By Larry Ray Hafley
From the Republic of the Philippines: “We say that the household of Cornelius received Holy Spirit baptism. We determined this according to the context of Acts 10. But did they not also receive the power to perform miracles which accompanied Holy Spirit baptism? There is no record in the Scripture that they did perform a miracle. Pentecostals will say, Cornelius was not able to perform miracles, but he did receive Holy Spirit baptism, and so with us (Pentecostals). So that not all who received Holy Spirit baptism can perform miracles.”
Who said “there is no record in the Scriptures that they (Cornelius’ household) did not perform a miracle?” The Scripture says they did “speak with tongues.” That is a miracle as even Pentecostals will admit. So, their contention is false, and their alleged baptism with the Holy Spirit is not parallel. If they received Holy Spirit baptism, and no miracles are attendant, what is the purpose of their baptism in the Spirit?
Holy Spirit baptism was:
1) NOT given to remove inherited sin or total depravity. Cornelius was, prior to baptism in the Spirit, a good, just, God-fearing, devout, prayerful man (Acts 10:2, 22).
2) NOT given to purify his heart or soul. Our hearts are purified by faith in obedience to the gospel-“Seeking ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth” (Acts 15:9; 1 Pet,. 1:22).
3) NOT for remission of sins. Forgiveness of sins is to every one that believeth “through his name” (Acts 10:43). Cornelius was commanded to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:48). Water baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ” is “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
4) NOT to save. Cornelius was to send for Peter “who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11:14). They were to be saved by words told them. They were told to believe and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:47, 48). Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Holy Spirit baptism was not given to save. The gospel was (1 Cor. 15:1, 2; Rom. 1:16).
Now what is the modern day purpose of Holy Spirit baptism if it does not involve the miraculous? What use, what benefit is it? Cornelius’ household was baptized in the Holy Spirit to convince the Jews that the Gentiles “had been granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18), to convince the Jews that the Gentiles were gospel subjects who should not be hindered from baptism in the name of the Lord for the remission of sins (Acts 11:1-8; 15:711). Peter was called in “on the carpet” by the Jews in Judea because “Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised and did eat with them” (Acts 11:3). Peter defended his actions by saying he could not refuse them lest he “withstand God.” The Gentiles are gospel subjects by reason of the fact they received the “like gift” “as” the apostles did “at the beginning.” The Jews contending with Peter were convinced, not by another enactment of Holy Spirit baptism before their eyes, but by Peter’s testimony to that effect. In Acts 15:7-11, Peter again concluded that God put no difference between Jew and Gentile (Cf. Acts 10:34, 35). So, Holy Spirit baptism is not needed today to show that all men are gospel subjects. That was accomplished when the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius.
Again, what is the Pentecostal’s purpose of Holy Spirit baptism today if it does not involve the miraculous? It is not to remove depravity, not to purify souls, not for forgiveness, not for salvation. It is not needed to convince us that “in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him.” And if, as Pentecostals say, it is not necessary for miraculous gifts, please tell me what profit it is. And cite Scripture when you tell me-book, chapter, and verse.
Truth Magazine XIX: 48, p. 754
October 16, 1975