When the first converts were commanded to be baptized, there appeared to be a knowledge of the mode and purpose of baptism. There was no controversy as to whether it was "necessary" or what it's purpose was. There is no doubt that the work of John the Baptist not only introduced Jesus but served to prepare the people for the religious practice of baptism as well. We see this on the day of Pentecost when the first gospel sermon was preached under the inspiration (and with the baptism) of the Holy Spirit. There was no question as to the mode and purpose of baptism when Peter commanded (Acts 2:38): "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
It seems, however, that the early
Christians were just like us in that they soon forgot the reasons for and
the significance of what they had been through. To many, baptism might
have become a mere prerequisite for local church fellowship, as it has
become to many today. They may have viewed it merely as a work to be accomplished
and forgotten. It may have been relegated to a secondary role, as we have
seen is generally the case in denominationalism today.
For these reasons the writers of the epistles, and the apostle Paul in particular, provided additional information with regard to baptism as they wrote the various churches. We will consider these according to the letters in which they occur. Remember as you read these letters that they were addressed to Christians.
Some at the church at Rome had apparently fallen under the influence of false teacher who led them to exploit the grace of God. Essentially they called evil good and good evil by teaching that if Christians did any works of righteousness they would not be relying upon the grace of God. [While this extreme might not exist today, the basic concept is one that keeps many from observing scriptural baptism.] We see Paul responding to this in Romans 6:1-11:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us summarize the teachings of this passage:
1. The idea that we somehow glorify God by continuing in sin is as far from the doctrine of Christ as one can get, and it is sure to result in eternal condemnation to those who live by it.
2. Paul understood that the Christians at Rome understood that they had been "baptized into Christ." We saw above that baptism was that final act in all detailed conversions given in the book of Acts. One cannot have fellowship with God or Christ as long as they are in their sins. Baptism being the final act of conversion is consistent with it being for the remission of sins, which is what is taught in Acts 2:38.
3. While they seemed to understand that they were baptized into Jesus Christ, they did not seem to understand that they were "baptized into his death." This is allegorical, the burial in water representing a burial after our death to sin (repentance).
4. The death is not nearly as important as the resurrection: "that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." This is the essence of what Paul was trying to communicate to them. However, the lessons that we learn with regard to baptism are significant.
5. Our death to sin is analogous to Christs's death on the cross; repentance is analogous to his crucifixion: "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
Before we leave this passage, let us compare it with the rebirth which Jesus made a condition of salvation. Recall what Jesus said to Nicodemus (John 3:3-6): "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
If being born "of water and the
Spirit" is not accomplished by the act of faith which results in baptism,
then what does? Baptism is what puts a person into Christ, and if one is
not in Christ, "he cannot see the kingdom of God." If one does not become
a part of the body of Christ, "he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
Indeed, the body of Christ, the church and the kingdom of God are one and
the same (Eph. 1:23; Col. 1:13), and when you enter one, you enter them
188.8.131.52 FIRST CORINTHIANS
The primary problem in Corinth was one of division. Early in the first chapter we see that they were denominating the church by naming their various factions after men. Paul uses the doctrine of baptism to demonstrate to them that this should not be the case (1 Cor. 12:12-13): "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
In Romans 6 we learned that Christians
were "baptized into Jesus Christ." Here we learn that Christians are "all
baptized into one body," and therefore, there should be absolutely no divisions
within that body. We can say that the Corinthians were much closer to unity
than are the denominations. At least the Corinthians did not disagree on
the purpose or mode of baptism. Clearly they understood that it was the
act of faith that added them to the Lord's body, the church.
We discussed the difference between the old and new laws in Chapter 2, and to communicate this was the main objective of Paul's letter to the church at Galatia. Note how he weaves the doctrine of baptism into the argument against racial division, just as he did for the Corinthians with regard to their doctrinal divisions (Galatians 3:23-29):
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Note the following:
1. Faith is used interchangeably here with the entire gospel of Jesus Christ when he says "before faith came."
2. The Old Testament law was like a schoolmaster to bring them to a point where the sacrifice of Christ could have its full meaning. However, after Christ had delivered the gospel there was no longer a need for the schoolmaster.
3. As is true with the Romans and Corinthians, Paul assumes that they understand that they were "baptized into Christ." What they did not seem to understand is that they should have "put on Christ." Just as when we put on a coat, anyone looking at us sees primarily the coat, when we put on Christ that is what should be seen predominantly in our lives.
