Thursday, December 01, 2011

Spirit Baptism, the Historic Baptist View, part 8

Spirit baptism in Acts, part 1

The first chapter of Acts evidences that the predictions by John the Baptist that the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Ghost were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter two.  Referencing these predictions, the risen Christ appeared to His disciples, “to whom . . . he shewed himself alive after his passion . . . being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 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 1:3-5).  Spirit baptism, which would take place “not many days" [1] after Christ’s ascension at the conclusion of the forty day period when the Lord appeared to His church after His resurrection, was “the promise of the Father.”  Christ had spoken about Spirit baptism before His death, as recorded in Luke-Acts, only in Luke 11:13, although John 14-16 (cf. John 7:37-39) records His extensive discourse concerning the coming of the Comforter in the act of Spirit baptism, and in Luke 24:49 the Lord Jesus, after His resurrection, likewise refers back to the promise of Luke 11:13 [2]; that the Father would give the Holy Spirit.  The “promise of the Father” mentioned in Acts 1:4 is the “promise of my Father” of Luke 24:49, the Holy Spirit, who would bring the church “power from on high” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8) to assist in her witnessing work (John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8) when He was sent by the ascended Christ as One to take His place on earth.  When the church received the baptism of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost, she received the “power” spoken of in Acts 1:8;  no individually received second blessing at a post-conversion crisis, along the lines of the PCP (post-conversion power) doctrine, is envisaged in Acts 1:8.  Indeed, since Acts 1:8 employs the word dunamis, the verse is most likely a reference, not to the universal power that the Spirit gives to His saints in the church age in gospel preaching and Christian living, but to the miraculous power to perform signs and wonders that accompanied the Pentecostal outpouring of Acts 2 (cf. dunamis as “miracles” in 2:22); [3]  Acts chapter one thus affirms that the promised baptism of the Holy Ghost predicted by John and the Lord Jesus in the gospels would take place in Acts chapter two.

In Acts chapter two, on the day of Pentecost, the ascended Christ sent the Comforter from heaven and baptized the church[4] with the Holy Spirit.  The corporate nature of the baptism is, among other indicators, emphasized through the consistent use of plural word forms (2:1-4, 6-7, 11, 13-15, 17-18, 32, etc.) and the mention that the Spirit, under the figure of wind, “filled all the house” where the 120 were (Acts 2:2), and gave every member of the church tongues of fire and miraculous tongues (2:3-4).  The church, unified (v. 1, 41-47) and blessed by Christ, is emphasized at the beginning and end of the chapter (2:1, 47).[5]  The arrival of the glory of God and the special presence of Jehovah, shown here by the permanent entrance of the Spirit into the church in the baptism “with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16), parallels the coming of the fiery shekinah glory (Exodus 24:17) upon the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38; Leviticus 9:24), and upon Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 7:1-3), [6] even as His glory will come into the future Millennial temple (Ezekiel 43:2-5; 44:4).  Spirit baptism validated the church as God’s institution for latreia, for holy service and worship, as the glory of God did the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple. [7]  And, as the coming of the shekinah on the institution for worship in the Old Testament was a one-time act with continuing results of the abiding presence of Jehovah, so Spirit baptism was a one-time act with the abiding result of the presence of the Triune God in the church.

