The Baptism in the Spirit
Today, we are continuing our message series “Living in the Spirit.” In this series, we’re talking about the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer. The Spirit is the person of the Trinity that indwells each believer. All too often, the Holy Spirit is thought to be of little importance or too controversial. Yet the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts of sin, causes us to be born again and is the very Spirit of Jesus who lives inside us.
I have just completed reading a 1000 page book called God’s Empowering Presence about the subject of the Spirit in the writings of Paul. The experiential reality of the Spirit is behind almost everything that Paul wrote. That’s why it took 1000 pages to describe it all. Yet for many believers, the Holy Spirit is simply words on a page. They believe by faith that He live inside of them. However, they have not experienced the reality of His power in their lives.
Today, we’re going to talk about how you can experience the reality of the Holy Spirit’s power in your life, just like Paul and the New Testament church did. Today, my message is entitled “The Baptism in the Spirit.”
There are three popular views on Spirit baptism today, but only one of them is biblical. The first view is that Spirit baptism is synonymous with conversion and is held by most denominational churches. In others words, if you’re saved, your Spirit baptized. However, this is not what the Bible teaches at all. The writings of Paul assume that every New Testament believer is water baptized and Spirit baptized. However, water baptism is not automatic is it? And neither is Spirit baptism. These two baptisms are assumed in Paul’s writings because both Jesus and the apostles in Acts taught that each believer must be obedient to be baptized in water and in the Spirit.
The second view is that Spirit baptism is the highest goal of the Christian life. You must seek and seek to see if you can attain it. When you do, you’ve arrived spiritually. This view is more biblical than the first, in that Spirit baptism is a separate experience from conversion. However, as we’ll see, Spirit baptism should not be viewed as our ultimate goal.
Which leads us to the third view of Spirit baptism, which is the biblical view. Spirit baptism is part of the entrance into the full Christian life for every believer. Peter preaches the three aspects of entrance into the full Christian life for every believer, both in the New Testament and today.
Acts 2:38 (NIV2011) Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The three steps are: Salvation by repentance and faith, water baptism and Spirit baptism, here called the gift of the Holy Spirit. So, let’s see how this was experienced by Jesus’ disciples.
John 14:17 (NIV2011) the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
You see, before Jesus rose from the dead, the Spirit could only live with believers. After Jesus rose from the dead, the Spirit could live inside believers. After Jesus rose from the dead, He met with His disciples.
John 20:22 (NIV2011) And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
At this point, the disciples were born again, the Holy Spirit lived inside of them. Yet they had not yet received Spirit baptism, for Jesus had not yet ascended to the Father.
Luke 24:49 (NIV2011) I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
There was something they had to wait and ask for, the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Spirit. So, let’s look more closely at Spirit baptism
Why receive Spirit baptism?
Spirit baptism is when Jesus baptizes or immerses you in the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit fills every part of you. John the Baptist said in ….
Mark 1:8 (NIV2011) I baptize you with water, but he [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Spirit baptism was first available after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Why receive Spirit baptism?
Jesus commanded Spirit baptism
Acts 1:4-5 (NIV2011) On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
This was Jesus’ command to the disciples after He had risen from the dead. The disciples were not to begin their mission for Jesus, they were not to go anywhere or do anything but wait for the gift the Father promised. The gift was Spirit baptism. Receiving Spirit baptism was not optional, it was something commanded by Jesus for the 120 disciples at that time and for all disciples down through history.
In his message on the day of Pentecost, Peter makes it clear that Spirit baptism is for believers of all time.
Acts 2:39 (NIV2011) The promise [gift of the Holy Spirit] is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
In other words, every new believer needs to be water and Spirit baptized as soon as possible in order to carry out God’s purpose for their life. These are the basic elements of equipping that God provides at the beginning of the Christian life. Jesus goes on to say to His disciples that …
Spirit baptism gives power to witness
Acts 1:8 (NIV2011) But 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.”
Throughout both the Old and New Testament, the Spirit is linked with power, the power of God. Jesus is saying that when believers are baptized in the Spirit, they will receive power from God to carry out their mission in life. This power is not an impersonal force, this power is the power of the Spirit who now fills and baptizes them.
Jesus goes on to add that through the Spirit’s power, believers would be His witnesses, ultimately to the ends of the earth. The Spirit gives power to witness by giving boldness, the right words to say and through arranging divine appointments with people He has already convicted.
Why receive Spirit baptism application
As you go through the book of Acts, you see example after example of believers in different situations being both water baptized and Spirit baptized. If this had not happened with believers, then the apostles made sure that it happened.
In Ephesus, Paul met some disciples of Jesus and asked them the question in Acts 19:2 “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Why would Paul ask such as question? Because, first of all, he was aware that something was missing in their life. And secondly, that it is possible to believe and not receive Spirit baptism.
Turns out these disciples had not even heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul had them baptized in water, then prayed for them to be Spirit baptized and they spoke in tongues. In this case, as in all examples of Spirit baptism in the Bible, the evidence of Spirit baptism was that the believers immediately spoke in tongues, spoke in a language that they had never learned. So, let’s look at what the Bible says about …
How to receive Spirit baptism
If God has a gift for you, an essential gift and He commands you to receive it, what should you do? You should …
Prepare by repentant obedience
Acts 5:32 (NIV2011) We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
These are the words of the apostle Peter in the face of persecution. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God. This is not speaking of salvation, for the Spirit indwells all those who believe in Jesus. Peter is speaking of the gift of the Spirit, that was giving Him the boldness to witness for Jesus. Spirit baptism is given to those who have hearts to obey God and accept His gift.
