Today we continue our study of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is Part Two, and there will be at least a Part Three.
In our previous studies, we have shown from the Bible that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the same as Salvation. In those lessons, we have seen that the Infilling of the Holy Spirit occurs subsequent to salvation. It can, however, occur immediately on the heels of salvation, as it was for Cornelius and his family in Caesarea.
Many people may have had an experience like that of a little girl. In church she had heard of the Holy Ghost (as the Holy Spirit is sometimes called). It had been mentioned from time to time, but so vaguely and infrequently, she could only guess what sort of ghost this might be. So one day, when she ventured down into the dark furnace room in the church's cellar, she decided with a child's firm logic that this spooky place must be where the Holy Ghost lurked.
The fact of the matter is that adult believers often act as if the Holy Spirit really is hiding in the church cellar. They may know something about the Holy Spirit, but they don't know Him personally or realize that He is God in the same way that the Father and Son are God.
Let's review a few things we learned in our first lesson on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. We noted that this experience or event is called by a number of different names in the Bible.
1. The Promise of the Father Acts 1:4
2. Baptized with the Holy Spirit Acts 1:5
3. Filled with the Holy Spirit Acts 2:4
4. Endued with power from on high Luke 24:49
5. The Holy Spirit fell upon them Acts 11:15
6. The gift of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:38; Acts 10:45
7. Received the Holy Spirit Acts 8:15
8. Pouring out the Spirit Acts 2:17
9. The Holy Spirit came upon them Acts 19:6
We also learned that the event of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience observable by others. This is evident from the command of Jesus, where He said, in Luke 24:49: "Tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." The implication here is that they would know when they were endued with power from on high. How else would they know how long to tarry? There was evidence of a definite experience indicating the fulfillment of Christ's words.
In our previous lesson, we looked at Old Testament prophecies that spoke of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Then we began to look at specific words or phrases that are used in describing various aspects of this baptism in the Spirit. I want to repeat what I shared then, and continue through the rest of these aspects.
The first is the word, Pentecost." This word refers to an historic event, the narrative of which is recorded in Acts 2. But "Pentecost" is also a present and personal event. This event was then, and is now, two-sided. On one side we have Christ the Lord who is the baptizer. On the other are those who are baptized by Christ.
Pentecost represents more than a once-for-all incident in the life of the early church. The Spirit of God was not poured out upon a community of faith on that first day to remain there until the end of time. Such a view fails to understand Pentecost as both past and present, and leaves little room or expectation for the reality to occur among people now. If the baptism in the Holy Spirit is to take place today, there must be the recognition of its continuing possibility.
Next, the baptism in the Spirit occurs within the arena of faith. Faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is the essential precondition. Only those who have believed on Jesus may share in the Pentecostal reality.
The event of the Spirit baptism may not necessarily occur coincident with the moment of putting one's faith in Christ as Savior. In other words, one's baptism in the Holy Spirit may occur then or at a later time. Many today would testify that the baptism happened somewhere along the way of faith - not at the beginning.
If you were to read all accounts of the filling of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, you will readily notice that "faith" is involved. In many of the accounts, those who received the infilling of the Holy Spirit are said to have "believed," which is a word denoting faith.
Again, three weeks ago, we looked at the three baptisms mentioned in the Bible.
1. Baptism into the body of Christ at salvation (1 Corinthians 12:13).
2. Baptism in water
3. Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).
The baptism in water doesn't really take faith. It takes obedience. But the other two do require faith. Without faith it is not possible to become a part of the body of Christ. Likewise, without faith, the Holy Spirit is not given and received.
It is apparent that in all biblical cases of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, that the essential background is faith. There may or may not be water baptism - hands may or may not be laid, but without faith the Holy Spirit is not given and received.
Also, keep in mind that the faith to receive the Holy Spirit is unmistakably faith centered in Jesus Christ. Believing in Him - not in an idea, a doctrine, but a person, serves as background for the reception of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts is the Spirit given by Jesus Christ, and comes only to those who believe in Him.
The next word I want to discuss is the word "suddenly." One does not come to receive the Holy Spirit by going through a pre-programmed pattern. The original Pentecost came about suddenly, and there remains an element of surprise in its occurrence today.
