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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Baptism with the Holy Spirit

Don Stewart :: If the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Occurs after Salvation, Then What Are the Conditions for Reception?

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If the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Occurs after Salvation, Then What Are the Conditions for Reception?

Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Question 7

If the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience for believers that occurs after they have initially trusted Christ, then what must a person do to receive this work of the Spirit? Are there any conditions that have to be met before the “baptism with the Holy Spirit” can be received? What does the Bible have to say about this issue?

There Are No Specific Conditions Listed in the New Testament

There are no specific conditions listed in the New Testament for one to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Consequently, anything that is taught as a condition is only by inference or conjecture. In other words, it is speculation, not divine revelation.

There Is No Exact Agreement among Believers as to the Conditions

For those who believe that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a separate experience apart from salvation, there is no exact agreement upon what conditions are necessary for this to occur. Indeed, a variety of different things have been suggested. These include the following.

The Prayers of the Leaders of the Church Are Crucial

The prayers of the leaders of the church are sometimes considered to be crucial for one to receive the “baptism with the Holy Spirit.” We are told that the two of the leaders in the early church, Peter and John, went down to Samaria to pray for them that they might “receive the Holy Spirit.” We read about this in the Book of Acts.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. These two went down and prayed for them so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. (For the Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then Peter and John placed their hands on the Samaritans, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17 NET).

The leaders prayed for the reception of the Spirit of the people in Samaria because He had not fallen upon the people yet.

The Samaritans Did Not Receive a Second Blessing

The problem with using this passage is that the Samaritans were not praying for any second work of grace from the Holy Spirit. They were praying for the initial reception of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Scripture makes it clear that they had not received until Peter and John came down and prayed for them.

The Place Was Shaken When the Holy Spirit Came

There is an earlier instance in the Book of Acts where the entire church prayed together. The result was that everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit. We read.

When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31 NRSV).

While the believers were “filled” with the Holy Spirit on this occasion, nothing is said about them being “baptized” with the Holy Spirit. The baptism and the filling of the Spirit are two different experiences with the Holy Spirit – they are not the same thing.

Consequently this cannot be seen as a second blessing or that it is necessary to pray to receive the Holy Spirit.

The Conversion of Saul of Tarsus to Paul

When Saul of Tarsus was converted to the Apostle Paul on the Damascus Road, he was blinded for a few days. Paul was praying when Ananias came to him to regain his sight. Scripture says.

The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight” (Acts 9:11, 12 NRSV).

However, nothing is said about Paul praying to receive the Spirit. The account of Paul receiving the Holy Spirit simply reads as follows.

So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17 NRSV)

The subject of his prayer is not stated. Whether it was to receiver the power of the Holy Spirit cannot be established from this passage.

They Were Not Praying on the Day of Pentecost

In addition, when the Holy Spirit initially came down on the Day of Pentecost the people were not praying. Scripture says.

Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting (Acts 2:1, 2 NET).

There are two reasons we know that they were not praying. First, nothing is said about them praying when the Holy Spirit came. Second, it says they were all sitting. In the first century, Jews prayed standing up – they did not sit down. Consequently there was no prayer going on when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. Therefore, we do not find prayer involved with the various instances when the Holy Spirit came upon people.

Confession of Sin Is Needed before the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Can Be Received

There are some who contend that believers must first confess their sins to the Lord before they can receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. However, we again emphasize that there is no instance recorded in Scripture of any confession of sin before the Holy Spirit came down upon believers. None.

Consequently, there is nothing anywhere in Scripture that gives conditions to receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This seems to be further indication that the baptism with the Holy Spirit does not take place at some particular time after a person is saved but rather it occurs the moment they believe in Jesus Christ.

Summary – Question 7
If the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Occurs after Salvation, Then What Are the Conditions for Reception?

For those who teach that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience that occurs after a person is saved, they attach a number of conditions as for its reception. However, there is no agreement as to what conditions are necessary to receive this second blessing.

Indeed, there are no specific conditions listed in the New Testament for the reception of the power of the Spirit after belief. Consequently, if one argues that the baptism with the Spirit takes place after salvation they must state the conditions from inference.

While some people argue that one must pray to receive the power of the Spirit, there is no example in the Book of Acts of anyone doing this.

Some argue that there must be a confession of sin before the baptism with the Spirit is received. However, we do not find anyone confessing their sins for the Holy Spirit to come upon them.

If the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second experience following salvation, the conditions to receive this experience are unknown. This fact argues against the baptism with the Spirit being a second experience which follows salvation. Indeed, if it were necessary to meet some condition or do some particular thing to receive the power of the Spirit one would assume the Scripture would tell us about what is necessary. Yet nothing is said.

The best answer seems to be that the Holy Spirit is not a second experience which follows believing in Christ. Rather the baptism with the Spirit takes place the moment one is saved.

In What Sense Is the Holy Spirit Given Only to Those Who Obey God? ← Prior Section
Is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit the Same as Receiving the Holy Spirit after a Person Believes? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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