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The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Part One    Part Two    Part Three


Introduction

There seem to be two main schools of thought concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Some people believe that it refers to the Holy Spirit coming into a person's heart at the moment of salvation. This view is often held by "mainline" denominations such as Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, and so on, so I will refer to this as the "mainline" view.

Other people believe that the indwelling Holy Spirit is automatically received by a person at the moment of salvation, but they say that the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit is a separate event which is usually accompanied by the outward evidence of being able to pray in tongues. This "charismatic" view tends to be held by denominations such as Pentecostal, Full Gospel, FourSquare, and Assemblies of God, although there are also charismatic Catholics, charismatic Baptists, charismatic Presbyterians, and so on. Non-denominational churches tend to believe the charismatic view as well. Charismatics sometimes have slightly different views on the timing or the outward evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but for the sake of simplicity I will refer to the above description as being the "charismatic" view.

Please note that the terms "charismatic" and "mainline" are simply meant to distinguish between these two views, and nothing derogatory is meant by either term. My aim is simply to present the evidence which has led me to certain conclusions, and to offer some Scriptures for you to prayerfully consider. This subject should not be a dividing issue within the body of Christ, and if you have trusted Jesus alone as your Savior then I look forward to meeting you when we all get Home, no matter which view you hold concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit.


The Indwelling Holy Spirit

It seems that most Christian denominations recognize that when a person receives salvation through faith in Jesus, at that moment the Holy Spirit automatically comes to dwell in the person's heart. Here are a number of passages which can be used to support this view:
Jeremiah 31:31: ""The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah."
Jeremiah 31:32: "It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, " declares the LORD."
Jeremiah 31:33: ""This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people."
Jeremiah 31:34: "No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.""

Ezekiel 36:25: "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols."
Ezekiel 36:26: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."
Ezekiel 36:27: "And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."

John 4:10: "Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.""
John 4:11: ""Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?"
John 4:12: "Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?""
John 4:13: "Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,"
John 4:14: "but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.""

John 7:38: "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.""
John 7:39: "By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified."

John 14:16: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--"
John 14:17: "the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

John 14:26: "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

John 16:7: "But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."
John 16:8: "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:"

John 16:12: ""I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear."
John 16:13: "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."
John 16:14: "He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you."
John 16:15: "All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."

Romans 8:9: "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."
Romans 8:10: "But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."
Romans 8:11: "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."
Romans 8:12: "Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it."
Romans 8:13: "For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,"
Romans 8:14: "because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God."
Romans 8:15: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father.""

1 Corinthians 2:12: "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us."
1 Corinthians 2:13: "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words."
1 Corinthians 2:14: "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

1 Corinthians 3:16: "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?"

1 Corinthians 6:11: "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

1 Corinthians 6:19: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;"

2 Corinthians 1:21: "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,"
2 Corinthians 1:22: "set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."

Ephesians 1:13: "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,"
Ephesians 1:14: "who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory."

Ephesians 4:30: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

Galatians 3:2: "I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?"

Galatians 3:5: "Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?"

Galatians 3:14: "He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit."

1 John 2:27: "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him."

1 John 4:13: "We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit."
1 John 4:14: "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world."
1 John 4:15: "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God."
1 John 4:16: "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."
Here are some of the important points in the above passages:

