About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Baptism in The Holy Spirit Redefined
the Bible says about the
I begin I would like to say that I am Pentecostal by experience but not
by doctrine. When making
this statement I usually confuse everyone who hears it.
They inevitably ask, "What does that mean?"
My answer is found in the following pages.
- Let Us Begin
Baptism in the Holy Spirit means different things to different people.
This issue has divided the Evangelical church for a long time, although
the conflict seems to have died down in recent years.
was introduced to what Pentecostals call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
After hearing about this I eagerly searched for it.
What you will read in the following pages is both my personal
testimony and my position on the subject, which in the history of the
church is not my thinking alone.
hope you seriously think about what I say and not accept it or reject it
without considerable thought.
Too often we fail to do the research on Biblical issues. For
this reason Biblical illiteracy penetrates the western world church.
If we claim to love Jesus, we should love what He tells us, and
what He tells us is found in the Bible.
We must, therefore, take the Bible seriously.
will begin with my personal experience so you can see where I've come
don't relate my experience to prove my thinking on the subject because
experience, my experience included, proves nothing when it comes to the
We don't build doctrine on experience.
We build doctrine on a good hermeneutical approach to the Bible.
If our experience doesn't match Biblical thinking then we need to
question our experience, which I have done in my own life concerning the
Baptism n the Holy Spirit.
growing up in the Free
was in February, 1970, after watching Billy Graham on television I knelt
beside my bed. In
a very unemotional five seconds I prayed the following.
"Lord Jesus, if I'm not forgiven please forgive me
was short, simple, but very real and from my heart.
Although I didn't realize at the time how real it was, it changed
the direction of my life. The
next day I woke to a surprising change in my life. No,
I didn't feel different.
I just acted different.
No longer did I read the Bible just to get rid of my feelings
associated with guilt.
I wanted to read the Bible.
I wanted to pray.
I wanted to be a witness.
I just wanted to live for Jesus apart from any motivation based
on ridding my feelings associated with guilt.
I was transformed, and it only took five seconds.
It proves that although there's nothing wrong with emotions, they
don't always have to accompany a valid experience with Jesus.
Many of those emotional encounters at the altar produced no real
change in my life.
believe my life never changed prior to this five second prayer because I
was consistently being taught a legalistic gospel of works.
Initial salvation was free of charge and free from works.
It was by faith and faith alone, but, maintaining salvation
appeared to me to be by works.
In short, I was saved by faith but I stayed saved by works.
That's not Biblical and that's why my feelings associated with guilt
never went away
first time I was in what you would call a Charismatic style meeting was
in a school converted into a Christian outreach centre in Lexington, Kentucky. It
was March, 1971.
The room was a normal sized classroom. You
might well imagine one of your high school classrooms you were taught in
as a youth since that is what it originally was. The
room was crowded and this is what I observed.
was standing room only. A
matter of fact, you really could not say standing room only.
There were people sitting in window sills, on the floor, or
wherever they could squeeze themselves into. It
reminded me of the time in the book of Acts where Paul was preaching and
a young man fell asleep and fell out of the window onto the ground
The only difference was that no one fell out of a window, even
though there was one pretty heavy set man sitting on one of the window
number of people squeezed into that room was something to see, but more
importantly was who was in the room.
There were old people in their seventies and there were
There were all shapes and sizes. Talk
about people being in one accord, I saw that there. I
was so used to the church being segregated into children, youth, young
married couples, middle aged people, and seniors. To see them all in one
room at one time and actually enjoying themselves, was shocking at the
meeting began, and this was what impressed me. People
started singing these new songs, or at least they were new to me. The
lyrics were worshipful, giving adoration and thanks to Jesus.
Then, at one point everyone stopped singing.
There was a moment of silence.
Then, very quietly some people started to sing in tongues. Others
soon joined in.
Everyone was singing in a different language that the Lord had
given them. The
spontaneous song started quietly, grew in strength and loudness, until
it all died down into another reverent silence.
There is no way that I can relate this experience to you in its
fullness if you have not experienced it. There
is no way I can relate how I felt about what I saw.
I had never seen anything like that before. I
was certainly impressed.
the singing there was a message in tongues which someone interpreted. That
too was new for me. Then
came a time of prayer where people prayed for each other. They
laid their hands on one another and prayed. Everyone
was involved. It
was more than just the pastor up front doing the praying. Everyone
this was pretty new to me as well.
there I was. Besides
being very impressed, I knew
these people had
and I wanted it bad. The
following few months proved to be an interesting experience in my search
for what these people in Kentucky
arriving home from
my search had begun that Tuesday night down in
brothers in the Lord proceeded to tell me more about what I was looking
for. Meeting the Bridegroom,
as they put it, sounded more than a bit exciting.
