Why Christians Must Reconsider Baptism and the Holy Spirit

holy-spirit-baptism

In Zechariah 12:10, the LORD spoke, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn” (12:10 NASB). This is one of five prophetic predictions of God pouring out the Spirit in the Old Testament (Isa 32:15; 44:3; Ezek 39:27–29; Joel 2:28–29). Zechariah 12:10 appears as the words of Yahweh as the Christ. Jesus promised His apostles, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the  Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7; cf. 16:7–13).

The Promise of the Baptism of the Spirit

Was the baptism of the Holy Spirit for all Christians? John the Baptist also prophesied, “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8; cf. Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). From John’s words, the baptism of the Spirit appears to include all disciples of Christ. However, Jesus foretold this specifically

to His apostles, “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit  not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). Jesus explained to his Apostles, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The Pouring Out of the Spirit

Is the pouring out of the Spirit for everyone? Is this pouring out of the Spirit the same as the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Paul’s words in Titus 3:5–6 demonstrate that God poured out the Spirit upon all Christians other than just the Apostles on Pentecost and Cornelius’ household (Acts 2; 10). Paul wrote of the renewing of the Holy Spirit, “whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:6). Paul, Titus, and everyone included in “us” indicates that God poured the Spirit upon all Christians.

Because Luke noted that the pouring out of the Spirit upon Cornelius’s household included the gift of the Spirit, some may perceive that God poured out a miraculous gift upon all Christians, because all Christians receive the Holy Spirit at baptism (Acts 2:38; 10:45). Furthermore, God revealed that He would pour out His Spirit on all humanity — every nation, status, and gender. God spoke in Joel 2:28, “It will come about after this; That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind.” How has God poured out the Spirit upon all mankind? In Acts 2:33, Peter revealed that God poured out the Spirit on that first Pentecost day after Jesus’s resurrection and ascension. God did pour out His Spirit upon all Christians; although, this is not necessarily a giving of miraculous gifts to all believers. At Pentecost, Peter promised that those who repent and are baptized in Jesus’s name will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 5:32).

The Exceptional Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The baptism of the Holy Spirit came when God first poured out the Spirit upon the Apostles and the text does not tell that this is when the Apostles were baptized in Jesus’s name to receive the gift of the Spirit (Acts 1:5, 8; 2:38). Years later, Cornelius’ household also received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10). Peter revealed that the Holy Spirit fell on those in Cornelius’s house and that this was the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15–17). When Peter reported about this event before the apostles and the elders in Jerusalem, he expressed, “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;” (Acts 15:8). Luke recorded about Cornelius’s house that, “the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also” (Acts 10:45). While Cornelius’s household received the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter distinguished the exceptional baptism of the Spirit that came upon the Apostles first and then Cornelius’s household apart from the general pouring out of the Spirit that all believers receive upon baptism in Jesus’s name (Acts 10:47–48).

The baptism of the Spirit initiated the pouring out of the Spirit — first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Thereby, baptism in Jesus’s name is a result of the initial baptism of the Spirit (Acts 2:2–4, 38). The baptism of the Spirit initiates the encompassing of all spiritual blessings from the Spirit (Eph 1:13–14, 17; 2:18; 3:16). The baptism of the Spirit is separate from the baptism in Jesus’s name and yet produces the blessings of the Spirit for all Christians through the name of Christ.

Miraculous Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Cornelius’s house did receive the Spirit as the gift of the Spirit that God gave with spiritual gifts (Acts 10:44–46). Thereby, Cornelius’s household also received the baptism of the Spirit with the power that Christ also promised to the Apostles (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). Acts 8 presents the separation between baptism of the Spirit and baptism in Jesus’s name where those who were baptized in Jesus’s name received the Spirit after the Apostles laid hands on them (Acts 8:12–19; cf. 19:1–7). There is no mention of the baptism of the Spirit in Acts 8. The baptism of the Holy Spirit can consist of the whole gift of the Spirit that God poured out upon all, because Paul also noted that God poured the Spirit upon all Christians (Titus 3:5–6). Furthermore, not everyone who received miraculous gifts from the Spirit were always saved, and not all Christians received the spiritual gifts associated with the baptism of the Spirit (Matt 7:21–23; Rom 1:11).

