by CAROL FIDLER — One reason believers are not baptized with the Holy Spirit is that they “have not because they ask not.” Jesus told His disciples, ”If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:12-14, ESV).
The first group of Christians at Ephesus expressed a second reason why believers had not been baptized with the Spirit. When the Apostle Paul asked the Ephesian believers, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed,” they answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” In other words, they had not been empowered by the Spirit because, up until then, no one had explained it to them. Believers occasionally (but not normally) are filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit without hearing anything about the “promise of the Father.” However, what normally happens is that someone explains the baptism of the Holy Spirit from the Scriptures, lays their hands on the individual, and prays for him or her to receive.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is not intended to be an option or an accessory to our Christian experience, but a promise for every believer. Peter made that point in his first sermon on the Day of Pentecost.
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
— Acts 2:38-40 (ESV)
If the promise is intended for every believer, then it’s a part of the ministry of everyone who makes disciples.
Once a person has repented and placed faith in Christ, the Scriptures spell out two things that should happen — that person should be baptized in water and should receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). In order to lay a solid foundation in a believer’s life, it’s important that you and I are able to clearly share through Scripture how to experience both. The Purple Book, an amazing Bible study, uses the Scriptures to unpack and explicate these two areas. This article is meant to be a handy guide for presenting the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
__If the promise is intended for every believer, then it’s a part of the ministry of everyone who makes disciples.
HOW TO SHARE THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
When you’re telling someone about the need to be baptized in water, it’s a great opportunity to check the foundation of Lordship, which is giving your life in obedience to Christ. Water baptism is a simple, yet profound, way of expressing love for Christ by obeying that simple command. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, however, is a bit different. You’re now asking someone to receive a gift from God, their heavenly Father.
1. The Person of the Holy Spirit
As you begin, it’s important to remove misconceptions about the Holy Spirit.
First of all, the Spirit is a “He”, not an “it” nor a force.
Also, the Holy Spirit is God—the third person of the Trinity.
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit is a good gift from God the Father. God would not give us anything to harm us.
Fourthly, the Holy Spirit empowers us for ministry and enables believers with His gifts. He does not “over-power” us, causing us to lose control of ourselves.
2. Receiving the Indwelling Holy Spirit
Going to the Word of God is crucial because faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Begin with John 20:22, “And with that, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” When you repent and believe in Jesus, you receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Because God dwells in your spirit, the fruit of the Spirit can grow in your life.
3. Being Baptized with the Holy Spirit
God also wants to baptize us with the Holy Spirit. This is more than an indwelling. After Jesus had breathed on the disciples in John 20:22, He tells them, “I am going to send you what my father has promised, but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
Luke picks up this concept again in Acts 1:5, 8: “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… But you will receive power 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.”
The disciples are asked to wait for a gift from God to empower them to be His witness. A clear example of this power is seen in the life of Peter. Before Jesus was crucified, Peter denied Jesus three times, presumably out of fear. In Acts 2, after Peter was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, he preached a powerful message. The result was that 3,000 souls were saved and added to the church that day. The Holy Spirit is powerful in us!
4. Examples from Scripture
After explaining these three basic concepts, take the person to all of the accounts of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. They are found in:
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4).
The emphasis is on “all” — not one believer was left out.
When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:15-17)
The people here receiving the Holy Spirit were already Christians who had been baptized in water.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God” (Acts 10:44-46).
The evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was speaking in tongues and praising God.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They answered, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ So Paul asked, ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’ ‘John’s baptism,’ they replied. Paul said, ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus. On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-6).
Again, we have another story in which the people being prayed for were already followers of Christ. They were baptized in the name of the Lord, and someone prayed over them to receive the Holy Spirit.
It’s important to have the person read these scriptures aloud as you are discussing each one. As they speak God’s Word, build up their faith.
At this point, you can show them that God baptized people in these accounts in two ways; by either visiting them Himself or by other believers laying hands on them.
5. The Gifts of the Spirit
In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Paul mentions the nine spiritual gifts and says that the manifestation of the Spirit was given for the common good. Speaking in tongues is mentioned here, along with interpretation of tongues.
6. Laying on of Hand and Prayer
At this point, the person you are ministering to should have a clear understanding of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. You can ask them if they are ready to receive this gift. It’s important for you to be full of faith and sense that they also have faith to receive from God. When we as believers pray for someone, we’re trusting in God’s power (not our own) to fill them with the Holy Spirit.
Before praying, explain the process. Explain that you’re going to lay your hands on them and pray that God will baptize them in the Holy Spirit. God will respond, fill them, and give them a new, heavenly language. It’s not one they can understand with their natural mind, but a language that God gives them to pray according to the Spirit. They must respond in faith and not wait for God to “move their tongue,” but rather trust that the words that are coming from their spirit are God’s words.
A helpful exercise before praying is to ask the person, “What will happen when I lay my hands on you?” Note their response. Do they believe they will be filled with the Holy Spirit and will speak in tongues? It’s better to wait until you’re confident that they are ready. Don’t try to force something to happen.
When you pray, be bold. Expect God to do what His Word promises and remember that it’s His power, not yours, that’s in operation. Your focus should be on blessing the person for whom you’re praying and seeing their walk with God go to new levels as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
REVERENCE: Scriptures Used to Explain the Baptism with the Holy Spirit
A recap of the scriptural progression, which you can write as a handy reference in the back of your Bible, is:
- John 20:22
- Luke 24:49
- Acts 1:5, 8
- Acts 2:4
- Acts 8:15-17
- Acts 10:44-46
- Acts 19:1-6
- 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Carol Fidler is member of the pastoral staff at Bethel World Outreach Center in Brentwood, TN.