Search Bible
Click for Help   Click for QuickNav   Click for Advanced Search Options
Search KJV
Your Bible Version is the KJV
Go to Top
Link to This Page Cite This Page
Share this page Follow the BLB
Printable Page
 
 
Left Contextbar EdgeLeft Contextbar Edge BackgroundRight Contextbar Edge2Prior SectionReturn to CommentariesReturn to Author BiographyNext SectionRight Contextbar Edge2Right Contextbar Edge BackgroundRight Contextbar Edge1
The Blue Letter Bible
BLB Searches
Search the Bible
Search KJV
 [?]

Advanced Options

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval
x
Search KJV

Let's Connect
x
Daily Devotionals
x

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans
x

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan

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

Don Stewart :: Is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit the Same Thing as Regeneration or Spiritual Rebirth?

toggle collapse
Choose a new font size and typeface

Does the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Occur the Moment Every Person Is Saved?

Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Question 10

There are some people who contend that each believer needs a second experience subsequent to salvation to give them power to witness for Jesus Christ. Many refer to this experience as the “baptism with the Holy Spirit.” However, many others understand the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a non-experiential work that happens to the believer when they trust Jesus Christ. It is important to note that there are good Christians who hold each of these positions.

There Are Differences among Those Who Believe the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Is Not a Second Blessing

Those who reject the idea that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second blessing have differences among themselves as to the meaning and purpose of the baptism. Generally speaking, they can be divided into two camps: dispensational theology and covenant theology.

Dispensationalists Believe There Must Be an Understanding of the Distinctive Nature of the Church

There are some believers, known as dispensationalists, that urge that the distinctive nature of the church must be appreciated to properly understand the baptism with the Holy Spirit. They argue that much of the confusion with respect to the baptism with the Holy Spirit is based upon a lack of understanding of the nature of the church. The church did not begin until after Jesus died, rose, and ascended into heaven. This beginning of the church did not happen until the Day of Pentecost.

There was no experience called the baptism with the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, neither are there any prophecies of the baptism with the Holy Spirit for the future millennium. Therefore the experience is unique for this age. This age of the church began at Pentecost and will end when Jesus Christ resurrects those who have believed in Him – an event known as the translation, or rapture, of the church. The baptizing work of the Holy Spirit is a distinguishing mark of believers in the age of the church. It places believers into the body of Christ.

Covenant Theology Sees the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Foretold in the Old Testament

There are other believers who hold a position known as “covenant theology.” They assert that the church consists of believers from all ages – not merely from Pentecost onward. Consequently, from this perspective, Pentecost was not the birthday of the New Testament church. Those who hold this view believe the baptism with the Holy Spirit was predicted in the Old Testament. Pentecost was the fulfillment of the Old Testament predictions of the pouring out of the Spirit.

While these two positions differ over the nature of the church, and whether the Old Testament predicted the baptism with the Holy Spirit, they are united in the belief that it is not a second experience with the Holy Spirit but rather takes place the moment one is saved.

The Case for the Baptism with the Spirit Being Immediately Received

The arguments for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, being something that happens to each believer the moment they trust Christ are as follows.

Believers Have Every Spiritual Blessing in Christ

The reason there is no need for a second blessing or “crisis” experience for the believer is because God through Jesus Christ has given every spiritual blessing to every believer. The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer (Ephesians 1:3 God’s Word).

Every spiritual blessing means exactly that – every blessing. Nothing is lacking in any of us to do the work of the ministry.

Every Believer Is Complete in Jesus Christ

God has also made us complete in Jesus Christ. Paul wrote the following to the church in the city of Colosse.

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority (Colossians 2:9, 10 NRSV).

We have our fullness in Him. Again, nothing is lacking.

Peter echoed this thought when he wrote the following to the believers.

God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and for godliness. This power was given to us through knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and integrity (2 Peter 1:3 God’s Word).

Believers have been given every spiritual blessing, are complete in Christ, and have been given all things that pertain to life and godliness. For those who have believed in Jesus Christ God has given them everything that they need – they lack nothing!

What the Bible Says about the Baptism with the Holy Spirit

It is generally agreed that the references in the gospels look forward to the baptism with the Holy Spirit occurring at the Day of Pentecost. The references in Acts point back to the fulfillment. This being the case, the reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13 gives the doctrinal explanation of what occurred. Paul wrote.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free we were all made to drink of the one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13 NET).

