There are sincere Christians who have been taught that when you receive the New Birth, you receive the Holy Spirit. This is true.
But where they introduce a degree of falsehood is when they teach that there is no other experience for you beyond the New Birth, that at the moment of salvation, you received the baptism with the Holy Spirit and have all the Holy Spirit you can have.
To remove this blindfold, we need to back away from “denominational positions” and allow the light of Scripture illuminate our minds.
Paul Enns, mentioned in the first article, wrote that:
Pentecostals tend to confuse the terms for baptism of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit. They suggest the same Greek phrase (en pneumatic) is used to describe believers being placed into the body of Christ at salvation (1 Cor. 12:13) and being empowered for service subsequent to salvation (Acts 1:5). (The Moody Handbook of Theology, Moody Publishers: Chicago. 2008 p. 677)
At this juncture, I’m not convinced that this scholar is accurately presenting the beliefs of those whom he disagrees with.
He obviously subscribes to the argument that the Holy Spirit baptism is indistinguishable from regeneration. A Bible passage often appealed to is Ephesians 4:4-5
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (RSV)
This verse is used to teach that there is only one baptism available to the believer but in context, it is referring to baptism into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. This occurs at the New Birth. It is a baptism in (or by) the Holy Spirit that Paul was referring to in 1 Cor. 12:13, which was discussed earlier.
But the type of baptism conferred by Jesus on members of His body, which we are discussing, is the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).
Hebrews 6:2 speaks of “the doctrine of baptisms” (plural). This is referring to all the baptisms available in the New Covenant: first is the baptism in or by the Holy Spirit – which saves us, then we have water baptism and there is also baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Once you note the prepositions used, you can distinguish the first one from the third.
Knowing the difference
Another distinction between the New Birth and the Baptism with the Holy Spirit can be seen in what Jesus did when He appeared to the disciples after His resurrection:
“So Jesus said to them again, “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)
Just as God had breathed into Adam the breath of life at creation, Jesus breathed resurrection life into His disciples. It was an act of recreation – an impartation of life into their spirits by the Holy Spirit. This is what we call the New Birth or regeneration.
Yet, it’s clear that the baptism with the Holy Spirit was still in the future for them:
“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Lk. 24:49)
“For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5)
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8)
Earlier, Jesus had declared them clean by the Word (Jn. 15:3) and He breathed the Holy Spirit into them making them born again. But Jesus didn’t say they “already received all the Holy Spirit that’s there to have” because they still needed to be clothed with power from above. They received this infilling and outflow of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
A man may be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and still not be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
In regeneration there’s an impartation of life, and the one who received it is saved; in the baptism with the Holy Spirit there’s an impartation of power and the one who receives it is fitted for service.
Consider the following passages:
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)
“Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
“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. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” (Acts 10:44-46)
“He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” 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)
“God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Heb. 2:4)
Notice the phrases used in the NT to describe one and the same experience: “baptized with the Holy Spirit,” “clothed with power from on high,” “filled with the Holy Spirit,” “the Holy Spirit fell upon them,” “the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out,” “receive the Holy Spirit,” “the Holy Spirit came upon them,” and “gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
From the question Paul asked the Ephesian believers in Acts 19:2 and their response, it’s clear that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may and ought to know whether he has received it or not.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is God’s gift reserved only for His children; it’s not for the unsaved. The world can’t receive or know the Spirit of Truth, and that’s why we don’t preach the Holy Spirit to the world. Jesus said:
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)
But Jesus Christ is God’s gift to the world (John 3:16). That’s why we preach Christ to the world, so as many that accept Him will be born again. So it requires a travesty of logic to confuse the New Birth with Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 8, the Bible separates out these two experiences that one would have to be mischievous to conflate both.
“12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”
The Samaritans were saved when Philip preached Christ to them, they were also baptized in water as a public demonstration of their salvation – they had the witness of the Holy Spirit within them – but the apostles Peter and John certainly didn’t think the new converts had all the Holy Spirit they could have.
The apostles came down and prayed for the Samaritan believers, not to be saved, but to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit – a subsequent definite experience!
Saul of Tarsus was converted on the way to Damascus. He believed in Jesus as Lord and surrendered his life to Him. Then the Lord appeared to another Christian, Ananias, in a vision and instructed him to go to Saul and lay hands on him:
“Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17)
Notice two things, Ananias addressed Saul as “brother” and he didn’t say “the Lord sent me here to lay hands on you so you could get saved.” Why? Because Paul was already saved, but now he needed to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit for the assignment God had for him.
Yet it may shock you that some teachers will tell you that the book of Acts is merely historical, so we can’t derive doctrines about the Holy Spirit baptism from it. That’s a cop out because:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16)
Since the book of Acts is part of Scripture, it is profitable for doctrine. We can’t dismiss it because the events describe in it conflict with our presuppositions.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not just an event described in the NT, it’s also a doctrine and an experience that is real today.
Next, I will be discussing the nature, purposes and possibility of the Holy Spirit baptism.