Two Works by the Holy Spirit

Every person who has truly believed in the Lord Jesus has experienced a work of the Holy Spirit in his life. His inward person, or spirit, has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit (see Tit. 3:5), and the Holy Spirit now lives within him (see Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19). He has been “born of the Spirit” (John 3:5).

Not understanding this, many Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians have made the error of telling certain believers that they did not posses the Holy Spirit unless they had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues. But this error is obvious from Scripture and from experience. Many non-Charismatic/Pentecostal believers have much more evidence of the indwelling Spirit than some Charismatic/Pentecostal believers! They manifest the fruits of the Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 to a much greater degree, something that would be impossible apart from have the indwelling Holy Spirit!

Just because a person has been born of the Spirit, however, does not guarantee that he has also been baptized in the Holy Spirit. According to the Bible, being born of the Holy Spirit and being baptized in the Holy Spirit are normally two distinct experiences.

As we begin to explore this subject, let us first consider what Jesus once said about the Holy Spirit to an unsaved woman at a well in Samaria:

If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water….Everyone who drinks of this water [from the well] will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life (John 4:10, 13-14).

It seems reasonable to conclude that the indwelling living water of which Jesus spoke represents the Holy Spirit who indwells those who believe. Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus again used the same phrase, “living water,” and there is no doubt that He was speaking about the Holy Spirit:

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:37-39; emphasis added).

In this instance Jesus did not speak of living water becoming “a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Rather, this time the living water becomes rivers that flow from the recipient’s innermost being.

These two similar passages from John’s Gospel beautifully illustrate the difference between being born of the Spirit and being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Being born of the Spirit is primarily for the benefit of the one who is born again, that he might enjoy eternal life. When one is born again by the Spirit, he has a reservoir of Spirit within him that gives him eternal life.

Being baptized in the Holy Spirit, however, is primarily for the benefit of others, as it equips believers to minister to other people by the power of the Spirit. “Rivers of living water” will flow from their innermost beings, bringing God’s blessings to others by the power of the Spirit.