  • In Old Testament times, God promised that He would someday make a new covenant with the Jews, and this new covenant would involve the forgiveness of sins (Jeremiah 31:31-34, above). Jesus instituted the New Covenant with His blood which He shed on the cross (as described in Luke 22:14-20), and passages such as Romans 15:27, Ephesians 2:11-19, and 3:4-6 tell us that Gentiles (i.e. non-Jews) can share in the blessing of salvation through faith in Jesus. This is important because it means that salvation and the indwelling Holy Spirit are available to everyone (both Jews and Gentiles).
  • When we are forgiven of our sins under the New Covenant, God sprinkles "clean water" on us (referring to the "living water" of the Holy Spirit, as in the next bullet item) and cleanses us from all impurities (Ezekiel 36:25-27, above). We are also told that God will put His Spirit in us and move us to obey Him (Ezekiel 36:25-27, above). This is the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is only given to those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus.
  • Jesus told the woman at the well that He will give people "living water" which will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:10-14, above). John 7:37-39 (above) explains that this "living water" is the Holy Spirit, who is only given to those who believe.
  • Jesus said that after He goes away, the Counselor (the Spirit of truth) will be sent to us and will teach, guide, and remind us of Scriptural truths (John 14:26, 16:7-8, and 12-15, above). This is the indwelling Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 8:9-15, 1 Corinthians 2:12-14, 3:16, and 6:11 (above), the apostle Paul said that the Holy Spirit lives in us to lead us and give us discernment of spiritual truths and wash us and sanctify us and justify us, and so on. This is the indwelling Holy Spirit.
  • In 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13-14, and 4:30 (above), Paul said that when we believed the word of truth (the Gospel of our salvation) then we were marked with a seal by having the Holy Spirit placed in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. This is the indwelling Holy Spirit.
  • In Galatians 3:2, 5, and 14 (above), Paul said that we receive the promised Holy Spirit by believing what we heard (the Gospel of our salvation, as we saw above). This is the indwelling Holy Spirit.
  • In 1 John 2:27 and 4:13-16 (above), the apostle John said that we have an anointing in us which teaches us about all things (i.e. the Holy Spirit of truth, as we saw above), and John said that God's Spirit lives in us. This is the indwelling Holy Spirit.
In the above passages we can see that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our hearts when we believe the Gospel of our salvation. There is no indication that the Holy Spirit might not come into our hearts at the moment of salvation, and there is no indication that the Holy Spirit might come into our hearts at any time other than the moment of salvation, and there is no indication that we need to do anything other than believe in Jesus in order to receive the Holy Spirit. This is why Christian denominations tend to say that we automatically receive the indwelling Holy Spirit at the moment when we receive salvation.

Now, when the people of Samaria believed Philip as he preached the Gospel in Acts 8:12-19, it appears that they did not automatically receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. Later we will closely examine that passage, and we will see that it does not contradict the above passages.


What Are We Told to Look For As Evidence that a Person Has Received Salvation?

Passages such as Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 27-31, and Ephesians 4:11-12 tell us that every Christian is a member of the body of Christ and receives one or more gifts of the Spirit. Notice that if a person is truly able to operate in a gift of the Spirit then this is evidence that the person is saved, because the Holy Spirit and His gifts are only given to Christians (based on the passages which we have seen).

However, the Bible never tells us that we should look for supernatural manifestations as evidence that a person is saved. So what does the New Testament tell us to look for? These passages tell us what we should look for in order to recognize true disciples of Christ:
John 13:34: ""A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
John 13:35: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.""

John 15:7: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."
John 15:8: "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

1 John 2:5: "But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:"
1 John 2:6: "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

1 John 3:10: "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother."
1 John 3:11: "This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another."

1 John 3:14: "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death."

1 John 3:18: "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
1 John 3:19: "This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence"

1 John 3:24: "Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us."
1 John 4:1: "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
1 John 4:2: "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,"
1 John 4:3: "but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."

1 John 4:13: "We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit."
1 John 4:14: "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world."
1 John 4:15: "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God."
1 John 4:16: "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."
In the above passages we are told that we can recognize Jesus' true disciples by their "fruit." This is described as being obedience to God's commands, acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who has come in the flesh, and displaying the fruit of the Spirit (e.g. Galatians 5:22-23) by loving each other with actions and in truth. These are the things that we are told to look for as evidence that a person has received salvation. The Bible never tells us to look for supernatural manifestations as evidence of anyone's salvation.


Scriptural Examples of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

We have seen that most Christian denominations (whether they are "mainline" or "charismatic") believe that the indwelling Holy Spirit is automatically received by a person at the moment of salvation. But is this the same thing as the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit?