The Holy Spirit, as we learned in an earlier lesson, is sometimes spoken of as "wind" which we do not know where it came from or where it is going. God the Holy Spirit acts with some sovereign unpredictability, and His ways cannot be computerized.
On the human side there is also a wide range of spiritual awareness, so that not everyone is ready at the same time for the operation of God to occur. For some, there may be a hesitant unwillingness to surrender oneself to the Spirit, where all the barriers have been dropped. Probably all of us have been guilty of holding in reserve certain areas of our personality.
But when something inside finally gives way, the baptism in the Holy Spirit may happen. That process may involve extended prayer, earnest and continuing in worship. In most cases the baptism occurs where there is an attitude of openness and expectancy.
None of this, however, is a formula for achieving or earning the Holy Spirit. This is not something you earn - it is a gift. The baptism in the Spirit is, as we have said before, an act of grace on God's part. And because it is a gift, you will need to "receive" it. But throughout there is still an element of spontaneity, unpredictability and surprise.
The next word to consider is that the Holy Spirit baptism is a "filling." Acts 2:4 says they were "all filled with the Holy Spirit." This is a word that expresses totality. To be "filled with" or to be "full of" the Holy Spirit speaks of totality probably even more markedly than the word "baptism."
For instance, when a person is said to be "filled with joy," everyone understands this as referring to the whole self. Such a person is rejoicing with all of his/her being - body, mind and spirit. Even so, to be "filled with the Spirit" is to express the situation in which the whole of human existence is activated by a divine presence.
When you consider the last two words - "filled" and "suddenly" - it speaks of a force that is not gradual or passive. Rather, this is a decisive endowment of power and energy. When the Spirit is "poured out" or "falls," life can never be quite the same again.
Giving & Receiving
The last word is actually two. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is both a giving and receiving. The expression, "the gift of the Holy Spirit," may be used to speak of the divine side of the baptism. On the other side, the "receiving of the Holy Spirit," depicts the human side.
While this is true, we must never forget that this is altogether God's gracious doing. Man earns nothing, adds nothing, he/she merely receives. Consequently, there are no conditions or requirements to be met, except you must already be a child of God. There are no stairs to climb or hoops to jump through, but simply the reception of a freely offered gift. Still, without receiving, the gift remains afar. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an occasion of both giving and receiving. And it has been so since the first Pentecost.
There are a number of other words and phrases surrounding the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Words like: Prayer - All - Tongues - One-Accord (Unity), etc.
When it comes to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, there are a number of important questions needing answers.
1. What is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
2. Why is the Baptism so important?
3. Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit available today?
4. Who can be baptized in the Holy Spirit? Is it meant for everyone?
5. Why does a person need the infilling of the Holy Spirit?
6. Are there any prerequisites to receiving the Holy Spirit?
7. Can I earn or become worthy to receive the baptism?
8. When does the baptism occur?
9. Can a person receive the baptism without knowing it?
10. What are the benefits resulting from the baptism?
11. What are the purposes for the baptism in the Spirit?
12. What is the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit at conversion and at the baptism?
13. How does one receive the baptism in the Spirit?
14. What is the evidence that one is filled with the Holy Spirit?
15. Does the Baptism in the Holy Spirit make a person a higher level Christian?
16. Is laying on of hands necessary for the Infilling of the Holy Spirit?
During this series we will be answering many of these questions. In fact, we have already answered a couple of them in earlier lessons. For example, we have already discussed the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit at conversion versus at the baptism in the Spirit.
Before continuing, let's discuss what the Baptism in the Spirit is and what it is not. We have discussed what it is in part during earlier lessons. We are now going to add to what we have learned thus far.
WHAT IS THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT?
The baptism is an anointing by the Holy Spirit for service and ministry. We learned earlier that Jesus, Himself, was anointed by the Holy Spirit without measure before He entered into his messianic ministry. We have also learned that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an event that so changes us that it is recognizable to those who know you. Also, it is an experience rather than something we just take by mental assent and faith. It is something we are aware of - something we can feel.
There are also several things the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not. Let's examine one thing it is not by looking at the answer to question #4, above. And let me pose it to you - How would you answer it?
WHO CAN BE BAPTIZED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT? IS IT FOR EVERY CHRISTIAN?
This is a question that has a plain and explicit answer in the Word of God. We find the most direct answer to this question in Acts 2:39. Let's preface it by also reading Verse 38.
Acts 2:38-39 NKJV
38 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.
39 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."
What is the promise spoken of in verse 39? If we were to go back to chapter 1, we would read, in verses 4 & 5.
Acts 1:4-5 KJV
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
And then in chapter 2, Verse 33, Christ receives the promise from the Father, and Christ, in turn, pours it out on His people on the earth. There should be no doubt that the promise spoken of in Acts 2:39 is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. When Christ spoke, in Acts 1:8, that we were "to be His witness…to the end of the earth," He was speaking geographically - from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria to the end of the earth. When Peter said the promise was for "all who are afar off," he was not speaking geographically, but genealogical. The promise is "for you and your children and for all who are afar off."
Peter was telling the crowd that this promise was not just for those gathered there on the Day of Pentecost. But it was for their children and grandchildren and to all generations far off in the future. It was available to every succeeding generation yet to come.
The will of God is that you be filled with the Spirit. This verse brings Pentecost to your and my address. This verse also says that what the people "saw and heard" was not just for the first century. It is for all that the Lord calls. This promise is still for you and me.
These Passages in the Word of God show the Baptism in the Holy Spirit it is not dispensational. By that, I mean the baptism in the Holy Spirit was not just for the dispensation of the first century. I say that knowing there are some theologians who will disagree. I believe that this experience was not just for a certain period in church history, but for all periods of church history.
As we saw a couple weeks ago, Moses said, in Numbers 11:29, "I wish that all the Lord's people would prophesy." He was expressing the heart of God.
Here is another thing that the Holy Spirit baptism is NOT. It is not only of secondary importance. Some would say that it is really not necessary for the church today. In a future lesson, we will study in detail why we believe this experience did not cease at the end of the first century or at the death of the last apostle.
Blaise Pascal was a great French mathematician of the highest quality. He had a number of accomplishments in the areas of "Projective Geometry" and "Laws of Probability." But at the age of 31, he was baptized in the Holy Spirit in the middle of the night. How did he describe his experience? "Fire! fire! fire!" he wrote. After this experience, Pascal abandoned mathematics and concentrated the rest of his life on God.
Thomas Aquinas was baptized in the Holy Spirit when he was writing his Summa Theologica. He had worked on this for 9 years. As a consequence of the Baptism in the Spirit, he never finished the work. What he did write has been published, and is over 3,000 pages in length. You can buy it on Amazon.com for $156, for 5 volumes. When his friends asked him to continue writing, he said it all looked like straw after this experience. In his writing, he had been trying to prove that one cannot experience God directly. Then God came down and adjusted his theology.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an event where the person, in their conscious and subconscious existence, is penetrated by the Spirit of God. No level of human activity is unaffected by this divine activity.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, however, is not a happening in which the person is so possessed by God that they lose their own identity. Nor is the Holy Spirit's movement an invasion wherein the person becomes subjugated and coerced into a divine pattern of activity, so that the sole actor thereafter is God. At no point is there the setting aside of human activity. Indeed, quite the opposite - for it is only as the Spirit blows upon the human spirit that there is the release of man or woman for fuller freedom and responsibility.
The Holy Spirit comes from outside the person and with a mighty impact. The event of the Baptism is no gradual, passive thing, but a decisive endowment of power and energy. When the Spirit is "poured out" or "falls," life can never be quite the same.
Let me once again state that everything centers in Jesus Christ. He is the one who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit. There is no baptism without the direct activity of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ the Crucified, Risen, and Exalted Lord who pours forth the Holy Spirit. However much one may rightly stress the activity of the Holy Spirit, this event is not a Sprit-centric but a Christocentric event. It is not the Holy Spirit that does the baptizing - but Christ Himself. God the Father is the ultimate source, but it is through Jesus Christ the Lord that the Holy Spirit is given.