I have baptized you with water,
but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
We are all familiar with the Scripture that recounts the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. We know that John preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and that baptism represented the release of sins from off our flesh and our rebirth as a new person in God. But how many of us fully understand the difference between water baptism and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
I am saddened that today's Church no longer seems to emphasize these two important gifts of faith, or their differences. I have endeavored to educate myself on this topic and would like to share what I have learned. I do not intend my opinion to be the conclusive teaching on the matter, but I hope you will realize how important it is for us to understand and seek both these gifts from God.
I assume that everyone is mostly familiar with water baptism; it is an outward action taken by a Believer to declare his/her allegiance to God; both a profession of faith in Jesus to the people of this world, and is viewed as a physical declaration of loyalty to God by the spiritual world.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an action taken by God to indwell a Believer; an eternal association with the Holy Spirit; we are bound to Him. He enables us to continue the Lord’s work; He is the agent through which we receive the power and authority from God. We receive divine inspiration to share the doctrine and teachings of Christ. It is a God-mandated, spiritual commission from God, with real evidence and tangible benefits.
Can you see the difference? While water baptism is an important part of a Believer's process of coming to God, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a serious undertaking for the Believer. We must arrive at a sanctified place in our lives; a place where we have confessed every known sin and fully cleansed ourselves of any desires to live in the flesh. It is not something done lightly, nor is it automatically granted. In fact, the evidence of having received this holy Baptism can be quite different for different people.
Some people have a spontaneous reaction ... they speak in tongues (a private prayer language between them and God). And I know that there will be those who say this gift is no longer present in the lives of modern Believers, but I know people to whom this has happened. Others receive some sort of manifestation; some kind of physical response … they may cry, or feel a swelling in their soul, or feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in some physical manner. Still others may have absolutely nothing happen -- and it appears that this is what usually happens; there is no clear manifestation at the moment that one is baptized into the Holy Spirit.
However, there will be evidences and benefits of this sacred baptism as the Believer begins to live out his eternal association with the Holy Spirit. Some of these confirmations are as follows: People find that they have a deeper personal relationship with God, and a real hunger for the Word. You will find that you have "an anointing" for whatever purpose God has called you to in His Kingdom. For example, if God calls you to be a doctor, then you will have His supernatural power operating through you so you can then become a great doctor, not just an average doctor.
You start seeing things in Scripture and in your life more clearly; the Holy Spirit is truly your "Helper", which is one of His titles. You may feel as if you are hearing more clearly from God; knowing how He wants you to proceed in matters regarding His Kingdom-- your energy levels and your intelligence levels seem to increase exponentially.
And those goose bumps you habitually get? Or the chill that runs down your spine when you are praying for an answer or contemplating how God wants you to respond or think about a situation? Those are manifestations that the Holy Spirit is communicating God's will in your life.
These are just some of the benefits and evidences that you have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. For the longest time I felt that it had to be some momentous occurrence, some earth-shattering event -- and for some people it is! But not everyone will share the same experience. As you grow in your faith, and progress through your salvation experience you will grow to recognize the Holy Spirit's presence in your life. You will hunger to do the Lord's work and to share what He has done in you. You will know that you have been given a commission from God, and you will see your path clearly. It is truly a gift from God that can effect your life and the world!