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Receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

By Scott R. Erickson

1. The seeker should be spiritually prepared.
Acts 2:38,39 says: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call” (NIV). We are spiritually prepared for the Baptism if we are born again. This promise from God was not just for the Day of Pentecost, but for everyone thereafter who would believe. The spiritual birthright of every Christian is to seek, expect and experience the same baptism in the Holy Spirit that was promised and given to the New Testament Christians.

2. The seeker should realize that the Holy Spirit has already been given.
The disciples were initially commanded to wait in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4) before beginning their ministry. This was the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s new relationship with believers. Once the Holy Spirit had been poured out in the Upper Room, believers no longer needed to wait in the same way for this fullness. The Book of Acts records after the Upper Room narrative four times when people were filled immediately by the Spirit of the Lord, with the evidence of speaking in other tongues either explicitly stated or implied by the context (Acts 8:14-19; 9:17; 10:44-48; 19:1-7).

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3. The seeker should be aware that the Holy Spirit is received by faith.
Several instances in the New Testament remind us that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a gift. All of us have received gifts from loved ones, parents or individuals who wanted to show us kindness. Gifts are something we don’t earn; we simply accept them and acknowledge the kindness of the giver. Galatians 3:14 says, “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Faith is the means through which we receive the gift.

4. Seekers should know that the Holy Spirit enables, but the believer does the speaking.
In every instance in the New Testament where people received the gift of the Holy Spirit, they were the ones who spoke in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. The Holy Spirit does not control a person like a puppet. We find this clearly in Acts 2:4: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” He “enabled.” He did not coerce.

5. Seekers should not fear that they will fall prey to a counterfeit experience.
The Word of God teaches that God gives only good gifts to His children. “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13). God will not allow another spirit to interfere with His sincerely seeking child.

Not everyone receives the Baptism immediately. Even the disciples waited in the Upper Room for 10 days before being baptized in the Spirit. Waiting is not cause to give up. Remember, the Baptism is promised to every believer. Many believers are baptized soon after leaving an altar where they had sought the Baptism. They may be at home or going about their business the next day. The important thing to receiving the Baptism is to continue to seek the Lord in faith. God’s desire and promise is to baptize each believer with the Holy Spirit.

Scott R. Erickson is senior pastor of The Peoples Church (Assemblies of God) in Salem, Ore.

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