In 1976 after I my "conversion experience "1 I began attending charismatic prayer meetings. I continued to go because there were lots of food nice girls and a high degree of spiritual novelty (for me). Our group comprised people from all sorts of backgrounds including Protestants Catholics and Jews. A typical meeting began with an hour of song and praise in English as well as in "tongues " followed by another hour of "testimonies" or a lesson. The next two hours we would spend talking eating or singing around the piano -- I was the designated player! It was quite a social affair. I still attended my noncharismatic church. When anyone asked me what my faith was I gave the answer most Neopentecostals give: "Christian."
After attending the prayer meetings for a few months I was invited to a Pentecostal church service. This was more high-powered than anything I had ever attended! Voices -- and hands -- were raised. A note of near panic was in the air. Many spoke in "tongues." The preacher was asking for testimonies for people to share how God had been working in their lives. A woman across the aisle from me was called on; she stood up then fainted from the pressure! Then the preacher pointed his finger at me! I was off my guard; adrenaline flowed it seemed in a torrent. Standing up I recounted a close brush I once had with death and how I thought perhaps it was God who had saved me. There were many "Hallelujahs" and "Amens." Whew! I felt fortunate to be able to think on my feet.
A few moments later the woman who was sitting next to me the leader of our group asked me "Have you received it? Have you received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?" When I replied that I wasn t sure she prayed for me. Nothing happened. I was missing something: that "higher dosage" of the Spirit everyone was talking about.
What is meant by "the baptism of the Holy Spirit"?2 You are probably aware that there are several opposing views on the matter. This chapter is an effort to (1) clarify the biblical doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and (2) to explain the subjective modern interpretation of this baptism promoted in Neopentecostal circles.
We will begin our study with a look at the popular teaching of "Holy Spirit Baptism " followed by a consideration of what might be called the "limited view." Afterwards I will present my personal view. But first the "charismatic" teaching.
A warm fuzzy feeling
In the Neopentecostal view the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a sensational blessing available to all Christians. The broad Charismatic Movement teaches that Holy Spirit Baptism is an experience supplementary to conversion bestowing power for witnessing for the initial manifestation of speaking in tongues and sometimes for an additional miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit.3 This experience is sometimes called the "second blessing " and we are all urged to seek it although it is not always preached as necessary for salvation. It is an extra. I for my part am convinced that the experience is fully explicable and nonmiraculous.
My friend Charles Elikwu, a powerful ministry leader in Africa and the United Kingdom, recounts his story:
The church leaders asked me "Have you received the extra measure of the Holy Spirit?" I said no and they invited me to a special prayer service taking place a few nights later.
That night there were about twenty of us who were being prayed for. We were all new converts and hadn t yet received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The leaders began to pray for us and their voices got louder and louder. When they started screaming I was thinking to myself "What is this?"
Five men surrounded me laid their hands on me and prayed for me to receive the Spirit baptism. I felt reluctant a bit skeptical. But soon I felt a warm fuzzy feeling in me. Their prayers in normal language changed to tongues and before I knew it I was speaking in tongues too. I was yelling at the top of my voice. They praised God and told me that I was filled with the Holy Ghost. Just minutes later I was helping them pray for others who still hadn t received this experience. Wow it was amazing! Soon I got involved in the healing ministry of the church. I was the main person appointed to pray for others to be healed.
But when I studied the Bible for myself and found out the truth I was scared stiff. I knew I was lost and then I thought I might be demon-possessed!"
Tremendous pressure is placed on the individual to achieve "Spirit baptism " and in many circles pressure is continually brought to bear until the person gets "zapped" -- or fakes the experience. Without this "baptism " it is taught you just do not have the complete power you need to be a disciple. You have not accepted the "full gospel."
My friend Tom Jones lived in a US city where the headquarters for a Pentecostal church was located. A daughter of a top church official came to his ministry seeking spiritual help. This woman was desperate. She had never been able to speak in tongues in spite of numerous attempts to "instruct" her to do so. She was bringing shame on her father and she was unwelcome in her denomination because he had never received the "baptism of the Spirit." The pressure placed on individuals to conform is considerable.4 Whether miraculous experience is an essential part of the "Full Gospel," however, is far from true.
