There continues to be strong disagreement between Christians on the nature of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some say that the baptism of the Holy spirit is received at conversion, others say no it is a second experience that is always accompanied by speaking in tongues as the initial evidence. But do either of these views really reflect the Preaching contained in the book of Acts. My problem lies in the fact that the Apostles expected the believer to have a dynamic experience of the Holy Spirit at the point of conversion. We have failed in our evangelistic preaching to do what Peter did on the day of Pentecost, and that is he held out the promise of the Holy Spirit as part of his proclamation of the gospel. Peter said,
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” (Acts 2:38–40).
In this context we see that as Peter declares the gospel he does so with his audience knowing that his sermon started because of the fact that they had been empowered by the Holy Spirit, it is against this background that Peter holds out the promise of the Holy Spirit to those he commands to repent. The reason why the baptism of the Holy Spirit is always linked to conversion is the apostolic expectation of this dynamic and experienced working of the Holy Spirit, indeed if people have not received the Holy spirit in this way they are questioned about their faith. This is where the New Testament is practical the gift is held out to all some receive it at conversion, others later on, God wants all his people to receive that initial dynamic outpouring of the Holy Spirit but if they have not received it at conversion, he is willing to give it to those who are thirsty for the rivers of life to flow through them. This experience sometime is marked by speaking in tongues ,for others they are filled with praise for the wonder of God’s salvation and sometimes it is marked by the gift of prophecy. The important thing is that we receive this gift not when we receive it.
This leads to the second question is this different from the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of the believer? and the simple answer must be yes, the Holy Spirit indwells all believers whether they have received the promised anointing, empowering or baptism. All Christians can walk in the power of the Spirit, but their lives are enriched when they are open to the Holy Spirit and his gifts. The baptism of the Spirit is not just to give us a nice experience but to prepare us for service.
I am aware that some believers will say that they don’t know if they have received the promised Holy Spirit or not, if this is the case I suggest you pray something like this,
Heavenly Father I come to you in the name of Jesus, I thank you for your gift of salvation. Lord you know all about me,I want you to fill me with your Holy Spirit and I want to receive all that you have for me, Lord come and work powerfully in my life so that your name would be glorified. Lord you have told me in your word that if I ask for the Holy Spirit you will give him to me and I know that you always keep your word, so I trust you to fill me to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit Amen