Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

85. WHAT IS THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?

Each person who responds to God’s grace (Titus 2:11) and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ (Rom 5:8; 1 John 2:2) by confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience instantly receives the great gift of salvation.  This gift includes but is not limited to the following:

 

  • Redemption (Rom 3:24; 8:23) - You are freed from the bondage of sin for the first time in your life.
  • Forgiveness (Mat 6:9-15; 1 John 1:8-10) – You are forgiven your sins by God.
  • Justification (Rom 3:21-26) – You are declared righteous by God; this legal declaration is valid because Christ died to pay the penalty for your sin and lived a life of perfect righteousness that can in turn be imputed to you.
  • Adoption (Rom 3:23; Gal 3:26; 1 John 3:2) – You are a joint heir with Jesus to the Kingdom of God.
  • Regeneration (John 3:1-21) - The Holy Spirit makes known to you the will of God and helps you discern truth from lie.  He occupies and purifies all the rooms of your heart into which He is invited.  For the first time in your life you are not a prisoner of sin.  You are free to pursue the path of righteousness.  This is the first day of your Christian life and you are a new creature in Christ.  This is the mechanism of your redemption.
  • Sanctification (Heb 6:1; 1 Pet 1:13-16) - You are led by the Holy Spirit along the path toward holiness; this is a lifetime journey.
  • Reconciliation (Eph 2:11-22) - You are reconciled with all other believers.
  • Unification (Eph 3:1-11) – You are united with all believers in the Church of Jesus Christ.
  • Glorification (Rom 8:30) – You will complete the journey along the path of sanctification when your mission in this life is done.

 

At the instant of regeneration – being born again -- the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your intellect, your will and your heart.  At that instant, you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).  A hint that the Holy Spirit would someday reside in the human soul was provided in Psalm 68:18 and given in greater detail in John 16:7-15.  But the followers of Jesus had to wait until the day of Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit with power (Acts 2:1-4); Jesus did not send the Spirit with power prior to His resurrection and subsequent ascension and exaltation (John 7:39).  Curiously, however, some 50 days prior to gathering in one place, the disciples received a portent of Pentecost.  The resurrected Jesus stood among them, breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). 

The Holy Spirit has always been working in creation and in the affairs of mankind but He did not take up residence in the souls of men until God the Son was glorified.  At salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your will and intellect as an advisor.  He occupies and purifies all those rooms of your heart which you permit Him to enter.  You have been reborn as a Christian and this is the first day of your new life.  But don’t think the portion of the Holy Spirit received at salvation stays constant for the rest of your life.  Your portion, for example, may increase with time and you may be empowered to do the seemingly impossible.  The Holy Spirit comes and goes in your soul as He finds response in your heart and disposition to obedience.

It is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit which changes men but the power of the ascended Christ, coming into men’s lives by the Holy Spirit, that changes all Christians.