What does it mean to be baptized in the spirit? Does it mean you’ll speak in tongues? Why do people sometimes imply this?
Do u have any idea what I’m talking about?
Get your mind right. Let’s rap about this often-controversial Christian topic (although it shouldn’t be) below.
Baptized in the Spirit: Is this a phrase that you’ve heard before? Someone may have asked you, have you ever been baptized in the Spirit?
Most brothers and sisters in Christ have great intentions and just use this question or phrase in different ways, and we shouldn’t really overthink it. They don’t mean to stir up any doubt in another person’s faith in Christ.
Some people, however, misunderstand it to the point that they then misapply it, and then could mislead others because of it.
For example, many times people follow up this question with, “Well, do you speak in tongues?” As if that is “the” evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
✓ So mainly, I’d like to just clear the air with what seems to be a common reason someone asks this question, and that’s referring to the spiritual gift of tongues.
DOES “BAPTIZED IN THE SPIRIT” MEAN SPEAKING IN TONGUES?
The short answer, no. And that’s a pretty clear “no” according to scripture.
Baptized in the spirit does not mean you’re automatically going to speak in tongues, therefore if you don’t speak in tongues, it does not mean that you weren’t baptized in the spirit.
What is tongues?
It’s a “Spirit-prompted ability to pray and praise God in a heavenly dialect, possibly even an angelic language,” between an individual and God. This gift is a “Spirit-empowered capacity to speak meaningful words that are only understood by our Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (Read more here at Crosswalk by Sam Storms)
Yes, it could also be an actual language that exists on this earth like Portuguese or Italian or Russian. But if someone were to speak tongues in this manner in a public setting, then it seems like God would provide interpretation through the gift of someone else. Paul also has a lot to say about this in 1 Corinthians 14.
Let’s first look at scripture about spirit baptism and then scripture about spiritual gifts to tackle this main topic. Then let’s look at what seems to create dialogue around this second baptism concept. Then we’ll finish with what’s our responsibility in receiving or quite possibly, stifling spirit baptisms or what I prefer to call, fillings.
Let’s look at Ephesians 1:13. This is one of the the go-to’s for knowing that we’re baptized in the spirit as soon as we become part of the body of Christ. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise,” (NASB)
So, Paul is saying when you heard the gospel and then believed, you were sealed. Conversion = indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Also, 1 Corinthians 12 is another central passage in the Bible regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
Notice that we “all” have been baptized by the Spirit—all believers have received the baptism, synonymous with salvation, and it is not a special experience for only a few.
“The baptism of the Holy Spirit was predicted by John the Baptist (Mark 1:8) and by Jesus before He ascended to heaven: “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4); for the first time, people were permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the church had begun.”(GotQuestions.org)
Now, let’s look at what we know about spiritual gifts. (Oh u didn’t listen to our Top 10 yet?! Make sure u do!)
Tongues is a gift. Gifts are given by God. The Holy Spirit determines who gets what gifts and when they get those gifts. Not everyone has the same gifts. You can’t do anything to receive certain gifts. God gives them at his will.
Therefore, why would we determine that everyone should be receiving this certain gift of tongues above all the others? We wouldn’t say that “all” should receive the gift of teaching or mercy for example. There can be great dialogue about why some gifts may be more prominent and even more crucial than others for self and most importantly, the body of Christ. And yes, there are reasons why gifts can be suppressed. Let’s rap more in a bit. For now, also note other scripture about gifts.
[reference 1 Cor 12, Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11, and 1 Peter 4]
➡️ Let’s conclude with Reading Sam Storms position on tongues on page 231 of his book, Understanding Spiritual Gifts. Who is Sam Storms? He is an experienced pastor who is one of the go-to’s for speaking on spiritual gifts.
- My suspicion is that, all things being equal, if you deeply desire this gift, it is probably (but not certainly) because the Holy Spirit has stirred your heart to seek for it. And he has stirred your heart to seek for it because it is his desire to bestow it. So if you long for the gift of tongues, persevere in your prayers. My sense (with no guarantee) is that God will answer you in his time with a satisfying yes.
- On the other hand, it is important to remember that as far as we can tell, there is no other spiritual gift that is ever described, defined, or portrayed in the New Testament as one that God bestows, or wants to bestow, on every single Christian.
- In the final analysis, I’m inclined to conclude that it is not necessarily God’s will that all Christians speak in tongues. But I’m open to being persuaded otherwise.
As we wrap up this main point, just have confidence in the answer to this question:
Is every believer baptized in the spirit at conversion? Yes.
I want you to be assured that once born again you are baptized in the spirit, regardless of what manifestations do or don’t take place.
It seems pretty clear that “Baptized in the Spirit” is a phrase that should not be directly linked to speaking in tongues.
Do you need to seek a second baptism?
