Equipping the saints for the work of the ministry - Ephesians 4:12

How to Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit


This is a follow up teaching to my article, The Fivefold Ministry of the Holy Spirit. To summarize that article, the Holy Spirit is with us prior to conversion drawing us to Christ, He dwells in us for the purpose of regeneration, He fills us to produce character and fruit in our lives, He comes upon us empowering us for acts of service, and Jesus baptizes us with or in the Holy Spirit which opens us up to the gifts, manifestations of the Spirit or spirituals.

Matthew 3:11 – “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire.”

Acts 1:4-5 – “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said, you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days from now.”

It is important to distinguish between being baptized into the body of Christ at conversion and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. These are two distinct and separate experiences. The moment we place our faith in Jesus as our only hope of salvation, the Holy Spirit baptizes or places us into the body of Christ.

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). John the Baptist stated concerning Jesus, “He that cometh after me…He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).

In Matthew 3:11 Jesus is doing the baptizing and He is placing us into the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 the Holy Spirit doing the baptizing and He, the Holy Spirit, is placing us into the body of Christ. The distinction is clear. In the one, we are being placed into the body of Christ and in the other, we are being placed into the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 takes place at conversion whereas Matthew 3:11-12 and Acts 1:4-5 is an experience we can have in the Holy Spirit subsequent to that of salvation.

The gifts God gives to the body of Christ can be divided into three categories or divisions. “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). Another good outline for the gifts God gives His people would be as follows:

Motivational gifts (Roman 12:1-8).

After conversion each believer is given a motivational gift to be used to strengthen, encourage and edify the body of Christ. These are gifts that a believer is naturally motivated toward after he/she has been born again. These gifts may be fine tuned and sharpened by the Holy Spirit and use over time but they are what a person is naturally inclined toward after conversion.

Ministers (Ephesians 4:11-16).

This is often referred to as the Fivefold Ministry and are office gifts. “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office” (Romans 12:4). These are men or women whom God has gifted and placed in one of these offices for the church. In actuality, the people themselves are the gifts to the body of Christ. It would do God’s people well to understand that the person God has placed over them is a gift from God to that particular local body.

Manifestations (1Corinthians 12: 4-11).

Paul referred to these as both spirtuals and manifestations. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” (1 Corinthians 12:1). “Gifts” here is in italics and was added by the translators. It should more accurately be “Now concerning spirituals, brethren.” He goes on to refer to these spirituals as manifestations. He says, “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:7).

These are non-abiding gifts. These are to used by an individual believer only when the Holy Spirit chooses. “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11). These are to operate only as He, the Holy Spirit, wills and not at our choosing. You may be used in one of the manifestations once or numerous times. They are to operate only as “He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11). We must simply be a willing vessel. If we are willing vessels, the Holy Spirit will operate through us and use us in the manifestations of the Spirit.

I will get into this further when dealing with the gifts. I do feel that it is the experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that opens us up to the spirituals or manifestations of the Spirit. In a practical sense, how many churches do we see the manifestations of the Spirit or spirituals listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 in operation which do not believe in the experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Very few I’d imagine. There are always exceptions to the rule, which only proves the rule. Let’s continue on how to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Five Keys to Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

  1. There must be a hungering and thirsting for God. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believes on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive” (John 7:37-39). We will be filled in direct proportion to our thirst for Him.
  2. Ask and seek (Luke 11:5-13):
    • Persistently seek until you receive. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). This is in the present continual sense. It means to ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking. Don’t give up until you have what you are seeking.
    • Pursue with confidence in the Father’s goodness, care and protection. “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 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” (Luke 11:11-13).

    Serpents and scorpions in the scripture are symbolic of demons or devils. Jesus is saying, you don’t have to worry about getting something from the devil that you are asking the Father for. He won’t allow the devil to give you a counterfeit version of what God has promised.

    Many have suggested that it is the devil that is giving us the gift, particularly tongues. Jesus is clearly saying our Heavenly Father will not allow this to happen. God will not allow the devil to give us a false demonic version of what we are seeking God for. We can proceed with confidence and faith knowing it is the Father’s overwhelming desire to give us this precious experience in the Holy Spirit.

  3. Wait expectantly. “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, Which, He said, you heard of from Me” (Acts 1:4). Many groups have had what they refer to as tarrying meetings to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. They would gather together and wait and wait hoping to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit. You would hear people praying over someone, “hold on, let go, fill him Lord, empty him.”

    The early church was to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was given to or poured out on them – the church. On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given to the church once and for all. We don’t have to wait hours on end any longer but merely receive what has already been given to the church. We merely wait expectantly, expecting to receive and experience that which has already been given to us – His church.

  4. Receive in faith. “He (Jesus) breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). In this verse Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “receive ye the Holy Ghost.” How many believe that if Jesus told them to receive the Holy Spirit, they surely did? Yet, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost.

    They no doubt experienced the Holy Spirit in a different and unique way at Pentecost. Even so, we receive all of the Holy Spirit at conversion (Romans 8:9), yet there is this experience we can receive in the Holy Spirit that is separate from and subsequent to that of salvation. We must receive the experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit by faith, knowing it is God’s will for us.

  5. Exercise faith. Everything we get from God is received by faith and faith must be exercised. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2). On Pentecost, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:4).

    Notice, they spoke with other tongues. It wasn’t the Holy Spirit speaking through them, He merely gave them the utterance or prompted their speach. They were the ones who spoke, they had to do something. We too must speak in faith. It is something we do in faith. When we ask Jesus to baptize us in the Holy Spirit and seek Him for this, we must be ready and willing to speak out in faith as the Spirit gives us the utterance, even if it seems foolish in the natural.

    Someone might wonder, what if it is just me speaking? It is you speaking! The Holy Spirit merely prompts our speech but it is we who are speaking. “They…began to speak with other tongues” (Acts 2:4). Paul said, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

    It may start with syllables forming in your mind or spirit that you don’t understand. You must, in faith, speak forth what is being given you. It begins with us speaking in faith and continuing to use and exercise our new found language and experience. Paul said he chose, as an act of his will, to continue to exercise what God had given him. We must do no less. “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead” (James 2:17).

Prayer: Jesus, You are the baptizer in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:4-5). I ask you to baptize me in your precious Holy Spirit right now. I know it is something you desire for me. I receive it by faith and choose to speak by faith in my new found language as You enable me and prompt my speech. In Jesus name, Amen!

Starting a new church or ministry is one of the most rewarding things you can do to advance the gospel, but it can also be very challenging. With over 40 years of church planting and ministry experience, Dr. Linton's passion is to encourage, support and equip pastors and church leaders.