The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is one of the greatest needs in the church and often the most neglected doctrine. It was so important to Jesus that He commanded His disciples to “… tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) He would not allow them to preach and do anything for Him until they received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The ignorance and the neglect of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the reason why there are so many casualties on the mission field and in ministry.
On the other hand, if everyone in the church was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, there would be such blessing and breakthrough! That is why Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me, in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Therefore, without the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, we are not ready to do anything for God.
The main purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is be a witness for Jesus and to influence this world for Jesus. In Acts chapter two, when the Church received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the people heard them speaking with tongues in the many known languages at that time. This was symbolic that the Church would preach the gospel to every tongue tribe and nation.
The difference between being born again and being baptized in the Holy Spirit:
When we are born again and have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. In 2 Corinthians 1:22 we read, “(God)... has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” All Born Again believers have the witness of the Holy Spirit living inside of them. We read in Romans 8:16, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”. We cannot be born again without the Holy Spirit for Holy Spirit imparts the life of Jesus into our human spirits and we are born again. However, it is not enough to only have the Holy Spirit in us; we must also have His power. In order to have this power we must be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
The term, the baptism with the Holy Spirit” comes from the scripture when John the Baptist said: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11) Peter referred to this when he said in Acts 11:16, “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.” Jesus also referred to this in Acts 1:5, “For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
Illustration of water in a bottle:
Imagine pouring water into a bottle, we would say, the “water is in the bottle.” Then if we throw the bottle of water into a river, we would then say, “The bottle is in the water.” When we are Born Again, the Holy Spirit comes into us. This is like, “the water is in the bottle.” But when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we are immersed into the Holy Spirit. This is like, “the bottle is in the water.” We see this pattern in the Book of Acts. Whenever they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, they were immersed in the Holy Spirit or the Spirit came upon them.
When I was born again, I joined a Baptist Church. Two years later I began to realize that there was another experience called the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. I read books about it, heard testimonies about it and saw it in the Bible. I approached my godly Baptist pastor and asked him how I could be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Although he did not believe in speaking in tongues, he leant me a book by Andrew Murray to help me. In this book I found the key that enabled me to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, that key was faith. In Galatians 3:2 we read, “…. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” In verse 14 of the same chapter we read, “…that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Everything we receive from God is by faith.
I then prayed the following prayer, “Lord, I believe that from reading the Book of Acts, that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, is scriptural. Furthermore, I believe that You are no respecter of persons, and because you did this for others, You will do so for me. By faith I now receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and by faith I will now speak with other tongues. For You said, “These signs shall follow those who believe, … they would speak with new tongues.” (Mark 16:15)
I then raised my hands, took a step of faith and spoke in tongues. I did this by faith! A thought then came to my mind, “this is not tongues but gibberish.” I silenced that thought and said, “I am doing this by faith, and by faith I am being baptized with the Holy Spirit.” The following morning as I woke up I found myself speaking in a new language. This was not a dramatic experience, but a simple step of faith. What I did notice that in the weeks that followed, it began to be easier for me to lead people to Christ and I began to see miracles as I prayed for people. I also noticed that the more I spoke in tongues, the profound this language became.
I have read and heard many testimonies of those who have received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some have had dramatic experiences while others, like myself, have received this gift by a simple act of faith. God is no respecter of persons and this gift is for all who have received Jesus as their Lord and Savior and are born again.
Let us look at some examples from the Book of Acts:
Acts Chapter 2:2-4: “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.”
Notice the Holy Spirit came upon them and the room was filled. This implies that they were immersed in the Spirit. (Remember the water in the water illustration). They also began to speak with other tongues as they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They spoke in tongues but the Spirit gave them the ability to do so.
Acts Chapter 8 verse 14-18: We read, “…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. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given…” The Baptism with the Holy Spirit was imparted to them by the laying on of hands of the apostles.
The word “receive” can also mean “come upon” (Strong’s). There was visible evidence that the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit when Peter and John laid hands on them. It does not say that they spoke in tongues, but it implies that something happened and they knew that the new believers had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Possibly it was the same manifestation that they saw on the day of Pentecost.
Acts Chapter 9 verse 17, “and Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’” Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid his hands on him. It does not say here that Paul spoke in tongues, but we do know that Paul did so, for in 1 Corinthians 14:18 we read,“I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all.”
Acts Chapter 10 verses 44-46: “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.”
The Holy Spirit fell upon them and they spoke with tongues and magnified the Lord. Peter referred to this as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Chapter 11:15-16. “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 Chapter 19 verse 6, “And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” When Paul laid his hands on believers in Corinth; they received the Holy Spirit and began to speak with tongues. Here again, Baptism in the Holy Spirit is received by the laying on of hands which results in the speaking in tongues.
In three out of the five examples in the book of Acts, the believers spoke with tongues when they were baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit. The other two examples imply this. In fact in Acts chapter 10, Peter recognized that Cornelius and his friends had received the gift of the Holy Spirit because he heard them speaking with tongues.
Although there are many ways that God can use, following steps can enable you to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
- We must believe that this is scriptural. It says in Romans 10:17, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.“
- We must be sure that we are really Born Again and have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The reason why some have not been able to have this experience is because they are not genuinely born again.
- We must confess and repent of any known sin in our lives. There are instances where people have received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit before they confessed and repented of their sins, as in the example of Cornelius and his household in the book of Acts. However, un-confessed sin can hinder us from receiving the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. This is especially true with regards to un-forgiveness and bitterness. I have noticed in some cases, those who repented of un-forgiveness and bitterness had a breakthrough and were able to speak in tongues with greater ease.
- We can ask Jesus to baptize us with the Holy Spirit: The Bible says, “… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11) The Bible also says, “that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us,” (1 John 5:14) Therefore, we ask Jesus to Baptize us with the Holy Spirit, because we know that it is His will to do so!
- We can take a step of faith and speak in tongues: Jesus said, “If any man thirst let him come unto Me, and drink. … this He spoke concerning the Holy Spirit.” (John 7:37) This is a step of faith! Just as we lay hands upon the sick as a step of faith to heal the sick, so we speak in tongues as a step of faith to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this is easier to do so in an atmosphere of worship and praise with other believers.
- We can get others to lay hands on us: We have examples of this in the book of Acts. When those who are already filled and Baptized in the Holy Spirit lay hand on us and pray, they can impart this gift to us.
It is important to realize that speaking in tongues is in most cases a decision of the will. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:15, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding”. The Holy Spirit does not do the speaking in tongues for us, but gives us the ability to do so. These words do not come from our minds, but from our spirit.
Furthermore, the regular practice of speaking with tongues will enable us to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself”. (1 Corinthians 14:4) Paul was an example of this; he boasted that he spoke in tongues more than anyone else. (1 Corinthians 14:18)
Finally: The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the initial experience to receive the power of God. However, we need to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 4:31 we read “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Many of these were the same disciples who were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. . The Bible says, “be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be (continually) filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) Therefore it is very important to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Amen.