Pentecost was both extraordinary and ordinary. The extraordinary “pouring out” of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17-18) indicated the measure by which God sovereignly gave of His Holy Spirit. This extraordinary measure has been subsequently repeated in times of revival throughout the history of the Church.

There was something about Pentecost however, that would become ordinary. The “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” which occurred at Pentecost, became a norm for the New Testament Church.

The phrase “baptism in the Spirit” is used only seven times in the New Testament and relates to the method by which believers are received into the body of Christ. This phrase appears four times in the gospels and refers to John’s prophetic message of the coming Christ—who would “baptize in the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 3:7; Mark 1:5; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). The fifth and sixth mentions of this baptism are in Acts and they identify the historical event of Pentecost. The final mention is in 1 Corinthians 12:13 where the apostle Paul looks back at the theological significance of Pentecost.

By this “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” all believers—without exception—are brought into and secured in the body of Christ. This work of the Holy Spirit is not something we need to plead or pray for, it is the purchase of Christ for every believer.

Consider these ten biblical truths about Pentecost and the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”. 

The Prayer for the Baptism in the Spirit (Numbers 11:29)

Pentecost was the answer to Moses’ prayer, thousands of years before, that all the Lord’s people would receive the Holy Spirit. In the context of Numbers 11:29 Pentecost was God’s answer to Church leadership. Leadership in the Church is pastoral, not dictatorial, and depends on the Spirit of God. The pastor does not need to “Lord it over” the people, for they have the same Spirit (1 Peter 5:3). Moses was happy to “share” the Spirit and did not feel threatened by others having the Spirit of God.

The Picture of the Baptism in the Spirit (Leviticus 23:15-22)

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit secured the harvest that Christ had purchased on Calvary. The Father took of the riches of Christ’s accomplishment and turned it over to His people by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Three feasts in the Jewish calendar are interconnected and point specifically to the work of Christ. First, the Feast of Passover: Ex. 12:1-18; Lev. 23:5 – Christ the Lamb of God. Second, the Feast of First Fruits: Lev. 23:9-14 – The resurrection of Christ. Third, the Feast of Pentecost (Weeks): Lev. 23:15-21 – the Coming of the Spirit.

After the celebration of the Passover, the Israelites celebrated the Feast of First-Fruits. At that time, they would take the sheaf and wave it before the Lord, celebrating the bringing of the Harvest. Fifty days later, at the Feast of Weeks they took those first-fruit sheaves and baked them into two loaves (the term Pentecost comes from the Greek word meaning “fiftieth”). These two offerings—First Fruits and Weeks—represented the commencement and the completion of the harvest and celebrated the full provision made for the people of God. The implication is, again, on “all” those whom God “harvests.”

The Prophecy of the Baptism in the Spirit (Joel 2:28)

Pentecost fulfilled the law of centralized worship. The Old Testament worship was centralized at Jerusalem and symbolized God’s dwelling with His people. It also typified and anticipating a time, when, as Jesus told the woman of Samaria, the Jerusalem location would be meaningless; the father may be worshipped acceptably in any place on earth (John 4:23), because of the coming of the Spirit of God on all flesh.

The prophet Joel declared that there would be an effusion of the Holy Spirit poured out on “all flesh” (cf. 1 John 2:2). It was this prophecy to which the apostle Peter turned to explain to the gathered crowds at Pentecost what had just happened. Prior to Pentecost, a believer must come to Jerusalem, to Israel, and to the temple. Now the Spirit is poured out to “all flesh;” many of them represented there that day. The emphasis of this passage, again, is on “all” sorts of men, all nationalities, young and old, Jew and Greek, male and female.

The Promise of the Baptism in the Spirit (Isaiah 43:1-44:5)

The Holy Spirit given at Pentecost is the security and seal of the Church. In Isaiah 44:1, God’s “but now” indicates the contrast between Israel’s history and God’s grace. Despite Israel’s continual sin, they are still God’s chosen people. There is no hope of salvation in Israel apart from God’s unmerited grace. There is no hope of sustained faithfulness, apart from God’s grace. The history for Israel is bleak—the tendency to backslide strong, because they have no strength in themselves.

