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The experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit


 Merrill F. Unger comments on the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Deeper experiences of famous Christians down through the centuries are misconstrued as second definite experiences after regeneration. In many instances promoters of these unsound doctrines makes no attempt to reconcile their teaching of a second definite experience gleaned from the gospels and the Acts with the clear-cut teaching of the epistles, namely, that all believers in this age have the Holy Spirit and are regenerated, baptized, indwelt, anointed, and sealed as God’s own forever, the moment saving faith is exercised. (Merrill F. Unger, The Baptism & Gifts of the Holy Spirit, p.25.)

     This note is incorrect because it is from a mistranslation and misinterpretation. In the note “all believers in this age have the Holy Spirit and are regenerated, indwelt and sealed as God’s own forever, the moment saving faith is exercised” is correct, But “all believers are baptized and anointed as God’s own forever, the moment saving faith is exercised” is incorrect.
     This is from the misinterpretation of the relationship between water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The note “Deeper experiences of famous Christians down through the centuries are misconstrued as second definite experiences after regeneration” is thoroughly incorrect. The Bible indicates that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is definitely an experience subsequent to regeneration. Merrill F. Unger continues:

The baptism with the Spirit is not an experience. It does not affect the believer’s senses. Like the spiritual (positional) fullness it effects by bringing the believer into the sphere of spiritual blessing, it is not felt. Placing the believer in Christ, it constitutes his initiation into the Christian life but plays no part in his subsequent experience, except as it forms the basis of his experience of his exalted position in Christ (Eph 1:3). The filling with the Spirit, in contrast to the baptism of the Spirit, is a very definite experience. (Merrill F. Unger, Ibid., p.28.)

     The note, “the baptism with the Spirit is not an experience. It does not affect the believer’s senses. The filling with the Spirit, in contrast to the baptism of the Spirit, is a very definite experience,” is from the misinterpretation of the relation between the filling with the power of the Spirit and the baptism of the Spirit. Acts 1:5,8 and 2:3-4 confirm that both are synonymous. So the note should state “The filling with the power of the Spirit, that is, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a very definite experience.”  

John F. MacArthur comments on the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Most Charismatics define Spirit baptism as post-salvation, second-blessing experience that adds something vital to what Christians receive at salvation. Spirit baptism, they believe, is usually accompanied by the evidence of speaking in tongues, or perhaps other charismatic gifts. Such an experience is considered essential for any Christian who wants to know the fullness of divine and miraculous power in his or her life. (John F. MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, p.21.)

     Here, Charismatics’ definition of the baptism of the Spirit is correct and biblically supported. The term “Spirit baptism” is incorrect. “Spirit” is quite distinct from “the Spirit” who is God the Holy Spirit. So “Spirit” is by no means “the Spirit.” The right term must be, “the baptism of the Spirit or “the Spirit’s baptism.” The Spirit’s baptism is usually accompanied by the evidence of speaking in tongues just as in the cases of the 120 disciples, Cornelius and his family, and the 12 believers at Ephesus. John F. MacArthur continues:  

Nothing in Scripture teaches the filling of the Spirit is accompanied by ecstatic experiences or external signs. To be sure, being filled with the Spirit does bring the believer tremendous exhilaration and joy, but the New Testament epistles reveal that being filled with the Spirit brings forth the fruit of the Spirit, not the gifts of the Spirit. (John F. MacArthur, Ibid., p.316.)

     The note is quite erroneous since it is from a misinterpretation. The term “the filling of the Spirit” is incorrect. The Spirit must be treated as God the Spirit. It should be written, “the filling of the power of the Spirit.” Since the power of the Spirit consists of the nine gifts of the Spirit, ecstatic experiences or external signs accompany the filling of the power of the Spirit. The note, “the NT epistles reveal that being filled with the Spirit brings forth the fruit of the Spirit, not the gifts of the Spirit,” is totally incorrect. On having been filled with the power of the Spirit at Pentecost, the 120 disciples spoke in other tongues, that is, they received the gift of tongues of the Spirit. Peter received many gifts of the Spirit.
     So the note, “being filled with the Spirit does not bring the gifts of the Spirit,” is thoroughly incorrect. ‘The baptism of the Spirit’ in 1 Cor. 12:13 refers to ‘the nine gifts of the Spirit’ in 1 Cor. 12:4-11, that is, to receive the baptism of the Spirit is to receive the nine gifts of the Spirit. The note, “the NT epistles reveal that being filled with the Spirit brings forth the fruit of the Spirit, not the gifts of the Spirit” should instead read, “the NT epistles reveal that being filled with the power of the Spirit is to receive the nine gifts of the Spirit and brings forth the fruit of the Spirit.” John F. MacArthur continues:
Being filled with the Spirit must be distinguished from being baptized with the Spirit. The apostle Paul carefully defines the baptism with the Spirit as that act of Christ by which he places believers into His body (Rom. 6:4-6; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27). Unlike the baptism with the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit is an experience and should be continuous. (John F. MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Acts 1-12, 41.)

