World of Faith

What is Charismatic? – Part Three: The Baptism in the Holy Spirit – Being Filled Afresh for the New Year in 2007 | January 2, 2007

Before I get into the third installment of “What is Charismatic,” I want to wish everybody a happy new year here in 2007. I pray for everyone who reads this that 2007 would be your year of the open door, a year of possibility and opportunity for God’s will in your life to be achieved, a year of abundance for all.

This week I hope that my topic will be non-controversial, but I cannot make any promises or guarantees. We’re going to discuss the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or as some call it, the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This is a distinct experience that occurs after one’s salvation, because it is a separate work from the baptism into Christ, which we receive at salvation. Nevertheless, it is still something that is necessary if a Christian believer desires to live an effective and efficient life for Christ, and desires to have a bold witness.

As a review, the New Testament teaches at least 3 different baptisms as normative experience for Christian believers, and the third of these is the focus of this week’s post. Hebrews 6:1-3 (NKJV), “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” Again, notice that baptisms is in the plural, but all notice that the foundation listed after “doctrine of baptisms” is the foundation of “laying on of hands.” The three baptisms we have been discussing are (1) baptism into Christ, which occurs at salvation, (2) water baptism (that was last week), and (3) baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is this week’s discussion. Some also call this the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

It is important to note that receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or being filled with the Holy Spirit, is an experience subsequent to salvation. When we are saved, we are baptized into the body of Christ (see 1 Cor. 12:13, and Romans 6). This action is part of the saving and indwelling work of the Holy Spirit, and I discussed the reality of that two weeks ago in Part One. However, in Matt. 3:11, John the Baptist says, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He (Jesus) who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” So, with the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the first thing to note is that it is Jesus Himself who performs and administers this baptism, and not the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is the Holy Spirit into which we are baptized. I firmly believe the disciples in Acts 2 were already saved. I believe the disciples were saved, regenerated, and “born again” in John 20:22, when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into them. When one is “born again,” you receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, who comes inside and dwells in your heart. But there is no immersion into the Holy Spirit, at least not yet. So, we need to understand it truly is a subsequent experience from salvation. One quick note: I am not using the term “second blessing” here, and for a big reason. 2 Pet. 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him (God) who called us by His own glory and excellence.” We receive all we need in terms of the blessing of salvation at salvation. However, we all need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so we can effectively live the Christian life, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a requirement for salvation. But it is a requirement if you desire to live an effective Christian life and be a bold witness for Christ.

So, what is the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” This was then fulfilled at Pentecost in Acts 2. Acts 2:1-4 provides the account, “When the day of Pentecost has come they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all FILLED with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” So, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is what happens when one is filled with the Holy Spirit, and the initial and normative sign, at least according to Acts 2:4, is speaking with tongues. Next week, in Part Four, I am going to examine, “What is speaking with tongues?” more up close, and then for several weeks I’ll be looking at the gifts of the Holy Spirit as well. However, what I am trying to capture this week is what the baptism in the Holy Spirit is, and what it provides to the Christian believer, i.e. enduement of power for Christian living and service, the power to be an effective and bold witness in one’s life for Christ, etc.

The next question then is whether the baptism in the Holy Spirit is normative for all Christian believers. Some will argue Acts 2 was a unique occurrence, and thus is “descriptive,” but not normative. However, new disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit later on in the Book of Acts several times. Let’s look at each of these instances in turn. The next instance of the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit is in Acts 4 where disciples were praying. Acts 4:29-31, “ ‘And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” This is almost a repeat performance of what occurred in Acts 2. The disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and the primary evidence was God answered the prayers here, that the disciples spoke the word of God with boldness. We all need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to be bold witnesses for Christ. The next occurrence of the filling of the Holy Spirit is recorded in Acts 8:14-17, “Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them to Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He (the Holy Spirit) had not yet fallen on any of them; they simply had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” What happened in Samaria? Was this an authentication of the gospel? No, the disciples in Samaria were clearly already saved and born again. They had already received the word of God (were saved) and had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (water baptism). Thus, these disciples received the baptism in (or infilling of) the Holy Spirit, just like in Acts 2 and Acts 4 earlier. The next major instance of the infilling of the Holy Spirit is recorded in Acts 10:44-46, when Peter was preaching to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius. Acts 10:44-46, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them (the Gentiles) speaking with tongues and exalting God.” Again, we see the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. Was this an authentication of the gospel as a sign gift? No, but this again shows the experience is normative for the believer. Even Peter explained this in Acts 11:15-16, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He did on us at the beginning (see Acts 2). And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” The last recorded occurrence of disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit is in Acts 19:1-6, “It happened while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, Jesus.’ When they (the disciples) heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.” Here, again, we see disciples, people who were already saved, already Christians (John the Baptist told them to believe in Jesus, but they were unaware and uninformed of the Holy Spirit), and Paul came to have them re-baptized in the appropriate name (the name of Jesus), and to administer the baptism (or infilling) of the Holy Spirit just like we saw in Acts 2, Acts 4, Acts 8, and Acts 10. This is now at least the fifth occurrence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is normative for all believers.

