Perhaps the most fundamental Pentecostal distinctive is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. While it has historically been pushed aside, it is being experienced by people in various Christian denominations through the Charismatic movement.

So what do I mean by the Baptism in the Holy Spirit? Scripturally, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a subsequent experience that is distinct from the new birth or salvation. As a Pentecostal, I believe that the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues based on what happened on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:4 as well as other instances in Scripture. The Assemblies of God denomination within Pentecostalism has done a tremendous job with their positional paper on the baptism in the Holy Spirit, so I’ll just leave a link here (Link).

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the same as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit

I would like to point out that this is not a matter of whether or not the Holy Spirit indwells all Christians because I believe the Holy Spirit indwells all Christians.

Growing up, I was taught that not the indwelling of the Holy Spirit occurs when someone experiences the baptism in the Holy Spirit. However, Romans 8:9 tells us that we are not in the flesh if the Spirit of God dwells in us. Therefore, if we say the indwelling of the Holy Spirit does not occur until the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, we are forced to believe that born-again Christians who have not experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit are still in the flesh. We cannot jump to that conclusion when the context of Romans 8:6-8 tells us that the flesh is death, that the flesh is hostile to God, that flesh does not and is unable to subject itself to God, and that the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:9 makes it clear that anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (Romans 8:6-9, NASB)

I was also taught that the ‘Spirit of Christ’ was distinct from the Holy Spirit, but I do not see the distinction. In 1 Peter 1:11, the phrase ‘Spirit of Christ’ appears for the second time in the New Testament. Here, the ‘Spirit of Christ’ is said to have predicted the sufferings of Christ or ‘testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ’ as the KJV renders it. It is a stretch to say that Christ was talking about Himself because Jesus says in John 5:31 that His testimony is not true (meaning it is not considered true in the eyes of man) if He testifies of Himself. Rather, the Scriptural precedent of John 15:26 is that the Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus. This is clear when we look to 2 Peter 1:21 where Peter attributes prophecy in the Old Testament to the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the ‘Spirit of Christ’ should be identified as the Holy Spirit.

seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. (1 Peter 1:11, NASB)

 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:21, NASB)

“If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. (John 5:31, NASB)

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, (John 15:26, NASB)

Furthermore, in Acts 16:7 it mentions that the ‘Spirit of Jesus’ did not allow them to go into Bithynia. In some older translations like the KJV, it simply says ‘the Spirit’ but the NASB says 'the Spirit of Jesus.’ The NASB is a formal equivalence or literal translation like the KJV, but it takes into account the oldest and most accurate manuscripts that have since been found. I find it important to bring Acts 16:7 up because the previous verse says they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach in Asia. As such, it is clear that the term 'Spirit of Jesus’ is used interchangeably with the Holy Spirit.

They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; (Acts 16:6-7, NASB)

Also, we see that the term ‘Spirit of His Son' is used interchangeably with the term 'spirit of adoption’ comparing Galatians 4:6 and Romans 8:15. Looking at the context in Romans 8:14-17, it is clear that that the ‘spirit of adoption’ is the ‘Spirit of God’ or the Holy Spirit.

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6, NASB)

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:14-17, NASB)

To bring up a comparison, the term ‘Spirit of your Father’ is used interchangeably with the Holy Spirit, as we see through parallel passages in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 10:19-20 and Mark 13:11).

But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (Matthew 10:19-20, NASB)

When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11, NASB)

Therefore, I have no hesitation considering the ‘Spirit of Christ’ as the Holy Spirit. Saying that the ‘Spirit of Christ’ is the Holy Spirit is in no way saying that Jesus’ spirit is the Holy Spirit and is not an attack on the eternal triune aspect of God. On a side note, I take Romans 8:9 to be evidence for the controversial Filioque clause that says that the Holy Spirit proceeds from Christ in addition to the Father.

