13. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Last evening the church Life group which my wife and I attend studied “13. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit” of the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. Four attended. We opened with Leonora, my wife, leading us in singing and prayer; we considered the sheet on “13. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit” that I’d given out in a previous meeting; Ray Noble took prayer requests and brought them to the Lord in prayer; and we closed with lunch. The contents of the sheet follow, supplemented by a few comments by me, which are italicized.

In our study of the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador we’ve finally come to the Truth which distinguishes Pentecostals from most other Christians:

All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth (Acts 8:12-17; 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9). With the Baptism of the Holy Spirit come such experiences as an overflowing fullness of the Spirit (John 7:37-39; Acts 4:8); a deepened reverence for God (Acts 2:4, Hebrews 12:28); intensified consecration to God and dedication to His work (Acts 2:42); and a more active love for Christ, His Word, and the lost (Mark 16:20).

The Evidence

The Baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is indicated by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6).

Our Distinctive Testimony

We consider it a serious disagreement with the Fundamentals for any minister among us to teach contrary to our distinctive testimony that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is regularly accompanied by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance, and we consider it inconsistent and unscriptural for any minister to hold credentials with us who thus attacks as error our distinctive testimony.

We didn’t read the Scripture texts, my explaining that we’d read most of them in going through the rest of the sheet.

The Promise of Baptism in the Holy Spirit

During the last recorded appearance of Jesus to his disciples in Jerusalem, he told them, “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV). He went on to say about the promise of the Father, “[which] you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5). Then after leading them out to the Mount of Olives from which he was about to ascend into Heaven, he told them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The Purpose of Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Baptism in the Spirit is associated with power for witnessing in Acts 1:8, quoted above. Other benefits of receiving it are described in the closing sentence of the opening paragraph of the Truth 13 (see above). It also opens the door for the activities of the Holy Spirit that are commonly called spiritual gifts, “supernatural abilities given by God through the exercising of which believers are enabled to minister effectively and directly in particular situations [1 Corinthians 12:4-11]” (Truth VI, 4 of the Statement of Fundamental & Essential Truths of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada).

The Initial Evidence of Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Before his ascension, Jesus told the eleven not to leave Jerusalem but to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father which he had told them about, “for…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). Peter told the crowd which gathered on the day of Pentecost that what they had seen and heard was the fulfilment of that promise (2:33). Thus, Acts 2:1-4 comprises the first description of people being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (2:1-4)

Peter went on to tell the crowd that they would also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit if they would repent and be baptized, “[f]or the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off” (2:38-39). Acts refers to four subsequent occasions on which ones were baptized in the Holy Spirit: the Samaritan believers (8:14-17), Paul (9:17-19), the Gentiles gathered in the house of Cornelius (10:44-48), and the Ephesian disciples (19:1-7).

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. (8:14-17)

17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened. (9:17-19)

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. (10:44-48)

1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all. (19:1-6)

We didn’t read the Scripture texts, our having read them in preparing for the meeting.

The chart below shows what preceded and marked each of the five occurrences of baptism in the Holy Spirit in Acts.

RECIPIENTS & REFERENCE — WHAT PRECEDED AND MARKED BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
the believers gathered together on the day of Pentecost (2:1-4) — preceded by a wind-like sound that filled the house and “tongues as of fire” that rested on each; accompanied by speaking in other tongues “the mighty works of God” (2:11)
the Samaritan believers (8:14-17) — preceded by Peter and John’s praying for and laying hands on them; seen to be received by Simon the magician, suggesting some unusual manifestation of the Spirit’s presence (8:18-19)
Paul (9:17-19) — preceded by Ananias’s laying his hands on Paul; accompanied or followed by the restoration of Paul’s sight and his being baptized
the Gentiles gathered in the house of Cornelius (10:44-48) — occurred while Peter was preaching; marked by their speaking in tongues and extolling God; served as evidence to Peter and the Jews that God had given salvation to them (11:18) and they could be baptized
the Ephesian disciples (19:1-7) — preceded by their being baptized and Paul’s laying his hands on them; accompanied by their speaking in tongues and prophesying

On the sheet I gave the above as a chart.

Speaking in tongues is referred to in three of the five accounts, but it isn’t mentioned in the accounts of the Samaritan believers or of Paul. However that some external manifestation such as speaking in tongues occurred when the Samaritan believers received the Holy Spirit is implied by Simon’s offering money to buy the power to impart the gift of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. And although Acts records Ananias’s telling Paul that Jesus had sent him so that Paul might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t actually say that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit at that time, let alone giving details about how he was filled. Thus, in light of his saying later, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all” (1 Corinthians 14:18), Paul too may have spoken with tongues when he was first filled with the Holy Spirit.

Thus, I think that the Pentecostal doctrine that the initial evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues rests on a solid Biblical foundation.

The others in the group agreed with me that the Pentecostal doctrine that the initial evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues rests on a solid Biblical foundation.

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4 thoughts on “13. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

  1. Rose Spillenaar Harmer

    Another good post! I was reading an excerpt from Maria Von Trapp’s book in which she was to give a talk in a Catholic Church on “How to Serve God Joyfully”. She said that without the infilling of the Holy Spirit we couldn’t. She took the example of the disciples who were so fearful during the trial and crucifixion, yet after they were filled and spoke in tongues they were emboldened and joyfully proclaimed the Lord until they died. It was a great article.
    I am dismayed at how little we hear about the Holy Spirit in our church services today or witness the manifestation of His Spirit.

    Reply
  2. Bob Hunter Post author

    Thanks, Rose, for your comment. Although for some time I shared your “dismay[ed] at how little we hear about the Holy Spirit in our church services today or witness the manifestation of His Spirit,” recently I’ve been encouraged by the revival of speaking in tongues (with interpretation) in the Sunday services of the church I attend.

    Reply
  3. Allison

    There are so few churches I find these days, even those which adhere to our distinct belief, that talk about the Holy Spirit or show manifestation of His Spirit. I’m glad that I received my baptism in the Holy Spirit as a teenager. It’s an experience that remains special to me.

    Reply

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