There are several passages about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit that I will refer back to over and over, so it might be a good idea for us to look at them in their entirety right at the start. As we work our way through the subject, I will refer back to the passages only as isolated scripture verses, but remember that the online Bible that the references on this page sends you to do allow you to view, with only one mouse click, the entire chapter that the present verses are from. I want you to be absolutely sure that I am not taking anything out of context. And feel free to look these verses up in your own Bible if you like! This can be a somewhat confusing topic, and I want you to fully understand what it's all about before you make a decision one way or the other. I will say right now, though, that if you take the time and understand what I'm saying, and then receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, it will have been well worth the time and effort you put into it!
Now, let's get started!
You might think that Jesus was speaking of salvation when He said that. But He wasn't! For one thing, Romans 10:9-10 says that salvation happens when you believe in Jesus and say so with your mouth. These disciples had already believed in Jesus! Their salvation was already in place. Also notice that in Acts 19:1-2, Paul indicated that the people he was talking to had already believed, but asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit. If the baptism that Jesus had spoken of was salvation, then Paul's question would have been completely redundant! (For a few more examples, check here.)
One thing that always seemed to accompany the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is something called "speaking in tongues". The word "tongues" here means "languages"; you might say that at the United Nations Building in New York City, people of many races and "tongues" gather to discuss matters of international importance. That's what "tongues" means in this case, not that the person talking has two tongues in his mouth or anything else strange like that. :-> In fact, if you take a look at Acts 2:1-4, you will find out that those very same people Jesus was talking to in the verse we read earlier from Acts chapter 1 started "speaking in tongues" as soon as they received the gift Jesus had spoken of! And we know also that the early Christians considered speaking in tongues a sign that an individual had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit... in Acts 10:44-46 it says that some Christians who visited a man named Cornelius knew that Cornelius's family had received the gift because the family members spoke in tongues. (For a few more examples, check here.) So we can safely say that when you speak in tongues, you will know that you really have received the gift Jesus spoke of, and have been baptized in the Holy Spirit!
A friend of mine used to deny that the "tongues" spoken of so many times in Acts and the rest of the New Testament were anything but an "earthly, ethnic language". He had gotten this idea by reading part of Acts chapter 2 and looking up the word "tongues" in a dictionary that defines the words from your Bible, which is written in English or whatever language you speak, by the definitions they had in the language the Bible was written in... Greek. Part of the definiton of the word translated "tongues" contained the phrase, "earthly, ethnic language", so since that dictionary said it he assumed that it was the case. But at the time the Bible was written, speaking in tongues was a very new thing... how could they expect to make up a word that meant "Heavenly languages from God that nobody else understands", and use it and expect anyone to understand what they meant? Instead they just used their word for "languages", and that was that. He also looked at Acts 2:5-11 and assumed that the people who were speaking in tongues were speaking in the languages of all of the people who heard them. I think this is very unlikely. We can assume from a verse in the chapter before (Acts 1:15) that there were probably about 120 people there when the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was given to them. Now, when the people said they heard them speaking in "their own tongues" they used the word my friend had looked up, which can be pronounced "dialektos". We get the English word "dialect" from that term. When we say "dialect", we don't mean a language exactly... we mean a specific way of using a specific language. People who live in the northern part of Germany speak German, and so do people who live in the southern part, but they speak slightly different dialects of German. The people in Acts chapter 2, who were from "every nation under heaven" (verse 5) all heard them speaking, not only in the language they spoke, but in their own specific dialect of that language! I'm sure it is possible that at the time of that event, there were less than 120 dialects spoken in the entire known world, since much of the world was unknown to them at the time, but I suspect that there were more than that. So, how could only 120 people be speaking in more than 120 dialects at the same time? They couldn't! I believe that the miracle that happened that day was in the hearing, not in the speaking. The fact that the people "heard them speaking" in earthly languages does not prove that they were actually speaking in those languages! Notice that I Corinthians 14:2 says that when someone speaks in tongues, nobody understands him but God.
(Note: There have been incidents where someone who was "speaking in tongues" was heard by someone else in the room speaking in a language the listener knew but the speaker did not. I would classify this as an unusual form of prophecy, but not as speaking in tongues... though in many ways it is very similar to tongues.)
It's easy to read the verses and know that people way back in the Bible got the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, but it's also easy to wonder if it's something that God wants every Christian to do, or only the ones in the Bible verses. Well, Acts 2:38-39 is the end of the message that Peter spoke to that crowd of people from "every nation under heaven." Peter said in those verses that the gift of the Holy Spirit was for those people right there, for their children, for everyone who was far off, and for everyone that the Lord would call. I know I'm pretty far away from Jerusalem, and you probably are too... but even if you're sitting in Jerusalem right now, you're pretty far off in time from when Peter spoke those words nearly 2000 years ago! And if you've read this far, it's because you are interested... and if you're interested, it's because the Lord is calling you. You fit two out of four... not bad! God wants you to have the Holy Spirit! Do notice, however, that before those people received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, they had to receive Jesus as their savior. If you haven't done that yet, please click over to this page right now and make yourself right with God! Then you can come right back to this point by entering this URL:
Receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a very easy thing. In fact, you may laugh at how simple it is to receive, and wonder why I put you through all these pages of scriptures just for that! I wrote all that detail so that you would understand what is happening and won't be scared when it does happen, because it can seem pretty strange if you don't know what to expect! I also want you to have a clear understanding of exactly what it is, in case someone asks you to explain it or even challenges you, trying to tell you it's not real or not in the Bible. You know now that it is clearly spelled out in the Bible; you know where to find it and why you do it. So now on to the doing.
You saw already that in one place, all the people did was hear the Word of God, and immediately they received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit! That may have happened to you as well while you were reading this... God is capable of working that way! But for most of us, it takes a little bit more than that... sometimes it's good to just pray and ask. We already know God wants us to have it, so we know we can pray for it and we'll be praying in God's perfect will! Read this prayer out loud, or if you like, make up your own prayer, asking God to baptize you in the Holy Spirit:
Lord, I want to thank you for what You have done in my life already. You saved me from eternal Hell, and I thank You for that. Today, though, I've read that You have another gift for me called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. And I really need that power in my life! Father, please baptize me in the Holy Spirit, and let me start to pray in tongues right now!Now comes the strange part. If you're not already speaking in tongues, there's a reason... you haven't opened your mouth yet! In Luke 11:11-13 Jesus said that God wouldn't give you something bad when you ask for something good. Remember back in the Garden of Eden... the serpent was the Devil! When you ask for the Holy Spirit, you're not going to receive the Devil and be possessed. You're not going to receive a Big Fat Nothing either, like a rock when you ask for a loaf of bread. When you ask God for the Holy Spirit, you get the Holy Spirit! Acts 2:4 says that they began to speak in tongues! Acts 19:6 says that people heard them speaking in tongues! In I Corinthians 14:18, Paul said that he spoke in tongues all the time! Do you see what I'm trying to say? The Holy Spirit guides you by supplying the words, but you are the one who has to speak. Don't speak in a language you know; open your mouth and begin to say the words the Holy Spirit lays on your heart. It might feel foolish at first, and it definitely is going to sound like nonsense... but remember that you are not supposed to understand it. God is!
You know it's in the Bible. You know that it's something you need, and you know that God wants you to have it. You've prayed for it, and though I didn't type it up for you to read, I've prayed for you too. Now it's time to receive! Open your mouth, move your lips, and speak in tongues!
Scripture quotations drawn from The Bible Gateway at Gospel Communications Network.