To answer this question, first let's take a look at the five events in the New Testament which are often described as being the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

  1. Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4)

    In Acts 1:5 (a few days before Pentecost) Jesus told the disciples that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in just a few days:
    "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. ... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you" (Acts 1:5,8)
    This promise was fulfilled a few days later on the day of Pentecost:
    "When the day of Pentecost came, they [the disciples] were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:1-4)
    Notice the terms which are used above to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

    • "when the Holy Spirit comes on you"
    • "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit"

  2. At the House of Cornelius the Gentile (Acts 10:44-45)

    In Acts 10:44-45, the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on Gentiles for the very first time:
    "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers [Jews] who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." (Acts 10:44-48)
    This story is repeated in Acts 11:15-17:
    "As I [Peter] began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?" (Acts 11:15-17)
    When the Holy Spirit came on the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius, the apostle Peter referred to it as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Peter said that it was the same event which had happened to the disciples in the beginning at Pentecost.

    Notice the terms which are used above to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

    • "the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message"
    • "the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles"
    • "They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have"
    • "the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning"
    • "God gave them the same gift as he gave us"

  3. The New Christians in Samaria (Acts 8:12-17)
    "But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. ... When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." (Acts 8:12-17)
    Notice that Peter and John were not sent to Samaria until the apostles heard that the Samaritans had received salvation by believing the Gospel message which Philip had preached (we'll look at this passage in more detail later). When Peter and John arrived, they laid hands on the Samaritans and then the Holy Spirit came on the Samaritans. Therefore, some amount of time passed between the moment the Samaritans were saved and the moment they "received" the Holy Spirit. This brings up an interesting question. As we have seen, most Christian denominations teach that everyone automatically receives the indwelling Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, so why does it appear as if the Samaritans did not automatically receive the Holy Spirit when they received salvation? There is a very simple answer to this question, and this answer will become clear as we gain a better understanding of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

    This passage says that the Holy Spirit had not yet "come upon" any of the Samaritans. Notice that this is the same wording which is used to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit in all of the examples above.

  4. The Disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-6)
    "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied." (Acts 19:1-6)
    This passage says that the Holy Spirit "came on" these disciples. Notice that this is the same wording which is used to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit above.

  5. Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:17-18)
    "Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized" (Acts 9:17-18)
    On the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus (before he became the apostle Paul) was surrounded by a glorious light from heaven, and then Jesus identified Himself and commissioned Paul as an apostle. The word "apostle" in the New Testament essentially means "one sent by Christ as a witness," and it carries a sense of authority given to the person by Christ. Jesus said that He had appeared in order to appoint Paul as a witness and that He was sending Paul to the Gentiles:
    "Many a time I [Saul] went from one synagogue to another to have them [Christians] punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them. On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven." (Acts 26:11-19)
    So Paul was saved and received his apostleship in this encounter with Jesus, and he later said to the church at Corinth:
    "Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" (1 Corinthians 9:1)
    In Acts 22:10 we see that Paul submitted in faith to the Lordship of Christ during his encounter with Jesus:
    "About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me. 'What shall I do, Lord?' I asked. 'Get up,' the Lord said, 'and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.'" (Acts 22:6-10)
    When Paul said, "Who are you, Lord?," some people believe that Paul meant the word "Lord" as a title of respect (such as "sir"). But when Jesus identified Himself, Paul understood that this was Jesus of Nazareth (whom the Christians believed was the Lord God of the Old Testament), and that Jesus had risen from the dead. Paul knew that this was a supernatural encounter with God (there was a blazing light from heaven, they all fell to the ground, Paul's companions could not understand the voice that Paul heard, etc.), as we can see in the passages above. Then Paul said, "What shall I do, Lord?" Notice that Paul was now submitting in faith to the Lordship of the risen Jesus of Nazareth (possibly he was now using the word "Lord" in the divine sense). Paul made a decision to follow Jesus as his Lord, and the Lord said that He had some assignments for Paul to do.

    So Paul was converted to Christianity when he saw and spoke to the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he received his apostleship at that time (for more proof, see my article called Is Baptism Required for Salvation? - Part Four of Six). However, there was a three-day gap (see Acts 9:9) between the moment when Paul was saved and the moment when he was "filled" with the Holy Spirit when a disciple named Ananias laid hands on him:
    "Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized" (Acts 9:17-18)
    When Paul was "filled with" the Holy Spirit, was that the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Perhaps. Consider that when the disciples received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Bible specifically says that they were "filled with" the Holy Spirit. This is not conclusive proof, but many Bible scholars feel that Paul received the baptism of the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid hands on him (for reasons which we will see throughout this series).

