I want to share in the article some powerful concepts that every believer should consider as they examine this question: Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit For Today? I want to share as somebody who has received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in other tongues, a resounding, “Yes! It is for today!” In fact, some estimate that as many as 660 million believers are part of Pentecostal and Charismatic churches around the world. This is not a little thing that God has done over in a corner somewhere, nor is this a phenomenon that is strange, rare, or odd. God is doing something supernatural in these days. He is pouring out of his Spirit upon all flesh just as Joel prophesied.
Joel 2:28-29 “And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
However, as we look at the question, Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit for today, I cannot base that on my personal experience or even the experience of millions around the world. I must base my answer on the Word of God, the source of doctrine, therefore, I have some things I would like you to consider.
Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit for today?
- CONSIDER THAT THE BIBLE IS THE BASIS FOR ALL DOCTRINE
Unfortunately, there are many believers, particularly in the United States that have been taught the false doctrine of cessationism. Cessationism is the doctrine that spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing ceased with the apostolic age.
One of the underlying arguments that many of these false teachers use to prop up their thinking is that one should not teach from or make doctrine by studying the historical books of the bible. Let me just say this about the Bible – you don’t get to pick and choose which parts of it you believe. If you want to be a New Testament believer and experience biblical Christianity – you have to study, understand, and apply the Word of God. It is completely inspired by the Holy Spirit including the historical parts such as the book of Acts. I know that some teachers who believe in cessationism would even say that anyone who is speaking in tongues in this day is of the devil. That is a very foolish and dangerous thing to say.
Nowhere in the bible does it say that doctrine can only come from books that have a more doctrinal bent to them. In fact, 2 Timothy 3:16 says exactly the opposite of that stating: “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” So, if all scripture is inspired, then all of it is useful for teaching. Those who believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit do so because they have thoroughly researched and studied the scripture. In no way are Pentecostal Theologians in any way inferior to those who try to deny this wonderful empowerment God has supplied to His church.
So, since the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is chronicled in the book of Acts, a thorough study of that book is necessary for full comprehension.
- CONSIDER THAT JESUS WAS SPOKEN OF AS BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
I want you to know that Jesus is an excellent example for us in everything that he said and did. But he was more than just a good man. He was indeed the Son of God. Even though Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20), we do have to remember that the Holy Spirit descended upon him at his baptism in water. When Jesus came to earth he emptied himself of his heavenly powers. You can read about this in Philippians chapter 2. He let go of his heavenly powers and came to earth, walked here as a man and he did it with a purpose and intent. Because he wanted to be an example for us.
You will find as well, where there was a time of preparation before Jesus began his ministry. He went into the desert and he fasted for 40 long days. When he came back from that time with God there are three very powerful scriptures that will tell you that he had a definite relationship with the Holy Spirit. That time of preparation and seeking God caused him to be full of the Holy Spirit.
Some say, it never says anywhere that Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit. I totally agree. Other nomenclature is used. Let’s learn what “baptized” means. Baptized means “immersed”. When you get baptized in water, you are surrounded by water. Your whole body is immersed into water. Let me give you a better word picture of baptized. Immersed. If I took a shirt and stuck it in the washing machine. That shirt would be immersed –baptized. We could describe the shirt like this:
It’s “full” of water.
Water is “upon” it.
We could say its “in” the water.
You can say things a lot of ways!
All I know is that Jesus was spoken of as being full of the Holy Spirit. He is our supreme example.
Luke 4:1 “Jesus full of the Holy Spirit…”
Luke 4:14 “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit..”
And as he began his ministry he quoted this Old Testament verse.
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…”
Jesus gave us an example – before you are effective in serving God, you need to spend some time with him in personal preparation. God wants to fill you up with himself. You will be like a shirt soaking in the washing machine. The Holy Spirit will be on you, and in you, and flowing through you, and you will be full of him.
It’s time we get back to the Bible. Jesus ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit. And He was the only begotten Son of God! How much more do we need the power of the Holy Spirit today.
Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit for today? I say yes, because Jesus ministered in the power of the Spirit.
