Summary: Everything God does is through or by the Holy Spirit. It is the active part God in time and space and is without a doubt the most misunderstood and undervalued member of the Trinity. Without the Holy Spirit we would not know God period.

“The Baptism of the Holy Spirit”

Everything God does is through or by the Holy Spirit. It is the active part God in time and space and is without a doubt the most misunderstood and undervalued member of the Trinity. Without the Holy Spirit we would not know God period.

Every time the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the New Testament it is in the context of some kind of activity. Whether it be witnessing, miracles, other gifts like prophecy. Even the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians are manifestations of human character set against the works of the flesh, and they come by walking in the Spirit so that you do not gratify the desires of the flesh.

So what is the baptism with the Holy Spirit and when does it happen? And does the Bible teach that we receive it when we believe?

First of all let’s get the term right. It is the baptism with or in the Spirit, not by the Spirit. Let’s start with the question, do you receive the Spirit of God at the moment you truly believe? Well yes… but. Where does it say in the Bible that you receive the Holy Spirit the moment you believe? Well, the truth is it doesn’t really. There are many places where it says believers have the Holy Spirit in them, but it doesn’t say exactly when. It is inferred in three specific passages used to tell us that it is received at conversion. Listen carefully to what they say:

First Corinthians 12:13 declares, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” This says there is one baptism, and it seems to be about the baptism in or by the Spirit, but it doesn’t say when. It just says that all true believers are part of that baptism.

Romans 8:9 tells us that if a person does not possess the Holy Spirit, he or she does not belong to Christ: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

Well, this certainly doesn’t prove that we receive it at the moment of belief. In fact it puts it in question because he is talking to believers and saying if you have the Spirit of God living in you. He is really saying that if the Spirit lives in you, you are controlled by it.

Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation for all those who believe: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.” This is picked up in chapter 4 verse 30 and what it essentially means is not that we are filled with the Holy Spirit, but only that we are sealed, or marked, or set apart by the Spirit when we believe.

In both instances the context is talking about not sinning and being predestined to an inheritance. When we believe, the Spirit sets us apart from the unbelieving, but it is a work of the Spirit upon us, not something we do by the Spirit. And the other qualification is that it says when you heard the gospel of salvation and believed, which I have said many times literally means to put in trust with. What happens when you put money in trust? You are literally giving it away to someone who you trust will have it when you want it. It is not mere mental assent.

The key verse in my opinion that puts it to rest is Jesus’ own words in John14 verse 17. The Spirit of truth who the world cannot receive because it can’t see Him and doesn’t know Him… He dwells with you, and shall be in you. He is not in them yet even though they believe and are baptised. He is with them. Think of it as the Holy Spirit comes to you and seals you at your conversion, but he doesn’t come upon you or in you until you are baptized or filled with Him.

So is baptism with the Spirit the same as being filled with the Holy Spirit? Filled and baptized mean very similar things. To be baptized is to be completely immersed or overwhelmed by. The word for filled in the Greek means to be filled to the full so there is room for nothing else, literally crammed. Either way the idea is that the Spirit has complete control of us and there is no other influence whether it be from inside as a filling, or from outside like a baptism.

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