This passage stresses that all believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit. It does not matter ones racial makeup (Jew or Gentile) or ones position in life (slave or free). All believers have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Everyone!

Believers Are Placed into the Body of Christ by the Baptism with the Holy Spirit

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is that ministry that places the believer into the body of Christ. It joins the believer to Jesus Christ as part of His body – the church. This enables each believer to receive power, but it does not guarantee them any special strength. This only comes when a person yields themself to the Holy Spirit.

There Are Not Two Separate Baptisms with the Holy Spirit

Though it is possible to see two separate baptisms with the Spirit, it is much better to understand all the references explaining the same experience. Since in all previous references to the baptism with the Holy Spirit Jesus is the baptizer, it is more consistent to understand 1 Corinthians 12:13 in the same way.

Jesus Baptizes Believers by Means of the Holy Spirit

Thus, Jesus is the unnamed baptizer in First Corinthians 12:13. He baptizes people into His body, the church, “by means of” the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is, therefore, the means by which a person is baptized into the body of Christ – He is not the baptizer.

If this verse were speaking of the Holy Spirit as the baptizer, then an important question comes to mind. When was the fulfillment of this prophecy of John the Baptist?

I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8 NET).

When did Jesus baptize people with the Holy Spirit?

Therefore, Jesus Christ baptizes believers into His body the church by means of the Holy Spirit. Although the Holy Spirit is a Person He is the instrument in which Jesus baptizes believers into His body.

The Greek Construction Speaks against Two Baptisms

There is a technical point that should also be mentioned. The Greek construction of the phrase, “for by one Spirit” in First Corinthians 12:13 does not seem to allow for the Holy Spirit to be the baptizer. It is the Greek preposition en with its object in the dative case.

As we search the New Testament, we find that there are no unambiguous examples of this particular construction in the Greek that would allow the Holy Spirit to be the agent, that is, the one who is the baptizer. If that construction did exist, then the technical name would be a “dative of agency.” The Greek construction is more consistent with the Holy Spirit being the “means by” which the believer is baptized into the body of Christ.

While this is a technical point, it is another line of evidence that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not the Holy Spirit baptizing someone but rather Jesus baptizing the person by means of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture Says There Is Only One Baptism

In addition, Scripture says there is only one baptism. Paul wrote the following words to the church in Ephesus.

[There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:5 KJV).

If Jesus baptized believers in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit also baptizes believers into the body of Christ, then we would have two baptisms. Yet the Scripture is clear that there is only one baptism.

It is the work of Jesus Christ, through the agency of the Spirit’s ministry, which joins those who believe to the church, the body of Christ. This gives the believers all the privileges and responsibilities that come with being a member of the true church.

All Believers Have Been Baptized in the Holy Spirit

The baptism with the Holy Spirit occurs the moment a person is saved. Today it is impossible to be saved without being baptized with the Holy Spirit. Scripture teaches that all believers have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit baptized all the believers in the Galatian and Corinthian churches, but their lives were far from being spiritually mature.

All of the Galatians Had Been Baptized with the Spirit

This brings us to our next point. The Apostle Paul assured the Galatians that they had been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28 NKJV).

Each of them had been baptized with the Spirit.

Yet, these same Galatians were turning away from Christ. Paul elsewhere wrote.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel (Galatians 1:6 NRSV).

Though they were true believers, they were turning their back upon Jesus.

All of the Corinthians Had Been Baptized with the Holy Spirit

We find an example of this with another group of believers. The Corinthian church was guilty of all kinds of evils. There were divisions among them; some people were committing terrible sin while others were ignoring sin in their midst. They were not spiritually mature. The Apostle Paul told them.

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to mature Christians. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk and not with solid food, because you couldn’t handle anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your own sinful desires. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your own desires? You are acting like people who don’t belong to the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NLT).

Yet each and every of them had all been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is clear that all believers have been baptized with the Holy Spirit

The Baptism with the Spirit Is the Basis for Power

In sum, we can say that the act of baptism with the Holy Spirit provides the basis for power by placing the believer into the body of Christ but it does not guarantee any special power or ability to live the Christian life. That comes through obedience to God and being continually filled with the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, Spirit baptism could not occur with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. It is that work of the Holy Spirit that unites believers to the risen Christ. Because He is no longer physically present, it is the Holy Spirit who now represents Christ in the world.

