The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
T. Holliday, Ottawa, Canada
Paul, by the Holy Spirit, wrote, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment", i Cor. i. 10. Why, then, is there such a diversity of opinion on the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Certainly this state of affairs is not of the Holy Spirit who indited the Word, for He has only one interpretation. Otherwise, we have the principle, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them", Isa. 8. 20. Let us see, then, what the Scripture says concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Four Gospels. In each of the four Gospels, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in contrast to baptism by water, Matt. 3. 11; Mark 1. 8; Luke 3. 16; John 1. 33. In Acts 1. 5 the Lord said, "but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence". Acts 2. 1-4 gives the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit. In chapters 1 and 2, we have the four basic facts of Christianity: (i) The death of Christ, (ii) The resurrection of Christ, (iii) The ascension of Christ, (iv) The descent of the Holy Spirit, the greatest antitype of the feast of weeks, Lev. 23. 15-21; thus, when the day of Pentecost was fully come, the Holy Spirit came down from heaven. There are thus two facts that characterize this Christian era, namely, there is a real Man on the throne of God, and the Holy Spirit is present on earth.
How this Baptism took place. When "they were all with one accord in one place . . . suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost", Acts 2. 1-4. They were merged in the Spirit - He took complete possession of them, while there appeared on each one cloven tongues like as of fire. Moreover, they all spake with tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
When did this take place? On the day of Pentecost for the Jews, and in the house of Cornelius for the Gentiles, Acts 10. 44. In giving an account of this to those at Jerusalem, Peter linked what took place in the house of Cornelius with Pentecost: "as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 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 Ghost", 11. 15-16. Thus the baptism of the Holy Spirit was completed, never to be repeated. It was as complete as was the work of Christ.
What is the Object of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
The final teaching on this subject has been given by Paul who wrote, "For by (in the power of) one Spirit are we all baptized into one body", 1 Cor. 12. 13. This last mention of the baptism of the Holy Spirit gives us the result of this baptism; by (or, in the power of) the Holy Spirit, Christians are formed into one body. They are linked together by the Holy Spirit, and have a living link with Christ in glory by the same Spirit. This oneness is such that we are members one of another, and are to have the same care the one for the other.
Christ is still here. When Christ was crucified, the world thought that they had eliminated Him, but no!, Christ is still here by the Holy Spirit in His people. As we express ourselves through or in our bodies, so Christ now expresses Himself through His body, so that what was seen in Christ when on earth is now to be seen in His body, the Church. Subsequent to the descent of the Holy Spirit, "the Lord added to the church", Acts 2. 47, and God is still adding to this unique company. Attention should be drawn to the fact that Paul writes of this baptism in the past tense, and the words "we" and "ye" are emphatic; we do not read of any particular individual being baptized with the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 12 we find the structural unity or the oneness of the various members of this one body - the human body is used as an illustration. It is a most important chapter for the present day when the presence and power of the Holy Spirit are being discarded or ignored. This unity formed by the Holy Spirit is called "Christ" (properly, "the Christ"), v. 12, and also Christ's body, v. 27.
From the above Scriptures, we learn at least four things concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit and its results:
i. It was completed once and for all; there is no baptism
of the Holy Spirit today, ii. The baptism of the Holy Spirit has formed a living
link between the saints on earth and Christ in glory. iii. By the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the saints were
formed into one body, the Church, iv. This one body is to express Christ on earth during the
period of His absence.
For God's pleasure and glory, may He help us to realize the greatness of what we have in the personal and corporate indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and give us grace to hear what He is saying to the churches.
Possessing Our Possessions
by J. Mitchell, Cardiff
"But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions", Obad. 17. This statement through the prophet Obadiah presents a glorious truth. For in his book, Obadiah speaks not only of the doom of Edom, Esau's descendants, but also of the deliverance of Israel. Involved in this deliverance is the promise of a guaranteed future of blessing for God's earthly people which would surpass the wildest dreams of the down-trodden Jews. This and much more is the burden of Obadiah, but let us draw some very practical lessons from the idea of possessing our possessions.