After a short while of sharing back and forth they laid their
hands on me and began to pray. I
really can't remember just what they prayed, but I do remember what
happened, and that was nothing. That's right; nothing happened.
At least nothing visible happened, and as far as I was concerned,
nothing invisible happened either. That
wasn't what I was expecting, and it sure wasn't what I was hoping for.
was quite evident to all of us that nothing happened, at least nothing
visible, as I've just mentioned. So,
one kind and helpful brother in the Lord told me to accept this by
faith. The words
"accept this by faith" would pop back into my mind many times
after that night. Accepting
things by faith in this instant meant that even though I didn't feel
like I met the Bridegroom I must believe I did meet Him, but I figured
that if I had actually met Him that we'd all know it for sure.
It should be a thrilling moment to experience; and now they told
me to do some kind of mental gymnastics they called faith.
I was to believe something happened when apparently nothing did
happen. Was I to somehow
trick my brain into believing something happened when it didn't happen?
Is that what they called faith?
I began to think things through for myself I understood what happened
that Tuesday night in
other thing is that if meeting the Bridegroom meant that I would finally
receive the Holy Spirit into my life; that was a problem.
I was a true believer. I believed that I already had the Holy
Spirit living in me. So, how
could He come to live in me when He was already in me?
How could Jesus answer a prayer that had already been answered?
Something wasn't jiving here. The
whole situation was a bit confusing, and maybe this was the will of the
Lord. The whole event got me
searching my way through the Bible for myself.
arriving back home something else increased my desire to receive this
experience that everyone called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Some of my best friends had received this experience and
amazingly enough, they were speaking in tongues. I would later
understand speaking in tongues to actually be praying in tongues as the
Apostle Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 14:14.
can remember quite clearly asking my best friend how one spoke in
must have been after the fiftieth time that I asked him when he finally
clued me in on the secret.
It was simple.
All I needed to do was to say hallelujah ten times real fast and
my tongue would flip over and the tongues would just float off my lips.
Of course, he was joking, but this next episode was no joke.
found myself at the altar of a Pentecostal church.
Again, I was looking for this great experience everyone was
It was the height of what was called the Charismatic Movement.
While looking for the baptism, as it came to be known, I
overheard a Pentecostal preacher tell a man beside me to repeat his
If he would do that then he would begin to speak in tongues.
Copying someone else praying in tongues did not sit well with me
back then and still doesn't today.
there was my other friend who tried his best to help me out. In
all seriousness he told me to just invent my own tongues and speak them
out by faith.
Sooner or later Jesus would honour my faith and give me the real
That too did not sit well with me.
Attempting to duplicate the supernatural with human effort is
just not right.
was a month after my visit to Kentucky
when I found myself in a small prayer meeting with my friends. We
were huddled around each other in a little circle on the floor in our
local Youth For Christ coffee house.
I know that emotions don't necessarily confirm the presence of
Jesus, but on the other hand, Jesus can touch our emotions, and that He
did for me that evening.
basking in the presence of the Lord in prayer it started to happen.
This funny little word slipped out of my mouth. "Boy,"
I thought. "Was that a
word in tongues?" I
sure thought it was, and to this day I still believe it was.
To be clear, I did not invent this word of tongues, nor did I
copy it from a friend. I was
simply magnifying Jesus in English when a word that I had never heard
before came out of my mouth.
the next few days I found myself asking how this one word could
constitute a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit. I
can certainly understand the critics of tongues thinking it was
psychosomatic, a product of an overactive imagination.
It did seem to defy common sense and logic.
I admit that I had a hard time thinking the Lord would give me
just one word of tongues. It
sure didn't happen that way in Acts 2, Acts 10, or Acts 19.
So, I tended to give up on the word, but, anytime I found myself
in one of those prayer meetings, I'd quietly speak this word in my
personal prayers to Jesus.
was a couple weeks later in yet another prayer meeting with my friends
that another unknown word slipped out of my mouth. Apparently
I now had two words in tongues, but again, how could two unknown words
constitute valid Biblical tongues. Two
words still bothered me, but as usual, when I found myself in the
presence of Jesus, I'd quietly speak them in prayer.
few weeks later, and again in a prayer meeting with my friends, I
quietly prayed these two words. I'm
sure you can guess what came next. Yes,
a third word rolled off my lips. I
now had three whole words in tongues, or so I hoped.
now it was well into the summer and a number of weeks had gone by
without any additional words. I
began to really struggle over the idea that three words could validate a
real gift from the Holy Spirit, so I gave up.
