The debate over the Baptism of the Holy Spirit may be semantic, but perhaps not.
Baptists and others believe this occurs only when saved. Other groups think that this can and does occur, but not always. Thus, it may occur after belief in Messiah and salvation. Acts 8:14-20, Acts 18:24-28, and Acts 19:1-6 (see below) make a clear case for this. Perhaps some are using a "play of words" to justify their frigidity to the Lord?
Here is where the "dispute about words" (1 Tim 6:4) comes in. Baptists and the like would assert that we need to be continually "filled" with the Holy Spirit, being leaky vessels; and that we should actively seek and pray for this filling. Just don't call it a baptism.
By the way, most agree that the "one baptism" of Eph 4:5 concerns our "baptism into Christ". There are some 7 different baptisms mentioned in Scripture.
For the charismatics who believe in a "second blessing" (so as not to tread on the doctrinal scruples of others, I suppose), the common error is to assume this will always result in speaking in tongues. Many receive the baptism (either at conversion or later) and receive other "higher" gifts of the 20 that God allots as he chooses. (1Cor 12:29, 2Cor 12:6-11)
My own view came from a Baptist perspective. In 1990 I did an Acts 17:11 study on my own and came to the conclusion that I had been significantly misled. After this, I sought--via prayer and fasting--the Baptism (complete immersion) into the Spirit.
Following are all of the pertinent verses I found in Scripture, left in original order. See what you think.
When this occurred, I had known and believed in God "out there" for 13 years. But I was not so sure about really having His Holy presence really "in me". But God gave me what was promised, and my life went from dryness to richness and joy in the Lord. Call this a "filling" if you will, but it was a first and felt a lot like a "baptism" to me. On top of experience, this is exactly what Scripture describes, in one striking case occurring to a gifted believer. While my own reception--like that depicted in the New Testament--involved a gift given, more importantly it led to a passion for righteousness and a loathing of sin. We are, after all, speaking of the HOLY Spirit, so this is to be expected. I never would have guessed that God could give such strong desires to do His will--stronger, in fact, than my previous desire to sin. Compared to my previous tepid "trying to be a Christian" walk, it was like night and day. For this reason, I hope and pray that others will also enter into the promise of Jesus Christ in fact, and as soon as possible.
There are a few points that emerge from the scriptures below that it might be helpful to highlight.
A common pattern is that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is directly contrasted to the baptism unto repentance: the water baptism of John the Baptist.
For Jesus, the apostles, and the early Christians this was not some "extra credit" thing, it was the main expectation and event of the way of the Lord. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the flower of the New Covenant; thus, it is a shame to denigrate it, ignore it, or fall short of it.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is obvious and manifest--so much so that even unbelievers can recognize it when they see it. Given this, it seems dishonest to suggest--in retrospect--that it was received "when saved" when even the recipient did not know it. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, then and now, is not some subtle thing that you have to convince yourself you have received through self-delusion and false doctrine. If you get it, you will know it; and so will nearly everyone around you.
The apostles and disciples who believed in and followed Jesus were told to wait "till you are clothed with power from on high." They were already believers, but they were instructed by Jesus Himself that there was more. By obeying Christ, they actually got what was promised and described, which radically changed their lives. If all we had were this, an honest read of scripture would lead to the expectation that it should be the same for us now. But, in Acts, this same pattern continues. Saved Christians who need to be "shown the way of the Lord more adequately", perhaps like many of my readers now. People who "have not even heard..."
Finally, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not denominational or sectarian, but simple fidelity to the Scriptures. It is what God the Father, and Jesus Christ Himself, told us to expect and receive.
Without further commentary, here are the Scriptures. See if the meaning is not clear, once we lay-aside the positions and pre-suppositions of sacred-cow doctrine, and consider the word of God.
Mat 3:11 (NIV) [John the Baptist:] I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Mark 1:8 (NIV) I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 11:11-13 (NIV) [Jesus:] "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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 24:49 (NIV) "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
John 7:38-39 (NIV) "Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive...
Acts 1:5,8 (NIV) "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit... But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you..."
Acts 2:1-4 (NIV) When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Acts 8:14-20 (NIV) When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 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 had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit." Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!"
Acts 10:44-47 (NIV) While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."
Acts 11:15-16 (NIV) "Just as I was starting to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'"
Acts 18:24-28 (NIV) Meanwhile a Jew names Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, knowing only of the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Acts 19:1-6 (NIV) 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?" 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 into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
Out of the narrative texts, and on to some related instructional verses. Again, in order.Rom 8:15-16,23,26-27 (NIV) For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children... we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.... In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
1 Cor 12:4-13 (NIV) There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit... Now to each man the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the ability to speak with wisdom, to another the ability to speak with knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues. All these are the work of the same Spirit, and he gives them to each man, just as he determines... For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Cor 12:29-31 (NIV) Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
Gal 5:14 (NIV) He redeemed us . . so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Eph 5:18-19 (NIV) Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
1 John 2:27 (NIV) As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him.
Rev 22:17 (NIV) The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Joel 2:28-29 (NIV) "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days."