Holy Ghost Baptism – Article 2
A few years ago The National Catholic Reporter, an official organ of the Roman Catholic Denomination reported, “At the private gatherings, a growing number of Catholics have been experiencing the same ‘baptism in the Spirit’ that Protestant Pentecostals experience.” The “Protestant Pentecostals” have generally held reception of Holy Spirit baptism as their hallmark. They add further that it is always evidenced by speaking in tongues. The charismatic movement has touched and influenced just about every religious movement in existence. Among nearly every religious group all around the world you will find someone who claims to have received this extraordinary experience which they call “Holy Spirit Baptism.” Are their claims valid? What do you think about these matters?
The different claims for Holy Ghost baptism are interesting — but very confusing. Holy Spirit baptism is something the Bible teaches — of that fact there can be no dispute. The confusion rises from two things: (1) the nature of Bible Holy Spirit Baptism, and (2) the claims and views held by those of our day who tell us they have experienced it. For example, the term “Pentecostal” is a broad term embracing just about anyone who claims to have received Holy Spirit Baptism. It does not seem to matter that there are serious and fundamental doctrinal differences among them, as long as they all have come under this baptismal experience in the Spirit they are all “Pentecostals.” Some who claim the Holy Spirit’s baptism affirm it is essential to salvation while others do not. But there are even others.
Among the followers of the late Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints, also called “Mormons,” this claim is made. Brigham Young, successor to Joseph Smith, Jr. as president, prophet, and seer of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, made a speech in Salt Lake City, April 8, 1885. In it Young said, “Again, if a pure Gentile firmly believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and yields obedience to it, in such a case I will give you the words of the Prophet Joseph – ‘When the Lord pours out the Holy Ghost upon that individual he will have spasms, and you would think that he was going to have fits.’
”Joseph said that the Gentile blood was actually cleansed out of their veins, and the blood of Jacob made to circulate in them; and the revolution and change in the system were so great that it caused the beholder to think they were going into fits.” (Journal of Discourses, Volume II, page 269). Journal of Discourses is an official document recognized as authentic by the Latter Day Saints Church.
With this before us, consider how confused the situation is. There is a group known as United Pentecostal Church. These contend there is only one person in the Godhead and denounce all who do not believe it as heretics. They claim they have received Holy Spirit baptism and speak in tongues. Assemblies of God deny the United Pentecostal’s assertion that there is only one person in the Godhead and also claim to have received Holy Spirit baptism and speak in tongues.
Others recognize the Roman Catholic Pontiff, John Paul, as their spiritual father. They call him Universal Father to the Church on Earth, or Pope. Some of them claim they were baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. Not one of these recognize Joseph Smith, Jr. as true prophets of God in these latter days. Yet Mormons claim to have been baptized in the Holy Spirit.
I gently suggest that doctrinally, none of these various groups making this claim will recognize or endorse any of the others. And when they speak in tongues, none of them understand anything that is uttered. If I am wrong I am ready for someone out there to correct me.
The point is that the same Holy Spirit allegedly baptized them all, was poured out on all of them, and the only thing at all they have in common is a preposterous claim they can all speak in tongues. Beyond that they would quickly denounce all others as teaching error and heresy.
The Bible teaching of the Holy Spirit’s power as it is poured out in the baptismal measure is quite different. Dear friend, what I am about to say must be true. All, no exceptions, all who are baptized with the Holy Spirit must proclaim and understand precisely like any other individual who received the same gift. No one who thinks straight would accuse the Holy Spirit of the chaos and confusion that reigns among so-called “Pentecostals,” regardless of what denominational stripe they bear. To do so is sacrilegious blasphemy.
The truth is, the Spirit of God is one with the Father and the Son, and the divine three make up what Paul called “the Godhead” (Acts 17:29). Whatever the Godhead does is done as a unit. The unit consists of three separate and distinct divine Beings – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Remember that it was Jesus who gave the promise of Holy Spirit baptism (Acts 1:5).