The Neopentecostal View
In the Neopentecostal view the hundred and twenty knew the Lord before Acts 2:4 but their lives were powerless. They were missing out on the power of the Christian life; but after they were "baptized in the Spirit" and received the gift of tongues God was able to use them in a powerful way. The Holy Spirit truly does bring us into a dynamic new dimension of Christian life but biblical baptism with the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with any "warm fuzzy feeling." The Bible in fact places no emphasis on the feeling of the Spirit.
As we assess the Neopentecostal view we find numerous deficiencies:
1. It seems clear from the book of Acts that outpourings of the Holy Spirit reported there--with the visible miraculous manifestations are special cases not the norm.5
Support for the necessity of a "second blessing" (something beyond conversion) taken almost entirely from the book of Acts interprets critical moments in the history of the early church as personal experiences all believers should strive for. In each of the passages individuals had a special experience only because God was revealing his historical purpose to his people. (We have expounded this point at length in Chapter 18.)
2. The apostles performed miracles—some fairly impressive ones!—long before Pentecost (Luke 9:2 Matthew 10:8).
In each situation in Acts it is claimed the ability to perform miracles is contingent upon receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Yet if you will allow a little "tongue-in-cheek" humor what about Balaam's donkey? It spoke in tongues! (Numbers 22:28). It was a language it had never studied (Hebrew); it spoke the language miraculously; and it was empowered to be a better "witness" (to Balaam). Should we infer the donkey was "Spirit baptized"?
Neopentecostalism equates being filled with the Spirit with Spirit baptism. But many were filled with the Spirit before Pentecost: John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) Elizabeth (Luke 1:41) and Zechariah (Luke 1:67) to name a few.
3. Insufficient attention is paid to the unique role of the apostles in the early church. The apostles appear to be the speakers in Acts 2 as they all have Galilean accents (Acts 2:7).
Neopentecostalism creates two types of Christians: those filled with the Spirit and those not. While there may degrees of this filling (Acts 6:3) the New Testament teaches only one life for the child of God: life in the Spirit (Romans 8:14) which is possessed by all Christians (1 John 3:24). Life in the flesh is the alternative! Therefore there is no excuse for lukewarmness; we cannot just sit around doing nothing and say "If God wants to use me he will." Paul says in Ephesians 1:3 that God has blessed us...with every spiritual blessing in Christ. If that is so why do charismatics encourage us to seek a "second blessing?" As Peter puts it "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). All blessings are ours! We received them when we were immersed into Christ. We are not lacking anything. There is nothing God is holding back from us. So what else can there be to receive if we have already received every spiritual blessing?
4. There is no evidence at all for the position that tongues is the initial sign of sanctification. 1 Corinthians 12:10 and 12:30 show not all Christians had the gift of tongues.
5. The experience of the Samaritans in Acts 8 is never called "baptism of the Holy Spirit."
Apart from possible tonguespeaking there are few similarities between Acts 2 and Acts 8. In Acts 2 the Spirit comes directly from heaven; in Acts 8 it is mediated by the laying on of apostolic hands. In Acts 2 it happens to the apostles; in Acts 8 it happens to Samaritans who were already Christians. In Acts 2 there were tongues of fire and a mighty wind; in Acts 8 there were no such signs.
6. The Caesareans were not saved by the interruption of the outpoured Spirit.
Peter had only just begun to bring Cornelius along with his "friends and family" (Acts 10:24) the message through which they would be saved (Acts 11:15).
7. Acts 10 is certainly not normative for Christians today.
Peter has to think all the way back to Pentecost for a similar event (Acts 10:47 11:15-17) -- some eight years previous!
8. A common misconception of the Neopentecostal view is that the recipients of Spirit baptism were Christians before Pentecost.
It is correct that the recipients of the Spirit were in a right relationship with God under the Old Covenant but the analogy between their lives before Pentecost and ours today falls down on one rather significant point: The Spirit was not given before Jesus was glorified (John 7:39) and had ascended (John 16:7). Romans 8:9 shows that possessing the indwelling Spirit is the sine qua non of being a Christian.6
9. The Ephesian disciples (Acts 19) were not Christians but disciples of John the Baptist.
Paul was not concerned with whether John the Baptist's disciples had received a second blessing of the Spirit; he was concerned with whether they had received the indwelling of the Spirit at all. When he found they had not he realized they were not saved (Romans 8:9 Acts 5:32) and therefore he baptized them. And once again the Spirit coming on them was not normative; an apostle was present to lay his hands on them. The Spirit is the decisive difference between the Christian ministry and that of John. John's baptism conferred the forgiveness of sins but not the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:4). Many Neopentecostals teach that we receive the Spirit in many cases some time after conversion. But the New Testament says we receive the Spirit because we have become God's sons (Galatians 4:6) not the other way around. We hear the gospel and respond to it in faith and then we receive the Spirit as a deposit.
In light of the above truths the Pentecostal view must be ruled completely out of court.7 Before I present my understanding of Spirit baptism we need to examine one popular alternative to the Pentecostal view.
The Limited View
With "the limited view" (and one many of my readers will be familiar with) the Holy Spirit Baptism occurs only once or twice in the New Testament and does not occur today since there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). This baptism occurred in fulfillment of prophecy and served an historical purpose: the establishment of the kingdom on earth. It was for the apostles empowering them with infallibility and authority. Many proponents maintain that the outpouring of Acts 10 (on the Gentiles) was complementary to that of Acts 2 (on the Jews). Since the historical purpose of the outpouring was accomplished the "experience" is not available today.8 It was limited to the historical occasion(s) which effected God's will in the first half of the first century.
The similarities between Acts 2 and Acts 10 are stressed and on this basis it is concluded that the two events are both baptism with the Holy Spirit. Statements true of both outpourings include:
1. It came suddenly. Acts 2:2/10:44.
2. There was no laying on of hands. Acts 2:4/10:44.
3. Miraculous languages were spoken. Acts 2:4/10:46.
4. The prophecy of Joel was (half) fulfilled. Acts 2:16 (Jews)/10:1 10:24 44 (Gentiles).
5. The baptism was promised not commanded. Acts 1:5 8/11:15-16.
6. It ushered in the church. Acts 2:6 41/10:48 11:18 15:7-8.
7. It did not forgive sins. Acts 2:38/10:43 48 (baptism in name of Jesus).
While the view makes many helpful observations parts of it are nonetheless artificially constructed. The similarities are looked for; the differences are ignored; and the two are viewed as the same. Yet of course they are going to appear the same -- we are guaranteed that they would be! Granted there are similarities. But the differences must be taken into account too:
1. In Acts 2 the baptism in the Spirit establishes the church but in Acts 10 the church is already established. Many of the Gentiles had already been converted and not just the Samaritans. The Gentile mission actually began with the persecution of Acts 8 -- see Acts 11:20-21. An intentional mission to the Gentiles however begins only in Acts 13.
2. There was no mighty wind in Acts 10 unlike Acts 2.
3. And what about the tongues of fire? They too are missing in Acts 10.
4. As for infallibility in Acts 2 the apostles received the promise of the Holy Spirit to guide their minds and enable them to teach doctrine infallibly (John 14:26 16:13); yet there is no evidence the Gentiles "devoted themselves to the Caesareans teaching."
5. Acts 2 fulfilled the promise of Acts 1:5 but Acts 10 did not.
6. This position does not allow for the Apostle Paul to be baptized in the Spirit. If he did not receive the Holy Spirit Baptism at Pentecost (Acts 2) and was not present at Caesarea (Acts 10) then the man who was arguably the greatest apostle missed out on the gift received by all the others.
7. While the Pentecostal outpouring does establish the church of Christ in history as the kingdom comes powerfully in Jerusalem the perspective that the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit Baptism was to advance the kingdom of God is too restricted. It is that but it is more and certainly has application for us today.
What about these differences? For example let's say there are two mystery people. They both have two ears dark hair and a facial wart. They are both over six feet tall (never mind that one weighs 150 pounds the other 230 or that one is only 20 years old the other 50). They are both male phlegmatic with a touch of choleric and unmarried. They both tend to move suddenly speak the same tongue and are ushers in the church. Eureka they are identical twins! Not necessarily. In the same way the alleged Holy Spirit Baptism examples in Acts 2 and Acts 10 are not necessarily twins.
