Seeking a Biblical understanding of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit…

(Please note – this article was written a while ago and I am only now uploading it to my new blog page… my views regarding this doctrine have somewhat changed as I have moved more away from a charismatic doctrine of pneumatology and the understanding of the baptism of the Spirit and will be reflected in a later post. But I still thought it valuable to post this article here for reading as this reflects part of my journey towards better understanding scripture. So read – as with everything – with your discernment on as we seek to discover the truth.)

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This has long been a debated and controversial topic in the church… It has divided certain denominations… I’ve seen erroneous teaching on it cause much hurt and confusion, so I wanted to bring some clarity to the subject both for myself and hopefully for others too…My aim here is not to come at this with a preconceived notion of this doctrine or with a denominational bias – but rather to see what I would come up with if I just read the text from the bible and took what it says and understood it. I am not going to argue continuationalist vs cessationist – as I don’t think there’s good evidence for cessationalism (**this was definitely a statement of ignorance when I made it not fully understanding what was meant by cessationism) and I’ve seen the continuance of the gifts working in believers today anyways… maybe that would be an argument to have for another time. So I’ll just continue with the assumption that the gifts still are in operation today.

This article outlines a lot of what I believe in this regards: http://carm.org/questions/about-doctrine/have-charismatic-gifts-ceased 

The purpose of this is not to divide the body or to pick a fight with the PAOC or any other denomination – but just an earnest search for truth. But please – don’t just take my word for it – do your own earnest study on it too…

My definition of terms:

– Baptism
From the original Greek word – baptizo – it literally means to immerse or submerge. There is a distinction of Greek words to be noted – bapto – is to dip, whereas baptizo means to submerge. This is an important distinction to understand the usage of the translated word in scriptures.

It can refer to the ordinance of baptism which is the public display of a profession of saving faith and covenant with Jesus Christ.

– Holy Spirit
The third person of the Godhead, coequal in power, deity, nature and eternality as the Father and Son. The Spirit is not an impersonal force or power but a person of the Godhead, with the personality and character of God. Greek word in the New Testament is Pneuma, literally translated breath or wind.

– Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Pentecostal)
A term used (specifically in charismatic & Pentecostal circles) to describe a movement of the Spirit upon or within a believer sometime after the person is saved. It is a distinct experience separate from receiving the Spirit as God as a seal of salvation upon conversion. It is not necessary for salvation. In traditional Pentecostal understanding it is accompanied by the gift of tongues as the Spirit gives utterance to a person – however this is not necessarily universally believed to be the only evidence of the ‘baptism of the Spirit’.


Definition from the Greek

From what I understand of the Greek for the texts I looked up that contain this phrase: Matt 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33 – these talk of John the Baptist’s statement that he baptizes with water, but Jesus was the one who was coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Acts 1:5 and Acts 11:16 – recount these also. The phrase as it appears is a translation of “baptisei hymas en Pneumati Hagio” or literally “submerge (baptize) you with Spirit Holy” – immerse you in the Holy Spirit.

What I understand from this is that it is saying that this experience is the submersion or total covering of a person in the Holy Spirit. I would almost compare it to the text that says we are hidden in Christ (Col 3:3) or clothed in His righteousness (Rom 13:14)… it’s that idea of being so engulfed/covered by Him that we are “in” Him or “immersed” in Him.

What then does this “baptism of the Holy Spirit” mean?

The implication I get from this is as follows:

Submersion in this sense is a willing total surrender to totally let yourself be engulfed by the Spirit (symbolized by water baptism where we allow our whole self to be submerged under the water). There’s an element of letting go and allowing this to happen. This is why John’s baptism was more of a foreshadowing via water to what Jesus would come and do with the Holy Spirit to those who believe. So already I can see a link here with salvation. And we can see from other passages that the Spirit is given at the point of conversion as God’s seal of salvation on our life. ([God] has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.  2 Cor 1:22 – see also Eph 1:13 & 14)

So then, since when we are saved, we are now positionally clothed in Christ’s righteousness (justified), hidden in Him – or immersed/submerged in Him – one could say we are baptized then in the Holy Spirit in that sense… as the Spirit’s work is conviction of sin, cleansing, purifying and regenerating…

I think the scriptures state emphatically that all saved persons have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in this sense. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body . . . ” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

A clarification of terms – spot the difference

However – I do see a difference in this general giving of the Holy Spirit as the seal of salvation and what the Pentecostal term “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” states as an additional, separate filling or empowering of the Holy Spirit poured out in a person’s life. I think however, the use of the word ‘baptism’ in the phrase – because of its close ties to salvation – is sometimes misleading. Perhaps a better word to better clarify the term would be “the filling of the Holy Spirit”. From the text I don’t see it being linked to salvation – so someone can be saved without being baptized/filled with the Holy Spirit. For future clarification here – whenever I refer to this I will do so as “baptized/filled” to draw a distinctive between referring to this baptism and the baptism spoken of at conversion.

(Interesting side note)

The ‘fire’ part… (v 11 – He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.) I know traditionally Pentecostals have thought that the fire part is referring to the tongues of fire experience… however, what about if you considered it in light of the context of Matthew 3:7-12 ? – in verse 10 – just before, it says, “Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So could it be then, just as the believer is baptized or submerged in the Holy Spirit on salvation – that the unbeliever is ‘baptized or engulfed’ in the fire (ie Hell)? For me, in the context – it seems to imply this… reading this verse in its proper context is essential to understanding this.

So then, is this filling necessarily separate from the salvation experience?

Well, sometimes. I think if we look at the disciples before the upper room experience – were they saved? Yes. Of course! However, did they receive power from the Holy Spirit? Not yet… However, if you look at the experience in Acts 11 – with the gentiles, as the disciples are preaching to the gentiles – instantly the Spirit falls on them just as it did on the disciples in the upper room… So in the same book – one case we see a differed outpouring/filling of the Holy Spirit… and in the other we see it happen immediately. We see it nowadays too – does everyone who gets saved immediately start visibly bearing much fruit? Clearly not!

Variation in fruit production

I think from this we can draw a parallel from the parable Jesus tells in Matthew 13 – where he says of the seed which fell on good soil – that; it produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty… or in other words – some were instantly filled to the max… some halfway… some just slightly at first… I think it would be a reasonable argument for various dispensations or pouring out of the Spirit in the life of a believer which could either be immediate or delayed. That as we submit our lives to God, we bear more fruit – and for some – when they hear the gospel and repent, they willing throw everything in – all of them totally submitted and they instantly are filled and bear much fruit (the hundred fold)… but for others, there’s more of a gradual road to more and more levels of submission as the Spirit sanctifies us (the thirty and sixty fold).

This also makes sense if we understand salvation as a relationship – relationships tend to grow and deepen organically over time as you make the effort to get to know, spend time with and serve the other person… they don’t just all of a sudden happen out of nowhere normally.  However, on rare occasion – people will meet, click and hit it off really fast and it seems like there’s an instant bond established. Perhaps this is the experience that some charismatics have called the baptism of the Spirit – however this experience isn’t normative, and I think it would be unfair to apply it broadly as a rule to all people’s relationship with God – just as it would be wrong to do so in any other regular relationship with people. Each relationship’s development is unique.

Emptied to be filled

I think that it makes sense that for us to be filled, we must empty out what was in there firstly to begin with… and the more you empty yourself, the more room you make for the Spirit to fill you… this is what I understand of the idea of surrender. By extension – I think this experience is what Pentecostals have come to brand “the baptism of the Holy Spirit” – as a person coming to full surrender to God’s Spirit in their lives – He fills them up as they empty themselves in total surrender and as a result they are empowered by Him.

