In the Last Days We Need
Power; For This
Jesus Gives to Us the Baptism With the Holy Spirit
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is one of the most exciting doctrines in the Scriptures, but it is also one of the most misunderstood. The theologians are divided over this particular ministry of the Holy Spirit. In this paper, I want to share with you a middle position, which I have come to by diligent study of God's Word.
I encourage you to approach this subject with a mind open to the clear teaching of Scriptures so that the Spirit can be allowed to have his full way in your life. God has much that he wants to give to each of his children.
1. Teachings About the Holy Spirit Baptism
A. The Conservative Position. The conservative Christian position is essentially that the baptism with the Holy Spirit takes place at salvation. Those holding this view feel all believers are baptized in the Spirit at salvation and there is no other baptism of the Spirit later. The experiences in the Book of Acts are generally looked upon as one-time "exceptions" to the rule, used only in the First Century because the Spirit was being introduced to the Church.
B. The Charismatic (or Pentecostal) Position. The
charismatic Christian position is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a
second work of grace, distinct and separate from becoming a believer, and
that all Christians can have it but that Christians do not possess it
automatically. Generally, charismatic Christians teach that speaking in
tongues is the only "evidence" to prove that the baptism has taken place.
C. The Spirit
Filled Position. I believe this is the true position of Scripture
which you'll see as you read further down in this article. The Baptism with the
Holy Spirit is when you Christ baptizes you with the Holy Spirit and power.
It can happen at any time in your Christian life and while the baptism is
the first filling, there will be many fillings of the Spirit in your life.
2. Spirit Baptism in the Scriptures
A. The actual term is used seven times in the Scripture:
1. Matthew 3:11. John the Baptist said about Jesus: "He Himself will baptize
you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
2. Mark 1:7-8. John the Baptist said this about Jesus: "He will baptize you
with the Holy Spirit."
3. Luke 3:16. John the Baptist is quoted about Jesus saying: "He Himself
will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire."
4. John 1:33. John the Baptist said about Jesus: "He upon whom you see the
Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes you
in the Holy Spirit."
5. Acts 2:4-8. "He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for
what the Father had promised, 'Which,' He said, 'you heard from Me; for John
baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many
days from now."
6. Acts 11:15-17. Peter said: "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He
used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the
Holy Spirit.' If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us
also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I should stand
in God's way?"
7. 1 Corinthians 12:13. This is quoted below in Section 3.
B. The baptism experience is spoken of but not specifically named in other passages:
1. Acts 2:1-4. The day of Pentecost, which was the fulfillment of Acts 1:5.
2. Acts 2:37-39. The conversion of the Jews in Jerusalem at Pentecost.
3. Acts 8:14-18. The conversion of the Samaritans and their reception of the
4. Acts 9:17. At Saul's conversion (who later to become Paul).
5. Acts 10:44-48. The actual experience of the Gentile Christians in
Caesarea later referred to as the baptism in Acts 11:15-17.
6. Acts 19:1-6. When the twelve disciples in Ephesus received the Spirit.
7. John 7:37-39. Rivers of living water promised by Jesus (see also Isaiah
8. Luke 11:13. Asking for the Holy Spirit baptism.
C. Ways the Baptism is Described:
1. "Give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him: (Luke 11:13).
2. "Rivers of living water: (John 7:38)
3. "What the Father had promised" (Acts 2:33; 39)
4. "The promise of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:15)
5. "Receive the Holy Spirit" (acts 2:33, 29)
6. "Be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:17; Ephesians 5:18)
7. "The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out." (Acts 1):45)
8. "The same gift" (Acts 11:17)
9. "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" (Acts 19:2)
3. Are We Baptized at Salvation?
The passage of Scripture generally used to argue that all Christians are baptized with the Spirit at the moment of salvation is 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
Verse 13 tells us that by the Spirit we have all been baptized into one
body. This is different than the "baptism with the Holy Spirit" which John
the Baptist speaks of (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). In
this passage the Spirit is the one doing the baptizing into Christ.
According to Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27 the Spirit baptizes us into
Christ. So the Corinthian passage refers to a different event which involves
Every believer must have the Holy Spirit in his life. "But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ (another name for the Holy Spirit), he does not belong to Him." (Romans 8:9b). On this, all Christians must agree. When a person becomes a believer he gets the Holy Spirit. However, when a believer is filled with the Spirit—the Holy Spirit gets more of him.
