Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Work of the Holy Spirit - Baptism

The next post in our study of the Holy Spirit is possibly the most controversial in the study. This is because of the misunderstanding of both Scripture and the practice of baptism. With this study, it is my goal to shed light on this topic so that the believer can be confident where he or she stands in Christ and what the baptism of the Holy Spirit means to the believer.

It is critical to understand what the bible says about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and what difference it makes in the believer’s life. Because so many have been mislead regarding this aspect of the work the Spirit, it is important to stick with what the Scripture plainly teaches regarding this topic.

Here is the outline I used:

I. We must understand its prediction (Matt 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33)
          A. We need to understand the words.
                  1. Not water baptism
                  2. Meaning of the word baptism
         B. We need to understand it had not happened before Jesus
         C. We need to understand its parallel with John’s baptism

II. We must understand its fulfillment (Acts 1:5, 11:15-17)
         A. Jesus guaranteed it (Acts 1:5)
         B. Peter remembered it (Acts 11:15-17)

III. We must understand its purpose (1 Cor. 12:13)
         A. Identifies us with Christ (Gal. 3:26-28)
         B. Creates an oneness with Christ (Rom. 6:1-5)
         C. Puts us in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-14)
                  1. All believers have been baptized by the Spirit
                  2. The baptism of the Spirit does not erase racial, social, and sexual differences, but it makes them irrelevant in the church.
                  3. Baptism of the Spirit is something Christ does to us.

To begin with, one must understand the predication of the baptism of the Holy Spirit to understand its fulfillment. John the Baptizer was in the wilderness baptizing people in the Jordan River and Jesus comes to be baptized by John. It is at this time John predicts the baptism of the Holy Spirit. ( Matt. 3:11, John 1:32-33). To understand this prediction we first understand the words used. To begin with, while John was baptizing in water, he made a clear delineation between what he was doing and what Jesus was going to be doing. The point is, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not related to water baptism. Too many times the two are equated because the same word is used. The Greek word "baptidzo" literally means "to sink, to envelope, to immerse." In short, John is simply saying that he is enveloping, immersing people in water, but Jesus will envelope or immerse people in the Holy Spirit.

To understand the prediction of the Holy Spirit we also need to understand that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is connected to the work of Christ. It is not connected to a religious work or rite but it comes to the believer because Jesus Christ died on the cross, was resurrected, and then ascended to heaven. The prediction of the baptism of the Holy Spirit indicates it is not connected with water baptism and it is not something that people work for or deserve.

Finally, to understand the prediction of the baptism of the Spirit, one must note the parallel to John's Baptism. The "stuff" John baptized with was water; the "stuff" Jesus baptizes with was the Spirit. John plunged people into water; Jesus would plunge them into the Holy Spirit. John would cover those who came to him with water; Jesus would cover those who come to him with the Holy Spirit. The point to all of this is that many today teach that the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes when one is baptized in water. This first point, "We must understand its prediction" shows us that the two are parallelled but are not connected.

After we understand the prediction, we must understand the fulfillment of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The fulfillment of John’s prediction came at Pentecost. We know this because first, Jesus guaranteed it. In this passage, Jesus has risen from the dead and had been appearing to people for forty days. He is about to ascend into heaven to sit on His throne and he said (Acts 1:5). Jesus ended His ministry on earth they way it began: with John’s prediction of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. My point is that Jesus pointed to Pentecost as the fulfillment of the Baptism of the Spirit. This means when the apostles received the Spirit, they were also baptized in the Spirit. It was not two separate events but one event - receiving the Spirit and being baptized in the Spirit.

In addition to Jesus guaranteeing it, Peter remembered Jesus guaranteeing it. In Acts 11:15-17, Peter is recounting the story of Cornelius receiving Christ after Peter had a vision in which God told him Gentiles could also receive the Holy Spirit. So Peter went to Cornelius’s house, share Christ, they received Christ, and were baptized both with the Spirit and with water. So when Cornelius was saved, it brought to Peter’s mind Jesus guarantee of the Holy Spirit baptism. My point is that when we see the actual baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Scripture, it is an event that happens at salvation. Cornelius’ experience is the normative Christian experience for today’s believers.

In short, when one understands the fulfillment of the prediction of the Spirit's baptism, one will see that when a person accepts Christ, they are baptized in the Holy Spirit AT THAT MOMENT. Many today teach that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is separate event to conversion. Many who teach this indicate that this baptism is evidenced by speaking in tongues. This teaching is not only a misunderstanding of Scripture, it places undue burdens on those who have not spoken in tongues and makes them feel like second-rate believers when, in fact, they have been just as baptized in the Spirit as every other believer the minute they trusted in Christ.

Finally, after understanding the Spirit's baptism and understanding its fulfillment, we must understand the purpose of the baptism of the Spirit. To put if briefly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit identifies us with Christ (Gal. 3:26-28), creates an oneness with Christ (Rom. 6:1-5), and puts us in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-14). The baptism of the Spirit is not about another level of spirituality as compared to other believers. It is about becoming one with Christ and one with the body of Christ.

The points made in this sermon are greatly debated but I believe this is what Scripture clearly teaches. The two main misunderstanding connected to the baptism of the Holy Spirit are 1) the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes when one is baptized and 2) the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate event than one's conversion. Neither of these are correct and neither are supported in Scripture. The baptism of the Spirit happens the moment one trusts in Christ. I hope this study helps. Please post any comments and opinions related to this issue.


Kevin said...

Good explanation on what Spirit Baptism means. Many relate this to the "infilling" but I believe Scripture is clear that Spirit Baptism is the New Birth - By One Spirit we are baptized into One Body (conversion)! Great explanation!

Rolland said...

Thanks, Kevin (and sorry for the delay). I agree that the infilling and the baptism are two different things. I will address the filling of the Spirit in a couple of posts. I appreciate your comments. Glad the posts have been helpful/encouraging.

Joan Anne said...

That's right infilling and baptism are different but related to each other.

Dallas Dental Implants | Dallas Landscape