The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the empowering for service that takes place in the life of the Christian. It can take place at the moment of faith in Christ as in the case of the first Gentile convert, Cornelius; but traditionally and experientially it follows repentance, saving faith, and baptism (see Hebrews 6:1-2). It enables a believer to witness to the Lord’s salvation and to demonstrate one or more of the nine gifts, or manifestations, of the Holy Spirit (see I Corinthians 12:7-10). Just as the indwelling Spirit reproduces the life of Jesus, the outpoured, or baptizing, Spirit reproduces the ministry of Jesus.
To illustrate, if I had a glass of water and took a swallow, then the water would be inside me. If, on the other hand, I went down to the beach and stepped into the ocean, then I would be in the water. We receive, as it were, a drink of the Spirit when we are saved, but when we are baptized in the Spirit, it is as if that initial drink becomes an ocean that completely surrounds us.
When we give ourselves to Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. The Holy Spirit places us into Jesus. In turn Jesus immerses us in the power of the Holy Spirit, and from the experience comes the ability to reproduce the works of Jesus, including miracles and healings (see John 14:12-16, Acts 1:5,8). Just as there are nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, there are nine gifts of the Spirit. Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus said, “John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). He also said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: And you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8). When the day of Pentecost came, Jesus’ apostles were all together in the same house. There was the sound of a mighty wind, and then tongues of fire sat upon them. They “began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
In subsequent instances, when this experience came upon the people, it seemed as if the Spirit of God activated their speech. First of all, this showed that they had been empowered to witness for the Lord. Second, their higher speech centers had been brought under the control of Jesus Christ. As James said, “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man” (James 3:2). The tongues of these people had been brought under the Lord’s control. Finally, by the words they spoke, they were able to do miracles. That is because the spoken word brings about healings, miracles, and the works of power that Jesus did. All of this is encompassed in the baptism in the Holy Spirit.