Baptism in the Holy Spirit
When we were talking about Pentecost the other week, we discussed the day of Pentecost, the day that the holy spirit came and dwelt amongst believers. This is also known as the first time that believers were baptised in the Holy spirit. That day started something and right through to this day, that same experience is available to all believers. There’s a verse in Acts 2:39 that says the gift of the Holy Spirit will be available to “you, all you children and all who are far away”, which refers to the generation that Paul was speaking to at the time, as well as all future generations.
Baptism in the holy spirit can be a kind of weird concept to get your head around. It is also called receiving the Holy spirit or being filled with the Holy Spirit.
But you can’t see the Holy Spirit?
You can’t see the holy spirit, but you can see the effects of the Holy Spirit. You can feel Him, hear Him and see the results of His presence, such as healings and miracles. When you first accept Jesus into your life, it is like a well and Jesus promises that when you drink from the well that He gives you, you shall never thirst again. When you are baptised in the Holy Spirit, the holy spirit is like a spring of water welling up continually from within. That spring becomes a river and rivers of life flow out of you.
Who can be baptised in the Holy Spirit?
This is a simple answer – anyone who has been born again – confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in His heart that Jesus is saved (Rom 10:9).
Do I need to be baptised in the Holy Spirit to be saved?
No – think back to the criminals on the cross with Jesus. One of them said Lord I believe in you and Jesus said surely you will be with me in paradise. There was no baptism of the spirit or a water baptism, just the confessing that Jesus was lord and the direct promise from Him that the criminal would be in paradise.
In addition, Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate event to giving your life to Jesus. In Acts 2, it says repent and be baptised and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Later in Acts 8, we see where people had accepted Jesus and been water baptised, but had not yet received the Holy Spirit.
Recapping so far: baptism in the holy spirit is not essential to go to heaven and is a separate event to water baptism and accepting Jesus. It is available to everyone who believes in Jesus.
So if I don’t need to be baptised in the Holy Spirit to go to heaven, why bother? Jesus said in Acts 1:8 that we would receive this power to be His witnesses – so the Holy Spirit gives us power – ability, efficiency and might – to lead a successful Christian life and be a witness for Him. It is God’s blessing for us, helps us influence our world, do signs and wonders in His name and generally do good things for Him.
When we accept Jesus into our lives, we have Christ in us and we are in Christ. We receive new life, God’s nature and the promise of eternal life. When we are filled with the spirit, we are empowered, enabled and receive God’s ability and power.
What happens to you if you are? What is the evidence? The evidence, as we saw on the day of Pentecost, is speaking in a new language, or a different tongue. Acts 2:4 describes the experience of all the believers after they received the holy spirit – they began to speak in other tongues.
Tongues – what is that? Isn’t that a bit weird?
Tongues is simply the ability to speak another language, given to you supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. It is for personal use, primarily a prayer language, enabling you to speak directly with God. For an unbeliever, it is a strange concept, when you have personally experienced the gift of another language via the holy spirit, it is not so strange. To people who overhear another speaking in tongues, they can wonder if that person is faking it or that it’s not a real language. But speech therapists have said you can’t make it up and you can’t teach it. If you don’t recognise the language, that’s ok too – there’s over 6500 languages on earth, and nobody has heard them all – many language sound different and not “real”. There are many many stories of believers speaking in their own prayer language – the language given supernaturally, that they’ve never learnt – and being overheard by somebody who understands what they are saying.
You might say – it’s ok, I already believe in Jesus, I’m ok, I don’t need the holy spirit. Yes, that’s true, you don’t need to be baptised in the Holy Spirit to have Jesus in your life, to live a life for Him and to go to heaven. But the power of the Holy Spirit will help you in your daily life.
We might leave it there and come back another time and take a deeper look at the Holy Spirit and the special language of tongues.
In the mean time though, if you’d like to know more, take a look at this booklet written by Bill Vasilakis from CFC Seaton, another church in our CRC denomination.