     The note is from the mistranslation and misinterpretation of Rom. 6:4-6, 1 Cor. 12:13 and Gal. 3:27. It should read, “Being filled with (the power) of the Spirit is not distinguished from being baptized with/in the Spirit.” The apostle Paul does not define the baptism of the Spirit as that act of Christ by which he places believers into His body. Being filled with (the power) of the Spirit is synonymous with being baptized with/in the Spirit. Thus, the note, “Unlike the baptism with the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit is an experience and should be continuous,” is thoroughly incorrect. It should be, “the baptism of the Spirit, that is, the filling of the power of the Spirit is a definite experience.”

Frederick D. Bruner comments on Cornelius’ conversion.

The Caesarean event cannot be interpreted by means of Pentecostalism’s doctrines of either the subsequent or the conditional baptism in the Holy Spirit. The tongues came neither subsequent to conversion nor through conditions fulfilled prior to their incidence. They occurred here at conversion. Of most importance, the gift of the Holy Spirit here is conversion, not later experience. The gift of the Spirit, as always, was no further experience. It was the experience of salvation. (Frederick D. Bruner, A Theology of the Holy Spirit, p.192.)
 
     The note is incorrect since it is from the mistranslation and misinterpretation of the book of Acts. Acts 10:1-4 records that Cornelius and all his family at Caesarea were devout and God-fearing. He prayed to God regularly so he was surely a true believer. He was a saint of the OT faith who lived in the period of transition. Since God called him devout, we know he was saved through faith in God before he met Peter and before being baptized with/in the Holy Spirit. Acts 10:44-47 says, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have’?”
     The phrase “who have received the Holy Spirit” is the mistranslation of the “lambano.” It must be, “who have been filled with (the power) of the Holy Spirit,” as noted already. Cornelius and his family were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit as He came on them just as He came on the 120 were on the day of Pentecost. The passage confirms that the gift of the Holy Spirit is not conversion but the gift of tongues of the Holy Spirit. Bruner’s claim (“The tongues came neither subsequent to conversion nor through conditions fulfilled prior to their incidence. They occurred here at conversion. Of most importance, the gift of the Holy Spirit here is conversion, not later experience. The gift of the Spirit, as always, was no further experience”) is thoroughly incorrect. Instead, it should be, “The tongues came sub- sequent to conversion. Of most importance, the gift of the Holy Spirit here is not conversion but the gift of tongues, a later experience. The gifts of the Spirit are a further experience. It was not the experience of salvation but the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

Rene Pache comments on the experience of the filling of the Spirit.

It is true that, at the present day, many people give the name of “baptism of the Spirit” to an experience taking place after regeneration. That experience which it is possible and expedient to possess after regeneration is called not the baptism of the Holy Ghost but the fullness of the Holy Spirit. (Rene Pache, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, p.74)

     The note is quite erroneous since the baptism of the Holy Ghost is not to be treated as a synonym for the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it should read, “That experience which it is possible and expedient to possess after regeneration is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that is, the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit.”

John. R. W. Stott comments on the experience of the filling of the Spirit.

The gift of the Holy Spirit (the baptism of the Holy Spirit) is a universal Christian experience because it is an initial Christian experience. All Christians receive the Spirit at the very beginning of their Christian life. It is difficult, then, to resist the conclusion that the baptism of the Spirit is not a second and subsequent experience enjoyed by some Christians, but the initial experience enjoyed by all. The result of this baptism of the Spirit was that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). Thus, the fullness of the Spirit was consequence of the baptism of the Spirit. (John. R. W. Stott, Baptism & Fullness, p.36,38,48.)

     This erroneous note is based on a mistranslation and misinterpretation. The note, “The result of the baptism of the Spirit was that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4), is quite erroneous. The result of this baptism of the Spirit was not they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5,8 and 2:2-4 confirm that baptism of the Spirit is synonymous with the filling of the power of the Holy Spirit. The note, “the gift of the Holy Spirit (the baptism of the Holy Spirit) is to receive the Spirit,” is erroneous since it is from the mistranslation of the Greek lambano. The note, “All Christians receive the Spirit at the very beginning of their Christian life,” is correct since to receive Jesus is to receive the Spirit.
     But the note “The gift of the Holy Spirit (the baptism of the Holy Spirit) is a universal Christian experience because it is an initial Christian experience” is thoroughly incorrect. The gift of the Holy Spirit (the baptism of the Holy Spirit) is not a universal Christian experience. The Bible confirms that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an experience that follows regeneration. John Stott insists that the baptism of the Spirit is not a second and subsequent experience enjoyed by some Christians, but the initial experience enjoyed by all. This also is quite erroneous. The Bible affirms that there were many Christian believers before Pentecost besides the 120 disciples. Only the 120 disciples were baptized with/in the Holy Spirit after waiting and praying for about 10 days to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The note, “the baptism of the Spirit is not a second and subsequent experience enjoyed by some Christians, but the initial experience enjoyed by all,” is from the mistranslation and misinterpretation of 1 Cor. 12:13, Acts 1:5,8 and 2:1-4.

Billy Graham comments on the experience of the filling of the Spirit.

