One of the exciting blessings of our salvation is the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is God’s way of bringing us into the realm of His spiritual power. God wants us to enjoy the new life He has given us and also to be effective messengers in transmitting the good news about Jesus to others.

The early church, described in the Acts of the Apostles, was powerful because everyone received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Before He left the earth, Jesus had breathed on them in order that they might receive His power and then He sent them out as witnesses. (John 20:22) They needed the Holy Spirit to come upon them to show Jesus’ power in the earth (Acts 2:1-4): an enabling to live the life of God on earth.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:4)
“'In the last days,' God says, 'I will pour out my Spirit on all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.'” (Acts 2:17)

Let us look at five questions that will help us to understand the Scriptures and lead us into all the blessings of the fullness of God.

1. Who is to be baptised?

This blessing is not just for a select few, but for all believers.

Paul... came to Ephesus. Finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed on Jesus as the Christ?’ They said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ He asked, ‘Into what baptism then were you baptised?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptised into the baptism of repentance, continually telling the people that they should believe in the One who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus – having a conviction full of joyful trust that He is Christ, the Messiah, and being obedient to Him.’ On hearing this they were baptised again, this time in the name of the Lord Jesus. As Paul laid hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in foreign, unknown tongues [languages] and prophesied.” (Acts 19:1-6 - Amplified version)

Peter and John also clearly spoke that God wanted to bless us not only with the gift of salvation, but also with the gift of the Holy Spirit. “When they had come down (to Samaria) they prayed for them (the Samaritans) that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:14-17 (New King James version)

2. Why be baptised in the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit came, first and foremost, to point us towards Jesus. If you have any queries about people, their teaching or their ministry, check out if they are pointing you towards Jesus or towards themselves. You will also “know them by their fruit”, enabling you to discern what is of the Spirit in their lives. Do not confuse fruit with gifts. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Remember: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love... If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

  • We are enabled to pray in the Spirit and sing praises in the Spirit, as distinct from normal prayer and praise expressed in our own language. (Romans 8:26-27; 1 Corinthians 14:15)
  • Through the baptism in the Holy Spirit we receive power and ability. (Acts 1:8; Acts 9:17-22)
  • Our own spirit becomes more sensitive to the “voice of God’s Spirit”. (Acts 13:2; Mark 13:11)
  • We become available for the gifts of the Spirit. We also develop a deeper understanding of God’s power in our lives and the responsibility that goes with that. (1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Corinthians 1:5-7; Acts 1:8)
  • We begin to live our daily lives "in the Spirit" and by His power, and can constantly be "being filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16).

3. How do we receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit?

Sometimes God baptises believers in the Spirit by a sovereign act. This is what happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and to the household of Cornelius in Acts 10. At other times in the Scriptures, it is received by the laying on of hands, as in Samaria. (Acts 8, and Acts 19:6)

Individually, however, we receive the baptism into the Holy Spirit in the same way as we receive all the blessings of God - we ask by faith, believing. In Luke 11:13, Jesus says that, if ordinary human parents know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more does God the Father want to give the Holy Spirit to His children.

So we see that it is important that we ask Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Having prayed (and believing God has heard our prayer), we begin to praise God and worship Him with thanksgiving. This is a powerful means of drawing near to His presence to receive the Holy Spirit. “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8) As we become aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit, there is a breaking within us and our spirit springs up to respond to the Spirit of God. At this point, an anointed servant of God may lay hands upon us to impart the Holy Spirit (just as Paul did in Acts 19:6) but this is not essential.

4. Must those who receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit ALWAYS speak in tongues?

In 1 Corinthians 14:5, Paul says: “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.” What he is saying is that wewould benefit from both speaking in tongues and also prophesying. When you receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you can speak in tongues; just expect to speak in tongues, it is by faith and; you will speak in tongues. Don't let prejudice or fear hinder the flow of the Holy Spirit.

According to James 3:8, the tongue is the hardest member of the body to tame and God wants to demonstrate His mighty power in the toughest member first. So expect to speak in tongues when you are baptised in the Holy Spirit. Expect also to prophesy.

As the Holy Spirit rests upon us, He stimulates us to praise the Lord. Our own words seem inadequate to praise God as we should and the Holy Spirit then leads and encourages us, but never forces us, to speak in tongues, enabling our organs of speech to form strange words and syllables as we yield to His prompting.

Once we begin, we should expect the language to be spontaneous and fluent. We will not understand the words we are saying, “for any who speak in a tongue do not speak to others, but to God. Indeed, no one understands Him because He utters mysteries in the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 14:2) There will then be no doubt, either for ourselves or others, as to whether or not we are filled with the Holy Spirit. As we pray, our minds should be focused either on God's word or listening to hear what the Father is saying. We can meditate or listen to hymns or songs of worship. All of this helps us to concentrate and stick at praying until such time as our spirit is so revived that nothing will stop us praying and praising!

5. Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?

Since it is within every believer's power to cleanse their conscience before God and man and to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we believe that you should experience Holy Spirit baptism. However, some people have raised objections to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Over the years, some scriptures have been used to discount the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. By understanding them, you will be able to help others overcome these hindrances. (Remembering that baptism means "to immerse" will help you.)

“I already have the Spirit”

When we’re born again, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, so the question: “Would you like the Holy Spirit to live in you?” can be offensive to some who already have Him. (Romans 8:16) But that’s not "the baptism in the Holy Spirit". It’s incorrect terminology. Jesus said to His disciples (in John 14:16-17) that the Holy Spirit would be given in a manner like never before to the believer and "the world" would not be able to experience it. Everyone in "the world" would be able to experience the new birth; that’s who it’s intended for! So Jesus was talking here about something for those who already believed.

“I’ve already received the Spirit’s baptism”

For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) This refers to the new birth, when the Holy Spirit places the believer into the body of Christ. John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11) The baptism of Jesus, after we have received Him, is into the Spirit. It’s an immersion in the Spirit (inside us and all over us) to do a work through us wherever we go. Our intellect may not understand how, but we need to be totally immersed in the Holy Spirit so that He can be involved in our lives and we can be involved in His Life.

“Do all speak in tongues?”

1 Corinthians 12:30, Paul implies that the answer would be “No, not all speak in tongues”. However, he is referring here to the gifts that have been set in the church for the edifying of the body of Christ (the church). He sets out two separate lists, comparing the difference between speaking in tongues and the gift of tongues. As we have said, speaking and praying in tongues edifies the individual. (1 Corinthians 14:4) If the gift of tongues is followed by the interpretation, it is equivalent to a prophecy for edifying (teaching) the church. When we receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we receive the outflow of tongues for building up ourselves. The same gift, when used with interpretation, is like prophecy and brings edification, exhortation and comfort to the whole body of Christ. Everyone has the ability to speak in tongues from their baptism in the Spirit, but not everyone stands up and gives a message to the entire body. 

Remember, we must have a desire for others to have all that God has for them, whilst still being receptive ourselves.

Click on the button below to load the QUESTIONS for this study in a new browser tab. You can opt to print the question sheet or simply follow the questions and write down your answers in a notebook or a separate file on a computing device, such as a laptop or mobile 'phone.