WHAT IS BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT? INDWELLING VS INFILLING
Baptism in the Holy Spirit – this controversial topic has been much debated amongst Christians today. Many Christians aren’t even aware that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from receiving the Holy Spirit at salvation.
The Holy Spirit comes and lives within us at the moment of our salvation i.e., the moment we repent of our sins and accept Christ as our savior. This initial receiving of the Spirit is also called the ‘indwelling’ of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells within us and we become His living temple.
Scripture and testimonies show that apart from this ‘indwelling’ of the Holy Spirit which takes place at a believer’s conversion, there’s another distinct encounter called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Also referred to as the “infilling of the Holy Spirit”.
This infilling helps you experience the Holy Spirit to a greater degree than the indwelling. Hence, it is to be earnestly desired. This infilling/baptism of the Holy Spirit is an overwhelming experience in which you can feel the power of the Holy Spirit operating within you. You also see certain manifestations occur like speaking in tongues.
Let us first begin by getting a clear idea of what exactly the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is so we can distinguish it from the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
- The indwelling of the Holy Spirit occurs when we first place our faith in Jesus as our Lord. This indwelling occurs at the exact moment of us accepting Christ and not after a couple of years of us doing ‘good works’ as Christians.
- The indwelling of the Holy Spirit happens only once in the life of the believer i.e. when we are saved.
- The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a gift of God to every believer. We receive this indwelling not because of anything we do but as a result of Christ’s finished work on the cross and His resurrection that enabled the coming of the Holy Spirit.
The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit Verses.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
2 Corinthians 6:16
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.
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 or the infilling is received through faith and prayer and is sometimes followed by the laying on of hands. Only those born again and indwelt by the Spirit can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The infilling results in the power of the Spirit working in our lives.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit – Why We Should Earnestly Desire it?
1. Jesus Himself Needed the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Jesus being conceived by the Holy Spirit, 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 a mere human, even Jesus needed the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus performed miracles and endured extreme trials only after He received this infilling of the Holy Spirit.
When did Jesus Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
At about thirty years of age, Jesus obtained water baptism from John the Baptist. When Jesus came out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove and filled Him with power (Matthew 3:16). From that time on, Jesus was led by the Spirit and walked in the power of the Spirit. He cast out evil spirits, healed sick people, conquered 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. The scripture commands us to not just be indwelt but also be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Why would anyone say no to the almighty God’s spirit when it is being freely given to every believer who asks!?
2. Infilling of Holy Spirit at Pentecost Empowered the Apostles.
About 10 days after Christ ascended into heaven, on the day of Pentecost, 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 place 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. And when they did, they heard Christ’s followers all speaking in the native languages of the listeners. This was a supernatural phenomenon because the followers of Christ spoke in languages they had not formally known or studied.
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. From this, we know that the infilling/baptism with the Holy Spirit is a repeated experience and must be often asked for by every believer.
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 only probable prerequisite is a willingness to obey the promptings of the Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not meant only for superstar Christians. If this gift was bestowed only on perfect individuals, none of us would ever be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Is Baptism of the Holy Spirit Essential for Salvation?
Baptism of 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 of the Holy Spirit is not a condition for salvation, the Bible commands us to “be filled with the Spirit”. Being filled in the Spirit is an experience God wants every child of His to repeatedly enjoy. 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.
Jhn 14:16 KJV – 16 And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;
Did you notice the above verse clearly says the Holy Spirit will abide with us forever? There is no list of conditions mentioned here for us to fulfill to make the Holy Spirit abide in us. The Bible guarantees us that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and He will never leave us.
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.
I Samuel 16:14 NKJV
But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.
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 lost.
Losing the infilling occurs by resisting His will and stifling His guidance constantly. Such rejection hampers His filling since a basic quality of being filled with the Holy Spirit is willingly being controlled by Him. The Holy Spirit only controls the believer who yields to God. If we want to live in rebellion, there’s no point in the infilling of the Holy Spirit and we thus put out the Spirit’s fire. 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 the ascended Christ 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 and its sinful nature. Humans weren’t created to strive alone. We were created to live the Christian life, empowered by Christ’s Spirit.
God wants us to live our lives being filled with His spirit. God’s Spirit equips us to do things we could not do with our mere human abilities.
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 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 sole 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 and His guidance to equip you in your Christian walk.