There Is No Command in Scripture for Anyone to Be Baptized with the Spirit

There is something else that we must note. Scripture never commands believers to seek a “second blessing” or “second experience” with the Holy Spirit after salvation. While God commands believers to be filled with the Spirit, not to quench the Spirit, and not to grieve the Spirit, there is no command for anyone to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

If the baptism with the Holy Spirit is so important for believers to receive, then why is this so? Why don’t we find any command for believers to enter into this experience? Especially since the Bible commands believers to behave other ways with respect to the Holy Spirit.

Many Ministries of the Holy Spirit Are Not Directly Experienced by the Believer

There are a number of ministries of the Holy Spirit that are not directly experienced by the believer. This includes regeneration, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the sealing of the Spirit. Therefore, it is not unusual, or unreasonable, to assume that the baptism with the Holy Spirit a ministry of the Spirit that is not directly experienced.

The Book of Acts Should Not Be Used to Establish Doctrine

It is also important to understand that the Book of Acts should not be used to establish any doctrine or teaching concerning the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Acts tells us what happened in the history of the church but it does not give us an explanation as to what the events mean. It is merely recording some of the main events in the early church. The doctrine, with respect to the baptism with the Holy Spirit, should be found in passages of Scripture that are meant to teach, not just narrate.

Passages Are Misused That Attempt to Show the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Is a Second Experience

We must also point out that certain passages are misused which attempt to show the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second experience with the Holy Spirit. The examples of Jesus, His disciples, the Samaritans, the Apostle Paul, the Gentiles, and the believers in Ephesus, do not teach what certain people think they teach. They were all unique situations – they were not the norm for all believers. Each must be understood in their overall context.

The Baptism with the Spirit Could Not Occur until Jesus Was Glorified

Jesus made it clear that the power of the Holy Spirit could not be given until He was glorified. We read of this in the Gospel of John. It says.

On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39 NET).

The disciples of Christ lived before and after the time of Jesus’ glorification. By definition, they could not receive the unique power of the Holy Spirit because it had not yet been given.

Those Who Believed at Pentecost Did Not Have to Wait for a Second Blessing

While attention is always given to the disciples of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost, little attention is usually given the three thousand that believed. According to Peter, the power of the Holy Spirit that they observed that day was immediately available for them.

We have his words records in the Book of Acts. It says.

Peter replied, “Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this generation that has gone astray!” Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church—about three thousand in all” (Acts 2:38-41 NLT).

There is no indication whatsoever that they had to wait to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. It was their immediately!

There Was No Second Blessing in Samaria

The believers in Samaria were not waiting for the power of the Holy Spirit as a second blessing – they were waiting for initial reception of the Holy Spirit.

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 8:14-16 ESV).

They did not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came to Samaria and prayed with them. Consequently, this account gives no credence to the idea that believers must have a second experience with the Holy Spirit after salvation.

The Gentiles Received the Holy Spirit upon Believing

The Gentiles were baptized with the Holy Spirit immediately upon conversion. They did not have to wait to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture makes this clear. In recounting the event Peter said.

And he [Cornelius] told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 11:13-16 ESV).

Peter says the message he brought to Cornelius was so they could be saved from their sin. He then linked their salvation experience with their reception of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Therefore the promise recorded in Acts 1:5 was fulfilled at Pentecost. This makes it clear that the baptism with the Spirit happens when a person is saved.

The Disciples in Ephesus Also Received the Holy Spirit upon Believing in Jesus

The disciples that Paul met in Ephesus had not even heard about Jesus Christ – much less the Holy Spirit. They had believed the message of John the Baptist but did not hear about the one who fulfilled it, Jesus. When they heard about Jesus Christ they believed in Him. The Holy Spirit then came upon them at this initial conversion. Consequently, there was no waiting for the power of the Spirit.

Therefore we find no evidence whatsoever of the New Testament requiring a second blessing for believers to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Questions for Those Who Believe the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Is a Second Experience

There are a number of questions that are asked by those who reject the idea that there is any “second blessing” that believers must receive in order to have the Spirit power. These questions include the following.

  • Is there any biblical evidence that present-day believers must wait for the power of the Holy Spirit?
  • Why would God withhold His power from believers? Why would He make them wait?
  • If the baptism with the Holy Spirit is so important, then why is there no command to receive it?
  • Why does Jesus never refer to the baptism with the Spirit during His public ministry?
  • Why is the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit never discussed in the Book of Acts?
  • Why must someone agonize to receive the power of the Holy Spirit it they do not have to agonize to become a Christian?
  • What are the specific conditions that must be met for a person to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit?
  • How does someone actually know they have received the power of the Spirit? Are there any outward signs?

