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One of the Holy Spirit's ministries that has attracted much attention is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? When does it occur? Who receives it?
The phrase baptism of the Holy Spirit is not found in the Bible. The Bible speaks of a baptism with, by, or in the Holy Spirit. It never refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The phrase baptism with, in, or by the Spirit occurs seven times in the New Testament (Matthew 3:11
; Mark 1:8
; Luke 3:16
; John 1:33
; Acts 1:5
; 1 Corinthians 12:13
). This is not the same as water baptism.
Should Not Be A Divisive Doctrine
One of the difficulties in trying to understand the meaning of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is that the phrase is never defined for us in Scripture. Consequently any conclusion as to its meaning must be tested by the totality of what the Scripture teaches on the subject and whatever position one holds must be held with humility and graciousness toward those who believe differently. Unfortunately, the understanding of the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit has been a point of division between Bible-believing Christians. Some see it as a second work of grace, others feel it occurs the moment a person is saved, while still others believe it is an ongoing experience. Though it is legitimate for believers to have genuine differences between each other on difficult subjects, it is not right for these differences to cause division among the body of Christ.
Began At Pentecost
There are certain things about the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit that all can agree upon. The first time people were baptized with the Holy Spirit was on the Day of Pentecost. John the Baptist predicted that Jesus would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after Me is mightier than I . . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11).
After His death and resurrection, Jesus spoke of the baptism with the Holy Spirit as something still future. At His ascension Jesus told His disciples:
For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now (Acts 1:5).
A few years later Simon Peter considered the baptism with the Holy Spirit as something that had already occurred.
And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15,16).
This reference to at the beginning refers to the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the assembled believers. The Holy Spirit came upon believers at a divine time in a designated place.
A Debated Passage-1 Corinthians 12:13
As we have stated, the phrase the baptism of the Holy Spirit is never defined for us. The only passage in Scripture that may give something of a definition is 1
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-and have been made to drink into one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).
If this statement is referring to the same ministry of the Holy Spirit that John the Baptist and Jesus spoke about, then the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a non-experiential act that places believers in the body of Christ.
There is another verse that seems to indicate that all believers have been baptized with the Holy Spirit.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27).
This verse also seems to indicate that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is something that all
believers have received. Since all believers are said to have been baptized by the Holy Spirit, it must happen at the moment of salvation.
If 1 Corinthians 12:13
is a definition of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and Galatians 3:27 a
further indication that this is not a experiential work, then the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit must take place at salvation. Though it is a work that the believer does not directly experience, it opens up the door to the filling of the Holy Spirit which the believer repeatedly experiences.
We conclude the following concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit:
Though this particular ministry is popularly referred to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Bible nowhere calls it such. The ministry is more properly spoken of as the baptism with, in, or by the Holy Spirit.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit first occurred at the Day of Pentecost.
It seems to be the ministry of the Holy Spirit that places the believer into the body of Christ at the moment of salvation.
If this is the case, then all believers have been baptized with the Holy Spirit.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit opens the door to the filling of the Holy Spirit which is directly experienced by the believer and is often repeated.