Acts 2:2-4
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Is the baptism in the Holy Spirit something different than salvation?  Isn’t the deposit of the Holy Spirit given when someone is born-again?  Doesn’t the above passage of scripture just describe the moment when the early Christians were actually ‘saved’?  Didn’t Paul seem to assume in his writings that every Christian had the Holy Spirit in fullness?

If you have been born again, and have received these teachings, you may well believe that you have already received the Holy Spirit in its fullness.  But is that really accurate, scripturally?

There has now been a wide history of varied thought on these things, but how does the bible teach it?

Referencing only the New Testament, there had actually been teaching on this baptism in the Holy Spirit from the time of John the Baptist, who declared:

Matt 3:11-12
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

After Jesus’ own death, burial and resurrection, Jesus affirmed John the Baptist’s prophecy:

Acts 1:4-5
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Jesus also declared what the baptism in the Holy Ghost was to be for:

V. 8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

According to Jesus the baptism in the Holy Spirit was for the purpose of giving SUPERNATURAL POWER to His followers in order that they could be EFFECTIVE WITNESSES of the Gospel.

I’ll say this part again: according to Jesus, there should be SUPERNATURAL POWER given to the believer.  Not only so, but that supernatural power is to be great enough that it affects the believer’s ability to witness – i.e. it should be evident that there is supernatural power at work in their lives.

In my last post I talked about our need to attain gifts of the Spirit – the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be described as ‘organized power.’  How do I mean that?  Jesus declared that the gift of the Holy Spirit would come upon believers, and that gift would give them power for witness (as mentioned above).

Power, alone, however will have very little value if there are not appropriate venues of demonstrating that power.  For example: your house may have all the electrical wiring that it needs to run appliances throughout your home – the walls are filled with electrical wires teeming with power.  Yet that power is of no value to you if you don’t actually use any electrical appliances.  If you never turn on your oven, or electric stove, if you don’t have your refrigerator plugged into the wall, if you never plug in and use a blender, etc – then none of  the electrical power in the house will EVER BE DISPLAYED.

So it is with spiritual gifts, if you’ve got the Holy Spirit you can lawfully activate, and use spiritual gifts.  If you don’t use gifts, then you may be charged with power, but there is no outlet for that power to operate.  (Perhaps we’ll discuss the gifts, themselves, in a later post.)

But how do we attain this power?  Again: isn’t the Holy Spirit given to us when we are saved?  This is a good question – let’s talk about what makes a person saved.  Paul described this perfectly in his letter to the Romans:

Rom 10:9
…if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, THOU SHALT BE SAVED.

Salvation is attained through repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ.  This is singularly a transaction of the heart – INTERNAL.  Jesus declared that the Holy Spirit will COME UPON you (Acts 1:8) – EXTERNAL.  The sign spoken of, in reference to the Holy Spirit is a ‘baptism’ (Matt 3:11; Acts 1:5, etc.), an exterior action.  What is the phrase so commonly used about water baptism?  ‘It’s an outward act of an inward commitment…’  (For greater clarification on the correlation see post ‘The Sign of Water Baptism‘)

To be baptized is to be immersed in something OUTSIDE of yourself, to be born again is to receive the personal revelation of Jesus Christ INSIDE YOUR HEART.  Now, that salvation itself is the gift of God, and faith was implanted into your heart by the Holy Spirit just as it is written:

Eph 2:8
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

That faith is a spiritual deposit, which then calls out to God – this is salvation.  But… don’t we receive the ‘seal’ of the Holy Spirit at this time?

Consider Ephesians 1:13-14:

13 In [Christ] ye also trusted, AFTER that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: [meaning, FIRST your heard the Gospel, THEN you believed and were saved] in whom also AFTER that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Paul’s description of salvation in this passage gives a clear chronology of events:

  1. You heard the gospel (ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation)
  2. You believed and were saved (In [Christ] ye also trusted)
  3. You receive the Holy Spirit (AFTER that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise)

The baptism in the Holy Spirit – and even the ‘seal’ of the Holy Spirit spoken of here (if the two things can be counted as different) is a separate event from salvation.  It comes AFTER believing the Gospel unto salvation.

Let me use now a story in the bible to give greater clarity to this, because this still isn’t strong enough biblical evidence:

In Acts chapter 8, the deacon Philip goes to Samaria, and preaches the Gospel with miraculous signs and wonders following (v.5-8).  Seemingly with one accord, the people of the city believed the Gospel, and were water baptized (v.12).

All of these Samaritans were saved.  For:

Rom 10:9
…if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, THOU SHALT BE SAVED.

Not only were they ‘saved,’ or ‘born again’ – but they had committed their lives and their bodies wholly to God in water baptism.

Yet the bible says something very interesting.  It says that even though they believed and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, they had not received the Holy Spirit (v.12).  The apostles Peter and John, therefore, came down to Samaria and laid hands on the new converts, imparting the Holy Spirit to them!

Now doctrinally, IF the baptism in the Holy Spirit can be conferred by the laying on of hands, it is certainly NOT the same thing as salvation.  Salvation can never be imparted through laying on hands – it is only obtained through faith in Christ.

If you read carefully the writings of Paul you will see that Paul just assumes that every Christian he is writing to has been baptized in the Holy Spirit.  Many contemporary theologians teach us that this means that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and salvation are the same thing.  I would point out that Paul also assumed that every Christian he is writing to has been baptized in water – but that is clearly a separate event that happens AFTER salvation.

The reason that Paul assumes every Christian is baptized in the Holy Spirit is because as Christians, he expects them to know and be doing everything that is clearly the revealed will of God – after all, they’re Christians.  (There is also a story in Acts where Paul, himself, verifies whether certain new believers had yet received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7).)

How about you?  Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?  Has the Holy Spirit come upon you in power?  Have you received gifts of the Holy Spirit to witness?

You can receive the Holy Spirit Baptism, Jesus promised it to all who ask for it!  Call on Jesus, He alone baptizes with the Holy Spirit, seek Him in faith nothing wavering, and you can surely receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit!

Link to pt. 1