I originally wrote this on my previous blog back in 2013. Since that time I’ve seen two friends get baptized in the Spirit and be used greatly.
First things first, we must establish when we receive the Holy Spirit:
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13)
This clearly states we receive the Holy Spirit upon hearing the gospel and believing it. I assume this is where we agree. Where we don’t agree is what happens after we have been “sealed.” I’m going to present some verses that I interpret to say there is a second act of the spirit after being saved known in scripture as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The first example I have is Christ. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit:
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’” (Matthew 1:20).
I don’t think it can be said that prior to Jesus’ ministry he was without the Holy Spirit, and yet before beginning his ministry the Spirit “rest[ed] on him”:
“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him” (Matthew 3:16)
This account is also mentioned in Luke 3:22, John 1:32 and Mark 1:10. If Jesus already had the Spirit why would he need it to come and “rest” on him before beginning his ministry? I believe the reason is we can have the Spirit of God and yet not have the power of God. Just as Jesus needed the Spirit to rest on him before beginning ministry, we must also seek this second blessing to have boldness in proclaiming the gospel and living a holy life.
The next example I present is that of the Apostles. Before Christ’s ascension into heaven, Jesus breathed on the disciples:
“And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:22).
I think it’s clear that at this point the Apostles have the Holy Spirit. Surely they are ready to begin their ministries, right? Not so:
“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
They had to wait to be clothed with power even though Christ had just breathed on them and they had received the Spirit. I contend it is the same with us, we receive the Spirit upon believing and yet we must tarry until we are endued with power from on high. Note what happens after they tarry:
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)
Notice the language used in this scripture; they were filled with the Holy Spirit. I think this marks a distinction in scripture between two events regarding the Holy Spirit: receiving and being filled. Jesus uses specific terminology for the Day of Pentecost earlier in Acts:
“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1:4-5)
Note that Jesus calls this event the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is after they were breathed on by Christ to receive the Spirit.
Next is the Gospels’ evidence for the baptism of the Spirit:
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)
Here John the Baptist makes a distinction between baptisms: one is a baptism with water for repentance, another is the baptism of the Spirit. One more distinction between receiving and asking to be filled is seen in Luke 11:
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).
Here Jesus says we should ask for the Holy Spirit. I believe this is a reference to the baptism of the Spirit.
Finally we can look at Acts for the evidence of being sealed with the Holy Spirit and being baptized by it. In the first example, Acts 10 shows the two events can be simultaneous (but as other examples will show this is not always the case):
“44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.” (Acts 10:44-48)
So now we can see the filling of and the receiving of the Spirit can be simultaneous. I’d just like to show that the terminology, “baptism” of the Spirit is also used when Peter is describing the incident to “the circumcision”:
“15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:15-18)
Now I’m going to present examples when the sealing and baptism are not concurrent. In the first example, Philip goes and preaches the gospel to Samaria. Many of the Samaritans believe the gospel! And yet:
“14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:14-17)
Lets break this passage down. First, we know the Samarians had “received the word of God.” Next Peter and John go to Samaria. Going to verse 16, we see that they had been “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” That can only happen after they believe. As we have already seen in Ephesians 1:13, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit upon believing. If this is so, why would Peter and John go to Samaria to pray (ask) that they would receive the Holy Spirit. Note that although they believed, “he” (the Spirit) “had not yet fallen on any of them.” Also, if all you will ever get or need of the Spirit comes upon believing, why does the Spirit come after they had “laid their hands on them”? Laying hand on them is not an act of initial belief; it’s an act of faith after asking that these believers receive the Holy Spirit.
The last example is in Acts 19:
“And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ 4 And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.” (Acts 19:1-6)
From this passage we can glean that these believers had incomplete knowledge of Christ’s work and ascension. What I want to draw attention to is the sequence of events in this scripture. First, they were baptized with a baptism of repentance from John the Baptist. Second, though not explicitly stated here, they were informed by Paul of the complete gospel (we know this because it was a necessary prerequisite to the baptism in Jesus’ name). Third they must have believed the complete gospel which we also glean from their baptism in Jesus’ name. Fourth they were baptized in water. Lastly, and most important for our study, Paul laid his hands on them and “the Holy Spirit came on them.” Once again, if all the Holy Spirit we ever need comes upon belief, why would Paul need to lay his hands them for them to receive the Spirit?