What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit

Even today, many people are not sure who the Holy Spirit is or what the baptism with the Holy Spirit means. This is just going to be a short series on the Holy Spirit, concentrating mainly on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and what that means to us as a Christian.

Jesus told the disciples that when he ascends to the Father, He will ask the Father to send another councellor. Jn 14:16 This means, Jesus was asking the Father to send someone who was just like Jesus; a companion, helper, advisor etc. Jesus told the disciples that it was a great advantage to them that the Holy Spirit would come:

Jn 16:6–7 “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. “

In conjunction with Jesus telling the disciples that the Holy Spirit would come, he tells them the coming of the Holy Spirit would be in the form of a baptism Acts 1:5.

“for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Now regarding this passage – Acts 1:5 – there is a misconception that some believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the same as when you first accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, however, there is a distinction between the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit and the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

When we read in Acts 1:5 John baptised with water but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit, the words baptised are not the same. Water baptism and baptism in the Holy Spirit are different, we know that these are different even through Jesus baptism. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is different again from when you are saved; you do not by default receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit when you are saved although you are born of the Holy Spirit when you saved (John 3:3-7).

When Paul was in Ephesus he came across some disciples (not the original disciples) there. He asked them directly if they were baptised in the Holy Spirit and expected a definite answer. Acts 19:2. The disciples knew they had not been baptised in the Holy Spirit, infact, they said they have never heard of him. So Paul asked them “Into what then were you baptised”? To which they answered Johns baptism. Acts 19:3.

From this we can see they were believers, accepted the Gospel message and were disciples (followers of Christ). They had been baptised in water, but had not been baptised in the Holy Spirit. So we know, accepting Jesus as Lord of your life and being baptised in water does not mean by default that you are baptised in the Holy Spirit. When Paul learned they had not yet been baptised in the Holy Spirit, he laid hands on them and they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit Acts 19:6.

So what is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Jesus told the disciples just before he ascended to the sit at the right hand of the Father that they were to remain in Jerusalem until they had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:4 He said this because they needed to be empowered and equipped for service.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is primarily for the purpose of service. It is the Holy Spirit who equips us with what we need in order to fulfill the calling God puts on our lives once we accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing. Jesus said the Holy Spirit will teach us (John 14:26) and empower us (Acts 1:8). This is not only for our benefit, but for the benefit of service:

Acts 1:8“Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses,”

So, the baptism in the Holy Spirit means we are empowered. Empowered for what? For the purposes of God. We are all called to be witnesses, but on top of that, there are other gifts of the Holy Spirit as mentioned in 1 Cor 12. Depending on the calling you have on your life will determine which gifts and ministry you will be equipped with.

Not everyone is called to be a Pastor and not everyone is called to be an evangelist. Just as you wouldn’t expect a Pastor of a Church in England to spend months in Africa you also wouldn’t expect an Evangelist to run the Children’s creche on a Sunday morning. The Holy Spirit equips us for the service he has called us into, and it is the baptism in the Holy Spirit that places us in the right position for the equipping.

We should also note that it is the Holy Spirit himself who decides which gifts to give to each person 1 Cor. 12:11, we cannot say we are a Pastor and then expect the Holy Spirit to give us what we need to Pastor a Church. Many have tried that, but it simply will not produce fruit that lasts if you are not called to be a Pastor. So we have to allow the Holy Spirit to work into us what he wants to work out and wait for him to reveal our calling.

The Holy Spirit is not ration conscious either, He will give whatever it is you need in order to fulfill the calling you have on your life. I have heard some say, well, if you have one gift, then thats it, you don’t get anymore? Or, if you are a Pastor, then you cannot be a teacher. Men always try to restrict what God can do, but if the Holy Spirit wants to use you as a preacher and teacher, then he will. He decides.

This of course is not an exhaustive explanation of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, but it shows that the Holy Spirit works in our lives in a variety of ways and the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a distinct event which you will know you either have or have not received and is the way the Holy Spirit chooses to equip you for service as a Christian.

If you know you have not received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, either find someone who has and ask them to pray for you, or ask God to baptise you with the Holy Spirit.