In our last post, we established that all believers have the Holy Spirit within them (John 20:22 and Romans 8:9), but that Jesus commanded the apostles to wait for a further work of the Spirit to come upon them (Acts 1:4, 5). Nor was it only for the apostles, for Acts 1:14, 15 informs us that many waited with them, and after ten days of waiting and seeking the Lord, this is what happened:
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly, there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them cloven tongues like fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. — Acts 2:1-4
This was the first time the Church received what we commonly call “the baptism in the Spirit.” The Greek word for baptize means to fully cover, or to make fully wet. The early Church understood baptism to mean a full immersion, including how they conducted water baptism. The Baptism in the Spirit, therefore, is to be fully immersed in the Spirit, and this is what the believers in the upper room experienced. The entire room was filled with the Spirit, and they were also filled on the inside with the Spirit. The evidence of the Presence of the Spirit externally around them was the manifestation of the sound of wind and the tongues of fire, while the evidence of them being filled internally was that they spoke in tongues.
While the wind and the tongues of fire are not mentioned again in succeeding stories of believers being baptized in the Spirit, the evidence of tongues is. When Peter preached to the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house, “the Holy Spirit fell on all them who heard the word. And they of the circumcision [the Jewish believers] … were astonished … because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out also on the Gentiles, for they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God …” (Acts 10:44-46). There were believers in Ephesus who had not yet been baptized in the Spirit. When the Apostle Paul “laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). That there was an outward evidence of receiving the baptism in the Spirit is also implied in Acts 8:14-19, the story of the converts in Samaria. This evidence most likely was speaking in tongues as well. Whatever it was was an unmistakable outward sign.
Is the baptism in the Spirit for all believers, or only for a select group? Peter gives us the answer to this question in Acts 2:38, 39: “… Repent and be baptized [this is water baptism] every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The promise was to all those who were listening to Peter on the day of Pentecost, and to their succeeding generations, and to all who were afar off — in generations to come and in far-flung places where the gospel had not as yet been preached.
The Christians of the early Church considered it abnormal for a believer to not be baptized in the Spirit, and they took steps to rectify such situations. When Philip preached at Samaria, the new believers there were not yet filled with the Spirit, so the apostles sent Peter and John to help them receive (Acts 8:14-16). Paul noticed that there was something wrong with a few of the believers at Ephesus and laid hands on them so that they would receive the Spirit (Acts 19:2-6). It is possible, although we cannot know for sure, that when Aquila and Priscilla noticed that something was not quite right in Apollos’ preaching, that the baptism in the Spirit was the missing ingredient. They then helped Apollos know “the way of God more perfectly.” (Acts 18:24-26).
Next time, we will answer a few more common questions about the baptism in the Spirit, and after that, we will get to how you can easily and confidently receive the baptism in the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.