Just hours prior to our Lord’s ascension, Jesus met with His disciples to give them instructions about what would happen in the future, not only for them, but for the Church in all generations. His vision was for them to win the lost by proclaiming the Gospel and bringing them to salvation and healing the sick through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
Following the resurrection of Jesus when He was assembled together with His disciples He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the gift His Father promised, which they had heard Him speak about. He reminded them that John baptized with water, but in a few days they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. He said to them: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NKJV).
On the first Sunday evening of the day of Jesus’ resurrection He appeared to His disciples who were meeting behind closed doors for fear of the Jews and said, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22, NKJV).
In this intimate moment, one they would never forget, Jesus got in the face of each His disciples and breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Whatever happened spiritually in each of these disciples no one seems to know. We do know they were not baptized with the Holy Spirit that day. They had to wait for the ascension of Jesus back to heaven and the gift He and the Father would give them on the day of Pentecost. Whatever it was, Jesus gave them an expectancy to receive this promised gift and prepared them for the wind of the Spirit that blew on the day of Pentecost. His peace and the power of the Holy Spirit would enable them to minister supernaturally.
Jesus instructed His disciples with these Words, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter) will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:7-11, NKJV).
All four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.
The beloved Apostle John gives this account of that experience as He announces that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and that Jesus would be the One Who would baptize born again, sanctified believers in or with the Holy Spirit.
In Matthew’s Gospel he records that John the Baptist said this about Jesus, “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 (Jesus) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11, NKJV).
It is important to know that Jesus is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit. In the incarnate life and ministry of Jesus, He never baptized anyone in water. He delegated that ministry to His disciples. His mission was to baptize those who gave their hearts and lives to Him with the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, we must not confuse the ministry of Jesus Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit with the ministry of the Holy Spirit called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They are not the same.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, coined a phrase that is important for us to know about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who draws people to Jesus. Wesley called that ministry “the Prevenient Grace of God”--the grace that goes before saving grace.
The Apostle Paul wrote about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the baptism with the Holy Spirit that Jesus does in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (KJV).
In the first phrase the Holy Spirit baptizes believers into the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Agent, the blood of Jesus is the element, and the believer is the designated candidate.
In the second phrase Jesus is the implied Agent, we are the recipients, and the Holy Spirit the designated Element as we are made to drink into one Spirit.
In conversion which includes the forgiveness of sins and the pardon by God the Father, it is the Holy Spirit Who brings us to God by providing repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the implied Agent, the blood of Jesus is the element, and we are the recipients.
The same is true in the definite experience of sanctification which is a definite act of grace as well as a lifelong process of growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the implied Agent, we are the candidates, and the blood of Jesus is the implied element.
However, when we speak about the Pentecostal experience, it is Jesus Who baptizes with or in the Holy Spirit.
The power to be a witness to Jesus Christ is the basic purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This baptism releases the inner power within us that becomes an outward manifestation to bring the living reality of Jesus Christ to others. In order to release this power, the Holy Spirit gives the believer a new tongue. Wherever the Spirit-filled (Spirit empowered) Christian goes he becomes a missionary to those he meets. The Holy Spirit will give the words that are to be spoken and will awaken in the heart of the person to whom he is speaking the claims of Jesus Christ Who alone can save him.
On the Day of Pentecost Peter spoke these words to all who had assembled to hear his message, "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" (Acts 2:38-39, NIV).
Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit? You can this very hour.