Furthermore this view does not square fully with the promise of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11 Mark 1:8 Luke 3:16 John 1:33). It is maintained that the baptism with the Spirit applies to the apostles whereas the baptism with fire applies to judgment. The natural reading of John's promise is that all disciples would have been baptized in the Spirit not just a few. This possibility will be elaborated shortly. Saying the apostles only were baptized in the Spirit is highly problematic.
Imagine a group of twelve men won the lottery took the money and spent it. Would it make any sense for a reporter to write "Last week the entire nation won the jackpot. Yes sir although only twelve persons shared the purse we are all so happy they could partake of it as our representatives."9 This will not do! Although the "apostles-only view" and "two-times view" (Acts 2 and 10) have much to commend them insofar as they attempt to tie up the loose ends and produce a unified theory of the action of the Spirit they minimize the promise of John the Baptist whose message was neither complex nor confusing.
Under cross-examination the Limited View's weaknesses have come to light (Proverbs 18:17). And the apostles-only view like the Acts 2/Acts 10 view raises as many questions as it answers.
Spirit and Fire
We read the words of John the Baptist early in Mark considered by most scholars to be the oldest of the gospels. John's promise to the Israelites is emphatic about a "baptism with the Holy Spirit."
5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins they were baptized by him in the Jordan River... 7And this was his message: " After me will come one more powerful than I the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.8 I baptize you with water but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:5 7-8).
To whom does the you of verse 8 refer? Is it only Judeans and Jerusalemites to whom this baptism is promised? If so why do we read in Paul's letter to the Corinthians that we were all baptized "by one Spirit"? Look at the verse and decide what you think is the most natural reading -- and the correct one!
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks slave or free -- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink (1 Corinthians 12:13).
The text states that all disciples have been baptized by one Spirit. There appear to be no exceptions. The promised outpouring and baptism of the Spirit was to be universal in keeping with John's prophecy. Jesus himself reiterated the promise in the forty-day instruction period before the Ascension:
On one occasion while he was eating with them he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my Father promised which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:4-5).
Unless Jesus was mistaken something was to happen in May of 30 A.D. which was entirely new. This was a radical departure from God's normal way of being with his people in Old Covenant times. The position taken in this chapter is that all Christians have been baptized with the Spirit.
Incidentally this is the same position I took in my 1987 book The Powerful Delusion10 and though I have sharpened the view it has not substantially changed.
Water and Spirit
The new birth has two elements: water and Spirit. Since we are born again of water and Spirit is it not simple symmetrical and biblically accurate to say we are baptized of water and Spirit? Weigh carefully the passage in John's gospel:
3In reply Jesus declared "I tell you the truth no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." 4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" 5Jesus answered "I tell you the truth no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying "You must be born again" (John 3:3-7).
Many exegetes contend that all Christians are born of water but only the apostles were born or baptized of Spirit. They say the apostles represented the Jews and Cornelius and company the Gentiles and thus that "all flesh" received the outpouring. But why separate water from Spirit? Besides nowhere does the Bible say one person can be baptized (representatively) for another. (And about baptism in Spirit and fire: If only a few men were to receive the baptism in the Spirit are only a few sent to hell representing the rest of us?) Surely this is an overreaction to Neopentecostalism.
Let's take a closer look at the logic of John 3.
- Born of water => Baptized in water (John 3:511 Acts 8:36 38 1 Peter 3:21).
- Born of Spirit => Baptized in Spirit (John 3:3 3:812; 1 Corinthians 12:13 Mark 1:8)
We understand that we are born of water and Spirit. We understand that water and spirit are two elements of one birth. We understand that birth of water refers to baptism in water. Isn't it odd that we should not see that birth of the Spirit refers to baptism in the Spirit? Understanding that we are all baptized in the Spirit when we are baptized into Christ is not only the most natural and consistent reading of all the passages on Spirit baptism;
it is also the easiest view to defend.
4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared 5he saved us not because of righteous things we had done but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:4-6).
Paul's letter to Titus reminds us that the Spirit was poured out on us when we became Christians. In baptism the water is available (it has already been "poured out " and is present in the baptistery lake river...) and yet it floods over us immersing us only when we come personally into contact with the it. Similarly the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost yet it "immerses" us and is poured into our hearts (Titus 3:6, Romans 5:5) only when we are baptized in Spirit. What 1 Corinthians 12:13 and John 3:5 do is to tie water and Spirit together in one event: baptism.
