The baptism with the Holy Spirit refers to a gift we can receive after we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Bible says that Jesus Himself is the One who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptist pointed out: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he [Jesus] shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matthew 3:11).
According to Acts 2:4, the initial evidence that you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the ability to speak in tongues. The Holy Spirit wants to help you communicate with God through this new “heavenly language” of prayer and praise. Through the Holy Spirit’s help, you are able to talk to God out of the depths of your heart, saying to Him what you are unable to fully express through your natural language alone.
Like any other gift from God, we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit by asking God for it and believing that we receive this gift from Him. The only requirement is that you must be saved, because the Holy Spirit will not fill an unbeliever. But if you are saved and you desire the baptism with the Holy Spirit, you can simply pray, asking God to fill you with His Spirit and to give you your prayer language. Ask for His help to release that prayer language. Then take a step of faith. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill your mouth, open your mouth, and speak.
It’s important to understand that your own will plays a vital role in speaking in tongues. God will never force anyone to do anything, including speaking in tongues. He is not going to do it for you. Yes, the Holy Spirit will form the words as you speak them, but it is still up to you to do the speaking. By a simple act of your will, you must open your mouth and let the sound come out.
Because your mind is not creating the words you are speaking, it will not understand them. (See I Corinthians 14:14). You may think you are making up words. But you are not. You are allowing the Holy Spirit to form the words you speak. And according to the Bible, you are speaking them directly to God: “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries” (I Corinthians 14:2).
As you speak to God with your prayer language, God understands what you say even if you don’t. But you can also ask God to help you interpret the meaning of what you’ve said, so that you can then pray with your understanding also. (See I Corinthians 14:13–15). The interpretation of your prayer language is a matter of exercising your will, just as the releasing of it is. After you have spoken in your prayer language, ask God to give you the interpretation. Then open your mouth to speak words in your natural language. This is how you interpret for your own understanding what the Holy Spirit was speaking through you.
Can a person be saved without speaking in tongues?
You do not have to speak in tongues to receive a born-again experience with God. Salvation is a completely separate work from the baptism with the Holy Spirit, which can occur anytime after salvation. However, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is valuable for every Christian to experience. The purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is to empower us to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8). It provides an inner power that becomes an outward force to bring the reality of Jesus Christ to others. To help release this power, the baptism with the Holy Spirit gives the Christian a new tongue with which to praise and pray to God. Speaking in tongues also helps Christians to build up their faith (Jude 20).
The “word of knowledge”
The word of knowledge is one of nine gifts of the Holy Spirit described in I Corinthians 12:1–12. It is a gift of supernatural information regarding a situation, something that you could not know unless God Himself told you about it. The Holy Spirit manifests His gifts—including the word of knowledge—through individual Christians when and how He chooses. The Christian’s part is to obey the Holy Spirit and do what He tells us to do.
A biblical example of the word of knowledge in action appears in II Kings 6:8–12. The nation of Syria was preparing to go to war with Israel. But every time Syria got ready to attack, God revealed Syria’s battle plan to Elisha, a prophet of Israel. The king of Syria thought he had a spy among his men because Elisha’s information was so accurate. But it was actually the Holy Spirit who was telling Elisha what the Syrians had planned. The supernatural revealing of Syria’s battle plans to Elisha was the word of knowledge in operation.
Another example of how the word of knowledge works is found in John 4:1–26, which describes an encounter Jesus had with a Samaritan woman. He asked her about her husband. She said, “I don’t have a husband.” Jesus replied, “You’re right. You’ve had five husbands in the past. And the man you’re living with now isn’t your husband.” Jesus didn’t know that by natural means. He’d never met the woman before. But the Holy Spirit told Jesus about the woman. That was the word of knowledge in action.
Richard Roberts often mentions the word of knowledge because this gift often operates in his healing ministry. When this gift is in operation, the Holy Spirit gives Richard knowledge of a need someone has. Richard then shares what God has revealed about the need. This helps the person to recognize that God is moving to meet his or her need. That person can then reach out in faith to receive God’s answer.
One example of how the word of knowledge works to help people receive healing happened during a live airing of The Place for Miracles. The Holy Spirit told Richard about a viewer who had suffered nerve damage during the Vietnam War. The man’s fingers had been severed, which had caused numbness in his hand. At God’s direction, Richard shared that information with the television audience and encouraged the man to receive God’s healing.
Later in that broadcast, a man called in to give his healing testimony. While serving in Vietnam, he had a freak accident that cut off three fingers on his right hand. The doctors sewed them back on, but the man lost all feeling in that hand. For 30 years, he suffered with the numbness, until the Holy Spirit gave a word of knowledge about it while the man was watching The Place For Miracles. The man responded to God in faith, and the feeling came back into his hand. He received his healing.
Oral Roberts Ministries receives testimonies all the time from people who receive an answer to prayer. Many of them happen to be watching Richard and Lindsay Roberts on television. As they are watching, they hear a word of knowledge, recognize that God is speaking to them, and respond in faith to God. The result is that they receive their healing, their encouragement, their blessing—whatever it is they have been believing God for.