“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” —Matthew 3:11
I like the term fire when John the Baptist was referring to the baptism in the Holy Spirit because it gives us the idea that it’s something powerful, burning and all-consuming.
When we were born again, most of us were aware of a peace we had never known before and a supernatural love that was so real that many have said the grass looked greener and the sky seemed bluer. We suddenly became aware of the peace of God and the love of God in our hearts. But when a believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, they are more aware of God’s power.
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This is not just a feeling; it’s real fire. Sometimes you feel it, and sometimes you don’t, but there is power that comes into you that was not there before.
Another way to describe this gift is an endowment of power. Jesus said, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come up on you,” (Acts 1:8). He’s saying there’s going to be more of this power on you and in you.
In fact, Jesus told them in Luke 24:49 (KJV), “…tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
At this same time, He told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mk. 16:15). That’s a big task for a few hundred people, and you would think, if they were going to accomplish it, they would need to get started as quickly as possible. But the first thing Jesus said to do was “Wait.” He cautioned them to tarry or wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high before they went out to win the world.
The disciples were already born again when Jesus told them to tarry for the gift of the Holy Spirit. People who are born again don’t automatically have this experience. There are many good, Christian people who may take offense to this, but just because you’re born again and you’re a good Christian and you love God does not mean that you’ve received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus clearly told this small group of believers to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power. Salvation makes one a child of God, but it‘s the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes a person a witness. Look at Acts 1:8 again:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
They did what Jesus said and they were not disappointed:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. —Acts 2:2-4
The change in their lives was so dramatic that Peter, who had a few weeks before denied he knew Jesus, preached a marvelous salvation message to everyone present. This endowment of power made Peter a witness, and it will make you a witness!
When I first heard about this gift as a young Methodist boy, I wanted it! I didn’t have any reluctance whatsoever.
One of the blessings of being brought up in the Methodist church is they never preached against anybody or anything. So, when I heard about the gift of the Holy Spirit, my heart leaped inside me. And my head didn’t try to talk me out of it because I’d never heard that miracles had passed away or that speaking in tongues is of the devil or many of the other lies that were being spread concerning this wonderful gift.
I wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit with all my heart, which is very important. In fact, the first step to receiving this gift is to desire it. Once you have the desire, the fulfillment will surely come!