Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Jn. 3:5 CSB
Jesus told Nicodemus that a water baptism was required. It is a symbolic enactment of being born again. The immersion signifies burying your old sinful self, and the ascension from the water implies your new birth as a cleansed holy child of God by the cleansing blood of Christ. It does not sanctify you, but it is a public declaration of your discipleship to Jesus that God requires for you to enter His kingdom – baptized in the name of Jesus for remission of sins.
But what’s Jesus talking about when He refers to being ‘born of the Spirit?’ It is synonymous with being ‘baptized with the Holy Spirit’ or ‘filled with the Holy Spirit.’ We are first introduced to this concept by John the Baptist as he was baptizing, prior to the inauguration of Christ’s ministry:
“As for me, I baptize you with water because of [your] repentance [that is, because you are willing to change your inner self – your old way of thinking, regret your sin and live a changed life], but He (the Messiah) who is coming after me is mightier [more powerful, more noble] than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to remove [even as His slave]; He will baptize you [who truly repent] with the Holy Spirit and [you who remain unrepentant] with fire (judgment).” Mt. 3:11 AMP
Obviously, it includes the endowment of the Holy Spirit. The believer generally seeks this out after the water baptism, commonly facilitated by the prayers of a church elder. Some churches expect the receiver to begin talking in tongues. We’ll come back to that. Others are content to accept the prayers and claim their Holy Spirit baptism. However, the Bible suggests repeatedly that this Spirit baptism does involve a ‘certain ‘experience.’ It is also said to be the time when whatever gifts of the Spirit are conveyed upon the believer as an enhancement for their part in advancing the kingdom.
It is a volitional request to the Holy Spirit to dwell within in us and have free and total reign over our spirit. Jesus attested to the Holy Spirit baptism as an event of great change:
“I am sending the Promise of My Father [the Holy Spirit] upon you; but you are to remain in the city [of Jerusalem] until you are clothed (fully equipped) with power from on high.” Lk. 24:49 AMP
Indeed, the first time the Holy Spirit manifested upon the first church, all the recipients did speak in tongues – declaring the gospel in multiple languages in an environment filled with travelers from other nations. Thus, the church was advancing the kingdom.
But, don’t get hung up on speaking in tongues. Everyone receives different gifts from the Holy Spirit:
Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers}. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good. 1 Cor. 12:4 – 7. AMP
It is the Holy Spirit who determines what gift(s) that you get. Be content with that:
But the one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. 1 Cor. 12:11 NASB
The most important thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit, who even know what God thinks (1 Cor 2:10, 11.), gives you the gift that best serves you in serving God:
“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NASB
The Bible tells us that the apostle Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit on multiple occasions when he was advancing the kingdom. Some biblical scholars suggest then that we should pray for that filling before every use of our ‘gifts’ to do God’s work – not because He’s not there, it’s to petition His power:
Don’t neglect the spiritual gift within you, [that special endowment] which was intentionally bestowed upon you [by the Holy Spirit] through prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands on you…Practice and work hard on these things; be absorbed in them… ! Tim. 4:14, 15. AMP
So now we’re ready. What must happen to receive this Holy Spirit baptism? Let’s go back to Peter again:
[This process is a paraphrase of a 1910 book entitled The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, by R. A. Torrey, that inspired this post and the two others before it. If you’re interested in an in-depth exposition, it is a FREE read online at The Project Gutenberg; (Gutenberg.org)].
“Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38 CSB
The framework within your repentance* and confession must rest then, is your faith in who Christ is, and the salvation He provided on the cross, which also positions you to receive the Holy Spirit. *And the repentance must be your best attempt to avoid allsins, for the Holy Spiritbaptism to take place. So, ask God to reveal any sin that you may be clinging to, so that you may walk in your best obedience, coming from your greatest effort to surrender to His will.
Next, you must have a sincere yearning for a Holy Spirit baptism, coming from your realization that you need it:
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, who those who believed in Him were to receive… Jn. 7:37 – 39. NASB
Yes, we do receive the Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus, but the Holy Spirit baptism, as we have looked at, is an additional aspect, whereby the Spirit fills you with your spiritual gifts to forward the kingdom. For this to happen, you petition God in prayer:
When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly. Acts 4:31 CSB
Lastly, (but concurrently through the whole process), we must apply our faith in the receiving of our prayerful appeal:
This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us. And if we know [for a fact, as indeed we do] that He hears and listens to us in whatever we ask, we [also] know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted to us] the requests which we have asked from Him. 1 Jn. 5:14 – 15. AMP
You’ve met all the requirements. As with your faith in your salvation, even though you may not feel any different, so it may be with your Holy Spirit baptism. For myself, that was the case; and yet, within months afterwards, I began to discern that I was gaining a gift of ‘teaching’ the word of God, (Eph. 4:11-13), writing and coming back to re-read it, knowing that I couldn’t have written that by myself. Your gift will manifest when it is time. No one has the exact same experience. You were promised your Spirit baptism, you will receive it…
Goodnight and God bless.