1. "How can the Spirit poured out nearly two millennia ago still be appropriated today?" The Bible does not limit the effects of past events to the past; historical events may have continuing and present effects. Jesus died in the first century A.D. yet that death becomes real and practical for us only when we become Christians. Once we are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3 Galatians 3:27) -- and not earlier than that time -- we too "die." Our "old self was crucified with him" (Romans 6:6 6:1-4). We "died" (Colossians 3:3, 1:22, 2:12, 3:5). We were "crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20) "crucified to the world" (Galatians 6:14; 5:24). But once again we "die" only when we are baptized into Christ. The Holy Spirit Baptism is parallel to this: The Spirit was poured out yet only when we are immersed into Christ does it become ours. The historical becomes personal and practical. We thus are baptized with the Spirit just as surely as we die with Christ -- provided we appropriate those blessings in receiving the gospel.
2. It is objected "Ephesians 4:5 allows for only one baptism. If there is Spirit baptism and water baptism there were two baptisms at least at the time Paul wrote Ephesians." This is a weak argument. As we read John 3:5 says there are two components to the one baptism! The New Testament teaches there are three "persons" to the one God. The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are one in the same not two. We must read more carefully.
3. "If all of us have been baptized in the Spirit then (it might be objected) all of us should have the miraculous gifts or be able to work miracles." Such a statement belies a fundamental confusion about the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus and Jesus alone baptized in the Spirit. But he does not confer the gifts. The Spirit is the one who gives us gifts and power (1 Corinthians 12:11). Besides as we have already argued the apostles performed miracles long before the outpouring of the Spirit (Luke 9:2). The miraculous phenomena were indeed primarily for the apostles; this is not a point of dispute. But where does the Bible say that Spirit baptism confers miraculous powers? (That is the Neopentecostal interpretation!) Moreover John the Baptist never said miraculous signs would accompany Spirit baptism.
4. "Isn t the Holy Spirit baptism only for the apostles according to Acts 1 and John 14 and 16?"1 If we assume that John 14:26 and 16:13 are fulfilled for the apostles at Pentecost when they are baptized in the Spirit (assuming John 20:22 is a piece of prophetic drama) and if we assume the Caesareans had the identical experience it is difficult to see why the promises of Jesus in John do not also apply to Cornelius. I do not deny Acts 2 and Acts 10 are nonrepeatable historically unique events. Nor do I deny that Acts 2 and Acts 10 are linked in some way and that the term "baptism in the Holy Spirit" is used in connection with both of them. But there are serious problems with maintaining that these two events completely sum up the meaning of "the baptism in the Holy Spirit."
5. Returning to Luke 3 either the Spirit and the fire14 apply to the apostles and the apostles only or to all believers.
Let's be consistent! Take another look at Luke 3:16:
John answered them all "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
The most natural understanding of the Baptist's promise is that it applies to all believers.15 Again if the promise of Acts 1:5 refers only to the apostles it cannot include Cornelius. This puts some strain on the Acts 2/Acts 10 view unless we widen the application of Acts 1:5 to include all mankind. If that is the case then all of us have been baptized in the Spirit not in an experience supplementary to conversion but as a result of the pentecostal outpouring and through the new birth.
Outpouring and the Old Testament
The baptism in the Holy Spirit as described in Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 1, and Acts 1 is possible because of the historic outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This view makes sense of the Old Testament prophets.
Joel prophesied "And afterwards I will pour out my Spirit on all people..." (Joel 2:28). Joel's prophecy informs us that all people are to benefit from the outpoured Spirit. Now this no more means God pours the Spirit on unbelievers than that "therefore all died" (2 Corinthians 5:14) means every person is saved by sharing in Christ's death through baptism. Our response is the deciding factor.
Isaiah (eighth century B.C.) also looked forward to the age of the Spirit (Isaiah 32:15, 44:3):
Till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high
and the desert becomes a fertile field
and the fertile field seem like a forest.
For I will pour out water on the thirsty land
and streams on the dry ground
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring
and my blessing on your descendants.
Then Ezekiel (sixth century) had a similar vision (Ezekiel 39:29):
"I will no longer hide my face from them for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel declares the Sovereign LORD."
In the late sixth century Zechariah offered the same message of hope (Zechariah 12:10 13:1 14:8):
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me the one they have pierced and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child....
