"But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Matthew 3:11

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

a dove at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem

a dove at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem

Some have asked whether the wildolive understanding of the Feasts as being prophetic in the life of the individual believer tells us anything about when the believer can expect to get “baptized in the Spirit.”

I don’t think it can, and I am concerned that if "Baptism in the Spirit" becomes a doctrine, it gets out of hand and will mislead or discourage believers.

I do not wish to be negative, so I have attempted to search out what the Bible actually says, using a concordance.

The following are the words of John the Baptizer. ( John 1 v33 )

‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’

And Matthew 3 v11

”I baptize you with (or in) water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

(See also Mark 1 v8 and Luke 3 v16)

So John was saying Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Just remember, “baptize” means to immerse (as it is translated in CJB) so we are considering an immersion experience rather than some churchy sprinkling ritual. If you consider this visually, immersion in the Holy Spirit is much more profound than a religious experience upon the head. How deeply the Holy Spirit soaks into your being depends on how much you allow him to – how much you open to him. This is more than carrying on as you were before with the addition of a gift you can show off.

When did Jesus do this baptizing with the Holy Spirit? Not until after he had ascended to the Father. Jesus said (Acts 1 v4) :

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with (or in) water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit .” So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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 event to which Jesus referred is recorded in in Acts 2 v 3

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Here we notice the speaking in tongues associated with the coming of the Holy Spirit. But are the two inseparable?

Clearly, this is a one-off event; the first time the Holy Spirit came upon the assembled believers who made up the body of Jesus on earth. From that time onwards the Holy Spirit entered every believer as he or she was born again.

Peter, preaching in Acts 2 38 said,

“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 .

Peter referred back to the words of Jesus when telling the Jerusalem elders how the Holy Spirit was coming to the Gentiles. (Acts 11 v15)

”As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with (or in) water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit .’ So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?”

Paul wrote to Jews and Gentiles of the coming of the Holy Spirit, (1 Corinthians 12 v 13)

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.

So the gift of the Holy Spirit is for every believer, as Jesus said in Luke 11 v11

"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 !"

The Holy Spirit for all believers was predicted in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) - Numbers 11 v28

Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses' aide since youth, spoke up and said, "Moses, my lord, stop them!" But Moses replied, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!"

Also by Joel (ch2 v28-29)

"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

Holy Spirit and Tongues?

The gift of the Holy Spirit does not only occur with the manifestation of speaking in Tongues (or with tongues of fire and sound of rushing wind)

The Pentecost event was the first coming of the Holy Spirit. This is the point where controversy arises about whether tongues is given to all believers and is the mark of being baptized in the Holy Spirit as Jesus said we would be.

This question obviously arose quite early, because Paul had to address it. 1 Corinthians 12 . 28

And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues . Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Also (1 Corinthians 14 1)

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts , especially the gift of prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues , but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.

So, clearly, the Holy Spirit is given to everyone who repents and is born again, but speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift from God, given at His discretion.

I can’t imagine God’s intention is that someone who has been given one of these charismatic gift should use it to make others feel inferior. If tongues is a gift, it is not a right or a merit payment, and it is not conditional on having attained a certain position or standing.

Being “baptized in the Holy Spirit” may be the best way someone can find to describe the experience of receiving the gracious gift of one or more of these Holy Spirit manifestations, but I don’t believe scripture justifies making a doctrine of it and placing it in some kind of timeline of spiritual growth.

Ongoing Holy Spirit experiences

Affirming that the Holy Spirit is intended for all believers is not to say that one is filled with the Holy Spirit on conversion and then nothing else ever happens.

Life in the Spirit is an ongoing journey and fresh supplies may be given at any time for service and/or for taking one deeper into God’s ways. Jesus was obviously giving us permission to ask for more of the Holy Spirit, but we should be seeking this for the right reasons; not as a spiritual status symbol. As Paul said, we should eagerly desire the greater gifts, but they are for the service of the body of Christ, to be used in the proper manner.

Incidentally, notice that the gift of tongues to the disciples, on that Shavuot / Pentecost, was for a specific purpose. It was as Jesus had promised,

“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."

They were speaking tongues they had not learned, but which were known and understood by the visitors to Jerusalem who God had purposed to reach on that day. (Acts 2 v5 )

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?

David Stern (Jewish New Testament Commentary - p221) covers the coming of the Holy Spirit at Shavuot and brings out interesting points, including how the tongues on that day reversing Babel and also on the Jewish perspective on languages and the Nations.

Shavuot / Pentecost certainly is about both the giving of Torah and then the giving of the Spirit. The events of Pentecost (Acts1) were a prophetic step on from Shavuot. Prophetically, in the life of the believer, Shavuot is the fourth step -  Power to the believer but the personal application of this prophetic view is not the one with a timetable. We don't all get converted at Passover and receive the Holy Spirit at Shavuot!

Another thing that happened when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers was the creation of the non physical temple. This is not to advance supercessionist theology, but to notice a new thing that God was doing. God's Spirit, his Shekinah, had dwelt in the Temple, but now it was to dwell in His people, wherever they were. Pentecost was not the birth of the church, as some will tell you, meaning the Gentile church. Pentecost did not involve any Gentiles! The coming of the Holy Spirit on all (Jewish) believers was the revival of God's faithful - His Olive Tree into which we Gentiles have since been grafted.

One should be wary of being disrespectful to the Holy Spirit by casting doubts on tongues, but, as with other manifestations, tongues should be discerned. Paul gave warnings and precautions.

To sum up

The above concludes, somewhat negatively, that a doctrine of Baptism in the Holy Spirit in which a charismatic blessing, manifested by speaking in tongues, is conferred on proper believers at some stage after their conversion is not biblical.

However there is a positive conclusion - As Paul advised in Corinthians 12

............Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.

There is nothing to stop us seeking the greater gifts, and every reason why we should as long as our hearts and our motives are right.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. "They are tools, not toys" - (CS Lewis in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.)

This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Come, Holy Spirit

Created 05/01/10

Click the banner below to go to the site map and choose another page