4. Conclusion: there can be no racial, economic or sexual distinctions as to the acceptability of those who are baptized into Christ -- all are equally acceptable, and there should be absolutely no divisions in His body.
We are beginning to see that the
teachings on baptism are not isolated passages that can be taken out of
context. There are universal doctrines which require considerable effort
to avoid and misunderstand.
The problems at Colosse were much the same as those which existed in Galatia. The Judaizing teachers within the church were starting with the binding of circumcision in an attempt to force all Christians to observe the entire Old Testament law (see Acts 15:5). To this the apostle Paul gave a number of responses, the following of which included a reference to baptism (Col. 2:8-15):
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Observe the following:
1. Circumcision was that unique and totally unreasonable act which God had given to the nation of Israel through which they were to separate themselves from the world and confirm their covenant with Him. It was unreasonable in that there is no way that human wisdom would lead to such an action. The Jews thoroughly understood its significance, and the gentile Christians at Colosse were also probably given this Old Testament background as part of their instruction as Christians.
2. "In whom [Christ] also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Clearly baptism has replaced circumcision as the action which puts one into the kingdom of God, which as we saw above is another designation for the body of Christ, or the church. Baptism is the "circumcision of Christ."
3. Notice the similarity between
the shadow of things to come (see Col. 2:17), circumcision, and the reality
in Christ: baptism:
a) Both were totally unreasonable actions from the point of view of man, and, as such, neither is a work of man's origin.
b) Both are things that are done to a person, not something that a person does (albeit a person must subject himself to it).
c) Both mark that point in time at which there is the separation from the world and the entrance into full citizenship of the people of God -- circumcision under the Old Testament and baptism under the New Testament.
d) Both are considered by the holy scriptures to be of the highest importance in satisfying the desires of God.
4. "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross." When did this quickening occur? Clearly, when they were circumcised with the circumcision of Christ.
5. Is there something magic in immersion? Should we make it into some mystical rite? Absolutely not. What makes baptism valid is not the mere act itself -- it is the "faith of the operation of God," or as the American Standard puts it "faith in the working of God." Baptism is not a work of man, it is an act of faith in the working of God.
6. Baptism without faith is invalid.
However, this does not imply that faith can exist without baptism. We are
not at liberty to tell God how we are going to express our faith in Him,
how we are going to be free from our sins, or how we are going to enter
His kingdom. He has set the terms, and if we have faith in Him, we will
accept His terms. Baptism without faith is invalid; faith without baptism
is equally invalid.
184.108.40.206 FIRST PETER
While we have presented over a dozen scriptures which indicate that baptism is that act which puts the convert into a saved condition, the only scripture which explicitly states that "baptism saves" is the first letter which we have from the apostle Peter. Let us consider this passage carefully (1 Peter 3:18-22):
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Some have made this a difficult scripture by their mystical interpretation process. It is important that we allow our reasoning to progress from the known to that which might be somewhat obscure.
Let us subdivide the passage and establish that which is clear from this passage, especially as it relates to baptism:
1. The first part is quite understandable: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit ..." We understand that Jesus gave His life on the cross for us that, although we are unjust, we can be justified and enter into a covenant relationship with God. Jesus was "put to death in the flesh" -- crucified and buried. But he was "quickened by the spirit" -- made alive by the power of the His eternal and divine spirit.
2. "By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison ..." Not in the body, but by His spiritual presence Jesus went and preached to the spirits which are now "in prison," i.e., awaiting the final judgment. Jesus is often declared to have had a presence in Old Testament times (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4). This presence was through His spirit, although the actual preaching was done by Noah. The spirits in prison are those who were enslaved to sin in Noah's time.
3. "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." This is speaking of the spirits in prison. From the record we know that they we extremely disobedient. We also read in 2 Peter 2:5 that Noah was "a preacher of righteousness," and thus we can conclude that Jesus spoke through him. Noah was saved, or separated from sin, "by water."
Note: the author would certainly not be dogmatic with regard to the meaning of the scriptures given above. There are alternative explanations which are equally as plausible. However, the resolution of these has no effect upon the interpretation or application of the verses which follow.
4. "The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us ..." In Noah's time the world was totally consumed with sin (see Genesis 6:5). The world was completely emersed with water, which thoroughly cleansed it from the sinful humanity which inhabited it. Just as Noah was separated from sin by this "baptism" of the earth, we are separated from our sin by faith in the working of God when we are obedient in baptism. In the sense that baptism separates us from our sins and places us into Christ, baptism saves. However, we have emphasized that we are not saved by baptism only any more than we are saved by anything else only.
