The Mystery Of The Baptism In
The Holy Spirit (Pt. 3)
By William Handschumacher
Rock of Offence Special Bible Study
The Baptism In The Holy
Spirit: A Second Work
Many old time Pentecostals referred to the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a "Second Blessing" or a "Second Work of Grace". I've looked at this topic and find it confusing because of the way salvation is preached in the modern church. In the first century church after the day of Pentecost, the infilling of the Holy Spirit was ministered directly after belief in Christ (salvation). Early church leadership considered believing on Christ and receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as two halves of a whole message. They were two truths that made up the whole of salvation. Today, we generally don't preach the gospel in this way. If we evangelize and convince people to commit their life to Jesus Christ - we baptize them, give them a Bible and direct them to attend a local church. In most places these believers are never told about how to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit or any of the benefits. It isn't included in the message because modern theology believes it doesn't apply anymore. It is commonly taught that you get everything when you trust Christ for salvation. They've stripped it from the New Testament Scriptures and tossed it into their trashcan of "unessential doctrines for Christian life". I don't know how God will work all this out, but I think there's going to be some horrible unintended consequences related to this kind of religious thinking. It's true not only for the church leaders, but also for their followers who are spiritually cheated.
Do we see examples of these things
"But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." (Acts 8:12-17)
(Note: Remember that we are not 'baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus' unless we are already a Christian - or believer in Christ.)
In this passage we discover how Samaria believes Philip's evangelistic message and is water baptized. This means they believed Christ's gospel of salvation and were saved. You do not get water baptized until after you are saved. Otherwise, you're just getting an unbeliever wet. Under our modern day evangelistic message, the leaders would rejoice that Philip's evangelistic campaign was successful. We would probably send some ministers to Samaria to make sure that either a church was successfully started or to get them involved in one that already existed. We would consider that the efforts bore good fruit and move on to the next challenge.
Yet, that way of thinking doesn't agree with the Biblical pattern. It says that the apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to pray for them, so that they might receive the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit) - for as yet he was fallen upon none of them ... but they were baptized only in the name of the Lord Jesus. After Peter and John arrived in Samaria they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit).
It seems like the teaching that
we get everything when we believe
on Christ and are saved - isn't
true in this situation.
Acts 8:12-17 is a very revealing section of Scripture. It shows where modern evangelism misses the mark. Most Christians today are in the same spiritual condition that the believing Samarians were in before Peter and John visited them. These believers are told they got everything when they believed on Jesus Christ. They're told they already have all of the benefits of the Holy Spirit that's available. Yet, the Bible reveals that this belief isn't true.
How did Peter and John know that the Holy Spirit had been received? It doesn't say in this passage ... but they had to have a way to know. Could it be that they spoke with tongues as in the other examples in Scripture? If an answer was given based on these examples ... we would say yes. Yet, the silence concerning the presence of tongues in this situation is all opponents need to convince them otherwise. The reader can decide.
The reason we believe the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a necessary "Second Work of Grace" is because it's left out of the common evangelistic message. Many evangelical Christians haven't received this necessary spiritual equipment that Jesus said was to empower them to be his witnesses. This could go a long way in explaining why the modern organized church is falling apart and losing its effectiveness.
We find another example in the
salvation testimony of the Apostle
Paul while traveling on the road
"And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man." (Acts 9:3-7)
Notice something important in this passage: Paul (then known as Saul) responded with "trembling and astonishment" and addressed Jesus who was speaking to him, as Lord. Paul became a believer in Christ at this point. Theologians attribute this spiritual encounter to the "conversion of Saul", who immediately lost his eyesight and needed someone to guide him. This Damascus road event ocurred several years after the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit had already arrived. Saul was taken to Damascus where he continued without eating or drinking anything. He was devastated because his anti-Christian theology was destroyed in a matter of seconds. And worse, he had persecuted and contributed to the execution of many of God's people. Jesus equated these acts of persecution as something committed personally against Him. As a man whose whole life was dedicated to the service of God - Saul suddenly found himself in the uncomfortable position of having offended the God he served. No modern day Christian will ever understand how Saul, a devoted Pharisee (Phil. 3:4-6), felt at this point. As far as he was concerned, his whole purpose for living was gone.
God calls a disciple by the name of Ananias to visit and minister to Saul. For good reason, Ananias protests this mission because Saul was responsible for the arrest and persecution of many of Christ's followers.
"But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
And Ananias went his way, and
entered into the house; and
putting his hands on him
said, Brother Saul, the Lord,
even Jesus, that appeared unto
thee in the way as thou camest,
hath sent me, that thou
mightest receive thy sight,
And be filled with
the Holy Ghost."
During Ananias' time with Saul, we discover some extraordinary things. First, Ananias referred to Saul as "Brother Saul". This is an endearing term used between fellow believers in Christ. You don't call another man "brother" unless he's also a believer. In addition to receiving his eyesight, Ananias is sent to Saul by a direct command of Jesus to "be filled with the Holy Spirit". Notice that this "infilling with the Spirit" occurred through the laying on of Ananias' hands (covered later). Obviously, Saul didn't receive everything on the Damascus road when he first believed on Christ. The infilling, or the baptism in the Holy Spirit was ministered as a second work of grace on Saul's life.
We don't know whether Saul, later
named Paul, spoke in tongues during
Ananias' visit, but we do know
that he eventually did so. In his
Epistle to the Corinthians Paul
said that he "spoke in tongues
more than all of them."
(1 Cor. 14:18).
Another example can be seen during an exchange between Saint Paul and certain disciples who previously followed John the Baptist. No other person knew more about Jesus than John. If these men followed him and received his baptism, it's reasonable to conclude that they knew and believed in Christ. John's whole ministry was built around being the "voice crying in the wilderness" concerning the arrival of Jesus Christ, God's Son. I find it interesting that Paul's question to them, "have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" indicates that he thought that they already had faith in Christ. Yet, these disciples had not received everything that was available. Let's look at the entire account:
"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve." (Acts 19:1-7)
These Scriptures raise some
Don't We Receive The Holy Spirit
When We Believe On Jesus?
Many of us are not taught that the Holy Spirit has a dual role in salvation. It's often the result of coming into God's kingdom under a "partial gospel" message. There's a difference between the Holy Spirit coming into (or indwelling) a believer for the purpose of "sealing them until the day of redemption" - and the act of being "baptize (or immerse) by Jesus in the Holy Spirit". Yet, as we previously stated, in some special cases ... both can occur at the same time.
The first act spiritually seals
us on the inside and guarantees
our salvation through the
indwelling presence of the Holy
Spirit. It is activated by simple
child-like faith in Christ as
outlined in Romans 10:8-13.
The second act allows Jesus to
immerse us in the Holy Spirit
for the purpose of empowerment.
While this baptism of empowerment
is vitally important for the
Christian - it is not required to
These are two different spiritual acts. Paul teaches us about the first process:
"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." (Eph 1:13-14)
Jesus tells us about the second process involving Holy Spirit baptism:
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
Some opponents attempt to argue that the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the way Jesus taught it, is only for the Jews. Yet, Peter on the day of Pentecost puts an end to this wrong belief. Concerning the events where the Holy Spirit is poured out, Peter says:
"For the promise is to you and to your children (the Jews), and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call (the Gentiles)." (Acts 2:39)
Again, there are several New Testament terms used to describe Holy Spirit baptism. One is "receiving the Holy Spirit". This term is not meant to imply that a believer doesn't have the Holy Spirit at all. As Paul taught, he's very much inside us through the act of believing in Christ. Paul said that the Holy Spirit seals us until the day of redemption. This "sealing" guarantees our salvation. We get this benefit by receiving Jesus Christ as our savior and redeemer.
Yet, this is the question we must ask
"Does the Holy Spirit have us?"
Have we personally yielded to the
Holy Spirit in the way Jesus taught?
Have we received the Holy Spirit the
way the early apostles ministered it?
We "believe in Christ" and are
saved, but have we released his
Spirit into our lives?
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit represents something completely different than when we initially receive Jesus to be saved. It's the "other half" of the original gospel message that is often left out.
You can look at it this way. Let's say a visitor walks into your office and sits down in the waiting area. Your secretary informs you and several minutes later, you walk out, and "receive" this person by shaking his hand and asking him to come in. In the same way the Holy Spirit is "in your office" through faith in Christ. He's there and waiting for you to "receive" him - and the rule of his spiritual government. "Receiving the Holy Spirit" is a separate act after believing on Christ.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col 2:8)
If modern evangelists followed the
Biblical pattern (and some do) they
would include these things in their
gospel message. But, we've seen
that this is not the case.
You can get saved under a "partial
gospel" message because God said
that eternal life is a free gift
through faith in Christ. However,
if you fail to go on and receive
the Baptism in the Holy Spirit,
you'll lack the power to properly
and victoriously live for Jesus. We
consider this failure a spiritual
This is also the reason so many oppose this teaching. Imagine having to admit that the doctrine of salvation your denomination preached for hundreds of years wasn't quite right. I learned from watching the conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees - and from personal experience - that religious leaders never admit to mistakes of this magnitude. The result would be catastrophic. Their credibility as "God's representative" would be seriously damaged, the average church member's faith would be shaken - and the ministry they spent years to build could collapse. As a result, it's far easier to discredit the baptism in the Holy Spirit, rather than allowing your whole ministry to be threatened.
How To Receive The Baptism
In The Holy Spirit
In the early church the Holy Spirit is primarily received in two ways:
The Holy Spirit would "fall" upon a group
as they hear the gospel of Christ
The Holy Spirit would be imparted to
individuals by the "laying on of hands"
We see an example of the Spirit "falling" (being poured out) on a group in Acts chapter 2 with the Jews on the day of Pentecost and in Acts chapter 10 with the Gentiles. Saint Paul reveals how the Galatian church "received the Holy Spirit during his comments about their sin of trusting in the works of the law. He suggests that they initially "received the Spirit" by the hearing of faith.
"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Gal 3:1-2)
We also see that the Holy Spirit is received (both individually and as a group) by a method called "the laying on of hands". This is a Scriptural way that certain spiritual blessings, such as physical healing and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, are transmitted to the recipient. It happens by physically "laying hands" on people - usually the shoulders or the head. We can see this practice in three examples. The first is when Peter and John went to Samaria and ministered the Holy Spirit to the new believers. The second is when Ananias ministered healing and the Holy Spirit to Saul as a new believer in Christ. The third example is where Paul ministers the Holy Spirit to some disciples of John the Baptist.
"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money..." (Acts 8:14-18)
"And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." (Acts 9:17)
"And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve." (Acts 19:6-7)
We also see the practice of "laying on of hands" taught by the Lord Jesus after his resurrection:
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16:17-18)
Here is the problem.
Unless you attend a church that already believes in the practice of "laying on of hands" and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit - you're pretty much on your own. Don't make the mistake of taking this study to your pastor, thinking that you're giving him new revelation. Chances are, he's heard these things before and decided, for one reason or another, not to implement them in the fellowship. There are a lot of reasons this message isn't taught by more pastors and teachers. Most of the reasons are "political" in nature. They don't want to draw the displeasure of their denomination down upon their ministry - and they don't want to upset their congregation with a message that contradicts traditional beliefs. Some "fundamentalist" church members are deeply offended and withdraw their membership when hearing anything about "tongues" or the baptism in the Holy Spirit". The ministry and reputation of the pastor or teacher is at stake. I'm not saying these things to be disrespectful. These are powerful political and traditional forces that can be found in all religious organizations. Most church members have no idea of the intense pressures that come against the pastor and his staff on a daily basis. When a congregation embraces this message, it's usually the result of direct intervention by the Holy Spirit Himself that brings about the change. Some people may get offended and leave the church, but God will bring in new ones to take their place.
The last reason is the most common. Some ministers don't believe the Baptism in the Spirit applies to the modern day Christian. They can produce many persuasive arguments to support their beliefs. Yet, my experience proves that these arguments have no merit when they contradict Scripture. The unintended consequences of striping this topic from the New Testament gospel is alarming. It forces us to ask hard questions such as:
What else has been removed from
the foundational doctrines of
Christ's salvation by some
theologians and church leaders
without our knowledge?
If you're seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit you have several options. If you know of a fellowship in your area that embraces these truths - you can visit to receive ministry. You might know a friend that attends one of these fellowships and can vouch for its beliefs. However, there are many "spirit-filled" churches that abuse the Scriptural principles concerning the gifts. There are churches (such as some "Holiness and Oneness Pentecostals) that practice a form of legalism that undermines and redefines the Gospel of Grace. The only advice in this area is to sincerely pray and ask the Lord to lead you to the right place. Also, it may not be a traditional church building, but an individual believer in a "home church" setting. This was my experience. God wants you to walk in this truth ... so he will answer this kind of prayer.
The other option is to go directly to the Lord Jesus and ask him to baptize you in the Holy Spirit. The Scripture teaches that Jesus is the one who baptizes in the Spirit - so you can never make a mistake by going directly to the source.
Important Note: Before receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, it is important that some prerequisites are met. Make sure you've dealt with all bitterness, hostility and opposition that's been placed in your life regarding the gift of speaking in tongues. This will be a major blockage if not dealt with. Repentance must also occur in areas of all occult practices. Involvement with palm readers, ouija boards, witchcraft, sorcery, Satan worship, séances (communication with the dead), spirit-mediums, astro-projection, channeling or any other such practices involving "spiritism" will hinder or prevent a believer from receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Heavy metal rock music associated with the occult and magic arts also fall in this category. A clean break with these practices is necessary for involvement in the Spirit-filled life. You can't be involved with Satan's kingdom and walk with God at the same time. Remember that the Holy Spirit is "Holy". If you desire to repent from these areas, just pray and confess each one to your Father in heaven, renounce your involvement in it, and ask Him to forgive you for it. It's just that simple.
You can pray to receive the Holy
Spirit as outlined in the example
"Lord Jesus, I understand from Your Word that You want me to have power to be Your witness in the earth. I also understand that it is You who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire. I know that the Holy Spirit is something that you want me to have and also something, like my salvation, that cannot be earned by good works or by being good enough. By faith, I am asking you, right now, to baptize me in Your Holy Spirit."
There is more to this subject that
cannot be shared in these writings.
It has to occur in a face-to-face
ministry environment. We pray that
this study has been helpful. May
our heavenly Father lead and guide
you into all truth.
This is part 3 of a 3 part Bible Study.
Click on the desired link to navigate
this study or return to the index page.
Mystery Of The Baptism In The
Holy Spirit (Pt. 1)
Mystery Of The Baptism In The
Holy Spirit (Pt. 2)
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