One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.
Is Baptism with the Holy Spirit an experience subsequent to salvation?
This is a question that often arises when talking to Nazarenes, Pentecostals and Charismatic Christians.
Pentecostals hold that Baptism with, in or of the Holy Spirit is an experience subsequent to salvation.
One is born again when they repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ as their saviour.
After this, one must seek the Baptism of the Holy Spirit when one will receive power to be a witness and this baptism will be proven by a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, in most cases tongues speaking. This is taught as a second experience. John Wesley believed it to be a second blessing that leads to entire sanctification.
Also described as sinless perfection.
The Pentecostals and Charismatics believe it is a second experience subsequent to salvation and the receiving of power to be a witness.
This was not taught by the early church or the Orthodox Church or the Reformed church but was a teaching that emerged in the early 19th century and grew into a major teaching in the 20th century.
It was born out of Methodism, the Nazarene church and early Pentecostals and continued into the Charismatic movement.
The question is, is this correct, is it based on the teachings of the Bible?
To answer this question we need to consider what happened to people that repented and believed in Jesus as the Christ.
John the Baptist preached water baptism for the forgiveness of sins but that these believers in the Kingdom of God must believe in the one who was to come after him, meaning Jesus of Nazareth.
Mat 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
Mat 3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan,
Mat 3:6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
John’s baptism was a baptism of forgiveness, when John baptized, the Holy Spirit was not given.
We can see this in Acts 19, when Paul came to some believers in Ephesus.
Act 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
Act 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
Act 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John's baptism.
Act 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of
repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
Act 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
They repented, believed in Jesus and received the gift of the Holy Spirit, they were born of the Spirit.
They were immersed into the body of Christ.
Again in Acts 10. Peter was preaching to the household of Cornelius, a God fearing man, a Gentile.
Whilst Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit came on those who heard the word and they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. They were born of the Spirit.
Act 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
Act 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were
astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Act 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Act 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be
baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
Act 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
They believed and received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the Gospel to the Jews in Jerusalem.
On hearing the Gospel they were pricked in their hearts and said. “What must we do”.
Act 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
They were born of the Spirit.
The gift of the Holy Spirit comes as a result of repentance and belief in the Gospel. It happens at the same time.
When Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of Heaven, people heard Him and some believed and were baptised in the name of Jesus.
However we know from Jesus words that before the Holy Spirit could come and be resident in the hearts of believers, Jesus would have to suffer, die be raised from the dead and be glorified and ascend to the Father so that the Holy Spirit could be given.
John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
What happened to all those that believed on Jesus prior to His death and resurrection?
Well, John the Baptist believed that Jesus was the Messiah. So did many others, including His followers.
So in what state were these believers relative to the body of Christ and eternal life.
Were they part of the body of Christ? Were they part of the church? Where did they go when they died?
We have to remember that at this point Jesus had not suffered and had not died and the way of eternal life had not yet been purchased.
So where did they go when they died?
Well! Obviously they went where all the believers in the promised Messiah went, they went to the same place that Abraham went and all the faithful Old Testament saints. The place known as Abraham’s bosom, the place known as Hades.
We are told in scripture and Jesus explained this using a parable of the Lazarus and the rich man.
Luk 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
Luk 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
Luk 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Luk 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Luk 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Luk 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
Luk 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
Luk 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Luk 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
Luk 16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Luk 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
Luk 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Luk 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Hades was a place that was split in two compartments, known as Upper and Lower Hades (Greek).
In Hebrew this was Sheol. The lower part of Sheol would be Gehenna.
In the English versions of the Bible the word Hades and Sheol is translated as Hell.
However, Hell is really Gehenna. Matt 10:28 – Matt 23:33.
It is a place of eternal punishment, or everlasting punishment. Matt 25:46 – Rev 20: 10-15 – Mark 9: 47,48 – Matt 18:8.
The faithful believer in the promised Messiah went to Upper Hades/Sheol on death and the unbeliever went to Lower Hades/Gehenna.
Matt 23:33 Jesus says, "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to Hell?"
Hell here is the word for the lower part of Hades or Gehenna. (Strongs G1067).
Later, after Jesus had completed His work on the cross, He descended into Upper Hades/Sheol, (AKA Paradise) and proclaimed release to the captives.
The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4: 8 - 10
Eph 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Eph 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Peter says in 1 Peter 3:19 that “Christ coming in spirit preached to those spirits that were in prison, which had some time been incredulous.”
Psalm 16:10"You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will you let your Holy One see corruption"
This is a Messianic prophecy concerning Jesus.