5. "... (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) ..." It is not the mere washing of the dirt off the body that saves. If so, all would be saved. It is the involvement of the very spirit of the individual. Baptism must be preceded by faith, repentance and the willingness to confess the belief that Jesus is the Son of God. This is summarized as "the answer of a good conscience toward God."
6. "... by the resurrection of Jesus Christ ..." Removing the parenthetical statement, the verse would read: "The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us ... by the resurrection of Jesus Christ ..." This is totally consistent with the teaching of the apostle Paul which we reviewed above in which baptism is referenced as a burial with Christ, e.g., Romans 6:4: "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Without the resurrection of Christ, baptism would be meaningless.
While the context of the statement "baptism doth also now save us" may be difficult to resolve, the statement itself is not. It is totally consistent with every other passage on water baptism in the New Testament, all of which must be explained away if, in fact, the act of baptism is not that act which transforms the alien sinner into Christ.
This brings to a close the biblical
teachings with regard to water baptism. Avoiding this overwhelming body
of evidence, false teachers within the denominations have used a number
of arguments to relegate baptism to a secondary role, if not denying its
role in salvation altogether. The remaining sections of this chapter will
deal with some of these. We will first consider other types of baptism
which the New Testament defines. Then we will discuss the common objections
which have been made in an attempt to disregard the biblical doctrine.
Finally, we return once again to the importance of sound doctrine in general.
4.2.4 OTHER BAPTISMS
Frequently those arguing against the biblical doctrine of baptism will evade the issue by arguing that the baptism mentioned in a given scripture is not water baptism. That there are other types of baptism discussed in the New Testament is not the issue, and we will deal with them in the following subsections. However, we have seen in our study above that the one baptism practiced by the church in the first century was emersion in water for the remission of sins.
In Ephesians 4:1-6 the apostle Paul wrote:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all.
Thus, understanding and practicing this "one baptism" was just as essential to keeping "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" as understanding the fact that there is one Spirit, one God and One Lord, etc. To intentionally confuse others by stating that we are now subject to two or three baptisms destroys the unity of the Spirit and does despite to the bond of peace.
That emersion in water for the remission of sins was the one baptism practiced in the first century is quite obvious from the scriptures presented above. Thus, generally when the word baptism appears in the New Testament, this is what is being spoken of. Those who practice any type of water baptism are tasked with the heavy responsibility of explaining why they also practice another in light of Paul's assertion "there is one baptism." The burden of proof is upon them; I cannot explain it.
That other baptisms are described
in the New Testament is readily admitted. We will discuss three others:
(1) baptism of the Holy Spirit, (2) baptism of fire, and (3) baptism for
the dead. We will also discuss the use of the word baptism in reference
to an emersion in suffering. As these are discussed it will become clear
that, while they existed, they were not commanded. Indeed, if the mere
mention of the existence of a type of baptism in the New Testament necessarily
implies that we are supposed to practice it today, then we would need to
practice all four or five of these. However, as we examine them more closely
we will see that this is not the case, and that "there is one baptism"
practiced by the Lord's church.
220.127.116.11 BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Holy Spirit baptism is by far the type of baptism most often confused with the scriptural baptism which is commanded. Some would totally write off all of the arguments made above by substituting Holy Spirit baptism in every occurrence of baptism, thereby mystifying the process and making it a purely subjective experience. This blurring of reality is difficult to deal with, and all we can do is plead with those so inclined to read the scriptures objectively. For example, read the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. How can this be made into Holy Spirit baptism? It is just not there!
In all cases where Holy Spirit baptism occurred, it is so described. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was first mentioned by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11): "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and [with] fire." Let us defer discussion of baptism with fire for the present except to say that if this statement were a command, we would also be commanded to be baptized with fire. Some rationalize that they are the same thing, but we will show in the next section that the baptism with fire was an extreme warning, a threat of the terrors of hell. As contrasted with this, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a promise, and it is described as such throughout the New Testament.
