Today's Foundations Devotional: Ministering in the Holy Spirit
Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses
had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did
as the Lord had commanded Moses.
The next main purpose of laying on of hands, as practised in the New Testament, is to help those seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit. To form a proper estimate of the part played in this by the laying on of hands, it is necessary to consider briefly all the accounts in the book of Acts of how people received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. There are altogether five such accounts.
1. The first disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:1-4).
2. The new converts in Samaria (see Acts 8:14-20).
3. Saul of Tarsus, later the apostle Paul, in the city of Damascus
(see Acts 9:17).
4. Cornelius and his household (see Acts 10:44-46).
5. The disciples at Ephesus, to whom Paul preached and ministered (see Acts 19:1-6).
In three of these cases those seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit were ministered to by other believers through the laying on of hands.
In Samaria the apostles Peter and John laid hands on the new converts and prayed for them.
Through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given (Acts 8:18).
In Damascus the disciple Ananias laid his hands upon Saul of Tarsus that he might receive his sight and also be filled with the Holy Spirit. In this case both physical healing and the baptism in the Holy Spirit were ministered to Saul by Ananias through the one ordinance of laying on of hands.
In Ephesus the disciples to whom Paul ministered received the Holy Spirit only after Paul had laid his hands upon them.
If we now summarise these facts as percentages, we may say that in more than 50 percent of the cases in Acts where people received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, it was through other believers’ laying hands upon them.
Certainly this is not the only way in which people may receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In the upper room in Jerusalem and in the house of Cornelius those present received the experience directly, without anyone’s laying hands upon them.
However, on the basis of all the cases considered, we may say that it is both normal and scriptural for those seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit to be ministered to by other believers through laying on of hands.
It is sometimes suggested that it was only the apostles or special officers of the church who were able to exercise this ministry of laying hands upon other believers that they might be filled with the Holy Spirit. However, this is not supported by Scripture. Ananias, who laid hands for this purpose upon Saul of Tarsus in Damascus, is described merely as “a certain disciple” (Acts 9:10). There is no suggestion that he held any special ministry or office in the church. Yet he was directed by God Himself to lay hands upon the one who was destined to become the great apostle to the Gentiles.
This is in line with what Jesus says.
And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name . . . they will speak with new tongues . . . they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mark 16:17-18).
Here Jesus joins closely together the two supernatural signs of speaking with new (or other) tongues and of laying hands upon the sick for healing, and He says that both these signs shall follow (or accompany) the testimony of those who believe. That is to say, the exercise of these supernatural signs is not confined to any special class of believers, such as apostles or bishops or evangelists or pastors, but is open to all believers. Just as the Scripture leaves open to all believers the ministry of laying hands upon the sick for healing, so the Scripture leaves open also to all believers the ministry of laying hands upon other believers that they may receive the Holy Spirit.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the privilege that we - believers in Your
accomplished work on the cross - may be Your fellow workers and
moreover are equipped with the working of Your Holy Spirit to lay
hands on people for empowerment and equipment in their spiritual
calling, but also for healing. Amen.