The Holy Spirit and You, Part 5



The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Part One


There are all kinds of ideas floating around out there in the church world about what the baptism in or of the Holy Spirit is.   Pentecostal and charismatic churches will say that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience subsequent to salvation.  This is not incorrect.  Some will teach that speaking in tongues is “proof” that one has received the baptism.  This is open to debate.  It’s best that we consult the Bible, however, to get the facts straight about this wonderful experience.  That sounds like an easy task, but it’s get a little complicated with verses like this one:

For us there is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism…  (Ephesians 4:5  TLB)

Actually, the New Testament teaches clearly that there are three baptisms, not one:

   A baptism in water, Acts 8:38.

   A baptism in the Holy Spirit, Matthew 3:11.

   A baptism into Jesus Christ, Romans 6:3

So, just what was Paul getting at when he wrote to the Ephesian church, telling them that there was only one baptism?  In truth, the first two would be nothing without the last one.  The ONE baptism must surely refer to the baptism into Jesus Christ, with the other two flowing from this one.

For now we are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and we who have been baptized into union with Christ are enveloped by him. (Galatians 3:26, 27  TLB)

So why all these baptisms when only one is the significant one?  Water baptism is the earthly witness and Spirit baptism is the heavenly witness that a person has been baptized into Christ.  By these two witnesses – human and divine – our union with Jesus Christ is positively established on earth and in heaven.  By the Spirit we are baptized into Christ and then by Christ we are baptized in the Spirit.

Water baptism is pretty easy to  understand.  Whether you are a sprinkler, pourer, or dunker, you can see with your eyes a baptism and hear with your ears the explanation about what’s going on.  But before we move on to look deeply into Spirit baptism, let’s consider all that is involved in being baptized into Christ.

1.      Baptism into Jesus Christ

The very first thing of note is that being baptized into Christ suggests death

For sins power over us was broken when we became Christians and were baptized to become a part of Jesus Christ; through his death the power of your sinful nature was shattered.   (Romans 6:3  TLB)

Some Christians have a hard time taking this verse literally, but Paul meant what he wrote.   Upon accepting Jesus as our Lord and savior, were were baptized into Him – baptized into His death – so that our sinful nature would no long have control over us. 

For now we are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and we who have been baptized into union with Christ are enveloped by him.  (Galatians 3:26, 27  TLB)

Remember, to be “baptized” properly means “to be immersed.”  The Greek baptizo is a very descriptive word.  Imagine, being born again is like being immersed in Jesus Christ!  That’s the idea Paul is conveying; a Christian should be so immersed or enveloped in Christ, it is as though his old sinful  nature has gone a way.  Now, experience teaches us that it is still very much a part of our lives.  Our obligation being “in Christ” is to consciously avoid paying attention to it.  It should be as though we are dead to it. 

I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  (Galatians 2:20a  TLB)

The second thing baptism into Christ implies is burial

Your old sin-loving nature was buried with him by baptism when he died; and when God the Father, with glorious power, brought him back to life again, you were given his wonderful new life to enjoy.  (Romans 6:4  TLB)

If we have been “enveloped” by or “immersed” in Christ, then we have been completely identified with Him in every way, including His burial.  How can we be raised to a new life if we haven’t first been buried?  Romans 6 is full of powerful language that gives rise to profound ideas and startling images.  For Paul, we have been entombed with Christ so that like Christ we may be raised to a new life. 

This leads right into the third point.  Our baptism into Christ suggests resurrection.  Colossians 2:12 says,

For in baptism you see how your old, evil nature died with him and was buried with him; and then you came up out of death with him into a new life because you trusted the Word of the mighty God who raised Christ from the dead. 

Our “resurrection” is just a figure of speech Paul’s employs to describe how Christians have been delivered from their old life of sin into their new life of salvation.  We have moved from our old life to our new life by way of a spiritual resurrection. 

Baptism into Christ also involves unity, the fourth point.  Obviously when we are baptized into Christ, we become one with Him.  We become so identified with Him we can’t be separated from Him.  But there is another kind of unity at work here.  Consider–

We are no longer Jews or Greeks or slaves or free men or even merely men or women, but we are all the samewe are Christians; we are one in Christ Jesus.  (Galatians 4:28  TLB)

Talk about unity!  We are all one in Christ Jesus.  This kind of unity is only possible IN Christ.

2.  The second baptism

So far, we have been talking about “the first baptism,” the baptism into Christ.  We can also call this “conversion.”  The “subsequent baptism” is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  When it comes to how we found Christ, our conversion experiences are all different.  No two people can say they experienced Christ the first time same way.  The same thing is true of Spirit baptism.  This is why there is so much confusion surrounding this “event.”  To some, the baptism in the Holy Spirit comes on them so powerfully and so obviously they can remember the day, time, and even what they were wearing when it happened.  Others receive this baptism quietly, sometimes by themselves, with no fanfare. 

Let’s consider Spirit baptism

(a)  The baptizer. 

With water I baptize those who repent of their sins; but someone else is coming, far greater than I am, so great that I am not worthy to carry his shoes! He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.   (Matthew 3:11  TLB)


It might surprise some reading this, but it is back in Matthew, not Acts, that we first read about this “subsequent baptism.”  John the Baptist is talking about Jesus; Jesus is the One who baptizes a believer in the Holy Spirit.  This great gift – this moving experience – is Christ’s blessing to us.  It is something He personally does in us and for us.  Of course, it is to His advantage; that is, it is to the advantage of the whole Body of Christ that believers receive this Spirit baptism.  It is meant to strengthen the believer and ultimately these strengthened believers will result in a stronger Body.  It is for His glory that Jesus is as ready and willing to baptize the saint as He is to save the sinner.