As an aside, it is very important that we do not confuse being filled with the Holy Spirit with being baptized in the Holy Spirit. These are two different things. We see many good men who were totally dedicated to God described as being "filled with the Holy Spirit." For example, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist is described in Luke 1:67 as being "filled with the Holy Spirit." Clearly the baptism of the Holy Spirit had not yet occurred -- John the Baptist who predicted it was not yet even born. As further evidence, consider the words of Jesus in John 7:37-39:
In the last day, that great [day] of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet [given]; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
So while there were those prior to the resurrection of Christ who were filled with the Holy Spirit, there was a further promise of the giving of the Holy Spirit which had not occurred. This would be ushered in by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The very figure itself -- immersion as opposed to filling -- is indicative of a greater measure.
Recall that Jesus was the one who promised to send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26): "But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." This was on the night that He was betrayed. Clearly this is a promise, not a command. Although we should realize that this promise is not limited to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, this greater revelation was going to be heralded by the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
We know that the baptism of the Holy Spirit had not occurred prior to the day of Pentecost by reading the first verses of the book of Acts (Acts 1:1-8):
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Spirit had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with [them], commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, [saith he], ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Note first that even this is limited to the apostles: "being assembled together with them" i.e., the apostles. At this point he commanded them "to wait for the promise of the Father, which, [saith he], ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence."
Thus, the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was repeated specifically to the apostles. At this point the apostles were still not fully understanding what this meant. They still supposed that this meant a political or military empowerment: "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"
Jesus knew that when they were enlightened by the Holy Spirit they would understand, so he stated what they were to expect upon their baptism: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
It is quite clear that the fulfillment of this prophesy came only about ten days later on the day of Pentecost. Read carefully exactly what happened (Acts 2:1-4):
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
From the last verse of the previous chapter we see that the "they" here is the apostles, the very same as Jesus had repeated the promise to a few days earlier. They were the only ones who had the capacity to be witnesses of Him, having been with him throughout His ministry (see Acts 1:21-22).
"... they were all with one accord in one place." It does not say that they had yet instituted meetings on the first day of the week. Pentecost fell on the first day of the week; however, they could have been together for that holiday celebration. In any event, there was no record of any type of emotional stimulation or any other man-made invocation of the action of the Holy Spirit. This is totally consistent with 2 Peter 1:21: "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost." It was totally unexpected.
"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." This was not a group illusion. It was a supernatural event which could be clearly seen and clearly heard by the natural senses of men and women. It was not wind, but this was the closest thing to describe what they heard; it was not fire, but that was the closest thing to describe what they saw. However, what they saw and heard were clearly not anything that they had never seen nor heard before. The "them" here is the same as the "they" previously -- the apostles.
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." This too is clearly a supernatural event which proved definitively the truth of what the apostles were speaking. This would not have been possible had the apostles been using language which could not be understood. This event defines what it means to "speak in other tongues." Until and unless the New Testament enlarges the definition, these tongues were languages which could clearly be understood by those who heard it in their native tongues. (Acts 2:5-8): "And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?"
There is nothing else in Acts 1-2 that tells us that this was an occurrence of a baptism in the Holy Spirit other than the timing which coincides with the words of Jesus recorded in Acts 1:5 ("For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence"). There is only one other situation which is in any way comparable to this. Interestingly, while Pentecost was the first preaching of the gospel to the Jews, the second occurrence of baptism in the Holy Spirit occurred when the gospel was preached to the first gentiles.
We discussed the conversion of Cornelius and the gentiles that were present on that occasion above in Section 4.2.2. We will not repeat that background. However, at this point we wish to focus on the aspects of that event that made it a baptism in the Holy Spirit. Recall that as Peter was preaching the gospel of Christ to them (Acts 10:44-48): "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days."
We know that when "the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word," this was a baptism in the Holy Spirit because in Acts 11 after those of the circumcision contended with Peter about it, this was his reply (Acts 11:15-18): "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as [he did] unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."
"The Holy Spirit fell on them [the gentiles], as on us [the apostles] at the beginning." Notice that Peter makes a distinction between this event and what had become the more routine imparting of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the apostles hands. This was not the imparting that we observed, for example, in Acts 8. It was a direct bestowal from God which was therefore like that which the apostles experienced in the beginning.
It was the second occurrence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. If not, then why would Peter state: "Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit?" Then he went on to argue that this was God's testimony that they were fit subjects for baptism. A careful reading of Acts 10 and 11 will show that this second occurrence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit was as much for the benefit of the Jewish converts as it was for the gentiles. Indeed, while the speaking in tongues was for the unconverted in Acts 2, it is now for the converted.
