As we read about the baptism of Jesus by John at the start of Mark’s gospel we read of the promise that the one who comes after John (Jesus) will “baptise you with the Holy Spirit”. Tom Write translates this as “he will plunge you in the Holy Spirit”. Just as water baptism is experienced so baptism in the Spirit must be experienced. So what does it mean to be baptised in the Holy Spirit as a follower of Jesus? Well here are some quick short points. For a great further read look up John Piper’s article - https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-to-receive-the-gift-of-the-holy-spirit
Jesus promise to the disciples in Acts 1 is that when the Holy Spirit came on them they would receive two things; power, and with that an ability to witness about Jesus. Throughout Acts when people are converted and receive the Spirit, some speak in tongues but this is not always included. However, they do always praise God and they do always witness boldly about Jesus. So although tongues comes at times for some when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, it isn’t the primary goal or major sign if we look at the whole of the NT.
Being filled with the Spirit however is always experiential, never purely cognitive. Baptism in the Spirit is never just a doctrine. It must be experienced and there are things that accompany that experience which go way beyond thought. You can think about having a baby or having kids, but until you experienced it and it changes your life it remains like doctrine – not reality. The Holy Spirit is a living powerful person in the Godhead who wants to fill us and that has to be experienced not just thought about. He must be experienced daily – keep being filled.
The Holy Spirit is not a non-active influence in Christians lives, rather when he fills us he moves us. When Jesus was baptised and the Holy Spirit fell on him, the Spirit immediately moved or compelled him to go into the desert to be tested. In Romans 8:14 we read that “all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God” – this is an active experienced reality. Being led is an experience not a doctrine. The Spirit wants to lead you in your life in a real way.
As Piper and the Scripture point out, the experienced outcome of being filled with the Spirit and then being led by the spirit are the same for us as it was for the early disciples. They praised God (he became the object of their worship), and they testified boldly about Jesus in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Why do we need to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit (baptised – plunged in) to live as effective followers of Jesus? Because as we read on in Mark’s gospel, the kingdom of God is in conflict with the kingdom of this world. We can only overcome evil, lust, the desire for power, being able to truly love those we are repulsed by, in the power of the experienced reality of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Ask him to fill you afresh today and every day with his power and presence.
Grace and Peace - Garry