In my own life there have been many times when I have also had the sense of being filled with the Spirit, knowing that some special strength was added for some task I was being called upon to perform. A person who is filled with the Spirit may not even be conscious of it. Not one biblical character said, “I am filled with the Spirit.” First, we must remember that the filling of the Spirit is not a matter of feeling, but of faith. We may feel strongly the closeness of God when we are filled, or may not. (Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit, p.48,127,149).

     The note is a mixture of correct and incorrect elements. Billy Graham says, “I have also had the sense of being filled with the Spirit.” He implies that the filling of the Spirit is a matter of our senses, that is, feeling and consciousness. He also says that a person who is filled with the Spirit may not even be conscious of it, and that the filling of the Spirit is not a matter of feeling, but of faith. It is obvious that Billy Graham is in great confusion. The note, “we must remember that the filling of the Spirit is not a matter of feeling, but of faith,” is quite erroneous. It should be said that the filling of the power of the Spirit is not a matter of faith, but of feeling.

Ajith Fernando comments on the 12 Ephesians’ experience.

What can we make of the Ephesian Pentecost (19:6)? It seems clear that the special experience of the Holy Spirit came to these former disciples of John. The experience of the Spirit was a clearly distinguished experience, not something that was accepted by faith without being felt. Through that experience they felt the fullness of the Spirit. What we insist on is that the Spirit must be experienced. (Ajith Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary: Acts, p.508.)

     The note is from the mistranslation of the Greek verb lambano in Acts 19:2. The record of Acts 19:6 could be called the Ephesian Pentecost. It seems clear that the special experience of the filling of the power of the Holy Spirit came to these former disciples of John. The experience of the filling of the power of the Spirit was a clearly distinct experience, not something that was accepted by faith without being felt. Through that experience they felt the fullness of the power of the Spirit. The note, “What we insist on is that the Spirit must be experienced,” is incorrect. Instead, what we insist on is that the baptism of the Spirit, that is, the fullness of the power of the Spirit must be experienced.

What does the Bible say about the experience of the baptism of the Spirit?

     The interpretation of R. A. Torrey on the experience of the baptism of the Spirit, “The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may and ought to know whether he has received it or not” (R. A. Torrey, The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit, p.148.) is quite distinct from that of Billy Graham. What does the Bible say about the experience of the baptism of the Spirit? First, the relation between the baptism of the Spirit and the filling of the power of the Spirit must be clear to understand the experience of the baptism of the Spirit. Both things must be accepted as synonymous.

Jesus Christ experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Mark 1:10-11  And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens    parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (NKJ)

     The phrase, “the Spirit descending upon Him like as dove,” simply means the Spirit came on Jesus. The doctrine “the coming of the Spirit means the baptism of the Spirit” (Acts 1:5,8; 2:3-4) should be applied to the case of Jesus. Luke 3:22, 4:1,14 and 18 confirm that Jesus was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. The text affirms that Jesus saw the Spirit when he was filled with the power of the Spirit after being baptized with/in water by John. Originally and basically, the Holy Spirit can not be seen through human eyes. The Holy Spirit is invisible God. But the text testifies that Jesus saw the Spirit. The phrase “Jesus saw the Spirit” implies that Jesus saw the invisible Spirit through His physical eyes. This obviously is a mysterious and miraculous experience. To see the invisible Spirit as He came upon Jesus Christ was surely a very definite, personal and supernatural experience. The text says, “Then a voice came from heaven, You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Greek text says, “There was a voice came from heaven.” It implies that Jesus heard the voice of God the Father with His physical ears. This is also obviously a mysterious and miraculous experience. Here, Jesus experienced supernatural and miraculous things. The Bible confirms that R. A. Torrey’s note, “The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may and ought to know whether he has received it or not,” is biblically right. But the Bible proves that Billy Graham’s note (“A person who is filled with the Spirit may not even be conscious of it. We must remember that the filling of the Spirit is not a matter of feeling, but of faith”) is biblically erroneous since it is from the misinterpretation. Thus, it should read, “A person who is filled with the power of the Spirit can be conscious of it. We must remember that the filling of the power of the Spirit is not a matter of faith, but of feeling.” The Bible confirms that Merrill F. Unger’s note (“The baptism with the Spirit is not an experience. It does not affect the believer’s senses...it is not felt. The filling with the Spirit, in contrast to the baptism of the Spirit, is a very definite experience”) is erroneous since it is from a mistranslation and misinterpretation. Thus, it should state that the baptism of the Spirit is an experience. It affects the believer’s senses. It is felt. The filling of the power of the Holy Spirit, that is, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a very definite experience.

John 1:33-34   I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God. (NIV)

     The coming of the Spirit speaks of the baptism of the Spirit, as noted already. The text says that John the Baptist sent by God saw the Spirit who came on Jesus. That is, he saw the scene unfold with his own physical eyes as Jesus received the baptism of the Spirit. The text indicates that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience so one may know and ought to know whether he has received it or not. Here, a doctrine can be built, “the observer may know whether they were baptized with/in the Spirit or not, just as the apostles including Peter and John in Jerusalem knew whether the Samaritans did not receive it.” The record of John 1: 33-34 shows that the baptism of the Spirit is a matter of feeling and can be experienced through our physical senses.

Peter says the Spirit’s baptism is an experience even though he did not use the term ‘experience.’

Acts 2:1-6    When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. (NIV)
Acts 2:33  Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. (NKJ)

     Mark 1:10 records that Jesus saw the Spirit descending (coming) on Him like a dove, that is, Jesus saw the invisible Spirit descending in the form of a dove. Acts 2:3 records that the 120 disciples saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. They saw the Spirit coming upon them like tongues of fire. The 120 disciples surely saw the invisible Spirit with their physical eyes just as Jesus and John the Baptist did. This obviously was a mysterious and miraculous experience. To see the invisible Spirit who was coming upon them was surely a very definite and supernatural experience. The text records there was a sound like the blowing of a violent wind from heaven that filled the whole house where they were sitting. It implies that they heard the mysterious and supernatural sound of a violent wind from heaven. The text also records that the 120 began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them at the moment of being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, that is, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. To speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them was also a definite supernatural experience. Therefore, in Acts 2:33 the apostle Peter preached, “He (Jesus) poured out this which you now see and hear.” This phrase (“this which you now see and hear”) means that God-fearing Jews in Jerusalem gathered from every nation were seeing and hearing the 120 disciples speak in their own languages. Here, it also can be established regarding the baptism: “Believers may know and ought to know if they are baptized with/in the Spirit or not.”
     The case of the 120 shows that the filling of the power of the Spirit, that is, the baptism of the Spirit is not a matter of Christian faith, but of manifest feeling and experience involving the physical eyes and ears. The case of the 120 confirmed R. A. Torrey’s comment (“The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may and ought to know whether he has received it or not”) is biblically right. The case of the 120 confirms that Billy Graham’s comment (“A person who is filled with the Spirit may not even be conscious of it. We must remember that the filling of the Spirit is not a matter of feeling, but of faith”) is biblically erroneous. The 120 disciples who were filled with the power of the Spirit were definitely conscious of it. In their cases the filling of the power of the Spirit was not just a matter of faith, but of demonstration. The case of the 120 disciples confirms that Unger’s comment (“The baptism with the Spirit is not an experience. It does not affect the believer’s senses...it is not felt. The filling with the Spirit, in contrast to the baptism of the Spirit, is a very definite experience”) is biblically erroneous. The 120 disciples confirm that the baptism of the Spirit is a definite experience. It affected the senses and feelings of the 120. To see and hear and speak in tongues surely involves human senses. In the case of the 120 disciples, the filling of the power of the Spirit, that is, the baptism of the Spirit, was very a definite, visible and audible experience.

Acts 8:14-20   Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might be filled with (the power) of the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they were filled with (the power) of the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the baptism of the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may be filled with (the power) of the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money.” (Author)

     All English versions, without a single exception, mistakenly translate the Greek verb lambano in the text as “to receive.” But it must be translated as “to be filled with,” as noted already. To know whether the baptism of the Spirit is a definite experience or not, we must ask: Why did the apostles who were at Jerusalem send Peter and John to the Samaritan believers? The text records that when Peter and John prayed and laid their hands on them they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. So it can be answered simply that Peter and John were sent because the Holy Spirit had not come upon the Samaritans, that is, none of them yet were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, that is, the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
     How did the apostles who were at Jerusalem know the Samaritan Christians had yet to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? If the apostles did not know whether the Samaritan believers had received it or not, it would be impossible for them to say that others were or were not filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. If there was no outward evidence or physical sign when the baptism of the Holy Spirit was given, it would be impossible to say whether the Samaritan believers received it.
     Acts 8:14-19 records that Simon Magus saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the baptism of the Holy Spirit was given, so he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit” (Author). If there had been no outward evidence or physical sign when the baptism of the Holy Spirit was given, Simon Magus would not have offered money. His reaction confirmed there was a definite, outward evidence and physical sign when the baptism of the Holy Spirit was given.
     What did Simon see? Simon did not see the laying on of the apostles’ hands but the receiving of the baptism of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. Thus, it can be concluded that he saw some phenomenon occurring, that is, some outward, physical sign when the baptism of the Holy Spirit was received. Acts 8 indicates that the baptism of the Spirit was a definite observable experience. Acts 8 confirms that the baptizer (agent), the recipients and the observers ought to know whether the recipients have received it or not.

Cornelius indicates that the baptism of the Spirit is a definite experience.

Acts 10:44-47   While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered (NKJ),

“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have been filled with (the power) of the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Author)

     Every English version, without a single exception, mistranslates the Greek verb lambano in Acts 10:47 as “to receive.” It must be “to be filled with.” The Gentiles confirmed there was an outward evidence and physical sign, that is, the speaking in tongues when the baptism of the Holy Spirit was received. Acts 10 indicates that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a definite experience. Acts 10 confirms that both the recipients and observers ought to know whether the recipients have received it or not.

The 12 at Ephesus indicate that the baptism of the Spirit is a definite experience.

