What Is Baptism With the Holy Spirit?

Baptism with the Holy Spirit is available to every follower of Christ. It's an experience separate from and following spiritual renewal. Below is a helpful overview of Holy Spirit Baptism as it's described in the Bible.

Baptism With the Holy Spirit Explained

By Don Bell | Reading Time: 12 minutes.

Swirling Clouds and Sunlight Are God's CreationYou Need to Get Baptized in the Holy Spirit
Source: ©alenalihacheva/Depositphotos.com

Only a follower of Christ can receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, so if you're not a follower of Jesus, NOW is the time to become one!

What Is Baptism With the Holy Spirit?

John the Baptist spoke of Jesus saying, "'I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire'" (Matthew 3:11).

We read in Scripture, "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive …" (John 7:37-39).

The "great day of the feast" was the last day of the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), and it featured a special Water Libation Ceremony. The temple priests would each day walk to the pool of Siloam and fill a large golden vessel with "living water."

The Pool of Siloam was fed by the Gihon Spring. Fresh spring water that bubbled up from the earth was prized in the arid land of Israel; it was known as "living water" and symbolic of the Holy Spirit.

The Byzantine Pool of Siloam in JerusalemThe Byzantine Pool of Siloam, City of David, Jerusalem
Source: ©Don Bell

The vessel of living water was then carried by the priests in a jubilant procession up the stepped street and taken through the Water Gate to the Temple, accompanied by blasts of the shofar.

Each day, the great Hallel (Psalms 113-118) were recited, and a silver bowel of water was poured on the altar of sacrifice while being mingled with wine poured from another silver bowl (foreshowing the water and blood that flowed from the spear wound in Jesus' side).

On the last day of the feast, known as the Great Day, the priests poured the living water into a silver funnel placed above the altar. This was called Hoshana Rabbah, the great Hoshiana, Hebrew for Hosanna, meaning Save now!

Jesus' (Yeshua's) name means Salvation, and it's quite likely that just as the ceremonial water was poured out through the silver funnel, Jesus loudly shouted, "'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scriptures have said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:37-38).

Jesus had declared Himself the Messiah, the source of living water — the giver of the Holy Spirit!

Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus commanded His followers not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus promises, "'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 Greek word δύναμις (dynamis) means miraculous power. After receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit, this miraculous power will be manifested whenever and wherever you share Jesus' good news of the Kingdom with accompanying signs.

When you ask for and receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that's already WITHIN you now expands, fills, and OVERFLOWS. The overflowing of the Spirit is what enables you to minister the gifts of the Holy Spirit and affect the lives of people around you.

It's important to realize that you are not receiving another spirit. You already HAVE the Spirit of Christ WITHIN you if you are spiritually reborn!

Scripture says, "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but YOU RECEIVED THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:15-16, emphasis added).

So, to clarify, when you receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit you are being completely immersed (baptized) in the Spirit that's already IN you, and His presence flows up from within and overflows OUT to others.

The large sanctuary seated several hundred people. One Sunday morning, I was tired and while the worship time had been anointed and uplifting, I was now struggling to keep my eyes open during the long sermon.

I was counting the minutes until it was time to go home. Hey, I'm human too.

When the service had ended and as we stood to leave, an unknown woman approached me. She and her family had been sitting to my right with about five or six empty seats between us.

"I just wanted to thank you," she said. "I have never felt the presence of God so strong as I've felt Him this morning."

"That's wonderful, but why are you thanking me?" I asked, puzzled.

"Because God's presence was flowing from you," she replied. "I could literally feel His peace all through the service; it felt just like electricity."

She asked for prayer, and I blessed her and her family, and she left. I never revealed to her how dry I had felt during the same service.

For me, it was a huge wake-up call that the Holy Spirit is always seeking to manifest through us whether we feel Him or not. When we're built up in the Spirit, there's always an overflow.

Trust that God is with you. God's presence is NEVER based on our feelings!

Why Do We Need Baptism With the Holy Spirit?

Jesus is God's greatest gift to mankind and the entrance key to the Kingdom of God. And if you have already invited Jesus into your life, then you can receive the fullness of His Spirit.

Why should we as followers of Jesus desire the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Out of necessity! We absolutely need the fullness (anointing) of the Holy Spirit for service, for doing the supernatural works of Jesus.

The fullness of the Spirit is not to make us appear "spiritual" or to make us feel good. It's to do the works of Jesus and thereby draw people to Him. It's also to help build up the Body of Christ, and so advance the Kingdom of God.

How to Receive the Baptism With the Holy Spirit

We read in Scripture, "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. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD WILL CALL'" (Acts 2:38-39, emphasis added).

Have you come alive spiritually in Christ? If so, the Lord Jesus HAS called you, and the promise of the baptism with the Holy Spirit IS yours for the asking!

