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”, 1 Cor. 1. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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