A word of warning to charismatics

The danger of this phenomena is the potential division of the body of Christ into two categories:  those who are “regular” Christians and those who have been ‘baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ This, of course, would be an incorrect way of looking at Christians, and this is why:If you were to step outside into a soft mist, it would take a long time to get completely wet.  On the other hand, if you were to step into a torrential rain, you’d be drenched quickly.

Those who have not experienced the ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’ (meaning a sudden and powerful experience) are not second-class citizens by any means. They are the ones in the gentle mist who experience the Lord over a long period of time and get just as blessed as those who suddenly step into the torrent of the Spirit’s presence.  In fact, the ‘Baptism of the Spirit’ can be a pitfall since so many people who have experienced it long for it again, almost to the point of putting the validity of their faith in the experience instead of the clear teaching of the word of God.I know I have seen and even experienced this hurt from charismatic teachings of this doctrine where it makes a believer feel left out, belittled, that their faith isn’t strong enough, that they are somehow less holy, second class Christians because they haven’t had some sort of ecstatic experience of utterance… but there is NO reason biblically for this type of hierarchy within the body – we are many members, of different purposes, but EQUAL value.

We must all be careful not to fall in our strengths as well as our weaknesses.

So what is the evidence of the “Baptism/filling of the Holy Spirit”?

Pentecostal Assemblies Of Canada statement: BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
-The baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience in which the believer yields control of himself to the Holy Spirit. Through this he comes to know Christ in a more intimate way and receives power to witness and grow spiritually.
-Believers should earnestly seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ.
-The initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.
-This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth.

Here is where I disagree strongly with the PAOC’s statement of their understanding of this doctrine. “The initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.”  This explicitly states that, the evidence of the baptism/filling of the Holy Spirit IS TONGUES – so therefore, if anyone doesn’t speak in tongues – they’ve not been baptized/filled with the Holy Spirit.

The problem is that nowhere in scripture can I find this explicitly stated that tongues is the only evidence of the baptism of the Spirit, and also to affirm this one would have to ignore other scriptures which state clearly that not all speak with tongues and that not everyone is given the same gifts. There are numerous instances when the disciples were filled with the Spirit but did not speak in tongues. See Acts 4:31 and 13:9-11. Not to mention – no where is it explicitly stated that Jesus, who was the perfectly Spirit filled God-man, spoke in tongues. While it doesn’t say that he never spoke in tongues, neither does it say He did… so we shouldn’t put speculations into doctrine – and to me this shows just how little importance is given to tongues as such evidence. To be Spirit-filled is to be Spirit-controlled. Are we to believe that the thousands of mightily used men and women of God who were among the world’s best missionaries of Christ’s Gospel and Bible teachers were never filled with the Holy Spirit because they never spoke in tongues? Especially when Paul expresses such a low importance of tongues among the other ‘higher’ gifts…

Gifts:
1 Corinthians 12 – Paul says in verse 3 –

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

Paul uses “gifts,” “service,” and “working” as roughly equivalent (just as Spirit, Lord and God are equivalent). The three terms are not distinct categories, but they highlight different aspects of the same phenomena: 1) that the abilities are given, not something we can take credit for ourselves, 2) they are given for service, to help other people, and 3) they work; they produce results in our lives. The main point is that God works in different ways in different people.

So there is variety in the gifts. He lists some of the various gifts in v8-10… then in v11 he states. “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” So – the Holy Spirit has His own desires and will, and it is important to understand WHO is in control of giving them.

If you demand of someone a particular gift – it defeats the purpose of a gift… a gift is freely given, and the giver chooses what he gives. Whether or not he gives what is requested is entirely up to the giver’s discretion.

So… Is tongues for everyone?

Later in the same chapter he says, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” – re-establishing again the variety among the gifts and the diversity of the body in its parts – and tongues is listed last…

Then he goes on, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” – this portion is written as a series of rhetorical questions… each with the obvious answer – NO. In the Greek it’s even clearer – as the style of Greek writing has a tool of rhetoric which basically asks the question and immediately answers it in the same breath… so a literal translation would read more like, “Do all possess gifts of healing? – NO. Do all speak in tongues? – NO… etc.”

So then to say that tongues is required of every believer, or is the only evidence for the baptism/filling of the Holy Spirit would be non-biblical. I certainly have never experienced tongues myself – but I’d hope you wouldn’t consider me not filled of the Spirit! I think tongues can be A manifestation of the Spirit’s power, but not by any means THE ONLY… and definitely tongues is not required as evidence of saving faith.

The role of tongues:

Seen in 1 Corinthians 12 & 14 – Paul actually lists tongues way down on the list of gifts… and I think there’s a trend in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles to over-glorify and even worship tongues which is totally not scriptural. The role of tongues is clearly stated as a private prayer language for the self edification of a believer (1 Cor 14:1-4). The other role it could play is in the instance of it used in evangelism where it isn’t a tongue of angels but a human language which the speaker does not know how to speak prior to the Spirit’s enabling – and this is for the purpose of God spreading His gospel to reach the lost. Also, it’s use for the edification of the body ONLY HAPPENS if there is interpretation… which is why I hold to the teaching by Paul that it should not be done publicly. He argues that in public – it would seem as madness and disorder to unbelievers who are looking on and that it would be better to speak 5 understandable words than a thousand unknown words in tongues.It is unprofitable to the body for tongues to be done in public without interpretation, and it irks me when people are praying for me or someone else, and I’m trying to engage with my mind and agree – but someone is going off in a tongue and distracting me and not adding ANYTHING to the purpose of that moment. Furthermore, if tongues is a private prayer language and for self-edification – how can you pray over someone else in tongues!? All you’re doing is edifying yourself! All I’m saying is, if the purpose of the gifts is for the mutual edification of the body, then let us be good stewards of these gifts for that purpose.

There is purpose in the variety:

(you can skip this part if you like – but I thought it interesting to ponder…)

When I think of different men who have been used of God mightily, let’s take someone familiar like John Piper for example… Piper has admitted – he has never experienced the gift of tongues though he has earnestly prayed for it and continues to seek it from time to time. I don’t think many would disagree that God uses Piper greatly and he shows many gifts of the Spirit – he’s most definitely a brilliant teacher and expositor of the Word. However, also – he is a watchman of sorts. A big part of Piper’s ministry is spotting and addressing theological heresies.

I see in him actually – a possibility of purpose of why God would withhold the gift to some. For the ones who do not posses the gift of tongues – we are actually more critical or perhaps discerning or on the watch for its misuses and the misuse of other such gifts… perhaps God in His wisdom knows that for the functioning of this part of the body of Christ, as a watchman, it is actually better for him not to have this gift as it gives him a keener eye to discern theological heresies and abuses… ?

I at least see this as a possibility to consider…

The Greek word Paul uses for these gifts is “xárisma” – where we get our English charisma… In English, a person who has “charisma” has a personality that seems to attract followers. But for Paul, everyone has been given a charisma, because for him the word meant a gift, something given by the grace (charis) of God. So, our gifts are given to both edify the body and also to attract others to the power of God working in us to ultimately point them to the greatest ‘charisma’ or gift – eternal life through Christ. I’ve seen this when we go out evangelizing – God uses each of us uniquely through the gifts He’s given to us… for some through compassion, others through words of knowledge or healing… in me through apologetics and teaching, etc…

All the parts of the body are needed. (1 Cor 12:21-27 expounds on this)

Understanding the Baptism/Filling of the Holy Spirit as a transfer from Old to New

Distinction between baptism of the Holy Spirit at conversion and the subsequent baptism/filling of the Holy Spirit later on*There are two distinct references to the baptism of the Holy Spirit which must be distinguished between* 

I think that the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ that is talked about specifically on the day of Pentecost is possibly referring to a transfer from the old covenant “lesser-power” to the new covenant “full power” of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers and distinct from the baptism referred to in the 6 verses (Matt 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, Acts 1:5 and Acts 11:16). Here’s why: 

