THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
1. Holy Spirit baptism is a unique experience, distinct from, and usually occurring after, salvation;
2. Holy Spirit baptism is an experience whereby the totality (fullness) of the Spirit is possessed by a Christian;
3. Holy Spirit baptism is an experience, which empowers a Christian in a new way for witness and service;
4. Holy Spirit baptism is an experience which Christians are urged to seek. Classes are sometimes held to teach people how to get this experience;
5. Holy Spirit baptism results in a full bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit and the initial historical evidence of the baptism is that a person speaks in tongues.
There is a new movement which had its beginnings in the 1980's called the “Third Wave” headed up by Peter Wagner. The Third Wave people believe all the spiritual gifts are in operation today in the church but they deny that the baptism of the Holy Spirit happens sometime after conversion to Christ.
Quite often charismatics give forth an elitist attitude thinking they are more spiritual than those who have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They have this superiority attitude because they speak in tongues due to the baptism of the Spirit. Their fellowship is not around Christ but an experience.
Our task in this message is to test these basic tenets of charismatics by the Bible alone, for the Bible is our only rule of faith and practice.
“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.” In the preceding verses, Paul has been showing that God has given spiritual gifts to every member of the universal church. In spiritual gifts, there is unity in diversity because, although there are many gifts, there is one Spirit. Although there are many services, there is one Christ who gives opportunity for ministry. And although there are many supernatural results in the workings of gifts, there is one God. Paul also shows there is diversity yet unity, for there are many kinds of spiritual gifts, many degrees of spiritual gifts being manifested through various personalities, but it is the Spirit of God who distributes these gifts and unifies them to be used for the common good of the church.
In I Corinthians 12:12, the Apostle uses the analogy of a body to help us understand how the church should function. The stress is upon how every part of the body is dependent upon another part and how all are dependent upon the head if the body is to function properly.
“So it is with Christ.” Paul applies the functioning of the human body to the functioning of the church, the body of Christ, with Christ as its Head. “And he (Christ) is the head of the body, the church (Col. 1:18).” What Paul is saying is that Christians are part of Christ, forming His spiritual and mystical body, the church. Christians constitute the means whereby Christ functions within this world today.
Now the question would naturally arise as to how Christians get into this body. We are not physically born into it, or water baptized into it, nor do we join it. As a matter of fact, we are joined to the body of Christ, the church, by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul is clear that Holy Spirit baptism happens at conversion to Christ, being a once and for all event and putting a person into the body of Christ.
“For we were all baptized by (in, with) one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free.” This verse clearly teaches that every Christian is baptized by, in, or with the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, the church. This literally says, “For we were all baptized in one Spirit.” The “in” can be translated “with” or “by.” All other references in the New Testament to the baptism of the Holy Spirit also say “in the Spirit.” This is the only place in the whole Bible that actually tells us what the baptism is and when it occurs. This is a didactic (teaching) passage and not a historical or narrative context as in the Gospels and Acts. In interpretation, didactic passages take precedence over historical and narrative passages.
Meaning of Spirit Baptism.
All scholars agree that the primary meaning of “baptism” is to dip. Yet there is a secondary meaning to the word “baptism” which is to identify (Mk. 10:37,38; Matt. 3:11; Lk. 11:50; Eph. 4:5; Rom. 6:2). A clear reference to this secondary meaning is in I Corinthians 10:2. “They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (I Cor. 10:2). They were not dipped into but identified with Moses their leader and he took them across the Red Sea. Taking the secondary meaning, the baptism of the Holy Spirit means “to be identified with” or “to be put into union with” the person of Christ so as to form the body of Christ, the church.
Promise of Spirit Baptism.
The initial promise that Christ would baptize men and women came to John the Baptist. Notice that Jesus is the cause of the baptism and the Holy Spirit is the instrument of baptism.
“I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with (in, by) the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 1:33).
John was told that this is the One who baptizes in (with, by) the Holy Spirit. Later he told the Jews that Messiah would come and would baptize with (in, by) the Holy Spirit and fire.
“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 (in, by) the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11).
In Acts 1:4-5, Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
“.. he (Christ) gave this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with (in, by) the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).
Time of Spirit Baptism. Our Lord told the original band of disciples (120) to tarry in Jerusalem until they were baptized by the Holy Spirit. They were told that the baptism would happen “in a few days.” This happened ten days later at Pentecost. No Old Testament saint or any person who believed in Christ while He was on earth was baptized by the Holy Spirit. This is a phenomenon consistent only with the church. Acts 11:16 confirms the testimony of Acts 1:5.
“As I began 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. So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God” (Acts 11:16)?
The Apostle Peter recounts the conversion of Cornelius and confirms that just as the Holy Spirit fell on the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost ten days after Christ promised the Spirit would come, so Cornelius and others were Spirit baptized. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, therefore, began on the Day of Pentecost and as far as we know, is unique to the church age.
What happened at Pentecost? That day many works of the Holy Spirit were present - indwelling, sealing and filling. However, the most important act at Pentecost was that the New Testament church began. Believers were united to Christ, forming the church, the body of Christ. On that day, the Apostles and others spoke in tongues but this was not the result of the baptism of the Spirit. They spoke in tongues because they were filled with the Spirit. “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4).
Historically the baptism of the Holy Spirit came into being on the Day of Pentecost, but when does the baptism of the Spirit happen for Christians since the Day of Pentecost? It occurs at the moment of conversion according to the Apostle Paul. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).
This is an aorist tense in the Greek and can mean, “once and for all baptized,” and this could only occur the moment a person believes in Christ as Savior and Lord. At that moment a Christian is put into vital, dynamic, organic union with Christ and is identified with him as His church. While the act of baptism by the Spirit is not experienced, the results of having been baptized are experienced. If baptism occurs there will be mighty change. If there is no change, a person needs to wonder if the baptism of the Spirit really took place at all.
The moment we believe in Christ, we are identified with Christ, placed into union with Him, and thirty-four wonderful things happen to us like: we are adopted, placed in God’s family, forgiven, reconciled, made positionally righteous and many other wonderful things take place because we are “in Christ”. “In Christ” is the key to understanding the theology of the Apostle Paul.
Extent of Spirit Baptism.
First Corinthians 12:13 says, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body . . .” Every Christian has been baptized by the Holy Spirit. It is universal among Christians. Even these carnal Corinthians were baptized by the Spirit, so it is not just the mature or spiritual who are baptized by the Spirit. There is only one baptism of the Spirit and it is for all Christians.
“There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called--one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4-6).
This is obviously a reference to Spirit baptism, which unites all Christians and occurs at conversion.
Position of Spirit Baptism.
Since the baptism of the Holy Spirit happens to all Christians at the moment of conversion, then it is a positional act and cannot be experienced. It is an eternal fact. Since it is an act of God, it is neither based on nor derived from experience. This does not mean, however, we will not experience the results of having been baptized.
Christians are never commanded or exhorted in the Bible to be baptized by the Spirit. Why? It is a fact, actual and positional for all Christians. Union with Christ due to the baptism by the Spirit is a mystical union and will result in experience, but the baptism itself is not experienced. What then is experienced? We experience the filling of the Spirit. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
Spirit baptism is a once and for all act. The filling of the Spirit is a continuous and repeated work. The baptism of the Spirit is a past and positional fact; the filling of the Spirit is a present experience. The baptism of the Spirit is for all believers. The filling of the Spirit is only for yielded believers.
There have been many great men of God like D.L. Moody who had a life-changing experience. There was a time in his life when he and his ministry were revolutionized. He fell on his face in a hotel room for a long time. When he arose from the floor, his ministry was changed and so was he. He had an experience with God. He did not get the second blessing or the baptism of the Spirit or a second work of grace, but he did get a powerful filling of the Spirit, which changed his life and ministry.
Results of Spirit Baptism.
The Bible says there are two results that come when a person is baptized by the Holy Spirit. First, the Christian is placed into union with Christ. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:27). As a result of this union with Christ, one shares the death for sin and resurrected life of Christ, becoming a joint heir with Him in all He possesses. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, . . .” (Rom. 8:17). Second, the Christian is placed into the body of Christ, the church. Each Christian becomes one with Christ and one with one another. All depend upon Christ, the Head, and there becomes an interdependency on one another.
“And we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” -- This may refer to the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit for every believer, or it may mean that the Holy Spirit has bestowed gifts on every believer. We drink of the Holy Spirit by faith so that our spiritual gifts can function in the power of the Spirit and not in the flesh.
The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
Pentecost was much more than an individual event of Christ’s disciples. It was a point of transition between the Old Covenant work of the Holy Spirit and the New Covenant ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was at work in the Old Testament in such acts as filling and empowering, but as a whole, it was a work of lesser intensity than that of the New Covenant. For sure, the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was primarily confined to the nation of Israel but in the New Testament, it is for the Jew and Gentiles of the world.
All the disciples of Christ while converted had an Old Covenant experience of the Holy Spirit before Pentecost. At Pentecost the disciples entered into the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) to experience a new, more powerful working of the Holy Spirit. They received power according to Acts 1:8 for witnessing and for living the Christian life not known previously by any Old Testament saints or followers of Christ.
