Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why Spirit Baptism is Distinct from Salvation

What doctrine of the church is more divisive than this one? People get mighty freaked out when you start talking about Spirit Baptism. I thought that I would address a few of the questions people have. Especially, those that I hav eencountered from friends in theological circles.

Many well meaning folks hold to this doctrine quite strongly. I will leave it to God to discern their motivations for doing so. My comments will be made upon the Biblical texts.

My first evidence of this secondary work of grace is that it comes to the disciples long after they believe. In John 1.12 we are told that all who "received him, to those who belived in his name, he gave the right to become children of God". But it is not until John 20.21-22 that we see Jesus reminding them of the need to receive the Holy Ghost. I don't believe that there can be salvation without the work of the HS and yet Jesus told his Disciples that they were clean (Jn 15) because of the word they had received.

The second evidence of the Baptism into the Holy Spirit is that Luke records the words of Jesus as strongly holding back the disciples from going into ministry because of the necessity of this experience. Luke records the promise after their minds and been opened to the Scriptures (24.45-49). It would seem unlikely that the Disciples that healed the sick, and cast out demons in the name of Jesus had not come to salvation by the faith they placed in him. Yet again in Acts 1.8 the, now resurrected Christ, tells them to wait for the HS on pentecost.

Thirdly, the oft confused Baptism by the Spirit (1 Cor 12.13) is the work of the Holy Spirit putting the believer into the body of Christ. In that passage the Spirit is the "baptizer", the body is the "element" whereas in the "element" in Matthew 3.11 is the Holy Spirit and the "baptizer" is Jesus. In Matthew 3 John the Baptist is prophecying the immersion of the believer into the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul's concern in 1 Cor 12 was simply to show that there was unity initiated by the Spirit's work.

In Acts 8 we are told that the Samarian Christians believed and saw miracles (v12) but that the Holy Spirit hadn't come upon any of them (v16). Taken at its face value this text seems to be insurmoutable for those who claim Spirit baptism is simultaneous with salvation. A similar issue is with the Ephesian Disciples in Acts 19.

We might also offer as evidence the lack of the manifestation gifts present in the churches whose theological underpinnings have limited Spirit Baptism to the salvation experience. While I might agree that all of us believers have been baptized BY the Holy Spirit- only some of us are Baptized INTO the Holy Spirit.

This would also explain why the apostle would ask the Corinthians to "seek" and "desire" the gifts of the Holy Spirit and encourage that "tongues not be forbidden". In Rom 8 we are told that the Spirit empowers the believer to pray God's will perfectly. Thus there is a necessity to pray in the Holy Spirit routinely. I have often found relief and blessing as I have prayed in the blessed Holy Spirit given language that he affords me. Too many neglect this crucial gift at their own spiritual peril. Pray in the Spirit is the command of the apostle to the Ephesian church- "With all kinds of prayers", he admonishes.

If you are not Baptized into the Holy Spirit, immersed by the Lord into the realm of the Spirits power, then Seek it, Desire the good gifts of God! If you are Baptized already then practice your prayer language every day. Build up your faith in the Holy Spirit.

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