The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is a very controversial subject within the Christian community. Although Christians of all denominations believe in a soteriology which includes a baptism with the Holy Spirit, theologically, all do not agree as to the time and manner in which a believer is baptized with the Holy Spirit.
It is our belief that the Holy Spirit baptism is promised to every believer regenerated by faith in Christ. However, not every believer is baptized with the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion.
As we examine the new Testament record found in the book of Acts, we shall discover, it is indeed possible to be converted to Christ and regenerated by the Spirit, but yet not receive the experience known as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit until some time afterward.
Why Must We Study the Book of Acts?
The book of Acts is the only history book in the New Testament. Unlike the epistles, which are letters written to churches or individuals to instruct believers in the faith; in Acts, Luke records with great detail the historical setting and chronology of the first century church as it unfolds, from the time leading up to the day of Pentecost 33 AD and the years immediately following.
While the epistles are written to those who had already received the experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the book of Acts alone provides the historical record of how some of the churches and individuals to whom the epistles were written were saved and subsequently received the experience known as the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Without studying the book of Acts, one cannot understand or appreciate the distinction between being born again of the Spirit and being baptized with the Spirit. The theological contribution of each historical account of early holy spirit with the Holy Spirit is recorded with such detail as to provide a consistent biblical theology with respect to New Testament accounts of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Although many preachers shy away from the Holy Spirit phenomenon witnessed in Acts, or attempt to explain away the implications of the truths presented there, to disregard or simply ignore this authentic historical record is to be negligent of rightly dividing the word of truth.
It is my opinion that the failure of many bible teachers to truthfully and accurately portray the biblical record in the book of Acts may be the sole reason why a large segment of the body of Christ is lacking in the power of God and in understanding the workings of His Spirit.
Throughout the remainder of this writing we shall attempt to address the following:
1) What is the baptism with the Holy Spirit?
2) Is the baptism with the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation or concurrent with salvation?
3) Is there is a difference between being baptized by the Spirit and being baptized with the Spirit?
4) What is the difference between receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit speaking with other tongues and receiving the gift of tongues?
5) Is there is a difference between the purpose of speaking in other tongues as a sign and the purpose of the spiritual gift of divers (diverse) kinds of tongues?
There are some who hold the view, to be born of the Spirit and to be baptized with the Spirit are essentially one and the selfsame experience. Others hold the view, to be born again of the Spirit is indeed different from the baptism with the Spirit, but both always occur simultaneously. However, does the Acts’ record support these positions?
Our study reveals, the Acts record shows that some believers did experience the Baptism with the Holy Spirit subsequent to conversion and any public confession of faith in Christ, while others received the baptism with the Spirit prior to any public confession of faith in Christ.
As we examine the Acts record, we shall soon discover that:
The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is indeed different from the Birth of the Spirit. When we examine both experiences closely we find the following to be true:
1) The birth of the Spirit is an act of regeneration and the re-birth of the believer into Christ in salvation.
2) The baptism with the Spirit is an act of sanctification and the setting apart of the believer for service.
Why is this distinction important?
In regeneration, every believer is baptized by the Spirit into (gk. eis) Christ.
In sanctification, every believer is baptized by Christ into (eis) the Holy Spirit.
Into One Body, Into One Spirit
The following scriptural references will show that there are two distinct operations of the Godhead with regard to being born-again of the Spirit and subsequently being baptized with the Spirit.
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12: 13) KJV.
“And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost” (Jn. 1: 32-33) KJV.
The word by in 1 Cor. 12: 13 describes the regenerative agency of the person of the Holy Spirit, while the word with in Jn. 1: 33 describes the sanctifying agency of the person of Christ. Although the Greek word en is translated in the Bible as by, with, in, and through, in the context of these scriptures there can be no mistaking the fact that:
Two separate persons of the Godhead are involved in the operation (gk. energia) of being born of the Spirit and in the operation of being baptized with the Spirit.
Notice carefully, in one operation (regeneration) the Holy Spirit is the baptizer into Jesus Christ. In the other operation (sanctification), Jesus Christ is the baptizer with and into the Holy Spirit.
1) In regeneration > the Holy Spirit > is the baptizer > into Jesus Christ
2) In sanctification > Jesus Christ > is the baptizer > into the Holy Spirit
One might naturally ask, how is the believer baptized both with and into the Holy Spirit at the same time?
The word baptize means to immerse, dip, or plunge. Accordingly, when a believer is baptized with the Holy Spirit he/she is baptized both with the Spirit and immersed into the Spirit, just as a believer is baptized both with water and immersed into water.
The promise of the Father to give another comforter was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost A. D. 33 when He began to pour out of His Spirit upon all flesh. The father works all things through the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit was not yet given because He was not yet glorified. This means that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (the finished work of Christ) had to occur before the Holy Spirit could be given to men. Prior to the day of Pentecost the disciples were given what is called the breath of promise (Jn. 20: 22).
The Baptism of Regeneration
The baptism by the Spirit into Christ is also called the baptism of regeneration. It is the same experience spoken of by Paul in Titus 3: 5 as the washing of regeneration.
We must be careful here, because although the word washing is used in this verse; notice, the words water or water baptism is not. Consequently, this verse is not inferring baptismal regeneration by water as some incorrectly teach. This verse does, however, teach baptismal regeneration by the Spirit.
The word washing (gk: loutron) in Titus 3: 5 has nothing to do with water baptism, except in a figurative sense. In as much as, baptism with water illustrates what the Spirit has already accomplished in regeneration. Thus, Paul concludes that the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the believer is of the Holy Spirit.
In summary, the new-birth by the Spirit regenerates the believer and places the believer into the Body of Christ. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit subsequently sanctifies the believer and is an endowment of power (gk. dunamis) equipping the believer for service in order to fulfill the great commission.