I will speak from my own personal experience as well as provide scriptural reference. But by no means should this short article/post replace your own study and pursuit of understanding.
Assuming most people know the story of Christ and the fact that He died on the cross and was resurrected from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father - the first mention of the Holy Spirit we see in scripture actually begins in Genesis: 1: 1-2 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." From my own contemplation of this passage, it confirms for me that the Spirit of God always existed from the beginning.
Jumping way ahead, again with some assumptions that you the reader understand and have knowledge of the Son of God, we know that Jesus ascended back to heaven and as a result "the comforter" came or was sent. John 14:26 "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." NIV. Other versions speak of the Advocate or Holy Spirit as: helper, comforter, the friend. So Jesus the Son, went away back to heaven to be with the Father, and as a parting gift to us, the Holy Spirit was sent. So the Holy Spirit being the third person of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), is God with us, today, now!
How do we meet or encounter God's Spirit, The Holy Spirit?
First we must acknowledge the One True Living God. John 3:3 Jesus said: "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God".. Being born again is what it requires. Jesus goes on to say in verse 5, "Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." NKJV Nicodemus was perplexed by this idea, because he didn't understand what Jesus' was saying. But Jesus clarifies it for him: John 3:10-17" Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten, Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
So Jesus says we must be born of water and the Spirit. What does this mean?
Jesus is having a conversation with Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee. Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in accordance to the Pharisee’s teaching- to be born of water meant to be born physically. This is proved by Nicodemus remark who thought to be born again meant a physical birth “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?In verse 5, Jesus proceeds to say, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee, believed like the other Jews that because he was born a Jew and kept God’s ordinances that he should automatically enter into the kingdom of God. However, Jesus explains this is not enough. In verse 6, Jesus Himself interprets the water as flesh (a physical birth) "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Jesus says of being born of water is to be born of the flesh. Jesus explains the difference, telling Nicodemus you have already had a physical birth, you are in need of a another birth “Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' Literally from the Spirit above to enter the kingdom. You must be born again “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." The new birth from above is a second birth which gives us eternal life
V.5 The new birth is invisible, he likens it to the wind. It is not from the water beneath (the flesh) but of the Spirit (literally, in the Greek, from above). He is contrasting the natural (flesh) to the spiritual (Spirit).
There is always a distinction between water and Spirit baptism. Scripture tells us that John came baptizing in water but that, “There is one who will come after me. . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk. 1:7-8; Mt. 3:11; Jn. 1:33). The flesh and the spirit are two different properties, two different things. So there are two births- one of the flesh and the other of the spirit that comes from God. John 3:6-7 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
The term born of water is used only once by John but the term born of God (the Spirit) he uses numerous times.
I Jn 4:7: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” This is the love of God shed in a believers heart by believing the gospel.
I Jn 5:1: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.” This of course has to do with the gospel.
I Jn 5:4: “ For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith” The new nature of the spirit of God has our affections change toward God and not toward the fallen world.
I Jn 3:9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. ”
I Jn 5:18: “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” There is life change where one lives more in righteousness than they do in the old way of life in sin. John explains this in I Jn 2:29: “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him” And Paul teaches this through the book of Romans especially chapter 6-7
Romans 7:6 “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”
The Bible teaches that a man is “born of God” (Greek- EK - out of). This description occurs four times in John’s epistle alone, 1 Jn. 3:9, 4:7, 5:1,4. In all the instances where the source of the new birth is mentioned, the language is EK Him, EK God, or EK Spirit. John 1:12-13, we receive Christ by believing in His name, “not born by the will of man . . . but of God.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God uses creation (born of water) as part of conveying the new birth. The Greek preposition (“out of”) is never used elsewhere in connection anything else but its source which is God Himself.
In John 3:3, the term “born-again” literally means “to be born from above,” is what happens by Jesus sending His Spirit to those who respond to the gospel. The very essence of regeneration is by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is an unseen work that one receives when they believe, they are then sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13).Born of God” To be begotten of God- to have his life, that is eternal along with the characteristics born anew is to love God and will certainly translate in loving the brethren. 1 Pt.1:22; 2 Pt.1:3 tells us we have been given His divine nature v.:5-8 “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The context of Jn. 3:5 must be related to Jesus’ previous statement in Jn. 3:3 :“Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” There is only one new birth mentioned in this verse and it is from the Spirit as other Scriptures uphold. John 3:6-7: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again. .”’
1 Peter 1:22 "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because: All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word by which the gospel was preached to you.
We can see clearly from these passages that the Holy Spirit is required, is necessary for us to be saved, to enter into the Kingdom of God. We know that the Spirit of God is the vehicle, doorway, means by which we are "born again". We obtain the Holy Spirit when we believe in God and acknowledge the risen Christ, as our Lord and Savior.
What about the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
The reference of being baptized with or by the Holy Spirit occurs several times in scripture:
Matt. 3:11, "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
Mark 1:8, "I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Luke 3:16, "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."
John 1:33, "And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, "He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit."
Acts 1:5, "for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
Acts 11:16, "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit." We can clearly see that the phrase is used in the Bible. But, we do not find a clear teaching in the Bible of what the phrase means. Nevertheless, we can conclude that when a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit he has power bestowed upon him. This power is for the purpose of the preaching of the gospel (Acts 4:31), living a purer life, and having a deeper devotion to God. Also, it is frequently accompanied by speaking in tongues.
Acts 2:4, "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." At this point, I would recommend the reader to examine Acts 1-2 to see the movement of the Holy Spirit upon the early church at Pentecost. The issue now seems to be whether or not Baptism of/in/with the Holy Spirit is a subsequent event occurring after salvation. It would seem that this is the case.
In John 20:22, Jesus commanded that the disciples receive the Holy Spirit, "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." This means that they were saved since the Holy Spirit is not received by the unregenerate.
Then, later in Acts 1:4-5 we read, "And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
It seems to be that while we receive the Holy Spirit at salvation, we can additionally receive empowerment, through baptism of the Holy Spirit.
One definition of baptize is: to purify or cleanse spiritually especially by a purging experience or ordeal.
A deeper understanding and reference to this practice of baptism and the work of the Holy Spirit in baptism can be found at this link This reference covers the origins of the word baptism and its Hebrew roots. I highly recommend this additional study, as it lays the foundation of why Jesus Himself was baptized by John in water and also the Holy Spirit - John 3:13-17. Jesus' baptism is clearly for the preparation and fulfillment of righteousness for ministry.
I will conclude this part of the study and begin work on the second part, which goes into more detail of the various roles and functions of the Spirit as we journey on our walk as followers of Christ.
If we do not understand the purpose and role of the Holy Spirit, recognizing this Spirit dwells within us when we receive salvation, then we may never mature as men and women of God. This is so critical to understand and accept as we move toward the high call God has placed on our lives, in pursuit of Him, pursuit of righteousness and holiness, true sanctification by His Spirit!