The main distinctive of being a Pentecostal is being baptised in the Holy Spirit. We take a closer look at the “two blessings”: the Holy Spirit coming to bring regeneration in us when we are first saved, and then the infilling of the Holy Spirit to empower us to fulfil the Great Commission.
As a Pentecostal church, City Harvest Church believes in the infilling of the Holy Spirit, or spirit baptism, with evidence of speaking in tongues. We also believe that the Holy Spirit continues to work in this world, and that His gifts continue today.
Our statement of faith reads: “We believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a real experience at or subsequent to salvation, with the scriptural evidence, namely, speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance… We believe in the operation of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit as enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4, as manifested in the early Church.”
It may be surprising to know that not all Christians hold the same view on spirit baptism. There are three common positions held by three groups of Christians. Non-Pentecostal evangelicals believe that a believer only receives the Holy Spirit at conversion when he is regenerated. Classical Pentecostals believe that there are two receptions of the Spirit: the first is at conversion for regeneration, and the second is at spirit baptism, which is for empowerment. Neo-Pentecostals believe there is only one reception of the Spirit, but unlike the non-Pentecostal evangelicals, they believe that spirit baptism first brings about regeneration and later, empowerment. Apart from these three main positions, there are also others that believe that love is the evidence of spirit baptism.
CHC takes the Classical Pentecostal position on spirit baptism, which adheres to the concept of separability. We believe there are two blessings: the first is when the Holy Spirit does a work of washing and regeneration in the life of a sinner at conversion, and He indwells the new believer. The second blessing is separate and subsequent to salvation: the believer is infilled with the Holy Spirit, and the first sign of spirit baptism is speaking in tongues.
WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS ABOUT THE TWO SEPARATE BLESSINGS
The term “baptism in the Holy Spirit” is mentioned in all four Gospels (Mt 3:11, Mk 1:8. Lk 3:16 and Jn 1:33), and is also used by Jesus (Acts 1:5,8) and Peter (Acts 11:16). The baptiser is not the Holy Spirit but Jesus, who baptises us in the Holy Spirit (Lk 3:16-17).
There is evidence for the two blessings from Jesus’ own life. In Luke 1:35, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, and he grew up in favour with God and men. Before he began his ministry, he was baptised by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, and the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in power, to equip Him for the work He was to do. The Holy Spirit was present and working throughout Jesus’ ministry—He was led by the Spirit to the wilderness to be tested by the devil and He returned in the power of the Holy Spirit. He preached and ministered powerfully and did mighty miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The 12 apostles also experienced the two blessings, according to scripture. In John 20:21-22, Jesus sent the 12 out, breathed on them and said to them “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Theologians believe this to be the moment of regeneration of the apostles. Following this, Jesus instructed them with these words: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49) This was fulfilled in Acts 2:4 when the 120 in the Upper Room were “filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Yet another reference to two separate encounters with the Holy Spirit is the case of Philip in Samaria. The Samaritans converted and were water baptised after Philip preached to them, but Peter and John were still sent to pray for the new believers so they would receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them (Acts 8:14-16).
Saul was converted on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9; 22:6-10; 26:12-18) and Jesus wanted him to be filled with the Holy Spirit three days after. In the case of Cornelius, when Peter went to his home, he and his household believed the gospel (Acts 10:34-43) and immediately after, they were baptised in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
From these scriptures, we can see there are two blessings, two receptions of the Holy Spirit. The two are separate and infilling happens after regeneration. The amount of time between the two blessings can be almost instantaneous to conversion, or there is sometimes a lapse of days, weeks, months, even years.
In short, when a person becomes a believer, the Holy Spirit comes and regenerates him and he is born again. Subsequently, he is baptised in the Holy Spirit by Jesus and receives power from high to preach the gospel, heal the sick, set the oppressed free and follow all the instructions of Jesus.
Source: Introduction to Pentecostalism, School Of Theology, City Harvest Church