The confusion about Spirit Baptism comes from several sources: a lack of understanding of the Spirit’s work in a Christian’s life, the expectation of certain experiences to be associated with it, and even misinterpretation of our English translations. God’s Word is clear about the truths He wants us to know so we can have confidence in what He gives to us.
What were they expecting?
The Old Testament Jews used water rituals for cleansing and initiation into special groups, especially for Gentiles who converted to Judaism. We get our English word “baptize” from the Greek word baptizo, which came from the process for dyeing cloth. Whether the cloth was sprayed, dipped, or immersed, the significance was taking on the identity of the dye.
When Jesus taught about Spirit Baptism, He chose the word baptisma, which means “immersion.” In Spirit Baptism, we are dyed with Christ, immersed into Him never to come out again.
What did they receive?
Truth #1. Spirit Baptism is the Spirit’s work of indwelling the believer.
Every believer receives the complete Holy Spirit the moment they trust in Christ. Romans 8:9
Truth #2. Spirit Baptism is the Spirit’s work of uniting us with Christ–identifying us with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
At Spirit Baptism, we are fused together with who Christ Jesus is and what He has done. His death provided us with forgiveness of sins and His resurrection gave us new life. That’s the process of us being born again. Nowhere in the New Testament is any believer commanded or exhorted to be Spirit baptized. It’s God’s gift initiated by God to those who put their faith in Christ. Romans 6:3,5
Truth #3. Spirit Baptism is the Spirit’s work of making all believers permanent members of the Body of Christ.
The Bible teaches that all believers have been Spirit baptized and placed permanently into the Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13
Truth #4. Spirit Baptism occurs once and for all at the salvation of each believer.
In Acts, God was introducing something new, and He didn’t follow a set pattern at first. So, it is not wise to selectively choose a passage from Acts and use it as a doctrinal statement on howto receive the Holy Spirit, especially up to the point when the Gentiles as a group were added to the Church. But, absolutely positively, everyone who believed received Spirit Baptism. Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 4:4-5
Spirit Baptism is a permanent condition and occurs once. Water baptism can be repeated at different times in your life. Spirit Baptism cannot be repeated because a person would have to be removed from the Body of Christ in order to be reinstated again by a second baptism. Scripture teaches that the Spirit will be with us forever.John 14:16
Truth #5. Spirit Baptism is a change of state and is not validated by any particular outward sign.
By faith in Jesus Christ, a person goes from being without God to being with God forever; from being filthy with sin to being cleansed of all sin; and from being an enemy of God to becoming the Temple of God. God does this whether we feel it or not.
What might trip you up
You may expect an experience similar to what they had at Pentecost or a few other places in Acts to validate that Spirit Baptism has happened to you. But, Spirit Baptism is not necessarily evidenced by that particular experience or any other. It is primarily a change of state from being separated from Christ to being united with Him receiving everything we need for life and godliness at that instant. John 3:8
In Acts, not every new Christian is said to have had the experience of speaking in tongues. And, in less than 30 years, when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, only some are said to have the gift of speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10-11). The rest are given other gifts by the Holy Spirit. Nowhere does Paul exhort them to be Spirit Baptized to receive the tongues gift. And, in the masterful book of Romans, tongues are never mentioned.
The gift of the Spirit is separate from the gifts of the Spirit. Whether or not you sensed anything, Spirit Baptism happened to you when you placed your trust in Jesus Christ.
Experiencing Spirit power
The whole New Testament confirms that the greatest evidence of the power of God in a person’s life is not in the gifts given. It is in the miracle of a transformed life that comes to us through the Spirit living in us.
You can see evidence that the Holy Spirit lives inside you, empowering you to live and serve Jesus. That’s the kind of experience we can all embrace and enjoy. And, with that, you might get a sense that something’s about to happen. And, life as you have known it will never be the same as you embark on the adventure God has for you.
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with His Spirit’s transforming power. And say yes to a life of adventure with Him!
Until next time, I’m Melanie Newton. And, this is Series 7 of Satisfied.