Baptism of

The Holy Spirit

April 2017

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The Many Interpretations of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

There have been various interpretations defining the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. One would only need to look in Wikipedia to read the many views and interpretations given by all kinds of denominations. In having read numerous articles on Baptism of the Holy Spirit (and having also had a personal experience of such a baptism), I came to realise that there are stark differences between articles written by authors who have had the Spirit Baptism and those who have not. Authors who have not had the Spirit Baptism just do not quite hit the mark - after all, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an easy thing to describe or define; and even if experienced personally, the words that we have just cannot describe the fullness of its wonder.

One night, I came into a discussion with a pastor about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. He had the viewpoint that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the event that describes the Holy Spirit baptising a person (who accepted Jesus Christ) into the body of Christ, as stated in:

1 Corinthians 12:13

For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

In other words, he had the viewpoint that Baptism of the Holy Spirit is automatically received / occurs at the point of regeneration (which is quite a common viewpoint in many reformed traditional churches).

This viewpoint is contrary both to my belief and my personal experience of such a baptism (which I later shared with the pastor). In my humble opinion, the above scripture is saying that the Holy Spirit is used to mark/seal believers -- and to ”baptise” them, here to mean to immerse or group or add them into -- the body of Christ by way of that seal. This is very different to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that is conducted by Jesus which is spoken about in Matt 3:11, Mark 1:7-8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, Acts 1:4,5,8.

There is an excellent sermon by John Piper which discusses this very point in a more detailed way:

After sharing the testimony of my Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the pastor graciously acknowledged that he had a different understanding of the scripture and had nothing to say against my testimony. We parted respectfully as one could only expect from the most humble pastor I have ever met.

God's Revelation on Baptism of The Holy Spirit

The day after such a discussion with the pastor, I was just tucking myself into bed when God spoke to me about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was an amazing thought that came suddenly to my mind -- one that I could never conjure up myself -- that it would have to be God speaking to me.

God said that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is BAPTISM IN LIVING WATER.

It was wonderfully astounding to hear, so much so that I began to search the scriptures -- in which I found the following, when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well:

John 4:10-15

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The apostle John later explained that this Living Water is none other than the Holy Spirit Himself:

John 7:38

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

I sat there, still astounded, as more understanding came to my mind. Now it all makes sense:

    • I had often heard people who experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit described a "bubbling" sensation rising from their heart to their tongue as they surprisingly began to speak in an unknown language (often known as "speaking in tongues"). This bubbling must be the Living Water that the scriptures above described as "welling up" and "flowing from within".

    • In recalling my own experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the tingling that made my legs felt like jelly as it travelled up my legs from the soles of my feet -- must also have been that Living Water -- because my legs felt like they were full of liquid. I didn't understand it at the time, but now it seems so obvious that it was the Living Water that was welling up, filling me up.

It appears, therefore, that this Living Water can be physically felt/sensed even as it is spiritual. For this reason, it is often difficult to describe the Baptism of the Holy Spirit fully, and with that also, to identify with it -- one would have to personally experience it in order to be able to fully understand it and also to identify with it in others' experiences.

It is no wonder that confusion and various interpretations have arisen when attempting to define the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit", causing debate and division. God's way of defining it as "a baptism in Living Water" is not only truth, clear, but also ingenious! Praise be to God!


And so, to conclude:

    • The water baptism, as we know it, is baptism in normal water (H2O).

    • However, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is baptism in Living Water.

Thus, there are two different types of baptism -- in two different types of water!

    • H2O baptism washes the outside -- a physical baptism with spiritual significance.

    • Holy Spirit baptism (Living Water) washes the inside -- a spiritual baptism with physical manifestation.

I shared this with the pastor the next time I saw him, and I witnessed on his face a new understanding being written, as he nodded pensively.

© Elma Larsen. All rights reserved.