The Questions and Answers series. Question #1

Last year (2012) Pastor Jermin asked the members and friends of the Fellowship to submit questions that they had about all things Biblical. Nothing was out of bounds. All of the submitted questions were answered in the early part of 2013, and we’ll be posting those questions and answers in the coming days.

 #1 – The Question: ‘Is Spirit baptism essential for salvation or just for effective service?’

The Answer:  I believe that it is first necessary to define the term.

What is meant by ‘Baptism of the Holy Ghost/Spirit? According to CARM.org:

“Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a term used to describe a movement of the Spirit upon and/or within a believer usually sometime after the person is saved. There is controversy surrounding this phenomenon as to whether it is legitimate or not.

Some people believe that once a person is saved the Holy Spirit is in the person and there is no subsequent “baptism in the Holy Spirit.”  In other words, they maintain that this Baptism of the Spirit occurs at salvation.  Others believe that it is possible for the Christian to experience an additional movement of the Holy Spirit sometime after salvation.  Generally speaking, it is the charismatic movement that supports the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

 The question is based on  the belief is that there is a second blessing, such as taught by Charles Wesley, DL Moody and many others.

 What are some opinions on this doctrine?

I was on a website recently, (www.choicesforliving.com) which was certainly of the belief that the ‘second blessing’ was/is real. It stated this:

“How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit – Receive power now!

Just before He ascended into heaven, Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). This page will give you the instructions of how to be filled with the precious Holy Spirit of God Himself, the manifest power of God. This is not for our own purposes and is only to serve Him. However, this same power enables us to be what God wants us to be in this life and to be an overcomer.

IMPORTANT: This power is not available unless you have already been born of the Spirit by receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Otherwise it does not work. Don’t try. In fact, it may even be dangerous. If you have not received Christ, stop now, and click here. All believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit; however, not all believers are “filled” with the Spirit and His power, otherwise God would not have to command us to be. The lack of spiritual power is all too evident among believers.

Not an option. If you have already received Christ, in Ephesians 5:18 God commands all believers to be filled with the Spirit; therefore, we know it is God’s will for everyone. It is really a command from God and really not an option.”

(Side note: I will come back to this usage of Eph 5:18… I smell eisegesis)

On the other side of the spectrum, I found this:

(The following is based on an article by the Bible Baptist Church, which I have expanded upon http://www.bbcmorehead.org)

“It is the teaching that there is a second experience, after the New Birth, (subsequent to salvation), that empowers the child of God. People are taught that they need to seek this second experience to give them assurance, power, and victory in their Christian life.

(This is also known as ‘the doctrine of subsequence’)

Essentially, the doctrine stated takes one of three forms (or all of them)

  1. It is taught that sometime after salvation a believer has a second work of grace and this completely eradicates the sinful flesh, resulting in the believer not sinning.  This is the “sinless perfection” teaching (which is not Biblical).  John Wesley taught this. The Nazarenes are a denomination which teaches this today. (Having grown up in the United Methodist church, I did hear this occasionally).
  2. Also taught is the idea that after the New Birth, there is a second work of grace which is called “Holy Spirit Baptism”.  This is an experience which will cause the believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit which will then give him the power to live the Christian life, or have special empowerment for Christian service.  For most in the Charismatic circles, this is evidenced, by the phenomenon of ‘speaking in tongues’.  (The subject of ‘tongues’ is addressed in another of the answers in this series) For many, the ‘evidence of speaking in tongues’ is necessary for salvation. If one never has this second experience, they are looked upon as not being spiritual or not truly saved.  (I experienced this at a church that I attended for many years. If a person did not ‘speak in tongues’ they were considered either lacking in Spiritual development, or worse, not even saved. It was a great weight for me, and at times caused me to question the sincerity of my walk because I could not ‘speak in tongues’, but later did do so…)
  3. In some churches/denominations, the teaching is that one must have this second blessing in order to have: consecration, conversion, or sanctification. Many times this is accompanied by an inaccurate understanding of Acts 19:2. They teach that one may be born again and still be absolutely powerless in his Christian walk until the time when he completely gives himself over to Jesus as his Lord and/or receives the power. What is common is the teaching that although Christ is Savior, one must ‘make Him Lord of your life’ in order to truly be filled/empowered.”

So we can easily see that there are widely disparate views here, concerning this doctrine. But do not despair fam, the answer is close at hand.  The LORD is, after all, a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him…

The next question that must be asked is: Does this term appear in the scripture?

The answer to that is yes, the term “baptize with the Holy Spirit” occurs several times in scripture:

Matt. 3:11,  “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”**

Mark 1:8, “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 3:16, “John answered and said to them all, ‘As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John 1:33, “And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, “He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.”

Next we must examine the context: In each of the Gospel occurrences, they describe the same event: John the Baptist making a distinction between his baptism, and that of the Messiah.

The phrase occurs again in the book of Acts: Jesus says, in Acts 1:4-5 (HCSB)

While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” ⌊He said, “is what⌋ you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Peter, in relating his experience with the Gentile believers at Cesarea says in Acts 11:15-17 (HCSB)

15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on them, just as on us at the beginning.  16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 Therefore, if God gave them the same gift that He also gave to us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, how could I possibly hinder God?”

There are no other times when this phrase occurs in the scripture.

We must ask then, what was the context of and purpose for, these occurrences?

In the first one, the Holy Spirit comes upon those in the upper room, and they are empowered to speak in languages that they do not know, and what are they saying? They were, according to Acts 2:11, speaking the magnificent acts of God… (Please read Acts 2:1-12 for the full context) The people who saw and heard this, knew that they were experiencing something extraordinary, in fact impossible, because these looked-down-upon Galileans, were speaking between them, at least 12 different languages that it was impossible for them to know. As a result of this, the stage was set for the preaching of the Gospel and 3000 were saved that day.