Now, you might ask, I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit everyday (which is right, because Eph. 5:18 exhorts us to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, and we are all ‘leaky vessels’), but I don’t feel like I need to have someone lay hands on me to receive this. Well, first of all, that is correct, you do not NEED someone to lay hands on you to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not command you to have someone lay hands on you. However, consider a relatively new believer, who does not understand discipleship. He doesn’t have a walk with God, and the power of God is foreign to him… all he has is his own power, and his own strength, to walk out the Christian life and be an effective witness. Don’t you think, for the FIRST time in an individual’s walk with God, it would be HELPFUL to have another person lay hands on him (like we saw in Acts 10 and 19), and pray for him to get filled with the Holy Spirit, which would be the start of a life of discipleship and obedience to God? Wouldn’t that be beneficial in beginning your life of discipleship and obedience? I’m not saying its necessary, but I believe it is helpful and beneficial, for someone to lay hands on you, and be a facilitator of the Holy Spirit, to fill you, and for Jesus to baptize you into the Holy Spirit, so you can have power to effectively serve God and be a witness. That really is what the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit is all about, becoming endued with power so you can walk out the Christian life. The normative sign that was evidenced in several of the instances when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit was that they spoke in tongues. Some consider this to be the initial and/or normative evidence of the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit, and we will take up that proposition next time in Part Four of the series “What is Charismatic?”

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11 Comments »

  1. Jonathan,

    What follows is the text of the original comment I tried to post a few days ago, but got lost in “cyber-space.” As time permits, I will try to reflect a bit more on the questions you asked me on my blog, and get back with some further comment.

    Blessings,

    David

    ————————-

    You have done a good job of presenting what I understand to be the traditional “charismatic” view of “baptism in the Holy Spirit” here. While I would agree that it is, in some sense, a good thing to go outside our normal circle of conversation, and examine Scripture through a different “lens” from time to time, I will be up front here, and say that the view you describe here is one I have considered in the past (with the exception of the “three baptisms” application of Hebrews 6.1-3), and not been convinced by hermeneutically. I could go into verse-by-verse details of why I am not in agreement (similar to how I have been dialoging with Geoff Baggett on his blog over the subject of PPL), but, since the particular view you are defending here is not really even up for debate in the circles I frequent, and since I feel I have, on the basis of my own study, already developed what I feel to be a fairly clear understanding of these issues, I don’t really sense a need to go into that much detail here in my discussion with you on this particular issue.

    What does interest me, especially since you seem to have taken a special interest in interacting with several specifically Southern Baptist-oriented blogs, is what issues of compatibility (or incompatibility) do you see in ministry partnership with someone who interprets Scripture different than you on these issues. For instance, on a church-planting team, would you think it necessary that the team members all be in essential agreement regarding their beliefs about the “baptism in the Holy Spirit”? Why or why not? Also, to what degree do you think it would be fruitful for “charismatics” like yourself and convinced “non-charismatics,” such as many Southern Baptists, to try to work together in ministry?

    Comment by David Rogers — January 4, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

  2. Jonathan,

    As I read it, the “normative” command regarding the “filling of the Holy Spirit” is Eph. 5.18, which, as you correctly indicate, means literally “be being filled (continuously) with the Spirit.” As you also (I believe correctly as well) indicate, the requirement for being filled with the Spirit is not necessarily someone laying hands on you. I understand it to be a total surrender and submission to the Lordship of Christ, as well as a simple prayer of faith, asking God (or Christ) to fill us. Once again, I agree with you in that there is essentially no problem in someone laying hands and someone else, and praying for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit, provided that the understanding is not given that the filling of the Spirit is, as if it were, a magical type of transmission of supernatural power from one person to another.

