There is much interest and discussion on the subject of the baptism of (or “in”) the Holy Spirit. I suppose that is so
because it is a fascinating subject with fascinating ramifications for Christians. My concern is that it has become
something that divides the Body of Christ. That should not be. Whether you believe in the doctrine or not, it must not be
allowed to separate you from other children of God who believe differently than you. In either case, they are your
brothers and sisters and love must prevail. (Romans 14)
Now let’s discuss the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There are several schools of thought on this doctrine
and each has merit. Various Scripture passages seem to support any one of these. Here are the primary viewpoints on
1) The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate experience after the new birth,
2) The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate experience that happens at the time of the new birth,
3) The baptism of the Holy Spirit is one and the same as the new birth.
I personally am not so much interested in any of these views as much as I am in insuring that every born again believer
enjoys the benefits of this wonderful spiritual experience. The power of the Spirit enables us to pray according to the
perfect will of God (Romans 8:26-27) and praying in the Spirit strengthens us (Jude 20), and by asking for an
interpretation of our spiritual prayers we can know the mysteries of God. (I Corinthians 14) The use of tongues is also
very advantageous in our worship of God, just as we are told in I Corinthians 14:15.
For sure, this spiritual baptism is a covenantal experience. In other words, it is reserved only for those who are in
covenant with God. Therefore, it is not available to anyone who has not first accepted the free gift of salvation through
the blood of Jesus Christ and been born again. (John 3:3 and Romans 10:8-10) Our new life in Christ Jesus happened
because of the Spirit of God that gave us that life – He is the Life-giver. He came to live in us the instant we received
Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The questions that arise about this spiritual baptism are: “When does it happen?” and
“Does a person necessarily speak in tongues when it does happen?”
Actually it is difficult to answer the “When?” That is because the various instances in the Book of Acts when we see it
happen are each different. Those gathered in the upper room (Acts 2:1-4) were all believers yet this wonderful spiritual
experience had not yet happened to them. In one instance it seemed to happen even before salvation or at least
simultaneously as the Gentiles in the home of Cornelius accepted the message of Jesus. (Acts 10:44-46) When we look
at what happened in Ephesus (Acts 8:14-17) we might draw a different conclusion since the Word says these folks had
already been saved but had not yet received the Holy Spirit. The passage in Acts 19:1-6 seems to support the notion
that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a post-salvation experience. So, what is my conclusion from all of this? I don’t really
know when it happens, just like you don’t really know when it happens. But it happens.
The other question often asked deserves some time in this discussion as well. I have heard some folks declare that if
the baptism in the Holy Spirit truly happens speaking in tongues is always the outward evidence. That may be true, but it
is difficult for me to defend that position from Scripture. Perhaps the baptism in the Holy Spirit happens the instant of
the new birth or thereafter, but if the person comes from a theological background that opposes speaking in tongues, it
is unlikely he will release the flow for tongues to come forth. In other words, a doctrinal belief hinders the outward
expression. That does not mean it did not happen, it simply means he will not release his spiritual language. Does his
reluctance in this case disqualify him somehow from the baptism in the Holy Spirit? I think not. In time and under the
guidance of the Holy Spirit he will probably experience the power of speaking in tongues and rejoice over what God has
done in him.
Christians sometimes wonder how water baptism fits in with this discussion of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I think it is
interesting that the apostle Paul, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words in Ephesians 4:5, “There is
one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” If what he says is true (and I think it is!) there is only one baptism, but which one is it?
Is it the Spirit baptism or water baptism? The answer to this question is “Yes!” Water baptism is merely a symbol for
what has taken place in the spiritual realm; it is also an ordinance of the Church by which someone publicly professes
his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We might say that it is his official entry into the Church. It symbolizes his
death to sin (his being placed under water), his burial (the water is a type of the grave), and his resurrection into new
life. (coming up out of the water) In contrast to this concept of a symbol, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a symbol
but rather a genuine experience. Actually the correct term for us to consider at this point is baptized into Christ Jesus.
(Romans 6:1-6) This term helps us to understand the other terms in that it describes the instant of the new birth as well
as our immersion into Jesus Christ, of which water baptism symbolizes.
It is important that every born again Christian be baptized in water. Jesus instructed it and we should obey Him. He was
baptized in water and it is good for us to follow His example. It is also good that each Christian release the power of the
Holy Spirit that is within him; and that he enjoys the rich blessings that come from this wonderful, spiritual phenomenon
of a heavenly language.
Be blessed in your fellowship with God through His Holy Spirit!
|ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM