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How Spirit Baptism is Received

In Acts 8:14-20 Luke said: “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they came down, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for still He had come on none of them. They were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me also this power, that whomever I lay hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.’ Peter said to him, ‘May your money perish with you, because you thought you could purchase the gift of God with money!’” (MEV).

The problem was resolved when Peter and John laid hands on the Samaritans to manifest the Holy Spirit. They left, satisfied, because manifestations occurred. Most assuredly, these included speaking in tongues. Through the laying on of hands the Samaritans confirmed the baptism in the Holy Spirit by speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues activates spiritual power and gifts of the Spirit, including the miraculous. The Samaritans received the baptism in the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands in approximately 39 A.D.


The Baptism in the Holy Spirit in Caesarea

Cornelius, a Roman centurion, was a God-fearing Gentile who lived in Caesarea. He was not saved, according to Acts 10. At this time Peter was in Joppa. At 3:00 p.m., Cornelius had a vision in which an angel of God told him to send men to Joppa to bring Peter back to his house in Caesarea. The very next day Cornelius’ servants approached the house in Joppa where Peter was staying.

As Cornelius’ servants approach the house, Peter was given a vision that prepared him to receive the Gentiles. In the vision he saw a sheet coming down from above, held by its four corners. On this sheet were all kinds of animals, which were not kosher. As the vision continued Peter heard the voice of God saying to kill and eat these animals. Peter was an orthodox Jew and refused to disobey the Law of Moses. Peter eventually realized that this vision was from God and that he could accept Gentiles and associate with them. As soon as the vision was over, the Gentile men arrived and Peter went with them. Peter took with him fellow believing Jews as witnesses and character references since other Jews would not otherwise know why Peter broke the Mosaic Law.

Peter went into Cornelius’ house, filled with Gentiles, and began preaching the Gospel. He preached how Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, died for their sins, but was resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven. Acts 10:44-47 says: “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word. All the believers of the circumcision who had come with Peter were astonished, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in other tongues and magnifying God. Then Peter continued, ‘Can anyone forbid water for baptizing these, who have received the Holy Spirit as we have?’” (MEV). The method of receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit was through the sovereign will of God and occurred in 41 A.D.

Rumors of this event spread to the church in Jerusalem. Jewish believers and elders were concerned about Peter’s reputation since he broke Moses’ Law. Peter took his witnesses with him to Jerusalem to explain to the Jewish elders that God gave him a vision in which he must accept the Gentiles. He said in Acts 11:15-18: “‘As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as He fell on us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, “John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?’ When they heard these things, they were silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has granted to the Gentiles also repentance unto life’” (MEV).


The Baptism in the Holy Spirit in Ephesus

Acts 19:1-7 provides the last text on the method in which believers in the New Testament received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The text says: “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples and said to them, ‘Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?’ They said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ He said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the One coming after him, that is, in Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all” (MEV).

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2018

About the Author: Verna M. Linzey (1919 –2016), MA (Southwestern Assemblies of God University), DMin (Fuller Theological Seminary), was the chief editor of the New Tyndale Version Bible and a translator for the Modern English Version Bible. She wrote The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, The Gifts of the Spirit, and Spirit Baptism. She also hosted the television programs “The Word with Verna Linzey” and “The Holy Spirit Today with Dr. Verna Linzey.”

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