116 | Laying on of hands and Imparting the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit depicted as a Dove in the apse of Saint Peter’s Basilica, c. 1660
Credit: Dnalor 01, Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA 3.0

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Hi, my name is Dean Smith and today I want to talk about the laying on of hands, which the writer of Hebrews describes as one of the foundational truths in chapter six verses one and two.

I was reading an interesting story in the Daily Mail a few years back. The Daily Mail is a popular secular paper in Britain and the story involved the miraculous healing of Maya Joseph.

The story’s actual byline reads:

A disabled dwarf who spent ten years in a wheelchair claims she has been miraculously healed by a church leader’s touch.

Maya Joseph who was 35 years old at the time the miracle happened in 2011 is 4’7.”

She was confined to a wheelchair because of a severe curvature of her spine. Doctors said she would never be able to walk again.

Confined to a wheelchair, she constantly dealt with pain and was in pain when she was wheeled into St. George’s, an independent Anglican church in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England.

Rev. George Booty pastored the church at that time.

Maya told The Daily Mail what happened next:

I was sat at the altar in the Church and he (Rev Booty) laid hands on me, prayed, and said lift up you legs — and I could. He wasn’t expecting it and I certainly wasn’t. I just said: ‘Thank you, wow, what’s amazing.’”

“I went into the service with real pain but walked out with none. My body has just got stronger and stronger since then.”

Maya’s leg, which was twisted, started straightening over the next few days and she told the Daily Mail, quote “I’m going for walks every day and feeling fitter than I have done for years. My doctors are amazed when I tell them how I was cured.” unquote
Rev George Booty also explained his side of the story by telling the Daily Mail:

I am just a channel through which God is healing. I don’t want to sensationalize it. I just want to carry out whatever work God wants me to do.”

The story demonstrates what many of us are missing about the Holy Spirit and the power of God.

But it is demonstrated again, in the incident involving the woman with an issue of blood in Luke 8. She had been struggling with the issue for 12 years.

Now we must understand that at this point Jesus was functioning fully as a man who had been filled with the Holy Spirit.

When the woman saw Jesus, she pushed through the crowd that was jostling Christ, touched the fringe of the Lord’s cloak, and was instantly healed.

Jesus immediately turned around and asked who had touched Him, stating “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had left Me” (Luke 8:46).

Jesus had actually felt the healing virtue leave His body and flow into that woman. But here is the important point, many believe that divine healing falls from heaven and it doesn’t, it comes from inside a person filled with the Holy Spirit.

When there is a group of people praying for the healing of an individual and that healing takes place, it means that this healing power flowed from at least one of the people involved.

So what is going on?

The Bible tells us that it was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. This meant it was the eighth day and for the previous seven days, a priest poured out water at the base of the altar.

But, they didn’t do it on the eighth day, and it was on the eighth day, that Jesus stood up and made this profound statement:

38 “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38 ESV)

And in case there was any doubt about what Jesus was referring to, John footnotes this by stating in the very next verse, that these living waters were referring to the Holy Spirit.

But this verse says that if you believe in Jesus out of you will flow rivers of life-giving water. The Holy Spirit will flow out of you.

We are not talking about dribble here or a slow irritating drip, we are talking about a river of life-refreshing water flowing out of us.

Flowing means movement. In other words, the Holy Spirit wants to be continually flowing out of you. It means that the Holy Spirit doesn’t want you to become stagnant. Dead water.

There needs to be movement. This can happen in a variety of ways, through the use of our spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues and prophesy. It can happen when we pray prophetically.

I believe it can also take place when we lay on hands and pray for other people. When we do this I believe to varying degrees (which I will explain in a bit) there is an impartation of the Holy Spirit into that individual.

In Acts 19, while at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul encountered 12 men who had become Christians, believing that Jesus was the Messiah. But Paul noticed almost immediately that something was missing and asked if “they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed?

When they answered in the negative, Luke writes, that Paul laid his hands upon them, and “the Holy Spirit came on them and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.

When Paul touched them the Holy Spirit flowed out of Paul into these 12 men and they were powerfully transformed. There was a transference of Holy Spirit power through the laying on of hands.

And then in his letter to the Romans and to Timothy, Paul stated something different. Because now he was referring to a congregation and Timothy, who had no doubt previously been filled with the Holy Spirit or were familiar with the baptism of the Holy Romans.

To the Romans, Paul stated “For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established;” (Romans 1:11), and to Timothy, he stated that he needed to rekindle the gift that was inside Timothy, ‘through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).

Through the laying on of hands, Paul was imparting spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit, carrying spiritual gifts, was flowing out of Paul into the lives of other spirit-filled Christians.

I am convinced, that when we lay hands on people the Holy Spirit flows out of us, bringing refreshing, power, living waters, life, gifts and even healing. I don’t understand how this works, but I do know that each of us is the Temple of God, because we have the Holy Spirit inside us.

