BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
There is widespread confusion on the subject of baptism in (or with) the Holy Spirit as a result of false teaching in the curriculum of many bible schools and seminaries. A claim that at the point of salvation, one receives everything God has for believers based on the work of Jesus at Calvary is error. While there’s nothing in scripture to support such a contention, it is defended by many with reputations as theologians and bible scholars. There are also famed institutions including Dallas Theological Seminary and the Moody Bible Institute that promote this false doctrine. The latter is extraordinary when one studies the life of Dwight Moody after whom the Institute is named. In his own words, Moody describes receiving baptism in the Spirit after preaching for some years in Chicago. It was walking in New York City that the Holy Spirit came on him with great force. His ministry then exploded and was marked by divine healings which Moody Bible Institute denies occur with current teaching.
One only need read with an open mind to recognize the work of Holy Spirit in both the OT and NT, and that baptism in the Spirit generally took place in the NT as an event clearly distinct from that of salvation. The church was not birthed at Pentecost as some teachers assert. On the eve of His resurrection, Jesus appeared among the disciples and breathed on them, saying, “Receive you the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). On receiving indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were “born again.” It was the resurrected Christ and the inbreathed Spirit giving new spiritual life.
It was at that moment that the church was birthed, not at Pentecost as often taught. Paul would write the Corinthians to remind them that their bodies were a temple of the Holy Ghost whom they had received from God (1 Corinthians 3:16,6:19). When the Holy Spirit came upon (Greek epi) them at Pentecost, there was igniting of the Spirit’s power
birthed, not at Pentecost as so often taught. When the Holy Spirit came on them fifty days later at Pentecost, there was the igniting of the Spirit’s power which Jesus refers to as baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). At this time, it was the ascended Christ and the outpoured Spirit giving supernatural power.
“But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me…” Acts 1:8
Clearly this took place on those born again earlier with indwelling of the Spirit. The same separation in time between being saved and being baptized in the Holy Spirit is seen other times in Acts. For example, chapter eight tells of Philip preaching the gospel in Samaria where many became believers and were baptized in water. When apostles in Jerusalem heard that people in Samaria received the Word of God, they sent Peter and John (8:14) and the apostles prayed “they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet He was fallen upon none of them)…..Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (8:15-17).
Again we have believers baptized in water, but the Holy Spirit had not fallen on any of them with power before Peter and John arrived after a lapse of time. A similar thing happened with Paul. He was converted on his encounter with Jesus on a road to Damascas, and submitted himself to the lordship of Christ, saying, “Lord, what will You have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). Blind after this experience, he was led by the hand to Damascas where he prayed and fasted from food and drink for three days. It was then a disciple Ananias was sent to pray for him so he might receive his sight and “be filled with the Holy Ghost” (9:17). That automatic baptism or filling with the Holy Spirit takes place at salvation is false and not consistent with the scriptures. Only indwelling of the Spirit occurs at salvation in most instances, which is why Jesus commanded disciples born again to not begin any ministry until the Spirit had come upon them with power.
Jesus warned of false prophets and teachers fourteen times in the gospels. Asked by disciples about signs of His return and the end of the age, He answered, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4). Deception by unbiblical teaching about baptism in the Holy Spirit is an example of such. When churches fail to teach about baptism in the Holy Spirit and working of the Spirit through miracles and gifts of healing, they are not part of the biblical New Testament church. They need to be seen as having departed from truth. There is such concern about judging others but we must judge false doctrine. I encourage you to hear what the Spirit says to the churches in the writing of Paul.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. For I neither received it of men, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:8,12
The apostle was telling churches to beware of teaching which differed from what he had given them. The gospel taught by Paul included a description of spiritual gifts described in Lesson Four. And the word “accursed” referring to those who taught otherwise translates from the Greek nathema, meaning one to be excommunicated from the church. Those teaching against spiritual gifts or baptism in the Holy Spirit are to be excommunicated as heretics. In Paul’s ministry he did not limit evangelism to preaching the gospel followed by baptism in water. After baptism in water, Paul laid hands on twelve new believers for baptism in the Holy Spirit.