We have now looked at every New Testament passage which describes Christians receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There are no other descriptions of Christians receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit anywhere else in Scripture, so these are the only examples that God has given us in order to teach us. We will look at all of these examples in more detail later.


When Did the Disciples Receive Salvation?

A few moments ago we saw that on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples in a great demonstration of supernatural power (Acts 2:1-4). There was the sound of a violent wind, visible tongues of fire, speaking in tongues, and powerful evangelism which resulted in roughly 3000 people being saved that day (Acts 2:41) and many more being saved or healed after that (Acts 2:43).

However, there was an earlier event which needs to be examined, because it has a significant impact on our study of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you recall, before Pentecost Jesus told the disciples that in a few days they would be "baptized" with the Holy Spirit:
""For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. ... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight." (Acts 1:5, 8-9)
Notice that immediately before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the disciples that they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days. Now take a look at what Jesus said to the disciples on Resurrection Sunday (which was forty days earlier, according to Acts 1:3):
"On the evening of that first day of the week [Resurrection Sunday], when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."" (John 20:19-22)
Notice that the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day that Jesus was resurrected, which was almost a month and a half before they were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost!

Why did the disciples have two separate experiences of the Holy Spirit like that?

Prominent mainline scholars say that the disciples received the Holy Spirit on Resurrection Sunday as a partial filling in anticipation of their salvation at Pentecost, and that it was for the purpose of empowering them for their ministry (see for example The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.343). So the mainline view tends to be that the disciples were empowered on Resurrection Sunday and that they were saved at Pentecost.

Charismatic scholars tend to say just the opposite, that the disciples were saved on Resurrection Sunday and empowered at Pentecost.

Notice that both groups agree that somehow the disciples had two separate experiences of the Holy Spirit (first on Resurrection Sunday and then at Pentecost), and both groups agree that one of these was for spiritual empowerment and the other was when the disciples received salvation. Since the mainline and charismatic explanations are exactly opposite to one another, it is a simple matter to determine which view is more Scripturally accurate. Consider the following points:

  1. First of all, notice what the Bible says in Romans 10:9:
    "if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
    While Jesus was alive, the disciples had confessed Him as Lord (John 13:13, for example). However, the disciples were not Christians at that point because they did not believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ (since Jesus had not yet died).

    On Resurrection Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead, He came to the disciples in a locked room:
    "On the evening of that first day of the week [Resurrection Sunday], when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."" (John 20:19-21)
    At this point the disciples believed in the bodily resurrection of Christ, so they had received salvation (for the essential requirements of salvation, see Part One of my series called Is Baptism Required for Salvation?).

    Therefore, when the disciples received the Holy Spirit on Resurrection Sunday, it was when they received salvation. This agrees with the charismatic view.

  2. Notice that the disciples received the Holy Spirit (John 20:22, below) immediately after they received salvation (John 20:19-21, above):
    "And with that he [Jesus] breathed on them [the disciples] and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."" (John 20:22)
    Charismatic and mainline Christians agree that everyone receives the indwelling Holy Spirit at the time of their salvation (as we saw earlier), and here we see the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit immediately after they received salvation. There is nothing in this passage to indicate that the disciples only "partially" received the Holy Spirit (which tends to be the viewpoint of certain mainline Bible scholars, as we saw a moment ago).

    Notice that Jesus imparted the Holy Spirit to the disciples by breathing on them. Why did He do that? Jesus created everything that has been created (John 1:1-3, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Colossians 1:16, and Hebrews 1:2), and after Jesus formed Adam from the dust of the ground He imparted spiritual life to Adam by breathing on him:
    "Then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7, AMP)
    When Jesus breathed into Adam's nostrils in Genesis 2:7, Adam immediately received spiritual life. Since Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples on Resurrection Sunday in a deliberate way as an exact parallel of Genesis 2:7, it is reasonable to conclude that the disciples immediately received spiritual life, just as Adam did.