(b)  The promise.

That Jesus will baptize His followers is a promise He has made. 

John baptized you with water, he reminded them, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit in just a few days.  (Acts 1:5  TLB)

And Peter replied, Each one of you must turn from sin, return to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; then you also shall receive this gift, the Holy Spirit.  For Christ promised him to each one of you who has been called by the Lord our God, and to your children and even to those in distant lands!  (Acts 2:38, 39  TLB)

Take note of the promise!  The promise to baptize in the Spirit is just as real and just as much a promise as the promise of salvation!  If that’s true, why are unbelievers encouraged to “get saved” yet Christians, unless they attend Pentecostal or Charismatic churches, are seldom encouraged to seek Spirit baptism?  Think about it.  Pastors and church leaders are so ignorant of this great BIBLICAL doctrine, they are literally hindering members of their congregation from receiving an experience every bit as real as their conversion.  The really sad thing is that this “subsequent baptism” is just the second part of or a continuation of their salvation experience.

(b)  The fulfillment.

After that first handful of believers received Spirit baptism, Peter explained it to onlookers:

No! What you see this morning was predicted centuries ago by the prophet Joel…  (Acts 2:16  TLB)

This experience was not some kind of funky, self-induced state of hysteria experienced by a group of fringe Jews.  In fact, Spirit baptism was predicted generations before!  It was spelled out by the prophet Joel.  Lest anybody think the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was only for the disciples gathered in the upper room, Paul wrote about it–

But when the time came for the kindness and love of God our Savior to appear, then he saved usnot because we were good enough to be saved but because of his kindness and pityby washing away our sins and giving us the new joy of the indwelling Holy Spirit, whom he poured out upon us with wonderful fullnessand all because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did.  (Titus 3:4-6  TLB)

The very fact that you, as a Christian, are an ambassador for Christ, demands that you experience the fullness of the Spirit Paul wrote about.  You are supposed to be representing the One who sent you, Jesus Christ, and of Him, we read this–

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…  (Luke 4:18a  TLB)

This is Jesus quoting from Isaiah, and applying that quote to Himself!  If the Spirit rested on Jesus, He must surely rest on us, too!

(c)  The necessity.

Many, many Christians have never and will never experience the “subsequent baptism” because they’ve never learned about it or, worse than ignorance, they have no interest in it.  But the fact remains, being baptized in the Spirit in an absolute imperative.  At least the first leaders of the apostolic church thought so.

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through Turkey and arrived in Ephesus, where he found several disciples.  Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? he asked them.  (Acts 19:1, 2  TLB)

Paul and Apollos found a group of Christians (note that!) that had not yet received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Now, being Christians, members of this group were full of the Spirit, but they had not yet received the baptism.  Why?  Their problem was simply one of ignorance.  When the baptism of the Spirit was explained to them, they received it. 

(d)  The condition.

Ignorance can certainly keep Spirit baptism from a sincere believer.  But there are other conditions.

You love the right and hate the wrong.  And that is why God, your very own God, poured fragrant oil on your head, marking you out as king from among your dear companions.  (Psalm 45:7  KJV)

Loving the right and hating the wrong speaks to character and also to honesty before God.  Living right and thinking right, being a person of principle and upstanding character are conditions that have to be met if you want to receive the baptism, or the anointing, of the Holy Spirit.  In other words, your heart has to be right – not perfect, just right before God.

(e)  The evidence.

Some Pentecostal churches stubbornly teach that speaking in tongues is the evidence that a believer has received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately for them, the Bible teaches something else.

In fact, in everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God.  We patiently endure suffering and hardship and trouble of every kind.  We have been beaten, put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, stayed awake through sleepless nights of watching, and gone without food.  We have proved ourselves to be what we claim by our wholesome lives and by our understanding of the Gospel and by our patience. We have been kind and truly loving and filled with the Holy Spirit.  (2 Corinthians 6:4-6, TLB)

Paul left being “filled with the Holy Spirit” to the end, but being filled with Spirit made all the things that came before it possible!  Patience, courage, strength to work and stay awake, fasting, living wholesome lives…all those things were possible because Paul and his friends were filled with Spirit and filled with His power.  Being able to things that don’t come naturally to a human being is surely proof one has been baptized with the Holy Spirit.

(f)  The result.

The presence of the Holy Spirit in the new life of the believer is a given.  At the moment of salvation he is filled with God’s precious Spirit.  After that, God wants that believer to experience even  more of His presence.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an experience made possible because of the work of the risen Christ in the life of His people.  Salvation is wonderful.  Salvation is what gets you into heaven.  But between then and now, we all have to live our lives in the here and now.  The baptism in the Holy Spirit makes life on earth a little more bearable and your work for God a little more effective.  Can a Christian get by without the baptism in the Holy Spirit?  Yes!  Of course he can.  But why would he want to?

2 Responses to “The Holy Spirit and You, Part 5”

  1. 1 Rodman Knight September 12, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    I really enjoy your studies and would like to download all of The Holy Spirit indepth studies. I teach an adult sunday school class and believe this would be a great study for it

  2. 2 Dr. Mike September 12, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    By all means. God bless you and your ministry.

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