“And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” Acts 19:6
I encourage you to take this matter to heart. Many are attending churches where the gospel Paul brought to the Galatians and other churches is not being preached. One can’t afford risking their souls by attending churches of parent’s choice, or because friends or family worship there. I grieve many consider church a social event rather than having their lives transformed to the likeness of Christ by power of the Spirit. Paul warns of “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). If your church does not teach spiritual gifts described in the last chapter, don’t bother asking why. Accept what Paul says of those who teach a different gospel and flee for sake of your eternal soul.
Even in Pentecostal churches, one finds misleading teaching due to fear of offending those in the pew. And it cannot be assumed baptism in the Spirit is received simply by faith apart from the condition of the heart. I often observe people not receiving the baptism because of unprepared hearts: failure to repent of known sin, holding unforgiveness toward another, or being unwilling to surrender control to the Spirit. Many in the church prefer doing things their way, but Holy Spirit never intends to indwell us as a resident. He intends to act as President, and expects cooperation in molding us. And here many find the rub unpleasant.
Lying spirits would have us believe it is unnecessary to let Holy Spirit touch our hip, leaving us with a limp like Jacob (Genesis 32:21-31). So we wrestle with God over crucifixion of self and giving up desire to retain control over our life. Elisha is a type of what it means to surrender control in seeking and praying for the baptism as Jesus commands (see Luke 11:9-13). In response to being called to follow Elijah in ministry, Elisha slaughtered his oxen ad used the plow as firewood to cook a meal for his family and friends. In doing so, Elisha was burning bridges behind to follow Elijah, lest coming trials should be cause for turning back from the calling of God upon his life (1 Kings 19:19-21).
Elisha’s heart burned for anointing of the Spirit on Elijah, and in time he received all he yearned for. Others would say the “spirit of Elijah” rested on Elisha, referring to the Holy Spirit which enabled both Elijah and Elisha to have prophetic ministries including power for the miraculous. Likewise today others should be able to sense the Spirit of Jesus resting on those who are filled with the Spirit. This is why Paul says one becomes a fragrance of life to those saved and stench of death to those perishing (2 Corinthians 2: 15,16). Satan’s kingdom always reacts to those under the divine control of Holy Spirit.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is described in scripture as experiential, both subjectively and objectively. It was observable to others in each instance in scripture (Acts 2:4, 8:18, 10:44-46, 19:6). Many claim baptism with the Spirit, yet are unable to describe any experience whatsoever, simply claiming they received baptism by faith. And I’ve always found it of interest that God chose to use speaking in other tongues as an evidence of baptism, especially as the tongue is an organ no man can tame (James 3:8). When the tongue comes under control of the Spirit, no one could forget the exact time and place of baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Every believer filled with the Spirit reflects a transforming work that produces what Paul describes as fruit of the Spirit described earlier (Galatians 5:22,23). Where the sanctifying work of the Spirit is not evident, serious question exists as to whether a person is Spirit-filled. And regarding spiritual gifts described earlier (1 Corinthians 12:7-10), Paul tells us all gifts are work of the Spirit who assigns gifts to each person as the Spirit Himself decides (12:11). And when gifts are not in operation, one must question the validity of being filled with the Spirit. For the book of Acts describes a refilling with the Spirit of those previously baptized (Acts 5:31).
We must constantly remain sensitive to anything which keeps us so occupied that it eats away at intimacy with our heavenly Father and His Son, and prevents us from hearing gentle whispers of Holy Spirit to our spiritual ears. The best God has for us comes as we wait on God, praying, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” If we will diligently seek God, He’ll reveal plans for our lives and give us the power needed for His plans to be completed for His glory. But we must remember that as sacrifices were placed on altars under the old covenant, sacrifice is expected of us: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 1: 2:1). Paul says our minds must be renewed so we no longer conform to ways of the world, but do what is good and perfect according to the will of God.
The pull of the world is so strong that even if one comes to Christ by grace through faith, not conforming to the world is extremely difficult apart from the empowering received with baptism in the Holy Spirit. Baptism will be received if one’s desire is to be devoted to the lordship of Jesus in all of life. Like Abraham, our father in faith, we must sacrifice whatever Isaacs might exist in our lives. It is glorious if God is given our affection above anyone or anything else. Until this is reality, our use to God will remain restrained from heaven’s perspective. Even Jesus had to reach a place of not making bread for Himself before He was able to make bread to feed the multitudes.