Now don’t get me wrong, that flow can vary. For some, it can be dribble and for another a flowing river.

In other words, there can be blockages that hinder the flow of the Holy Spirit. I want to discuss three of them.

Resisting the Holy Spirit

The first one is resistance.

Just before he was martyred, Stephen says to the crowd gathering to stone him, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did” (Acts 7:51).

People can resist the Holy Spirit.

Though Jesus was sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit out of His body, I have never felt that myself, but I did feel something sort of related.

Now, you may think that this is weird, but several years back I had laid my hands on a person and was praying for him. And suddenly I had this sensation of something surging back into me through my hand and arm.

I immediately thought this was strange and then I felt the Holy Spirit say to me the word ‘backwash.’ I later looked up the word backwash to understand what this was referring to.

Backwash occurs place when you have a strong flow of water hitting a stationary blockage like a wall. When it hits that wall, the water literally bounces off and begins flowing backward returning in the direction that it had come from.

If I am correct in my interpretation of what was happening there, as I was praying for this individual, the Holy Spirit flowed out, but there was resistance in the man, a blockage, that stopped the flow from entering him and actually turned it back towards me.

Perhaps there was a hardness of heart, unresolved issues, spiritual and emotional, or fear and cynicism. I am not sure but it was a literal wall blocking and resisting the Holy Spirit and this resulted in the flow coming back into me.

Quenching the Spirit

The second type of blockage that can interfere with the flow of the Holy Spirit is called quenching.

Paul writes, “Do not quench the Spirit, do not utterly reject prophecies, but examine everything; hold firmly to that which is good,” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).

In his book, Quench not the Spirit, Myron Augsburger writes that the word quench means to ‘choke out, to suppress or subdue.’

It literally included the idea of extinguishing.

But the concept of choking brings up another idea. Because we are also able to put a crink or twist in a water hose, that is so tight that the water can no longer flow.

And that can happen to us.

We can have choke points or constrictions that prevent the Holy Spirit from flowing out of us.

One of the major causes of this quenching is unbelief and I believe it can happen to both those on the receiving end and as well those who are imparting the Holy Spirit as they create a choke point preventing the Spirit from being released through them.

Mark writes that when Jesus returned to His hometown, Nazareth, the Lord was unable to perform many miracles there because of their unbelief.

But notice how Jesus frames their unbelief:

 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not dishonored except in his hometown and among his own relatives, and in his own household.” 5 And He could not do any miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He was amazed at their unbelief” (Mark 6:4-6 NASV).

He tied their unbelief to a rejection of the prophetic, which is exactly what Paul did when he said, “do not quench the spirit, do not utterly reject prophecy.

The quenching is tied to a rejection of the gift of prophecy, which can happen through failed prophetic words or prophetic abuse.

Back in 2020, many individuals prophesied that Trump would get reelected. They were wrong, but I believe these failed prophecies had the potential to cause people to despise all prophecies because of these fake prophetic words.

When that happens it can create a quenching of the spirit.

This happens because we are unknowingly blaming the Holy Spirit.

Those failed prophecies were not God’s prophetic words, they were manufactured by men.

But if we despise all prophecies in general because of these failed prophecies, we are blaming the Holy Spirit for these false prophecies. By doing this, we can end up quenching the Holy Spirit in our own life and by doing so we create a choke point preventing the Holy Spirit from flowing into us, or from even flowing out of us.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit

The third thing I want to discuss is Paul’s warning in Ephesians 4:30, not to Grieve the Holy Spirit. It literally means “to make sorrowful, to affect with sadness, to cause grief, to mourn.”

So what does grieving the Holy Spirit refer to?

This is a bit more difficult to interpret, but I believe grieving the Holy Spirit happens when we devalue the role and importance of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives and the church.

In one word it is apathy. I don’t care. But it is more than that it reflects the attitude that I don’t even want to care.

We look at the Holy Spirit and His spiritual gifts and ability to empower us, as not being important. Not a priority. Not a need.

Paul writes that we are “to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:1). The Greek word, zēloō, translated earnestly desire is a strong passionate word from which we get zealous.

It means “to have strong affection towards, be ardently devoted to, to burn with zeal, to be heated or boil with envy, to strive after.”

We need to zealously desire spiritual gifts. Passionate for them. Particularly for the gift of prophecy.

Here is a bit of a checklist to check your spiritual condition.
If you have the gift of tongues, when was the last time you exercised this gift?

  • Do you want more of the Holy Spirit in your life?
  • Do you even feel like you need more of the Holy Spirit?
  • Do you earnestly desire the spiritual gifts?
  • Have you been praying for the spiritual gifts, especially that you can prophesy?
  • When was the last time you laid hands on someone and prayed for them?

I believe the Holy Spirit is starting to move to today and we all need more of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Thanks for joining me on this podcast.

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