Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Experience vs. Evidence

Dr. Mike Johnston

Jude wrote: Earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 1:3). One reason we believe so strongly in this is because today there is a neo-Montanus- [1] teaching that believers in Christ don’t receive all of the Holy Spirit at salvation. They must subsequently seek and tarry for a second blessing called the baptism of the Holy Spirit [2] in order to receive power and intimacy with the Lord. But are they right? We believe in an all out effort to protect a dogma, this group has placed experience above evidence thereby leading them into three cardinal errors skewing an otherwise simple teaching: they mistranslate a key definition, they misunderstand a key distinction, and they misapply a key doctrine.

They mistranslate a key definition: “baptize”

The science of rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15) is called hermeneutics. It requires us to follow rules in order to avoid chaos and advance integrity. Scripture studied under the lens of the evidence, is called exegesis. Scripture viewed under the lens of experience is called eisegesis. One of the often-breached principles leading to eisegesis is that of using an experience to redefine a Biblical truth. For example, the English word baptize, which is taken from the Greek word baptizo. Thayer’s primary definition for all 80 of its occurrences is “to dip . . . to immerse, to submerge,” which is obvious to anyone attending a Scriptural baptism service. While Charismatics allow this definition for most passages, they take exception when it is used in conjunction with the Holy Spirit. Here they redefine baptizo to mean an experience producing some or all of the following manifestations: ecstatic utterances, animal noises, screaming and screeching, divination (word of knowledge), [3] the inability to stand, and uncomely convulsions. All these clearly set testimony (experience) above truth (evidence) opening the way for the following error.

They misunderstand a key distinction: between baptism and filling of the Spirit

When John the Baptist prophesied he (Christ) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire[4] (Matthew 3:11; see also Acts 1:5), he was alluding to Christ’s later promise and purpose for sending the Holy Spirit (John 14-16): to comfort and teach us (14:26; 16:7), convict us (16:8-11), guide us (16:13), reveal things to us about Himself (16:13-15) and to live with us forever (14:16). However, at the time He made this pledge, the Holy Spirit was a temporary OT enabler God gave His servants for specific tasks (Num. 11:25; 24:2; Jud. 3:10; 6:34; etc). He did not permanently indwell anyone (1 Sam. 16:14; Psalm 51:11), nor had He been poured out on the masses. But that, according to Joel, would change as a sign of the last days (2:28-32).

Now please understand something about Jewish temperament: they were skeptical by nature and always required proof of everything; signs (Ex. 4; Matt. 12:38; Mark 8:11; 1 Cor. 1:22). Therefore to confirm that the outpouring of the Spirit was in fact taking place, God provided signs (Acts 2:19): there was the “sound-sign” of wind (Acts 2:2; see also John 3:8) and the “sight-sign” of tongues [5] of fire (Acts 2:3-4; 1 Cor. 14:22) which gave them the ability to preach Christ in foreign languages they’d never learned (Acts 2:6-11).

On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was first poured out (Acts 2), three first-time events happened simultaneously that constantly confuses Charismatics: (1) the mass gathering of 120 were all baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ permanently (Matt. 3:11; Acts 1:5; 1 Cor. 12:13); (2) they were all indwelt by Holy Spirit which was also permanent (Acts 2:4; John 14:16-17; Eph. 1:13-14); and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4) which would be (and still is) contingent upon not individually grieving [6] or quenching [7] Him (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19). By failing to make the distinction between the filling of the Spirit (which is conditional- Eph. 4:30), and the baptism of the Holy Spirit (which is unconditional- 1 Cor. 12:13) Charismatics naturally gravitate to the next overarching error.

They misapply the key doctrine: the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

As stated, Joel prophesied the outpouring of the Spirit with verifiable signs (2:28-32) and the Lord Jesus promised that it would happen after His departure (John 14-16). Now this is where we need to let Scripture define its own terms. Jesus told His converted Jewish followers that one day He would build an organization of Spirit-inhabited people to crash the gates of Hell; the church (Matt. 16:18). After saying that, nothing else was mentioned until just before His ascension. One of the Lord’s final commands was a quote from John the Baptist early in His ministry (Matt. 3:11): For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (Acts 1:5). The Lord defined for us what the baptism (baptizo) of the Holy Spirit was/is; not an emotionally charged experience of uncontrollable barking, screaming, thrashing, and gibberish, but the Pentecost outpouring when Christ the Spirit baptizer would baptizo all believers into His own Body (Col. 1:18). Paul tells us: For by one Spirit are we all baptized (baptizo) into one body . . . and have been all made to drink into one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Through this Sovereign, once for all work- the baptism of the Holy Spirit- every born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is now kept (1 Pet. 1:4-5), preserved (Jude 1:1), saved, safe, and sealed forever (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). Nothing can change that.

Now someone will undoubtedly want to interject the post-resurrection appearance of Christ to His disciples where He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost (John 20:22). Then, of course, on Pentecost the Holy Spirit was again given. However, within the context we find the interpretation. Remember, until the Pentecostal Spirit outpouring where the church was actually formed (Acts 2:1-4; 1 Cor. 12:13), men lived under the Old Covenant and in another dispensation. [8] The Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell God’s people, He was temporary. These believers needed power for ministry until the permanent Pentecostal outpouring and Jesus provided it.

Final thought

My beloved friend I hope you’ve learned that when the experience doesn’t line up with the evidence, the former must be rejected. Paul warned: Be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Ephesians 4:14). Christians are today in Christ (Rom. 3:24), in Him (1 Cor. 8:6), in the beloved    (Eph. 1:6), etc., because of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That’s what the term means; that’s what it has always meant according to God’s Word.

[1] Montanus was a 2nd century teacher labeled a heretic by early church fathers for promoting the same premises Charismatics are getting away with today. You may order our shocking expose: The New Age Charismatic Seed of Corruption.

[2] Actually, some use baptism of, baptized with, baptized in, etc, in the course of their teaching.

[3] They call this “word of knowledge yet cannot find a single Biblical occurrence to support their unfounded claims.

[4] This prophecy was perfectly fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit baptized the first 120 Christians into the Body of Christ, filled them with the Spirit, and gave them the ability to speak and preach in languages (aka unknown tongues) they hadn’t previously studied or known (Acts 2:1-11; see also Mark 16:17).

[5] For a further explanation please order our tract entitled: Speaking in Tongues: The Core of Corinthian Christianity

[6] Doing what He does not want us to do

[7] Not doing what He wants us to do

[8] You may want to order our tract: The Seven Dispensations.

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