For the early Christians, the Holy Spirit was experienced as a real power in their lives. The Holy Spirit empowered them to continue the work of Jesus. When a person received the Holy Spirit, they experienced a very real difference in their lives — and others noticed it. That is still true today.
Although all Christians receive the Holy Spirit through Baptism, God’s Spirit works in many ways in the world, in both Christians and non-Christians. Yet the experience of being ‘baptised in the Spirit’ is a time of entering a deeper spiritual dimension. Similarly, St Teresa of Avila describes a person entering her ‘Fourth Mansion’: “Supernatural experiences begin here” (Interior Castle 4.1.1).
Those who experience this deeper infilling, or new outpouring, of God’s Spirit usually begin to discover new spiritual gifts. Some of these are:
- The Gift of Prophecy:
The ability to sense what God is saying to a group or an individual, and to pass on that message. This usually takes the form of encouragement, comfort, hope or exhortation.
- The Gift of Praying in Tongues:
This is a way of praying without words — a form of contemplative prayer that is very useful in personal prayer and in prayer ministry. It enables the person praying to focus on God without worrying about finding the right words.
- Gifts of Healing:
There seem to be a variety of gifts given by the Spirit to enable people to be instruments of God’s healing through prayer.
Paul describes some of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, but the Spirit works in many ways. The Spirit also empowers people to move into new roles of service and ministry to others. In all case, the gifts are given to serve others. God works through people, and these gifts help spread his goodness in the world.