On the glorious day of Pentecost the Spirit came upon the apostles. Read it with me: “And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
Several facts stand out crystal clear in this passage. First the pronoun “they” refers to the apostles, not the one-hundred twenty. Let me show how clear this is:
1. Acts 1:15 tells us “in these days, Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren…” which later Luke said were about one hundred and twenty in number. “These days” include the entire period of waiting in Jerusalem which Jesus commanded. But the contrast is clear in chapter two. It begins with the definite day, “when the day of Pentecost was now come.” This is an entirely different setting from chapter one, verse fifteen.
2. Chapter one ends with the selection of a replacement for Judas. The disciples put forth two men, Joseph and Matthias. They prayed to the Lord to select one of the two. The Lord selected Matthias and he was “numbered with the eleven apostles” (verse 26). This returned the number of apostles to twelve. The next chapter begins with the pronoun “they.” “They were all together.” What “they?” It can be none other than Matthias and the eleven — making up the twelve apostles.
3. It was upon these twelve, and only upon these twelve that the Holy Spirit fell in the baptismal experience. The “they” of Acts 2:1 is the same they and them throughout the context of Acts 2:1-4. Therefore, only the apostles received Holy Spirit Baptism on the day of Pentecost. The baptism of the Spirit was promised only to them — not to any other individual in Jerusalem.
Here are other facts:
1. The baptism of the Spirit was from Heaven — it also came with an audible sound — like a mighty rushing wind. Very likely it sounded like an oncoming hurricane or tornado. I have attended revivals and other meetings in which people claimed to receive Holy Spirit baptism. The only sounds came from within the building, from the people — never from heaven — never as the sound of a mighty rushing wind.
2. The sound filled all the house where they sitting. It was a sound that everyone could hear. Holy Spirit baptism does not come as some inward or subjective feeling — it is something external to the recipient and completely fills the house. Have you ever seen anything like that in the modern day claims of Holy Spirit baptism? I haven’t.
3. There was a visible evidence of the Spirit’s presence. Luke said, “there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire.” Notice it says “there appeared.” They were able to see the tongues that parted asunder. It further says these tongues were “like as of fire,” not that the tongues were actually fire. Has anyone who has attended a revival where the Holy Spirit supposedly baptized someone ever seen such a thing? I have been present a number of times over the years at such meetings and never seen anything other than human beings present. You people who make the false claim know you have seen nothing of this nature, don’t you?
4. They were all filled with the Spirit. When and if there is such a meeting today, all who are present will be filled with the Holy Spirit exactly like those on the day of Pentecost. Unless all are filled, none will be filled. But I remind you again that I have attended numerous such meetings at which some claimed to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit but others did not. I was there. Why did the Holy Spirit overlook me and not give me that experience? Friends, there were more in that meeting who just sat there quietly, as I did, than those who claimed to receive Holy Spirit baptism. All who were together in Acts 2 received it – not just a select few.
5. They all began to speak in tongues. Tongues means language. Listen to the Bible! “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Now look at the reaction of those who didn’t speak but heard these “tongues.” “And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (verses 7, 8). The tongues here were that actual language spoken by the hearers. I challenge anyone to produce one word of intelligence in any language that is miraculously spoken in a so-called “Pentecostal” meeting. I won’t hold my breath till someone tries.
There is only one sensible conclusion anyone can draw from all this — people today may go through an emotional experience and think it is the Holy Spirit, but they have to understand it as merely a delusion.
They are like the mother of Zebedee’s sons. She made a wrong request to Christ and He replied, “You do not know what you ask” (Matt. 20:20-22). My dear listening friend, never ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit — it is not even promised to you. Act upon what those who received it have revealed to us, the New Testament Gospel. Obey it and be saved and sanctified by faith that obeys from the heart. We urge you to study the New Testament alone, for it alone is true and right. If there is any way we can be of help, let us know.