Baptism of the Holy Spirit

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The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience described in the New Testament. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus describes it as "the promise of the Father", through which believers in Jesus Christ receive "power from on high" (Luke 24:49). According to the book of Acts, Jesus further referred to the baptism with the Holy Spirit as an experience through which his disciples would "receive power, after that the Holy Ghost [was] come upon [them]" (Acts 1:8). Among various Christian groups, interpretations differ as to what the baptism with the Holy Spirit means to practical Christian experience. In Pentecostal theology, the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" is a second baptism, "in fire," spoken of by Jesus in the Gospels. Specifically, it refers to the experience of Pentecost described in the Book of Acts. Many other Christians understand Baptism of the Holy Spirit as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that occurs on conversion.

Views: Pentecostal versus traditional

In Pentecostal theology, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a second baptism, "in fire," spoken of by Jesus in the Gospels. Specifically, it refers to the experience of Pentecost described in the Book of Acts. In most mainstream Christian churches, Pentecost is seen as a single act that spread out the Holy Spirit or paraklete onto all believers. Individuals thereafter might or might not have similar experiences, but the single event of Pentecost itself was sufficient for all time and to ensure that all future baptisms would convey the gift of grace.

A belief in a personal experience of revelation and renewal has been a feature of Protestant churches since the time of John Calvin, and a number of Protestant churches have adopted beliefs that might be generally called pentecostal or charismatic. For these churches, believers must experience a gift of the Holy Spirit, either after or even before regular baptism with water.

In contemporary theology, there is a divergence between the two main strains of pentecostal believers, with some organized as Pentecostal and others as Charismatic churches. Both believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is spoken of by Jesus in Luke 11:13 and also Acts 1:5 and that it was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit prophesied in the Old Testament books of Ezekiel (36:27) and Joel (2:28-29). Both of these strains of Protestantism diverge from other churches in the essential nature of grace and what grace is granted without an individualized experience of the Holy Spirit.

Charismatics and Pentecostals both point to Ephesians 5:18, where St. Paul of Tarsus urges his audience to "be filled with the Spirit" using an imperative mood verb. Pentecostals see this as a gift and an experience different from that of salvation, yet which follows salvation. Whereas other churches have seen being filled with the Holy Spirit to require piety and grace, Pentecostals and Charismatics have seen it as a requirement that all who are saved must have a pentecostal experience.

Charismatics and Pentecostals differ from one another in the evidence they require for proof of baptism in the Holy Spirit. Charismatics will look for the "fruit of the spirit" spoken of in Galatians 5:22-25, and the Pentecostals will look for speaking in tongues, prophecy, and other "gifts of the spirit" described in Acts 2:1-4.

This was, according to Pentecostals, the normal experience of all in the early Church. With it comes the endowment of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry (Luke 24:29; Acts 1:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31).

Not all evangelical Pentecostal churches would accept that all Christians receive the Holy Spirit at the time of their conversion or baptism, but in the more traditional evangelical point of view, and in non-evangelical churches, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is equated with this reception. Others, even outside the Pentecostal church, consider the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a separate experience. Even among those who accept this, opinion is divided as to whether all those who receive the Baptism also receive the gift of tongues.

Both Pentecostal and Charismatic churches regard the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be requisite for the apostolic and evangelical mission that they believe is the duty of all Christians.

Other relevant Bible passages include Acts 8:14-17, Acts 2:1-13.

Development of the Term

John Wesley spoke of the baptism of the Holy Spirit but his followers, the Methodists, have historically disagreed about how Wesley defined this baptism. While "mainstream" Methodists (such as The United Methodist Church and its precedent bodies) have tended to agree with most Christians in the belief that the Holy Spirit is conveyed in some manner to all people, and certainly all Christians (see Prevenient Grace), other Wesleyans have argued that Wesley was referring to Entire sanctification, the belief that after one's sins are forgiven, a Christian can be actually cleansed of sinful corruption. These Wesleyans founded the Holiness movement and are today found in the Church of the Nazarene, the Salvation Army, and other denominations.

Members of the Holiness churches have also referred to the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a "second blessing" or "second work of grace". This language and practice eventually evolved into the modern Pentecostal movement, and Pentecostals adapated the Holiness usage of the term as they understood it.



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