What Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit? – By Denzil R Miller

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    Ron McGatlin
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    What Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?

    By Denzil R Miller

    As the Book of Acts begins, Jesus leaves His disciples with a parting command. “Do not leave Jerusalem,” He orders them, “but wait for the gift my Father promised…for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). He then gives them a final promise: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Finally, Luke tells us, “He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight” (v. 9).

    Jesus thus commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had been empowered by the Holy Spirit. We talked a bit about this on Day 12. Today, and the next four days, we will expand on the subject. We will discuss the pathway into the Spirit-empowered life, an experience that Jesus, John the Baptist, and Peter all referred to as being “baptized in the Holy Spirit” (Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; 11:16).

    **The Experience Defined**

    What then is this baptism in the Holy Spirit the New Testament talks about? Before we discuss what the experience is, let’s look briefly at what it is not. We do this because some hold sincere but mistaken ideas concerning the experience.

    What the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not. First, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not salvation. We know this because Jesus’ disciples were already saved when Jesus commanded them to stay in Jerusalem to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not “entire sanctification.” We know this because Jesus had already cleansed His disciples before the Day of Pentecost (John 15:3). Finally, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a “second blessing” that Christ gives to His followers. It is rather a divine empowering that He gives them to enable them to effectively participate in His mission to redeem the nations. Let’s discuss this idea a bit further.

    What the baptism in the Holy Spirit is. Scripture describes Spirit baptism at least three important ways. First, Scripture presents Spirit baptism as a powerful life-transforming experience from God. Jesus once depicted the experience as being clothed with “power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The transforming effect of Spirit baptism is demonstrated in the story of Peter. Before Pentecost, he was timid and fearful (Mark 14:69-72). However, after he was baptized in the Holy Spirit, he became a bold witness for Christ (Acts 2:14ff).

    Peter was transformed from the inside out. The same thing happens today. When someone is baptized in the Holy Spirit, his or her life is dramatically altered. The Holy Spirit fills them and gives them the inner strength they need to become powerful witnesses for Christ and His kingdom.

    Second, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a promise for all believers. Jesus called the experience “the promise of the Father” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4). On the Day of Pentecost, Peter announced to the crowd, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39). This means that, even today, some two thousand years later, we too can claim this wonderful promise from God. Jesus promised, “Everyone who asks receives” (Luke 11:9). He then added, “The Father in heaven [will] give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (v. 13).

    Finally, it is important to understand that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a command from God. The experience is so essential to the Christian life that the Bible does not present it as an option. Jesus commanded His disciples to “wait for the gift my Father promised…. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).

    **The Experience Exhibited**

    Having briefly defined Spirit baptism, let’s now look at how in Scripture it is exhibited in people’s lives. The importance of the experience is demonstrated in the life of Jesus and in the practice of the early church as recorded in the Book of Acts. Jesus himself did not begin His ministry until He was first empowered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:21-13). The same was true for the apostles. They did not begin their ministries until they too were empowered by the Spirit (Acts 2).

    This empowerment-results-in-witness pattern continued through the Book of Acts. For instance, when Paul first received the Spirit, he “at once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). In Ephesus the Holy Spirit came on the disciples, and “they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). They then began to proclaim the gospel so effectively that “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (v. 10).

    Luke repeats this empowerment-results-in-witness pattern throughout Acts to show the importance of every follower of Jesus being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Today, if the church is to effectively continue the ministry of Jesus and the apostles, every member of the church must follow their example and be baptized in the Holy Spirit just as they were.

    **The Experience Explained**

    The New Testament uses three word pictures to describe the experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Those three word pictures are believers are “baptized in” the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; 11:16); the Holy Spirit “comes upon” believers (Acts 1:8; 10:44; 19:6); and believers are “filled with” the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:14; 4:31; Eph. 5:18). Each of these word pictures tells us something important about the experience:

    1. Baptized in. First, Jesus depicted the experience as a “baptism in” the Holy Spirit. To baptize something means to submerge, or plunge, it into water or some other liquid. This is what happens when a minister baptizes a new believer. He plunges them into the water until they are completely submerged. In the same way, when a believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit, Jesus takes them and plunges them into the Holy Spirit. As a result, they are covered with and overwhelmed by God’s power and presence. Spirit baptism is truly a powerful, life-changing experience.

    2. Coming upon. Second, Scripture pictures the baptism in the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit “coming upon” believers. Jesus told His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Acts 1:8). You will remember that, on the Day of Pentecost, tongues of fire “came to rest on each of them” (2:3). This pattern of the Holy Spirit coming upon believers continues throughout the Book of Acts. For instance, in Ephesus, “when Paul placed his hands on [the twelve disciples], the Holy Spirit came on them…” (19:6). In Acts, every time the Holy Spirit comes upon someone the result is Spirit-empowered witness in word and deed. We can expect the same to happen today.

    3. Filled with. Finally, the Bible depicts the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a “filling with” the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4). The term “filled with” is used several other times in Acts (4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9, 52). The same moment a man or woman is baptized in the Holy Spirit, they are also filled with the Spirit. The Spirit of God comes into them pervading every part of their being. In Acts, every time the author uses this term, the result is Spirit-empowered speech.

    1. Baptized in. First, Jesus depicted the experience as a “baptism in” the Holy Spirit. To baptize something means to submerge, or plunge, it into water or some other liquid. This is what happens when a minister baptizes a new believer. He plunges them into the water until they are completely submerged. In the same way, when a believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit, Jesus takes them and plunges them into the Holy Spirit. As a result, they are covered with and overwhelmed by God’s power and presence. Spirit baptism is truly a powerful, life-changing experience.

    2. Coming upon. Second, Scripture pictures the baptism in the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit “coming upon” believers. Jesus told His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Acts 1:8). You will remember that, on the Day of Pentecost, tongues of fire “came to rest on each of them” (2:3). This pattern of the Holy Spirit coming upon believers continues throughout the Book of Acts. For instance, in Ephesus, “when Paul placed his hands on [the twelve disciples], the Holy Spirit came on them…” (19:6). In Acts, every time the Holy Spirit comes upon someone the result is Spirit-empowered witness in word and deed. We can expect the same to happen today.

    3. Filled with. Finally, the Bible depicts the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a “filling with” the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4). The term “filled with” is used several other times in Acts (4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9, 52). The same moment a man or woman is baptized in the Holy Spirit, they are also filled with the Spirit. The Spirit of God comes into them pervading every part of their being. In Acts, every time the author uses this term, the result is Spirit-empowered speech.

    Denzil R Miller

    • This topic was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by  Ron McGatlin.
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