The Day of Pentecost was a remarkable transition in the history of redemption - it marked a new age with a new power. Pentecost did not happen by accident, it was planned by God and predicted in the Old Testament (Joel 2). So, what happened at Pentecost? There was a new and more powerful work of the Holy Spirit - indwelling, sealing and filling of the Spirit. But the main act of the Spirit was that of the baptism of the Holy Spirit even though it is not mentioned in Acts 2. It was at this point that the Holy Spirit put believers into Christ Himself, forming the body of Christ, the church.
Pentecost will never be repeated because it was part of the redemptive plan of God to bring in the New Covenant predicted in the Old Testament. How then do we explain what appears to be “second experiences” after salvation in Acts in Acts 8, 10 and 19? Were these the baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequent to conversion? Acts is a transitional book and it is difficult to build a theology on Christian experience on the Book of Acts. Events happened in Acts that will never and can never happen again.
Acts 8:14-17. Acts is a book of transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant ages. The Samaritans were half-breeds, part Gentiles and were not fully Jewish. They had a rival system of worship to Jerusalem. The Jews and the Samaritans hated one another and both claimed to be the true followers of Jehovah-God. The gospel coming to and accepted by the Samaritans was a historical fulfillment of Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:8). It took at least three years for the gospel to get to Samaria. While we are not told the baptism of the Holy Spirit took place with the Samaritans, we may assume that if it did it was three years after the Day of Pentecost. This would be the first recorded incident.
There was a need to delay the baptism of the Holy Spirit (putting these Samaritan believers into the body of Christ) so as to avoid two rival factions in the Christian church. They were separate, regenerate believers in Christ but Old Covenant style much like the 120 had been before the Day of Pentecost. There was a need to make a connection between the believers in Samaria and the believers in Jerusalem.
Peter and John came from Jerusalem to lay hands on the believing Samaritans, identifying them with the Apostolic ministry and at the same time they were put into the body of Christ by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Had not this been the case, there would have been two churches - a Samaritan one and a Jewish one which would have destroyed the unity of the infant Christian Church. The baptism of the Spirit was delayed so the Jewish believers would not think the Samaritan believers were second class citizens in the church.
There is no mention of tongues in the passage, although there were probably manifestations of the Holy Spirit present (including tongues) because Simon saw some kind of manifestation when hands were laid on the Samaritan believers.
Acts 10:44-46 And 11:15-16. While Peter was preaching to the Gentiles (Cornelius’ household), the Holy Spirit fell on them, causing them to believe in Christ. They were not believers and they were converted and baptized by the Holy Spirit at the same time, not on two separate occasions. This all symbolized that the Gentiles are brought into the body of Christ fulfilling the historical consequences of Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witness . . . to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
It is interesting to note that since the Day of Pentecost when the first occurrence of tongues appeared there was a gap of about eight years between the time the Gentiles were given tongues. In eight years, there are two recorded instances of tongues and it was always connected with a new extension of the gospel. We may conclude that tongues are not that important in the Book of Acts and Christians today who stress tongues as an evidence of salvation, the presence of the Holy Spirit or the result of being truly filled with the Spirit do not have the biblical emphasis on tongues.
What occurred in Acts 10 and 11 to the Gentiles was the same thing that occurred to the Jews at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. They were baptized by the Holy Spirit and brought into the body of Christ. When the 120 spoke it tongues, it was the result of the filling of the Spirit not the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 2:4).
Acts 19:1-6. These Ephesians were caught in the transition between the Old and New Covenants. They had been saved through John the Baptist’s gospel that promised the Messiah who was coming. They were Old Covenant believers and knew nothing of the Holy Spirit. They believed in Christ. Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (obvious manifestations of the Spirit).
The Ephesians did not have New Covenant faith or understanding, and they certainly did not have New Covenant empowering by the Holy Spirit. These disciples of John’s are not models for today. There is only one generation where the Holy Spirit was received after conversion and that was the first century when there was Old Covenant believers who needed to be put into the body of Christ by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
This fourth mention of tongues speaking occurred over twenty years after Pentecost. These manifestations were the result of the filling not the baptism of the Spirit.
Not Always Evidenced by Speaking in Tongues.
We know from I Corinthians 12:13 that all Christians receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Yet, I Corinthians 12:29-30 (the same chapter) says that tongues is just one of the spiritual gifts and all do not speak in tongues. In the Greek, each of these questions expects a “no” answer.
“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” (I Cor. 12:29-30)?
Therefore, we can conclude that speaking in tongues is not an evidence of the baptism of the Spirit. Yet there are many sincere Christians who believe it is; however, in my opinion they are sincerely wrong.
