The Baptism in the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit | The Baptism in the Holy Spirit
"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost... And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied." (Acts 19:1-6 italics mine).
One of the fundamental doctrines of the New Testament is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This experience is intended for all who profess faith in Christ and have been born again (Acts 2:39). John the Baptist prophesied that this would be part of the mission of the coming Messiah. He said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." (Matthew 3:11).
Charles Spurgeon writes, "Rich were the blessings of this day if all of us were filled with the Holy Ghost. The consequences of this sacred filling of the soul it would be impossible to overestimate. Life, comfort, light, purity, power, peace; and many other precious blessings are inseparable from the Spirit's benign presence. As sacred oil, he anoints the head of the believer, sets him apart to the priesthood of saints, and gives him grace to execute his office aright. As the only truly purifying water he cleanses us from the power of sin and sanctifies us unto holiness, working in us to will and to do of the Lord's good pleasure. As the light, he manifested to us at first our lost estate, and now he reveals the Lord Jesus to us and in us, and guides us in the way of righteousness. Enlightened by his pure celestial ray, we are no more darkness but light in the Lord. As fire, he both purges us from dross, and sets our consecrated nature on a blaze. He is the sacrificial flame by which we are enabled to offer our whole souls as a living sacrifice unto God. As heavenly dew, he removes our barrenness and fertilizes our lives. O that he would drop from above upon us at this early hour! Such morning dew would be a sweet commencement for the day. As the dove, with wings of peaceful love he broods over his Church and over the souls of believers, and as a Comforter he dispels the cares and doubts which mar the peace of his beloved. He descends upon the chosen as upon the Lord in Jordan, and bears witness to their sonship by working in them a filial spirit by which they cry Abba, Father. As the wind, he brings the breath of life to men; blowing where he listeth he performs the quickening operations by which the spiritual creation is animated and sustained. Would to God, that we might feel his presence this day and every day."
Jesus Himself did not begin His ministry until He had been anointed by the Spirit. Acts 10:38 states, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." Likewise, He instructed His disciples to not begin their ministry, but to wait for the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4). But after the promise has come, Jesus promised them, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8).
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is an operation distinct and separate from His work of regeneration. Just as the sanctifying work of the Spirit is a distinct work complementing His regenerating work, so the baptism in the Spirit complements His regenerating and sanctifying work. For the disciples the baptism in the Holy Spirit was clearly a work of the Spirit separate from regeneration.
In Acts 19:1-6 quoted above, we see Paul encountering a group of disciples. Since they are disciples, we know that they profess Christ as their Savior and have been regenerated by the Spirit. Yet, they have not heard of the Holy Spirit. So from this passage we see a believer can be regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit, but still not be baptized in the Spirit.
Matthew Henry comments on this passage, "Paul shows them that John never designed that those he baptized should rest there, but told them that they should believe on him who should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. They thankfully accepted the discovery, and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Ghost came upon them in a surprising, overpowering manner; they spake with tongues, and prophesied, as the apostles and the first Gentile converts did. All who profess to be disciples of Christ, should be called on to examine whether they have received the seal of the Holy Ghost, in his sanctifying influences, to the sincerity of their faith. Many seem not to have heard that there is a Holy Ghost, and many deem all that is spoken concerning his graces and comforts, to be delusion. Of such it may properly be inquired, "Unto what, then, were ye baptized?" for they evidently know not the meaning of that outward sign on which they place great dependence."
In the book of Acts, speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance is the initial outward sign accompanying the baptism in the Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is so closely linked with this external manifestation that this should be considered the norm when seeking the experience. The experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit will bring to the believer boldness and power to be effective witnesses and to accomplish mighty works in Christ's name. In Acts 4:31, 33, we read, "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness... And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." The Holy Spirit does nothing to glorify Himself. By giving individuals boldness to make them effective witnesses, He seeks that Christ be exalted and glorified. We see this in Acts 4:13, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
Besides the manifestation of tongues, other results of a genuine baptism in the Holy Spirit are found.
1. Prophetic utterances and praise. In Acts 10:45-46, we read, "And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." In Acts 2:18, Peter echoes Joel's prophecy, "And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy."
2. An enhanced sensitivity to that which grieves the Holy Spirit, a deeper hunger for righteousness, and an awareness of God's judgment against sin. Jesus stated in John 16:8, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."
In his commentary, Matthew Henry records, "See here the office of the Spirit, first to reprove, or to convince. Convincing work is the Spirit's work; he can do it effectually, and none but he. It is the method the Holy Spirit takes, first to convince, and then to comfort. The Spirit shall convince the world, of sin; not merely tell them of it. The Spirit convinces of the fact of sin; of the fault of sin; of the folly of sin; of the filth of sin, that by it we are become hateful to God; of the fountain of sin, the corrupt nature; and lastly, of the fruit of sin, that the end thereof is death. The Holy Spirit proves that all the world is guilty before God. He convinces the world of righteousness; that Jesus of Nazareth was Christ the righteous. Also, of Christ's righteousness, imparted to us for justification and salvation. He will show them where it is to be had, and how they may be accepted as righteous in God's sight. Christ's ascension proves the ransom was accepted, and the righteousness finished, through which believers were to be justified. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. All will be well, when his power is broken, who made all the mischief. As Satan is subdued by Christ, this gives us confidence, for no other power can stand before him. And of the day of judgment. The coming of the Spirit would be of unspeakable advantage to the disciples. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, not only to show us the way, but to go with us by continued aids and influences. To be led into a truth is more than barely to know it; it is not only to have the notion of it in our heads, but the relish, and savour, and power of it in our hearts. He shall teach all truth, and keep back nothing profitable, for he will show things to come. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit, all the preaching, and all the writing of the apostles, under the influence of the Spirit, all the tongues, and miracles, were to glorify Christ."
3. A life which glorifies Christ. All the works which the Spirit does in the life of the believer or the church are not to bring glory to Himself, nor to bring glory to the individual. Jesus said, "He shall glorify me." (John 16:14). We read in Acts 4:33, "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." The believer will feel and sense a closeness to Christ, as a child feels a close bond to his father. Romans 8:15-16 states, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."
4. Dreams and visions. These experiences were part of the promise given through the prophet Joel, which Peter quoted on the day of Pentecost. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." (Acts 2:17; see also Joel 2:28-32).
5. Manifestations of spiritual gifts (this will be explored in greater detail later). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."
6. A greater desire to pray, individually and corporately. Part of the Holy Spirit's work is to aid the believer in prayer and to seek the Lord's will. Romans 8:26-27 states, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
In Acts 4:23, we read, "[Peter and John] went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness."
7. A deeper love and understanding of God's Word. The Holy Spirit will teach us God's Word and reveal Christ to us. Jesus promised, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16:13-14).
Acts 2:42 says of the early church, "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles doctrine (teaching, instruction) and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." The Word of God itself is called the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).
However powerful the initial coming of the Holy Spirit upon the believer may be, if this does not find expression in a life of prayer, witnessing, and holiness, the experience will soon become a fading glory. The baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs only once in the life of a believer, but there may be instances where a believer is renewed, refreshed and refilled. In Acts 4:31, many of the disciples were present on the day of Pentecost, yet here they are filled again with the Spirit. Isaiah wrote, "This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing." (Isaiah 28:12; see also Acts 3:19).
The baptism in the Holy Spirit brings the believer into a relationship with the Spirit that needs to be renewed and maintained. "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy,", Paul instructed Timothy. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all." (1 Timothy 4:14).