I left tongues up to the full fledged Pentecostals, which
apparently I would never be. My
friends could pray in tongues. I'd
stick to English. Maybe the
Free Methodist Church man was right when he told me that I shouldn't seek the
gifts but the giver of the gifts. He
did have a point, although 1 Corinthians 14:1 clearly tells us to desire
gifts of the Holy Spirit. In
that sense of the word, he didn't have a point.
September of 1971 my friends and I moved into a farm house in the
country. Christian communes
back then were common among the Jesus People Movement.
It was in my bedroom in the farm house when I pulled out my
guitar and began singing to Jesus. For
some reason I sang the three little words that I had given up on.
All of a sudden the Holy Spirit filled every fabric of my being.
Those three little words exploded into sentences and paragraphs.
There I was, just like those in that crowded classroom in
experience with Jesus wasn't a one time experience.
He had given me a real gift that would edify me as the Apostle
Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 14:4.
Every day since 1971 I have prayed in tongues and over the
next few years I studied the New Testament to learn more about what I
had experienced. I
acknowledge that experience is important, but if our experience doesn't
line up with the Bible, we must rethink our experience.
I'm not saying we
should discredit our experience. We
should just put it in Biblical perspective.
The following is my rethinking of what has been called the
Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
needs to be a little historical background before I proceed.
Around the turn of the 20th century there was a group
of people who met for prayer in
this one outpouring of the Holy Spirit came revival.
From this revival came churches and denominations promoting what
they called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
They backed their doctrine with certain passages, similar to what
they experienced, from the book of Acts.
speaking, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is said to be an experience
subsequent to one's initial salvation. That is to say, at one point in
time we get saved, or born again, and then at another point in time we
receive the Baptism in the Spirit. This is often called a "second
work of grace;" the first work of grace being initial salvation. Some
suggest that both initial salvation and the Baptism in the Spirit can
happen at the same time, but they claim that is highly unlikely.
thinking of the Baptism in the Spirit as a second work of grace, the
majority of Pentecostals believe that one receives the Holy Spirit at
initial salvation and then at some future point gets baptized in the
Others, who are in the minority, say that one only believes in
Jesus at initial salvation and they receive the Holy Spirit at the
Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
you ask the average Pentecostal what they mean by the Baptism in the
Holy Spirit these days, you'll probably get a variety of answers.
The reason for this is that many cannot really explain what this
term means from a Biblical perspective.
Unlike the average Pentecostal, I will now proceed to explain
what I understand what the Bible says about this issue.
the first chapter of the book of Genesis it says that the Spirit of God
moved across the face of the earth. It
did not take long for the Biblical record to introduce the Holy Spirit
to us. From Genesis to
Revelation the Holy Spirit is seen throughout the Bible.
main point I would like to make here is that for the most part the Holy
Spirit did not reside in people in Old Testament times. Many
times Scripture says that the Spirit came on someone and they spoke the
Word of the Lord, Ezekiel 11:5 being one example.
There is a real distinction between the Spirit coming on someone as seen in the Old Testament and the Holy Spirit actually living inside of someone, as seen in the New Testament.
Man lost the presence of God in his life when Adam disobeyed God's command in the Garden of Eden. Scripture does not make it clear if Adam and Eve actually had the Holy Spirit living within them prior to the fall. We know next to nothing about their pre-fall lives. We do know that their communication and relationship with God was such that they could talk with Him, but that changed. A separation between man and God inflicts humanity ever since.
Luke 1:34 Mary asked the angel Gabriel how she could conceive a child
without being married. In
verse 35 Gabriel answered Mary by saying that the Holy Spirit would come
upon her, producing a miraculous conception.
This is the first mention of the Holy Spirit coming upon a person
in the New Testament. This
means that Jesus had a human mother but His father was God Himself.
This miraculous birth speaks to the Deity of Christ.
Jesus was fully God and fully man from conception.
It's not that Jesus had the Holy Spirit; He was the Holy Spirit
in human form.
John 1:29 John the Baptist said he would recognize the Messiah when he
saw the Spirit of God, like a dove, descend on the one he would baptize.
This tells us that there is
more to the Holy Spirit than one body can contain, and that includes the
body of Jesus. Jesus was
God, yet, even as God, the Holy Spirit came from heaven and settled upon
Him. This is also true in
the life of a Christian. We
have the Spirit within us but He also comes upon us as is seen in the
book of Acts.
proceeded to say that he baptized with water but Jesus would baptize
with the Holy Spirit. This
is the first mention of the Holy Spirit in connection with the word
"baptism" in the New Testament.
thing to note is that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. The
word "baptize" here is a verb. It's
not a noun. It's not a
person, place, or thing, which a noun is.
