Thoughts on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

This week I have been thinking and doing a little study on the concept of being "baptized in the Holy Spirit." I've been doing so in response to some of the things Stephanie told me about the teaching she received at her women's retreat last weekend.

Apparently there was a time during the weekend when the leader was talking about the gift of speaking in tongues. She told the women at the retreat that the gift of tongues was for all people, but that you couldn't access the gift unless you had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. She described this baptism as a special indwelling of the Holy Spirit (apart from conversion) that grants you access to the power of the Spirit.

There is much debate between scholars and theologians about what the Bible teaches regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The debate is between two primary camps of people. There are those (made up mostly of Pentecostals and charismatics) who believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes at a time after conversion. The other group is people who believe that baptism of the Holy Spirit happens at the time of conversion. As is usually the case, there seems to be adequate Biblical evidence and argument to support and refute the claims of each camp.

I believe that when a person becomes a follower of Jesus they are filled with the Holy Spirit to maximum quantities and that they have immediate access to the power given to them by Jesus in his name. However, as the goal of all of Christian life is growing and becoming more and more like Christ, so to, the new believer must learn how to lay more and more of himself aside and allow the Holy Spirit to manifest himself in the believer's life. While there are definite times the Holy Spirit comes 'upon' a person for some special work, I do not believe that a separate 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' is explicitly taught by Jesus or any other NT writers.