HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM
In this study we are going to consider the subject of Holy Spirit baptism. In Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Just before Christ ascended to heaven, He said to the apostles, “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”(Acts 1:5). The baptism of the Spirit in the plan of salvation has been much discussed and debated. It is still a very debatable subject. Some who profess to be Christians say they have been baptized often by the Spirit, but others say they have never been baptized by the Holy Spirit. Many believe that everybody must have Holy Spirit baptism in order to be saved, while others claim that no one today experiences Holy Spirit baptism. Which claim is true?
The first thing I would say about Holy Spirit baptism is that it was one measure of the Holy Spirit. There is more than one measure of the Holy Spirit. This is revealed in John 3:34, 35, “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hands.” The Old King James version at this point has a clearer and more accurate rendering, “God gives not the Spirit by measure unto Him.” The word measure refers to a measuring- rod, any device by which things are measured. The power and influence which the Holy Spirit gave to Jesus at the time of His baptism was without limit and unmeasured.. Only Christ had the Holy Spirit without measure. It gave Christ unlimited supernatural power. . This clearly teaches that God gives the Holy Spirit “by measure” to all others. Hence, the miraculous influence the Holy Spirit exerted on people in Bible times was given by degrees, some received more power than others, some less. But with Christ it was different. No one received as much of the Holy Spirit as He did. He received the Holy Spirit without measure, that is, the unlimited fulness of His power. Hence, we can say that Holy Spirit baptism was one measure of the Holy Spirit, but Jesus received the highest measure of the Spirit. Holy Spirit baptism was measured or limited. .What was the baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit?.
Next, before we can define the baptismal measure of the Spirit, we must understand that Holy Spirit Baptism is a figure of speech, a metaphor. It is always wise to discriminate between plain simple language and figures of speech. We know this because the word baptism has but one meaning and that is “immerse or dip.” The baptism of the Holy Spirit
literally means, “the immersion of the Holy Spirit.” Literally speaking, we are talking about, “Holy Spirit immersion.” It is impossible to understand the term literally because no one can literally be immersed in the Holy Spirit or with the Holy Spirit. The only way we can get any meaning out of the expression is that the Holy Spirit does something to a person comparable to an immersion in water. In immersion we are covered up, overcome and overwhelmed, so to speak, with a fluid. The similarity in the figure of speech can only mean that in Holy Spirit baptism the person is touched and overwhelmed by the Spirit, and receives miraculous power in a measured degree. There is nothing natural about Holy Spirit baptism; it is supernatural and miraculous in its results. There is nothing ordinary about Holy Spirit baptism; everything is extraordinary.
.Thirdly, there are but two recorded examples of Holy Spirit baptism in all of the New Testament, and that, in itself, would indicate that it rarely happened. It was not a common experience of all Christians. Let us now consider these two examples which sheds much light on the nature of Holy Spirit baptism. The first Holy Spirit baptism occurred on the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian religion. Before Jesus ascended, He commanded the apostles not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which you have heard of Me, for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”(Acts 1:4,5). Jesus here revealed an important fact about Holy Spirit Baptism. It was a promise and not a commandment. No one was ever commanded to have a Holy Spirit baptism. It was a promise only to a select few and not a commandment to everybody. It never made anyone a Christian.
Ten days after Jesus returned to heaven, the apostles were all seated in an upper room in Jerusalem, and suddenly, God revealed His presence through the media of air and fire. They heard a sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. After the sound they see tongues of fire looking like small flames of fire. And one or more such tongues rested upon each of the apostles. The fire-like and forked tongues on the heads of the apostles were symbolic of some seventeen different languages they spoke on that day to Jews from all over the then known world. This was the baptism in the Holy Spirit, not of their bodies, like John's baptism in water, but of their spirits and their minds. As their bodies, when baptized in water, were sunk beneath the surface and completely overwhelmed, so their spirits were completely under the control of the Holy Spirit, and their very words were the Holy Spirit's words and not theirs. It was called a Holy Spirit baptism because
because the absolute power of the Divine Spirit was exerted on their spirits. It was literally given to them in that hour what they should speak. Such power had never before been bestowed upon men. This miracle was so impressive that 3,000 Jews became Christians in one day.
We also learn from this first baptism of the Spirit why God saw fit to bestow such a miracle on these twelve apostles. God wanted the Christian religion established on that day, but there was a tremendous problem that seemed to make it impossible for it to happen. The thousands of Jews assembled did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews. The first Jews Peter preached to were unbelievers who just a few weeks ago had crucified Jesus. It was Holy Spirit baptism that turned thousands around, and this great miracle convinced them they were wrong. As a result, thousands of Jews became Christians. Holy Spirit baptism was used only because of a problem that endangered the plans of God.
The other example of Holy Spirit baptism is recorded in Acts 10. Another serious problem arose that was a great danger to the expansion of the Christian religion throughout the world. It took another Holy Spirit baptism to solve this problem. One of the greatest problems the early church faced was the Jew's loyalty to the law of Moses and their continuing to observe it. Under that religion Gentiles were considered inferior to Jews, and they could not even eat with Gentiles. This belief was carried over into the church, and Jewish Christians still would not eat with Gentiles. One great problem which troubled the early church was the equality of Gentiles with Jews. The Jews wanted to consider the Gentiles as second-class citizens in the kingdom of Christ. How did God answer that question? What did He do to settle it?
He sent an angel to the Roman city of Caesarea and commanded Cornelius, a devout man and a soldier, to send for a man by the name of Peter, who would tell him and his household what they must do to be saved.. Then God appeared to Peter and told him some men were on the way, and he was most certainly to go with them and preach to a Gentile. At first Peter refused and said, . “ I am a Jew, “ and I have never entered a Gentile house let alone eat with Him. God straightened him out fast and said, “You go and do as I have commanded you. “ Peter went but he didn't like it. As Peter began to teach these Gentiles, the Holy Spirit suddenly fell on Cornelius and all members of his household, and they all began to speak in foreign languages which they had never learned.
This was the same thing that happened to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. It had a powerful effect on Peter, and it changed his attituide toward Gentiles forever. Peter and the Jews who came with him were astonished because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured on the Gentiles also. Then Peter said, “ Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Holy Spirit baptism did not excuse anyone from obeying the command of water baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Cornelius was not forgiven until he obeyed the command to be immersed in water. The same thing happened to Cornelius and his household that happened to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost.
When Peter went back to Jerusalem and was criticized for associating and eating with Gentiles, how did Peter answer them? In Acts 15: 8,9, Peter said before a large gathering of Christians, Paul, and the elders of the church, “Men and brethren, you know a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. . So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us and made no distinction between them and us, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.”
Peter's most convincing argument that God proved the Gentiles were not inferior to Jews and stood on the same level with them in the church, was that God gave the Gentiles the Holy Spirit directly and not through the laying on of the hands of an apostle. They had a Holy Spirit baptism just like the apostles had. This was God's method of showing that the Gentiles were not inferior to the Jews. Apparently, there was no crisis later that merited another Holy Spirit baptism. Ephesians 4:4 says, “There is one baptism,” and that one baptism is water baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Holy Sprit baptism ceased when all the miraculous gifts ceased at the end of the first century. All Christians receive a measure of the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts, . but He dwells in Christians spiritually. We receive His mind, His teachings, and imbibe His character into our lives. If you have the mind of the Spirit in your mind, indeed it can be said that the Spirit indwells you. The Bible commands Christians to be filled with the Spirit. If the Spirit personally indwells us at the time of conversion, there would be no need to be filled with the Spirit later in life, for he would already be there in Person.