Acts 19:2    Did you receive the Holy Spirit when (since) you believed? (All English versions)
Author        Were you filled with the power of the Holy Spirit since you believed?
Acts 19:6    And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (NKJ)

     All English versions mistakenly translate the Greek verb lambano in Acts 19:2 as “to receive.” But it must be “to be filled with.” If the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that is, the filling of the power of the Holy Spirit is not a manifest experience, it is impossible to know whether anyone has received it or not. The coming of the Holy Spirit is synonymous with the receiving of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that is, the power of the Holy Spirit, as note already. The 12 disciples at Ephesus spoke in tongues and prophesied when they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, they can answer whether they received it because they experienced speaking in other tongues and prophesied through their own mouths. The 120 disciples at Jerusalem spoke in tongues when they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
     The experience of the 12 confirmed there are outward evidences of the speaking in tongues and prophecy when the baptism of the Holy Spirit is received. Acts 19 indicates that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience. Acts 19 confirms that the baptizer (agent), the recipients, and observers ought to know whether the recipients have received it or not.

The following passages indicate that the baptism of the Spirit is a definite experience.

Rom. 1:11-12  For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established - that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. (NKJ)

     The apostle Paul was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid his hands on him. Likewise, the 12 disciples were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of Paul’s hands. Paul imparted to the 12 disciples some spiritual gift, the gifts of tongues and prophecy through the laying on of his hands. Likewise, he wanted to impart to the believers in Rome some spiritual gift, that is, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thus, he longed to see the Christians in Rome. If neither the baptizer (agent), the recipients nor the observers knew whether the recipients had received it, how could Paul write, “I may impart it to you”? In the text Paul confirms that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience, and the baptizer (agent), the recipients and the observers know whether the recipients have received it or not.

Luke 11:13   If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! (NKJ)

     Every English version erroneously translates Luke 11:13 just as NKJ does. It must be translated “how much more will your heavenly Father give the gifts of the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” as noted already. If the recipients do not know whether they have received gifts, like bread or a fish or an egg, it makes no sense. Likewise it makes no sense if recipients do not know whether they have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thus, a person who is baptized with/in the Holy Spirit is aware. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience. The recipients know if they have received it. Billy Graham insists that “a person who is filled with the Spirit may not even be conscious of it. Not one biblical character said, ‘I am filled with the Spirit.’” (Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit, 127.) This claim is biblically erroneous because the apostle Peter said as follows:

Acts 2:17     I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh. (NKJ)
Author         I will pour out the gift of My Spirit on all flesh.
Acts 2:33     Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. (NKJ)

     The 120 disciples including Peter were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 2:17 and 2:33 Peter said that Jesus (God) poured out the gift of tongues that you now see and hear. “You see and hear” declares that observers knew the recipients received it. It is as if Peter said, “I am filled with the power of the Holy Spirit,” because the pouring out of the gift of the Holy Spirit is the same as the filling of the power of the Holy Spirit, as noted already.
     So Billy Graham’s claim (“A person who is filled with the Spirit may not even be conscious of it. Not one biblical character said, ‘I am filled with the Spirit’”) is incorrect. The Bible confirms that a person who is filled with the power of the Spirit is conscious of it. The New Jerusalem Bible translates Acts 2:33 as “...and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.” It is quite erroneous since the Spirit is treated as a material like water. It must be, “what you see and hear is the outpouring of the gift of the Spirit, that is, the gift of tongues of the Spirit.”

Acts 10:44-47  While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered (NKJ), “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have been filled with (the power) of the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Author)

     The text reads that the Gentiles Cornelius and his family were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. In v. 47 Peter spoke of “those...who have been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit just as we have” (Author). It is as if Peter said, “I am (we are) filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.”
     Billy Graham’s claim “A person who is filled with the Spirit may not even be conscious of it. Not one biblical character said, ‘I am filled with the Spirit’” is affirmed here as incorrect. The Bible confirms that a person who is filled with the power of the Spirit does not accept it as “a vague ‘taking by faith’” but will be conscious of it as a definite experience.

John 4:7-15  When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”) For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. 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.”  “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (NIV)

     In John 4:7-15, Jesus told a Samaritan woman, “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, and whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” If one receives the gift of God which is living water, he should be conscious of it. If Jesus gave water, the recipients would surely know whether they received it. If the recipients did not know that they received it, it makes no sense. Here, the gift of God, which is the living water, typifies the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that is, the filling of the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, a person who is baptized with/in the Holy Spirit will be conscious of it. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience. The recipients know if they have received it. John 4:7-15 confirms that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience. The recipients will know if they have received it.

John 7:37-39   On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” ...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. (NIV)

     The phrase, “By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive,” is from the mistranslation of the Greek verb lambano, as noted already. It should be, “By this he meant the Spirit, of whom those who believed in him were later to be filled with.” The phrase, “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink,” should be inferred to mean that if anyone who is thirsty comes to Jesus and drinks, he will not be thirsty. Thus, a person who is thirsty and drinks is aware of the drink. If one does not know whether he drinks or not, it makes no sense. The words of Jesus in John 4:7-15 and 7:37-39 were fulfilled at Pentecost. Here, it can be concluded that to be filled with the power of the Spirit is to have a definite experience. The recipients know if they have received it.

