The baptism of the Holy Spirit

The baptism with, by, in or of the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) is part of New Testament salvation (John 3:5; Romans 8:1-16; I Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14; Titus 3:5). The phrase describes how the believer is immersed in and filled with God’s Spirit. In Acts the terms “baptized, filled, received, fell on, came upon, and poured out the gift on” all describe this experience (Acts 1:4-5; 2:4; 10:44-47; 11:15-17; 19:1-6). It is promised to all who believe on Jesus and obey His Word (John 7:38-39; Acts 5:32; 11:15-17; 19:2; Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 1:13).

The Bible records five historical accounts of receiving the Holy Spirit in the New Testament church: the Jews, the Samaritans, the Gentiles, the apostle Paul, and the disciples of John at Ephesus. This record establishes that the baptism of the Spirit is indeed for everyone (Luke 11:13; Acts 2:39) and is accompanied by the initial sign of tongues (Mark 16:17). Speaking in tongues means speaking supernaturally, as the Spirit gives utterance, in a language the speaker has never learned (Acts 2:1-11). Three of the accounts explicitly describe speaking in tongues as the initial evidence of receiving the Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, a sound of wind signified the coming of the Spirit and tongue-like flames signaled the availability to each person, but speaking in tongues “as the Spirit gave them utterance” was the initial sign of each individual filling (Acts 2:1-4).

Tongues convinced skeptical, astonished Jews that the Gentiles had just received the Holy Ghost; tongues alone sufficiently identified this as the Pentecostal experience (Acts 10:44-47; 11:15-17). The Ephesian disciples also spoke in tongues as the first sign of receiving the Spirit (Acts 19:6). Tongues are implicit in the other two accounts. An unnamed miraculous sign indicated the exact moment the Samaritans received the Spirit; its prior absence denoted they did not already have the Spirit despite joy, belief, and baptism, and it was so spectacular that Simon the Magician coveted the power to bestow the Spirit with this sign (Acts 8:5-19). Acts 9:17 mentions Paul’s experience without description, but I Corinthians 14:18 says he spoke in tongues often.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the normal, basic New Testament experience with God, the birth of the Spirit. The Spirit is the rest, guide to all truth, adopter, intercessor, seal, earnest of the inheritance, and sanctifier (Isaiah 28:11-12; John 16:13; Romans 8:15, 26; Ephesians 1:13-14; I Peter 1:2). Someone can receive the Spirit by repenting, having faith in God, and asking God for His gift. When a person receives the Holy Spirit, he receives power to overcome sin and live a holy life (Acts 1:8; Romans 8:4, 13). If he lets the Spirit continually fill (control and guide) him, he will bear the fruit of the Spirit and become Christ-like (Galatians 5:22-23).