John was saying that Jesus would give believers the Holy Spirit.
The way in which He would do this would be via a baptism.
So, as one gets totally drenched in water when he gets water
baptized, so one gets totally drenched in the Spirit when he gets Holy
Pentecostals have exchanged the verb phrase "will be baptized by the Holy Spirit" and turned it into the noun phrase, "the Baptism in the Spirit." As a result we seek an experience and not the Holy Spirit. Biblically speaking, we do not see the term "Baptism in the Spirit" in the Bible. This is one point I will be making in the following pages. We do not receive an experience called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit through the process of a baptism. You might think this is semantics, but it's not.
John said that Jesus would baptize us with His Spirit in John 1:33. The baptizing is only the way in which you receive the Spirit. The way or means of getting something is not the important issue. What you receive is the important issue. In this case we "receive the Holy Spirit." The process, or the way this happens is like a baptism; like being totally soaked or drenched in water you are drenched in the Holy Spirit. This is exactly what we read about in Acts 2.
people begin their doctrinal position on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
in Acts 2, but not me. Before
we look at Acts 2, I'd like to backtrack to John 20:22. The
setting is one of the times that Jesus met with the eleven disciples
after His resurrection. He
said, "Peace be to you ..." Then,
as He breathed on these men He said, "Receive the Holy
Spirit." Without doing
too much thinking about this passage you'd think that these disciples
received the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them.
I suggest this was not the case.
reason why I believe these men didn't receive the Spirit here is because
of John 7:39. There, Jesus
said that at some future date those who believed on Him would receive
the Holy Spirit, but this would only happen after He was glorified. The
question then becomes, "when was Jesus glorified?"
believe that Jesus was glorified at His ascension. The
only other time you might say that He was glorified would be at His
resurrection, and I don't see that being the case. In
John 17:5 Jesus prayed; "Father glorify me with your own self, with
the glory I had with you before the world was." In
this instance Jesus links being glorified with the union He and His
Father had prior to His incarnation.
This glorious reunion was not fully realized until Jesus returned
to His Father. Therefore,
Jesus could not have given the Holy Spirit to the disciples in John 20
because He had not yet returned to the Father, at least not for good.
Some might suggest that He returned to His Father and appeared to
His disciples from time to time after His resurrection but that his
speculation. There is no
text that says such a thing.
the disciples didn't receive the Spirit in John 20 is important.
It's important because it shows us that Acts 2 was not a second
work of grace in terms of the Holy Spirit as Pentecostal doctrine
teaches. Acts 2 was a first
work of grace when it comes to the Holy Spirit coming to the believer.
Those in the upper room in Acts 2 received the Holy Spirit for
the first time in their lives, and they received Him by being baptized
is another point to be made from Acts 1:1 to 6. Jesus
told His followers not to leave
thing to note is that there were eleven men in the room in John 20.
There were one hundred and twenty men and women in the upper room
in Acts 2. If the eleven
received the Holy Spirit in John 20, what happened to them in Acts 2?
Then, the rest of the one hundred and twenty who weren't with
Jesus in John 20, what happened to them in Acts 2?
Did 111 men and women receive the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 and the
11 receive an experience some call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
clear to me that everyone in Acts 2 received the Holy Spirit into their
lives for the firs time. This
was not a second work of grace for them concerning the Holy Spirit.
It was a first work of grace.
Acts 1:5 Jesus said that John the Baptist "baptized with water but
you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit." This
is where the term "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" comes from.
important thing to know here is that Jesus didn't tell His followers
that they would receive and experience called the Baptism in the Holy
Spirit, which as I've said before, is a noun phrase.
Jesus said that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
That is to say, as one gets drenched with water in water baptism,
one will be drenched with the Holy Spirit he is baptized in the Spirit.
turned a verb into a noun here. We've
turned the means of receiving the Holy Spirit into an experience.
We've emphasized how we receive the Holy Spirit instead of the
Holy Spirit Himself.
take a tour now through the book of Acts to those passages Pentecostals
use to promote their thinking that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a
second work of grace that is subsequent to receiving the Holy Spirit at
now come to Acts 2.
We see 120 disciples waiting in Jerusalem
as Jesus commanded (Acts 1:4). They
were waiting for the promised gift of the Father, which we know from
Acts 2:38 is the Holy Spirit.