    I do admit there are legitimate questions raised with such passages as Rom. 1.11, 1 Tim 4.14, 2 Tim. 1.6, that would lead me to not deny the possibility that God may still today choose to sovereignly give or awaken some spiritual gift or another in someone else at the time of a special prayer and/or laying on of hands. However, I still like to emphasize the “normativeness” of 1 Cor. 12.11: “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, JUST AS HE DETERMINES.” (Not shouting, just emphasizing that phrase). I think there is a danger of thinking that in any way we can control God, and become, as Simon Magus wanted to, some sort of magical dispensers of the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    In any case, I don’t see three baptisms implicit in Hebrews 6. I believe the “elementary teachings” about Christ referenced there are actually Old Testament teachings that served as a foundation for the message of grace. Thus, the “baptisms” are referring to ceremonial washings practiced under the Mosaic law. And, while I agree it is curious that Matt. 3:11, Mark 1:8, and Luke 3:16 all refer to Jesus baptizing us with the Spirit, and 1 Cor. 12.13 to the Spirit himself baptizing us into one Body, I don’t see sufficient warrant to make this out to be two separate events altogether. I see it as referring rather to two different perspectives of the same event.

    On the other hand, if we, as believers are to “be being filled with the Spirit,” I would be in agreement that there must be a point in time when this filling begins. I believe, however, this point is the point of conversion. If we are not truly surrendered and submitted to the Lordship of Christ at the time of our supposed conversion, I question the authenticity of that conversion.

    I would also not deny the possibility of special “anointings” with power for specific tasks and moments in our Christian walk, such as that referenced in Acts 4.31.

    What I don’t see is the necessity of any particular spiritual manifestation as the outward sign of the “baptism” or “filling” of the Holy Spirit. This would seem to “fly in the face” of 1 Cor. 12.29-30 as I understand it. Neither do I deny the possibility of some special outward manifestation accompanying a specific experience of empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The point I would emphasize once again, though, is this is “JUST AS HE DETERMINES” and not as we ourselves do, according to our personal expectations.

    On the surface, it may appear there is not that much difference between my position and the one you defend here. In practice, many times, I am hopeful that is indeed the case. The problem, in my opinion, is when Pentecostals and/or Charismatics want to “project” their spiritual experience on the lives of others, and, as a result, urge them to “pray through” or attend the meeting of the latest “spiritual guru” in order to get a quick “spiritual fix.” I realize these are characterizations, and do not necessarily have to be the case. But I have seen enough situations in which something very similar has occurred. Also, I think the idea that only those who have had the experience of “speaking in tongues” are the truly spiritual ones, and everyone else is lacking something that should be “normative” for their spiritual life, has produced much division, and spiritual pride, that, in the long run is not glorifying to Christ, nor helpful for the edification of the Body.

    I hope this explanation helps for a starting point.

    Blessings,

    David

    Comment by David Rogers — January 4, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

  3. David,

    Responding to Post #1: Those are interesting questions. I am going to respond to this from a somewhat Southern Baptist angle, because the way we plant churches in my own theological community is somewhat different than the way Southern Baptists plant churches. The short answer is yes and no. I don’t really see it as a black and white issue. I see shades of gray. There is a major church here in Oklahoma (I’m sure you know about it, because they are one of the leaders in the multi-site movement) where their leaders have a multitude of views on these issues. Some of their leaders speak in tongues, and some do not. And they all get along. But they are not Baptist. However, all the staff people are willing to cooperate with one another. I do not think doctrinal issues that are secondary, or even tertiary, should interfere with cooperation.

    As to your other question, I do think it would be fruitful for “charismatics” and “non-charismatics” to cooperate in some kinds of ministry. City-reaching is one of them. CUFI events is another. If a charismatic church, for some reason, decided to contribute to the CP program, I do not think the SBC should deny them the opportunity to contribute to missions support… that is robbing God’s people.

    Response to Post #2: I am going to try to respond to this paragraph-by-paragraph.

    I agree that the laying on of hands is more of a facilitation than an impartation. I think it helps new believers get filled with the Holy Spirit, who might not have a clue of what submission and discipleship is about.

    Let me respond to the Rom. 1:11, 1 Tim. 4:14, and 2 Tim. 1:6 issue. Thank you for bringing these Scriptures to my attention… I believe that one of the tasks of an apostle is to lay hands on people and establish people, thus Paul did to Timothy. I do not believe this is in reference to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It actually deals more with the issue of spiritual gifts and five-fold ministry, which are topics that will soon be addressed later this month in my blog. So, I’ll respond to that issue at a later date.

    As for 1 Cor. 12:11, I believe you are at least in part correct, in that the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the distribution of spiritual gifts. Where we might differ (and this will be covered next weekend in Part 4) is how having a prayer language is different from the gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12. 1 Cor. 12:6-7 says, “There are a varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” I believe that the “manifestation” referred to in verse 7 is the baptism/infilling of the Holy Spirit, and the “normative evidence” of it your prayer language. I know you might disagree with that, but I will provide greater explanation next week.