One of the confusions I think stems from the English translations which seem to allow for the distinction between the baptism by Jesus referred to in the 6 verses (4 in the gospels and 2 times in Acts of which Jesus spoke) and the baptism spoken of in 1 Cor 12:13… however in the examination of the Greek text – it doesn’t seem supportable as the expression in both are almost identical. “en heni pneumati… ebaptisthemen” (in one Spirit… we were baptized) – the distinction between being baptized IN the Spirit and WITH the Spirit that is seen in the English translation – just doesn’t exist in the Greek and seem to have been referring to the same thing. So then, it would seem that the baptism in the Spirit which was being spoken of here was actually one in the same which was spoken of at conversion.

“For we were all baptized in one Spirit into one body” (1 Cor 12:13) – therefore baptism in the Holy Spirit here is referring to the activity of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the Christian life when he gives new spiritual life, regenerates, cleanses, etc…

Clothed with power

So now that we have that distinctive from those 7 verses… we can address the baptism we see in Acts 1:5 and 11:16 on the day of Pentecost… the disciples who experienced this were already born again. So then, this experience was a new empowering from the Holy Spirit that enabled them to minister effectively. It was a the mark of a new outpouring of the Spirit’s power, a new season, for believers.

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit’s work in ‘believers’ was generally a less powerful working than what we have today – as they weren’t “indwelt” with the Holy Spirit as we are today… The Holy Spirit was still at work then, but we can see that He only came to a few people with significant power for ministry. In fact, Moses cried out in longing for the day when God would pour out His Spirit on all God’s people in Numbers 11:29 – “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” The Spirit’s work was almost completely confined to the nation of Israel… and God promises of a day when He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh in Joel 2:28. Then in the new covenant, He creates for Himself a new dwelling place (Eph 2:22), the church – which unites not only Jews but Gentiles in the body of Christ with the Spirit of God in them!

In Jesus we see the first example of this New Covenant working of the Spirit – as at His baptism, the Spirit descends on him like a dove, and after his temptation in the desert he returned in the POWER of the Spirit into Galilee (Luke 4:14) and we begin to see the working of this new pouring out of power as he casts out demons, heals the sick, teaches with authority, etc…

The disciples though, do not receive this full outpouring yet. This is why Jesus tells them to go and wait, and you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you in Acts 1:8. This is when we see the disciples be transitioned from the Old Covenant working of the Spirit’s power to the new – Jesus returned to the Father and was given authority to pour out the Holy Spirit in new fullness and power… “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.”(Acts 2:33).

From here on we see the disciples empowered in a new more powerful way for ministry and evangelism – the same outpouring which is available to us now in this new “age to come” – and I think this is what is actually being referred to in the ‘Pentecostal’ understanding of the baptism (or that which I have called the filling of the Holy Spirit for the sake of less confusion of terms).

So to sum it up – this second experience by believers is I think better described as a filling of the Holy Spirit – and can happen in various measures in the life of a believer at various points as we are surrendered to God more and more and He out pours His Spirit’s power in our lives. To call it a second ‘baptism’ separate from the saving seal of the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ received at conversion runs the danger of setting up believers into 2 tiers and create a sort of second class citizens within the body for those who haven’t received this secondary ‘baptism’. The flowing of the gifts then, are a totally separate and sovereign decision of the Spirit as to when and how He will give these gifts in the life of a believer, and is not tied to some sort of secondary ‘baptism’ experience.

 

A more excellent way…

So what then is the evidence of the baptism/filling of the Spirit??

We see from other scriptures – the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, kindness, etc…” (Gal 5:22-23) – note that the word “fruit” is singular – not that these things are each fruits of the Spirit – but that there is ONE FRUIT – and these expand on that… in fact – the order is notable… Love starts it off, and one could say that love also encompasses them all… the other things in the list are actually attributes that would flow from love.