Acknowledging the truth that the Spirit of Christ is the Holy Spirit is difficult for some because it goes against their current understanding of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Based on conversations I’ve had, John 14:17 comes up where Jesus says the Spirit of truth abides with you and will be in you. Their point of view is that Jesus was pointing to the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would be in them by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit rather than simply abiding with them.

that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:17, NASB)

However, we need to understand that Jesus said made this statement prior to the disciples having a born-again experience. As the position paper linked above mentions, some Bible scholars pinpoint the time of the disciples’ new birth to John 20:22. In this verse, Jesus breathes on the disciples and says to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus could have been commanding his disciples to receive the Holy Spirit at the Day of Pentecost, but the act of breathing on them makes me believe that something occurred in that moment. The disciples, except Thomas, had just seen the resurrected Jesus and believed on Him. Romans 10:9 makes it clear that we have to confess with mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead in order to be saved. Though the disciples would have gone to heaven if they had died prior to this, they would not have experienced the born again experience that became available with the resurrection of Jesus. Some dispute this because Thomas was not there when Jesus breathed on them, however the act of breathing on the disciples was a physical act with an underlying spiritual significance. In John 20:24-29, we see that Thomas did not believe in Jesus’ resurrection until He saw and felt the risen Jesus. It was at this moment that Thomas believed and thus would have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Understanding this will incidentally also help distinguish the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as a distinct and subsequent experience from salvation because the disciples experienced salvation in John 20:22 but had to wait until the Day of Pentecost for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22, NASB)

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; (Romans 10:9, NASB)

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-28, NASB)

With this understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in John 20:22, there are some considerations we need to take into account. One paper that came out of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary does a great job addressing the widespread misunderstanding of John 7:38 (Link). Jesus told the Samaritan woman that if she would have asked Him, He would have given her living water. Jesus did not claim to be the water that he was giving, and it becomes clear that the living water is the Holy Spirit when we compare John 4:10-14 to John 7:37-39. I’ve heard preachers separate these two passages as if they were two experiences, however that idea falls apart under scrutiny.

I used to believe that John 7:39 was pointing to the Day of Pentecost, especially because it mentions that Jesus had to be glorified, but I no longer hold that view. The glorification mentioned here does not refer to the glory Jesus received at His ascension, rather it refers to the glorification that Jesus requested in John 17:1-5. Thus, the spirit could have been given as early as His crucifixion and resurrection, and indeed it was in John 20:22. 

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 will 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, NASB)

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent  I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (John 17:1-5, NASB)

Going back to John 14, in verses 19-20, Jesus talks about how the world will not see him for a while, and how the disciples will see him, and how at that day they will know that He is in the Father and them in Him and Him in them. This day was the day of His resurrection when He only appears to His disciples. So verse 17, which mentions that the Spirit of truth or the Holy Spirit is with them and shall be in them, is referring to the day of Jesus’ resurrection. In verse 23, Jesus mentions that He and the Father will make their abode with or take up residence with anyone who loves Jesus and keeps His words. It is dangerous to believe that the Holy Spirit does not also take up residence at this point as a member of the Triune God. Verses in John 14 and John 16 seem to indicate a two-stage approach where Jesus comes to them ‘at that day’ and then the Comforter is sent in His name after He departs. I would group the verses something like: (Stage 1: John 14:17-20, 23. John 16:16-22), (Stage 2: John 14:2-3,12,16,26. John 16:7-15).

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:18-20, NASB)

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. (John 14:23, NASB)

As I was thinking about this, Ezekiel 47:1-12 really spoke to me. The passage is talking about Ezekiel’s Temple which will be built in the Millennium and how water will flow from it and become a powerful river as it moves further away. However, there are other ways of looking at it. In Matthew 26:61, we see that Jesus claimed His body to be the temple of God. John 19:34, mentions that blood and water flowed out immediately when Jesus’ side as pierced. In one sense, the living water or the Holy Spirit flowed from the Temple of God at Calvary. This is further backed up in Exodus 17:6 where we see how water flowed from the rock in the wilderness that was smitten. 1 Corinthians 10:4 tells us that the rock was Christ.

Though I was taught to believe that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was the same as the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I was also taught that all believers were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise at salvation as a guarantee or a pledge of our inheritance as Ephesians 1:13-14 says. But looking at 2 Corinthians 1:22, it is clear that the Spirit is in our hearts as a guarantee or a pledge. The Holy Spirit indwells our hearts from the moment of salvation.

