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HOLY SPIRIT

The Nature and Purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

By Dr. Richard Dobbins
Emerge Ministries

CBN.com Right up front, let me say that every person who has accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior has the Holy Spirit residing in him or her. Non-Pentecostal evangelicals frequently resent Pentecostals who infer that evangelicals do not have the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals are not "more capable" of living a life that is pleasing to Christ than are other evangelicals. The solution to the sin problem in each of our lives is found in the Cross, not in some subsequent Christian experience.

I want to answer five important, frequently asked questions about the nature and purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

What Is The Baptism in The Holy Spirit?

In order for anyone to experience a baptism, three components must be in place. First, someone must administer the baptism. Second, some element that brings about change must be present. Third, someone must submit to the baptism.

The theological terms for these components are: the celebrant, the element, and the communicant.

The celebrant is the person who administers the baptism, the element is that into which the communicant is immersed, and the communicant is the person who experiences the baptism. Let me explain this in New Testament terms. When we are born again, Paul tells us, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:13).

The Holy Spirit is the celebrant. He is the one who does the baptizing and He immerses the believer into the body of Christ, which is what makes the person a new creature in Christ Jesus. The celebrant is the Holy Spirit, the element is the body of Christ, the communicant is the believer, and the change is we are translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son -- we are born again.

Every born-again believer has experienced this baptism. It is a baptism of the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.

Once you are a born-again believer, Christ admonishes you to submit yourself to water baptism. Physically, the change is from dry to wet. Symbolically, we are married with Christ in baptism and we rise to walk in newness of life (see Romans 6:1-4). We are symbolically saying that we have died to our natural life and made a line to our spiritual life. This is water baptism.

Then the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the baptism of Jesus. Remember John the Baptist said, "He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" (Matthew 3:11).

In the Pentecostal experience, Jesus is the celebrant. He is the one who does the baptizing. The element is the Holy Spirit and the communicant is the believer. In regards to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, Jesus baptizes the born-again believer (in the Holy Spirit).

Where Is It Talked About In The Bible?

John the Baptist first mentions it in Matthew 3:11. Then, in Luke 24:49, Jesus instructs His disciples to tarry at Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high. Notice, He does not say filled with power from on high.

Then, in Acts 1:5 Jesus says that, although they have been baptized with water, the believers are going to be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days. He also reassures them in Acts 1:8 that when this happens, they will receive power to become witnesses.

Acts chapter 2 records this experience coming to believers at Jerusalem. Acts chapter 8 describes the experience coming to believers in Samaria. Acts chapter 10 talks about Cornelius and his household being baptized in the Holy Spirit, and Acts chapter 19 records this experience coming to the church at Ephesus.

Why Should I Want To Be Baptized In The Holy Spirit?

First, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a gift from Jesus Christ to you. Christ promised this to the Church. They waited after they had received the Holy Spirit, after they were saved, until the Day of Pentecost was fully come and then the Lord Jesus endued them with power from on high -- baptized them in the Holy Spirit.

Second, Jesus says that when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit we are endued with power to witness (see Acts 1:8).

I think many Pentecostals mistakenly believe that they cannot be overcomers until they are baptized in the Holy Spirit. But the baptism in the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with the overcoming life. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is for an entirely different purpose. It is for world evangelism -- to give us power to witness.

The Nature and Purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Part Two


Dr. Richard D. Dobbins is the leader of EMERGE Ministries of Akron, Ohio. He serves on the faculty of Ashland Theological Seminary and initiated the coordination of their master’s program in Pastoral Counseling. An acclaimed author, Dr. Dobbins has created numerous film/video presentations on topics of interest to believers and has written many books, booklets, articles and audiotapes on Christian mental health care.

© Media Ministries of the Assemblies of God. The highlights of the daily and weekly radio program, "From This Day Forward," are a joint production of EMERGE Ministries, Akron, Ohio, and the Media Ministries of the Assemblies of God, Springfield, Mo. Used with Permission.

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