Israel however, according to this promise, has no need to fear or lose hope, because God will effect this work of redemption and sustain it by a “pouring out of His Spirit” (44:3). It is this pouring out of the Spirit that will secure the success of the church, in contrast to national Israel which had proved their frailty.

Interesting that Paul included the promise of the Spirit in the content of the Gospel preached to Abraham—He is the Spirit of the [gospel] promise (Ephesians 1:13 cf.Galatians 3:13-14).

The Preaching of the Baptism in the Spirit (Mark 1:5-8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33)

All the gospels record John’s preaching the baptism in the Spirit. John did not focus on the death of Jesus but on the benefits of that death, particularly the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The important part of John’s message was in the link between water baptism and Spirit Baptism.

John preached of that initiatory act of God that would bring those for whom Christ died into the Church; this is the mark of the new covenant. Water baptism is the symbol of what occurs at conversion; we are buried with him in death and rise again to newness of the life-giving Spirit (Romans 6:4). Conversion is not possible with baptism in the Spirit.

The Purchase of the Baptism in the Spirit (Luke 24:46-49)

The Holy Spirit is the reward of Christ’s work on Calvary. The book of Acts establishes this at the very beginning—Christ will continue His work through the Holy Spirit (1:1-2), whom the Father has promised (1:4-5). Jesus’s death and victorious resurrection secured the Holy Spirit for us—He is Christ’s greatest gift, and could not be given until Jesus had ascended to the right hand of the Father. It is Jesus, as John tells us, who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.

The Purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Pentecost was God’s gracious response to the judgment at Babel. There are four judgments of God recorded in Genesis 1-11. All of these judgments have a grace declaration attached except for Babel. At Babel grace was delayed until Pentecost when the linguistic confusion was reversed; believers from every nation and tongue were united in one Spirit. So many people, from so many places, with so many differences, are united in one body by the Spirit of Pentecost. Just as water is the element in which we are baptized by the Church, so the Holy Spirit is the element in which we are “all” baptized by Jesus.

The Proof of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-10)

At Pentecost the Lord solved one of the greatest problems facing the early Church; where do Gentiles and Samaritans fit in the body of Christ?

Moses prayed that “all” the Lord’s people would have the Spirit. Joel prophesied that the Lord would pour out of the Spirit on “all flesh” and Paul tells us that we have “all” been baptized into one body. The repeated gift of tongue throughout the book of Acts proves that this happened and shows that the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost was intended for the Church universal; “all” believers; “for there is no difference” (Romans 10:12).

Luke’s record in the book of Acts moves outward from Jerusalem, (1:8) stacking up the evidence of an inclusive baptism of the Holy Spirit for all believers. The same Spirit that they, the Jews (Acts 2:1ff), had received at Jerusalem is also given to the Samaritans (8:5-12) and the Gentiles (10:1-11:18) and then to uninformed Jews who had not heard of the resurrected Jesus (19:1-7).

The Power of the Baptism in the Spirit (Revelation 5:9)

The power of Pentecost is manifested in the extension of the Kingdom; in world evangelization. This is clearly stated in Acts 1:8 (cf. (Mark 9:1). The disciples were to tarry at Jerusalem only until they were endued with a power that would take the gospel to the ends of the earth, a power that would build Christ’s church in the face of satanic opposition (Matthew 18:16) and that would gather a blood-bought throng from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9).

Luke wrote two books, the gospel according to Luke which is a record of all that Jesus began to do, and the books of Acts which is a record of what Jesus continued to do through his Church by the power of His Spirit. This is the power that enables His church to do “greater works” than Jesus Himself did (John 5:20-21).

The Permanence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-19)

Pentecost has never ceased. We live in this period of time known as the “last days” that Joel spoke of and that Peter reiterated on the day of Pentecost. The measure of the effusion of the Spirit may be different, and the apostolic ministry of extraordinary gifts may have ceased, but the Holy Spirit is still with us, empowering, indwelling and infilling Christians.  This was the promise of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-19 “lo I am with you always…” It is this promise—all power for all time—that ensures the success of the work of Christ in us and through us.