Regeneration, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and Being Filled with the Holy Spirit – Scriptural Distinctions

A study by deanna reynolds M.D. (ret.), Corpus Christi, Texas

Scriptures to study: Gen. 2:7;  Luke 3:16; 11:13; 24:49;  John 14:11-12,15-18,26; 15:26-27; 16:7,12-15; 20:22;  Acts 1:4,5,8,14; 2:1-41; 4:23-31; 8:12-17; 9:17; 10:44-48; 19:1-7;  First Cor. 15:45-49;  Eph.5:17-18;  Heb. 6:5

The Promise of the Father

After entering into covenant with His disciples, Jesus told them, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:11-12).

Jesus then explained HOW they were to be empowered to do even greater miracles than Him: by receiving the gift the Father would send when Jesus returned to Him: the Holy Spirit, also called the Counselor, and the Spirit of Truth. Jesus explained the promise of the Father as follows:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  (John 14:16-18,26, emphasis added)

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27, emphasis added)

“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you….I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you. (John 16:7,12-15, emphasis added).

All that belongs to the Father is Jesus’, and the Spirit will make that known to those who receive Him; how exceedingly empowering!

Later on, right before He ascended to heaven, Jesus reminded His apostles, “I am going to show you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49).

Regeneration (Salvation) by the Holy Spirit

Before acsending to heaven but after His resurrection, Jesus breathed on them [His disciples] and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22). This was salvation, the new birth, regeneration, because Christ had just redeemed mankind. Fallen man had just been redeemed and restored back to his creation as a physical and spiritual being when the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Gen. 2:7). The first Adam was of the dust of the earth, and had been crucified with Christ. The resurrected Lord, the last Adam, became a life-giving Spirit, and breathed that life back into believing men (see First Cor. 15:45-49).

Note that Christ’s breathing on them and saying “Receive the Holy Spirit” means the disciples had been regenerated before Pentecost. This is how they were able to tarry in Jerusalem for ten days in one accord, continually devoting themselves to prayer (see Acts 1:14)! The disciples had the Holy Spirit living within them before Pentecost. Yet, in order to perform the miracles Jesus had performed, they needed to stay in the city until [they had] been clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:49).

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

And so it was that, after tarrying in one accord in the upper room in Jerusalem for ten days in prayer, the disciples received the promised gift of the Father that Jesus had informed them of in John Chs. 14-16: the baptism of the Holy Spirit!

So, from whom did the term “baptism of the Holy Spirit” originate? John the Baptist and Jesus! You may recall John the Baptist first prophesied this: “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Luke 3:16). Three and a half years later, shortly before the resurrected Lord ascended, He instructed His eleven apostles, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…. you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” (Acts 1:4-5, 8).

As we know from Acts Ch. 2, they then received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost as Jesus had prophesied, and therein were empowered to perform the miracles Jesus did!

Now, here is something I believe the Scriptures infer. Given that Jesus had told His disciples, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13), and given that they had NOT asked for the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed into them in John 20:22, then I believe it is inferred that their praying together in the upper room in Acts Ch. 1 indicates that disciples are to ASK for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Also, given that Jesus said our Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him, we see that not all believers will be filled with the Holy Spirit (we will study shortly Acts 8:12-17 and 19:1-7 which prove this).

(Unlike what happened with the majority of the disciples, there are those of us who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit without asking upon our intense regeneration experience. This is exactly what happened to Saul/Paul, as he was filled with the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid hands on him (see Acts 9:17), and is also what happened to Cornelius and the other Gentiles – without the laying on of anyone’s hands (see Acts 10:44-46). In these two intense cases of regeneration, the men received the baptism of the Holy Spirit shortly thereafter or simultaneously, even BEFORE having been immersed into Christ’s death and resurrection via water baptism.)

Note that God had the apostles and other disciples in the upper room receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the Feast of Weeks, when God-fearing Jews of every nation under heaven were staying in Jerusalem. (Acts 2:5). This was so that all these Jews heard the wonders of God proclaimed in their many native languages by simple (uneducated) men from Galilee via the Holy Spirit’s gift of tongues/languages. This miracle prepared them to hear the Gospel from Peter, which then led them to repent, be baptized, AND receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit themselves (see Acts 2).

tree of revelation

In Acts 8:12, Philip, empowered by the Holy Spirit, preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and people of Samaria were baptized when they believed. Yet, When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them [over 30 miles’ walk]. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come UPON any of them; they simply had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17, emphasis added).

Thus, we see the Samaritans had been regenerated – they had the Holy Spirit IN them – and the apostles quickly came and laid their hands upon them so that the Holy Spirit would come UPON them. The believing Samaritans thus received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and were clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).

Acts Ch. 19 similarly describes a group of believers whom Paul realized had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit upon regeneration/salvation, and then received it via the laying on of his hands (Paul himself had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of Ananias’ hands as recorded in Acts 9:17). Here is the interesting Acts Ch. 19 passage:

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” [thus they were Christians]

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues [just as on Pentecost and with the Gentiles in Acts Chs 2 & 10, respectively] and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. (Acts 19:1-7)

There is much to be said about the edifying gifts of the Holy Spirit of speaking in tongues and prophesying – perhaps in another article, God-willing…

The Filling with the Holy Spirit

Now, there is yet a third category of action of the Holy Spirit described in the New Testament: the filling with the Holy Spirit. We know from passages such as Acts 4:23-31 that regenerated men (believers) who have already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit can be refilled with the Holy Spirit as needed for specific empowerment when they ask it of God:

On their release [from prison], Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“  ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

‘The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’ 

“Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:23-31, emphasis added)

Much to some Christians’ surprise, we actually are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit”: Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, but be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs… (Eph. 5:15-19a). Note that the command not to be unwise, but wise, is linked with being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Being baptized with the Holy Spirit and remaining filled with the Holy Spirit are so very important, for His amazing gifts (Greek: charisma) operating through Spirit-filled believers in this lifetime can then help the other members of Christ’s body.

Yet being filled with the Holy Spirit is also important beyond this lifetime: Hebrews 6:5 indicates the powers of the Holy Spirit are also the powers of the coming age – that is, the Millennial Kingdom. Meditate on that a while, and link it with the multitude of Scriptures describing the varying rewards Christ will bestow at the Bema seat before the Millennial Kingdom begins – rewards for His fruitful ones according to what they have done via the Holy Spirit in this lifetime…

I’ll leave you with a related matter of utmost importance to ponder: Given that we are wise to be filled with the Spirit, and foolish not to do so, carefully re-read Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), noting that the only distinction between the five wise virgins with lamps awaiting the Bridegroom’s coming (Christians!) and the five foolish virgins with lamps awaiting the Bridegroom’s coming (also true Christians!) is that The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps (vv. 3-4).

Note that they all had lamps lit (torches, more accurately), and they all became drowsy and fell asleep (v. 5), yet, upon awakening, the foolish suddenly realized their lamps were going out, and that they needed oil to meet the Bridegroom (and to enter into the wedding feast with Him).

Note also that the Greek for “woke up” or “arose” in v. 7 (Strong’s G1453) means “were resurrected”; it’s the same word used in Matt. 28:7 (“He has risen from the dead…”) and Matt. 27:52 (“The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.”)…

More on that great matter in another article, God-willing! (Ed.: see Resurrection, Rapture, Judgment of Christ’s Saints, and the Millennium – Overview and Scriptures for Self-Study)

So very much love and encouragement in Christ Jesus,

your sister deanna

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