The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 10/28/2018, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click the play arrow above.
The Holy Spirit in You
When you gave your life to Jesus, God gave you His Holy Spirit as a guarantee:
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. – 2 Cor 1:20-21
His Holy Spirit is a guarantee that when you die, you are going to Heaven to be with Jesus (see John 14:1-5). His Holy Spirit is also a guarantee that while you are still alive, you will live a supernatural life.
You are filled with the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead!
The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead gives life to your mortal body – Romans 8:11
That means you get to pray the same prayers Jesus prayed – heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons (Matt 10:8) – and expect exactly the same results!
If you believe in Jesus, you already have His Holy Spirit in you. But did you know there is more?
There Is More
There is an experience that is separate and distinct from salvation called the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Here is the best way I know how to explain it.
Imagine I have two sponges. They are both the same brand, and brand new: completely identical right out of the packaging. Now imagine I take one of those sponges and leave it out on the counter for several days. It will still be a sponge! But it will be bone dry. Imagine, on the other hand, I take another one of those sponges and submerge it in a giant bucket of water. Picture the sponge coming up out of the water, absolutely dripping. It is now soaking wet. Wherever that sponge goes, it leaves a trail of moisture. I can’t use the first (dry) sponge to clean anything; but I can use the second (wet) sponge to take care of business!
This is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Every believer has the Holy Spirit in him/her; but not every believer chooses (or even knows to choose!) to be baptized in His presence. Some of us are walking around – bone dry – wondering why we don’t feel the presence of God, and why our prayers aren’t effective. Others are so saturated with His presence that we leave a trail of His glory everywhere we go!
Here is what Scripture says about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. We are going to work through the Book of Acts, and the examples will get more concrete as we go. The first several Scriptures will illustrate our invitation to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. The remaining Scriptures will show us how to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 6, as the church was multiplying, the early church leaders needed help:
Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” – Acts 6:1-4
The church leaders needed people who would be powerful and effective. So here are the qualifications they asked for in potential employees: “Seek out…seven men…full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (v 3). Full of the Holy Spirit.
If there was no such thing as the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the early church leaders would have simply said, “Any Christian will do!” But they didn’t; they specified they needed men who were full of the Holy Spirit. If we all had as much of the Holy Spirit as we would ever receive at the moment we got saved, their search would have been over. But it wasn’t; they needed men who were full of the Holy Spirit.
And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. – Acts 6:5-7
Don’t you want to be used by God like that? Don’t you want to be a believer who not only has the Holy Spirit in you, but also has the Holy Spirit working through you?
The Apostle Paul, writer of 13 out of 27 books in the New Testament, knew the importance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit:
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” – Acts 19:1-2
This – by the way – is where a lot of the church is today! We believe in Jesus, but we’re not so sure about the Holy Spirit. We get nervous whenever anybody talks about Him. We’re worried the Holy Spirit will make us fall on the floor, laugh a little too hard, or do something weird! So we stay in our dry Christian lifestyle, instead of pursuing the greater things God has for us!
And [Paul] said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would 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 hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all. – Acts 19:3-7
Look at this progression. These were already believers. They had already been baptized “into John’s baptism” (v 3). They knew they were sinners in need of a Savior, but they didn’t know where to go from there. So, Paul baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus.
But he didn’t stop there! There was still more God wanted them to have! So Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied!
Wow! Have you ever spoken in tongues? Have you ever prophesied? If the answer is no, there is more God wants you to have! He wants you to be baptized in His Holy Spirit: speaking in tongues, and prophesying!
The word “upon” (v 6, above) is the same preposition used at Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:16. Jesus was already fully God! He didn’t need to repent of any sin. Yet something powerful still happened at His baptism.
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. – Matt 3:16
God wants you to be saturated in His presence in exactly the same way! So why would you stop short of everything He wants you to have?
The Day of Pentecost
The early church was filled with the Holy Spirit as they sat in the upper room:
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. – Acts 2:1-4
They already believed in Jesus! They had already repented of their sins! But before they went out and did what God called them to do (Luke 24:49), they needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came, and they spoke in tongues!
Do you know what I find most encouraging about all this? Scripture says the Holy Spirit came. He descended like a dove (Matt 3:16) upon Jesus. Then He rushed in from Heaven on the early church (Acts 2, above). And after He came, He never left! Scripture never speaks of the Holy Spirit withdrawing His presence from the church: the body of Jesus Christ! He’s still here! And He wants you to let Him in to your life!
As the Gospel spread, so did the baptism in the Holy Spirit:
Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 8:14-19
Again, here was a group of disciples who had received the word of God. They believed in Jesus! Yet the Holy Spirit “had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (v 16)! They were already saved! But there was more God wanted them to have. So God used Peter and John to get them baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Note that Simon saw something (v 18)! That means that when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, something happened. There was a dead giveaway that these people were no longer the same.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” – Acts 10:44-47
When Peter preached, the Holy Spirit fell! Nobody had to lay hands on anyone at all! They spoke in tongues, and then they were baptized in water.
Here’s what we have seen in all these examples:
1) The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate and distinct experience from salvation. These were believers: people who already believed in Jesus. Yet God wanted them to have more!
2) There was evidence. As people received the Holy Spirit, they spoke in tongues. Simon (Acts 10:18) was not even a believer; yet he saw something that was evidence of the power of God being poured out on the people present.
Speaking in Tongues
Speaking in tongues is the Scriptural evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. That statement brings about a very logical question: Can I be baptized in the Holy Spirit if I don’t speak in tongues?
I was baptized in the Holy Spirit over a decade ago. I came up for prayer after a Friday night service. Someone prayed over me, and nothing happened. But I didn’t give up. I didn’t lose hope! The following Sunday, I was sitting in my seat at church during worship, and the pastor said, “Start speaking in your heavenly language.” I opened my mouth, and tongues came out!
I remember praying for a young woman in our church to be baptized in the Holy Spirit several years ago. She came up for prayer after service and asked for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I laid my hands on her and started to pray. But half-way through the prayer, I heard the Holy Spirit say, Stop. So I stopped. I said “Amen,” and asked her to return to her seat. She was puzzled. Heck, I was puzzled! Why wouldn’t God want us to contend for the baptism in the Holy Spirit then and there, in that moment? Minutes later, I looked over at her: she was laughing and speaking in tongues! How good is God?!
How many of us get discouraged because we pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but we’re afraid nothing is going to happen! Don’t let fear of what is (or isn’t) going to take place keep you from having everything God wants you to have! Sometimes healing happens in an instant; other times healing takes time to unfold. We should always pray for the instant miracle, yet leave room for God to do a gradual work if that is the path He chooses! Why should praying in tongues be any different?
Also, remember that speaking in tongues is evidence; it’s not the main event! Tongues is like the receipt you get at a store. You don’t go to buy a receipt; you go to buy something else! Yet your receipt is evidence, in the event that anyone ever calls your former purchase into question.
There will be moments when Satan tries to lie to you, and tell you that you haven’t been baptized in the Holy Spirit. And that is when you open your mouth, and start speaking in tongues.
If you don’t speak in tongues right away, don’t get discouraged. Keep pressing in. Keep asking. Don’t give up! It might happen right away. We’ll pray for it to happen right away! But it might also take some time. And we have to be okay with that.
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for [e]bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” – Lk 11:9-13
© Michael D. White, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 Greek epi, Strong’s G1909