Baptism in the Holy Spirit - EMPOWERMENT FOR MINISTRY
Larry Kreider

B. Childress
Feb 28 2011

The promise of the Holy Spirit

It is important to realize how the Holy Spirit desires to use us and flow from our lives.  The subject of the baptism in the
Holy Spirit is sometimes a controversial one in today’s Christian church, so let’s carefully look at this experience to help
us understand it better.

Let’s look again at Luke 3:16.  John answered them all, “I
baptize you with water.  But one more powerful than I will
come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
”  When
we previously mentioned this verse, we covered the
baptism of fire part of it.  Now we want to look at what John the
Baptist meant when he said Jesus would baptize us
with the Holy Spirit.

All genuine believers have the Spirit of God dwelling in them.  I Corinthians 3:16 says,
Don’t you know that you
yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
 The Holy Spirit lives within each child of God.  The Holy
Spirit is a person, not a doctrine or merely an influence or power.  This is very important.  The Holy Spirit is God and has
the personal characteristics of God.  God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – often referred to as the Trinity.  The Holy
Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.

The divine person of the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in you when you give your life to Jesus and receive Him into your life.  
He cares about you and has the power to help you.  However, this does not mean you have been
baptized in the Holy

The Holy Spirit lives within every believer

At the time of our salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us.  He leads and motivates us to live holy lives and
delivers us from the bondage of sin.  Romans 8:9 says,
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the
Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ

During Jesus’ last talk with His disciples before His trial and crucifixion, He promised them they would receive the Holy
Spirit (John 14:17).  Subsequently, after His resurrection, Jesus visited the disciples and breathed on them
Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).

At that moment, the disciples were born again by the Holy Spirit.  Although the disciples had already confessed Jesus as
Lord and were saved according to the old covenant provisions, they could not have been born again before Jesus was
raised from the dead.  Jesus had to come and give them His resurrection power according to the new covenant.  Now
they also believed that Jesus was raised from the dead, and their salvation was completed.

When God took a hunk of clay in the Garden of Eden and breathed on it, Adam was formed and received physical life.  
Here, God breathed on the disciples and gave them spiritual life.  When you were convicted of your sin before you
received Christ, the Holy Spirit was outside of you bringing conviction.  When you received Jesus, the Holy Spirit then
inside to live within you.  But there’s more!  The New Testament depicts two distinct yet complementary aspects of
receiving the Holy Spirit – the experience of the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit on “Resurrection Sunday” that we just
described, and the experience they later received on “Pentecost Sunday.”  Let’s compare the two experiences.

You shall receive power!

After the disciples’ encounter with the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them and told them to “receive the Holy Spirit,”
He made it clear that their experience was still incomplete.  In His final words to them before His ascension, He
commanded them not to go out and preach immediately, but to go back to Jerusalem and wait there until they were
baptized in the Holy Spirit and thus given the power they needed to be effective witnesses.  
Do not leave Jerusalem, but
wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few
days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…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
(Acts 1:4-5,8).

So the disciples prayed and waited.  During the festival of Pentecost, 120 of His disciples were gathered together in one
place, and it happened!  
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like
the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filed the whole house where they were sitting.  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
(Acts 2:1-4).

Here, the disciples experienced the mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Although they had received the life of the Holy
Spirit only a few weeks before when Jesus breathed on them (John 20:22), this time they received the
baptism in the
Holy Spirit.  They received a new dimension of the Holy Spirit’s power.

This distinction between receiving the Holy Spirit at rebirth and receiving the
baptism in the Holy Spirit is significant.  We
need to recognize the difference between having the Holy Spirit living within us and being baptized in the Holy Spirit.  
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the Lord’s provision for releasing the power of the Holy Spirit into the believer’s life.

The story is told of a Christian man who lived in a poor village in the interior of his nation who had the opportunity to
come to a big city.  Having never experienced the use of electricity before, he was fascinated when he saw electric light
bulbs for the first time.  He asked his host if he could have one to take back to his home.  When he got back to his
village, he hung the light bulb on a string in his hut.  He was frustrated because it wouldn’t work, until a missionary
explained to him that it must be plugged into a power source.  That’s the way it is with us.  To enter into the fullness of
what God has planned for our lives, we have no greater need than to be plugged into the power source.  
We need the
mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit.  It is the gateway into a new dimension of the Spirit’s presence and power
in our lives, and it empowers us for ministry

We receive by faith

Just like salvation comes by faith, so the baptism in the Holy Spirit comes by faith.  We receive the baptism in the Holy
Spirit by faith in the Word of God and by faith in Jesus Christ.  Faith is always a prerequisite for receiving the baptism in
the Holy Spirit.  Galatians 3:14 tells us explicitly…
that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Not everyone’s experience will be the same.  We can pray and receive the Holy Spirit baptism on our own or have
someone pray for us to receive the power of the Spirit.  Some believers have a dynamic, emotional experience at the
time of their Holy Spirit baptism.  
They may begin to sing a new song that God gave to them in an unknown
language or speak in tongues
.  Others simply take God at His Word and experience the reality of the baptism in the
Holy Spirit as a process over the days and weeks that follow.

The type of experience that we have is not of primary importance; the key is that we know by faith in the Word of God
that we’ve been filled and baptized with the Holy Spirit.  We need to know we are baptized with the Spirit just as we need
to know we have been born again.

It is possible to be baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit at the same time.  Or, some may be baptized in the Holy Spirit
before they are water-baptized.  It happened in Acts 10:44-46.  Peter was preaching the gospel to the Gentiles in
Cornelius’ home when an amazing phenomenon occurred.  
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
.  The people at Cornelius’ house received the Word and were saved.  The Lord immediately poured out the Holy
Spirit on them in power, thus paralleling the disciples’ experience at Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit baptism brings the
personal boldness and power of the Spirit into our lives that we need to be effective.  

Regardless of our personal experience, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is received by faith.  A pastor and his wife came to
me and said, “We’re not sure we’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit.”  I assured them they can know for sure as I laid my
hands on them and prayed.  This time, they chose to “receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,” and they were
gloriously baptized with the Holy Spirit!  From that time on, they knew it.  Their spiritual thirst led them to yield to and
receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Want to be effective?  It’s your decision

Some might ask, “Do I really have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?”  My reply would be, “Do you really need to have all
of God’s power so you can help other people find God?”  People all around us are going to hell.  We
need God’s power
so He can fulfill His purpose in us and through us!

I often explain the power of the Holy Spirit like this.  If you mow a lawn, you can do it with a pair of scissors or with a lawn
mower.  It’s your decision.  You don’t have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be a Christian, but like using the mower,
God wants us to be effective.  In fact, the early disciples of Jesus made being filled with the Holy Spirit a requirement for
anyone who was to be set apart for special responsibilities in the church.  
Brothers, choose seven men from among you
who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them
(Acts 6:3).

The baptism in the Holy Spirit increases the effectiveness of a Christian’s witness because of a strengthening
relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that comes from being filled with the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit makes the
personal presence of Jesus more real to us, and it results in wanting to love and obey Him more.

A survey was taken in the Philippines some time back which found that each Christian who had received the baptism of
the Holy Spirit brought 36 people to Christ compared to the one person led to the Lord by each Christian who had not
received the Holy Spirit baptism.  Why?  The spirit-baptized Christians simply had the power of God in their lives to
witness with greater effect.

You may say you know of Christians who are not baptized in the Holy Spirit.  So do I.  But think how much more effective
they would be if they were baptized in the Spirit.

Saul’s experiences with the Holy Spirit

Saul was a devout Jew who was playing havoc with the Christians in the book of Acts.  He was on his way to Damascus
to persecute the early Christians when the Lord met him and did something supernatural in his life.  “
Who are you,
Lord?”  Saul asked.  “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,”
he replied.  “Now get up and go into the city, and you will
be told what you must do.”  Then Ananias went to the house and entered it.  Placing his hands on Saul, he said,
“Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you
may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit
” (Acts 9:5,6,17).