Don't listen to anyone who says that you need to wait (tarry) on the Holy Spirit. The Promise of the Father was given at Pentecost. The followers of Jesus received the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room along with the manifestation. He has already come!

Jesus says, “'So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened'" (Luke 11:9-10).

Simply ask God for the baptism with the Holy Spirit in the sincerity of your own words. For example, you might say, "Father, I believe in Jesus according to your Word, and I am asking in His name for the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Thank you. Amen."

Just be yourself. You don't need flowery language or religious sounding words. God listens to your heart.

Have faith and EXPECT to receive. It's that simple.

Jesus promises, "'If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!'" (Luke 11:11-13).

What Happens After Baptism With the Holy Spirit?

Sometimes, baptism with the Holy Spirit can be accompanied with unusual phenomena, such as speaking in an unknown language, and a heightened state of joyousness, but not always.

The Book of Acts records the unusual phenomena that occurred when the Holy Spirit arrived to those who were faithfully waiting in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost.

We read in Scripture, "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4).

They all spoke in unknown tongues, and it caused such a commotion that people outside the building heard the loud voices and wondered what had happened.

Scripture records, "So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, 'Whatever could this mean?' Others mocking said, 'They are full of new wine.'" (Acts 2:12-16).

Judging from the crowd's observations, Peter and the others experienced the gift of unknown tongues along with a heightened state of euphoria and unbridled joy, causing the puzzled onlookers to assume that they had got drunk on wine.

Many believers have had similar experiences today, while others have been filled with the Spirit very matter-of-fact-like with little or no emotion or sensation.

My growing hunger for the fullness of God in 1970 had led me to skip the Anglican prayer meeting I had been attending and brought me to the doors of a local Pentecostal Church.

I had heard that Pentecostals believed in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, but I really didn't know what to expect, and I was somewhat wary.

Pastor Abe Kudra was the guest speaker at the Sunday evening service, and later in the prayer room, he laid his hands on me to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.

About half a dozen believers surrounded us, all trying to lay their hands on me and all shouting loudly in tongues. Being a quiet Anglican at the time, I found it rather intimidating and confusing.

However, I had asked God for the fullness of the Spirit, and those who laid hands on me kept saying, "You've got it!" "That's it!" "You're speaking in tongues!"

So, I accepted by faith that I had received what they called the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. But, to the group's consternation, I felt absolutely nothing, and the few odd syllables I had spoken weren't what I expected a gift of tongues to be at all.

When I could finally withdraw myself from the excitement of the group, I went and sat down on one of the metal folding chairs that lined the perimeter of the room, as the boisterous prayer meeting continued.

Sometime later, the rector's wife and several teenagers from the local Anglican Church arrived looking for me. Standing up to greet them, I happened to glance at a nearby wall clock and noticed that well over an hour had passed since I had first sat down. The puzzling thing was that it had seemed only a few minutes! I had been immersed in the Spirit, totally oblivious to the passing of time.

One of the men who had prayed for me implored me to lay my hand on the shoulder of one of the teens and pray, and just as I reached out the youth fell backwards, landing flat on the carpeted floor. And as I stepped back in surprise, two other teens who had been standing nearby fell onto the floor in a similar manner.

Quickly returning to the safety of my chair, I sat and wondered what had happened. I had never seen anyone fall under the power of the Holy Spirit before, a phenomenon also known as being slain in the Spirit.

I was told that the teenagers had also been filled with the Spirit, and I found myself a little envious as I watched them praising God in unknown tongues with their hands raised, and I wondered why I hadn't experienced falling under the power as well.

Arriving home late that evening, I was still trying to process everything that had happened. I had no physical sensations, but I did have a heightened awareness of God, and His Word seemed to be clearer and more personal as I read familiar Scriptures in the Book of Acts.

Within a few days, the unknown words that I had spoken that night developed into sentences, and I experienced a fluency when speaking in tongues along with an increased awareness of God's presence.

When seeking the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the emphasis must always be placed on the "inner filling" instead of the "inner feeling" or the outward experience. That's not to say there won't be any emotions or sensations involved, but be prepared that they might come later.

Much of what's experienced depends on the sovereignty of God and the emotional makeup of the individual. Rest assured that the Holy Spirit does not overpower you or make you do anything against your will. Believe me, you can trust Him.

Now, having asked for and received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, start to praise God out loud using whatever words come to mind. Tell Him you love Him. Thank Him for all that He's done for you. Worship Him. Yield your voice and allow Him to give you unusual words that you've never heard before. Pray using your new words and language.

Paul writes, "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27).

Spend time alone with the Holy Spirit each day. Get to know Him as your comforter and friend. Become accustomed to His wonderful personality. Learn to recognize His presence and be sure to pray often in tongues. Your new prayer language is just like having a direct line to God.

Don Bell of Kingdom Anointing

By Don Bell, follower of the Christ.

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