    Regarding Hebrews 6, the point is I see the concept of multiple baptisms implicit. It could be simply two baptisms (baptism into Christ and baptism into the Holy Spirit), or three, or more. To me, the fact “baptisms” is plural simply indicates more than one, and that means at least two. Because water baptism is a commandmant of the Lord in the Scriptures, I see a normative pattern of three different baptisms, each having a different purpose and function. I am hard-pressed to see that the “elementary teaching” referred to here is an OT concept. The concepts of repentance from dead works to me implies a NT theology. The Pharisees and OT Jews did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. I do not see an OT theology here. Can you describe WHY you see it different?

    I understand you see only one baptism. Let me ask you a question about that. Do you believe the disciples were regenerated or saved in Acts 2, or do you believe they received the indwelling Holy Spirit earlier, perhaps in John 20:22? What are your thoughts about that?

    You have a point that you would question the authenticity of someone’s conversion if they were not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ at that time. I completely agree with that. But the concept of being filled with the Holy Spirit, to me, is more about being empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a godly and effective Christian life full of service, etc., more so than it is about control. I know a lot of people, perhaps even including yourself, view being filled with the Holy Spirit as an issue of control, and not empowerment. But I believe there is enough Scripture, and I could cite you a few chapter and verse if you would like, that indicate the purpose of being filled with the Holy Spirit is for empowerment, while the control issue is settled at conversion.

    As to 1 Cor. 12:29-30, I believe the reference to tongues is the GIFT of speaking in tongues, and not a reference to one’s prayer language. I believe in the time when the Bible was written, every Christian was filled with the Holy Spirit and had a prayer language. I believe that is demonstrated in Acts 2, 10, 19, and other Scriptures. However, not everyone had or will have the gift of tongues, for the purpose of edifying the Body of Christ. Believe it or not, Richard Roberts, the current president of Oral Roberts University has NEVER operated in the gift of speaking in tongues (for it to be interpreted in a public assembly), but has a prayer language, and received that when he was first filled with the Holy Spirit.

    Let me respond to one more thing about your last paragraph. I agree that there are issues about “praying through” and “spiritual gurus” and getting “quick spiritual fixes.” Desiring a quick fix in any area of life is a sign of immaturity, so far as I am concerned. We’ve even had teachings on that in my own church, and we’re charismatic. However, while I do believe that you can be truly spiritual without speaking in tongues, or having a prayer language, I do believe that being filled with the Holy Spirit, and receiving your prayer language is something that needs to be encouraged. It should not be forced, but I believe it is a great help and aid to those who receive it. I do not think we should look down on those who do not have it yet. Just like we should not look down on people who are lost, and without any hope of salvation. I agree that there is a danger of spiritual pride, but this is true for all Christians, regardless of whether they speak in tongues or not. I think if we just learn to be truly humble, we probably all could really stay continually filled with the Holy Spirit, and perhaps all would receive a prayer language, too, and we could accomplish much for the Kingdom of God. What do you think about that?

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

    Comment by Jonathan — January 4, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

  4. Jonathan,

    I will eventually get back with you. Have patience. It may take me a couple of days, between other things I need to get done in the meantime.

    Blessings,

    David

    Comment by David Rogers — January 7, 2007 @ 6:35 pm

  5. David,

    Sure. Take your time. That’s fine.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

    Comment by Jonathan — January 7, 2007 @ 8:32 pm

  6. Jonathan,

    Finally getting back with a few brief comments here. First, thanks for your comments regarding possibilities for cooperation. Some of these issues can get a bit thorny, but, in the interest of seeking after the unity Christ desires, I don’t think we can just forget about them either.

    Regarding Hebrews 6, I have several reasons for the view I take: 1) the general context of the book of Hebrews, which is about leaving behind Old Testament Judaism and embracing the New Testament message of grace through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and more specifically, the dangers of abandoning the message of grace, in order to return to the bondage of legalism, 2) the word translated “baptisms” in some translations, and “ceremonial washings” or just “washings” in others. The same word occurs again in Hebrews 9.10, in which the reference to “ceremonial washings” seems clearer, 3) of the various things mentioned to be “left behind,” I think all of them fit in well with and Old Testament context. John the Baptist taught “repentance from dead works,” yet he still belonged to the old covenant: “the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than him.”

    Regarding the salvation of the disciples, I see it as more of a gradual process. They grew in their understanding of who Jesus was and their submission to his Lordship. The day of Pentecost was a crucial moment, in which they received, as I understand it, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost, I believe that salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are simultaneous.

    Regarding “control” and “empowerment” of the Holy Spirit, I follow to some degree your point. But I also believe the two are tied together. The more control the Holy Spirit has over your life, the more power you will receive from Him as a natural result. There do seem to be special moments of anointing with power for service, though. What I do not see, is that these must always be accompanied by the same manifestation (i.e. tongues), or are necessarily normative for all believers.

