Holy Spirit Baptism, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 18, 2020 0 comments

by Steve Risner

In 2014, I wrote a blog post about Holy Spirit baptism: The Holy Spirit: God, Indwelling, and Baptism. That was my first attempt to explain a little about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, why it’s important for us as believers, and why we should eagerly seek the spiritual gifts associated with it. I encourage you to read that as it was intended to go over some things people are frequently confused about concerning the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts. My intent with this post and next week’s is to show, again, how important this is and that for New Testament believers the baptism in the Holy Spirit was the normal experience and remained so for 2000 years. This post was inspired by a great sermon my pastor, Pastor Rex King, preached on Pentecost Sunday this year.

First, let’s get some background. Jesus tells His disciples in Luke 24:49 that He will send “the promise of the Father.” This “promise of the Father” was so important that it is one of the last things Jesus said that we have recorded in the Bible. In fact, it’s the last subject He spoke about before His ascension. It’s probably a good thing to pay attention to His parting words. He says in Acts 1:4-5, “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 the Holy Spirit.” Peter clarified that this “promise of the Father” was the Holy Spirit baptism. As I explained in my previous post on this subject (linked above), this is not the indwelling spirit that each believer receives upon salvation. There are numerous examples of this being demonstrated in the book of Acts. Who was this promise for?

In Acts 2:33, Peter talks about the promise of the Father. In verse 39 he says, “The promise is for you, your children, all who are far off, all whom the Lord our God will call.” So, to me, the case for the empowerment by the Spirit of God to be His witnesses is for all believers everywhere. This in and of itself shuts down any ideas that the spiritual gifts have ceased their operation. We are believers so, according to Peter, this is for us just as much as it is for anyone living when Peter spoke these words.

We see in Acts 10 that something was obviously visible or there was some sort of evidence that believers (in this case the first Gentile believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit) were baptized in the Holy Spirit. This is repeated throughout the book of Acts. The phrase “when they saw” that believers were baptized is very common to read. Peter further confirms for us in Acts 11:16-17 that what these Gentiles had received was, in fact, the promise of the Father that they had all received in the beginning on the day of Pentecost.

Just to reiterate, the indwelling Spirit which all believers receive when they accept Jesus as their Savior is not the same as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Take a look at Acts 19:1-7. Here, we see one example of believers—they were definitely followers of Jesus—who had received the indwelling Spirit had no knowledge of any kind of the Holy Spirit or its baptism. This is one of numerous examples you can find in the blog post referenced in the first paragraph of this writing. This shows us that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is separate from and subsequent to salvation. To drive this home, let’s look at Acts 8:15-16. We see the Apostles praying for new believers (they have received the Holy Spirit living in them) because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them (they hadn’t been baptized in the Holy Spirit yet). Throughout the book of Acts, we see that this was the normal experience for the New Testament believer.

1 Corinthians 13:8-12 is the only place I’ve heard anyone reference to defend their rejection of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In verses 8-10 we find, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” The idea they give is the “completeness,” or some translations say “perfection,” that came was the Word of God—the Bible. Thus, the spiritual gifts mentioned by Paul in verse 8 have ceased since we have the Bible. But this argument is very illogical to me and doesn’t follow the context. First, we still require God’s revelation and the spiritual gifts because we don’t know everything, and the world is still full of lost people. If we read verses 11 and 12, we can see this text has literally nothing to do with their argument but is about the day when we see Jesus face to face. So, when will all the gifts of the Spirit cease? When we no longer have use for them because we’re standing face to face with Jesus in heaven. We certainly need those things now! We don’t know all the mysteries of God yet. We don’t have all knowledge yet. We need these gifts to spread the Gospel and add to the Kingdom. Being His witnesses and sharing the Gospel are the whole point.

What are the spiritual gifts I’m talking about? According to Christianity.com:
“The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are unique skills and abilities given by the Holy Spirit to faithful followers of Christ to serve God for the common benefit of his people, the church. A listing of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 mentions wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Comparable gifts are discussed in Ephesians 4:7-13, Isaiah 11:2-3, and Romans 12:3-8. The gifts of the Spirit are simply God empowering faithful Christians to do what He has called us to do. 2 Peter 2:3 says, ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.’ The gifts of the Holy Spirit are part of ‘everything we need’ to accomplish His plans for our lives.”

These gifts include the gift of wisdom, the gift of knowledge, the gift of discerning of spirits, the gift of miracles, the gift of prophecy, the gift of healing, the gift of tongues and interpretation of those tongues, the gift of administration, and the gift of helps. I highly recommend reading 1 Corinthians 12-14. Here, Paul makes it very clear that the gifts are for all believers, and he even states that it should be the desire of each of us to have them or to operate in them. Rather than just state what he’s said there, especially chapter 14, I will let you read it for yourself. It’s very eye-opening stuff.

As uncomfortable as these things may be for some believers, I firmly believe they should not be. It seems from the Scriptures which I’ve shown in this blog post and throughout history as you’ll read about next week, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and being used in the spiritual gifts was the normal experience for believers. I believe that fact should remain today as well. If we’ve ever needed tools for witnessing and sharing the Gospel, it’s now. We should at least be willing to make room for these wonderful gifts in our lives. I’m not talking about getting emotionally hyped or yelling or any of the stuff some may do in their flesh; I mean authentic expressions of the working Holy Spirit in our lives. Next week, we’ll dive into some historical accounts of the working of the Holy Spirit through the spiritual gifts from early Church fathers up to the Azusa St. outpouring that happened in the early 1900’s. Thanks for reading. I would encourage you, especially if this is foreign information to you or if you’re unsure about all of this Holy Spirit baptism stuff, to stick around and see what we look at next week.

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