Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a hotly discussed topic amongst Christians. Why did the Holy Spirit have to come upon Jesus when He was baptised if He was already born by the power of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible for us Christians to have two distinct encounters with the Holy Spirit as well?
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from receiving the Holy Spirit at our conversion.
The First Receiving of The Holy Spirit : Indwelling
The Holy Spirit comes and lives inside us when we first repent of our sins and embrace Christ as our saviour. This initial receiving of the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit’s ‘indwelling’.The Holy Spirit dwells within us and we become His living temple.
Scripture and testimonies show that, in addition to the ‘indwelling’ of the Holy Spirit that occurs at a believer’s conversion, there is another distinct encounter known as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Also referred to as the ‘infilling of the Holy Spirit’.
This infilling helps us experience the Holy Spirit to a greater degree than the indwelling. Hence, it is to be earnestly desired. This infilling/baptism in the Holy Spirit is a beautiful experience in which you can feel the Holy Spirit’s power operating within you. Certain manifestations, such as speaking in tongues, are also observed.
Let’s first begin by correctly understanding the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so we can distinguish it from the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
1.The Holy Spirit indwells us when we first place our faith in Jesus as our Lord. This indwelling occurs immediately when we accept Christ, not after a few years of doing ‘good works’ as Christians.
2.The indwelling of the Holy Spirit happens only once in the life of a believer, at the time of our conversion.
3.The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to every believer. Other than accepting Christ, there’s nothing we can do to earn it. It is freely given.
The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit Verses.
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
2 Corinthians 6:16
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
What is Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
Baptism in the Holy Spirit means being filled with God’s Spirit, which not only transforms a Christian’s character but also empowers us with spiritual gifts.
This baptism or infilling is received through faith and prayer and is sometimes received by the laying on of hands. Only those born again and indwelt by the Spirit can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit – Why We Should Earnestly Desire it?
1. Jesus Himself Needed the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, He had the Spirit dwelling within Him all His life. But having emptied Himself of all His Godly powers before coming to earth so that He could carry out His ministry here as an ordinary human being, even Jesus needed the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Only after being empowered with this infilling did Jesus perform miracles and endure extreme trials.
When did Jesus Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
Jesus received water baptism from John the Baptist when he was about thirty years old. When Jesus emerged from the water, the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove, filling Him with power (Matthew 3:16).
From that time on, Jesus was led by the Spirit and walked in the power of the Holy Spirit. He cast out evil spirits, healed sick people, overcame temptation, raised the dead, and ultimately, bore our sins on the cross.
The same Spirit who empowered and raised Jesus from the dead dwells within every born-again believer. Scripture commands us to not just be indwelt but also to be infilled with the Holy Spirit.
Why would anyone reject the almighty God’s Spirit when it is freely given to every believer who asks?
2. Infilling of Holy Spirit at Pentecost Empowered the Apostles.
On the day of Pentecost, about 10 days after Christ ascended into heaven, His followers were all gathered together in a place when a sound like the blowing of a mighty wind came from heaven and filled the room where they were staying. What appeared to be like tongues of fire sat on each of them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance.(Acts 2:1-4)
When this happened, a crowd gathered to investigate the noise. When they did, they heard Christ’s followers speaking in the native languages of the listeners. This was a supernatural event because the disciples of Christ suddenly spoke in languages they had not formally known or studied before.
This surprised the crowd, but Peter explained to them that when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were transformed and what they were experiencing was the outpouring of God’s promised Spirit on His people as prophesied in Joel 2:28-32
In Luke 24:49 Jesus told His disciples they’d receive power from high. The power He spoke of here isn’t the Holy Spirit coming into the disciples’ when they got saved. The disciples had already received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when they saw the risen Christ and He breathed His Spirit on them( John 20:19-22). Instead, Jesus told His disciples that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit would empower them to fulfill God’s divine mission (Matthew 28:19-20).
3. Second Infilling of the Holy Spirit in Acts.
Although the disciples were filled at Pentecost, it wasn’t the only time they received the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
The disciples who had received the infilling of the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2 received a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit again in chapter 4 when they prayed to the Lord. They needed to be filled on several occasions to carry out different assignments and lead a Christ exalting ministry.
From this, we know that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a repeated experience and we must regularly ask for a fresh infilling.
Are There Any Conditions to Receive the Baptism in The Holy Spirit?
The truth is that no amount of our ‘good works’ can earn us the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not meant only for goody-goody Christians. If this gift was bestowed only on perfect individuals, none of us would ever be filled with the Holy Spirit.
