Jesus is at the Passover Feast and He stands up and cries out;
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
What is Jesus referring to?
We don’t need to speculate because John tell’s us in vs39 that Jesus was speaking about the Spirit those who believed were about to receive once Jesus had been glorified. Jesus was speaking of the baptism in the Holy Spirit which we can read of again being promised in Luke 24:49 and then can read about being poured out in Acts 1-2.
But what is ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’?
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a personal encounter with the person of the Holy Spirit, who then gives us spiritual gifts to equip us to witness effectively, to break with sin and to enable us for life and godliness.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is:
- A promise to be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49)
- A gift (Acts 1:4-5)
- Experiential (Acts 2:1-4, Acts 8:18, Acts 10:44)
- Allowing yourself to be totally immersed in God (meaning of the word – baptised)
- Power from on high for service to God (Luke 24:49 & Acts 1:8)
- Enabling power for life and for godliness (2 Peter 1:3)
- Most often evidenced by the receiving of the gift of tongues (Acts 2:1-4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19)
Jesus told the disciples to wait until they had received power from on high (Luke 24)
Clearly Jesus thought that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was essential because in John 16:5-11 he told the disciples; ‘it is to your advantage that I go…because then the Helper will come” And who doesn’t need help?
Different Groups of people with regard to the baptism in the Spirit
- Those who are longing to be filled (Acts 2) spoke in tongues praising God
- Those who were receptive (Acts 8:14-19). These were Christians who had a second experience unclear what happened but was ‘wow!’ enough for Simon to want to buy it
- Those who are hostile – Saul (Romans 8:1-3, 9:1-2 & then was filled with the Holy Spirit 9:17-18) 2nd experience spoke in tongues as a result of this encounter
- Those who were unlikely (it’s for all), Gentiles (Acts 10-11) spoke in tongues praising God
- Those who were unaware previously but grew in faith by hearing (Acts 19:1-6)spoke in tongues and prophesied
How do I get baptised in the Holy Spirit?
- Believe in Jesus (John 7:38)
- Look to Jesus he is the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33)…
- Thirst/desire the baptism of the Spirit (John 7:37)
- Ask God for the baptism of the Spirit (Luke 11:9-13)
- Receive/drink (John 7:37-38 see ESV footnote) have your thirst satisfied by the Holy Spirit
But is baptism in the Holy Spirit a second experience – do we not receive the Spirit at salvation?
Well the answer is, ‘yes and yes’. As PJ Smyth says;
“Just as it is biblically indefensible to underplay the receipt of the Spirit at conversion, so also is it to underplay the on-going receipt of the Spirit after conversion…Importantly, whether or not you claim a major ‘baptism in the Spirit’ experience or not, you must remain in on-going pursuit of the Spirit, because scripture speaks of ‘fillings’ of the Spirit post both conversion, and, depending on your interpretation, post a major ‘baptism of the Spirit’ experience that followed conversion.”
Way too much time has been wasted haggling over when we get filled with the Holy Spirit, what is far more important is that we are continually filled with the Spirit so as to bear fruit as Jesus’ words ring in our ears; “apart from me you can do nothing”.
We need to be continually filled with the Spirit in order to live the Christian life, therefore we believe in and anticipate an infilling of the Spirit at conversion (which can’t happen without the work of the Spirit) and also anticipate subsequent in-fillings of the Spirit that are real and tangible as recorded in the book of Acts.
So, keep being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) so that you might be full of the life of God (John 7:37-38)!