Spirit Baptism and the Gospels, part 4: Luke 11:13
NOTE: Pastor Brandenburg has posted today "My Field Trip to the Evangelical Theological Society Meeting" here. Friday is my normal day to post, so I have, but make sure you read his post below, as it is very good--as usual. ("Hi. Kent Brandenburg here. Thomas is correct. It's his day, so I apologize for writing today, but it was hot on the griddle and I didn't see anything posted by him in the draft folder yet, as is normal for him, so I thought he might not be writing. I'll be moving my post up on Sunday night, but it is there to read already. Then at least Monday will be an all new, fresh addition to the story. I'll also likely be writing every day--Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, like a journal.").
Luke 11:13, although not employing the words “Spirit baptism,” likewise refers to the once-for-all coming of the Spirit recorded in Acts 2; no reference to any post-regeneration crisis, along the lines of the PCP position, are in view. Luke-Acts indicates that Christ personally had spoken to the disciples about Spirit baptism while on earth (Acts 1:4), but Luke 11:13 constitutes the only previous reference in Luke’s inspired record to which Acts 1:4 can refer. During Christ’s earthly ministry and before Pentecost, as recorded in the gospels, the potential existed for the Spirit to be asked for, to come for a particular purpose as He did in the Old Testament, and then leave (cf. Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29). Before Pentecost, the Spirit was promised (Luke 11:13; John 14-16), temporarily given so that in the period of Christ’s bodily absence, but before the permanent arrival of the Spirit in Acts 2, a member of the Godhead would be with the church (John 20:22; cf. 16:7; 14:16-18), [i] and prayed for in the period between the promise of His permanent coming and its fulfillment (Acts 1:14). Then, finally, the Holy Ghost permanently came to indwell the saints when Spirit baptism took place in Acts 2.[ii] No record exists in Acts of any post-Pentecost prayers along the lines of Luke 11:13 for the benefit of those who already possessed the indwelling Spirit, because with the onset of His permanent abode in the saints the dispensationally transitional action of praying for the Holy Spirit was no longer necessary or appropriate.
Indeed, since Christ Himself prayed for the Spirit to come to permanently indwell the saints (John 14:16-17), the Father has certainly heard His Son’s prayer as Mediator and, along the lines of Luke 11:13, has given the Spirit to the saints. The Spirit was “the promise of the Father” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4), which Christ received from Him when He asked (Acts 2:33), and which the Father consequently gave to the saints for Christ’s sake at Pentecost. If the Father would give the Spirit, before His permanent indwelling, to the saints in the gospels who asked, how much more would He give the Holy Ghost permanently to the saints when the Son asked for Him on their behalf? To affirm that one must still ask for the Spirit today, based on a misunderstanding of Luke 11:13, actually denies the efficacy of the prayers of that blessed Savior and Mediator who said, “thou [Father] hearest me always” (John 11:42), for He has already asked for and received the Spirit and given Him to His own.
Thus, Luke 11:13 refers to the receipt of the Spirit Himself[iii] by those who, in the time period when Christ spoke those words, asked for Him.[iv] No reference to greater ability to exercise spiritual gifts, or any other ministries or blessings from the Holy Ghost that abide throughout the age of grace, is indicated by the verse. Christ promised that the Father would give, not blessings by the Spirit, or gifts from the Spirit, but, in response to urgent and continued prayer as recorded in Acts 1:14 (cf. Acts 8:15),[v] would “give the Holy Spirit” Himself. Luke 11:13 contrasts human parents, who repeatedly give good gifts to their children,[vi] and God the Father, who in Spirit baptism, as a one time event, which was yet future event when the words of Luke 11:13 were spoken,[vii] would give the Person of the Holy Spirit.[viii] While, at the time of the Lord’s discourse in Luke 11, parents were providing good gifts to their children, the Father’s permanent giving of the Holy Spirit had not yet taken place, and it would not until the record of Spirit baptism in Acts, when Christ, having asked the Father for the Holy Ghost, gave the indwelling Spirit to His people.
As an examination of the grammar of Luke 11:13 itself supports a reference to Spirit baptism and the initial receipt of the Spirit, so the fulfillment of the verse in Acts also demonstrates that the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit is not a repeated event, but the one-time action of the initial receipt of the Spirit, first by Spirit baptism during the transitional period in Acts, and then in regeneration throughout the dispensation of grace. One-time, non-continuous action, expressed by the Greek aorist, is the consistent language of Acts (Acts 5:32; 15:8), and the rest of the Bible (Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 3:24)[ix] for the giving of the Spirit. The only time God’s gift of the Spirit to an individual is not expressed with the aorist is 1 John 4:13, where the perfect tense indicates that the Spirit was given in the past at a moment in time, and He continues to dwell within His saints. There are no instances in the New Testament where continuing action tenses are employed for a particular individual’s being given the Holy Ghost.[x] In striking contrast, spiritual gifts from the Holy Ghost are expressed consistently with continuing action tenses.[xi] The recorded Scriptural fulfillment of the prayers indicated in Luke 11:13 demonstrate that, as the Lord intended, the saints prayed in the book of Acts for the coming of the Spirit (Acts 1:14; 8:15), and their prayers were answered in Spirit baptism (Acts 2:33; cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4). Just as no Spirit-indwelt person in Acts ever prays that he would receive the Spirit, as mentioned in Luke 11:13, so the prayer specified in the verse is not appropriate for the universally Spirit-indwelt Christians (Romans 8:9) of today.[xii] Those who are already indwelt by the Holy Ghost have no need to ask for He whom they already have.[xiii]
Endnotes to part 7