Some Pentecostal say tongues-speaking is only the initial evidence of the Spirit’s baptism.

     Stanley M. Horton claims it should be recognized that speaking in tongues is only the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. (Stanley M. Horton, What the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, p.261.)

If speaking in tongues is accepted as only the initial evidence of the baptism of the Spirit, it is thoroughly unscriptural because of the following reasons.

1 Cor. 12:30    Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (NKJ)
1 Cor. 14:4-5   He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification. (NKJ)

     In 1 Cor. 12:30 Paul says that all members of church do not have the gifts of healing and the gift of tongues. Those who have the gifts of healing are those who were baptized with/in the Holy Spirit. Some member may not have the gift of tongues though he has the gifts of healing. It implies that those who were baptized with/in the Holy Spirit may not have the gift of tongues. And in 1 Cor. 14:4 Paul says, “I wish you all spoke with tongues.” It implies that those who were baptized with/in the Holy Spirit might not have the gift of tongues. To insist “speaking in tongues is only the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit” is incorrect since both the OT and NT record many different evidences of the baptism of the Spirit.

Sinclair B. Ferguson comments: the experience of regeneration and the Holy Spirit’s baptism.

What is the relation between Pentecost and the disciples’ earlier experiences of the Spirit? The disciples who gathered together after resurrection of Jesus genuine believers (cf. Mt. 16:1-20); they were already ‘cleaned’ and united to Christ (Jn. 15:1-11). By implication, this is the fruit of the work of the Spirit in their lives. But, clearly, they had not yet received the Spirit-baptism which had been promised (Acts 1:5). Their experience of the Spirit was progressive in character. (1) Regeneration by the Spirit (conversion-initiation). (2) Baptism with the Spirit...Thus, at some point during the period described by the Gospels, the apostles were regenerated. Later, at Pentecost, they experienced a new work of the Spirit: they were baptized and filled with the Spirit and spoke in other tongues as an evidence of this new stage of his activity in their lives. (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, p.80,82.)

     Ferguson insists, “The disciples were already regenerated by the Spirit before resurrection of Jesus. Regeneration by the Spirit is called the disciples’ earlier experiences of the Spirit. And at Pentecost, they were baptized and filled with the Spirit. Baptism with the Spirit is called the disciples’ later experiences of the Spirit.” He insists the disciples’ experience of the Spirit was progressive in character. This is quite erroneous since the regeneration by the Spirit is by no means a progressive experience of the Spirit. And the note, “the disciples’ later experiences of the Spirit,” is ambiguous. At Pentecost the disciples experienced the baptism of the Spirit, that is, the filling of the power of the Spirit. So it should be said that they experienced the invisible Spirit through the baptism of the Spirit.

John 3:5-8    Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (NIV)

     Here, “born again–regeneration” implies that man’s flesh is not born again. His spirit is born again by the Spirit. The phrase, “where it comes from or where it is going,” refers to the changing of the wind. So “to be born again” speaks of the changing of a man’s spirit. Before being born again his spirit belongs to Satan. When he surrenders to and believes in Christ, his spirit belongs to Christ through the Spirit. It means that an unbeliever is changed into a believer through his faith in Christ. To receive Jesus is to receive the Spirit. To receive Jesus is to be born again by the Spirit.
     The phase, “you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going,” means that one who is born again by the Spirit cannot tell the changing of his spirit through the work of the Spirit. In conclusion, you who are born again by the Spirit do not know the changing of your spirit. It means that you do not experience the changing of your spirit, that is, the regeneration of your spirit by the Spirit. Thus, it is the same as you do not experience the Spirit who regenerates your spirit. To receive Jesus is to receive the Spirit. To receive Jesus is not to experience Jesus because those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord do by no means experience Jesus. Likewise, to receive the Spirit who regenerates is by no means the experience of the Spirit. So Ferguson’s note, “the disciples’ earlier experiences of the Spirit before Pentecost,” makes no sense at all. It should be inferred that the 120 disciples did not experience the Spirit at the moment of regeneration by the Spirit before Pentecost. Instead, they experienced the Spirit through the receiving of the baptism of the Spirit when the Spirit came on them.

Lloyd-Jones comments on the experience of regeneration and the Spirit’s baptism.

It is the Holy Spirit who regenerates us. It is he who gives us new life. The Christian is a man who is born again. Yes, he is a man who is born of the Spirit. Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit; it is a secret work of the Spirit. It is not something experimental but is a secret work, and a man only knows that it has happened to him. Regeneration is something unconscious, not experimental; and the greater point is that mystery, miraculous and worked in the depths and vitals of the soul, and no man can tell you the moment when he was regenerated. Everybody is agreed about that-that regeneration is non-experimental. You later begin to discover the fact that you have been made regenerate and give evidence of it. Regeneration is unconscious, non-experiment; but the baptism with the Holy Spirit is essentially experiment. (Martin Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable, p.22,52,141.)

     This statement is thoroughly biblical since the Scripture says so. The terminology “the baptism with the Holy Spirit” is inaccurate.

What does it mean by “the wind blows wherever it pleases, you hear its sound”?

