The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is one of the most controversial topics in the church. This truth has caused much division in the modern church. The baptism of the Spirit is also an extremely important foundation in the life of a believer. His experience has the potential to turn the causal believer into a believer who is completely sold out and burning for the Lord. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gateway to the spirit realm and to spiritual gifts. We will use the scriptures to lay a rock solid foundation for this truth.
The Born Again Experience
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:21-22 NKJV)
Jesus appeared to His disciples after He had been raised from the dead and before the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the church. At this point, Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to some of His disciples and they became born again. Being born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit can be two different experiences as it was for these disciples. However it can also be the same experience and happen at the same time; as we will see later on in this teaching.
Baptized in the Spirit
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4 NKJV)
Some of the disciples in this group had already received the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them. For others, this was their first encounter with the Holy Spirit. However, for all the people gathered in the upper room, this was a new experience. They were all touched by the fire of God, and spoke in other tongues as the Spirit guided them.
Satan would like believers to think that this experience is no longer available for Christians. Satan is a master in deception and has convinced many leaders and denominations to teach this very doctrine. Fortunately for us, the Bible never teaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not for today. In fact the scriptures make it clear that the baptism of the Spirit is for the New Testament church. Any teaching that contradicts the scripture is the doctrine of men. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for teaching as doctrine the traditions of men, and thus nullifying the word of God. One of the deepest forms of pride is for man to usurp God's word with his own.
After the Holy Spirit was poured out from on high, Peter goes on to tell the people that the same experience that just happened is available to everyone: Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39 NKJV)
Of course there will always be those people in the church or outside the church that mock the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13 NKJV). These mockers are people who only understand things that are fleshly and carnal. They do not have any concept of the things of the Spirit. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)
Baptized in the Spirit after Salvation
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:5-6, 12-17 NKJV)
Philip preached the gospel, and people believed and were baptized. Everyone of these people received the Holy Spirit when they believed in Christ. After these salvations occurred, Peter and John came to Samaria. They began praying for the new believers to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (the same experience that occurred in Acts 2). These believers had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus for salvation, but the "tongues as of fire" had not yet "fallen" upon them. The key word in this passage is "fallen". The Holy Spirit already lived inside these people, but He had not yet fallen on them and submerged them in Himself. They had been baptized in the name of Jesus, but they had not been baptized in the Holy Spirit. But after hands were laid on them, the Holy Spirit fell on them.
Baptized in the Spirit at the Time of Salvation
The Lord sent Peter to preach to a group of unbelievers. The following is the account of what happened: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? ” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. (Acts 10:44-48 NKJV)
Then Peter explains what took place and tells plainly that it was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ (Acts 11:16 NKJV)
While Peter was preaching a shift took place in the hearts of the unbelievers. They began trusting in Christ for their salvation. Instantly they became born again; the Holy Spirit fell on them and they began speaking in tongues. After these people were saved and baptized in the Spirit, they got baptized in water. It's important to note that the Lord does things however He wants to do them. The Lord does not use step methods or formulas. He is the King.
Revelation of the Spirit Baptism
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:24-26 NKJV)
Apollos was a very knowledgeable in the scriptures, but he was only acquainted with the baptism of John (the scripture commonly refers to water baptism as the baptism of John since John the Baptist baptized in water). Aquila and Priscilla knew this and explained to Apollos the way of God more accurately (the baptism of the Holy Spirit).
There are many leaders in the church in America who are in the same position as Apollos. They understand and preach the scripture very well, but they have only experienced water baptism. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is for everyone, and for a leader to be more effective in their calling; they must have this experience with the Holy Spirit.
Speaking in Tongues
There are some in the church who believe that certain believers can speak in tongues, but not all can. This is true but it is also false. There is a difference between the gifts of tongues and the prayer language of tongues that comes with the baptism of the Spirit. We shall examine the scripture to clear up the misconceptions.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. We must read the entire context to understand what the Lord is saying about speaking in tongues. Chapter 14 makes it apparent that the gifts of speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues are for use when the church is gathered together. Most of the time these two gifts function in a corporate setting. 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 states that not all believers are called to a ministry office of Ephesians 4, and not all believers will operate in all the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Every believer does not operate in the gift of speaking in tongues. Since this gift functions in front of the entire church for edification purposes, it is simply not necessary that every believer in the church operates in this gift. It's not as we want or we will, but as the Spirit wills (1 Corinthians 12:11).
Just because every believer cannot operate in the gift of tongues in front of the whole church, does not mean that every believer cannot speak in tongues. Every believer who is baptized in the Holy Spirit is given a prayer language. Whether the prayer language comes at the exact moment one is baptized in the Holy Spirit or later on in time, I will not debate. But everyone who is baptized in the Spirit has the ability to pray in tongues.
Praying in tongues is very important. When praying in tongues you are edifying yourself and building up your spirit (1 Corinthians 14:4). The Holy Spirit is empowering your spirit to pray to the Father. This is crucial because you can pray for people and situations when you don't know how to pray in the natural. When praying in the Spirit you are praying the perfect will of God and not your own will. You may be praying for people and things that you have no idea about until you get to Heaven.
I got saved in February of 2004. After I was saved I begin attending a Baptist church. During this time I was attempting to learn Spanish for the field of work that I had applied for. A man in the congregation had a pastor friend who ran a Bible Institute in Mexico, so I was able to go there for a week and a half. During my stay there I saw many people speaking in tongues. It all seemed a bit weird and was slightly uncomfortable. However, I had no preconceived belief regarding speaking in tongues so I was open to it.
When I came back to the U.S. I begin seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I sought it for about four months before it came. I was baptized in the Spirit exactly one year after I was born again. No one laid hands on me or prayed for me. I was read a book on the baptism of the Spirit. The author stated that one can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith. He said to simply speak out some words of gibberish in faith. The Lord honors faith. I did as the author recommended. As I begin to speak, my natural reasoning said, "this is foolish." However I said a few more words and the Holy Spirit fell on me. My entire head started to burn with spiritual fire from Heaven. It literally felt like my head was on fire. I began speaking in tongues uncontrollably. I remember weeping as the power of God surged through me. I felt that my spirit was repenting to the Father for all the sin I had in my life at the time. I knew that the Holy Spirit and my spirit were grieved. The encounter lasted about five minutes.
Ever since that experience I can pray in tongues as a prayer language whenever I want. By an act of my own will I can engage the Spirit and shift into prayer. I do not feel the same fire that came on me during the initial experience, but the prayer is of the Spirit. Note that I have personally never operated in the gift of tongues in front of the church as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit will change you forever. It is a doorway to the presence of God. After I was baptized in the Spirit, I begin feeling the Lord's presence at times during various worship services. This put me on a pathway to seeking the Lord and walking in His manifest presence.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit may happen to you the same way that it happened to me. And it may not. It could happen the first time you ask the Lord for it. Maybe it will take a few weeks. Some people have even waited years. It could be that the Lord will have someone lay hands on you, and then the Holy Spirit will fall on you. That's the way it happened with my wife Maegan. My point is that the Lord can release the baptism a number of different ways. And He may do it in His own timing. But His timing for you may be now. Position yourself before Him and see. If it does take longer than expected to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, please do not give up. It is the Lord's will for you to have the experience, and to go deep into intimacy with the Holy Spirit. It is for every believer. Not one believer was left out in the book of Acts. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrew 13:8). Ask, seek, knock.
And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. “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. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 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? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 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!” (Luke 11:5-13 NKJV)