In Luke 11:1-13 Jesus teaches on prayer. He makes the point that we should
"ask, seek, and knock." Then He says, "If you then, being evil, know how to
give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (v. 13).
Why did Jesus tell us to ask for the Holy Spirit if He is going to baptize us automatically when we become believers? If He was only speaking to the disciples, who had not yet received the Spirit, why did Luke record it for all of us? The Gospel of Luke was composed after Pentecost, and Doctor Luke certainly knew that Jesus' teaching did not just apply to the disciples. If you carefully examine the passages listed below in Acts (also written by Luke), you'll note that believers were often asked if they had "received" the Holy Spirit after salvation.
Even if 1 Corinthians 12:13 were to prove that all believers are baptized with the Spirit at salvation (which it obviously does not). It is obvious that few Christians are experiencing the power of that baptism in the same way that the early church did.
4. Spirit Baptism in the Scriptures
A. It is possible to possess the Holy Spirit at salvation and still not be "baptized with the Holy Spirit." Let's look at three Scriptural examples of this:
1. The disciples received the Holy Spirit before Pentecost. John 20:22 says: "He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" The verse is in the aorist imperative tense which implies a completed action. There is no way of honestly interpreting that verse in a future sense. The disciples were at this point baptized into Christ by the Spirit. But at Pentecost they received a separate baptism into the Spirit by Christ (Acts 1:4-5; 2:4).
2. The Samaritans received the baptism with the Spirit after their
conversion (See Acts 8). The Samaritans had believed and were baptized; they
even saw healings and demons cast out. Although the Holy Spirit had
obviously baptized them into Christ, the passage tells us they had not yet
"received the Holy Spirit."
3. In Ephesus, Paul came upon twelve disciples of whom something seemed
flat. The first thing we are told that he asked them was, "Did you receive
the Holy Spirit when you believed?" (Acts 19:2). He could obviously tell
that this little band of believers was limited in knowledge and the power of
the Spirit. Indeed, they say that they did not even know there was a Holy
Spirit! (Which does not mean that the Holy Spirit had not baptized them into
Christ, or they wouldn't have been called believers). And after teaching
them, and baptizing them in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit came
B. The Scriptures also indicate that believers are often baptized with the Spirit at salvation. Here are the three examples:
1. In Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2:37-39) it is implied that those who repented under Peter's preaching received the "gift of the Holy Spirit" immediately after receiving Christ.
2. In Caesarea the Roman converts received the baptism (Acts 10:44-48 and 11:15-17) at the moment they believed.
3. In Damascus, Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:17) received the Spirit at the time of his salvation.
Therefore, the baptism with the Holy Spirit does not have to come at any particular point in the believer's life—but certainly, all believers should desire this gift of God as soon as possible for the growth of their spiritual lives.
5. What is the Baptism With the Holy Spirit?
A. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience. In Acts 1:4-5, 8, the experience was fixed by Jesus at a definite future time and it is strongly implied that the disciples would know when it had happened. Certainly they knew that their experience at Pentecost had fulfilled Jesus' prediction. In Acts 19:2 Paul asked the disciples specifically if they had received the Holy Spirit. He obviously expected a "yes" or a "no" answer.
B. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is every believer's privilege
1. Jesus said you could ask for the Holy Spirit and the Father would give
Him to you (Luke 11:13). He wants you to receive His baptism. It is His
2. Peter told the crowd at Pentecost, "you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself" (Acts 2:38-39; see also 2:33). We certainly are "far off" from Peter's day and the Lord has called us as believers to Himself. So the promise is for us too.
C. The baptism with the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with salvation or eternity.
1. It is performed by Christ, as the glorified baptizer, which He pours forth on His children (Acts 2:33). Jesus' ministry as baptizer did not end at Pentecost, for John the Baptist says, "This is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit" (John 1:33).
2. The baptism with the Spirit is NOT a second work of grace that is necessary for a person's salvation. It is easy to come to that conclusion if you believe that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to the same experience found at Pentecost. This has caused some Pentecostals to say, "if you do not have the baptism, you are not a believer." Some even go so far as to say if you have not spoken in tongues (which is their "proof" that you have the baptism) you are not a believer.
3. There is "one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5) in respect to our salvation which accomplishes all the eternal benefits the believer receives—this is the baptism into Christ (Romans 6:3) by the Spirit. But the baptism with the Spirit by Christ is a different experience and it is not necessary for salvation.
