Baptism Of The Holy Spirit

Q. What is your understanding of ‘Baptism in/with the Holy Spirit’. We have members in our group – which by the way is a mix of denominations incl. RC – on this subject. All agree we need to be baptized to witness to others our faith in Christ and that this is by immersion. However some maintain that you receive the Spirit after the water baptism.

Some say you may never receive Him, some say (and they are the ones I agree with) that nowadays we receive the Spirit as guide, helper and rebuker of our conscience the minute we pray the sinners prayer and accept Christ. In the apostles days it happened suddenly as at pentecost, by laying on of hands by an apostle or at/after baptism so there seems to be no clear answer. For some this has become a sticking point in accepting brothers or sisters as true believers. Can you please give us some insight?

A. I’ve never found any Biblical mandate for the so-called baptism of the Holy Spirit. The verses I’ve seen used to support it require a re-interpretation of the context in which they were written. Paul’s detailed teaching on the subject of spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12-14) doesn’t mention it.

However it does mention the distribution of spiritual gifts to believers. Paul said the Holy Spirit “gives them to each one just as He determines” (1 Cor. 12:11). The opinion that this distribution stopped after the apostolic period ended cannot be supported in Scripture either, and the fact that there are people running around with legitimate spiritual gifts today is the best possible evidence for their existence.

A literal reading of Paul’s teaching will deny the need for a second baptism, deny the requirement to manifest a certain gift as evidence of a 2nd baptism, deny the belief that gifts are not for our time, and confirm the fact that every believer has been invested with at least one gift of the Holy Spirit.

As a well known and highly regarded teacher once said, “The question is not how much of the Spirit is in you, the question is how much of you is in the Spirit.” In other words, a single-minded application of Romans 12:1-8 in our lives will reveal the Holy Spirit’s role for us in the body of Christ.

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