The Work Of The Holy Spirit: Part Four The Baptism Of The Spirit

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

In our last lesson, we noticed the important role that the Spirit has played in bringing to mankind the Word of God.

Indeed, several passages of Scripture remind us that this is one of the most important works of the Holy Spirit throughout the ages.  

In close connection with that ministry is a work that we will notice in this article known as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. 

Several times during his ministry, John the Baptist foretold a time when some of the people would be baptized with the Spirit. From his teachings, we can learn several things: 

Matthew 3:11-I indeed baptize you 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.

Mark 1:8-I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 3:16-John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

John 1:33-I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

Several things stand out to us when we carefully consider these Bible passages regarding the baptism of the Spirit.   

First, when we talk about Holy Spirit baptism, what exactly are we talking about?

The word “baptism” literally means “immersion;” and the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead (1 John 5:7).

So, the baptism of the Spirit was an event in which a person was somehow immersed or overwhelmed in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  

Second, we learn from these passages that Spirit baptism was a promise which was to be fulfilled.

At least two other passages teach us the same: 

Luke 24:49-Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

Acts 1:4-5-And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Holy Spirit baptism was a promise to be fulfilled.

Why is this important?

Simply because a promise to be fulfilled cannot be a command to be obeyed.

Therefore, passages in the New Testament which speak of baptism in terms of people obeying a command cannot be a reference to Holy Spirit baptism.

Third, we learn from these passages that the Administrator of Holy Spirit baptism would be Jesus Christ Himself. No mortal can baptize a person in the Holy Spirit.  

Why does this matter?

Very simply, any passage in the New Testament which mentions baptism where disciples do the baptizing cannot be Holy Spirit baptism.  

Fourth, these passages relate to us that the purpose of Holy Spirit baptism was for the revealing of God’s truth and the confirmation of it.

Several other passages confirm this to us.

For example, when Jesus promised His Apostles that the baptism of the Holy Spirit would come upon them, He says: 

John 14:26-But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

John 16:13-However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

Later, when the baptism of the Holy Spirit came upon the household of Cornelius, we are told of the reasons for this event: 

Acts 11:14-17-who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

Acts 15:8-9-So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Why is this important?

Passages which provide motivations for baptism other than the revelation and confirmation of the Word of God cannot therefore be a reference to Holy Spirit baptism.  

Fifth, the Bible teaches that baptism “in the name of the Lord” is a reference to baptism in water.

We further learn that baptism in the New Testament which is of penitent believers and done “in the name of the Lord” (I.e., by His authority) is set in direct contrast to Holy Spirit baptism.

Notice: 

Acts 10:47-48-Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.  

Please observe that Cornelius and his family had already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-46).  

Why is this important?

Simply because baptism “in the name of the Lord” is shown to be baptism which was in water, and is specifically NOT Holy Spirit baptism.

Sixth, please notice that Holy Spirit baptism did not necessitate the preaching of the Word of God before said baptism.

In describing the baptism of the Spirit upon the household of Cornelius, Peter says:

Acts 11:15-And as I BEGAN to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.  

“Now in verse 15, Peter said, “As I began to speak. …” And that word means this, says Mr. Thayer’s Lexicon: “(A thing was just begun when it was interrupted by something else. For instance Matt. 12:1, they had begun to pluck the ears of corn, but they were prevented from continuing by the interference of the Pharisees.) Mk. 2:23; 4:1 (He had scarcely begun to teach when a multitude gathered unto Him.) Mk. 6:2; 10:41 . .. ; Acts 11:15 . . .).” That is what Thayer says the expression “as I began to speak,” means. Just as Peter began to speak the Holy Spirit fell on him. (Thomas B. Warren & L.S. Ballard, Warren-Ballard Debate On The Plan Of Salvation, 1040-1045 (Kindle Edition); National Christian Press)

Why does this matter?

This shows that any baptism which is said to be a result of the hearing and preaching of the Gospel is not Holy Spirit baptism. 

Seventh, it is important to realize that (based upon these facts), all of the passages in the New Testament Scriptures regarding baptism and salvation can be shown to be baptism in water, not Holy Spirit baptism.  

Matthew 28:19-The ones doing the baptizing are the disciples themselves; but Holy Spirit baptism is administered by Jesus.

Further, this baptism is shown to be a command to be obeyed (Matthew 28:20).

But Holy Spirit baptism is a promise to be fulfilled, not a command to be obeyed.  

Mark 16:16-This baptism is for the salvation of the sinner; but Holy Spirit baptism was for the purpose of the supernatural revelation and confirmation of God’s Word.

Furthermore, the ones doing the baptism are the disciples (cf. the parallel account in Matthew 28:19-20). But Holy Spirit baptism was done by the Lord Jesus.  

John 3:5-This baptism is said to be with water, and is designed to put one into the kingdom, which is the church (Matthew 16:18-19).

But Holy Spirit baptism was designed for the revelation and confirmation of the Word of God, not to put people into the kingdom.  

Acts 2:38-This baptism was in the name of the Lord, which is specifically not Holy Spirit baptism.  