D. The baptism with the Spirit and the baptism into Christ can be clearly distinguished in Scripture. Two distinct Greek prepositions refer to these relationships: "en" which is translated "in" in English, and "epi" which is translated "upon." "In" is always used to describe what the Holy Spirit does at salvation in our hearts and lives. The "upon" preposition is always used when the baptism with the Holy Spirit or the filling has taken place.
Both in the Old and New Testaments it is recorded that the Holy Spirit came "upon" believers to empower them for service and ministry. Look over the passages listed above and you'll clearly see the "upon" preposition. God obviously brings this anointing upon conservative Christians who don't even believe in the baptism with the Spirit. But whenever the Scriptures talk about becoming a believer and the Holy Spirit's ministry in salvation, the term "in" is used.
E. How the terms "Baptism" and "Filling" are used.
The expression "filled with the Holy Spirit" is used six times in Scripture
(Acts 2:4; 4:8; 4:31; 9:17; 13:9 and in Ephesians 5:18). On two of those
occasions, it is used interchangeable with "the baptism in the Spirit." The
term "baptism" is never used to describe an experience after the first one a
believer has, but the term "filling" is used both for the first time and
subsequent fillings of the Spirit. So the baptism is the first filling. In
addition, the phrase "full of the Holy Spirit" is used in Acts 6:3; 7:55 and
11:24 to describe the fact that a person has become filled or baptized with
the Spirit. It therefore seems obvious that the baptism is the first filling
and that continued fillings are necessary throughout a believer's life.
F. There are many signs that accompany the baptism with the Holy Spirit in the Scripture. Some of them are: the quenching of spiritual thirst (John 7:37), spiritual rivers of living water flowing from the believer's innermost being (John 7:38-39), dynamic spiritual power (Acts 1:8), speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6), the glorification and exaltation of God (Acts 2:11; 10:46), signs and wonders (Acts 4:31; 13:9; 19:8), and prophesying (Acts 19:6). However, the Spirit's power is certainly not limited to this short list of "signs."
G. We do not want to confuse the baptism with the "signs," expecting certain signs to "prove" our Spirit baptism.
1. In Matthew 7:21-23 we are told specifically that some of those who prophesy, cast out demons, and perform miracles are not believers. If you can perform such signs and not even know the Lord, certainly such signs do not prove a believer is baptized or filled with the Spirit. There are two sources of power, and we must remember that evil often tries to masquerade as good.
2. However, the Lord does give us in the same passage above a way to help us discern what the source of someone's power is. "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree bear good fruit... Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Matthew 7:15-18, 20). In the Scriptures, spiritual fruit is generally a reference to Godly character, as in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
3. The presence of the Holy Spirit's power, not signs, is the indication of the baptism experience. You will know you have the baptism with the Spirit by faith, not by dramatic "experiences." You know you are a believer by faith; the Holy Spirit bears witness to your spirit that you are a child of God (Romans 8:16). In the same way, you know you have this baptism by faith. God offers it and when you fulfill the conditions for receiving it, you have it (1 John 5:14-15).
6. Purpose of Spirit Baptism
A. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a work of the Holy Spirit always connected with and primarily for the purpose of testimony and service. It was not give just to "tickle men's pride" so that we might show off some spiritual gift or ability. Simon in Acts 8:18-24 was soundly condemned for having such motives.
You should also notice that the dynamic power spoken of by Jesus in Acts 1:8 was to be used to witness about Christ. In Acts 2, when the power first fell, it was used to lead three thousand souls into the kingdom. In Acts 8, Philip was preaching to the Samaritans. In Acts 9, Paul was converted and immediately began to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God in Damascus (v. 20). In Acts 10 Peter preached to Cornelius and his friends were baptized with the Spirit, as Peter said, "just as He did upon us at the beginning." (11:15).
In Acts 11:24 we're told that Barnabas was "full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord." In Acts 19 when Paul laid hands on the Ephesians to receive the Holy Spirit they began to speak with tongues and prophesy, and from the sounds of it they all went into the synagogue with Paul who spoke out boldly about the kingdom of God.
The primary purpose then of the baptism is for testimony and service. The Holy Spirit wants to speak on our behalf in witnessing situations (Matthew 10:20; Mark 13:11), "so make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute." (Luke 21: 12-15).
B. The baptism comes with trials and persecution. This is because witnessing about the resurrection of Jesus Christ always produces opposition. John the Baptist revealed that Jesus was going to "baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire." What is this fire?
Peter says, "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little
while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the
proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even
though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:6-7). "Beloved, do not be
surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your
testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you... If you are
reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory
and of God rests upon you." (1 Peter 4:12- 14).
After the Spirit baptism at Pentecost, the disciples received persecution, and rejoiced "that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41). Persecution will always follow the baptism with the Spirit.
When the disciples James and John desired to sit beside Jesus in His kingdom, He replied, "Are you able to drink of the cup that I drink or to be baptized with the baptism which I am baptized with?" (Mark 10:38). He was referring to His persecution and death. In Luke 12:49-50 Jesus said, "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!" I believe that this suffering (1 Peter 2:21-25) is the baptism of fire which believer's have to undergo.
7. How the Baptism is Received
A. There are Two Physical Methods of Receiving the Baptism.
1. On three different occasions, Spirit baptism was bestowed with the laying on of hands. The Samaritans (Acts 8:17), Paul (Acts 9:17), and the twelve disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19:6) all received the baptism through the laying on of hands.
2. On three other recorded occasions, the baptism came spontaneously from the Lord. In Acts 2:2-4, Pentecost began without any laying on of hands. The same seems true of those who responded to the Lord that day. The Romans converted by Peter (Acts 10:44) were baptized before he had even finished his message which surprised Peter. It's exciting when the Spirit falls upon a large group of people all at one time. Such massive baptisms with the Spirit are seen as "revivals" in Church history.
B. Several Steps for Receiving Spirit Baptism.
(NOTE: I should mention that these steps are given in the Word but they are not all in one place the the Bible and therefore each may not always be necessary. The Lord decides who and when He will anoint with His Spirit in power for service. He clearly stated He wants to empower believers, so pray through all of these steps and receive what the Lord wants to give you.)
1. THIRST. Ephesians 5:18 commands us not to be drunk with wine but instead to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If you want this you should desire it in a biblical way. Read John 7:37-39. When you are truly thirsty your whole body cries out for water. When you are thirsty for God, your whole being will cry out for God's blessing and power. If you want the gift of the Holy Spirit at any cost, it is much more likely you'll receive His power.
It is also essential that you desire the baptism with pure motives—to glorify God, not yourself (James 4:3). You must not seek a showy, flashy, spiritual gift or some other manifestation to impress people with your spirituality. The baptism is to glorify Jesus—not us. It is for bringing other's attention to Him and we must not get in the way.
2. REPENTANCE. See Acts 2:38. Repentance is changing your mind about sin and agreeing with God about it. This is essential for salvation, but it is also necessary to receive the baptism with the Spirit. When you are a believer, an ongoing attitude of repentance involves resting upon the finished work of Christ as the sole ground of our acceptance before Him. There is nothing we can do to please God. He has done it all and we must accept His salvation through faith in Christ's blood as sufficient to cover all our sins.
But after we become Christians, sin can often take control of our lives. He wants us to face our sin honestly, see it as He does, and turn away from it. Remember, if you are filled up with yourself, you can't be filled with the power of the Spirit. You need to be an empty vessel.
3. WATER BAPTISM. In Acts 2:38 Peter told the crowd, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Water baptism is an open confession of Christ's forgiveness of our sin and that we've been transformed by His blood. Receiving water baptism in front of the world proclaims your faith. It would really be a humbling experience if it wasn't for the joy the believer has in his identification with Christ. When we go into the waters of baptism, we are dying to our old way of life. Similarly, we die to self when we are baptized with the Spirit. While water baptism is not essential for Spirit baptism (as all of those Scriptural examples of those receiving it "at salvation" shows), we are still commanded to have it. So if you have not been baptized, do it soon.
4. OBEDIENCE. Acts 5:32 says, "the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." Obedience is a direction of life: moving towards doing everything that God commands. It involves our desire to be fully surrendered from our own self-will and yielded wholly to God. Without obedience, God cannot effectively use you or bring His power upon you.
5. ASK FOR IT. Luke 11:13 says "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" In Acts 4:31, after the believers had prayed, "the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness." If you want something from God, you must ask Him. He wants you to ask, because it is His will that the Holy Spirit should fall upon you.
6. FAITH. This is always the principle by which we receive anything from God. "And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him" (1 John 5:14-15).
James made it plain that doubting God (James 1:6-8) is the reason many don't receive what they ask for from Him. If all of the other conditions (above) are met, you will have your request for the baptism with the Spirit. Simply put, believe God at His word, as you believed him for your salvation and fulfill all the other steps, and the Spirit will fall upon you.