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What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? (Part Three)

Pentecost by Gustave DoreMissing Out

Some people emphasize the supernatural work of the Spirit, but understand this mostly as tongues and miraculous gifts.

Others rightly see problems with that approach, but end up putting no emphasis on the supernatural work of the Spirit.

As a result, many believers miss out on what God wants to give them by His Spirit.

What God Wants to Give Us

Throughout the New Testament we are called to pursue the supernatural work of the Spirit (Luke 11:13; John 7:37-38; Eph 5:18).

But the main work of the Spirit is not miraculous gifts; it’s revealing the glory of Jesus so powerfully that we are overflowingly satisfied in him (John 4:13-14; John 16:13-14; 2Cor 3:18).

That’s the work of the Spirit we are to seek.  And God introduces us to this work when He first saves us — by baptizing us with the Holy Spirit.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a supernatural experience occurring at conversion in which the Holy Spirit enables us to see and feel Jesus’ glory so much that our hearts are overflowingly satisfied in Him.

In part one and part two we covered many New Testament Scriptures on this topic, and gave examples from John Bunyan and Augustine.

And here in part three we’ll continue through the rest of the New Testament.

All of Paul’s readers experienced the Spirit bearing witness that they are children of God

… you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God… (Rom 8:15-16)

Earlier in Romans Paul says God pours His love into our hearts by the Spirit (Rom 5:5).  That’s how the Spirit bears witness that we are children of God.  From time to time the Spirit will enable us to feel God’s actual love for us so powerfully that we know we are his children, and respond by crying out “Abba! Father!”

And who gets to experience this?  Paul assumes all his readers have experienced this.  So if every believer has experienced this, then no believer has not, which means this is given to us when we become believers.

So Romans 8:15-16 is another way of describing the baptism of the Spirit.

Paul says we all drank of the Spirit as we were baptized in one Spirit

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1Cor 12:13)

Is this talking about the baptism of the Spirit?  Yes, because the phrase “baptism of the Spirit” in the Greek is literally “baptism IN the Spirit,” which is the phrase Paul uses here.  And here Paul says every believer has been baptized in the Spirit, which means being joined into the body of Christ.

Not only that, it also means being enabled to drink of one Spirit.  That’s how Jesus described the baptism of the Spirit — as drinking the Spirit’s living water (John 4:13-14; John 7:37-39).

So according to 1Cor 12:13 all believers are baptized in the Spirit which means drinking the heart-thirst quenching water of the Spirit.

When God saves us he shines the light of Jesus’ glory in our hearts

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2Cor 4:6)

Our unbelief, and Satan’s power, had blinded us to Christ’s glory (2Cor 4:4).  This means we could agree to facts about Christ, but we could not see and feel the glory of Christ.  But when God saved us that changed.  Suddenly — we saw.  We felt.  We loved.  We worshiped. 

And how did that happen?  Six verses earlier Paul tells us — it was by the Spirit (2Cor 3:18).

So here’s a supernatural experience given at the point of conversion by the Holy Spirit.  Which means it’s another description of the baptism of the Spirit.

Paul assumes his readers can remember when they received the Spirit

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? (Gal 3:2)

Paul assumes all his readers had received the Spirit.  And to help them see that we are saved by faith, not works of the Law, he asks them to remember what they were doing when they received the Spirit.

Did they receive the Spirit while keeping the law, like when they ordered their eggs without bacon?  No.  Was it while they were hearing with faith, like when they were trusting all God promised to be to them in Christ Jesus?  Yes.

So it’s not that receiving the Spirit is the same thing as hearing with faith.  It’s that receiving the Spirit is an experience that occurred when they heard with faith.

So Paul assumes that all of his readers had received the Spirit, and that they remembered what they were doing when they received the Spirit.  Which shows that conversion includes a supernatural experience of receiving the Spirit.

I Hope You Are Persuaded

I hope these Scriptures persuade you that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a supernatural experience occurring at conversion in which the Holy Spirit enables us to see and feel Jesus’ glory so much that our hearts are overflowingly satisfied in Him.

Lord willing I will do one more blog post on why this is important.

But for now, here’s John Wesley’s story.

For months John Wesley had been seeking salvation by his own efforts.  But he grew more and more discouraged because he did not understand salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone.  But one day that changed.

Here’s what happened —

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate-Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. 

About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. 

I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation: And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.  (Wesley’s Works, 1:103, emphasis his)

He heard the Gospel and trusted Christ.  But there was more.  He experienced the Holy Spirit warming his heart with the love of God, and giving him assurance that he was a child of God.  He had been baptized with the Spirit.

Comments?  Feedback? 

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(Picture is by Gustav Dore and is in the public domain.)

Category: The Work of the Spirit


4 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    Hey Steve,

    I strongly agree that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at our conversion. As Paul testifies in 2 Cor.4:6, we were in darkness unable to see the glory of Christ, until God’s Spirit shed the light of the knowledge of the glory Christ Jesus into our spiritually blind, dark hearts.

    Salvation is the work of God’s Spirit, we are unable to come to, or see Christ glory because we were dead in our sins. God pours out His Spirit into those whom He has called and chosen, because it gives Him great pleasure to show His grace to those who don’t deserve it.

    We are blessed, and God is blessed by our freely choosing to come to Him by the faith that He has poured (baptized us) into vessels that would have otherwise been destined to wrath. All of it is the work of God’s Spirit.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Paul,

      Great to hear from you — as usual. And it is such a glorious truth that salvation starts with an outpouring of God’s very presence into our hearts — what a merciful Savior. Let’s press on in trusting Him and making Him known, brother!


  2. neil says:

    i am confused, As of this generation,can we still received Holy Spirit directly from God,or the way some pastors doing saying “received the holy spirit”…They said(not sure)..the Holy Spirit are only given to the apostles and it stop..where in the bible it say we as of this generation can still received the Holy Spirit….I want to know,help me of being ignorant…thanks & God Bless!!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Neil,

      Thank you so much for your question.

      In the book of Acts it is not just the apostles who received the Holy Spirit, it’s everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.

      That’s what Peter promises all his listeners in Acts 2:38. It’s also what we read in Acts 8:14ff; Acts 10:44; and Acts 19:6.

      I hope that helps — let me know if you have any other questions.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

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