Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Baptism With (of) The Holy Spirit and With (of) Fire - Part 2

Baptism of fire

Last week, we saw that the promise of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled at the upper room on the day of Pentecost. We also saw that the promised baptism of Fire was not present. We ended last week by noting that after Acts 2, we never hear again of this baptism as something to be waited for, prayed for, or expected. There was never another Pentecost recognized in the Church. Only twice thereafter, is the baptism so much as mentioned in the New Testament; once in Peter’s account of the reception of Cornelius and other Gentiles with  him into the Christian fold (Acts 11:16), and then in Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians where it is shown to be something past, in which all who were believers had shared. “By one Spirit are you all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles” (First Corinthians 12:13)

What did that historic Spiritual baptism accomplish and why did it take place subsequent to the new birth or conversion of the apostles and other believers in the opening of the Book of Acts?

First, let it be noted that the baptism of the Spirit was a future thing until Jesus was glorified. It was after His ascension that He was to send the Spirit, who had hitherto dwelt upon the earth. While Christ was here the Spirit was present in Him but He did not then indwell believers. The Scriptures records say “The Holy Ghost was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified” In His last hours with His disciples He spoke of sending the Comforter, and He contrasted the two dispensations by saying; “He had been with you, and shall be in you.”

Secondly, we also observe that He was not to come  for the cleansing or freeing of the disciples from sin. True, He would indwell them, to control them for Christ and empower them for holiness of life and for authoritative testimony. But His special work was to baptize or unite all believers into one body. He came to form the body of Christ after the Head has been exalted in Heaven as Man at God’s right hand. The Saviour’s work on the Cross cleanses from all sin. The Holy Spirit unites the cleansed into one body with all other believers, and with their glorified Head.

Thirdly, the body being  now formed, individual believers no longer wait for the promise of the Father, expecting a new descent of the Spirit, but upon their believing they are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and thus are linked up with the body already in existence. (Ephesians 1:13-14) This is the true definition of baptism – ‘to put into’

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

In the early chapters of Acts we have a number of special manifestations of the Spirit. In Acts 2, the one hundred and twenty in the Upper Room are baptised into one body. Those who believed and were baptized in water, to the number of over three thousand, received the same Spirit, and were thus added by the Lord to the newly constituted Church or Assembly –Ekklesia

In Acts 8, the word of life overlaps Jewish boundaries and goes to the Samaritans, who are obliged to wait till two apostles came from Jerusalem, before they receive the Spirit –”that there be no schism in the body” The Jews and the Samaritans had maintained rival religious systems and temples for hundreds of years, and the contention was very bitter between them (John 4:11-22). So it is easy to see the wisdom of God in this visibly and openly uniting the converts of Samaria with those in Jerusalem.

In Acts 10 the circle widens. Grace flows out to the Gentiles. Cornelius and all his company hear words whereby they shall be saved. They were thus brought into the full Christian position and as Peter preaches, the Holy Ghost falls on them all and upon their believing a manifestation of power accompanying it as a testimony to Peter and his companions. They are baptized (added) to the body.

One exceptional instance remains; that recorded in Acts 19. Apollos has been preaching the baptism of John in Ephesus, “knowing not the Gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection and the Spirit’s descent". He was carrying to the dispersed Jews in Gentile cities the message of John. He was instructed by Aquila and Priscilla; he then received the full revelation and went on to Corinth. Paul followed him to Ephesus and found certain disciples, who certainly came short of the Christian place and walk; to them he said, “Did you upon believing, receive the Holy Spirit?” They replied, “We did not so much as hear that the Holy Spirit had come” Christian baptism is in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So Paul asks, “Unto what then were you baptized?” This question brought out the solution. They answered “Unto John’s baptism” They surely were not Christians. The Apostle then preached the truth of the Christian revelation, setting forth Christ as the one predicted by John, who had now come, died and risen, and who has sent the Holy Spirit down from heaven. They received the message with joy, were baptized by authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and upon the imposition of Paul’s hand, and received the Comforter. They too are added to the body, and the transitional state had come to an end.

Thereafter no mention is ever made of an interval between conversion and the reception of the Spirit. He now indwells all believers as the seal that marks them as God’s - (Ephesians 1:13-15); whereby they are sealed till the day of  the redemption of their bodies. (Ephesians 4:30) 

The ‘parted tongues of fire’ in Acts 2:3; does not mean that we should be baptized with fire. It is not of fire but “as of fire”. They were tongues – this points to speaking. It indicates that the power of the Holy Spirit should manifest itself in the preaching of the Word – so that the word which like fire judges all things (Hebrews 4:12) should be proclaimed with might (Acts 1:8). That the tongues were parted is, I believe, an indication that this witness should not only be directed to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles.

How great is God’s grace which does not give us all that we ask for; but only that which is good for us! If He had answered the prayers of His children in which they asked for “the baptism with fire”, where would they be? “For also our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29) 

The baptism of fire we shall never know. That is reserved for all who refuse the Spirit’s testimony, who shall be cast into the lake of fire when the great Day of His wrath has come.

The Holy Spirit puts the believer into the body of Christ the moment he is saved. It is not a second experience.

God bless you all.

No comments:

Post a Comment