"On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity... On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem."
Finally John the last of the prophets of the Old Testament prophesied the same thing (Mark 1:8): "I baptize you with water but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." The Old Testaments prophets anticipated the age of the new covenant the age of the Spirit in which we are blessed to live (Matthew 11:11). Peter says in Acts 2:16 "This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel." Pentecost is the fulfillment of the promised outpouring of the Spirit (Acts 2:33).
Pouring and Immersing
Are baptism and outpouring identical? No but they do describe the same event from two different viewpoints. From the perspective of heaven the Spirit was poured out; from the perspective of the earth there was a baptism in the Spirit. Pouring is the event from Jesus viewpoint. Baptizing is the event from the recipient's viewpoint.
To use a common illustration a coin placed in a glass is immersed after water is poured upon it. The pouring is not the immersion; it is the water leaving the source. The immersion is not the pouring; it is the result the covering of the coin. So it is here in this case.
The Spirit is available for all who are willing to drink (1 Corinthians 12:13). But Pentecost can never be repeated; it was a once-for-all event.16
As we have seen the "warm fuzzy feeling" is ninety-five percent fantasy and five percent Scripture. The Baptism in the Spirit is a result of the outpouring prophesied by Joel (Acts 2:16-17 Joel 2:28-32) rooted firmly in God's historical purposes. Perhaps it would be helpful to list what it was not:
1. A second measure of the Spirit intended to equip the saints for greater service.
2. To confer miraculous abilities. The apostles worked miracles even before they received the Spirit (Luke 9:2).
3. Administered by man. In the New Testament it was not received through special services or crusades.
4. The means whereby Christians received the gift of tongues. Not everybody in the first century spoke in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10 30).
5. The only means whereby one is filled with the Spirit. Peter was filled with the Spirit in Acts 2:4 and subsequently in Acts 4:8. Paul was filled with the Spirit initially in Acts 9:17 and subsequently as we see in Acts 13:9.
6. An experience creating a second order of Christians. There is only life in the Spirit and life in the flesh (Romans 7-8).
Because of that unique event -- the historic outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem -- all mankind may receive the baptism in the Spirit. The experience of the apostles in Acts 2 results from that outpouring as does the experience of the three thousand who received the now-available gift of the indwelling Spirit. The supernatural spiritual gifts the church received for its edification are also a consequence of the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. Cornelius and the other early Gentile Christians received the Spirit first externally (outpouring) then inwardly (indwelling) in Christian baptism.
Finally the Spirit continues to be poured out as we are baptized in the Spirit at conversion (Titus 3:6) and as we pray for God to fill us and work through us as his people (Acts 4:23 31). Quite simply all disciples were baptized in the Spirit by virtue of their baptism in water.
1. I put this in quotation marks because I do not consider it to have been a true conversion.
2. Some parts of this section are somewhat controversial. Views presented are those of the author not necessarily of the publisher.
3. The largest Neopentecostal denomination in the world the Assemblies of God affirms this tenet in its Statement of Fundamental Truths: "The Baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues" (§8).
4. And well illuminated in Hank Hanegraaff's Counterfeit Revival: Looking for God in All the Wrong Places. (Dallas: Word Publishing 1997).
5. Ironically Pentecostal theology fails to grasp the historical significance of Pentecost: the commencement of the New Covenant.
6. It is also erroneously assumed that Saul became a Christian before he was baptized. This is wrong (Acts 22:16). Furthermore Ananias laid hands on him not to baptize him in the Spirit but to restore his sight (9:12 17).
7. Accounts of "warm fuzzy feelings" are common in the history of Christianity. Consider the following conversion account from the journal of John Wesley:
"What occurred on Wednesday the 24th I think best to relate at large after premissing what may make it the better understood. Let him that cannot receive it ask of the Father of lights that He would give more light both to him and me. I think it was about five this morning that I opened my Testament on those words There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter i.4). Just as I went out I opened it again on those words Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. In the afternoon I was asked to go to St. Paul s. The anthem was Out of the deep have I called unto Thee O Lord: Lord hear my voice. O let Thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint. If thou Lord wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss O Lord who may abide it? But there is mercy with Thee; therefore thou shalt be feared. O Israel trust in the Lord;