    I will leave any comments on tongues as a spiritual gift as over against a manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit for your next post.

    Comment by David Rogers — January 14, 2007 @ 10:39 pm

  7. David,

    Thanks for writing again. I’m going to respond to your comments as best I can, but I hope you have read Part 4, which addresses the tongues issue somewhat, as well. Monday or Tuesday of this week I will release Part 5, which will begin to examine spiritual gifts.

    I am concerned with the way you are interpreting the Scriptures. I believe that there are aspects (which I am about to discuss) of your interpretation that are incongruent (or inconsistent) with the rest of the Bible. I’ll be giving examples of that in a moment

    First, there is Hebrews 6. I agree that the general context of the Book of Hebrews is about leaving OT Judaism and legalism behind for NT grace through Jesus’ death and atonement for our sins on the cross, as well as the dangers of “backsliding” into Jewish legalism, as well. I believe that is an excellent point, and I wholeheartedly agree with it. However, I disagree with the baptisms/washings issue. I believe that the context for the term “washings” or baptisms is different, comparing Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 9. Heb. 6:1-2 states, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings (or baptisms) and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.” Breakin this passage down, we see that there are certain items that are part of the “foundation” of a new believer in Christ. The first of these is “repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.” This is one item, and basically summarizes salvation. The second aspect of the new believer’s Christian “foundation” is “instruction about washings/baptisms and laying on of hands.” There is no comma that divides the washings/baptisms and the laying on of hands (I’m using the NAS right now). These two items are clearly connected in the “foundation” of a new believer. It is thus not a surprise to me that the time when hands are laid on a new believer, in the Book of Acts, is when they receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit (or the baptism in the Holy Spirit) for the first time.

    David, let me also add that besides water baptism, there are two distinct baptisms that are taught in the Scriptures. Putting the Hebrews 6 discussion to the side, for the moment, 1 Cor. 12:13 speaks of one baptism performed into the Body of Christ, by the Holy Spirit. I think we would both agree that this occurs at salvation, this is our baptism into Christ. But, Matt. 3:11 and other verses indicate there is a different baptism, which is performed by Christ. John the Baptist says of Jesus in Matt. 3:11, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (really this means into) and fire.” I believe that this baptism here is distinct and separate from the baptism into Christ, which occurs at salvation. Frankly, there are two different administrators, the Holy Spirit in one, and Jesus in the other. There are also two different “modicums” (what the candidate is baptized or immersed into), the Body of Christ in one, and the Holy Spirit in the other. David, my question for you is how in the world can you interpret these to be the same occurrence or event in the life of the believer? It seems clear to me that they are two different occurrences or events.

    Now addressing what I believe is an incongruence or inconsistent part of your interpreation of the Scriptures. You stated above, “Regarding the salvation of the disciples, I see it as more of a gradual process.” I really have an issue with this, and I think even many non-charismatic Christians would as well. I do not believe that the salvation of the first disciples was “gradual.” That does not line up with the Word of God. It is a far cry from heresy, or anything like that, but I do not see that as a valid theological statement. You and I were not saved or regenerated or become born again in a “gradual process.” The Bible clearly states the requirements for salvation in Romans 10:9. Salvation (and regeneration) from what I see in the Bible is an instantaneous process. It is NOT a gradual process. I believe there are two distinct possibiities as to when the first disciples were born again. One possibility is when they publicly accepted Jesus as Lord and became a disciple. I believe that today, when a Christian publicly accepts Jesus as Lord, there is a fulfillment of Romans 10:9, and salvation has been effectuated for that person. So that makes sense. However, regeneration of the Holy Spirit is essential for salvation to take effect. So, the other possibility for when the first disciples were regenerated, or saved, is when they received the INDWELLING Holy Spirit in John 20:22. Jesus told the disciples in that verse, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” and He breathed on them. It would be incongruent (or inconsistent) with other Scriptures if the first disciples “delayed” their obedience here. The statement, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” is given as an instructive command. David, do you believe the disciples received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit THEN or LATER? If you believe they received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit LATER, then the disciples did not obey Jesus right then and there. The way the Bible defines obedience, delayed obedience is DISOBEDIENCE. Thus, I believe the first disciples received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and were regenerated at John 20:22. They did not wait to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit until later. That would be disobedience on their part to the instructive command of the Lord Jesus Christ. This also means that what happened in Acts 2 was an experience subsequent (or after) their salvation. They were already regenerate believers. The Holy Spirit had already come to dwell on the inside of their hearts. They had been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. But there was also to be an infilling, the promise of the Father — Jesus spoke of this in Acts 1, and also earlier in some of the Gospel accounts during His earthly ministry as well, The promise of the Father is not salvation. It is the infilling of the Holy Spirit, in all its fullness.