These people were together for one purpose and that was to
receive the Holy Spirit.
2:3 says that there appeared tongues like fire that sat upon each of
2:4 says that the disciples were all "filled" with the Holy
Spirit and began to speak in tongues. It
was as if a big cup of Holy Spirit was poured onto them from heaven.
Their empty lives became full of the Holy Spirit.
This is what Jesus meant when He said that these people would be
baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).
The way in which these people received the Spirit was by being
filled or baptized.
though there is no exact word stating they "received" the Holy
Spirit in this passage, we know they did. They
received Him via a filling according to the text.
Acts 2:14 and following Peter explains what had happened to those who
received the Holy Spirit. He
quotes from Joel 2:28 through 32 in the defense of this event.
Joel said that the day would come when the LORD would pour out
His Spirit on all flesh.
This was the beginning of that day. Joel
uses the words "pour out."
So, Joel said that the Spirit would be poured out and once He was
poured out the disciples were filled as Luke states here in Acts 2.
Acts 2:33 Peter says that Jesus, while at the right hand of God had
received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and had now poured Him
out on the believers.
Again, we see the words "poured out" in reference to
the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit, just as Joel predicted.
We also see that the gift of God is the Holy Spirit.
The gift is not an experience called the Baptism in the Spirit as
Pentecostal doctrine states.
Acts 2 we learn that Jesus told His disciples that they would receive
the gift of the Father, which was the Holy Spirit.
The way in which they received the Holy Spirit was via a pouring
out of the Spirit into their lives from heaven, or as Jesus said in Acts
1:5, they'd receive the Spirit when they were baptized with the Holy
conclude that the disciples did not receive a second work of grace
called the Baptism of the Spirit in Acts 2.
That is to say, they did not receive the Spirit prior to Acts 2
and then receive the Baptism in the Spirit in Acts 2 as Pentecostal
doctrine teachers. When
they were baptized in the Spirit they received the Spirit.
There is no second work of grace concerning the Holy Spirit in
now turn to Acts 8 where Philip preached to some Samaritans who believed
the Word of God and were water baptized (Acts 8:12).
Samaritans are half Jews and half Gentiles, both biologically and
these people both believed and were water baptized I suggest that Philip
must have understood their faith was genuine.
If he thought otherwise, he would not have baptized these people
8:14 and 15 tell us that when Peter and John heard that the Samaritans
had received the word of God, they came from Jerusalem and prayed for
them to receive the Holy Spirit because He had not yet come upon them.
word "receive" is used twice in this passage.
These people had received the gospel but they had not received
It is thus clear that these people first believed and then after
a while received the Holy Spirit.
conclude that the receiving of the Spirit by these Samaritans was not a
second work of grace concerning the reception of the Holy Spirit into
They first believed and then at a later date they received the
This is not typical Pentecostal doctrine that states one receives
the Holy Spirit at salvation and then gets baptized in the Spirit
It did not happen this way in Acts 8 and therefore you can't
teach Pentecostal doctrine from this passage.
9 concerns the Apostle Paul's conversion.
If you read the first 20 verses of Acts 9 you'll note that Paul
met Jesus on the road to
9:17 says that Paul "was filled" with the Spirit.
Once again, being filled with the Spirit portrays the Holy Spirit
being poured out on Paul from heaven.
As he was being filled, he was receiving the Spirit for the first
time in his life.
don't have all of the fine details about Paul's conversion.
The text does not say the exact time when Paul became a real
believer. Paul was certainly
a true believer by the time Ananias laid his hands on him in prayer.
I suggest Paul became a true believer when he met Jesus.
experience was similar to those in
10 concerns Cornelius and his Gentile family and friends accepting the
gospel and receiving the Holy Spirit.
10:44 tells us that while Peter was speaking the Holy Spirit fell on
them. The next verse tells
us that Peter and those with him were astonished that the Holy Spirit
"was poured out" on these Gentiles.
They knew this because these Gentiles spoke in tongues and
Acts 10:44 the words "come on" are used to describe the giving
of the Spirit to these people. In
Acts 10:45 the words "poured out" are used.
Like in the previous examples, the Holy Spirit came down from
heaven and was poured into the lives of these Gentiles.
Acts 2, 8, and 9, these people believed and received the Holy Spirit
simultaneously. They didn't
first believe and then receive at some later date.
I conclude that there was no second work of grace here when it
comes to the Holy Spirit. It
was a first work of grace.
19 is the last of the five examples those who believe in the traditional
thinking of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit use to support their
meets with some disciples in
men only knew of John the Baptist's message and Baptism.
