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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit a Second Experience following Salvation?

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Don Stewart

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There are some people who contend that each believer needs a second experience subsequent to salvation to give him power. Many refer to this experience as the baptism with the Holy Spirit. It seems best from Scripture to understand the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a non-experiential work that happens to the believer when he trusts Christ.

Every Spiritual Blessing

The reason there is no need for a second blessing or crisis experience for the believer is because every spiritual blessing has been given us by God through Jesus Christ. Scripture never commands believers to seek a second blessing after salvation. The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

God has also made us complete in Christ:

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:9,10).

Peter wrote:

. . . His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3).

But we should not take this to mean that the believer should not desire to appropriate the fullness of God's Spirit in their lives. Though all blessings have been given to each believer, we have the privilege and responsibility of applying them to our life. Jesus spoke of the power of the Holy Spirit:

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:38-39).

Two Baptisms?

Some people who believe the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second experience following salvation actually see Scripture speaking of two separate baptisms. They believe that 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks of the baptism by the Spirit that puts believers into the body of Christ. That is the Holy Spirit is the baptizer the believer into Christ's body. The Book of Acts, they contend, speaks of the baptism by Christ to place people in the sphere of the Holy Spirit. They believe the first baptism happens at conversion and is experienced by all believers. The second happens after conversion and provides power to the believer. This view teaches that all believers have been baptized by the Spirit while not all believers have been baptized in the Spirit.

What The Bible Says

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 seemingly gives the doctrinal explanation of what occurred.

Though it is possible to see two separate baptisms, it seems better to understand all the references explaining the same experience. Charles Ryrie comments on this difficult subject:

Such an infrequently used and seemingly technical phrase would more likely refer to the same activity in all its occurrences. To establish two separate and quite distinct baptisms is tenuous at best. To see two agents is biblical because of Acts 2:33 and quite normal because different Persons of the Trinity are involved in the same work. Besides, Ephesians 4:5 says there is only one baptism. It is Christ's work through the agency of the Spirit's ministry to join those who believe to the church, the body of Christ, with all the privileges and responsibilities that come with that position (Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p. 365).

We can conclude the following:

1. The baptism with the Holy Spirit occurs the moment a person is saved. It is not the same experience as salvation but happens at the time of salvation. It is not a second experience following conversion.

2. 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.

3. Nowhere are believers commanded to receive any second blessing that would give them power. All power is already available.

4. The power of the Holy Spirit working in a persons 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. previously mentioned, everything has been provided for us upon conversion. We only need to appropriate what God has already done for us.

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