Some of the comments that I have received in response to my article in which I have used the term “Baptism with the Holy Spirit.“
- Are you “Pentecostal?”
- Are you “Charismatic?”
- Are you insisting that we all have to speak in tongues?
- Why are you teaching on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit? That is so divisive!
These questions deserve a good answer.
I know that “Baptism with the Holy Spirit” is a controversial term that has caused a lot of misunderstanding and division.
I have decided to use this term to describe the initiation into the empowering work of the Holy Spirit because that is the term that Jesus Christ used.
This picture by El Greco captures well the Pentecost event when the first disciples were initiated into the empowering work of the Holy Spirit so that they could be equipped to be witnesses to Jesus Christ.
Two Historical Views on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Over the last hundred years there have been two ways of explaining the meaning of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit: the Holiness Pentecostal view and, often in reaction against this view, the Evangelical view.
The Holiness Pentecostal teaching adds to Jesus’ meaning such concepts as “entire sanctification,” a “second blessing,” and the “initial evidence of speaking in tongues.”
The Evangelical approach, which is found in John Stott’s book on the Baptism and Fullness, says that to be baptized with the Holy Spirit is when one is converted to faith in Jesus Christ and born again.
Our view on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Neither of these views is consistent with what Jesus means when He gives us this extraordinary promise that we will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
If you want to know what Jesus meant you need to look no further than Acts 1:8 in which the verses Acts 1:4-5 are explained.
Jesus defines the meaning of His promise of the baptism given in Acts 1:4-5 with Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is the essential preparation offered to all of us by Jesus Christ for working with Him in doing ministry, growing the Church and fulfilling the Great Commission.
If the Church is to truly be empowered to accomplish its mission of witnessing to Jesus Christ in our world today, it is essential for us to get past these old controversies and receive the empowering that Jesus Christ has promised us that is needed to do his work.
Without this equipping in the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit we are no match for embodiments of human sin much less the “…rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
For the sake of the Kingdom of God and for all those who have not yet received the grace, love and salvation in Jesus Christ, this Pentecost get past your objections and get on your knees and pray to receive all that Jesus wants to give you so you may be His witness.
The following is a brief video titled “Getting Past The Blocks To Pentecost”.
- The Walk of Prayer: Fulfilling Acts 1:8 Today.
- Book: Receiving the Power
- Gateways to Empowered Ministry (Dunamis Project 1) that give the careful biblical and theological framework for understanding what Jesus really means when he gives us this promise.
- PRMI’s Video Course: Gateways to Empowered Ministry
When Jesus spoke about “Baptism with the Holy Spirit” it is because no one at that time was born again as we know the indwelling today. To ascribe a definitive second experience is equivelant to the Galation heresy when Paul told Peter that he stood condemned for advocating circumcision. To claim some believers have power and some not is divisive and wrong. This doctrine has divided believers in America since its inception. Do you really believe God has two classes of believers? Two baptisms? Two Holy Spirit experiences? There are a multitude of Holy Spirit experiences subsequent to salvation but we were never meant to make formulas out of each one in order to validate them.
In other places, we describe in greater detail how we assemble the biblical evidence to show that empowerment is a distinct work of the Holy Spirit. We know that Jesus used all different terms to describe that empowering work. We choose to use “baptism of the Holy Spirit” to describe that first of many fillings where the Holy Spirit comes upon us with power to do a particular work or action. In our Dunamis Project 1 teaching, we cover this at length in at least 4 teaching sections to put this all together.
There’s a more detailed explanation of our teaching on this page on the site:-
I think it’s also worth pointing out that Peter describes the experience of Cornelius’ household (Acts 10) as being the same as his own experience at Pentecost (Acts 2) …which would mean that what happened with them would warrant the label “baptism” just as it did on Pentecost.
And in Acts 8 it was people who explicitly *had* already been born again who were later prayed for to receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
The Galatian heresy was about saying “Jesus is not enough for salvation – you also need to be circumcised under the old covenant”. The need for baptism in the Holy Spirit is not about salvation or status, it’s about openness to receive all that Jesus offered rather than settling for just part of the promise.