     The phrase “The wind blows wherever it pleases” in John 3:5-8 implies that the Spirit who works like the wind regenerates the man who receives Jesus as Savior and Lord. The phrase “You hear its sound” means:

1 Cor. 12:3   Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

     The doctrine, “to receive Jesus is to receive the Holy Spirit,” must be applied to the interpretation of the text. The text confirms that if one receives Jesus as Savior and Lord, he is speaking, “Jesus is Lord,” by the Spirit who lives with and in him. So the phrase, “you hear its sound,” implies that you hear him saying, “Jesus is Lord.” One who testifies, “Jesus is Lord,” has been regenerated. But it is impossible for him to say, “I have experienced my regeneration when I received Jesus as Savior and Lord.” Thus, it can be offered as a doctrine that the regeneration by the Holy Spirit is not experienced. Observers can say that he is regenerated through faith in Jesus by the Holy Spirit. It is absolutely impossible for any human being in the world to say, “I have experienced my birth when I was born by my mother.” He did not know or recognize his birth. No baby remembers his birth or the date of his birth. A newborn baby is too young to know it. When he has grown parents and families will let him know the date of his birth. Afterwards he will remember that date.
     In conclusion, as no one remembers the experience of his own birth, every born again Christian doesn’t know or experience his birth by the Holy Spirit. The phrase, “You hear its sound,” means the same as that you hear his sound, that is, his speaking, “Jesus is Lord.” No Christian ever experienced his regeneration when he was born of the Holy Spirit. But his pastor, parents and his friends can know he has become a born again Christian.


     Guy P. Duffield and N.V. Van Cleave insist, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit (Jn. 3:6b). The Spirit produces the born again experience in the believer; it is He who imparts new life.” (Guy P. Duffield/N.V. Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, p.111.)

     The note “The Spirit produces the born again experience in the believer” is based on a misunderstanding. Nobody can say that he experienced his birth since he is really unconscious of his birth. So it can be said that no one has his born experience when he was born of his mother. Likewise, nobody can speak that he experienced his born again by the Spirit. So it can be said that nobody has his born again experience when born of the Spirit. According to the text in Romans 8:14-16, if we cry, “Abba, Father” by the Spirit who is in us, we have already become the children of God and born again Christian. And according to the text in Romans 8:9-11, every child of God has received the Holy Spirit and is controlled by the Holy Spirit.
     Our date of birth by the Spirit could be the date when we began to cry, “Abba Father.” But we did not know this date, that is, the day of regeneration. John 3 and Rom. 8 can be inferred to mean that we did not experience the date of being born again by the Spirit. In conclusion, regeneration is by no means an experience, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit can be and must be experienced. This is the testimony of the 120 disciples, the Samaritan believers, Paul, Cornelius and his family, and the 12 disciples at Ephesus. Many scholars erroneously insist, “Before Pentecost the disciples regenerated and experienced the Spirit. So it is called a first experience of the Spirit. And on the day of Pentecost they were baptized with/in the Spirit/filled with the power of the Spirit when the Holy Spirit came on them. So it is a distinct second experience of the Holy Spirit like the case of the Samaritan believers (Acts 8:4-25), the home of Cornelius (Acts 10:1ff.), and the 12 disciples at Ephesus” (Acts 19:1-7).  
     The 120 disciples of Christ were already regenerated by the Holy Spirit but they never experienced the Holy Spirit before Pentecost. So Pentecost can not be called a second experience of the Spirit. The invisible Holy Spirit is manifest through His nine gifts. Thus, the Holy Spirit can be experienced through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that is, the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. To be regenerated by the Holy Spirit, that is, to be born again by the Holy Spirit is not the experience of the Holy Spirit. Lloyd-Jones’ comment “Regeneration is unconscious, non-experimental” is confirmed as thoroughly biblical.

Guy P. Duffield/N.M. Van Cleave comment on the experience of the Spirit.

It is logical that the supernatural experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit would be accompanied by some definite and unmistakable sign by which the seeker would be assured that he had received. (Guy P. Duffield/N.M. Van Cleave, Ibid., p.230.)

     The statement of Guy P. Duffield/N.M. Van Cleave is quite biblical since it is based upon the right interpretation.

R. A. Torrey insists the Spirit’s baptism is the same as the experience of the Spirit.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may and ought to know whether he has received it or not. To the little group of disciples at Ephesus Paul put the definite question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?” (Acts 19:2, RV). It is evident that the receiving of the Holy Ghost was an experience so definite that one could answer yes or no to the question whether he had received. In this case the disciples definitely answered, “No,” that they did not so much as hear whether the Holy Ghost was given. (R. A. Torrey, The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit, p.147-8.)