    Lastly, let me distinguish “control” and “empowerment.” I agree with you to a point that the more control the Holy Spirit has over your life, the more power you receive as a natural result of that. But that’s a “natural” result. I’m interested, as a believer, and I hope you are too, in SUPERNATURAL results. If we want to see SUPERNATURAL results, like we did in the Book of Acts, then we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, like we saw in the Book of Acts. I believe, and perhaps you disagree, that the Book of Acts provides for us today a template, or a pattern, of how we should live our lives as Christians, and how ministry should be done in our churches. So, for me, the key issue often is to discover the biblical pattern for something, because the biblical pattern for something means it is normative. And that gets me to my last point, David. Most of the times in the Book of Acts when believers were filled with the Holy Spirit (from Acts 2 onward), it was accompanied by the believer speaking in tongues. Yes, there are a few exceptions (like boldness in Acts 4), but most of the times, in Acts 2, Acts 10-11, and Acts 19, the experience of receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit was accomapnied by speaking in tongues. So, there is a biblical pattern for this that you cannot deny. And that’s why I believe it is “normative.” And I’ll stop there, and let you respond to all of that. But also look at Part 4, because that picks up where Part 3 leaves off.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

    Comment by Jonathan — January 15, 2007 @ 3:40 am

  8. Jonathan,

    Sorry for taking so long to answer again.

    In any case, I will attempt to answer your objections, though, in the end, it seems to me there is no solid proof that either mine or yours or someone else’s interpretation on these hard to interpret passages is the right one.

    Regarding Hebrews 6 and Matthew 3.11, it seems to me that, if the intention of the biblical writers was to teach a theology of 3 different baptisms as you propose, they would at some point have spelled this out a lot more clearly than they ever do. I know you will probably not agree with this, but to me it seems like when you build an entire theological system on questionable interpretations of these two passages, it is somewhat similar to paleontologists who come up with artists’ renditions of dinosaurs on the basis of a fossil of a jawbone. In my opinion, it is possible that what you suggest was in the minds of the writers when they wrote, but the evidence is far from conclusive. It does seem to me that if a normative experience for Christians was a “baptism in the Holy Spirit” separate from the new birth, and different in certain aspects from the continual filling of the Spirit referenced in Eph. 5.18, there ought to be some clear didactic explanation of this in the epistles, and not just the historical episodes referenced in Acts.

    I agree with you that a key difference in our interpretation has to do with our application of the book of Acts. I do believe we can learn a lot about the ways of God through observing how He worked in certain historical circumstances, such as those recorded in Acts. However, I believe that those things that are normative for us as followers of Christ are taught explicitly either through the words of Christ in the Gospels or the inspired teaching of his apostles (and the other N.T. writers) in the rest of the New Testament.

    I prefer to not “put God in a box” regarding how He is going to work. Just because He chose to work one way in the time of Acts does not necessarily mean He is going to work the same way in different times and different circumstances. As a believer, I believe it is my responsibility to yield my life completely to the lordship and guidance of the Holy Spirit. But the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in my life in response to my yieldedness depends completely on the sovereignty of God.

    As far as the salvation of the apostles, I believe that something very significant happened on the day of Pentecost that changed the way the Holy Spirit relates to those who respond in repentance and faith to the revelation of God in their life. Before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon certain people from time to time in special ways, but did not in general dwell within the believer as a continual source of comfort and power. After Pentecost, the continual indwelling of the Spirit became a birthright for all born-again believers. Thus, it is hard to compare the experience of the apostles before Pentecost to our experience as believers after Pentecost. To me, to say the apostles were “disobedient” if they didn’t receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit immediately in John 22 is to imply that this indwelling was already available before Pentecost. This is an assumption for which I find no evidence.

    Comment by David Rogers — January 26, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

  9. David,

    I agree that we’ll probably never agree on some of these issues, because of how we interpret the Bible, esp. the Book of Acts. But I will attempt to address some of your questions here, and in your other posts.

    The key issue I see in Hebrews 6 is a reference to multiple baptisms. That means, at the very least, more than one. So, it could be two baptisms. It could be four. However, I’ve learned, and perhaps you agree, that the best way to interpret the Bible, is to have the Bible interpret itself. So, a good question to ask where it says “baptisms” is how many kinds of “baptisms” are discussed in the Scriptures? The answer to that question is 3: baptism into Christ by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13 and Romans 6), water baptism (countless Scriptures), and baptism in the Holy Spirit by Jesus Christ (Matt. 3:11, and other Scriptures, Acts 2, etc.) I could be incorrect, and there could be more than three, but that’s the number I see, and those are the three that I see. You might see differently, and conflate two of them into one, but the important issue in Hebrews 6 is there are multiple baptisms.

