The Holy Spirit in the Rebirth and Baptisms ~ Ray E Horton
People often confuse being Born Again, Water Baptism and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, which are all different, and may be experienced separately or together. I will just touch on some explanation here. Whole books have been written on the subject. I’ll just address scriptural understanding as I see it, without getting into a lot of theology.
Of these three initial spiritual experiences, the New Birth must always come first.
When we are Born Again, we receive and are sealed with the Holy Spirit, but that is not the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. And that doesn’t require Water Baptism.
“When we are Born Again, we receive and are sealed with the Holy Spirit, but that is not the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. And that doesn’t require Water Baptism”
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph 1:13).
“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and established the guarantee with the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Cor. 1:21-22).
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you are sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
When we are Water Baptized it is a step of faith after being Born Again, signifying our acknowledgement that in our rebirth we have died with Christ to the old self, and have risen with Him as a New Creation (the old is gone, the new has come – see 2 Cor. 5:17). This is not the New Birth, nor the power in the Holy Spirit, rather, it is the recognition, the acknowledgement, a sign to us and all around us. A person, when water baptized, must have already been saved and sealed with the Holy Spirit at any time prior, whether moments or years.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is distinct from the New Birth and from Water baptism. It is concerned with the infilling of the Holy Spirit of a person who already has the Holy Spirit through the New Birth. That infilling gives us power for service, and involves the spiritual gifts as enumerated in 1 Cor. 12, and is usually accompanied by the Gift of Tongues (not the variety used in church that needs interpretation, but a prayer language, which is for all who receive this Baptism).
Jesus said in Acts 1:5 just prior to Pentecost: “For John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” When the Holy Spirit did come upon them in this way: “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Once filled with the Spirit via this baptism, one can be refilled often. For example:
“When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). Of course, they had already been filled in Acts 2. Here, as they pray, they are refilled, and look at the result: They “spoke the word of God with boldness.” They had the anointing to preach with supernatural power. In Eph. 5:18 Paul writes: “Do not be drunk with wine, for that is reckless living. But BE FILLED with the Spirit.” If you study the tenses, it is continuous, meaning “be being filled.”
“Be Being Filled”
Acts 19:1-6 gives us some clarity on the fact that we are speaking of three different experiences: “…Paul passed through the upper regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples and said to them, ‘Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?’ They said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ He said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the One coming after him, that is, in Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied.”
You will note that it says these disciples were indeed believers (had the Holy Spirit within) yet had never heard of the Holy Spirit). When Paul explained, they were then water baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the second experience, and when He laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them (third experience) and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
At the New Birth, the Holy Spirit comes to live WITHIN us. It happens once in a lifetime, recreating our spirits, making them brand new. We become temples of the Holy Spirit, earthen vessels with a great treasure inside. We gain a whole new identity as saints, for “He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6), the position where God sees us, having been forgiven of all sin and placed in right standing with God through His righteousness in Jesus. And the fruit of the Spirit (“love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control” – Gal. 5:22-23) are available to draw upon as we renew our minds to who we are in Christ.
Some teach that Water Baptism is efficacious for in some way bringing about the two works of the Holy Spirit. But in reality, scripture doesn’t show that. Rather, it is our public acknowledgement of what God has done in our lives. We act out the fact that in our rebirth, “we were buried with Him by baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
Baptism in the Holy Spirit Brings Supernatural Empowerment
In the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit comes UPON us, who already have Him in our lives, to fill us and empower us to be more effective for the Kingdom. This baptism also helps us to draw upon the fruit of the Spirit within, developing godly character to serve as Jesus would, and it is accompanied by the spiritual gifts for power and enhanced effectiveness.
Do we need all of these experiences? Yes, to the New Birth for everlasting life with God in Christ? Yes, to Water Baptism if we want to obey the Word and confirm our consecration to Him, breaking allegiance to the ruler of this world, and forsaking the love of its ways. Yes, to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit if we want to be effective for Christ with the supernatural gifts necessary. He wants to live through us, and He has given us tools to boldly speak forth His Word and perform signs and wonders that follow the preaching of the Word, just like Jesus.
Let us not be selfish and just receive the New Birth as fire insurance to be sure we get to heaven. God has saved us because He loves us, but also, because He wants to use us. We are to be Ministers of Reconciliation, Laborers for the Harvest. We have just barely scratched the surface with the restoration of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the the use of the Spiritual Gifts. Jesus continues to pour out the Holy Spirit just as He did at Pentecost, for all who will receive. Let us let Him have His way in our lives and receive everything that He has for us.