These are some of the questions that must be answered by those who assert that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience that happens after the initial salvation of the believer.

Conclusion on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit

When all the evidence is considered, it is best to see the baptism with the Holy Spirit as something that occurs the moment a believer trusts Jesus Christ as Savior and not as a “second blessing” that takes place at some time after the initial salvation experience.

Furthermore, we again note that the baptism with the Holy Spirit could not begin to occur until after Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead and ascended into heaven. Neither the Old Testament believers, nor those who were alive during the earthly ministry of Christ, experienced the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Therefore the baptism with the Spirit into the body of Christ is unique to the church age. This truth, that both Jews and Gentiles would be placed together into one body, was a mystery, or sacred secret, which was explained by the Apostle Paul.

Does This Mean the Experience Called the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Is Not Legitimate?

One final point needs to be made. Millions testify to a greater love for Jesus, a stronger desire to serve the Lord, and a hunger to study His word as a result of receiving the “baptism with the Holy Spirit.” If what they experienced was not the baptism with the Holy Spirit, then does it make the experience invalid? Not at all! The experience, that many of these people have had, is indeed a genuine work in their life. The fact that the experience may be mislabeled does not take away from its validity. God continues to powerfully work in the lives of believers today through His mighty Holy Spirit.

Summary – Question 10
Does the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Occur the Moment a Person Is Saved?

There are many Christians who believe that the baptism with the Holy Spirit occurs the moment a person is saved. They contend that Spirit baptism is not the same experience as salvation but it happens at the time of salvation. It is not a second experience following conversion.

Those who reject the idea that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second experience fall into two basic camps: dispensationalists and covenant theology.

Some believers, known as dispensationalists, see part of the problem as not appreciating the unique nature of the church. The baptism with the Holy Spirit was a unique experience of the church age. It was not foretold in the Old Testament.

Covenant theology does not see the New Testament church as something unique in God’s program. They believe the Old Testament clearly predicted the events of the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon the people.

While these groups have their theological differences each of them sees the baptism with the Holy Spirit as something which takes place the moment a person is saved. There are a number of reasons as to why this view is held.

First, God has given believers everything “in Christ.” When we are saved we are complete in Him. We lack nothing. There is nothing else for Him to give to us.

Furthermore, nowhere are believers commanded to receive any second blessing that would give them power. All power is already available.

Indeed, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is that ministry of the Spirit that joins believers to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the baptizer and the Holy Spirit is the means by which believers are baptized into His body – the church. It is not the Holy Spirit that baptizes people. In addition, the Greek construction of 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks against the Holy Spirit being the baptizer.

Another point is this: the New Testament says there is only one baptism – not two as some try to claim. This one baptism with the Spirit joins believers to Christ as part of the church.

Even the carnal believers in Corinth and Galatia were all said to have been “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” This is another indication that every believer has been received the power of the Spirit.

The passages, that are used to establish the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second blessing, are mainly found in the Book of Acts. There is a basic rule of biblical interpretation that one does not make doctrine out of narrative portions of Scripture.

We must emphasize that the power of the Holy Spirit working in a person’s life is something that should be desired. Some who have legitimately experienced the Spirit’s power label the encounter as the “baptism with the Holy Spirit” whereas the Scripture calls this experience the filling of the Holy Spirit. Everything has been provided for us upon conversion. We only need to appropriate what God has already done for us. While the baptism with the Holy Spirit does not guarantee power for the believer, it is the basis of power.

Finally, there are a number of questions that need satisfactory answers by those who argue that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience that occurs after ones initial salvation.

Those who have had a genuine experience with the Lord, which they thought was the baptism with the Holy Spirit, should not be dismayed by this. The experience was genuine – it has merely been mislabeled. Consequently, the best solution to this difficult question of the baptism with the Holy Spirit seems to be that it occurs to all believers. The totality of the evidence points to the fact that every believer is baptized by Jesus Christ, by means of the Holy Spirit, the moment they are saved.

Did the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Occur Once for Everyone at Pentecost? ← Prior Section
Do Paul And Luke Mean Different Things By The Phrase, "Baptism With The Holy Spirit?" 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.


Donate Contact

Blue Letter Bible study tools make reading, searching and studying the Bible easy and rewarding.

Hotjar - Unlimited insights from your web and mobile sites

Blue Letter Bible is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization