What Is Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Its Meaning and Importance in Scripture

Baptism of the Holy Spirit is mentioned several times through scripture, mainly in the New Testament during the life of Jesus. Discover the meaning of being "baptized in the spirit" and when this occurs in the life of a Christian.
Christianity.com Editorial Staff
What Is Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Its Meaning and Importance in Scripture

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Dr. Roger Barrier describes the biblical doctrine of the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" as the following:

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion (1 Corinthians 12:13; 6:19). It is not necessarily accompanied by the gift of speaking in tongues. It would be fair to say that most Christians do not speak in tongues when they receive Christ.

The word, “baptism” means to “dip in” or to “immerse” For example, in the "Odyssey", Odysseus escaped from the Cyclops by sticking (the Greek word is “baptized”) a stake into his eye. Odysseus did not sprinkle it in. He immersed it deeply. In the Bible “baptize” never means “to sprinkle” as some teach today. When we receive Christ, we are immersed (“baptized”) fully by the Holy Spirit into Christ and into the family of God (for example, read Romans 6:1-10).

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is received by simple faith in Christ.The Baptism follows automatically, positionizing us in Christ and cementing us securely into the family of God. Paul taught these “position in Christ” concepts in Colossians 2:12.

Peter also enunciated them in 1 John 4:15. The baptism of the Spirit refers to the new Believer’s incorporation into the body of Christ by a spiritual-organic union effected by the Holy Spirit. Peter declared the same in his sermon in Acts 2:28. The new Christian is now "in Christ".

The Baptism in the Spirit is permanent and is bestowed at conversion. It is not to be repeated (Acts 2:38). There is no Scripture text urging believers today to seek for the Spirit's Baptism.

The point is that it is not possible to receive what we already have!

On the other hand, what the Bible does urge us to seek and receive is the filling of the Holy Spirit. The key verse here is Ephesians 5:18: "Do not get drunk on wine … Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” The term “be filled” is often translated in Greek as “keep on being filled” with the Spirit. It is a continual present tense.

From this we deduce that the filling of the Spirit is not permanent, but is to be repeated again and again. As a drunk is saturated and under the direct influence of alcohol, so we are to live saturated and under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit.

When does the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" occur in the life of a believer?

Christianity.com: When does the from christianitydotcom2 on GodTube.

Transcribed from the video above, Sam Storms talks about when the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs in the life of a Christian:

Yeah, that's a very good question which unfortunately, as you know, has divided Evangelicals from Pentecostals. I personally believe that sprit baptism happens at the point of conversion for all Christians. I think when you're born again, you put your faith in Christ, Jesus immerses you in the Holy Spirit and you receive the fullness of the spirits' presence. He indwells you from that point on forever. That I think is what the New Testaments talking about when it uses the language of baptism in the spirit. 

Now I also believe that there is biblical justification for what we call post conversion encounters with the spirit. So some Christians would simply want to call this the filling of the spirit or some might want to call it an anointing of the spirit. Philippians 1, Paul talks about the provision of the spirit. I'm thinking of Galatians 3 and 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul talks about God continually giving the spirit. So I would want to stand with my Pentecostal charismatic brothers and sisters and say, "You're right. There are multiple encounters with the spirit of God after we get saved throughout the course of our Christian life. Maybe through the impartation of a spiritual gift or empowerment for evangelism or deepened intimacy with Christ. But let's not call those spirit baptism." And I want to agree with my Evangelical brother and sisters and say, "You're right, spirit baptism happens for every Christian at the moment of their conversion. But let's not lose sight of the fact that there are multiple post conversion encounters and experiences with the spirit of God."

Let me just give a quick illustration that might help. I use this example in the Chapter. It's like if you have a headache and you said, "Sam, do you have some Tylenol?" I say, "Yeah." And I pull out and I give you a little bottle and you take a couple of pills and your headache goes away. And then later I discover that what I really gave you was Aspirin, and I said, "You know what? I got to apologize, I called this Tylenol. In fact, it was Aspirin." And your response is, "I don't care what you call it, it worked. It had medicinal power and my headache's gone." 

So my point is this, the question is, "Did you have a real experience with the spirit of God? Did you have an encounter that was life changing and is it justified in scripture?" That's the issue. Whether you call it spirit baptism or I call it spirit filling, really, in the final analysis, does it matter? The question is, "Did we really have an encounter with the spirit of God that is biblically warranted and actually results in a transformed life?" And I think if Christians can embrace that, maybe some of this division between the Pentecostal charismatics and Evangelicals would begin to go away. 


Originally published May 24, 2019.