The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is one topic that can bring about intense debates and spark disagreements.
Yet, the Bible is very clear in its teachings about this, with many scriptural passages that reveal its significance and importance. It's a powerful and transformative gift that is available to all believers.
What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit Baptism is a distinct event where a believer receives a supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit into his/her life. This occurs after the initial conversion experience of accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Many times during His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, calling Him the Comforter:
Therefore, our Comforter, the Holy Spirit, comes to strengthen us and give us power! Jesus confirms that in these verses:
Faith is an important aspect of receiving not only salvation (Rom 10:17) but also the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8-9.
We receive everything from God by His grace. Yet, it's not His grace alone. It's His grace through our faith. We have a part to play in receiving. We reach out with our faith to receive all that God has for us.
In Luke 11:13, Jesus told His disciples: If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Then Peter said … receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call, Acts 2:38-39.
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, ... Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them, Mark 11:22-24
Ask, believe, and receive.
Simply put, Jesus told the disciples to wait until they received the Holy Spirit baptism so that they would have His power to be witnesses. We certainly need the Holy Spirit's empowerment as well. Peter said in Acts 2:39, the gift of the Holy Spirit is for us too. It wasn't just for the eleven disciples or the 120 who were gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost.
The apostle Paul tells us not to be unwise, but to understand what God's will is, and that it is imperative to be filled with the Spirit: Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:17-18.
That command, be filled with the Spirit, is God's will for us. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him, 1 John 5:14-15.
Ask, believe, and receive.
Jesus stated emphatically that the disciples wait until they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit before starting to go forth and fulfill the great commission: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover, Mark 16:15-18.
Acts 1:8 states: But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. In the original Greek, dynamis, is the word that's translated as power. This Greek word, dynamis, is where we get the word dynamite from.
Now that's power!
That's why Jesus wanted His believers to wait until they received this so that they could demonstrate God's power. After all, Jesus had told them previously: He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father, John 14:12.
Having received the baptism of the Spirit, the disciples went forth in boldness and confidence, sharing the Gospel message with signs and wonders. They lived out their faith with conviction and courage.
We, too, are His disciples. As we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with His power, we receive the same boldness and confidence. Yes, signs and wonders should follow us!
The Holy Spirit is our teacher and guide. He leads us into all truth and brings to our memory everything that Jesus Christ taught (Jn 14:26). This results in our spiritual growth and transformation as we renew our minds with the Word of God (Rom 12:2). We have a greater awareness of God's leading, increased discernment, and a desire to walk in holiness.
Once we receive the Holy Spirit baptism, the Bible becomes alive by giving us insight and understanding. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit also leads to a deeper relationship with the Father.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual, 1 Corinthians 2:9-13.
Paul makes a rather dramatic statement: Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant, 1 Corinthians 12:1.
He then goes on to outline the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit:
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; -- To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; -- To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.
Using these gifts of the Spirit is how we fulfill Jesus' statement: ... the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, John 14:12.
First and foremost, one needs to be born again (Jn 3:3), having accepted Jesus as one's Lord and Savior: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, Romans 10:9-10
When we make this confession from our heart, a hunger is stirred to know more of God and desire His presence and power in our life. That hunger is either addressed by God directly or through the teaching of others.
At Pentecost, the disciples and others were gathered together in the upper room, waiting and praying in unity: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance, Acts 2:1-4.
In Acts 10, God sent the apostle Peter to Cornelius's house to share the Good News with Cornelius (who had been praying, Acts 10:1-3), together with his family and friends: While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 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. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days, Acts 10:44-48.
In Ephesus, Paul came across disciples who were eager to know more about the Holy Spirit: Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied, Acts 19:2-6.
In each of these examples, the people had a hunger and great desire for God, and they received the Holy Spirit baptism, either directly from God through their desire or through the laying on of hands.
These are the two ways you, too, can receive the Holy Spirit baptism:
The power of the Holy Spirit is available to all Christian believers, people who have been born-again. Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19-20). However, we first need the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) to give us the power to do what He told us to do: the things that He did (Jn 14:12).
And what did Jesus do?
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him, Acts 10:38.
Let's go and do the same!
(Bolded text has been added in the quoted scriptures for emphasis.)
Unless stated otherwise, all Bible passages quoted in blue are from the KJV translation.