…and we’ve seen some of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12… but then Paul switches gears after listing the gifts, he says – but let me show you a more excellent way – and thus begins the love chapter which interestingly falls in between 12 & 14 which are talking about the gifts… so, love is the thing holding them together.

Could it be that this ‘more excellent way’ then is the key??

Look at how he begins chapter 13:

“IF I SPEAK IN THE TONGUES OF MEN AND OF ANGELS… but have not love…” I think if there still was any uncertainty about if tongues are the proof of the baptism/filling/work of the Spirit in a person’s life – this would settle it… for this shows you can have tongues – and still be just a noisy gong!!!

Instead – what is resoundingly and repeatedly emphasized here as the ultimate demonstration of the Spirit’s power in a person’s life?? ….. simply put – LOVE.

Furthermore, remember that fruit of the Spirit? “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control…”?

Isn’t there an uncanny resemblance of that list to the list that Paul gives in 1 Cor 13 about love? “Love is patient, love is kind… it does not boast, etc…” Could it be then, that Paul is trying to show that love is the all encompassing evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in a person’s life? That LOVE, and NOT tongues, is the evidence of the Spirit’s power in a person’s life?

One of the reasons the Spirit was given to us is so that we could go out and be His witnesses… and how do people know that we are His? By our love. Love is the “xárisma” by which we attract people to the gospel.

Love is the key:

In the bible this type of love is distinguished from all other loves (eros, phileo, etc…) – this is agape love… this is a God love… this is a love that is Spirit powered. It is on this love that chapter 13 hangs… that without it, all the manifestations of the gifts and good works are empty! It is the visible fruit of the Spirit as the witness to the world of our changed life. And it is then, the only conclusive evidence of a Spirit filled life.

John says in 1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” and in 1 John 4:20, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Is it any wonder that Paul ends the chapter resoundingly;  ” …As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away… So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

So the passage that tells us to be filled with the Spirit – “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:18-21). Three things are mentioned as evidence of being Spirit-filled; a joyful heart, a thankful heart and a submissive heart. Nothing is said about speaking in tongues. This can be summed up as Christlikeness or love.

 

Conclusion:

So my conclusion – evidence of the baptism/filling of the Holy Spirit = LOVE (agape). More specifically – love for God – which would result in the fruit of the Spirit shown in the person’s life, a greater awareness of God, a passion for the lost, hunger for the Word, boldness for the gospel, manifestation of gifts, etc… Going back to the original definition from the Greek – if God is love, and baptism is immersion – then the baptism of the Spirit should imply the total immersion of a person in the love of God.

I think the tendency here in the charismatic circles is to take an experience and make a rule out of it… I think after examining scripture and also (to a lesser degree) from personal experience and other testimonies, that I do believe in the baptism/filling of the Holy Spirit (as defined by Pentecostals as distinct from the baptism of the Spirit at conversion) – however, I do not think its evidence or outpouring or measure looks the same for everyone. Honestly – I’m more comfortable – for the sake of clarity to use the phrase “filling of the Holy Spirit” instead of baptism because I think people confuse the baptism of the Spirit with the command to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)… but this is more a matter of nomenclature than doctrine.

So… How do you tell if you have the Holy Spirit’s power working in your life? Well – are you growing in love with God and for people? Does this love overflow into a desire to reach the lost – to a burning passion for evangelism and the spread of the gospel? For the whole purpose of this filling from the Spirit was ALWAYS to empower the preaching of the gospel to the lost. Whether if this filling happens gradually over time or suddenly in a downpour is ultimately, I think, a matter of your submission and God’s sovereign choosing of how to manifest that in your life. Maybe your baptism will be a gradual submersion bit by bit… or maybe it will be a sudden dunk in the deep end… ultimately we should be living, earnestly desiring to grow deeper in God’s love every day. Therefore this filling of the Holy Spirit’s power should not be limited to a once in a lifetime experience – but rather a continuing pursuing of deeper levels of surrender and emptying of oneself to make room for greater outpouring of the Spirit’s power in your life.

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