    I do want to comment on one thing you said: I do NOT make a distinction you do between the baptism in the Holy Spirit subsequent to the new birth, and the filling of the Holy Spirit ref. in Eph. 5:18. What I believe is “normative,” is that there is an initial infilling of the Holy Spirit, and THAT is the baptism in the Holy Spirit (subsequent to the new birth) that we see in Acts 2. In other words, you are not filled with the Holy Spirit when you are born again, you only have the indwelling Holy Spirit, which we BOTH agree about. You ARE filled (initially) with the Holy Spirit when you receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is what happened in Acts 2. It is then the believer’s responsibility to STAY continually filled with the Holy Spirit, in accordance with Eph. 5:18. So, it is a continuous flow and a continuous process, but the initial baptism in the Holy Spirit is a normative experience subsequent to the new birth. This is the pattern I see in the NT, and the evidence I see in that pattern for one who has been initially filled is speaking in tongues. I will touch more on that later.

    David, let me ask you a serious question. You believe that it is normative for all Christians to heed the words of Christ and the teachings in the NT epistles. You seem to exclude or exempt the Book of Acts from Christian doctrine, saying its NOT normative for Christians to expect such in their lives today. Is that correct? If so, why is that correct? Why should we exempt or exclude the Book of Acts if all Scripture is profitable for teaching, etc. (2 Tim. 3:16)

    I agree that we charismatics should not put God in a box with how he is going to work. We really do need to trust God in His sovereignty. However, I believe the Bible does give us some normative examples of how God DOES work, and that God doesn’t really depart from these examples. For example, I don’t think you would dispute that God is a healer, for that is a part of his unchanging (immutable) nature. Thus, we should expect God to heal all sickness and disease, and there are countless verses that discuss that in both the OT and NT. It is thus normative for a Christian believer to expect God to heal them when they are sick.

    Finally, in this post, I want to address this argument about Pentecost and the indwelling Holy Spirit. First of all, I agree that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a birthright for all born-again beievers. Amen to that. However, I believe the assurance (not security)of that birthright is found in the resurrection of Christ, and NOT the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. You probably really disagree here. I believe that once Jesus rose from the dead, that is the “cut-off” for the indwelling Holy Spirit. The reason why I believe this is because the atonement has been completed — Jesus Christ has been crucified, died, and now has risen again, and therefore we have access to God the Father, the curtain has been torn, etc. This also gives us the birthright to the indwelling Holy Spirit, which I believe was dispensed (for lack of a better word) in John 20:22. Yes, the indwelling as available before Pentecost, BUT — not before the resurrection. What do you think about that David? Is this a valid argument from your perspective? If so, then what happened with the disciples in John 20:22 and in Acts 2 must be different, don’t you think? Please let me know your thoughts, when you get a moment.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

    Comment by Jonathan — January 27, 2007 @ 1:20 am

  10. Jonathan,

    I still think Hebrews 6 refers to Old Testament practices. Other commentators agree. See, for instance, (just to give a few examples I was able to cut and paste from on-line)…

    Adam Clarke:

    “I am inclined to think that all the terms in this verse, as well as those in the former, belong to the Levitical law, and are to be explained on that ground.

    Baptisms, or immersions of the body in water, sprinklings, and washings, were frequent as religious rites among the Hebrews, and were all emblematical of that purity which a holy God requires in his worshippers, and without which they cannot be happy here, nor glorified in heaven.”

    Ray Stedman, in the IVP Commentary:

    “The rudiments he asks them to leave consist of six matters under two heads: (1) the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God; and (2) instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. These transitional truths lead from Jewish beliefs and practices to a full sharing in Christ. Though Bruce takes them as a Jewish list and others as Christian, the truth is they are both, as Bruce concedes that each “acquires a new significance in a Christian context” (1964:112).The point is that they do not represent anything but the barest beginnings of Christian faith. It is necessary to go from the knowledge of these initial truths to experiences which actually draw upon the priestly ministry of Jesus for this is what would lead them from head knowledge to heart response…

    Still, certain instruction in important doctrines was carried over from Old Testament teachings. This instruction falls into two sets: baptisms and laying on of hands, and resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. The first set touches upon the beginning of the Christian life; the second set speaks of its final events. Together they bracket Christian doctrine, involving both impartation of life and accountability of experience.