    Notice what the mainline Bible Knowledge Commentary says:
    "Since the Fall, regeneration by the "inbreathing" of the Holy Spirit is essential in order for people to enjoy fellowship with God." (Old Testament edition, Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.30, emphasis added)
    The disciples received a direct "inbreathing" of the Holy Spirit on the day that Jesus was resurrected, and this mainline commentary explains that the "inbreathing" of the Holy Spirit happens when we are regenerated (saved). So when the disciples received the Holy Spirit on Resurrection Sunday, it was at the time of their salvation. This agrees with the charismatic view.

  3. Immediately after breathing the Holy Spirit into the disciples on Resurrection Sunday, Jesus said:
    "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (John 20:23)
    Since the disciples now had the authority to declare other people's sins as being forgiven, it is reasonable that their own sins were now forgiven. It would not seem reasonable for the disciples to be able to "forgive anyone his sins" if they had to wait until Pentecost for their own sins to be forgiven!

    Jesus' statement makes perfect sense if the disciples were saved on Resurrection Sunday. This agrees with the charismatic view.

  4. A week after Resurrection Sunday, Jesus again came and stood with the disciples in a locked room, and this time Thomas (the doubter) was present. Jesus said that Thomas was now a believer because he saw the proof that Jesus was resurrected. Jesus further stated that those who believe in Him without actually seeing Him will be blessed with salvation as well:
    "A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."" (John 20:26-29)
    Notice that the focus in this passage is on salvation, not spiritual empowerment. This agrees with the charismatic view.

  5. Immediately after the passage above in which Thomas became a believer, the apostle John said that by believing in Jesus we will have salvation and eternal life:
    "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life [eternal life] in his name." (John 20:30-31)
    Again, the focus in this passage is on salvation, not spiritual empowerment.

    This whole section of Scripture surrounding Resurrection Sunday (John 20:19-31) has dwelt on salvation. All of the evidence shows that when the disciples received the Holy Spirit on Resurrection Sunday, it was at the time of their salvation. This agrees with the charismatic view.

  6. The rest of the book of John describes some things that the disciples did after they received the Holy Spirit on Resurrection Sunday. If they had received the Holy Spirit in order to be empowered for their ministry (according to the mainline view), is there any evidence that they had received power? No, all John describes them doing is going fishing, eating a meal with Jesus, and having a conversation with Him:
    ""I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. ... When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord." (John 21:3-12)
    Throughout the rest of the book of John and the beginning of the book of Acts there is no indication that the disciples had received any supernatural power. There is no evidence to support the conclusion that spiritual empowerment was the reason why the disciples received the Holy Spirit on Resurrection Sunday. This agrees with the charismatic view.

  7. Recall what Jesus told the disciples 40 days after Resurrection Sunday and a few days before Pentecost:
    "On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. ... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."" (Acts 1:4-8)

    "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49)
    Notice carefully what Jesus said and what He did not say. He did not say that in a few days (at Pentecost) the disciples will receive forgiveness of sins or eternal life. He did not mention forgiveness of sins or eternal life at all! (Recall that these things were mentioned on Resurrection Sunday, above). Instead, Jesus specifically said that the disciples will receive power and will be clothed with power in a few days (at Pentecost). Then He described the ministry of evangelism which they would soon begin, saying that they would be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.

    Therefore, we can see that Pentecost was the point at which the disciples received supernatural empowerment for their ministry.

    At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples for their spiritual empowerment in a great demonstration of supernatural power. There was the sound of a violent wind, visible tongues of fire, speaking in tongues, and powerful evangelism which resulted in roughly 3000 people being saved that day and many more being saved or healed after that. After Pentecost, "many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles." (Acts 2:43).

    This leaves no doubt that when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost it was for their spiritual empowerment, which agrees with the charismatic view.

The Scriptural facts surrounding Resurrection Sunday all relate to salvation, and the Scriptural facts surrounding Pentecost all relate to spiritual empowerment. This exactly fits the charismatic view.