We receive this infilling not because of anything we do, but as a result of Christ’s finished work on the cross and resurrection, which enabled the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was outpoured as a result of what Christ did, not because of anything we did.
Is Baptism in The Holy Spirit Essential For Salvation?
Receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit has never been a condition for salvation. Our salvation is through grace alone, and every born-again believer receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ assured the repentant thief on the cross next to Him a place in paradise if he just believed in Him. Jesus didn’t give the thief a list of conditions for him to earn his salvation.
Although the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a condition for salvation, the Bible commands us to “be filled with the Spirit”. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is an experience that God desires for each of His children to have on a regular basis. Unlike the indwelling, the infilling is not a one-time event. There are many infillings of the Holy Spirit and God wants you to ask and be filled often.
Can We Lose The Holy Spirit?
This is where a lot of believers are often confused. Some say it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit with our sins causing Him to leave us while others say that the Holy Spirit permanently dwells within the believer and never forsakes him.
In order to get a clear understanding of this it is essential to distinguish how the Holy Spirit works in the indwelling and the infilling.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a work of permanent residency within the believer. You can never lose the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
And I will pray to the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;
Did you notice how the above verse clearly states that the Holy Spirit will dwell within us forever? There is no list of conditions mentioned here for us to fulfill to make the Holy Spirit abide in us. The Bible assures us that we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and that He will never abandon us. God’s promises are not fickle.
What About the Old Testament Verses Which Speak of the Holy Spirit Departing?
In the Old Testament, there are occurrences where the Holy Spirit selectively anointed certain people for carrying out specific tasks and also departed from them.
But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.
I Samuel 16:14 NKJV
People who do not believe that the Holy Spirit permanently dwells within the believer often use verses like the one above to prove that the Holy Spirit can leave a person.
In the Old Testament, God did not dwell in His people, but He did dwell amidst them like at Mount Sinai and the tabernacle. Also, the OT instances of the Holy Spirit leaving people like in the cases of Saul, Samson, and David were special anointings from God for His chosen leaders to carry out certain tasks. Therefore, what left them, and what David prayed to retain was not the indwelling of the Holy Spirit but rather the Holy Spirit’s anointing to rule in a godly manner.
Remember in the New Testament, Peter denied Christ three times despite which on the day of Pentecost, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, preached to a crowd from different parts of the world, and drew 3,000 souls to Christ. It is beautiful how the Holy Spirit graciously worked through a man who denied Christ by cursing and swearing, despite which the Holy Spirit never left Peter!
We will never lose the indwelling of the Holy Spirit but we can quench the infilling of the Holy Spirit which is given for specific purposes to each believer. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing work — and can be quenched.
What this means is that we can limit the Spirit’s infilling by resisting His will and stifling His guidance and gifts constantly. Such rejection hampers His work in us, since a basic quality of being filled with the Holy Spirit is yielding to Him. A backslidden believer can, however, always repent and ask for a fresh infilling since it’s a repeated experience.
Jesus Himself said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me” (John 7:37).
Ask Jesus to make you thirsty by increasing your desire for more of the Holy Spirit.
How to Live the Spirit-Filled Life?
Most people have reduced Christianity to a legalistic way of life like other world religions.
But true Christianity is not a list of rules with do’s and don’ts to be a good person. Christianity is not a religion based on self-efforts but a loving relationship where God Himself comes and lives within us. We accomplish much by walking in His Spirit instead of focusing on a list of laws that trigger the flesh. Humans weren’t created to strive alone. We were created to live the Christian life, empowered by Christ’s Spirit.
God’s Spirit equips us to do things we cannot do with our own strength. God wants us to live our lives being filled with His spirit.
When Paul said “Don’t be drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit”, he meant we must come under the control of the Spirit as a drunk comes under the control of the spirits.
In that sense, a person who knew you before you started living a Spirit-filled life would think you are drunk not because you lack self-control, but because you look and act so differently from your old ways. Again this transformation is not because of self-efforts but a result of submitting to Christ’s Spirit and letting Him work through you.
Notice in Ezekiel 36:27 God says,
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”
God fills us with His Spirit to help us do His will. Some people think once we are saved, it is our own responsibility to lead good Christian lives. But this is again not depending on God’s grace but going back to works of the flesh. Depend on Christ, not your flesh. Your flesh will fail you, Christ never will. Trust in His Spirit to strengthen and equip you in your Christian walk.