     R. A. Torrey’s note is a mixture of correct and incorrect elements. According to every English version, the note, “It is evident that the receiving of the Holy Ghost was an experience so definite that one could answer yes or no to the question whether he had received,” seems to be biblical. Most scholars, including Torrey, insist that to receive the Holy Spirit means to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, but this error is based on the mistranslation of the Greek lambano in the NT, as noted above. The note “the receiving of the Holy Ghost was an experience” is from the mistranslation of the Greek text.
     The receiving of the Holy Ghost is by no means an experience, as noted above. The text should read, “Were you filled with (the power) of the Holy Spirit since you believed” (Acts 19:2, Author), as noted already above. Now, it can be said that the receiving of the baptism of the Holy Spirit/the filling of the power of the Holy Spirit is an experience so definite that one knows if he has received. R. A. Torrey continues:


And there are thousands today who can testify to having received Christ and been born again, and then afterwards, sometimes long afterwards, having been baptized with the Holy Ghost as a definite experience....as a matter of definite, personal experience. (R. A. Torrey, Ibid., p.152,153.)

     This note is thoroughly accurate since the Bible says so. The Bible confirms that the baptism of the Spirit is a very definite experience.

Merrill F. Unger insists, “Pentecost may be compared to the inauguration day of an American president.”

Pentecost may be compared to the inauguration day of an American president. The wind, the fire, and the tongues were like the inauguration parade, the inaugural oath, the inaugural balls. No one expects the events of the inaugural day to be repeated throughout the four-year term. Pentecost initiated a new epoch in the economy of God. No believer should rationally expect the introductory features to characterize the age or to be repeated during the course of the age. (Merrill F. Unger, The Baptism and Gifts of the Holy Spirit, p.63.)

     The note is a mixture of correct and incorrect elements. The note, “Pentecost may be compared to the inauguration day of an American president,” is correct. But Pentecost was only applied to the 120 disciples of Jesus. They did not expect the events of the inaugural day to be repeated with each four-year term but throughout their lives. In Acts 8:14-19 Peter and John were sent by the apostles in Jerusalem to Samaria. They may have expected an “inaugural day” for the Samaritan believers. In Acts 19:1-7 Paul placed his hands on the 12 believers. He may have expected an “inaugural day” for them.
     Every American president has an inauguration where he takes the oath of office and begins his four-year term. Likewise, every Christian has to have the inauuration day to do the work God has assigned. So it can be said that the inauguration day of every Christian believer should be the day they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequent to regeneration/conversion/salvation as Peter on the day of Pentecost or as Paul who was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit by Ananias’ hands.

Frederick D. Bruner insists that the Pentecost’s phenomena were unrepeatable.

It is recognized that Pentecost occasion was accompanied by unique and unrepeatable phenomena such as the sound of the wind, the vision of tongues as of fire, and the important ancillary fact that here only, apparently, were the tongues understood by the hearers (see 2:5-13). But Pentecostals separate the unique and unrepeatable phenomena (Acts 2:1-3, 5-13) from what is called Pentecost’s repeatable and pattern-making phenomenon: the filling of the Holy Spirit evidenced by the speaking in other tongues (Acts 2:4). (Frederick D. Bruner, A theology of the Holy Spirit, p.79.)

     The note, “It is recognized that Pentecost occasion was accompanied by unique and unrepeatable phenomena such as the sound of the wind, the vision of tongues as of fire,” is correct. It should be noted the Pentecost occasion was different from Moses’ occasion, which was the appearing of the angel of the Lord in flames of fire within a bush, the hearing of the word of God, and the changing of his natural staff into the staff of power. Further, the experience of Pentecost and Moses were quite different according to Ezekiel. He experienced the coming of the hand of the Lord on him in the phenomena of a windstorm, an immense cloud and the vision of four fiery living creatures. These three occasions, Pentecost, Moses and Ezekiel were different from that of Christ. He experienced the coming of the Spirit in the form of a dove when the heavens were opened and God’s word came from heaven.
     Merrill F. Unger claims “Pentecost is as unrepeatable as the creation of the universe, the creation of man, the incarnation of Christ, His sinless life, vicarious death, glorious resurrection, or any other event of history.” (Merrill E. Unger, The Baptism of Gifts of the Holy Spirit, p.62.)

Most of this note is correct, but to speak of Pentecost as unrepeatable is erroneous. The Bible speaks of “the coming of the Holy Spirit on Moses, on all OT prophets, on OT kings, on Jesus, on the 120 disciples on the day of Pentecost, on the Samaritan believers, on Cornelius, and on the 12 believers at Ephesus.” The coming of the Spirit was repeated as distinct occurrences, and as the unique and unrepeatable phenomena. The coming of the Spirit, that is, the baptism of the Spirit will be repeated until the second coming of Jesus Christ because the purpose of the coming of the Spirit/the baptism of the Spirit is to give the power of the Spirit to the disciples of Jesus for service, for  preaching and to become witnesses.  

Rene Pache insists that the Epistles make no speak of outward manifestation of the Spirit’s baptism.  

Is it imperative that certain outward manifestations should accompany the Spirit’s baptism? In the epistles which form the statements of all Christian doctrine we find no text which makes mention of this. In the Acts of the Apostles the phrase “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is twice followed by the ability to speak with tongues. (Rene Pache, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, p.78.)

     The comment “In the epistles which form the statements of all Christian doctrine” makes no sense. The OT and NT, including the book of Acts and the Epistles, form all Christian doctrines. The note “the Epistles do not mention of outward manifestations  of the baptism of the Spirit” is quite erroneous since 1 Cor. 12:4-11 makes mention of it.