Earlier we saw that charismatic scholars and mainline scholars all agree that the disciples had two separate experiences of the Holy Spirit, first on Resurrection Sunday and then at Pentecost. We also saw that the charismatic and mainline explanations are exactly opposite to one another. This makes it easy to determine which view is more Scripturally accurate. As distasteful as this might be to some people, only the charismatic view of the baptism of the Holy Spirit fits all of the facts surrounding Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost. When I first saw that, I was totally against tongues and other charismatic views because of my doctrinal background. However, I realized to my shock that I needed to discard my strong anti-charismatic beliefs because I could not honestly and prayerfully find the Scriptural evidence to support them which would outweigh the evidence against them. (Why did I have these anti-charismatic beliefs in the first place? Because I had never really examined where I was absorbing my beliefs from. It is eye-opening to ask yourself, "Where did my beliefs come from?").

What we have seen so far is that the disciples received the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit at some point after they received the indwelling Holy Spirit at the moment of their salvation, which were two separate and distinct events with two separate and distinct purposes. We will see that this is a pattern for the entire New Testament Church, which includes us modern Christians.


The Baptism of the Holy Spirit Is Always a Separate Event from Salvation

The Biblical evidence indicates that the disciples were saved on Resurrection Sunday, and that they received supernatural power when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. These were two separate and distinct events with two separate and distinct purposes.

Now let's take a look at some more reasons why salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are separate events:

  1. Notice that after Jesus was baptized in water, the Holy Spirit descended on Him (Luke 3:21-22, below). Was this done to seal Jesus with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of His salvation (as in Ephesians 1:13-14)? Obviously not, because Jesus was not in need of salvation. Then why did Jesus need the Holy Spirit? Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus emptied Himself before becoming human, which means that He "set aside His self-willed use of deity when He became a man" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.654). In order to be born as a human, Jesus voluntarily set aside His glory and His power. On earth, Jesus was our perfect role model because He was the perfect human (He is both God and man), and He received the Holy Spirit in order to be empowered for His ministry on earth. This can be demonstrated by following the sequence of events in Luke's Gospel and in Acts:
    "When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove." (Luke 3:21-22)

    "You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached-- how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him." (Acts 10:37-38)

    "Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry." (Luke 3:23)

    "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil." (Luke 4:1-2)

    "When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside." (Luke 4:13-14)
    First we are told that Jesus was baptized in water and then He received the Holy Spirit (not as a guarantee of His salvation, but for spiritual empowerment). We are also told that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power. Next, Jesus began His ministry after receiving the Holy Spirit and power. We are then told that He allowed Himself to be led by the Spirit rather than deciding on His own what He wished to do. Finally, we see Jesus returning to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit after resisting the devil in the desert. So even though Jesus is the Son of God, the above passages tell us that He received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for His earthly ministry. Notice that Jesus was already "saved" (because He was never "unsaved") when He received spiritual empowerment, just as we need to be saved before we can receive spiritual empowerment.

  2. Another example of the baptism of the Holy Spirit being separate from salvation can be seen in Luke 11:11-13:
    "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:11-13)
    The key to understanding this passage is that Jesus gives examples of a son asking his father for a gift, and then He says that "your Father" will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. In other words, if you are a Christian, a child of God, then you can ask your Father for the Holy Spirit. First you must be saved (at which point God becomes your heavenly Father - see John 1:12-13, Galatians 3:26, and 4:4-7), then you can ask for the Holy Spirit. But remember, when we become saved we automatically receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, we don't have to ask for Him (as we saw earlier)! Yet Jesus says that God will give the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who ask for it. This gift, therefore, is not salvation (because we do not become saved by asking God for the Holy Spirit), but instead this gift is what the Bible calls the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit for receiving spiritual empowerment:
    "On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. ... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."" (Acts 1:4-8)

    "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."" (Acts 10:44-47)

    "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?" (Acts 11:15-17)
    This "baptism" is a gift of the Holy Spirit for receiving spiritual empowerment, and we can ask for this gift after we receive salvation (although God might sometimes give this gift to a person immediately after receiving salvation, as in Acts 10:44-47 and 11:15-17, above).

