The baptism in the Holy Spirit
By confessing faith in Jesus Christ the believer lives, as soul, via the body (the mouth) in a relationship with God the Father.
This is explained in the study ‘Conversion’.
By giving Jesus authority over his life and being completely focussed on Him, the disciple lives, as a soul, via his spirit in a relationship with Jesus Christ as well.
This is explained in the study ‘Discipleship (1)’.
A disciple lives, therefore, as spirit, soul and body in a relationship with God the Father and with Jesus Christ.
God also longs for the disciple to choose consciously for a life in a relationship with the third person of the Divine Trinity, the Holy Spirit, by allowing himself to be immersed in Him.
This is called ‘the baptism (the immersion) in the Holy Spirit’ in the Bible.
The Holy Spirit was already active in the world at creation.
He was also actively involved with the preparation of the coming of Jesus to earth and worked in a very special manner in the life of Jesus Himself.
Since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost every disciple of Jesus receives the Holy Spirit.
If he gives Jesus authority over his life the Holy Spirit comes to live in his heart.
A disciple of Jesus can thereby also experience the special working of the Holy Spirit in his life, as Jesus promised.
Thus, as a human trinity, he receives the power that is contained in the Divine Trinity, according to Jesus’ promise.
… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you … (Acts 1:8)
Jesus is the baptiser in the Holy Spirit.
John, the Baptist proclaimed Jesus to be the baptiser in the Holy Spirit.
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11 – see also: Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33)
Two remarks regarding the translation of this Bible verse:
- ‘baptise’ is the translation of the Greek word ‘baptizo’, which means: to immerse, or even better: to remain immersed.
- ‘with’ is the translation of the Greek word ‘en’, which is usually translated as ‘in’.
Although it is translated as ‘baptise with the Holy Spirit’, it would have been better if it had been translated as:
I immerse you under in water … He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and in fire.
Just before His ascension Jesus Himself spoke with His disciples about their being immersed in the Holy Spirit.
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water (immersed in water), but in a few days you will be baptized with (immersed in) the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)
This immersion in the Holy Spirit took place for the first time on the Day of Pentecost.
When reading the Book of Acts and the letters, it appears that the apostles expected every believer not only to be immersed in water, but also to be immersed in the Holy Spirit.
What the immersion in the Holy Spirit brings about.
God is the origin of all things.
Whatever the Holy Spirit brings about in a disciple’s life, it is always:
… in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:6)
Or, as Jesus said:
… when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:13-15)
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)
Jesus promised hereby, with reference to the immersion in the Holy Spirit:
… you will receive power (also: strength, might, competence) when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
The relationship with and the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the disciple will be strengthened by the immersion.
So that Luke reports:
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, … (Acts 19:11)
Conditions for receiving the immersion in the Holy Spirit.
The Bible gives a number of conditions with reference to receiving the immersion in the Holy Spirit.
a. The Biblical sequence.
On the Day of Pentecost Peter told the people in the crowd:
Repent and be baptized (immersed in water), every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift (literally: the present) of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Being converted and baptised mean: truly following Jesus as His disciple, as Paul writes:
We were therefore buried with him (Jesus) 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. (Romans 6:4)
This is the condition to be able to receive the immersion in the Holy Spirit.
However, God is sovereign and He sometimes alters this sequence.
These days there is often a difference in time between conversion, immersion in water and the immersion in the Holy Spirit.
The Book of Acts gives the impression that, in those times, these three ‘steps’ were experienced as one event.
b. Longing to be immersed in the Holy Spirit.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
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 11:9-13)
Literally, the Greek makes use of a verb form that is less used today:
For everyone receives, praying and finds, seeking and it will be opened knocking.
This means here not just praying or seeking once, but an attitude of the heart that is ‘praying’, ‘seeking’, and ‘a continual knocking’.
There must be a deep longing in the disciple’s heart to be allowed to receive the new dimension in the relationship with the Holy Spirit.
God longs for the disciple to ask Him to be allowed to receive the immersion in the Holy Spirit.
One must sometimes persevere and ask continually.
c. Being thirsty, coming to Jesus and drinking.
John states in his Gospel that Jesus said:
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. (John 7:37-38)
And he adds the comment:
By this he (Jesus) meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. (John 7:39)
Being thirsty, coming and drinking refer to the previous point: a deep longing, a thirst, for the extra power, the extra dynamic for the spiritual life, in de power of the Holy Spirit.
(The power that Jesus promised is the translation of the Greek word dunamis, from which dynamic and dynamite are derived!)
Jesus says to someone who is thirsty: Come to Me.
This is how John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the baptiser in the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit proceeds from God and Jesus is the Person who baptises.
The thirsty soul must not sit waiting passively until something happens, but go to Jesus and actively ‘drink’, opening himself up very consciously to receiving the Holy Spirit.
How to receive the immersion in the Holy Spirit.
The Book of Acts mentions three ways in which Jesus’ disciples received the immersion in the Holy Spirit.
Through personal prayer, as Jesus said:
… how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)
Through the laying on of hands:
Then Peter and John (in Samaria) placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:17)
When Paul placed his hands on them (the believers at Ephesus), the Holy Spirit came on them. (Acts 19:6)
By listening to preaching led by the Spirit:
Like the company in the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion.
They received the immersion in the Holy Spirit while listening to Peter preaching. •
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. (Acts 10:44)
The purpose of the immersion in the Holy Spirit.
Whatever the power of the Holy Spirit is able to work out in the life of the disciple, only one thing is important as far as God is concerned, i.e. the fruit of the Spirit, which contains everything, for:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love. (Galatians 5:22a)
Paul experiences this as follows:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
It is good to seek out and meditate the complete Bible texts.
They are a mirror for a fruitful life in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father and of Jesus Christ, His Son.
Print this study as a PDF document:
The baptism in the Holy Spirit.