Holy Ghost Baptism – Article 5
The beloved apostle Paul wrote to the church in the ancient city of Corinth and said, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Then he added, “For the body is not one member, but many” (verse 14). Do you understand this to mean that the entire body of believers in Corinth had received Holy Spirit baptism? If so, you misunderstand it, dear friend.
Throughout our study of the biblical information relative to Holy Spirit baptism we have clearly seen that it was something very special, something God Almighty limited to the first century, and could not possibly be experienced today (in truth, that is). Our reasons for this are simple. And, as I go over some of these things again, would you do me a very small favor — especially if you believe that you have been a recipient of this magnificent experience? Be as honest as you can possibly be and see if you really believe it is possible that the following passages apply to you, or to anyone today.
Jesus said, in John 16:7-14, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” Think about it a moment: can anyone today claim to be completely guided into all the truth by the direct enabling power of the Holy Spirit? If so, of what use is the Bible? Or, possibly you have heard men make the blasphemous claim, “I can get along without the Bible very well — I am led by the Spirit.”
Again, notice the statement of Christ to His apostles. Luke 24:46-49 reads, “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Is there an honest person who would claim to be “clothed” with the same power Jesus promised His apostles? Jesus said to the very same apostles, “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5). Do you know that this is the one time that Jesus mentioned Holy Spirit baptism? He never used the phrase other than on this occasion. Do you know also that this was said only to the apostles and not to another single individual in the world? Thus, this is the promise of divine guidance into all the truth promised in John 16. Can anyone honestly say they received the same thing today?
One of the reasons why people misunderstand this topic is because they have been misled to think that Holy Spirit baptism is truly available today. Witness those who handle poisonous snakes and die. Who can question their convictions? But there is but little difference between the fanaticism of a snake handler and one who still prays for Holy Spirit baptism. Both misunderstand Holy Spirit baptism to be something that would grant them some great power, some great feeling, some ecstatic emotional upheaval that allows them to speak in tongues, heal sick people, and cast out evil spirits. But all such is a spiritual fantasy world. It is not reality. Here is an example of how dangerous it can be. The late Robertson L. Whiteside wrote of one man he heard say, “If Jesus Christ was to come down the aisle, and tell me that I was wrong, I would tell him he did not know what he was talking about.”
Robertson commented, “And when a man can say, as one said to me, that he had an unction from on high and did not need any body to teach him, and that he could get along without the Bible as well as with it, it is time we are doing all we can to recover people from such blasphemous foolishness.” Doctrinal Discourses, page 185-186.
Regardless of what is meant by “by one Spirit” were we all “baptized into one body,” it cannot possibly mean that people today receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit that enabled the apostles to reveal all the truth. In fact, the expression “by one Spirit” means simply, by means of the one Spirit. The one Spirit is the Holy Spirit. And all who are baptized into the body of Christ are baptized by the Holy Spirit — but this cannot be Holy Spirit baptism. Notice that Jesus said to the Pharisees who asked Him, “What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David” (Matt. 22:42) He responded, “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (verses 43, 44). The expression “in the Spirit” means very simply that David by means of the Spirit called his distant offspring his Lord.
But in the same context, 1 Cor. 12, the phrase “by the Spirit” is used several times, always in reference to the means by which the Holy Spirit did something. In 1 Cor. 12:3 Paul shows that no man can call Jesus either Lord or accursed except “by the Spirit,” i.e., the Spirit’s revelation. We might also add that no one can be baptized into the body of Christ except through the revealed truth from the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy’s Spirit’s guidance, Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). And to the Jews with him at the house of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to Christ, he asked, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10:47). Then notice the next verse, “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” Through the Spirit’s instructions, Cornelius and his family were baptized into the one body — the body of Christ.
Being baptized by the Spirit does not mean being filled with the Spirit. Notice closely in the text that Paul added, “and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” This is figurative language. One cannot literally drink into the Spirit. But figuratively, the baptized believers can grow through the Spirit’s revelation, the New Testament. It is the same as Peter’s statement in 1 Pet. 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” But one who is filled with the Spirit cannot drink into anything — it would be impossible to drink more if one was completely filled with the Spirit. And surely the advocates of modern day Holy Spirit baptism do not believe the Spirit just partially fills those whom He baptizes!
The Corinthians were baptized by Paul — not the Holy Spirit. Notice Acts 18:8. “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.” And Paul, although he did not know all whom he immersed into the body of Christ, did remember that he had “baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other” (1 Cor. 1:16). So, the Corinthians were baptized into the body, by Paul who followed the Spirit’s instructions. And, dear friend anyone now who wants to be part of the body of Christ must follow those same instructions. I hope and pray you will be honest enough to lay aside the things that mislead and deceive and accept the simplicity of Gospel Truths and obey it now. There is nothing more satisfying or important.