Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Many have had experiences akin to that of a little girl who, hearing occasional vague mentions of the Holy Ghost (another name for the Holy Spirit) in church, could only speculate about this ghost's nature. Venturing into the church cellar's dark furnace room, she, with childlike logic, concluded this must be the Holy Ghost's haunt.
In truth, adult believers often behave as though the Holy Spirit lurks in church cellars. They might know of the Holy Spirit, but not know Him personally, nor recognize His divinity, akin to that of the Son and the Father. It surprises many to discover in the Bible that the Holy Spirit was present at creation's dawn: "The Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters" (Genesis 1:2), and that He appears in about 100 Old and New Testament references.
The Spirit plays a crucial role in both creation and a believer's life. Upon accepting Jesus Christ, Christ enters one's heart, and the Spirit of God unites with the believer's spirit. This "indwelling Spirit" then emulates Jesus's life within the believer.
What, Then, Is The Baptism In The Holy Spirit?
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an empowerment for service occurring in a Christian's life (Acts 1:5,8). It immerses us in the Spirit's life and power. To illustrate, drinking water from a glass puts water inside us, but stepping into the ocean means being surrounded by water. Initially, believers receive a "drink" of the Holy Spirit; baptism in the Spirit, however, surrounds us completely, like an ocean. We receive, as it were, a drink of the Holy Spirit when we are saved, but when we are baptized in the Spirit, it is as if that initial drink becomes an ocean that completely surrounds us.
Just as the indwelling Spirit that Christians receive when they are saved reproduces the life of Jesus, so the outpoured, or baptizing, Spirit reproduces the ministry of Jesus, including miracles and healings.
Why Do We Need The Baptism In The Holy Spirit?
For ministry and service in Christ's Kingdom, we require power beyond ourselves. Jesus, in the Great Commission
Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
He knew His disciples couldn't accomplish it alone. Hence, He promised the same power He had—the Spirit of God. After this command, He urged them to await the Holy Spirit's baptism in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4-5, 8). The disciples obeyed, and during their gathering, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:3-4).
Acts 1:4-5,8 (TLV)
4 Now while staying with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father promised—which, He said, “you heard from Me. 5 For John immersed with water, but you will be immersed in the Ruach ha-Kodesh not many days from now.”8 But you will receive power when the Ruach ha-Kodesh has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and through all Judah, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
He further promised: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth".
The disciples waited in Jerusalem as Jesus had commanded, and one day when they were all together, "suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing winds, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance".
Acts 2:3-4 (KJV)
“And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Peter then informed the assembling crowd about God's Spirit at work and preached about Jesus. The Christian church was born that day, growing by three thousand souls. While it's possible to make disciples to some degree without the Spirit's baptism, such efforts undertake a supernatural task with limited power. God commands us to be Spirit-filled: "Be filled with the Spirit"
Ephesians 5:18 (TLV)
18 And do not get drunk on wine, for that is recklessness.[a] Instead, be filled with the Ruach,
The knowledge and reality of the empowering Spirit enables us to reproduce the works of Jesus.
When May I Receive The Baptism In The Holy Spirit?
This baptism can happen when you confess faith in Christ, as with Cornelius, the first Gentile convert (Acts 10:44-46, 11:15-16)
Acts 10:44-46 (KJV)
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 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. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Acts 11:15-16 (KJV)
“And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. “
or it might follow your salvation experience (Acts 8:12-17).
Acts 8:12-17 (KJV)
“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.”
What Should I Do Before Asking?
A wise man, as the Bible says, counts the cost before building a tower.
Luke 14:28 (KJV)
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?”
The Holy Spirit's baptism, a free gift, requires full submission to God. Jesus responds to a completely yielded vessel, always giving more than He asks.
He never asks anything of you that you are incapable of giving, nor does He ever fail to give you something greater in return when you do give your all.
The joy He gives through total obedience to Him far outweighs anything you could possibly give up.
There is one more important consideration: In Acts 8, a man named Simon, deeply involved in the occult, wanted to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter sharply rebuked Simon, commanding him to repent.
Therefore, if you ever at any time had anything to do with the occult (Ouija boards, fortune tellers, séances, horoscopes, ESP, transcendental mediation, hypnotism, or other such practices), you must renounce and turn away from all such sinful participation, and you must ask for God's forgiveness and cleansing.
How Do I Receive The Baptism In The Holy Spirit?
You only have to do two things.
Simply ask God for it after accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Luke 11:9 (KJV)
“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
Second, believe you have received it, as faith is key
The apostle Paul, writing to the Galatians, said, "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing with faith?".
Galatians 3:2 (KJV)
“This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
The Gifts and Fruit of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit not only bestows spiritual gifts, like speaking in tongues, but also gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, discernment of spirits, various kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues.
I Corinthians 12:1, 8-10
Spiritual Gifts for the Body
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be ignorant.
8 For to one is given through the Ruach a word of wisdom, to another a word of knowledge according to the same Ruach, 9 to another faith by the same Ruach, to another gifts of healings by the one Ruach, 10 to another workings of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
These gifts, alongside the Spirit's fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22)—enrich a believer's life and empower them for God's service.
Galatians 5:22 (Amp)
“But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,”
Thus, seeking the Spirit's baptism opens you to these gifts and virtues, aiding in living a life that glorifies God. The Holy Spirit is more than a mere symbolic presence; He brings vibrancy to your Christian walk. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an ongoing reliance on the Spirit for all aspects of life (Galatians 5:25). It's an unearnable gift, not a solution to all problems but a source of the same power that fueled Jesus's ministry. That's the way it is with God. God is offering the baptism in the Holy Spirit to people who need only to reach out and receive it in order to be on fire to fully serve Him.
Walking in the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is so much more than a shadowy figure to pay lip-service to on Sunday morning.
He can be with you and in your to bring new life to your Christian walk.
Likewise, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is more than a single experience.
It is a continual dependence on the Spirit for guidance and strength in all circumstances. "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).
The baptism in the Holy Spirit cannot be earned.
You cannot become "good enough" to receive it.
It is a gift from God.
It is not a "cure-all" for your problems.
But the same wonderful power that enabled Jesus to open blind eyes, to command the elements of nature, and to live a life pleasing to the Father during His ministry on earth is also available to you.
Adapted, edited, and expanded for this paper