Summary: Perhaps one of the most important yet least understood truths of the bible is the infilling and baptism of the Holy Spirit. I have come to realise that this is an unchanging truth but as God has led me to a deeper knowledge and experience my understanding
“Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:21-22
Perhaps one of the most important yet least understood truths of the bible is the infilling and baptism of the Holy Spirit. I have come to realise that this is an unchanging truth but as God has led me to a deeper knowledge and experience my understanding of the truth has changed. When I was first converted I was taught that I was filled at the moment of salvation and I assumed that this was true. I did not realise that Jesus gave His disciples the Holy Spirit and then promised that the Holy Spirit would later baptise them. The Bible states we receive the Holy Spirit at the moment we surrender our hearts to Christ (1 John 3:9, Romans 8:9-10, 1 Corinthians 6:19).
God puts His Spirit within us and we are born as a child of God, but this is the beginning, not the end. It is without question that in John 20:21-22 the disciples clearly received the Holy Spirit, but the real power was to come later at Pentecost when the power of the Holy Spirit would change fearful disciples into men that God would use to bring His message with power and authority. Jesus said, “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:5). The disciples believed in Jesus, received the free gift of salvation, were sealed by the Spirit, and were baptised by the Spirit 40 days later while they prayed in the upper room. Fearful men hiding from persecution became men who proclaimed the gospel to the people they had feared.
Sadly because many people do not understand there is a difference between these two events, they do not seek the greater power of God that will completely transform their lives and ministries. Every person who truly repents and invites Jesus Christ to be Lord and Saviour receives the Holy Spirit. 1 John 3 calls this God’s seed and teaches that this is when we are born of God, His seed remains in us. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate event when we receive the power of God for His service. It is God’s will and command that believers be filled. When the Spirit fills someone, the blessing is not for them alone, but to equip and empower them to do God’s will. The apostles were filled and immediately had the power to preach and the boldness to stand before their enemies and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. The focus is on God’s will and His will always produces fruit. If a person is not producing fruit, they are not filled. When God is in control of our lives, we will desire to do His will. Each time we see the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Bible, the immediate response is to go out and do. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, it is life changing and ministry empowering. It is never centred on us, but is always centred on Jesus Christ. The focus is always directed toward bringing people to Christ.
The lack of power in the modern church isn’t because God’s power is diminished, but because we no longer seek God with all our heart. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” To be filled by the Spirit there must be a hunger and thirst for God. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” A believer who is serious and truly hungry and thirsty for God, will never be satisfied until they are filled with God.
There are various opinions about the number of spiritual gifts and how to categorise them. The Gifts of the Spirit that are bestowed on Christians are described in the New Testament, primarily in 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4. Gifts of the spirit are clearly distinguished from the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). The gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 can be divided into three categories, “gifts of knowledge” (wisdom, knowledge, discernment), “gifts of speech” (tongues, interpretation, prophecy), and “gifts of power” (faith, healing, miracles). Gifts mentioned in the New Testament include:
- Help / helping (1 Corinthians 12:28)
- Administration / guidance (1 Corinthians 12:28)
- Ministry / serving (Romans 12:7)
- Encouragement (Romans 12:8)
- Giving (Romans 12:8)
- Leading (Romans 12:8)
- Mercy (Romans 12:8)
- Evangelists (Ephesians 4:11)
- Pastors (Ephesians 4:11)