    We can demonstrate this further by comparing Luke 11:13 with its parallel passage in Matthew:
    "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13)

    "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)
    Comparing these two passages, we can see that receiving the Holy Spirit is equated with receiving "good gifts." In other words, when we as Christians ask our Father for the Holy Spirit, He will give us the gift of being baptized with the Holy Spirit for our spiritual empowerment. Notice that salvation is not mentioned at all here, and in fact we do not become saved by asking for the Holy Spirit.

    Since only Christians have been adopted as children of God (Ephesians 1:4-5), only Christians can ask our heavenly Father for the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This demonstrates that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is only available to us after salvation.

  3. The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that one of the "elementary teachings" that new Christians received was "instruction about baptisms":
    "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:1-2)
    This indicates that new Christians were taught about "baptisms" (plural), and it tells us that they needed instruction about these baptisms. There are only two main Christian baptisms mentioned in the New Testament, which are water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit (although some people believe that there is a third Christian baptism as well, called a "baptism of fire" - Matthew 3:11). Many Christians believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit happens automatically at the moment of salvation, but notice that new Christians would not need instructions about something which is automatic and which has already happened to them. For example, after you received salvation and the indwelling Holy Spirit, did you need someone to give you instructions about how to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit? No, because He was already living in your heart from the moment of your salvation! But it turns out that many people do need some instructions on how to receive the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit (as we will see later in this series).

    In the above passage, it is more likely that new Christians received instructions about the two baptisms which they had not yet received. This would indicate that just like water baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is only available to us after salvation.

  4. Notice that before the disciples at Ephesus were baptized in the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed in Jesus:
    "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied." (Acts 19:1-6)
    Remember, Paul taught that we are automatically sealed with the Holy Spirit when we believe (as we saw earlier). Yet in the above passage Paul asked these disciples if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. He wasn't asking if they had been sealed with the indwelling Holy Spirit at salvation because it was Paul himself who taught that everyone is automatically sealed with the Holy Spirit when they believe. Paul was asking these disciples something else.

    He was asking if they had received the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit yet. As we will see throughout this series, this baptism is a second experience of the Holy Spirit which we can receive after we become saved.

    Since Paul asked this question, it shows that it is possible to be saved without receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise there would have been no need for Paul to ask this question! Paul assumed that they were Christians (which would have meant that they had automatically been sealed with the indwelling Holy Spirit), and he simply asked if they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the time of their salvation. Their reply demonstrated their lack of knowledge (they were probably not yet saved), so Paul explained to them about Jesus, then he baptized them in water, and then he laid hands on them and they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

    Here's another point to consider. If we have received salvation, how do we know that we have received the indwelling Holy Spirit? The answer is that we take it on faith that the Holy Spirit now lives in our hearts because the Bible says so. Yet Paul asked these disciples if they had received the Holy Spirit. Think about that for a moment. The Holy Spirit is invisible, so how would they know if they had received the Holy Spirit? As we will see in Part Two, there are always supernatural manifestations which accompany the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. There are no exceptions to this. That's how these disciples would have known if they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit, because they would have experienced some supernatural manifestations. Notice that when Paul laid hands on them and they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they immediately began speaking in tongues and prophesying. At that point they knew that they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit! Notice that this happened after they had received salvation.

These examples provide further confirmation that the baptism of the Holy Spirit does not refer to being sealed with the indwelling Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. Instead, it refers to a separate event after salvation which is for empowering a Christian to function supernaturally in the body of Christ.


Conclusion

We have seen that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate event from salvation, and that its purpose is to empower a person who is already saved.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is only available to us after we have received salvation.


All for Your glory, Lord Jesus!


Part One    Part Two    Part Three
 
 
 
  Modification History  
 
 

  • 02/16/2009 - This was originally a two-part series, but it is now a three-part series. No new information was added, but instead Part One was split into two separate parts.
  • 10/28/2006 - Added a section called "The Indwelling Holy Spirit" and a section called "What Are We Told to Look For As Evidence that a Person Has Received Salvation?"
  • 02/26/2003 - Added a link to my article called "Is Baptism Required for Salvation? - Part Four of Six."