Acts 2:41-This baptism was submission to a command; however, Holy Spirit baptism is a promise to be fulfilled.

Further, this baptism the result of the hearing and believing of the Word of God, which again demonstrates that this is not Holy Spirit baptism.  

Acts 8:11-13-The Samaritans are baptized in response to the commands and preaching of the Gospel; but Holy Spirit baptism is a promise to be fulfilled, not a command to be obeyed.

Further, it is baptism in the name of the Lord, which is shown to be separate from Holy Spirit baptism.  

Acts 8:35-38-This baptism is said to be in water; further, Philip does the baptizing. In Holy Spirit baptism, only Jesus is the Baptizer.  

Acts 9:18-This baptism was in response to a command of God through Ananias (Acts 22:16).  

Acts 10:47-48-Cornelius and his family had received the baptism of the Spirit prior to their baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 10:44-46).

Further, this passage specifically shows that Holy Spirit baptism is different from baptism in water which is that baptism which is “in the name of the Lord.”  

Acts 16:15-This baptism was in direct consequence of the commands of the Gospel (Acts 16:14). Holy Spirit baptism was a promise to be fulfilled, not a command to be obeyed.  

Acts 16:33-The jailer and his household were baptized in response to the hearing of the Word of God (Acts 16:32). But Holy Spirit baptism did not require the Word of God being proclaimed to the recipients.  

Acts 18:8-This baptism is the result of hearing and believing the Word of God, demonstrating it is not a reference to Holy Spirit baptism.  

Acts 19:5-This baptism is said to be in response to the hearing and believing of the Word of God; no Holy Spirit baptism here.  

Romans 6:3-4-This baptism is that which leads to the salvation of the sinner; but Holy Spirit baptism was for the purpose of revelation and confirmation of the Word of God.  

1 Corinthians 12:13-This baptism was designed to put the believer into the body of Christ, or the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). But the baptism which accomplishes this is water baptism (John 3:5; Acts 2:41-47).

Furthermore, this passage further demonstrates that it is not a reference to Spirit baptism. The baptism is said to be “in” or “by” the Spirit.

This particular phrase may have reference grammatically to either a baptism which the Holy Spirit led the person to (I.e., through the teaching of the Word of God) or baptism in the Spirit Himself.

Which is it?

Earlier in the chapter, Paul uses the same phrase to tell us that no one can say that Jesus is Lord except “by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).

Did Paul mean that one cannot say that Jesus is Lord unless he has been baptized with the Holy Spirit?

Or did he mean that no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the teaching of the Holy Spirit?

We need only remember that Thomas called Jesus “Lord” (John 20:28) some forty days before he was baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).

Thus, the person who is baptized into Christ does so because of the teaching of the Spirit, not because he is baptized with Holy Spirit baptism.  

Galatians 3:26-27-This baptism is coupled with faith and repentance; further, it is said to be baptism which makes one a son of God. But Holy Spirit baptism was for the purpose of the revelation and confirmation of the Word of God, not for the purpose of making one a son of God.  

Ephesians 4:4-6-The baptism here is one which all believers share; but Holy Spirit baptism was only for a specific group of people for a specific time and for very specific purposes. Therefore, the “one baptism” cannot be Holy Spirit baptism.

Colossians 2:12-This baptism is for the believer who wishes to have his sins cut away (I.e., circumcision) and who is being buried withChrist to have new life. But Holy Spirit baptism was for the purpose of the revelation and confirmation of the God, not the salvation of the sinner.

Titus 3:5-This baptism is for the purpose of bringing about “regeneration” or new life (cf. John 3:5). But Holy Spirit baptism is for the purpose of the revelation and confirmation of the Word of God.  

Hebrews 10:22-This baptism is for “washing,” clearly showing a link to water baptism.  

1 Peter 3:20-21-This baptism is said to be in water, and is for the purpose of saving the sinner in the same way that the Noahs were saved. But Holy Spirit baptism was not for the salvation of the sinner; therefore, this is clearly not a reference to Holy Spirit baptism.

Further, we are told that in this baptism the sinner is making a pledge to God. But Holy Spirit is not about the salvation of the sinner; it is about the revelation and confirmation of the Word of God.  

When we add all of the facts together, we see that Holy Spirit baptism was very rare indeed.

It was a unique event, occurring only twice, and with the very needed purpose of bringing to mankind the Word of God.  

Those who claim that Holy Spirit baptism continues today, and who claim that they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, are at odds with the Holy Scriptures.   

Have you been saved according to God’s Word my friend?

The Scriptures teach that the Son of God loved us and died for us to take away our sins at Calvary (Romans 5:8; 1 Timothy 2:6). Yes, Jesus died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He invites all sinners to come to Him to be saved (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 16:15; Ezekiel 18:23).  

Why not today repent of your sins and be baptized to have your sins washed away (Acts 2:37-38; 22:16)? You will be added by God Himself to the church (Acts 2:41), and will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 5:32).  

If you are a child of God who has turned away from the Lord, why not turn back to Him today in repentance and prayer (1 John 1:9; Hebrews 4:15)?

Your church family is here to pray with you and to encourage you in any way that we can.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

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