But Do You Have ‘This’?

Some weeks ago a young man, who had run into a dispute on the topic, asked me about the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. This baptism was described to him as an experience that is distinct from and subsequent to his salvation. Without it, he was an incomplete Christian and needed this ‘second blessing’ to graduate further in his faith. Is this so? He wondered—was he missing something? Fortunately, the term is biblical, so we can turn to the 7 New Testament references and find an answer.

“I baptize you with water for 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 (ν πνεύματι) and fire.” (Matthew 3:11, ESV)

I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (ν πνεύματι).”” (Mark 1:8, ESV)

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit  (ν πνεύματι) and fire.” (Luke 3:16, ESV)

I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (ν πνεύματι).’” (John 1:33, ESV)

for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (ν πνεύματι)not many days from now.”” (Acts 1:5, ESV)

And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (ν πνεύματι).’” (Acts 11:16, ESV)

For in one Spirit we were all baptized (ν ἑνὶ πνεύματι) into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13, ESV)

Those who advocate for a second blessing acknowledge that the first 6 verses refer to Jesus’ saving work. But they claim that the Corinthians verse is altogether different and refers to a second work that is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. This distinction seems to be plausible when one studies some English translations, but it cannot be supported by the Greek text, which uses the identical phrase in every verse.  What is described in the first 6 verses (salvation) is equally present in the seventh. The biblical evidence teaches us that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the rejuvenating work of salvation.

Was my young friend incomplete? Hardly, when he trusted Jesus for salvation, he received everything he needed for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). I hope you have also.

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6 thoughts on “But Do You Have ‘This’?

  1. Apparently, you can receive the Holy Spirit before baptism – Acts 10:44-47:
    [44] While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the message. [45] The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were greatly astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, [46] for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, [47] “No one can withhold the water for these people to be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?”

    • You are quite right Swanee. You can & should receive the Holy Spirit before water baptism. The order of events is like this:
      1. Baptism of the Holy Spirit (this is the salvation experience in Acts 10)
      2. Water baptism (this is a visible commemoration of salvation)
      The confusion occurs when some insist that #1 is actually #3. There is no #3.

  2. When Jesus went to heaven He breathed on the disciples and they receive the Holy Spirit… then they had to wait until Pentecost and then receive the Holy Spirit again?
    What’s the difference? And why twice?

    • You are quite right to say that the disciples recieved the Holy Spirit prior to Pentecost, but they did so as members of the Old Covenant and so their experience was limited. Pentecost ushered in a new age of power and intimacy that was previously unattainable–it was the beginning of the New Covenant. So while this could be described as a second experience it is not meant as a patern for us. Pentecost was a transitionary period that is not repeated. Rather, we are in the same situation as those Christians in Corinth who were all baptized into one Spirit. We can learn from the unique events in Acts, but they are descriptive and not prescriptive.
      I hope that helps.

  3. The language is tied to 1 thing…Jesus. There is no doubt that the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit is a New Covenant phenomenon. How could it be otherwise since it is a direct result of the crucifixion and resurrection? The scriptures in the Gospels refer to a coming event and Acts to an indwelling power tied to the ascension. The Holy Spirit was given so that we could live…in His power, growing in His nature, becoming more like Him. What has grieved us over the years is that the very gift He has given us is used to divide. I don’t know that He would be pleased….

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