- CONSIDER THAT THE DISCIPLES NEEDED THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO BE EFFECTIVE
You would have thought that Jesus disciples would have been ready to go and take the gospel to the world. After all, they had seen Jesus perform miracles, walk on the water, heal the sick, raise the dead. They were witnesses to his death, burial and resurrection. He showed Himself to them by many infallible proofs. They had been under Jesus teaching. Yet before Jesus ascended into heaven, in Acts 1:4-5, He gave instructions to them. In fact, it was a command.
“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.”
First, it must be very important to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. This was a command of Jesus. In other words, they weren’t to do anything until they received this gift. There are many denominations, in fact entire segments of Christianity who have erred doctrinally about what that gift is and was. When they erroneously teach that this all passed away with the disciples, they are robbing people of a supernatural empowerment that they Holy Spirit wants to bring to this generation.
Amazingly, these groups say that the gift is salvation. Don’t get me wrong- Salvation is a great gift. The scripture even tells us that Salvation is a gift from God, but it is not the only gift. The gift was not salvation. Were people saved that day? Of course, but it was because of the supernatural empowerment of the Holy Spirit that fell on the 120. The gift the Father promised was the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1:4-5 is extremely important to understand. Jesus immediately explained what he was talking about. The gift was something they had already heard him talk about, it was not salvation, or Jesus would have said so! They had heard Jesus talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would be outpoured! John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of Truth.” John 14:26 says, “But the Counselor, or the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things…” They would receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses.
Another line of reasoning goes like this: Why would Jesus tell the disciples, his apostles, to wait to receive something they have already received? I believe that the disciples were “In Christ”. They had walked with Jesus for three years. Jesus was a pretty awesome soul winner. You can tell by the words that Jesus said to them that they had already received the gift of Salvation. John 15:3 Jesus is talking to them, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” This is not physical cleansing but spiritual cleansing.
John 15:5 a couple of verses later he assures them they are in him like a vine in branches. They are remaining in him. They were to abide in Him. In John 17:9, Jesus prays for his disciples, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” You are not his until you accept Christ. 70 of his disciples heard Jesus say, “Your names are written in heaven” Luke 10:20 These guys were rejoicing in their salvation. All of this was before Jesus says, “Go wait for the gift the Father promised.”
However – at that point in their life – they were not yet baptized in the Holy Spirit. One of the great mistakes many Pentecostals and people who believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is to tell those who haven’t received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit that they don’t have the Holy Spirit. That is ridiculous theology. You can’t even get saved without the Spirit drawing you to Christ, doing the work of regeneration, sealing you with the Holy Spirit. Those things are not what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is all about. What the disciples received in Acts 2, 10, and 19 was an empowerment for service.
Consider this analogy. You can meet your uncle as a child, spend a lot of time with him, know all about him, have many conversations with him, but you aren’t empowered by him until he hires you in his company and gives you his authority. In the same way, the Holy Spirit is not inactive in peoples lives, but He is desiring something more. A spiritual impartation whereby you receive power in your life to be a witness for Christ.
Let’ s read what happened on the day of Pentecost: “When they 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 filled 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 gave enabled them.”
Of course, if read the whole narrative, you would realize that there were many God-fearing Jews from many nations of the world that where nearby. They were amazed at what was happening. Some said these people – they are crazy – they are drunk. Others were amazed. Others were perplexed by it all. All of that is understandable, because there were 120 people and they are speaking in languages that they did not know.
Peter stood up and preached that day. Obviously, there was a new anointing and power upon Peter’s life as 3000 people responded to the message. From the day of Pentecost forward, there is miracle after miracle written in the book of Acts describing the ministry of the apostles and the early church. The reason for that was that they had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Is the baptism in the Holy Spirit for today? Just consider this simple line of reasoning. If the disciples who walked with Jesus needed the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in order to be effective, how much more do we? With all the training, seeing all the miracles, being able to lay your head on Jesus shoulder, and being witnesses to his death, burial and resurrection wasn’t enough to prepare them and they had to wait for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, why does the modern church feel like this is some optional thing? If they needed it, what makes us think that in the 21st Century we don’t need it.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is for today!
- CONSIDER THAT IT WAS THE COMMON EXPERIENCE FOR BELIEVERS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Acts 19 is a very key passage that shows us that receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit was normative for believers in the early church. We can read from Acts chapter 2 to Acts 19 in a couple of hours if we are diligent. However, this was not a couple of hours later. This was 20 years later. The gospel had been spreading throughout the earth.
Acts 19:1 “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, “They what baptism did you receive?” John’s baptism they replied. Paul said, “Johns 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. (In other words baptized in water) When Paul placed his hand on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.”
Years after the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Paul finds some people, and they are some sincere believers who have been baptized under Johns ministry. They had repented of their sins. And for years they had been plugging along. They were doing all they knew how to do. They didn’t even know about the Holy Spirit. Basically they said, “Who is the Holy Spirit?”
Well Paul explained the things of God more clearly to them. They were then baptized in water. And then Paul prayed for them to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:6 “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” I want to declare to you on the authority of God’s word that the Holy Spirit had this put in here so that you and I could understand that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was normative for the early church.
Years after Pentecost, years after the initial outpouring people were still receiving and speaking in other tongues. God wants you to be filled with him as well. He has promised it to you.
Acts 2:38 “And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and all who are far of-for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
I tell you today that he is calling you! He is saying I want you to be filled up to overflowing! He is saying I want you to have Holy Spirit power in your life.
5. CONSIDER THAT CHURCH HISTORY AFFIRMS THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CONTINUED
Please see this excellent article for more information: https://sharenoesis.com/article/pentecost-history/460
Irenaeus (115-202 AD) was a disciple of Polycarp who followed John the Apostle. He is quoted as saying, “We hear many brethren in the Church having prophetic gifts, and speaking in all sorts of languages through the Spirit.”
Tertullian (160-220) refers to the spiritual gifts, including the speaking in tongues, being operative in the churches. Justyn Martyr, living at the same time, confirms this fact.
Origen (185-254) wrote of the speaking in tongues, not as a gift to oneself, but as an obligation to the people to whom the gospel is to be preached.
Augustine (4th century) reportedly said, “We still do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Holy Spirit on them … It is expected that converts should speak with new tongues.”
Chrysostom (4th-5th centuries) wrote, “Whoever was baptized … he straightway spake with tongues … one … in the Persian language, another in the Roman … and this made manifest to them that were without that it was the Spirit in the very person speaking.”
The Encyclopedia Britannica states that speaking in tongues “recurs in Christian revivals of every age, e.g. among the mendicant friars of the 13th century, among the Jensenists and early Quakers, the converts of Wesley and Whitefield, the persecuted Protestants of the Cevennes, and the Irvingites.”
- CONSIDER THE CONDITION OF THE CHURCH AND OUR WORLD TODAY
Is the baptism in the Holy Spirit for today? How much does our world need a church that is infused with spiritual power? We live in a country where babies are aborted every day. We have redefined what marriage is, and we now think almost anything is okay. The world is lost. It is darker than ever, with more problems than ever before. All of the wonderful programs and human ideas will never crack that hard shell that Satan has placed around a dying world.
Only 17.7 percent of the American population is in church any given Sunday. https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html
I love this country and I feel like that is unacceptable. And here is the one that gets me – 80% of American churches are in decline or have plateaued. I don’t want a new touch from heaven so I can get the “feel goods”. I don’t want a fresh baptism in the Holy Spirit so I can say, “oh I was drunk in the Spirit.” I want the Holy Spirit to empower me because there is a world that needs Jesus.
We lack the power to get out there and get the job done. A lot of people misunderstand the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. They see it as something optional. They see it as well that’s okay for them but not for me.
Even people who understand about it. They think its kind of like putting a new carburetor on the car. It’ll go faster. It’ll get better gas mileage. It’ll be a little souped up but I think I am happy just to kind of plug along. You have the wrong picture in your mind. The church of Jesus Christ is going nowhere without the power of the Holy Spirit. We don’t need a better carburetor. We are sitting still. Our transmissions broken. Yeah! We can rev the engine. We can sit in our car and strategize and make plans. We can say, “We are going over here to do this.” But are we effective? I’m telling you that we need to get the transmission fixed. Let’s get completely full of the power of the Holy Spirit.
Is the baptism in the Holy Spirit for today? I believe that it is essential if we are going to be effective in our ministries.