Why was such a sign needed for believers? The answer lies in the deep-rooted racial prejudice which is still so evident in our world today. What would it take to convince the religious bigot today? God did everything that he could short of forcing them to believe, and apparently the demonstration had an immediate positive effect. However, from the recurring problems of the Judaizing Christians in most of the churches that Paul wrote to, it did not totally solve the problem.
This second occurrence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit was quite analogous to the first. Note the following similarities:
1. It was an introduction of the gospel to a new "race" of people (the Jews in Acts 2, the gentiles in Acts 10),
2. It was not the result of emotionalism -- in both cases it was totally unexpected, and
3. It was clear proof to even the most hardened of skeptics (or the most prejudiced) that the gospel was indeed the will of God.
The two events recorded in Acts 2 and Acts 10 are the only events that the New Testament identifies as being baptisms with the Holy Spirit. The author would be in sin to state that it occurred at any other time (2 John 9). The purpose here, however, is not to convince you of this nearly as much as it is to get you to investigate this for yourself. So, search the book of Acts in detail and determine if any other events are stated to be a baptism with the Holy Spirit. However, recognize that the essence and true value of the promise of the Holy Spirit is not the miracles which were produced -- it was the revelation of the truth, for it is in the truth of God that we have salvation.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit were not limited to those who were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Let's review Acts 8 once again. There we see a man who was endowed with gifts of the Holy Spirit, Philip, preaching to the Samaritans. Philip had received these gifts from the laying on of the apostles hands (possibly as recorded in Acts 6:5-6). The result of Philip's preaching is recorded in Acts 8:6: "And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did."
Acts 8:7-11 tells about a man named Simon who had previously influenced these people with his sorcery and tricks. "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done" (Acts 12-13).
It is clear, however, that while Philip could preach, confirm the truth he spoke with miracles, baptize and thus lead others to salvation, he could not impart the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the new converts. Of course, prior to the completion of the New Testament, which would thoroughly furnish mankind unto every good work, it was necessary for new converts to be endowed with these gifts so that they would have access to the truth. The problem was that the apostles who could impart this through the laying on of their hands were in Jerusalem (Acts 8:14-19):
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they [their] hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
With the exception of Acts 2 and Acts 10 (the baptisms with the Holy Spirit) there is no record of direct impartations of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit separate and apart from the laying on of the hands of the apostles. Acts 19 gives another example (Acts 19:5-6): "When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied."
If the baptism with the Holy Spirit were to occur today, we would expect it to happen just as it did in the first century as recorded in the book of Acts. It would not be brought about by emotions or the will of man. However, when men and women were gathered together serving God to the best of their ability according to His word, He would act upon them in a way which was so obviously supernatural and miraculous that testimony of men to this effect would not be required.
In conclusion, the baptism with
the Holy Spirit was a promise of Jesus. It was not something that was commanded,
and it cannot be obeyed. The two times that it was recorded to have occurred
in the New Testament were truly extraordinary events which ushered in a
new era in what God expected from His people. These baptisms were totally
sufficient to set in motion the revelation of the entire gospel of Christ,
through which we are saved. Thus, they thoroughly fulfilled the promise
which John the Baptist and Jesus made with regard to Holy Spirit baptism.
18.104.22.168 BAPTISM OF FIRE
The baptism of fire is completely different from the baptism with the Holy Spirit, as we can see by reading the rest of the words of John the Baptist as presented in Matthew 3:11-12: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and [with] fire: Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Note the contrast between the wheat and the chaff. The wheat will obtain the benefits of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the essence of which was the revelation of the truth. The chaff would be burned with unquenchable fire -- the baptism with fire. If this is not talking about the judgment, then this language is quite misleading, which we doubt.
No other mention is made of the baptism of fire per se in the rest of the New Testament with the exception of the same account in the other gospels. However, emersion in fire, whether it be literal or figurative of something much worse is a continuous warning throughout the New Testament. Well over half of the time that the word fire is used in the New Testament it is referring to this place of eternal torment of the unrighteous. This baptism was not commanded -- we are informed of it to warn us from the wrath of God to come.
Some have thought that because fire
is mentioned in the Pentecost account, that this was the baptism with fire.
Acts 2:3 reads: "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of
fire, and it sat upon each of them." This was not a baptism with fire --
fire was not even involved. If this was a baptism with fire, then Acts
2:2 would be a baptism in wind ("... And suddenly there came a sound from
heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they
were sitting"). Neither wind nor fire were involved.
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