Not A Special Form of Power.
Charismatics want to translate Acts 1:5, “in a few days you will be baptized with the Spirit” as “with” or “in”, making it refer to receiving special power in a Spirit baptism experience. Yet, charismatics have to admit that I Corinthians 12:13 must be translated “by the Spirit,” for it is by the Holy Spirit that a Christian is put into Christ. In every place the baptism of the Spirit is mentioned in the New Testament, it should always be translated “by the Spirit.” Also, if the charismatics are right on Acts 1:5 and I Corinthians 12:13, then there are two kinds of baptisms of the Holy Spirit which would not make any sense at all.
Whatever else we many conclude about tongues or other spectacular gifts, we may say that the charismatic movement’s position on the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurring sometime after conversion does not meet the biblical criteria. Therefore, to call what they are experiencing the result of the baptism of the Spirit is incorrect.
What has happened when people claim to have had an experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit that has brought great blessing into their lives? They claim some special work of grace has occurred in their life after they were saved. It cannot be denied that they have experienced something but it, in my opinion, is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Most often when people receive what they call the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they are told to confess all known sins, commit every aspect of their lives to Christ, yielding fully to Him and believe He is going to empower them in a new way and equip them with new gifts of ministry. This is a crisis experience, which will bring a significant growth in sanctification and deeper fellowship with Christ.
For many the so-called second blessing is really the first blessing, bringing salvation. Before this, they were experiencing dry, dead religion but not the power of the Holy Spirit, which comes at salvation. Professing Christians, especially those in mainline liberal denominations, experience saving faith for the first time. They call it the baptism of the Holy Spirit because they do not know the biblical teaching on the subject. In reality, they have experienced the excitement of the new birth. Suddenly they experience the presence of God in their lives. Worship becomes an experience of deep joy and excitement, and they begin to experience spiritual gifts like helps or teaching or sometimes tongues which they had not known before.
In actuality what happens to professing Christians who are not saved or real Christians who are experiencing very little of God is a new empowering of the Holy Spirit, a refreshing from God, a large step of spiritual growth. God wants and expects Christians to experience the power of the Holy Spirit individually and collectively. What many claim as a baptism of the Spirit is in reality a dynamic filling of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit occurs once at conversion but the filling of the Holy Spirit occurs many times after conversion.
In response, it must be said that, if the terminology “baptism is the Holy Spirit” is changed for something more representative of New Testament teaching, there should be no objection at all to people coming into churches, and to encouraging people to prepare their hearts for spiritual renewal by sincere repentance and renewed commitment to Christ and by believing that the Holy Spirit can work much more powerfully in their lives. There is nothing wrong with teaching people to pray and to seek this greater in filling of the Holy Spirit, or to expect and ask the Lord for an outpouring of more spiritual gifts in their lives, for the benefit of the body of Christ. In fact, most evangelical Christians in every denomination genuinely long for greater power in ministry, greater joy in worship, and deeper fellowship with God. Many would also welcome increased understanding of spiritual gifts, and encouragement to grow in the use of them (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology).
While Acts 2:4 teaches that the 120 disciples were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues, it does not logically follow that everyone who is filled with the Spirit speaks in tongues. Jesus was filled with the Spirit many times but did not speak in tongues. Elizabeth was filled but did not speak in tongues. In the Book of Acts, all references to the filling of the Spirit, except acts 2:4, there are no speaking in tongues. In Ephesians 5:18-21, the Apostle Paul commands the Christian to be repeatedly filled with the Holy Spirit and gives results like singing, sincere thanksgiving and submission to the brethren but tongues is not mentioned. Therefore, while an experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit may result in the gift of speaking in tongues or the use of some other gifts that had not previously been experienced, it also may come and usually does without the gift of speaking in tongues.
Christians should never be afraid of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can only do us good and not harm. Christians are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to experience the presence of Christ in their lives. Christians should shy away from emotionalism but not be afraid of the Holy Spirit genuinely moving their emotions for the glory of God. God created us to experience Him! We must seek Christ with all our hearts and the Holy Spirit will bring us the spiritual gifts He wants us to have. Seek the giver of gifts not the gifts themselves.
It is tragic that many Christians have robbed themselves of blessing because they distrusted, feared or despised this movement. They have been satisfied with a low level of spirituality. They have not allowed God to release them in prayer and praise and personal relationships, from the imprisonment of age-long inhibitions. They have not expected to see God at work in conversions, in changing tough lives, in healing, in explicit guidance. They have forgotten that the manifestations of the Spirit in the New Testament had an uncomfortably concrete nature (Michael Green, I Believe in the Holy Spirit).