Baptism of the Holy Spirit can raise many questions. Has a person experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit or not? Is it a special experience or does everyone who has been converted experience it? Can you be baptized by the Holy Spirit without having spoken in tongues? Are all those who speak in tongues baptized in the Holy Spirit?
Why should we seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Why do you think there are so many questions about it? People don’t think about the fruit of the Spirit, but only about the gifts and the experience. People speak about their experience with receiving the baptism, and as often as not they exaggerate it and want to lead others into the same manner of experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Then the person who is seeking to be baptized by the Spirit is inclined to be more occupied with the manner in which to be baptized than in actually receiving the Holy Spirit. This is a great hindrance for many who seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus makes it clear to the apostles why they are to receive the Holy Spirit and what the sign will be. That makes it simple and reassuring. “But 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.” Acts 1:8.
The apostles had no idea how they would experience it, but when they did experience it, they were not in doubt as to their experience. The fact that it did not occur in the same manner every time is evident from what Peter says: “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as on us at the beginning.” Acts 11:15. Cornelius’ household had no idea either of how they were to experience it. Yet in the beginning it was so difficult for the Jews to believe that the Gentiles had also partaken of this grace that Peter and the others needed this sign to be sure that it was right.
It is written about praying to spend it on one’s pleasures. (James. 4:3) It is quite common, even in our days, when a person seeks the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that it is for the sake of the experience and for the purpose of receiving the gifts of the Spirit. This is the norm among those who dispute the manner of experiencing it, and then they speak so passionately about their personal experience.
However, there are many spirits. The Holy Spirit is also called “the Spirit of truth.” (John 16:13) He will lead us into all truth. Yet among those who boast of their baptism in the Holy Spirit we see a lot of division and strife. I wonder if it isn’t because they are filled with other spirits?
Why do we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Moreover, Paul exhorts those who have received the Spirit that they must walk in the Spirit, and if they do, they will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. In other words, it is possible to receive the Spirit without walking in Him. Such people are always more occupied with the gifts than with bearing the fruits of the Spirit. You cannot bear the fruits of the Spirit without having received the Spirit. Moreover, if you are eager to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit in order to be endued with power from on high for the purpose of bearing the fruit of the Spirit and being Jesus’ witness, then there is no risk of being filled with other spirits. (Galatians 5:22)
We read that the works of the flesh are evident. Among them are fornication, strife, jealousy, anger, etc. Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. The important thing is not whether you have spoken in tongues or not, but whether you have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If you have, then you are Christ’s. (Galatians 5:16-26)
The message of the Scriptures is clear. It is not a matter of the manner in which you are baptized by the Holy Spirit, but “if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13. By this it should be easy for an individual to know whether he has experienced being endued with power from on high or not. It is important for a person to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit in order to receive power from on high to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires, so he can belong to Jesus Christ. Moreover, it is important to continue to be led by the Spirit into all truth; then you can seek spiritual gifts as you sense a need for them, driven by love. (1 Corinthians 12:7,31) We read about the love that is to motivate us in Chapter 13.
Not everyone who is converted to God experiences his or her conversion in the same way; neither does everyone experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the same way. Also, conversion and baptism of the Holy Spirit can occur at the same time in certain individuals. God has not set a fixed pattern for it, but you must not rest before you have been endued with power from on high; then the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ will be your glorying. (Galatians 5:24, 6:14) Then, “having been set free from sin,” you will have become a servant of God. (Romans 6:22)
This article has been translated from Norwegian and has been adapted from the article titled “What is the sign of the baptism in the Spirit,” first published in BCC’s periodical Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures) in April 1976.
© Copyright Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag
Read here about the covenant of baptism: