Should Christians Seek a Baptism of the Spirit?

A question that arises in many modern churches is, “Should I be seeking a Baptism of the tongues_of_fire_at_pentecostHoly Spirit?” In this excerpt from Defining Deception, we provide a brief answer.

The biblical answer is, “No, you should not be seeking a Baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation, nor a second experience that supposedly will enhance your spirituality.”

In the Bible, Acts 1:5 references “Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” The Greek usage of the punctiliar passive future describes one particular time. In essence Jesus said, “Very soon [ten days from now] this special and unique event, called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, will occur.” Subsequently when we read the book of Acts, we see these very specific one-time events happened, first for the Jews in Acts 2, then Samaritans in Acts 8, the Greeks in Acts 11, and finally the followers of John in Acts 19.

Further, the passive voice on the Greek phrase means this “Baptism” isn’t something anyone was told to look for, ask for, beg for, mumble for, heal for, sing emotional music for, climb a mountain for, etc. It was 100% a divine and sovereign gift.

Next, we must note it was a completed baptism. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 Paul says, “By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The passive aorist means “past fact” in the life of every believer. Therefore, ALL who have been saved by Christ Jesus have been baptized. There are no second class Christian citizens.

“There are no second class Christian citizens…”

The Spirit’s baptism is not a post-conversion experience to be craved, but a historical fact in the life of every disciple to be praised. Ultimately, this means that all believers in the church age are immediately baptized in the Spirit upon conversion. 1 Corinthians 6:17 tells us, “the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” Clearly, the moment a person comes to saving faith in Christ, they are recipients of the Holy Spirit. Dr. J.R. Miller writes:

The Promise [of Spirit Baptism] is clear, the hope is real, now let us embrace our Father’s covenant-love and live boldly in the power of his Holy Spirit granted to every believer of every age. Let us not fear being left out of God’s sovereign work of grace. Let us cease to divide the church with false tradition, and let us unite as the People of His sure Promise of power.

So if we are all baptized in the Spirit and have the full promise of God, why do certain people seem to have more of the Holy Spirit? The answer is that while there is one baptism, there are many fillings of the Holy Spirit. His filling depends upon a daily obedience to God’s Word and surrender to God’s way (Acts 5:32). If you’ve placed full dependance upon Christ, you are baptized with the Spirit. As you lay down your will and yield to God’s will, you’ll receive an ever-greater filling of the Spirit and His fruits in your life (Gal 5).

J. R. Miller, Have You Not Yet Received the Spirit?, 44.


19 thoughts on “Should Christians Seek a Baptism of the Spirit?

  1. After Jesus appears to the disciples in John 20:22,the Bible says, “….he breathed on them, and saith to them, Receive Ye the Holy Ghost.” (The first infilling of the Holy Spirit before his ascension.) And Luke 24:49 says, “And behold, I send the PROMISE of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with POWER from on high.” Then Acts 1:4-5 says, “And, being assembled together with them, (Jesus) commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the PROMISE of the Father, Which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Which takes us verse 8 of Acts 1: “BUT YE SHALL RECEIVE POWER, AFTER THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS COME UPON YOU: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (which the utter most part of the earth couldn’t be reached by them, but by later generations.) Interestingly enough, John the Baptist says in Mark 1:8 “I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” and Matthew 3:11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire.” (He wasn’t just preaching to the apostles.)

    So, yes, when we are saved, Jesus breathes his Holy Spirit into us as he did the disciples before his ascension. But you are saying that the baptism of the Holy Ghost that came at the day of Pentecost, was only for those back then, and also in those instances you stated in your post. Why is it not for us? How do we live and move in power? (Luke 24:49) Didn’t Jesus tell the disciples and all his followers that he would baptize them with power from on high, by the baptism of the Holy Ghost? This was after he breathed his Holy Spirit upon them.

    You also say that the baptism of the Holy Ghost was just a one-time event for the Jews, Samaritans, the Greeks, and then the followers of John (the Baptist, I assume?) that were in Ephesus. How do you know it was a one-time event? Who were those followers of John’s in Ephesus? Greeks? Samaritans? Gentiles? We all know that a Gentile was anyone who wasn’t a Jew, right? The Bible reiterates, first to the Jew, then the Gentile. The gospel came first to the Jew, and then to the Gentile, including the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So, if that is the case, then why are there four examples of the Holy Spirit being poured out rather than just two? How about this idea instead, that God was demonstrating that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was for everyone, for every race and nationality rather than stating that it was just a one time thing for a few? Unless you can absolutely prove that it was indeed a one time event, I have to disagree with this assertion.

    Joel has told us, and Peter told us again at Pentecost, that God would pour out his spirit on ALL flesh in the last days – a baptism of the power of the Holy Ghost. It was partially fulfilled at Pentecost, but we are the ones living in the Last Days. That’s the beautiful thing about the Bible. It’s full of patterns that repeat through the Bible and through history. It happens once, and it will happen again. God is so totally awesome, isn’t he?

    I do understand what you are saying about being filled with Holy Spirit. We all are filled when we are saved, but there is a separate baptism of the Holy Spirit that endows us with power. If it truly doesn’t exist for us today, then what was the point of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost? It gave Peter the boldness to preach at Pentecost and who knows how often after that. The same as it did the other Disciples. Before Pentecost, they were hiding indoors and would never have dared to preach such a message, and this was definitely after receiving the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed upon them before he ascended. Jesus never said anywhere in the Bible that this baptism of the Holy Spirit was just a one time event only available to a few.

    The baptism of the Holy Spirit gives us power and boldness, and I thank God for it, especially in these end days. The Holy Spirit guides us, convicts us, gives us peace, etc, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit endues us with power. That seems to be the message given in the first five books of the New Testament. You can see it (that power) on display throughout the entire Acts of the Apostles.

    You also ask in your post why some people seem to have more of the Holy Spirit than others. Personally, I think it is a matter of how much time they spend on their knees in worship and prayer. The closer you draw to Him, the closer He draws to you.

    Sorry for the length of this comment, but just being a Berean.

    Blessings, Brother.

    1. Well written Nina,
      I believe we are saying the same thing. My contention (like yours from the historical narratives) is that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a special event for those who were alive when the Pentecost-arrival of the Spirit was imposed. However, as we see from Paul’s writing, following that unique period of arrival, all subsequent Christians are “baptized” and “sealed” by the Spirit at conversion. -AW

      1. I hate to be like a chicken on June bug, but Acts 2:39 declares that “The promise is to you, your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord God shall call unto Himself. Jesus also said in Luke 11:13 that God would give the Holy Spirit to His CHILDREN who ASKED Him. Are not these scriptures for God’s children today and for those He calls to Himself today?

    2. The baptism of the Holy Spirit may be defined as that work whereby the Spirit of God places the believer into union with Christ and into union with other believers in the body of Christ at the moment of salvation. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was predicted by John the Baptist (Mark 1:8) and by Jesus before He ascended to heaven: “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4); for the first time, people were permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the church had begun.

      First Corinthians 12:12–13 is the central passage in the Bible regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Notice that we “all” have been baptized by the Spirit—all believers have received the baptism, synonymous with salvation, and it is not a special experience for only a few. While Romans 6:1–4 does not mention specifically the Spirit of God, it does describe the believer’s position before God in language similar to the 1 Corinthians passage: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

      The following facts are necessary to help solidify our understanding of Spirit baptism: First, 1 Corinthians 12:13 clearly states that all have been baptized, just as all been given the Spirit to drink (the indwelling of the Spirit). Second, nowhere in Scripture are believers told to be baptized with, in or by the Spirit, or in any sense to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This indicates that all believers have had this experience. Third, Ephesians 4:5 seems to refer to Spirit baptism. If this is the case, Spirit baptism is the reality for every believer, just as “one faith” and “one Father” are.

      In conclusion, the baptism of the Holy Spirit does two things, 1) it joins us to the body of Christ, and 2) it actualizes our co-crucifixion with Christ. Being in His body means we are risen with Him to newness of life (Romans 6:4). We should then exercise our spiritual gifts to keep that body functioning properly as stated in the context of 1 Corinthians 12:13. Experiencing the one Spirit baptism serves as the basis for keeping the unity of the church, as in the context of Ephesians 4:5. Being associated with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection through Spirit baptism establishes the basis for our separation from the power of indwelling sin and our walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-10; Colossians 2:12).

      1. You’re preaching to the choir. I am quite familiar with the Holy Spirit, His functions within us and the church, etc. Maybe I didn’t get my point across. There seems to be two instances of the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit. The first was when Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22 The second was when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Acts 2. I would be interested in hearing an explanation of what you think happened here. Another verse to consider is this one coming from John the baptist in Matthew 4:11 “I baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I….He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit AND fire.”

        Personally, I believe that when we are first saved, that we are breathed on by Jesus to receive His Holy Spirit. How else can we lived a changed life? But I also believe that there is a second “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, (which did happen to me personally), for the purpose of endowing us with “power” to do the things Jesus told us we would do in Mark 16:17-18, “And these signs will follow THOSE WHO BELIEVE (not just the apostles or the 1st century believers): In My name they will cast out demons: they will speak with new tongues: they will take up serpents: (no not snake handling!); and if they drink anything deadly , it will by no means hurt them: they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Just look at the things that Peter and the other disciples did AFTER they were baptized with the Holy Ghost in Acts 2. Paul was bit by a snake after being shipwrecked and while gathering wood. He slung it off and he was not affected by it. HOW can this baptism only be for the first century believers?

      2. Another good question, Nina. The references you’ve chosen simply specify John and Mark’s historical account of what Jesus taught his eleven men in the days before ascending to heaven. Note, John 20 is a special filling of the Spirit before the Day of Pentecost. It seems, for a brief span following his resurrection, Jesus taught the eleven from the OT (Lk 24:45) and specially filled them with the Spirit to perform/practice ministry. This would explain why the men did things that even charismatics wouldn’t suggest today (i.e. drinking poison). The historical account does not recommend a “normative” experience for the post-apostolic church to imitate or pursue.

      3. Well, obviously, I’m not going to be changing your mind about it. 🙂 I respectfully disagree, though, because I know from personal experience, and what I’ve witnessed apart from myself, that it is definitely for this day and age. God bless you.

      4. A typical Baptist faulty view in order to circumvent the truth about Jesus, who is still baptizing ANY Believer (not just a select few) in the Holy Ghost and fire just like He did on the day of Pentecost. Those who reject it get nothing. In Acts 19 Paul asked certain Believers if they had been baptized in the Holy Ghost since they believed. They knew nothing about it, and when Paul laid his anointed hands on the them, they were endued with power from on high just like on the day of Pentecost, and spoke with tongues and prophesied. This is where the dead Baptist Doctrine departs from this, denies it, and dances around it with a demonic twisting of scripture, in order to put it into a cessationist’s coffin. Sensational ignorance indeed.

    1. BARRY, it seems that a lot of people with an inferiority complex have reactionary theology, which makes them feel better about themselves and has nothing to do with the truth. God does not create “classes and races”. ALL people matter to God. Jesus died for ALL Therefore ALL people have the same value, because they were ALL bought with the same price: THE SINLESS BLOOD OF JESUS! Enduement with power and fire from on high is still being poured out on any believer who is born of the Spirit, just like it happened on the day of Pentecost.Even so, it is still happening for those who are hungry for this empowerment. Jesus is still the Great Baptizer in the Holy Ghost and Fire. Dead Baptist Doctrine concerning this truth will only rob you, and leave you found wanting.

      1. I read your summary in another article about five years ago, this is after witnessing all the confusion in the charismatic movement.

        The answer is that while there is one baptism, there are many fillings of the Holy Spirit. His filling depends upon a daily obedience to God’s Word and surrender to God’s way (Acts 5:32).

        That’s it.

  2. I did not perceive that at all. God shows no partiality, who ever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him, Acts 10. We may have doctrinal differences, but we serve the same Lord, we can agree, it is the blood that sets us free. We are all his children, and that is a powerful thing.

  3. NINA…If anyone wishes to be ignorant, then let them be ignorant. What you have written is clear, precise, and very intelligent and outstanding. Sound doctrine. EXCELLENT. He is inventing the word “special” in order to circumvent the truth you have written so well. The In-Breathed Spirit in John 20 is the new birth. The Out Poured Spirit on the day of Pentecost was for enduement with power and fire from on high, so they could be effective witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. Thanks, NINA

  4. @Anonymous You sir fulfill the typical charismatic/pentecostal stereotype. Defensive and argumentative without sound reason or doctrine. Try some solid homiletics and exegetical approaches to the scriptures before reading it and inserting your perspective. Also, remember “personal experience” and what you “witness”
    (@Nina) never supersedes historical and proper biblical theology.

  5. um.. Your post never addresses Jesus’ words as recorded in Luke 11:13. In fact, you contradict Jesus when you say there should be no seeking. We’re specifically told to seek, and told to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus beckons people to come to him for living water, and John makes the editorial comment (as led by the Spirit) and lets us know that Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit when he said this. You say people shouldn’t seek an experience to enhance their spirituality, and they shouldn’t. The Holy Spirit is God, not “an experience,” and enhancement is for cars, not people. We are to be temples of the Holy Spirit, abiding in Jesus Christ, and John the Baptist tells us it is Jesus who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

    John 20 describes the regeneration by the Holy Spirit (as described by Paul in Romans 10:10), and Acts 2 the baptism. They are two different things, and why the disciples had two different experiences with Him.

    Please address your neglect of Luke 11:13.

    1. Oops. I meant to refer to Romans 10:9-10. John 20 describes the disciples’ first opportunity to believe Jesus rose from the dead as they encountered him, and we see Roman’s 10:10 happening there in living color.

  6. Pastor Anthony,
    Your post(s) appear to come from someone who has a closed mind and spirit to the things of God (Matthew 13:13). If He said to seek, then we should seek (Matthew 7:7). I do not want to bore folks to death reiterating the Scripture verses again, even though I think it important to know them and their meanings. Holding them in proper context is also extremely necessary and where possible, we should use personal experience to explain our point of view. Paul (1 Corinthians 2) said the Bible was written Spiritually and must be Spiritually discerned. That is Spiritually with a capital “S” not a small “s”, indicating deity, as you know.
    Like Nina and numerous others, I, too, have this experience for which I sought. I cherish the love I feel from Father because of obedience to His Word in first, seeking and then, receiving the Gift. As Samuel said to Saul, “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). May we all be good in our obedience. Like many others, I was a Christian for years before Father extended the Gift to me. I do not know how long I sought it, but I can remember the overwhelming joy of this new power. Today, I remain a grateful believer in Christ and a tenacious worker in His Kingdom in part, because of this awesome Gift.
    I did not earn it, nor did I ascend to some mystical new level in some spirit-world to get this offer: indeed, I merely sought for the Gift as I read and received instruction from elder believers. Jesus said; I would receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon me. I did. It is interesting to note here, that He was not talking to sinners, rather to those who accepted Him as fully as possible at that time. In fact, at no instance is this experience ever directed to non-believers. At every occurrence, He extends it to those who are His followers already.
    Pastor, if only you were open to the Spirit and willing to follow Christ’s command to receive this most wonderful of all gifts our Heavenly Father offers, I fully believe your ministry would blossom into a much greater, more rewarding, endeavor than mind can possibly imagine. I do not know if your experience will be similar with mine, John Wesley’s, or Nina’s, or anyone else’s. I know only that when the Holy Ghost is come upon you, you will have power to proclaim His Word to the world in a way you cannot now possibly comprehend.
    My prayer is that ALL of God’s children will align with His clear Word and seek this experience in truth, then prepare to receive it as countless others did throughout history.
    God’s peace be with you all.

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