Jesus fulfilled His promise to clothe His disciples with power from on high, that is, to baptize them with the Holy Spirit. Before tracing the theme of Baptism with the Holy Spirit through Scripture, let me assure you that the power of Pentecost is available in our day just as it was 2000 years ago.
Here is an entry from my journal.
When the leadership team met this morning, I submitted the guidance I had received about leading a Lecto Divina exercise that focused on key statements regarding baptism with the Holy Spirit. Dave also submitted three areas of guidance including “tarring” [waiting] together in Jesus’ presence. After listening to our thoughts, Brad, the ministry’s leader, appointed Dave and me to co-lead the morning, focusing on baptism with the Holy Spirit as essential equipping for effective service. Then, in response to the Holy Spirit’s clear guidance, Brad left the room to walk the trails and intercede for us.
What a glorious morning! Dave offered passionate opening comments; then, we went into worship. Several minutes later it seemed right for me to take the group through the five Scriptures I had selected pertaining to baptism with the Holy Spirit. As soon as I read the 3rd Scripture – “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now,” Acts 1:5 – Dave stepped over and whispered to me, “Now! We pray for the baptism with the Holy Spirit now!”
“Go for it,” I replied, and he did.
It is difficult to describe what happened for the next 90 minutes. Wave after wave of the Holy Spirit flowed over the group. Sometimes we sat (or stood) in silence in the Lord’s presence. Sometime we cried out to Him with earnest and loud supplications. At one point the Lord prompted Dave to ask, “Who feels a need to receive the gift of faith?” Many hands were raised; many voices cried out for faith. Dave and I move around the room touching the hands and offering quick prayers, often in tongues. The Lord prompted us to call out other gifts – miracles, healing, mercy combined with discernment – and a similar pattern followed.
During the course of the morning there were things I just “know” – for example, I just “knew” that Sandy was to stand behind the worship leader and pray over him as he led worship, and that Kathryn was to go sit next to Doug and Doug was to pray for her.
Later, in the debriefing, these two actions were affirmed. For example, Doug said, “I was feeling prompted to go over and pray for Kathryn, and next thing I knew, Phil brought her to me.”
Everyone appeared to receive a personal touch from Jesus.Dr. Phil Noordmans
The article that follows is a bit longer than my average post. As you read it you will see that:
- “Baptism with the Holy Spirit” is a Biblical phrase. In fact, each Gospel writer uses it. So does Jesus.
- Jesus is the One who baptizes people with the Holy Spirit.
- The 120 gathered in the Upper Room were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
- Pentecost is for us, too.
Baptism with the Holy Spirit in the Gospels
John the Baptist and Jesus
“I [John the Baptist] baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matthew 3:11, ESV. Cf. Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:15-16; John 1:29-34
Note: John declared that Jesus Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Not “in” or “by” but “with.” Even though the Greek term en can be translated “in,” “with,” or “by,” I believe the ESV, NASB, and NIV are correct in choosing “with.” When we drink water, it goes “in” or “into” us. When stand under a waterfall, the water falls “on” or “upon” us.
Jesus’ Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:13-17, ESV. Cf. Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22
This was Jesus’ baptism with the Holy Spirit – when the Spirit came to rest “on” Him.
What happened next? The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1, ESV. Cf. Mark 1:12-13
- The Holy Spirit is able to lead people. He led Jesus and He can lead us.
- The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, of all places, to be tempted by the devil.
Why does the devil tempt and test us in the wilderness?
- The devil’s aim is to undo what Jesus did when Jesus anointed us for ministry. He aims to discourage us, derail us, and ultimately destroy us.
- The devil’s objective is to take us out of the good fight of faith, to neutralize us, and to make us a casualty of war.
Why does Jesus allow this to happen?
- To prove that He is greater than our adversary, the devil.
- To drive us to trust Him in even deeper ways.
- To strengthen our faith in Him.
In due time we will become seasoned soldiers. We will learn by experience that, if we fully trust Jesus, He will protect us and meet our needs.
Note what happens next in the flow of Matthew’s gospel:
- Matthew 4:18-22 Jesus spoke anointed words. Cf. Mark 1:14-20; Luke 4:14-15; John 1:35-51
- Matthew 4:23-25 Jesus did mighty works. Cf. Mark 1:21-34; Luke 4:31-41; John 2:1-12
Jesus did not speak anointed words or do mighty works until after He had …
- Been baptized in water;
- Been baptized with the Holy Spirit; and
- Overcome the devil’s temptations in the wilderness.
Some of us may want to side-step baptism with the Holy Spirit, bypass the wilderness, and go directly to speaking anointed words and doing might works. However, that was not the pattern in Jesus’ life, and it probably will not be in ours.
Following His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and said,
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22, ESV
When Jesus commands something to happen, it happens. Here, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the Apostles. Later, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit will not fall on them.
Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts
The Gospel of Luke drew to a conclusion with Jesus giving His disciples these instructions:
Behold, I [Jesus] am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49, ESV
In the opening chapters of Acts we see that Jesus fulfilled His promise to clothe His disciples with power from on high, that is, to baptize them with the Holy Spirit. Here is how it happened.
While staying with them he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5, ESV.  See also Acts 11:15-16.
If the men and women who had traveled with Jesus for three years needed to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, how much more do we!
In Acts 1:8, Jesus underscored the promise that He made in Acts 1:5.
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8, ESV
Their baptism with the Holy Spirit occurred in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) is the fulfillment of Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4,5,8.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4, ESV
The objective verification of their baptism with the Holy Spirit was a manifestation of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7f.), namely, they spoke in other tongues.
What happened next?
- Anointed words. Peter preached, Acts 2:14-41. 3000 saved.
- Mighty works. Peter and John healed a lame beggar. Acts 3:1-10
- Eventually, persecution. Acts 4:1ff.
