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Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:16

The Three Baptisms of the Believer

Part Three

Baptism into the Holy Spirit

by Jay McMullan
© 2001

     In our study on baptisms we have concluded that the very meaning of baptism is that of being immersed. In part one of our study, we see that the baptism that brings us eternal life is when the Holy Spirit takes our spirit and immerses us into the Body of Christ. The second baptism we explored, although not necessary for salvation, is important as an ordinance of the church and as a testimony of what has happened to the believer inwardly at the time of salvation. Each baptism has a recipient of the baptism, something which that recipient is baptized into and one who performs the baptism. In water baptism, the believer is fully immersed in water by another believer, normally a minister.

     The third and final baptism that is important to the believer in this age is the baptism into the Holy Spirit. In this baptism, Jesus takes the believer and immerses him into the Holy Spirit. The evidence of this baptism is the believer speaking in unknown tongues. The believer receiving power to be a witness and power to live his life for Christ is the result of this baptism. John the Baptist, the forerunner to Christ spoke of this baptism:

Matthew 3:11
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

     It is very important to understand that this baptism is only available to believers and it does not bring them eternal life. No one was able to receive eternal life until after Jesus was resurrected. The Old Testament saints that believed were held in a place called Abraham's bosom until Jesus redeemed them through his death, burial and resurrection (Eph 4:8).

     Some believers have falsely taught that a person is not saved until they are baptized in the Holy Spirit. This is not true. When a person believes on the Lord, they are saved and they are baptized into the body of Christ and they are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is what saves them. The Bible says they become a new creature in Christ. When this person that is filled with the Holy Spirit is baptized into the Holy Spirit, they receive a greater measure of the Spirit of God. Their eyes are opened to the spirit world like never before and they receive spiritual power to go and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see this demonstrated in the disciple's lives. After Jesus had been crucified, the disciples were hiding behind locked doors because of fear that they might be murdered too. Jesus walked through the door of the room in which they hid and began his last forty days of ministry to them. Then something interesting took place:

John 20:22
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

     This is the point at which the disciples were born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. After this point in time, we see a marked difference in the disciples' actions. Soon, we see the disciples accompanying Jesus to the Mount of Olives.

Acts 1:3-8
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: [4] And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. [5] For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. [6] When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? [7] And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. [8] But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

     Notice that Jesus said the Baptism into the Holy Spirit was the "promise of the Father" that He had taught them about. Another point to note is that Jesus told those that accompanied Him to His ascension that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in just a few days. Some have been confused by the wording of this baptism. When a person is baptized into water, it could also be said that they are baptized with water. Being baptized into the Holy Spirit is the same as being baptized with the Holy Spirit. In this study I simply use the term, "baptized into the Holy Spirit" for clarification.

     As Jesus breathed on the disciples, they received salvation. They were different from this moment on. They no longer lived in fear of being killed for the gospel's sake. They waited in Jerusalem for the "promise of the Father" and were not disappointed.

Acts 2:1-4
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

     This is the first time believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit. This is also the only time that "cloven tongues as of fire" were seen sitting on each of the people that were baptized, as mentioned in the Bible. The believers spoke in tongues that were unknown to them but there were people of other countries that heard those tongues and understood what was being said. We will see in other examples in the Bible where those who were baptized into the Holy Spirit spoke in tongues that were not known to them and there were none around who did understand them.

     Biblically, tongues are always the evidence that a believer has been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Many Christians struggle with this because, in their Christian experience, they have not spoken in other tongues. Acts 2:4 says that they began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. The word "utterance" simply means they heard these tongues or sounds in their head and they began to speak them out. God never takes a person over and supernaturally causes them to speak in other tongues. As the believer hears these "utterances" or sounds, he must begin to speak them out. As the believer does this it opens the flood gates inside of him and allows him to be completely immersed into the Holy Spirit. I once heard someone explain the difference between being filled with the Spirit at the moment of salvation and being baptized with the Holy Spirit this way. When a person is saved, it is like having a pitcher full of water and an empty glass. At the very moment of salvation, the water from the pitcher is poured into the glass, filling it completely. When a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit, it is like that full glass being fully submersed into that full pitcher of water so the glass is not only full but completely filled and surrounded with water!

      Back in about 1978, when I was 18, I had just rededicated my life to the Lord. My older brother had just died a few months earlier and I knew that I needed to get my life right with God. I had made a comittment to God that I would live for Him even I didn't feel like it and I flushed some alcohol and marijuana down the toilet the night I made that comittment. Two weeks later, as I was driving my 1976 American Motors Pacer east on 9th Street in Perryton, Texas, I had just started turning north on Main Street when I was worshipping the Lord and Jesus baptized me in the Holy Spirit and I began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave me utterance. I have often commented that I felt like I was plugged into 220 volts and had ice water poured all over me. It was a very life changing experience for me at the age of 18. From that moment on, God began to show me things in the spiritual realm that I could not have understood or dealt with before in my Christian walk. It was almost as if God had removed a spiritual blindfold and I could see into the spiritual realm. The Bible became more alive than ever before. I heard God's voice more clearly than ever before. What I had always thought wasn't for this day and age had just changed my life completely!

