As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. (Acts 11:15 ESV)
In the book of Acts, we find an astonishing recurrent expression: the Holy Spirit falling on people. I will briefly explain what it means that the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples and how He did so.
The verb “fell” in Acts 11:15 and related verses (Acts 8:16, 10:44) is figurative. If you have ever observed someone fall (observer’s perspective), you will immediately appreciate the metaphorical meaning of falling in these verses. It means to happen suddenly, often something startling or bad. Consider how we use the wordbefall when something adverse happens suddenly to someone. Rather than misfortune, these verses use the term fall to denote glorious blessings!
The key to understanding the falling of the Spirit on people—which is a theological dilemma for most Bible scholars—is to recognize the difference between receiving the Spirit at the new birth and the impartation of spiritual gifts (the “second experience” classically called the baptism of the Spirit). Please see the relevant links below to read more about this. The falling of the Spirit is not receiving the Spirit at the new birth; it is the post-conversion experience that was always accompanied by visible manifestations.
When Peter entered Cornelius’ house in Acts 10, he had a ready-made audience eager to listen to him. However, before He completed his sermon, something dramatic and sudden interrupted his preaching: Peter and the Jews that accompanied him heard these Gentiles suddenly begin speaking in tongues and prophesying. What do you think Peter did? He certainly stopped preaching because the Spirit had interrupted his sermon. He stood startled and astonished as God dealt with his theology while he watched the Spirit manifesting in these Gentiles—religious outcasts for Jews.
The experience was so dramatic that Acts 10:45-46 records:
“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. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,” (Acts 10:45–46 KJV)
These were not Gentiles merely receiving Jesus in their hearts—conversion. These Gentiles were being clothed with power from on high. So, the Holy Spirit fell on people when He suddenly endowed believers with power accompanied by visible manifestations that were seen and heard. If you have ever seen someone baptized in the Spirit, you know what I am talking about!
Does the Holy Spirit still fall on people? Yes, He not only falls on people but desires to do so if His Church will let Him. He will fall on those desiring to be baptized in the Spirit and those already baptized in their personal moments with Him or in gatherings.
What happens when the Spirit falls on people?
Apply the Word
God gives water (the living waters of the Spirit) only to the thirsty. Be hungry for more!
Ask the Father for more falling of the Spirit!