A guy explained his thoughts to my friend. He said, have you been baptized in the Spirit? My friend asked what he meant. The gentleman responded with, “do you speak in tongues?” My friend said no. The guy said, “well, you haven’t been baptized in the spirit yet. You must do this, this, and this and then you’ll receive Him!”
Because some people believe tongues is “the” evidence of being baptized in the Spirit, they’ll then encourage that one must seek a second baptism if they haven’t received this gift yet.
Does that happen? Yes, not just a second time though, but multiple times, often.
You seek the HS but you don’t continue to seek a spirit baptism because you can’t seek what you already have. The key verse here is Ephesians 5:18: “Do not get drunk on wine … Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” The term “be filled” is often translated in Greek as “keep on being filled” with the Spirit. It is a continual present tense.
If you’re baptized at conversion, why would someone suggest u need to seek a second baptism?
Perhaps they are referring to being FILLED by the HS.
What are some key understandings about the HS?
He indwells within believers. But he can be grieved or quenched, halted from being activated and leading our lives…
We live in sin and/or don’t surrender to him.
Because we are human we can’t be filled 100% of the time. We’re told by Paul the battle will be to live in the Spirit vs the flesh. (Romans 7-8)
We activate the HS when we obey him…and then you are filled, and then you feel him.
I can give simple examples of being filled…
Have you ever been down in the dumps and lost everything, yet you’re over-taken with supernatural joy even in difficult circumstances? According to most people, they would never understand how that’s possible to keep a positive demeanor. I would say that as a Christian, that’s God filling you with the Holy Spirit, a huge insurmountable gift of faith in him to trust his plan through a difficult time.
Have you ever been in a conversation about Jesus where you initially didn’t feel like you had words to say, then all of a sudden you get lit up and you start sharing and explaining things with great clarity? Afterwards, you feel so much love and excitement and enthusiasm for life. Typically, when we see these Holy Spirit fillings in Acts 1-13, that’s what people were doing also—-evangelizing about Jesus, often to a hostile environment of unbelievers.
Have you ever been in a situation of indecisiveness and you didn’t know which direction to take? In a given moment, something comes upon you, you fall to your hands and knees and new vision comes. Someone once shared when this happened, “I suddenly saw which path to take —-something was revealed to me and even though I could only see the next step, I sensed God would keep revealing more!” She started walking with an entirely different gait. I would say that that’s an experience of being filled (baptized) in the spirit again..and again…and again.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt compelled to pray for someone? So you stopped in your tracks, asked them, and then did. And what happened?
And we’ve heard multiple stories in our gym-church about healings and miracles. People just halted their ideas, control, and natural perspectives, then yielded and prayed for God’s will. The outcome ended up being miraculous and all glory was given to Him.
When do we see these fillings…
Times of Weakness. Vulnerability. Reliance. Pursuing. Praying. Are u doing that?
What do we see sense and feel? True joy. Like you’re riding that peak not in the valley.
Those are personal examples.
What do we see in the Bible that might create dialogue around this “spirit baptism” or “filled” doctrine?
Without getting too deep, just know this…
FIlled in ACTS
In Acts, no two stories are the same. For some, a big group speaks in tongues (Acts 2), and it’s an actual language that others can also understand (interpretation).
For others, one or two people are baptized and immediately preach the gospel.
For some like Paul he does a complete 180 and starts preaching, and leading, and healing.
For others like Stephen he can recite OT in front of rulers and authorities and die as a martyr.
For Peter and Paul, there are times when they discern and speak forth harsh words and the Lord’s will is Ananias and Sophira die and Elymas is blinded.
There are also times when people flock to Peter & Paul because God’s gift of healing is pouring out of them.
Yes, we do see an instance in Acts where Samaritans receive the Spirit. Acts 8:17.
And then two instances where the HS comes upon groups, and tongues results…Gentiles in Acts 10, and disciples of John the Baptist in Act 19.
Make note: in Acts 10 and 19, these guys are not original Christians. This is not a second baptism for a Christian because they weren’t Jesus-believing, serving, & loving followers at the time apostles approach them. Cornelius is God-fearing but Peter preaches the gospel of Jesus to him. Disciples of John the Baptist are his disciples, not Jesus’: they don’t even know the HS, which is why Paul approaches them and directly asks who they were baptized in.
All to say, without getting confusing, tongues happened to be a manifestation for them, not a typical result for everyone who participates in God’s program! And for when classic Pentecostals use these scriptures as examples of a second blessing for a saved Christian, we can see the discrepancy in that these stories were not about original Christians who were already filled.
Filled in Luke
We see in Luke that Elizabeth is full of the spirit and can sense the Lord in Mary’s womb.
We see Jesus full of the Spirit heading into the wilderness, and then coming out, healing people, doing miracles, and when He’s praying to the Father.
Ok nevertheless, those are just a few biblical passages.
As a Christian and a follower of Christ do you have the Holy Spirit within you? Yes.