In the second, Peter is describing what he and some of the other Jewish believers had experienced. In the following passage we see what occurs:

Acts 10:44-48 (HCSB)While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speaking in other languages and declaring the greatness of God. Then Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these people from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.’

What happened here?

The people who saw and heard this, knew that they were experiencing something extraordinary, in fact impossible, because these looked-down-upon Gentiles were given the same power that they themselves had been given. The Holy Spirit gave the exact same sign to those who were heretofore believed to be unclean and outside by the Jews, in order to show them that GOD is LORD of ALL, and Jesus came for ALL who would believe, not just the Jews. This was also the reason for Peter’s preparatory vision in Acts 10:10-15. Nothing that the LORD had made was to be called unclean, and that included Gentiles (non Jews)

So then, the next question is the really significant one, and is really one of doctrine:

Do we believe in a secondary work of the Holy Spirit, in other words, Is there, as John Wesley taught, ‘a second blessing?’ If so, from where do we derive this?

I do not see this supported by the passages that we just read.   In fact, the conclusion that I draw is that these instances were not about a special empowerment for service, they were about the Sovereign Will and Work of God for His Glory. They are not universal; they are specific and isolated, not presented as a pattern to follow, but as a time and condition specific display for a specific purpose.

Dangerous eisegesis:

What is eisegesis? From wikipepedia:

Eisegesis (from Greek ες “into” as opposed to exegesis from ξηγεσθαι “to lead out”) is the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that it introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, and/or biases into and onto the text. The act is often used to “prove” a pre-held point of concern to the reader and to provide him or her with confirmation bias in accordance with his or her pre-held agenda. Eisegesis is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis draws out the meaning from a text in accordance with the context and discover-able meaning of its author, eisegesis occurs when a reader imposes his or her interpretation into and onto the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective.

Taking first, the Ephesians 5:18 usage detailed above, I do not see how, taken in context, this verse is a command of God to have a ‘second blessing’. In context, the verse is used to contrast the behaviors of believers and unbelievers. Let’s look at it:

Ephesians 5:6-21 (HCSB)  Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. 7 Therefore, do not become their partners. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. 13 Everything exposed by the light is made clear, 14 for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you.

15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit: 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

So, this is a passage of instruction, advising the believers on how they should walk in the world, and live among one another. In fact, the chapter begins with the command to  –

“be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.  And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” – Ephesians 5:1-2 (HCSB)

There is no discussion here of a subsequent act of the Spirit, the Apostle is speaking to them as though they are filled, not needing to be. How else could one imitate Christ (v1)? How else could they have discernment (v6-10)? They are, according to verse 8, already changed and empowered.  The verses in question (18-21) merely state that we are to act outwardly in accordance with our inward state, hence the proof of being filled with the Spirit, as opposed to being filled with wine is that the believers are: “…speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from their hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, & submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Notice also, that there is no mention of so-called ‘tongues’ here.)

I have seen John 20:22 combined with Acts 2, to make the case for a second blessing, but this, in my opinion is also eisegetical.  Keeping in mind that Luke and Acts are consecutive narratives by the same author; I believe that it is more accurate to look first at Luke 24:36-49, specifically the following:

Luke 24:45-49 (HCSB)  – 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And look, I am sending you what My Father promised.    As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.”

Is this a general command for all believers or is it specific instruction to those in the room? Let’s look at Luke’s second book (Acts) to see:

Acts 1:1-11 (HCSB)

I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up, after He had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. 3 After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” He said, “is what you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.

6 So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  9 After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. 10 While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.”

Is this evidence of a second blessing? I do not think so. This is about a specific incident which will occur at a specific time, for a specific purpose.

Now there are some people try to infuse John’s account to make the second blessing case. Let’s examine the passages in question:

John 20:19-23 (HCSB)  In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 20 Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

It appears to me here, that as HE breathed on them (in the same way that His Father had on Adam. The church had the same experience that Adam had. See the teaching: “Shape, Form, Blow, Become”) they were both filled and empowered. Why else would He state that they were able now to forgive sin?

The point of this inclusion is meant to say that though they were filled, they needed the second blessing to act. How can this be, if the text says that they are able to forgive or retain sin?

So, examining these passages in context, we cannot firmly support the premise that there is a subsequent ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ that occurs after the initial salvific experience.

Personally, I do not believe that there is:

1 Cor. 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

And I do not have any indication from the Scriptures that anyone received a ‘second dose’ in order to be saved or empowered.

** Concerning the declaration that one is ‘Fire baptized’ In context, I doubt that this statement is an accurate one, since Matt 3:11 in context, reads thus:

Matthew 3:10-12 (HCSB) “Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the One who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove His sandals. He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn. But the chaff He will burn up with fire that never goes out.”

Look at the references to fire in verses 10 and 12, this speaks of the destruction of the wicked. Could it not be that verse 11 does as well? Could it be referring to the two-fold consequence of Jesus’ coming? For the righteous it is the Spirit, for the unrighteous, it is the Fire?

Look at Luke 3:15-18, the reading is almost identical:

 Luke 3:15-18 (HCSB) 15 Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were debating in their minds whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but One is coming who is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing shovel is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with a fire that never goes out.” 18 Then, along with many other exhortations, he proclaimed good news to the people.

(Read also John 5:28-29,  Acts 24:15, Rev. 20:13-15)

Notice that John was speaking to all of the people, surely not all of them were Elect, and yet John makes a global statement, that “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing shovel is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with a fire that never goes out.” That is a statement of contrast…

Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”)  

Sola fide (“by faith alone”) / Sola gratia (“by grace alone”)

Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”) /

Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”)

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