     While I was pastoring a church in Texas, a cousin of mine, that I had always been very close to phoned me one night. She told me that her pastor had invited people, that wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, to come to the front of the church that night for prayer and instruction on how to receive this promise of the Father. She told me that she was baptized in the Holy Spirit that night but did not feel any different than she did before. Feelings are great but we cannot base our spiritual walk on how we feel. If we do, we will never have a consistent life with Christ. My cousin added that it might have taken a feeling for me to "put me over" or to help me through my Christian walk. You should never feel like you have had less of an experience with God because you did not have the feelings that someone else had. One of the greatest truths I have ever heard is this, "The supernatural is not always spectacular".

     Let us take a look at the other examples of people being baptized in the Holy Spirit and the evidence of them speaking in other tongues as they were baptized.

     Approximately eight years after the day of Pentecost, Peter was on a rooftop in Joppa. He fell into a trance and God showed him a vision of a sheet being pulled down from the sky with all sorts of different animals that according to Jewish law were unclean to eat. The Lord spoke to Peter to take and eat the unclean animals. Peter refused to do so because he had always followed the law and had not eaten unclean things. The Lord then spoke to Peter and told him not to call things unclean that Jesus had called clean (Acts 10:9-16). Just then some men came to Peter and told him that they had been commanded by a centurion named Cornelius to bring Peter back to Caeserea to speak the word of the Lord to him and his servants. Peter realized then that the vision that he had seen meant that he was to take the gospel to the gentiles instead of just the Jews. As Peter preached the gospel to the men, they were saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 10:44-48
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. [45] And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. [46] For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, [47] Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? [48] And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

     How did the Jews (the circumcision) know that Cornelius and his men had been baptized in the Holy Spirit? It was because they heard them speak with tongues. Notice that the baptism in the Holy Spirit came before being baptized in water. There is no set order in which baptism in water and baptism in the Holy Spirit should take place. The only prerequisite is that the person must be born again. Cornelius and his men believed and were born again, then they were baptized in the Holy Spirit almost immediately and later they were baptized in water.

     Another example of tongues being the evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit is in Acts 19.

Acts 19:1-6
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, [2] He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. [3] And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. [4] Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. [5] When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [6] And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

     Now, let's take a look at another passage of scripture that does not say they spoke in tongues upon receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:4-23
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. [5] Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. [6] And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. [7] For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. [8] And there was great joy in that city. [9] But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: [10] To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. [11] And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. [12] But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. [13] Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. [14] Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: [15] Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: [16] (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) [17] Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. [18] And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, [19] Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. [20] But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. [21] Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. [22] Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. [23] For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

     It is true that there is no mention of tongues in the preceding scriptures but how did Simon see that the Holy Ghost was given through the laying on of the apostles hands? It was obviously through tongues as we see in all the other examples in the Bible.

     If you have not been baptized with the Holy Spirit, let me encourage you to seek God for this promise of the Father. As you receive this great gift, you will receive power to be a witness for Christ. The spiritual world will also be opened up to you and the gifts of the Spirit will become a reality in your life.

     In Paul's first book to the church at Corinth, Paul instructs the church on the use of tongues. There are two uses of tongues. The first is as a personal prayer language to God. The Bible says that there are times that we do not know how to pray for things as we should. Through tongues, our spirit, the real us, prays the perfect will of God, even though, in our minds, we don't understand. The second use of tongues is when tongues are used in an assembly. We are instructed that, in an assembly, tongues should always be followed by an interpretation. If they are not, then the people in the assembly will not know what has been said. Anyone who has been baptized in the Holy Spirit can speak in tongues at anytime and they should pray in tongues often. Paul prayed in tongues often but made it clear that if the tongue was in an assembly it must have the interpretation.

     When I was young I did not believe tongues were for today because that is what I always heard, not because that is what I had read in the Bible. Then when I got a bit older I began to study the word of God for myself and found out that tongues and the gifts of the Spirit are just as real today as they were in the century after Christ ascended. If you are a born again believer, let me encourage you to be baptized into each baptism that is available to you.

      Maybe you have heard that "tongues" are not for today. Let me ask you why. I heard one minister say we don't need tongues today because we have the Bible. He used the following verses of scripture.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

     Yes, tongues will cease, prophecy will cease, so will knowledge but has knowledge ceased? Obviously it hasn't yet. When will they cease? Well, the Bible tells us. It is when "perfect" has come. What is perfect? Who is perfect? It is Jesus. Once He returns and sets up His Kingdom, we won't need tongues, prophecy or knowledge because we will know things like He does and we will have the fullness of God's Spirit in our incorruptible bodies.

      So now, let me ask you, we have no less than four examples of people who were born again then baptized in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. At what time did it cease and where does it ever say in the Bible that it did? Tell me? It doesn't! Did it cease in 1942 on a Monday at noon? We need this life line to God! We do not know how to pray as we should so many times and by being able to pray in the spirit, our spirit can hook up with the Holy Spirit and pray the perfect will of God! We need all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If you are a minister that has taught that the gift of tongues is not for today, ask God to forgive you for not teaching His Word and start teaching the whole counsel of God regardless of what man's tradition says and don't let fear of man dictate what you teach or don't teach.

     Through this study, we have seen the doctrine of baptisms which is one of the foundational doctrines that we should know as Christians according to Hebrews 6. Now as you read about baptisms in the Bible you will be able to discern which baptism the Word is speaking of.

The Thee Baptisms for the Believer - Introduction

Read Part One - The Baptism into the Body of Christ

Read Part Two - The Baptism into Water

Testimonies from People Who Have Been Baptized in the Holy Spirit


All articles, graphics, images, photographs and other material are © copyright 2000 to present by Jay S. McMullan and/or his assignees. Do not copy without written, expressed permission.