Christian baptism is one of two ordinances that Jesus instituted for the church. Just before His ascension, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).
These instructions specify that the church is responsible to teach Jesus’ word, make disciples, and baptize those disciples. These things are to be done everywhere (“all nations”) until “the very end of the age.” So, if for no other reason, baptism has importance because Jesus commanded it.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” – Jesus, Son of God
Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit for Everyone? To do God’s work, we need God’s power. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and who are children of God through Him (see Acts 2:38–39).
What Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs when the Spirit of God comes upon a believer. The Holy Spirit fills the believer’s mind with a genuine understanding of the truth. He takes possession of the believer’s abilities and imparts gifts that qualify the believer for service in the body of Christ. When a person accepts Jesus Christ as his or her Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit dwells inside him or her (see John 14:15–17; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 12:13). But believers also need the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:5–8).
Why do we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit? The purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to empower believers for service, to witness, for spiritual warfare, and for boldness in their testimonies (see Acts 1:8; 4:19–20, 29–31; 6:8–10; 1 Corinthians 2:4). Jesus commanded the disciples not to begin the work to which He called them until they were baptized in the Holy Spirit (see Luke 24:48–49; Acts 1:4, 8). When the apostles met other believers in Christ, they at once asked whether the believers had received the Holy Spirit. If not, they made sure they received Him (see Acts 8:14–16; 19:1–5). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an absolute necessity in every Christian’s life for the service to which God has called us.
How do we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Jesus said, “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 11:13). God fulfills His promises in a variety of ways. No two human beings are alike in how they receive spiritual things. The New Testament tells us that some believers received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the moment of their conversion, such as Cornelius and his family (see Acts 10). Others, such as the believers in Ephesus, received it at a later time (see Acts 19:1–5). We should never limit God by our own expectations. He is sovereign and will work in whatever way He chooses.