John said that the day would come when Jesus would appear on the
scene. John's task was to
prepare the way of the Lord. That's
all these men knew. They did
not realize that Jesus had come and gone.
They did not realize that the Holy Spirit had taken Jesus' place
here on earth.
told these men about Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 19:6 Paul laid his hands on these men, and as the text
states, the Holy Spirit "came on" these men and they spoke in
tongues and prophesied.
is clear that once again, the experience of these men differ from those
in the last four examples. They
did believe in Jesus, although their belief was from an Old Testament
perspective, not a New Testament perspective.
When they learned the Jesus had already come and gone, they
believed as a New Testament Christian and received the Holy Spirit.
conclude that the reception of the Holy Spirit was not a second work of
grace in terms of receiving the Holy Spirit.
These men put New Testament faith into practice and as a result
they immediately received the Holy Spirit.
recap what we've learned so far. Remember, the traditional thinking
concerning the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is that you receive the Holy
Spirit when you first believe, then at some future date you receive the
experience called the Baptism of the Spirit as a second work of grace.
Do we see such a second work of grace in the five examples that
Pentecostal doctrine use to support this thinking?
Acts 2 believers received the Holy Spirit by way of being baptized into
Him. The text says that they
were filled with the Holy Spirit. There was no second work of grace
concerning the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8 the Samaritans accepted the Word of God and a few days later they
received the Holy Spirit. The
text states that they were filled with the Spirit. Once
again, there is no second work of grace in terms of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 9 Paul met Jesus, and most likely believed right away, but it took
a while before Ananias came so he could receive the Holy Spirit.
The text states that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit. Again,
there is no second work of grace here in terms of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 10 the Gentiles heard the Word, believed it, and immediately
received the Holy Spirit. The
text states that the Spirit came on these people.
It also states that the Spirit was poured out on them.
There is clearly no second work of grace here in relation to the
Acts 19 certain Ephesian men believed as a New Testament Christian
should believe and immediately received the Holy Spirit. The
text states that the Spirit came on these men.
Once again, there is no second work of grace here in terms of
receiving the Holy Spirit.
traditional teaching concerning the Baptism in the Spirit is that at one
point in time in your life you receive the Spirit, and then at another
point in time you're baptized in the Spirit.
In these five examples used to support this position, that did
not happen. In all five
instances, people received the Holy Spirit and the way in which they
received Him was a baptism. If
you persist on using the term "the Baptism in the Holy Spirit"
as a noun phrase, you must admit that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is
the same as receiving the Holy Spirit for the first time in your life.
It is not a second work of grace in terms of the Holy Spirit.
receiving the Holy Spirit is a second work of grace, it's not a second
work of grace in terms of the Holy Spirit.
That is to say, you don't receive the Spirit and then at a later
date get baptized in the Spirit. You
receive the Holy Spirit when you are baptized into Him at what I call
receiving the Holy Spirit is a second work of grace, it is a second work
of grace in terms of believing in Jesus.
That is to say, you must first believe before you can receive the
Spirit into your life. This
makes sense in the five examples we've looked at in Acts.
one hundred and twenty people in Acts 2 were already believers when they
received the Holy Spirit. Therefore,
receiving the Spirit was a second work of grace in terms of believing.
That being said, Acts 2 is not a good example to use in support
of this position. Those in
Acts 2 could not have received the Spirit prior to Acts to even if they
wanted to. They had to wait
until Jesus returned to His Father.
Acts 8 the Samaritans first believed and then a week or so later, or
maybe even longer, they received the Holy Spirit.
In this case, receiving the Spirit was a second work of grace in
terms of believing. They
first believed and then they received the Spirit.
Acts 9 Paul first believed as well.
Then at a later date, probably only three days, he received the
Spirit. Receiving the Spirit
was a second work of grace in Paul's life in terms of believing.
Acts 10 the Gentiles pretty much believed and received the Holy Spirit
at the same time. The same
is true in Acts 19 with the Ephesians.
I suppose if you get real technical, both the Gentiles and the
Ephesians first believed and within seconds or minutes received the Holy
the reception of the Holy Spirit into one's life is a second work of
grace it is second to believing. This
goes along with what Peter says in Acts 2:38 when he says that if you
repent and are baptized, and baptize indicates faith, you will receive
the Holy Spirit. First you
believe and then you receive. That's
the Scriptural norm.
might wonder what really the big deal is. You
might think this is just a matter of words, just a matter of semantics.
