Baptism in the Holy Spirit (In-Depth Study)


Cup being filled with water

There is much confusion about the Holy Spirit within the body of Christ, especially when it comes to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is sad, considering this baptism is one of the foundational doctrines of the early church. 

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go onto perfection, not laying again the FOUNDATION of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of BAPTISMS, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2)

Notice that the writer specifically made the word baptism plural, when referring to the foundational doctrines of Christ. Many Christians only know of one baptism, few have never been taught that there is more than one. Which is absurd if you think about it, considering that this is suppose to be a foundational teaching. 

I’m not going to go over in detail each individual baptism that the Bible refers to today simply because of time and because this article is about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. But I am going to briefly mention each one, so that you are aware of them and so you can see that there is multiple baptisms. 

Doctrine of Baptisms

When we look at any sort of baptism, there are two keys that we have to pay attention to. Those keys are (1) who is doing the baptizing, and (2) what are they being baptized into.

  1. The baptism into the body of Christ. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews of Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Who was doing the baptizing? The Holy Spirit. What are the believers getting baptized into? The body of Christ. This baptism takes place when someone gets born again, it is their entrance into the family of God (Body of Christ).
  2. The baptism in the name of Jesus. “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:47-48). This is water baptism. I covered this extensively in another article, you can find that article here (Water baptism (Complete Study)
  3. The baptism in the Holy Spirt. John the Baptist said that “He (Jesus) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Based on this verse we see that (1) Jesus is the baptizer and (2) Holy Spirit is what we are baptized into. We will cover this in this article shortly.
  4. The baptism in Fire. “…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12). I’ve met Christians who cry out for the fire of God and I get what they’re saying, they want Gods power to be manifest in their lives, but the baptism in fire is not the same thing as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Notice how John the Baptist talks about Gods wrath after he mentions fire. The baptism in fire is not Gods power, but Gods wrath upon those who don’t repent. It could also be called hell.

Purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

The baptism in the Holy Spirt is the doorway to experiencing God in your life. 

Receiving the Holy Spirit is so important to the Lord that He commanded the apostles not to go anywhere until they have received the Spirt (Luke 24:49,Acts 1:4)

Jesus revealed the purpose of the baptism in Acts chapter 1:5&8.

“For John truly baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now… YOU SHALL RECEIVE POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The purpose of the Holy Spirit coming upon the believer is to receive power for service. When you are filled with the Spirit, you literally receive the power, or ability, of God to carry out the commission to be His witness.

A Separate Experience

There are some denominations of Christianity that teach that once a person is born again they have all the Holy Spirit there is to have. This is simply not true. It is very clear in scripture that being born of the Spirit (John 3:3-7) and being filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:4) are separate experiences. 

When a person is born of the Spirit they receive the very nature of God on the inside of them. Their spirit man comes alive and is recreated (Ephesians 2:4-5) and they become sealed with the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14). But when a believer is baptized in the Spirit they receive the power of God for service.

After Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead He appeared to His disciples and in John 20:22 it says, that “He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” But later Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes upon them (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4). 

So what’s going on here? How could they receive Holy Spirit, but then later have to wait for Him? 

When Jesus breathed on the disciples that was their born again experience. What does the scripture say God did when He created Adam?

“the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

The disciples were recreated at the moment Jesus breathed on them. 

We see that receiving salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit are separate experiences all throughout the book of Acts. 

“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:14-17)

These people in Samaria had just become disciples (Acts 8:12,14), but yet the church in Jerusalem sent two apostles to make sure that they would receive Holy Spirit. Why would they do that if Holy Spirit is automatic at conversion? 

“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:1-2).

If the Holy Spirit comes the moment we have faith in Christ why did Paul ask this question?

“So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:2-6)

It is beyond clear that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from receiving salvation. 

Speaking in Tongues

 As you saw in Acts 19 verse 6, Paul laid hands on the new believers and it says that they “spoke with tongues and prophesied” when the Holy Spirit came upon them. We see this pattern that when a believer receives the Spirit they speak with tongues. We see this in Acts 2:4, Acts 10:45-46, and Acts 19:6. The tongues we receive when we’re filled with Holy Spirit is not a known language.

“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for NO ONE understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries” I Corinthians 14:2).

Speaking in tongues is the Bible evidence that you have received Holy Spirit. 

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also”
(Acts 10:44-45).

How did they know that the Gentiles received Holy Spirit? 

“For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:46).

I have an article that covers speaking in tongues in more detail, you can read it here.

Receive Holy Spirit

Acts chapter 8 and 19 show how important receiving the Holy Spirit was to these early believers. So much so that the first thing Paul asks when seeing some disciples was “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” 

He didn’t say, “hey guys, how’s it going?” Or “hey guys, how’d you come to faith?” Not that these questions are bad, but Paul‘s question shows the urgency the apostles had when it came to believers receiving the Spirit. 

So my question to you is, did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?

How To Receive the Holy Spirit

  1. You must be a follower of Jesus. “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). You become a follower of Christ by believing in Jesus and turning away from sin (See What is the Gospel?). Only those who follow Jesus receive Holy Spirit.
  2. You must ask the Father. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).
  3. You must have faith. Paul makes it clear that we receive the Spirit by faith. “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?”(Galatians 3:2). And again he says, “…that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith(Galatians 3:14)

If you are saved, and you ask God in faith for the Holy Spirit, the word of God promises you that you will receive Him. 

There are teachers out there that stress that when someone receives Holy Spirit they must have a physical manifestation (i.e tingling of the hands, weighty presence, falling under the power, etc).

This is just not true. Holy Spirit is not a manifestation, He is a person! Sometimes people get caught up on receiving a manifestation that they forget to simply receive Holy Spirit. Although these manifestations can happen, they are not a requirement, nor should we seek after them. 

We are called to live by faith, not feelings. We’re saved by faith. We’re water baptized by faith. We receive the Spirt by faith. 

If you have never been baptized in the Holy Spirit just ask God in faith right now for Holy Spirit and begin speaking in tongues. It’s that simple.

Pray, “Father, I recognize I need Your Holy Spirit to live this life of following Jesus. Right now, I ask you to baptize me in Your Spirit. Thank you Lord. I receive you Holy Spirit in Jesus name.”

If you just prayed with me, begin to speak in tongues. You don’t need God to control your mouth, just start speaking, believing that Holy Spirit has filled you and that He is giving you the supernatural words as you speak. 

If you have just received Holy Spirit or if you have any questions please contact me through email.

I hope this article assisted you in your walk with the Lord. If you enjoyed this article, please consider giving a donation of any amount by going to the support page. The support I receive from you enables The Biblical Foundation to reach more people with the teachings of the Word of God.

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