Our Heavenly Inheritance. According to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Christians are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, Eph. 1. 3. This is the work of the Godhead on our behalf in selection, salvation and sealing, as seen in Ephesians 1. All this has an earthly parallel in Israel, but Paul says that in Christ we enjoy heavenly blessing. This is evidently the present portion of the saints, for Paul is not speaking of being with Christ but rather being blessed in Christ. We note Paul's five references to the heavenlies in his Ephesian letter, 1. 3,20; 2. 6; 3.10 and 6.12, which reveal not an earthly inheritance but that which is heavenly in character. That this is the portion, at least positionally, of every Christian would not be disputed by the believer who reads the New Testament carefully, but the question is, are we now in the good of it practically? Are we really taking hold of that which is ours by right? Do we make our own that which the eternal purpose of God has decreed? The question raised is not so much "Am I out of Egypt?", but rather "Have I entered into my possession in the promised land?".
It was when Israel entered the land that their real battles commenced. So it is with the Christian, for if Ephesians 1 speaks of blessing in the heavenlies, Ephesians 6 speaks of battle in the heavenlies. Am I floundering in the battle because I do not feel the power of the heavenly blessing? It is pointless starting to read Ephesians 6 if I have never considered the content of Ephesians 1. Before Paul speaks of the whole armour, 6. 10-17, he speaks of the whole blessing, 1. 3-14. There are many instances of believers who have known deliverance from but little of entrance into. To know initial salvation by the grace of God is wonderful, but to dwell exclusively there without a present experience of the Lord's blessing is surely a most unbalanced and unhealthy Christian experience. What is it that hinders believers entering, in the present, into God's provision for them? We find that there are a number of similarities between the book of Joshua in the Old Testament and Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians in the New Testament. One such similarity is the emphasis on entering into a God-provided inheritance.
The Hindrances Encountered. In the book of Joshua, we are given some very pointed reasons why the people did not enter into the inheritance which God had given them. In Joshua 18. 3 it was a matter of indolence. Joshua had to challenge the people regarding their slackness in possessing the land. Is not indolence still a major enemy among God's people? This may account for the lack of interest shown in the spiritual life of the local assembly by many believers. God's answer to this failure in Israel and among us is to stir up His people through His Word. The exhortations of Joshua in the light of the people's indolence were heeded, and through Joshua's challenging words they went in to possess their possessions. In Joshua 16. 10 we are told that it was due to indifference that the Canaanites were not driven out. How challenging to realize that the people of God can become indifferent to possessing that which the Lord has provided for their good! Joshua 15. 63 and 17. 12 show that Israel did not come into the gain of the inheritance freely provided by the Lord because of their inability to do so. If the people of God are not enjoying the Word of God they have no strength to enter into God's provision. They remain weak and their weakness affects the whole testimony of which they form a part (consider 1 Cor. 3. 1-3 and Heb. 5. n-14). Joshua 17. 13 indicates that when Israel were industrious they were not in the good of God's provision. While they put the Canaanites to taskwork, they did not drive them out. The challenge comes to us all. Am I too busy to be enjoying the Lord's inheritance? If so, then I am too busy! This applies especially if I am engrossed in the things of this life almost to the total exclusion of the welfare of my spiritual life. Remember, Solomon was an extremely enterprising and wealthy man who ended his days as a spiritual pauper. Finally, in Joshua 23. 12-13, the people are warned about suffering from that involvement which would keep them from entering into the fulness of His blessing. In fact, the Lord in His sovereignty allowed the people of the land to become a snare to His own. This is a solemn word of warning for us. If we continue to be involved in that which displeases the Lord, He may give us much more of that thing than we bargained for, with the result that our Christian experiences are virtually ruined.
Let us grasp the Lord's provision eagerly and not learn through bitter experience that it does not pay to disregard that which is recorded for our learning. It is God's great desire not only that we should be saved but that we should delight also in His rich blessings in Christ. Paul was not satisfied with half-hearted devotion to Christ. He desired to apprehend that for which he had been apprehended of Christ, Phil. 3.10-16. May we possess our possessions in Christ to the full!