Well, let me remind you again what the traditional view of the
Baptism in the Spirit is. When
one first gives his life to Jesus in true belief, he receives the Holy
Spirit. Then, at some future
date, he receives what is called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
It's called a second work of grace because it comes second after
receiving the Holy Spirit when one is converted.
light of these two works of grace, I have just shown that in the book of
Acts there was no second work of grace, at least in terms of receiving
the Holy Spirit. In the five
examples in Acts, the Baptism in the Spirit experience was when people
received the Spirit.
way to put it is when you are born again of the Spirit and become a
Christian you receive the baptism in the Spirit because you receive the
Spirit Himself. That is
really what Jesus is talking about in John 3 when He says that you must
be born again of the Holy Spirit. In
other words, as one is born physically, one can also be born
spiritually. As dramatic as
physical birth is, spiritual birth is just as dramatic.
As one is flooded with water at physical birth, one is flooded
with the Spirit at spiritual birth.
what happened to me? I've
mentioned that I had many altar call experiences while growing up in an
Evangelical church family. Most
of these experiences got rid of my feelings associated with guilt.
However, that doesn't mean these experiences were valid
experiences with Jesus. Yes,
I suppose I could have just been caught up in the emotion of the moment.
Altar calls were often heavily weighted with emotion.
don't believe every last trip to the altar was pure emotion.
I believe I did experience Jesus on many of those trips.
The problem was that after I visited with Jesus, the church's
legalistic teaching would in one sense drive me away.
The feelings of guilt that Jesus wanted to get rid of in my
spiritual system returned with the preaching of a legalistic gospel.
was about eleven years old on one of these trips to the altar.
All of the other trips to the altar have faded into one massive
blur, but not this one. I
believe I received the Holy Spirit into my life that evening.
Still, it wasn't until almost a decade later, after that short
five second prayer, that Jesus did rid me of my feelings associated with
year after that five second prayer was when I first encountered the Holy
Spirit in a new and fresh way. This
was my trip to
later discovered from a detailed search of the Bible that I did not
receive the Baptism in the Spirit in my bedroom in September 1971.
When I learned that the Baptism in the Spirit meant receiving the
Spirit, I had to rethink my experience.
my understanding that I received the Baptism in the Spirit at the altar
when I was eleven years old because it was then I believe I received the
Holy Spirit into my life. What
happened to me a decade later was not the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
It was simply one of many special visitations of the Holy Spirit
that I've experienced over the years.
The one thing different about this visitation, is that while the
Holy Spirit came on me, or, was poured out on me from heaven, I received
the gift of tongues.
those in the book of Acts who had many outpourings of the Holy Spirit
into their lives so have I. September
1971 was just one of many memorable occasions, and to be clear, I've had
many other memorable occasions as we all should have. You
can see this in the life of the Apostle Peter.
He was filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 and he was filled
with the Holy Spirit on several other occasions.
certainly don't want to make light of your experience. I'm
not suggesting your experience that you call the Baptism in the Holy
Spirit wasn't a real visitation of the Holy Spirit.
I'm sure it was. I'm
only suggesting that you look at what happened to you and then turn to
the pages of the Bible to see if your experience lines up with God's
Word. If it does; that's
good. If it doesn't; you
must rethink your experience in light of Scripture.
Maybe it's valid. Maybe
it's not. You may have to
simply redefine what happened to you in light of the Bible.
That's what I had to do. My
experience was valid. I
simply put a valid Biblical label on it.
I believe I received the Holy Spirit at age eleven.
I believe Jesus gave me the gift of tongues in September 1971.
I believe when I received the Holy Spirit at age eleven, I
received Him by being baptized into Him.
Just as one gets soaking wet when he is water baptized, so I was
soaking wet with the Holy Spirit that night.
the 1960's and 1970's the Charismatic Movement spread around the world.
As in the days of the early Pentecost revivals, people had
varying experiences with the Holy Spirit that they called the Baptism in
the Spirit. They were taught
this was a second work of grace in terms of the Holy Spirit. They were
taught that they already had the Holy Spirit in their lives and this new
experience was the Baptism in the Spirit.
of those who received what they called the Baptism in the Spirit came
from mainline denominations that had long sense ignored the gospel of
repentance and faith in Jesus. I
therefore question that these people had the Holy Spirit prior to the
time they claimed they had received the Baptism in the Spirit.
Many of these folk might not have really had true valid faith.
If this is so, then what happened to them when they received what
they call the Baptism in the Spirit?
many of these people had no valid faith, I propose that what they called
the Baptism in the Spirit was really their salvation, or conversion,
experience. It was not a
second work of grace but a first work of grace.