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14, NASB)

who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. (2 Corinthians 1:22, NASB)

It is important to acknowledge that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit occurs at salvation because otherwise, we will be denying the role of a born-again Christian as a temple of God if they have not received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Satan does not want people to acknowledge that their bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Although this is not the direct meaning, the terrifying consequence of anyone destroying God’s temple is that God will destroy them. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, the Apostle Paul mentions that the Corinthians are babes in Christ. This is important to remember when we come to 1 Corinthians 3:16 where he asks the rhetorical question and concludes by telling them that they are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16, NASB)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19, NASB)

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. (2 Corinthians 6:16, NASB)

Three baptism experiences in the NT

Another thing I would like to point out is that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the baptism whereby we are baptized into the body of Christ. Growing up, I was taught that 1 Corinthians 12:13 meant that only Spirit-baptized Christians made up the body of Christ. That is an erroneous statement. The first part of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is talking about the one baptism experience mentioned in Ephesians 4:4-5 where we are baptized into the body of Christ at the moment of salvation. The last part of the verse which mentions that we were all made to drink of one Spirit is mainly a reference to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The positional paper linked above touches on this as well. Basically, the Holy Spirit baptizes into the Body of Christ at salvation (1 Corinthians 12:13). In a distinct and subsequent experience, Jesus baptizes us in the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16).

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13, NASB)

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (Ephesians 4:4-5, NASB)

John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16, NASB)

Essentially, there are three baptisms or experiences of immersion in the New Testament.

  1. Baptism into the Body of Christ

  2. Water Baptism

  3. Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Without being dogmatic, we can extract some principles of the doctrine of Christ from Hebrews 6:1-2. One of them is the doctrine of baptisms (plural) or instruction of washings (plural) depending on the translation. I deviate here, but these elementary teachings are foundational and we need them to go on unto perfection or maturity.

  1. Repentance from dead works

  2. Faith towards God

  3. Doctrine of baptisms or instruction about washings

  4. Laying on of hands

  5. Resurrection of the dead

  6. Eternal judgement

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2, KJV)

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2, NASB)

Tongues are for today

A cessationalist - as opposed to a continualist - is someone who believes the supernatural gifts, or at least most of them, were limited to the foundational era in order to establish Christianity. So in that view, there's no tongues in use today. 

The problem with that view is that 1 Cor. 13:8-10 tells us exactly when tongues and the supernatural gifts will cease. As verse 10 says, "but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." Verse 12 says that this will occur when we see him "face to face" presumably at the Second Coming, an event that is yet forthcoming.

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10, NASB)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12, NASB)

Toward God versus toward men

In 1 Cor. 14:4, the Apostle Paul talks about how tongues edify oneself whereas prophesy edifies the church. Verse 2 makes this even more clear by saying that one who speaketh in tongues "speaketh not unto men, but unto God." 

2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. (1 Corinthians 14:2-4, NASB)

Yet, in 1 Cor. 14: 27-29, the Apostle Paul talks about how if there is no one to interpret then the tongues-speaker should remain silent. This is what is referenced in verse 5, where tongues that are interpreted are put on an equal pedestal as prophesy, being for the edification of the church and thus unto men.

27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. (1 Corinthians 14:27-29, NASB)

Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. (1 Corinthians 14:4, NASB)

This a clear dichotomy. The first instance is strictly for personal edification and involves communication from the Spirit toward God. The second instance is strictly for public edification and involves communication from the Spirit toward people.

Tongues versus gift of tongues

Therefore, Pentecostals/Charismatics recognize that tongues is same in essence but different in purpose from the gift of tongues. 

Whereas tongues (glossolia - unknown or known human languages) are not for others to be edified, the gift of tongues (xenoglossolia - known human languages) is for others to be edified through the gift of interpretation of tongues which either the tongues-speaker or another has.

This is supported by the distinction between tongues as the initial evidence of receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the "different kinds of tongues" which is but one of many gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Cor. 12:8-10 and again in 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 within the context of it being interpreted.

8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10, NASB)

28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:28-31, NASB)