By Raymond E. Harris
In our first article on Holy Spirit baptism we discussed the action and the element involved.
1. We pointed out that the action of baptism is always the same. The word baptism when properly translated means to be immersed. Hence, a baptized person is one who has been immersed.
2. The New Testament speaks of several elements into which a person may be immersed. John the baptizer came testifying that he would baptize them with water but that there was one coming after him who would baptize with or in the Holy Spirit and fire.
3. So we learn that there is only one action in baptism (immersion). But, there are a number of elements into which a person may be immersed. And in this study we are focusing on baptism or immersion in the Holy Spirit.
3. The Agent: Just who is the agent in Holy Spirit baptism? In other words, who can perform or administer Holy Spirit baptism? You will remember that John the Baptist acknowledged that he could only administer water baptism. But he said there was one who would come after him who would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11).
In John 1:33-34 it is written: “. . . but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Spirit. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
In John 15:26, Jesus promised the Apostles, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”
In Acts 1:5,8, Jesus told the Apostles, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.” “But ye shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
In all the New Testament, we find no one, save Jesus himself who claimed to have power to baptize with the Holy Spirit. No mere man ever was able to immerse another man with or in the Holy Spirit. This should help us see the folly in some of the claims made today regarding Holy Spirit baptism. The Son of God was the only agent or administrator of immersion in the Holy Spirit.
4. The subjects: Now we want to consider who was to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Was Holy Spirit baptism something that every Christian was to receive? You will remember in Acts 1:5,8, Jesus promised the apostles that they would receive the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the apostles into the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of that specific promise made by Jesus to the apostles.
Now we come to the second and last New Testament example of people being baptized or dipped in the Holy Spirit. This account is found in Acts chapters 10 and 11.
In Acts 10 we learn of God’s direct intervention to direct the apostle Peter (a Jew) to the house of Cornelius (a Gentile). Up till this time, perhaps 10 years after the establishment of the church, the Jewish Christians had not understood that the Gentiles were to be recipients of the Gospel. That was about to change.
Acts 10:44-48: “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word. 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 Spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we (“we” means Apostles, REH)? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”
Please note that in this study we have already learned that only Jesus could administer Holy Spirit baptism. Peter nor any other man had anything to do with this out pouring of the Holy Spirit upon the household of Cornelius. Peter could command and administer water baptism but Deity was the sole administrator of Holy Spirit Baptism.
Now let’s look at a second account of Peter’s visit with Cornelius as recorded in Acts 11:15-17: “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them (Cornelius’ household, REH) as on us (the Apostles, REH) at the beginning (Pentecost – Acts 2, REH). Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was 1, that I could withstand God?”
Again Peter stresses the fact that God alone could baptize with the Holy Spirit. He further noted that what Cornelius and his household received of the Lord was like what the apostles received on Pentecost and that it was a “gift” (see Acts 15:8-9).
We close our study now reminding you that only Deity could administer Holy Spirit baptism; and there are only two occasions of such baptism recorded in all the New Testament.
In our next article we will deal with the design or purpose for Holy Spirit baptism.
To Be Continued
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 12, pp. 364-365
June 20, 1991