Ananias called Saul “brother” because Saul was now a Christian.  However, Saul still wasn’t filled with the Holy Spirit.  
Many people say that when you’re saved, you are also automatically baptized in the Spirit.  Although it is possible to
receive and be baptized in the Holy Spirit at conversion, it is not always so.  Saul, who became Paul, was baptized in the
Holy Spirit three days after he received Christ into his life.  It happened when Ananias laid his hands on Saul and prayed.

The difference between receiving the Holy Spirit at salvation and being baptized in the Holy Spirit can be explained like
this:  You can be led to a pool of water and drink from it (receive the Holy Spirit at salvation), or you can jump fully into
the water (be baptized with the Holy Spirit).  It’s the same water (Holy Spirit) but you have a completely different

During the 1800’s , evangelist Dwight L. Moody was preaching and saw the same two ladies sitting in the front row night
after night.  Nearly every night, they came up to him after his meetings and said, “Mr. Moody, you need to be filled with
the Holy Spirit.”  At first he resisted their remarks.  However, months later, as he walked down a street in New York City,
he had an experience with God and was filled with the Holy Spirit.

The results were amazing!  He preached the same sermons, but instead of two or three people getting saved at his
services, hundreds and thousands came to know Jesus.  In his lifetime, a million people were kept out of hell because of
the power of God on his life.  What made the difference?  The mighty baptism – infilling – of the Holy Spirit.  He had
received power.

Experiencing His power for yourself

I was baptized in the Holy Spirit seven years after I received Jesus Christ as my Lord.  I could have been baptized in the
Holy Spirit sooner, but I was ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s work.  Although I love the Lord and was part of a youth ministry, I
realized there was something missing in my life.  I needed the power of the Holy Spirit.  I sometimes attended Christian
ministries where people were set free from drugs or other life-controlling problems, and I realized these people had a
spiritual power that I didn’t have.

After studying the scripture and being convinced this experience was based on the Word of God, I went out into the
woods one day and prayed, “God, I want You to baptize me in the Holy Spirit.”  I prayed, but nothing happened.  In
retrospect, I can see that I had pride in my heart.  I wanted to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit alone, on my own
terms.  I didn’t really want anything too radical to happen!  So, I humbled myself and went to a pastor who laid hands on
me and prayed for me.  That night I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

After I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, my life immediately took on a whole new dimension of power.  It wasn’t me – it was
God – the baptism in the Holy Spirit gave me an intense desire to please Him.  Before I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, I
was involved in a ministry where a few people had given their lives to the Lord.  However, after I was baptized in the Holy
Spirit, everything seemed to change.  Hundreds of young people gave their lives to Christ during the next few years.  I
knew that it certainly wasn’t anything that I was doing in my own power and strength.  It was the Holy Spirit’s power.

I must admit, that at first, I was not sure if I should share this experience with others because it was so controversial in
the church at that time.  I changed my mind when a young lady reprimanded me by saying, “Why didn’t you tell me about
the baptism in the Holy Spirit?  Last Saturday night I was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and now I have experienced His
power in my life.”  If you filled a kerosene lantern with oil, you would still have to strike a match and light the lantern so its
power could be released.  The same principle applies to the truth of the Holy Spirit.  We can have the Holy Spirit living in
us but lack the power He can release in our lives.  God spoke to me through this young lady, and from that time on, I told
people the truth I discovered.  It was a joy to serve as a “spiritual midwife” when Jesus baptized them in His precious Holy

Although it took me several years from the time I was saved to the time I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, I believe it is God’
s will that we are born again and immediately receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the power of God in our lives.  
Acts 2:38-39 says the baptism in the Holy Spirit was not just for those at Pentecost, but for all who would believe in
Christ throughout this age…
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and
for all who are far off