This is when Paradise was moved to where it is today, Heaven.
That is why Jesus could say to the thief on the cross on his acknowledgement of Jesus as “Lord”. “I tell you today you shall be with Me in Paradise”.
No one who believed in Jesus went directly to heaven, prior to the death, resurrection and ascension.
However, everyone that believes in Jesus as the Christ after His ascension, goes directly to heaven on death.
2 Cor 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
When Jesus was talking to Nicodemas, Nicodemus asked the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life”? Jesus answered “You must be born again”.
Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus did not understand, “Can I go back into my mother’s womb and be born a second time.
Jesus replied “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God”.
You must be born of the Spirit.
Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Joh 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
This text is talking about physical birth of the flesh and spiritual birth.
So how is one born of the Spirit? Well! Just as we have seen.
Repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as saviour and you shall be given the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is being born again, it is one and the same. Becoming born again is entering into a spiritual relationship with God through Christ.
2 Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
It is when a person becomes a new creation in Christ. It is being immersed in the Holy Spirit, it is being baptized into the body of Christ and having the right to be called a son of God.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to
become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
1 Cor 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Water baptism is different to Spirit baptism.
All Christians should identify with Christ in His baptism. We are commanded to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Colossians 2:12 Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of
Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
Acts 19:5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Notice: that this water baptism was performed after the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:38-39 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.
Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Mark 16:15-16 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
However, water baptism does not save anyone. Baptism is simply identifying with Christ’s death and resurrection. It is an outward sign of what God has done in one’s life. It is dying to self and rising to newness of life in Christ, it is an outward witness, a testimony to what Christ has done.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is different, it is receiving the Spirit of God into our lives as a resident. When we repent and believe in Jesus Christ we are placed into the body of Christ and become one with Him and one with all other Christians. We receive the Spirit of God, we receive the Spirit of Christ and we receive the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism …” (Ephesians 4:4-5)
This verse is not water baptism but baptism (immersion) into the body of Christ. It is baptism with the Holy Spirit and it happens at conversion, not a subsequent experience.
Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Rom 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
This happens at conversion, when we are born again. We do not need to seek this experience, it happens automatically when we repent and believe in Jesus Christ.
When we repent and believe the Gospel we are born again of the Spirit of God. We receive the Holy Spirit as a guarantee.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a deposit.” (2 Corinthians 1:21)
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13)
“Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 5:5 )
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a onetime event, which places us into the body of Christ and fellowship of the world wide church of Jesus Christ.
What should we seek?
What we do need to seek, is the constant filling of the Holy Spirit.
Paul tells us Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit,
Be filled here is be being filled, constantly over and over again.
Being baptized with the Spirit is a onetime experience but there are many fillings.
The two passages of scripture that are used to teach the Baptism with the Holy Spirit as a subsequent experience to salvation.
Acts 8 and Acts 19,
So, what do we make of the two passages of scripture which tells us that certain people who believed the Gospel did not receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit when they believed.
The case of Philip preaching in Samaria, in Acts 8 and Paul coming to Ephesus in Acts 19.
The Pentecostals and Charismatic’s use these passages to show that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is subsequence to salvation.
Is this a valid argument?
The answer is no.
Notice what Jesus commanded. “Go into the world and preach the Gospel, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth”.
The first Christians were Jews and proselytes in Jerusalem. The gospel then was preached in all Judea. Next Philip takes the Gospel to Samaria.
The Samaritans were always at loggerheads with the Jews. It was important at the early stages of the church that there should be no schism in this new church, that Christians were joined as one body in Christ, under the authority of the Apostles.
So when the Apostles heard that Samaria had received the Gospel, it was necessary for the Apostles to go and oversee this baptism of the Samaritans into the body of Christ.
Notice when Cornelius household received the Gospel, the Apostle Peter was present to oversee it.
The same in Ephesus. (which is in what we know as modern day Turkey) (The uttermost parts of the earth). When Paul came there he said, ”Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed”? Also translated “Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed”?
However it became obvious that these believers had only been baptized unto John’s baptism.
When Paul explained the need to believe in Jesus, they were baptized in the name of Jesus and when Paul who was also an Apostle prayed for them, they received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
There are no second class Christians, those who are saved and those who are saved and also baptized with the Spirit.
On the contrary all the elect of God are baptized with the Spirit, all those who are born again are born of the Spirit, all those who have repented of their sins and believed the Gospel of Christ have been baptized by one Spirit into the body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:5 There is one Lord, one faith and one baptism.
This is one Jesus Christ, one Christian faith and one baptism with the Holy Spirit.