The question is are you letting him lead your life and seeking a renewal (immersion & saturation) in him every single day, to be fillled?
How can we be filled:
◦ By stopping to pray and ask that he just takes over our minds, thoughts, and actions and leads us. I find it to truly be that simple.
◦ There’s no standard protocol that we can walk through like step one, step two, step three, in order to receive a gift from God. We can earnestly (a common word within the Bible), desire and pray (1 Cor 14:1) for him to give us his supernatural gifts in all situations, to do his will through us and our situation. But whatever happens it’s because of his doing, not ours.
◦ By stop trying to control everything and really flow with the spirit. Let him dictate what happens. In the gym we call it “dropping the clipboard.” It’s when we stop forcing things one way if he’s pushing us in a different direction.
◦ Seek a better understanding of him as we see in scripture, so we call it for what it is when we have certain experiences. When we identify Holy Spirit encounters & situations appropriately, we can then capitalize off of them and give more credit to him.
◦ Humble ourselves. I think it’s in our weakest moments where the Holy Spirit fills us and takes over because we’re in full reliance on God in those moments. I just listened to a story today from Max Lucado, a famous author and pastor and said at 64 yrs old he received the gift of tongues and never asked for it. He said he received it in a weak season when he had no words to say. I often hear this with stories in regards to this.
◦ Create an environment of love and encouragement for the gifts to be exercised and cultivated. Remember, they’re never about just us. Gifts are always about serving God and others and building up the body.
◦ Be in environments with like-minded People who want more of the spirit-filled life. Just like fitness, if you’re around healthy people, your habits, desires, actions, and results will be accelerated because you’re around different beliefs, languages, and opportunities that foster this growth. Prayer together, Healing together, Evangelizing together, etc, makes a difference in your spirit-led journey.
Whoosh. I know that’s a somewhat lengthy answer to what spirit baptism means, but I just want you to know there’s nowhere in scripture that says if you do this then you’ll receive this gift, and if you didn’t receive this gift then you don’t have enough faith or you’ve never received the spirit. That’s not true.
Can you block a gift? How responsible are you to ask?
We can’t be complacent or passive and must do our part as Christians to seek the Giver and His fruit and Gifts. But we don’t force the results or outcomes, and specifically when it comes to this teaching by some that being baptized in the spirit means you will speak in tongues. *I do believe that if we have a sincere desire, then most likely God instilled in us in that desire, which means he most likely wants us to receive that gift!
I know someone might say that a lot of times people are blocking the spirit because they don’t believe or haven’t tried. I would absolutely agree you can block the spirit due to unbelief or lack of desire and effort.
If you think that you can’t be gifted, or you don’t deserve God’s goodness to be gifted because you’re a sinner, let’s slash that mindset right now. Perhaps that’s why you’re reading this today.
Pride, unforgiveness, generational sin, are but a few things that can stifle God’s sovereign work in your lives. Like with prayer, God still wants us to come to him and ask.
Sometimes it just happens when people don’t ask
However, here’s where dialogue has to happen. Some people have not asked, and they still received. I never asked to be a teacher of the Word at first. It seemed to be a push that supernaturally started to happen. Same with some people I know who speak in tongues. So ask and you shall receive; but some don’t ask and still receive. Hmmmmm.
Some might have an experience of being converted to be a Christian, like say even water baptism, and at the same time they feel the indwelling and feeling of the Holy Spirit and a manifestation can happen. I just want to remind you that a manifestation doesn’t necessarily mean speaking in tongues or even immediate prophecy. For some people just an overwhelming sense of faith or mercy or knowledge and understanding, a whole new perspective on everything in life, can happen.
Are you aware? Do u know it’s the HS?
Let’s finally acknowledge that some don’t feel the receiving of the Spirit because they don’t know the power of HS. Perhaps they believe in Jesus but no one let them know who’s now in them.
When Paul went to John’s disciples in Act 19 they didn’t know of the HS. So perhaps like them even if we believe in Jesus, if we never sought his power, then maybe when we do, we FEEL the FILLING. It’s not that you didn’t have him. You just let him lie dormant because you didn’t know how to let him take over your life. So, is this now where people assume they had a second experience?!
I could see that.
It’s why I do like to say we should call it what it is, so we can put a name on him and dial in to what he’s given & continually giving us.
◦ Baptized in the spirit is an often-misused phrase whether intentionally or unintentionally.
◦ You are baptized as a believer in the Spirit. Have confidence in that.
◦ Yes, you should seek being filled, that’s why we are teaching on spiritual gifts right now. It’s not just a one-time event, multiple fillings will happen throughout one’s life as they earnestly desire, pray, pursue, and practice.
◦ Speaking in tongues is “a” gift not “the” gift that shows evidence of being a spirit filled believer.
Paul has way more to say about this in 1 Cor 14.
Will we go there next?! Let’s see.