    It is evident from the ministry of John the Baptist that Christian baptism emerged from the Jewish practice of ritual ablutions or washings. This would explain the unusual plural here (from baptismos used of Jewish ablutions, rather than from the more common baptisma which is employed for Christian baptisms). It may, however, be an oblique reference to John’s teaching in 1 John 5:7-8, “For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement” which does tie water baptism with the Christian teachings of Spirit and blood. The point the writer wishes to make is that baptism is an initiatory rite and must not be regarded as fulfilling all that a Christian is expected to know or do.”

    On the question of the hermeneutics of Acts, I agree that “all Scripture is profitable for teaching,” just that certain types of passages teach us in different ways. Historical passages in general (not just Acts) teach us by way of example something of the ways of God. However, there are many things in biblical history we are not expected to necessarily repeat. The more directly didactic passages (including the teaching by Peter, Stephen, James, Paul, and others in Acts) give a more sure footing when looking for lasting doctrinal principles.

    Regarding John 20:22, I do not see anything about the disciples’ immediate response to Jesus words. It is not far-fetched, as I read it, to take Jesus words here as referring to their up-coming reception of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We don’t see any dramatic lifestyle changes until after Pentecost.

    Although this may sound a bit strong, I believe one of the main weaknesses in Pentecostal and Charismatic theology, is the pressure that is put upon believers to see and experience similar manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s work in Acts in their own life and ministry. I believe we should be open to such work of the Holy Spirit, but always in the way and the timing He sovereignly chooses. I have, for example, observed as some have seemed to have felt a need to “help the Holy Spirit out,” creating what I consider to be manipulative and emotionally-charged atmospheres in order to produce more “miraculous phenomenon.” I liken this to Elijah pouring gasoline instead of water onto the altar when he called down fire from heaven in the contest with the prophets of Baal. God is fully able to work miracles without our help. I admit that our lack of faith can be an impediment. But that is no excuse for spiritual manipulation.

    Comment by David Rogers — January 29, 2007 @ 11:27 pm

  11. David,

    Thanks for your comments, once again. I’ll probably respond to any other comments on your blog, which I read earlier today, as needed. For now, I am going to respond to your thoughts as you present them here on my blog.

    Concerning Heb. 6, I see the list as one that is primarily Christian (although Christianity DOES have Jewish roots), as these are fundamentals, or foundations, or essentials to the Christian faith. In other words, this is Christianity 101. I believe that both Clarke and Stedman would agree with that. I believe that Clarke presents a more limited view, while I am more sympathetic to the view that Stedman presents, however, I disagree with Stedman that baptism (in water) is an initiatory rite. I believe his argument on 1 John 5 (the three that testify and agree) is also a unique argument (and a good one), but I disagree with any concept of an “initiatory rite,” esp. as Southern Baptists have presented.

    We’ll probably have to agree to disagree concerning the hermeneutic of the Book of Acts. I really believe that our decisions in terms of how we practice Christianity should be based on the Bible and what see in the NT, especially. Thus, a key question should be what is the biblical pattern for fill-in-the-blank issue, everything from water baptism to feeding the poor to spiritual gifts. I also believe that what was normative for the early Church should be normative for the Church today, and that we’re still in the same dispensation, the dispensation of grace.

    Regarding John 20:22, I think that’s a dismissive view of that Scripture. We’re talking about the words of Christ Himself, here. We cannot just dismiss it — Jesus told and instructed the disciles to receive the Holy Spirit — He even breathed His Spirit (which is the Holy Spirit) into them. If they didn’t receive it then, I believe the Bible would say there was a delayed response, but there is nothing in John 20 that indicates such.

    Finally, let me respond to your last paragraph. I understand your concern that some in certain charismatic circles have created an atmosphere that is manipulative, emotionally or otherwise. But I think we need to draw a line between an event that is emotionally-charged, and between something that is manipulative. I am fully aware that there are emotionally-charged events that occur even in Baptist circles. The Passion conferences with Louie Giglio and others are a good example of that. I’ve never been to a Passion conference, but from what I’ve heard, the events are emotionally-charged. However, no one would say these events are manipulative. I would say that “Acquire the Fire” would fall into that same category. On the other end of the spectrum is full-scale manipulation, and clearly I do not believe in manipulating people, because the Bible equates manipulation with witchcraft, so clearly any manipulation is wrong.

    That being said, I believe there is a spectrum, and what we’re discussing is a fine line distinction between the two of them. The question is where one draws the line. That’s a very difficult question, because what is manipulative to you may not be manipulative to me… it is highly subjective on a personal level. Maybe that’s not what you’re addressing, but I agree any manipulation is an issue, and certainly grieves the Holy Spirit. Amen?

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

    Comment by Jonathan — January 30, 2007 @ 2:55 am


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