The Spirit and Baptism in Jesus’s Name

Baptism in Jesus’s name is when one received the Spirit with God’s salvific blessings (Acts 5:32). Baptism in Jesus’s name is when one is washed, sanctified, and justified by the Spirit (1 Cor 6:11). Paul expressed that “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13). Paul expressed that this baptism is the baptism in Jesus’s name (1 Cor 1:11–13; 6:11; 10:1–2; 15:29). Likewise, the Lord adds believers to the church when one is baptized in Jesus’s name (Acts 2:41, 47). Jesus commanded this baptism in the name of the Spirit as also in the name of the Father and the Son (Matt 28:19). These passages indicate that the Spirit is active in the one baptism that Paul mentioned in Ephesians 4:5. This baptism must be the baptism that Jesus commanded and Peter preached (Acts 2:38). Baptism in Jesus’s name is water baptism (Acts 10:47–48; Eph 5:26). Baptism is the moment of regeneration and rebirth into the newness of life by Jesus’s resurrection (Rom 6:3–6; Eph 2:4–6; Col 2:12–13; 1 Pet 1:3; 3:21). Jesus taught that one must be born again through the water and Spirit (John 3:3, 5). John expressed that this new birth is in Jesus’s name (John 1:12–13). Thereby, the Spirit gives this new life by the indwelling of the Spirit, and this indwelling is necessary for the salvation of all believers (Rom 8:9–15; 1 Cor 6:19).

Salvation and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

If someone is saved when they receive the Spirit, was Cornelius’s household saved before baptism in Jesus’s name? If so, then this event is the exception that proves the rule: that forgiveness is in Jesus’s name. Peter proclaimed, “the forgiveness of sins to be received through his name for everyone who is believing in him” (Acts 10:43). By receiving the Spirit, Cornelius’s house had not necessarily accessed forgiveness in Jesus’s name. Receiving spiritual gifts neither assured salvation nor gave the forgiveness of sin (Matt 7:21–23; John 11:49–53; Acts 10:43). Because the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the baptism in Jesus’s name, then this is not likely the moment in which Cornelius’s household received the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 10:43).

Conclusion

The pouring out of the Spirit was for all Christians (Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5–6). Baptism in Jesus’s name is when the Spirit gives new life and washes away sins (John 3:5; Acts 22:16; 1 Cor 6:11; Titus 3:5). Peter proclaimed, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

The position that baptism of the Spirit is the moment of salvation is lacking support. These passages above indicate that there is one baptism that Jesus commanded (Matt 28:19). There is a separation between baptism in Jesus’s name and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. However, the baptism of the Spirit was the initial pouring out of the Spirit upon all Christians by which the one baptism in Jesus’s name brings the salvific and sanctifying blessings of the Holy Spirit.

Spirit Baptism

About Scott J. Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Christian, Theology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Why Christians Must Reconsider Baptism and the Holy Spirit

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  5. Deborah Woodard says:

    Hi Scott… just wondering if you have studied the teachings of the Apostolic Pentecostal church? I read your article on head coverings (hair) and skimmed this one, and it seems that you have very similar understandings of the scriptures as we Pentecostals do with regard to Jesus name baptism and the necessity of being born again by water and by the Holy Ghost infilling. We also teach that women should not cut their hair but rather that ‘long’ hair is determined by the Lord and that is our covering and a sign of submission.

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    • Hello Deborah:

      That would be wonderful to have greater unity. I am somewhat familiar with and I have studied the Pentecostal church. I do find that the baptism that Jesus commanded in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit is the same that Peter proclaimed in Jesus’s name for the forgiveness of sins. There is one baptism for all Christians, and not a baptism in Jesus’s name and another a baptism in the Holy Spirit for all Christians. In this study, I was looking for a unity of the baptism of the Spirit and the baptism in Jesus’s name as one baptism.

      I do see long hair as a covering for women if they have long hair (1 Cor 11:15). I find that the passage is mostly about a woman’s modesty that respects her husband, Christ, and God.

      Do you believe in the oneness doctrine that Christ and God the Father are one Person rather than triune?

      May God bless you in the study of His Word.

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