The Baptism with the Holy Spirit Follows Conversion

Conversion and baptism in/with the Spirit are two glorious but separate events. 

What is the biblical/historical proof for this?  

It is found in the book of Acts.  Let us look at the five baptisms with the Holy Spirit described there and conclude that the people who received this empowering experience were already renewed.

1. Pentecost

  • The disciples had already made Christ the center of their lives, and they were illuminated by the Holy Spirit to believe in the risen Christ when Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit ( John 20:22).  Their baptism in the Spirit came 10 days after Jesus was lifted up to heaven as they were obeying His command to wait for it.

2. Samaria 

  • Philip preached the Gospel to the Samaritans and they believed and obeyed by getting baptized in water. 
  • Peter and John visit the Samaritans and the baptism with the Spirit is given subsequently 
    • Acts 8:14-17 “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit,16because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

3. Saul

  • Saul had a dramatic conversion event on the road to Damascus, and after three days of fasting and praying he is baptized/filled with the Holy Spirit
  • Acts 9:17 “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.””

4. Cornelius

  • the Bible calls him righteous.  To achieve such standing one has to have a renewed nature.
    • Acts 10:22 “He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people”
  • Cornelius needed correct theology and Peter is used by God to deliver it.   During that visit, Cornelius is baptized with the Holy Spirit.

5. Ephesus

  • Following Apollo’s preaching, the Ephesian disciples believed and were converted to Christianity.
  • They were believers, they were Christians but were not baptized with the Holy Spirit
  • Paul visited subsequently and baptized them in water in the name of Jesus after which they received the baptism in the Spirit
    • Acts 19:6 “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

These five accounts show that conversion is not the same spiritual or temporal event as the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  

The baptism with the Holy Spirit is an empowering, post-conversion experience that elevates the believer to become an effective witness for God (Acts 1:8)

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The Baptism with the Holy Spirit Is a Commandment

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The Baptism with the Holy Spirit as a separate event from conversion is a commandment in the book of Acts.

Which makes it anything but an optional thing.

Jesus commanded a number of things to His followers among which are the baptism in water, communion with bread and fruit of the vine in His remembrance, and baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Here is the command given to His disciples before His ascension:

“4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

These verses contain an emphatic statement: “he ordered them.” When the Creator of the universe gives an order there is no room for debate. The same order applies to Christians today, in addition to the other commandments that Jesus gave His disciples.

The reason for this commandment is obvious throughout the book of Acts as the Holy Spirit’s supernatural work is critical for effective evangelism, power over demonic forces, and sanctification of the believer.

One cannot be an effective witness for God without the filling with the Holy Spirit:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

The born again believer must pursue the filling with the Holy Spirit, must earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit, and must effectively use this empowerment for spreading the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit Displayed His Work at the Time of Messiah’s Birth

Approximately four hundred years of prophetic silence had passed in Israel since Malachi, the last chronological and canonical prophet, received his revelation from God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Four hundred years had passed since the last filling with the Holy Spirit of any person in the written record.

These were four hundred years of political struggle and spiritual darkness for the people of Israel.

During the inter-testamental period, the religiosity of the Jews grew steadily in empty orthodox Mosaic practice in a way that was not pleasing to God.  Despite this long and dark spiritual age, the prophecy given to Isaiah begins to come to fruition through the work of the Holy Spirit:

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.  For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” Isaiah 9:2

The dark period referenced by Isaiah comes to an end with a series of amazing events under the sovereign control of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.

It was a rare and well noted event in the Old Testament for a person to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but in the period surrounding Jesus’s birth, the Holy Spirit began a special work that eventually culminated in the age of the Church.

First and foremost, the Holy Spirit takes on an active role in the coming of Jesus into our world by conceiving Him in a supernatural way in Mary’s womb.

We then have special prophetic messages being delivered from God via Gabriel to Zechariah and Mary.

Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesies about “my Lord” when she meets Mary who is pregnant with baby Jesus. Baby John is filled with the Holy Spirit while in her womb as foretold by Gabriel.

It is also fascinating to note how an unborn baby “leapt for joy.” Being filled with the Holy Spirit and being able to feel joy are important characteristics of a person. This is one of the reasons why we believe that an unborn baby is a person, and life begins at conception.

Zechariah undergoes the miracle of regaining his speech, is filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophecies about the coming of the Messiah and the work of his son John.

We see the filling and guidance of the Holy Spirit with respect to Simeon and Anna when they see baby Jesus at the temple.

The Spirit also pours out the gift of knowledge on Jesus as a child when He teaches in the temple, and Jesus becomes “full of the Holy Spirit” in His ministry.

All these aspects of the vast work of the Holy Spirit herald the transition from a dark age into an age of light, the Messianic age, and ultimately the Church age when the Spirit is poured out onto the followers of Christ without measure in the baptism and the filling with the Holy Spirit.

Unlike in the OT era, we now have a special privilege to be able to access an abundance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What used to be a rare and very selective event, the filling with the Spirit has now become accessible to all born-again believers. All glory belongs to God-the Holy Spirit for the work He does in us!