Likewise, you can’t expect to be baptized in the Spirit if you have sin in your life that you haven’t repented of. God doesn’t expect perfection, He does require repentance when you sin. So, you prepare to receive Spirit baptism by repentance and obedience.
Ask in faith
Luke 11:13 (NIV2011) If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
These are the words of Jesus. Of course, if Spirit baptism was synonymous with conversion, Jesus would never have spoken these words. But it is not. Spirit baptism is a separate experience after salvation, that you must ask for. As with every other prayer, your prayer must be in faith. You must believe that when you ask Jesus to baptize you in the Spirit, that He will.
Where do you get the faith to believe in the reality of Spirit baptism? One of the best ways is simply to read through the various accounts of people being baptized in the Spirit in the book of Acts. I’ve listed them in your Action Items for this week by chapter: Acts 1-2, 8, 10, 19. I’ve also posted a detailed Scriptural study of the Baptist in the Holy Spirit to the Resource section of every Life Group and the Sunday Growth Class. This is the study that convinced me of the reality of Spirit baptism many years ago.
Begin to speak in tongues by faith
Acts 2:4 (NIV2011) All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
On the day of Pentecost, the 120 believers in the upper room had been asking and waiting for the baptism in the Spirit. Finally, all of a sudden, He came. What happened? They were all baptized in the Spirit and the evidence was that they began to speak in tongues with the Spirit’s help.
We’re going to study tongues in more detail next week, but let’s summarize. In order to be baptized in the Spirit, you must yield your tongue to the Spirit’s control. You then speak in a language you have never learned, as the Spirit helps you form the words.
The Bible tells us that when you speak in tongues, the Spirit is praying through you to God. In Acts 2, it says the people praying in tongues were declaring the wonders of God. As you read through the accounts of Spirit baptism in Acts, you will see that the one common evidence of Spirit baptism was speaking in tongues.
How to receive Spirit baptism application
Let me tell you my story. I was saved and baptized in water before I was a teenager. When I went to college, I led a Bible study group. One of the other leaders in the group went to a church on vacation and came back a changed person. She was really on fire for God. She understood the Word more clearly, prophesied in the group, had a prayer language of tongues and said she had been baptized in the Spirit.
As a Baptist pastor’s son, I had been taught that everyone was Spirit baptized at salvation and that tongues were of the devil. But what I saw in this girl’s life was obviously of God. So, I did a serious study of what the Bible taught on the Spirit and Spirit baptism. I mainly used the resource that I’ve posted for you, which is quite thorough. I became convinced, that not only was Spirit baptism real, it was for believers of every age, including myself.
One day, I asked the Bible study group to pray for me. Since I had been fasting and praying, I was ready to ask Jesus to baptize me in the Spirit. While I was alone in my room, I prayed and asked for the gift of the Spirit. The Spirit begin to fill me and I began to speak sounds in no language which I knew. I began to weep as I knew that God was baptizing me in the Spirit. Since then, I have seen many others baptized in the Spirit, both by praying by themselves or by having others lay their hands on them as they are prayed for.
The benefits of Spirit baptism
There are so many benefits of Spirit baptism, but I’ll just highlight a few that were important for me and many others. We’ve already mentioned power to witness, which is one of the most important benefits. But let’s look at three more.
The Spirit will speak to you
John 16:13 (NIV2011) But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
When you are Spirit baptized, you will hear God speak to you through His Spirit much more clearly and much more often than before. Many people struggle to hear God speak to them and give them guidance. The answer is to be baptized in the Spirit. When you are filled with the Spirit, you will hear His voice clearly.
The Spirit will pray through you
Romans 8:26-27 (NIV2011) In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
This passage refers to speaking in tongues, hear referred to as “wordless groans” or better translated “inarticulate groans.” Sounds for which the speaker does not know the meaning. When you pray in tongues, the Spirit is praying through you a perfect prayer in keeping with the will of God. Every prayer prayed in tongues therefore will be answered by God. There is tremendous power in this kind of prayer. We’ll be talking a lot more about it next week.
The Spirit will give spiritual gifts to you
1 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV2011) Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
In this passage in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul is giving instructions about the proper use of spiritual gifts in the church. In this verse, he is saying that the Spirit gives to each person in the church a spiritual gift or manifestation of the Spirit with the purpose of the common good of the whole church body.
The chapter goes on to list gifts, such as prophesy, healing, words of knowledge and wisdom and so on. In the future, we will have a whole message devoted to the topic of spiritual gifts. These spiritual gifts are the power or ability of the Spirit in your life to do supernatural things, like pray for someone to be healed. Not everyone has the same gifts. So, one person may pray for you and nothing happens, but the next person with the spiritual gift prays and you are healed. Even most people who are Spirit baptized are not operating in their gifts. God wants to change that.
The benefits of Spirit baptism application
For most people, the key to being Spirit baptized is to have a humble, teachable spirit. Unfortunately, most people have grown up in or gone to churches that either never spoke of Spirit baptism or spoke against it and spiritual gifts for today.
So, in order to receive what God has for you, you’ve got to admit that what you’ve learned before was not biblical. You’ve got to humble yourself and say God, I want more of your Spirit and your power in my life. I’m not content with my spiritual walk.
The baptism in the Spirit conclusion
So, start by studying God’s Word this week. Go over these notes and the suggested reading. Download the resource on Baptism in the Spirit: It’s Biblical Foundation and study it. We also have a shorter pamphlet on our brochure table on The Baptism in the Spirit.