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I Believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

The late AG scholar, Anthony D. Palma, shares biblical supports for embracing and experiencing the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
I believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit because:

1. The Old Testament predicted it. Moses fervently desired that the Lord would put His Spirit upon all His people (Numbers 11:29). God promised through the prophet Joel that He would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28,29).

2. John the Baptist foretold it. He said, "I baptize you in water for repentance ... He [Christ] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11; also Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33).

3. Jesus renewed the promise. At the time of His ascension He said, "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now'' (Acts 1:5).

4. Believers in the New Testament received it. The disciples on the Day of Pentecost were the first to experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit. "And 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).

The Samaritans who had received Christ and had been baptized in water received the fullness of the Spirit later when Peter and John laid hands on them (Acts 8:17).

The apostle Paul was converted to Christ on the road to Damascus, but he was not filled with the Spirit until three days later (Acts 9:17).

Cornelius and his household were baptized in the Spirit as soon as they opened their hearts to the message of Christ preached by Peter (Acts 10:44-46).

Paul asked the disciples at Ephesus, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" When he laid his hands on them, "the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying" (Acts 19:2,6).

5. It is promised to all believers. Joel's prophecy said it would be for "all flesh." When Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, he quoted Joel, stating the prophecy had been fulfilled that day. But he added, "The promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself" (Acts 2:39) The baptism in the Holy Spirit was not meant to be experienced only by the New Testament church.

6. It is designed by God to be the means by which the world will be evangelized. Jesus told His disciples they would be "clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). He also said, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses . . . to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Just as God anointed Jesus "with the Holy Spirit and with power" in His earthly ministry (Acts 10:38), that same power is available to God's people for evangelizing the world. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit "will testify about Me" and "will glorify Me" (John 15:26; 16:14).

Related to this is power to perform miracles in the name of Jesus, as He himself performed them (see Acts 10:38,39; Hebrews 2:4). Miracles often gain the attention of unbelievers so they will listen to the gospel.

7. It helps the Christian in his devotional life. The baptism in the Holy Spirit introduces the believer to a new dimension of prayer. He will speak in tongues for the first time.

The apostle Paul told us that speaking in tongues is a means by which a Christian edifies himself spiritually (1 Corinthians 14:4). When the disciples spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost, they were praising God for His mighty works (Acts 2:11). When Cornelius and his household spoke in tongues, they magnified, or exalted, God (Acts 10:46).

Paul instructed us further that when we pray in tongues, we are blessing God and giving thanks to Him (1 Corinthians 14:15-17).

On the Day of Pentecost, all who were filled with the Spirit spoke in tongues (Acts 2:4). When Peter preached to the household of Cornelius, the evidence that those Gentiles had indeed received the fullness of the Spirit was that they spoke in tongues (Acts 10:46).

8. It opens up new spiritual dimensions to a Christian. Every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9,11; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Galatians 4:6). This is in accordance with the promise God gave through Ezekiel that the day would come when all His people would have His Spirit within them (Ezekiel 36:25-27). This work of the Spirit brings about the new birth (John 3:55; Titus 3:5).

But not every believer is filled with, or baptized in, the Holy Spirit. The account of the Samaritans in Acts 8:11-17 shows very clearly that one may be a Christian and yet not be filled with the Spirit. The same is true in the case of the apostle Paul (Acts 9:17). And Paul's question to the disciples at Ephesus also indicates this. A strict translation is, "Having believed, did you receive the Holy Spirit?" The experience he asks about is one they later received when they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:2,6).

Being baptized in the Spirit means the work of the Spirit in one's life is intensified and deepened. New spiritual horizons and possibilities are opened. Among them are an increased awareness and experiencing of spiritual gifts, so the entire range of gifts is available to Spirit-filled believers. (See Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10,28-30; Ephesians 4:8,11.)

9. It is more than a doctrine; it is an experience. Men may quarrel over doctrinal matters not related to experience. But the baptism in the Spirit is an experience as well as a doctrine. Tens of millions of people have experienced it in these last days.

I am grateful to the Lord that I not only believe in and teach the baptism in the Holy Spirit; I have also experienced it!

*All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB1995).

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel.

Anthony Palma

Anthony David Palma (1926-2023) was a beloved Assemblies of God minister, college and seminary professor, administrator, and author.