As I sit down this morning to share with you, my thoughts on the baptism of the Holy Spirit also known as the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, I am reminded by the still small voice of Jesus to once again make sure that everyone understands that this subject is not a subject that we want to allow the enemy of our souls to cause division or get into strife about.
Although I believe that this subject is important for every believer, it is not something that is important enough to break fellowship with one another. It is not an issue pertaining to salvation thus it is not an essential. It is in nonessential.
Because it is not essential, it falls under the category of giving one another liberty.
In all honesty, I don’t care what we call this experience semantically. I care that you come to a place where you experience an event with the Holy Spirit that is so powerful that it releases His gifts to operate in your life.
So with that in mind, I will do my best to explain to you to the best of my knowledge what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit has been something that has brought a lot of confusion to many people.
I believe that this confusion, at least in part, is due to the fact of mixed-up semantics. Those both in our modern vernacular and in the scriptural text, certain phrases and idioms were used interchangeably.
That just as we will use the term love to mean many different things, so too we and the Biblical writers used the term “filled with the Spirit”, and “Spirit filled” to mean different things at different times.
So allow me to try to give some definitions to the terms surrounding the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
This is what happens at the time when a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and becomes born again. Let me make this clear.
Every born-again believer in Jesus Christ has received the Holy Spirit!
I do not want there to be any confusion about this. This is been of bone of contention between Charismatic/ Pentecostal believers and non-Charismatic/ Pentecostal believers.
This contention has all been caused due to semantics. No charismatic/ Pentecostal believer or theologian, who is a serious student of the word of God at all, believes that just because a person has not experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit means that they have not received the Holy Spirit.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not receiving the spirit or having the spirit indwelling you but is having the Holy Spirit come upon you and empowering you with supernatural gifts to accomplish the works of Christ in this world.
Some people have a problem with this because it would indicate that there may be more than one work of grace in a believer’s life.
In all honesty, I think that this issue is really splitting hairs. I do not believe that there is just one work of grace that happens in a believer’s life but the continual work of grace from the time that they receive Christ until they meet him personally.
So whether there is one work of grace, two works of grace, three works of grace, or a 1000 works of grace, it does not matter.
The term being filled with the Spirit or Spirit filled is the term that is most confusing of all. It is the one that is used for both the indwelling of the Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit depending on the context in which it is used.
Sometimes both modern-day believer’s and the Biblical authors use this term to describe either event.
This has caused a lot of confusion and in some cases offense because both the person using the term and the person hearing the term misunderstood the context in which it was being used.
One person is hearing “You are not saved” while the other person is saying, “You are not empowered.”
The Biblical foundation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit goes back to the Prophet Joel.
Joel 2:28-29 New King James Version (NKJV)
God’s Spirit Poured Out
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
This is the same passage that Peter used on the day of Pentecost to explain to the people that had gathered due to the commotion that had been caused by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Now many believe that what happened on the day of Pentecost was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to those that were in the upper room. However, let me show you where the disciples already received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
In the gospel of John, Jesus blew on the disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit.
John 20:19-21 (NKJV) The Apostles Commissioned
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,[ a] for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
This happened before the ascension of Christ and before the day of Pentecost. As you can see they were already indwelt with the Holy Spirit.
The day of Pentecost was not the day that the disciples were indwelt are rather it was the day that they were empowered. This empowering was prophesied not only by Joel but also by John the Baptist. He said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
The word baptize used both in conjunction with water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit literally means to immerse and to soak something.
Just as a believer is immersed in water during water baptism, so is the believer immersed in the Holy Spirit during the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Let me explain it this way.
When you accepted Jesus as your Savior, your cup was filled with the Holy Spirit.
When you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit you, and you’re already filled cup are immersed into the vast ocean of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes upon you and engulfs you totally.
It is this immersion that empowers you with supernatural gifts. These gifts are not designed to make you something special, but rather are meant to be used in your service for the King.
Traditional Pentecostals and some Charismatic believe that speaking in tongues is the initial sign or outward evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They get this belief from the passage in Acts chapter 2 where those that were in the upper room spoke in unknown tongues.
However, there are other passages throughout the book of Acts where the Holy Spirit came upon believer’s and were given different gifts.
In Acts 19:6 the Apostle Paul laid hands on a group of believers who had already been baptized water, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
Because of this I personally do not go as far as some and say that the initial outward sign and evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues.
I do, however, believe that if a believer has experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then there will be an outward sign to that event.
Whether they start to have miracles happen in response to their prayers, or whether they lay hands on the sick and see them recover, or whether they prophesy or even speak in tongues there will be an outward sign that confirms their baptism of the Holy Spirit.
I don’t know if there’s one correct way to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I received that baptism two weeks after my conversion experience.
My prayer was not very theological or advanced. I asked God to give me the ability to pray in tongues. He did just that.
Others have had times of deep consecration before they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Others have responded to an altar call and had hands laid on them, and then they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
I don’t think there is one correct method. I think what it takes is a desire to be empowered for service and openness to letting God do something out of the ordinary.
No matter which spiritual gift works through you, it will be out of the ordinary and beyond human reasoning. You have to be willing to allow that to happen. God will not violate your will.
God knows that you are seeking Him and His empowerment so that you can do the things Jesus did for the same reasons that Jesus did them. The formula is not important.
So if you are interested in receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then I suggest you follow the teachings of Jesus where he talked about seeking the Holy Spirit in Luke’s gospel.
Luke 11: 9-13 (NKJV)
Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking
9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
If you desire for Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, then start asking, seeking, and knocking. Do not fear that you will receive something that God does not desire you to have.
This gift is a good gift that is given to us by our heavenly Father.
Do not fear that you will receive something from Satan. You are not asking Satan you’re asking your heavenly Father.
Do you honestly think that God would allow Satan to answer a prayer that was meant for, and directed to your heavenly Father? I think not!
Chapter 1 - Guide To The Holy Spirit And His Gifts
Chapter 2 - Learning To Live A Naturally Supernatural Life
Chapter 3 - What Are The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit?
Chapter 4 - Should We Us Spiritual Gifts Today?
Chapter 5 - The Motivation For Using Spiritual Gifts
Chapter 6 - How To Be Empowered By The Holy Spirit
Chapter 7 - The Spiritual Gift Of The Word Of Wisdom
Chapter 8 -The Spiritual Gift Of The Word Of Knowledge
Chapter 9 -The Spiritual Gift Called The Gift Of Faith
Chapter 10 - The Spiritual Gift Called The Gift Of Healing
Chapter 11 - The Spiritual Gift Of Working Of Miracles
Chapter 12 - The Spiritual Gift Called Discerning Of Spirits
Chapter 13 - The Spiritual Gift Of Prophecy
Chapter 14 - The Spiritual Gift Of Speaking In Tongues
Chapter 15 - Speaking In Tongues In The Church
Chapter 16 - The Spiritual Gift Of Interpretation Of Tongues
Chapter 17 - Activating Your Spiritual Gifts By Dying To Self
Pastor Duke Taber is the Senior Pastor at The Vineyard Church in San Carlos Ca. He is an alumnus from Life Pacific College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary. He is a husband, father, and grandfather.
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