There is one Baptism with the Holy Spirit, and there are Many Fillings
For example, Peter and John were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and filled again when they were brought before the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law (Acts 4).
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders … Acts 4:8, ESV
A few hours later, during a prayer meeting, they were filled again.
When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31, ESV
- Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts each include a clear reference to baptism with the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus did not speak anointed words or do mighty works until …
- after His baptism in water.
- after His baptism with the Holy Spirit.
- after He overcame the devil’s temptations in the wilderness.
Generally, this pattern will be true in our lives as well.
What was Jesus’ understanding of the source of His power and authority?
If a reporter said to Jesus, “Tell us, please, why are you so effective?” what would Jesus say in response?
- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me … Luke 4:18, ESV
- If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Matthew 12:28, ESV
Questions for Reflection
- Do you desire to be used by God as Jesus was and the Apostles were to speak anointed words and do mighty works? Do you desire to be better equipped to advance Jesus’ agenda? Do you desire to experience your personal Pentecost?
- If “Yes,” share the desire of your heart with Jesus.
Baptism with the Holy Spirit: Definitions and Meaning
In essence, “baptism with the Holy Spirit” is “power added.”
- Behold, I [Jesus] am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49, ESV
- You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you …. Acts 1:8, ESV
When Jesus sends the Holy Spirit upon us, He momentarily “ups the voltage,” or “activates the turbo-charger” thereby equipping us to advance His agenda in a particular person’s life and/or in a specific situation.
- Because the Holy Spirit dwells within ever Christian, we consistently experience a measure of His power and authority.
- When He comes “upon” us, we momentarily experience more, sometimes much more.
We intentionally use the word “momentarily.” The power of the Holy Spirit rests upon us and flows through us until Jesus’ agenda in that person’s life and/or in that particular situation is complete. Then, the Holy Spirit “lifts” until our next God-appointed assignment.
Contemplate this parallel: When a person has asthma, he uses an inhaler to create the capacity in his lungs to hold more air. Likewise, when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, Jesus expands the capacity of our hearts to welcome more of the Holy Spirit. However, we do not live in a state of perpetual fullness. As we engage in ministry, the Spirit who fills us streams out from us (see Mark 5:30) to bless, build up, free, heal, and restore others. In our depleted state we must turn to Jesus time-and-time-again for fresh infillings, for fresh anointings. We need to receive more before we can give more.
Good Definitions of Baptism with the Holy Spirit
In my reading I have come across some good definitions of baptism with the Holy Spirit. For example,
I think the essence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is when a person, who is already a believer, receives extraordinary spiritual power for Christ-exalting ministry.
R. A. Torrey
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may and ought to know whether he has received it or not. … a man may be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and still not be baptized with the Holy Spirit. … The baptism with the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Holy Spirit distinct from and subsequent and additional to His regenerating work.
In regeneration there is an impartation of life, and the one who receives it is saved;
In the baptism with the Holy Spirit there is an impartation of power and the one who receives it is fitted for service.
In the same context, Torrey identified parallel terms:
- “Baptized with the Holy Spirit,”
- “Filled with the Holy Spirit,”
- “The Holy Ghost fell on them,”
- “The gift of the Holy Ghost was poured out,”
- “Received the Holy Ghost,”
- “I send the promise of my Father upon you,”
- “Endued with power from on high,”
are used in the New Testament to describe one and the same experience.
To Torrey’s list of parallel terms for “baptism with the Holy Spirit” we add, “anointed with power from on high.”
A person standing on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls will describe it one way, and a person standing on the American side, another. But it is the same Falls.
One of my regular prayers for myself is this:
Lord Jesus Christ, I submit myself to You. Search my heart and cleanse me from all sin. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and grow Your fruit in my life. Today I am feeling a special need for joy.
Lord Jesus, with greater frequency, greater power, and greater authority, send the Holy Spirit upon me. Baptize me afresh and anew with the Holy Spirit. Activate and release all the gifts that are needed for the ministries You have for me today.
Additional Materials on Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Many people have benefited significantly from reading Phil Noordmans’ books on this topic.
- FireStarter: The Holy Spirit Empowers
- A Primer on the Empowering Work of the Holy Spirit
- Holy Spirit Course
Also, here’s a link to an ebook written by one of my friends regarding baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is brief and compelling.
The Holy Spirit works in a variety of important ways in us and through us including sealing us for salvation and producing spiritual fruit. Baptism with the Holy Spirit pertains to the Holy Spirit’s empowering work, equipping us to better advance Jesus’ agenda. When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, we experience our personal Pentecost (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit anoints and empowers us, making us even more effective witnesses and servants of Jesus Christ.
Let’s not get stuck trying to figure out too much theoretically about the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The main thing we should ask ourselves is whether what happened to the apostles at Pentecost has happened us.
 When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us (Romans 8:9; Galatians 3:2) and begins to grow the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
 Link Acts 1:5 and Luke 24:49, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
 Although some denominations teach that the only valid confirmation of baptism with the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues, I do not believe that is the case. Any one of the manifestations of the Sprit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11) may be confirmation. Further, a strong desire to witness (Acts 1:8), a hunger for the Word, and a deep desire to worship may also be confirmations.
 Long, Gateways, Revised 2006, page 211, quoting R.A. Torrey, What the Bible Teaches about the Holy Spirit (New York: revel, 1898), pp. 270-271.
 Long, Gateways, Revised 2006, page 211, quoting R.A. Torrey, What the Bible Teaches about the Holy Spirit (New York: revel, 1898), pp. 270-271.
 See Francis MacNutt, Deliverance from Evil Spirits (Chosen Books, Sept. 2007), 273.
See more from Dr. Phil Noormands at www.pastorspub.net