This may be hard for some to swallow but it's worth thinking this
issue through. There are
many who claim faith in Jesus, but there are few Apostle James' around
to challenge this claim. If
you read the book of James you'll quickly see that true faith produces
real Biblical works. If
there is no outward and visible expression of faith, there is probably
no faith, and, if there is no faith in a person, there is no Holy Spirit
in that person. It's that
people may be like the Samaritans in Acts 8.
They have believed, but they have not yet received the Holy
Spirit. The span of time
between believing and receiving may be short or it may be long.
you were one who simply had faith. Maybe
in your heart and mind you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Maybe you even handed your life over to Him, but for some strange
reason that's as far as you went. Maybe
you were like the Ephesian men in Acts 19.
Maybe you had poor or bad teaching.
Maybe you knew little to nothing about the Holy Spirit.
So, when you finally understood the place of the Holy Spirit in
the life of the believer, you asked Him into your life.
this is the case with you, receiving the Holy Spirit was a second work
of grace in terms of believing, not in terms of receiving the Spirit. This
being said, I do have one word of caution when thinking along these
Apostle Paul makes a simple and brief statement in Romans 8:9 that we
must not ignore when thinking these things through.
He simply says that he who does not have the Spirit of God does
not belong to God.
light of what I've just said in the last section, where do Paul's words
fit in? If one has true
faith but does not have the Holy Spirit, does he belong to God or not.
According to what Paul says here, you might wonder.
is a tough question to answer. Here
is my attempt to answer this question.
I believe that what I call "initial salvation" is a
process of three things. You
must first repent. Only
after genuine repentance can you believe in the New Testament sense of
the word. Only after you
have valid faith, can you receive the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the process of salvation is to repent, believe, and
receive. As Paul said, the
Holy Spirit is a seal that proves we belong to God. (2 Timothy 2:19,
Ephesians 1:13) Once you are
sealed with the Holy Spirit, you are saved.
my thinking that your initial entrance into salvation is not complete
until you receive the Holy Spirit. If you die before receiving the Holy
Spirit, only God knows where you will end up.
This I know, you cannot stay in a state of limbo without the Holy
Spirit long. Without the
Holy Spirit you will slip back into your sin.
Paul said that he who does not have the Holy Spirit does not belong to
God, I believe that it was beyond his comprehension that one could be a
believer for ten years without the Holy Spirit
Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost said a very short but profound
statement. He said that if
you repent and are baptized, and, I believe baptized here is evidence of
faith, then you will receive the Holy Spirit.
What Peter says here isn't hard to figure out.
Genuine repentance and faith means the Holy Spirit will come to
you. He may be delayed a
week or two as was the case in Acts 8.
He may be delayed three days as with Paul in Acts 9.
He may be delayed for one reason or another, but true faith does
produce the Holy Spirit. If
the Holy Spirit never comes, then that is evidence that there was never
problem with the traditional thinking concerning the Baptism is that it
limits the Lord. It's
packaged way too neatly, and things aren't normally that neat and tidy. As
I've pointed out, there is no consistency in the five experiences in the
book of Acts that is supposed to prove the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as
a second work of grace in terms of the Holy Spirit.
If there is no real consistency, then there is no pattern to
build a fixed doctrine on.
believe a good hermeneutical point to consider here is that you cannot
build doctrine solely on experience, even if it is experiences recorded
in the Bible. You first
build doctrine on clear Biblical teaching, and then you see how Biblical
experience fits into the teaching.
problem I see with the traditional thinking is that it places too much
emphasis on experience. As
with the case with me, I kept on seeking an experience.
It wasn't until I gave up on the experience and just sought out
Jesus, that I received the gift of tongues, and, by the way, I believe
the prerequisite to receiving the gift of tongues is simply having the
Holy Spirit in your life.
I've set forth here may be confusing to those who have never thought
these things through, for those who merely accepted what they've heard.
Pentecostals might well think this to be heretical.
Some non-Pentecostals might agree with me while others still may
differ. It seems to me that
when it comes to much of my Biblical thinking I'm stuck between two ways
of thinking, but as one Bible teacher once told me, "the truth
between two opinions often lies in the middle".
That's where I believe I stand, and that's where I believe the
Bible stands on this issue.
I'm a Pentecostal by experience because I pray in tongues.
I'm not a Pentecostal by doctrine because I believe that what
Pentecostals call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit takes place when one
receives the Holy Spirit into one's life.
It's not a second work of grace in terms of the Holy Spirit.
It is however, a second work of grace in terms of believing in