Receiving the Baptism
by French L. Arrington
T

he baptism in the Holy Spirit is for every person who has faith in Jesus. The promise of the Spirit’s fullness was fulfilled at Pentecost to 120 disciples, but the powerful experience was not limited to those first believers. The Lord now desires that all believers be filled with the Spirit.

A GIFT OF GOD

This spiritual encounter is described as “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38; 10:45) and “the gift of God” (8:20). By definition, a gift is not bestowed on the basis of merit. It is a mistake to think that though salvation is by grace, immersion in the Spirit is by works. The gift of the Holy Spirit cannot be earned, no matter how great and noble the effort. God gives Spirit baptism to believers who earnestly seek it—to those who “ask…seek…knock” (Luke 11:9-13). He will not withhold the Spirit’s anointing from His children who ask the heavenly Father for this gift.

If we must speak of a condition for receiving Spirit baptism, like other blessings that God gives, the requirement is faith. Genuine faith expresses itself in prayer, yielding, sensitivity, and obedience. Faith springs from obedience. The Spirit is given “to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32).

DEDICATION, PREPARATION, AND PETITION

Prayer and praise lead to Spirit baptism. As believers engage in worship, it provides the proper environment for receiving the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself began praying after His baptism in the Jordan River; and as He prayed, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (Luke 3:21-22).

Jesus instructed His disciples to pray for the Holy Spirit: “If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit those who ask [keep on asking] Him?” (11:13). Believers are responsible to ask their heavenly Father to empower them by the Holy Spirit. God will respond to deep, earnest, persistent prayer.

Pentecostals have rightly insisted that speaking in tongues accompanies this experience,

but we need to guard against the error of making tongues, rather than God, our pursuit.

This error prompts believers to pray to speak in tongues rather than to be filled with the Spirit. Of course, the believer can expect to speak in tongues as the initial sign of this new encounter with the Holy Spirit. A genuine hunger for God will prompt us to engage in praise and prayer for a personal encounter with God and will prepare us not to settle for anything less than the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Our prayers and praise of God in our own language can provide the atmosphere for us to be filled with the Spirit and facilitate our praising God in tongues as a response to experiencing the intense presence of God.

ACCORDING TO GOD’S WILL

Baptism in the Spirit is a gift of God, but the time for bestowing the gift is always in the hands of the Giver. Although the timing of receiving Spirit baptism is
unpredictable, the sincere seeker should not be filled with self-condemnation if the experience does not take place when expected. On the human side, it is through faith that the Pentecostal experience is received, and prayer and praise provide an atmosphere for the coming of the Spirit.

A CONTINUAL BLESSING

The Book of Acts clearly teaches that the experience of being filled with the Spirit may occur multiple times. God may refill His people because of different times and different circumstances and new challenges facing them. Nowhere does the New Testament teach that “once filled, always filled.” There is one baptism in the Spirit but many fillings. It is a repeatable experience, intended to empower and renew the people of God continuously.