most of those 82 people instantly received the Holy Spirit. A few had to come two or three times to get their minds renewed by the Word
before they were filled with the Holy Ghost. But no one came more than
three times without receiving. And the only reason we didn’t have more
people get baptized in the Holy Ghost during that three-week meeting
is that we ran out of people who hadn’t received yet!
The Infilling of the Holy Ghost Is a Free Gift Howard Carter was the general supervisor of the Assemblies of God
in Great Britain for 19 years. He was also the founder of the oldest Pentecostal Bible school in the world and a leading teacher in Assembly of God circles worldwide. Carter said, “To teach people to tarry to be filled with the Holy Ghost is nothing in the world but a combination of works and unbelief.” How true that is! Throughout my almost s 70 years of ministry, I have found that when people come in faith to receive the Holy Ghost, they will receive if they just cooperate with God. There isn’t ever a doubt in my mind about it when I minister the baptism in the Holy Ghost because I learned long ago as a young denominational preacher what the Word says about it.
That revelation came as I was walking down the street in my town, praying about this issue of the baptism with the Holy Ghost, trying to understand what to believe about the matter. Suddenly the Lord spoke to my heart and asked me what Acts 2:39 said. I quoted the verse to
Him: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are
afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call”
Then the Lord asked me, “What promise is that?” I said, “Well, the latter part of verse 38 says, ! . . and ye shall receive the GIFT of the Holy Ghost'” Immediately I saw that the Holy Ghost is a gift. And since I saw no reason for waiting to receive a gift freely given to me by God, I just decided to immediately receive it!
I thought, Well, I believe I’ll just go down to the Full Gospel pastor’s house and receive the Holy Ghost right now! When I got to the pastor’s house, the first thing he said was, “Brother Kenneth, why don’t you wait until after the service is over tonight and seek the Holy Ghost at the altar?”
I said confidently, “Oh, it won’t take me very long to receive”— and in eight minutes’ time, I was speaking in other
tongues! Why didn’t I have to wait to receive? Because we don’t have to tarry for a gift God has freely given to all who believe!