ANSWER: At the moment of conversion, the individual is born again (regenerated) by the work of the Holy Spirit giving us new life. We are indwelt, sealed, filled, and baptized by the Holy Spirit. These events all occur simultaneously.
Indwelling speaks of our salvation and union with Christ. Sealing speaks of our security and earnest of our inheritance until the day of full redemption. Filling speaks of our being controlled by the Spirit for service, thus we produce fruit because we are filled with the Spirit. Baptism speaks of our being placed into the body of Christ and thus separate from the world. Baptism speaks of our association with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
There is great confusion concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some say that because the Spirit had not yet been given until the day of Pentecost, they teach a delayed baptism, thus justifying their false view of a second blessing – there is no such thing as a second blessing! The Gospels and Acts are transitional books and as such great care must be taken deriving theology from them. It is not that no theology can be brought out from these books, but one must be careful. The church had not yet come to reality. Until they did, the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were considered Old Testament books. Acts is a transitional book where the Church was finally brought to existence at Pentecost.
The promise of the Spirit is part of the Old Testament prophecy given through Ezekiel that “I will put My Spirit within you” (Ezek. 36:25-27). The promise of the Spirit continues in the New Covenant work of God for the Church, promised by Jesus to come to all believers (John 3:5; 7:37-39). Notice what Jesus says to the crowd:
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39)
It is understood that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is performed by the Holy Spirit unto the believer and as such is not experiential, but occurs simultaneously with salvation. There are not two baptisms by the Spirit, one placing us into the body (1 Cor. 12:13) and another for service (Acts 1:5), there is only one (singular) “giving” of the Spirit not plural “givings.” There is only one baptism of the Spirit which occurs at the moment of salvation.
Re-generational Baptism should not be confused with water baptism. When Peter is speaking in Acts 11:16 he says, “Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.“ Baptism (washing) of the Holy Spirit is the symbol derived from the Old Testament of ritual washing which was an outward sign of an inner cleansing. Water baptism is an outward sign, but Spirit baptism is a true cleansing - not because we are clean, but because He is clean. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit brings us into union with God and brings us into the Church. Spirit baptism is unique to the Church and did not occur in the Old Testament:
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13)
Thanks for asking.
Dr. John Pappas