The 120 members of the pre-Pentecost church (Acts 1:15), upon being baptized with the Spirit, received miraculous power to speak in tongues, prophesy, [8] and do other signs and wonders (2:4, 17-19, 43).  In accordance with the division of the book of Acts in 1:8 into Spirit-blessed witness in “Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth,” the Spirit, who came upon and validated the church to Jews in Acts 2, performed similar works in Acts 8 with Samaritans, in Acts 10 to Gentiles within the compass of the Promised Land (10:24) who were connected to Judaism,[9] and in Acts 19 to Gentiles outside of the Land with no previous connection to Judaism, representing the “uttermost parts of the earth.”  As the baptism with the Spirit brought visible miraculous evidence, particularly the ability to speak in tongues, “which [those present could] see and hear” (Acts 2:33), so in Acts 8, Philip, who had already received the Spirit, did “miracles and signs” (Acts 8:13), and the receipt of the Holy Ghost was again accompanied with visible evidence such as tongues speaking, which could be seen and heard (Acts 2:33), for “Simon saw that . . . the Holy Ghost was given” (Acts 8:18).[10] In Acts 10, “they of the circumcision which believed were astonished . . . because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:45-46). [11] The coming of the Spirit here was very obviously attended with miraculous ability to speak in unlearned foreign languages. Finally, when “the Holy Ghost came on them [who had just previously believed and been saved]; [12] . . . they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:6).  The signs and wonders of Acts 2 accredited the church to the Jews, who require a sign (1 Corinthians 1:22), as the Lord’s new institution of service, replacing the Jerusalem temple (Matthew 23:38).  Likewise, the miracles of Acts 8, 10, and 19, in each of which Jews were present, demonstrated that the Lord did indeed want Samaritans and Gentiles incorporated into His newly authenticated church.  With the events of Acts 19, the progression of Acts 1:8 was complete—the miraculous coming of the Spirit as the inauguration of permanent Spirit-indwelling for the church and all saints in the age of grace had commenced.  In each instance, Acts 2, 8, 10, 19, a particular group—Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles in the Promised Land with a connection to Judaism, and finally all other Gentiles—received the Spirit.  In each instance, miraculous ability to speak in tongues and other external supernatural manifestations were evident.  With the events of Acts 19, the dispensational transition of the coming of the Spirit was complete.  Therefore, nobody receives Spirit baptism today.  The Comforter has already come.

part 9

Note that this complete study, with all it parts and with additional material not reproduced on this blog in this series,  is available by clicking here.

[1] The “not many days hence” (ouj meta» polla»ß tau/taß hJme÷raß, 1:5) was fulfilled at the conclusion of the “in those days” (e˙n tai√ß hJme÷raiß tauvtaiß, 1:15) period when “the day of Pentecost was fully come” (e˙n twˆ◊ sumplhrouvsqai th\n hJme÷ran thvß Penthkosthvß, 2:1).

[2] Note the anaphoric article in th\n e˙paggeli÷an touv patro/ß (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4), referring back to the specific promise of Luke 11:13.

[3] Out of 25 appearances of du/namiß in Luke-Acts (Luke 1:17, 35; 4:14, 36; 5:17; 6:19; 8:46; 9:1; 10:13, 19; 19:37; 21:26, 27; 22:69; 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:22; 3:12; 4:7, 33; 6:8; 8:10, 13; 10:38; 19:11), only one clearly refers to non-miraculous power in preaching and evangelism (Luke 1:17; cf. John 10:41).  Every clear reference to du/namiß in Acts is connected with miracles, as are the large majority of uses in Luke.
Even if one wished to affirm that Acts 1:8 refers to power for Christian service universally received by believers today at the moment of regeneration rather than to ability to perform signs and wonders, after a saint has received “the gift of the Holy Ghost” by possessing His indwelling Person, he already has all power to perform spiritual service within him.  He possesses “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3);  no “second blessing” of the PCP sort is possible, because of the glorious gifts given them at the great “first blessing” when they became children of God.  Believers certainly should, for greater effectiveness in Christian service, yield more fully to God, but they will not get more of Him within them.  Whether Acts 1:8 refers, as is likely, to first century miraculous power, or to power given to saints at regeneration, it provides no support whatever to PCP theology.

[4] It is clear that the entire church, not the apostles alone, received the tongues of fire and the miraculous gift of speaking in unlearned languages on Pentecost, not only from the syntax of Acts 2:3-4, but also from the fact that more than twelve language groups were represented (2:9-11) yet each group heard in its own native tongue (2:5-11).

[5] The corruption that removes the final words of the Greek text of the chapter, “to the church” (thØv e˙kklhsi÷aˆ, v. 47) rejects the testimony of over 97% of Greek MSS evidence.

[6] The glory of the postexilic temple rebuilt under the leadership of Ezra was greater than that built by Solomon, although the seminar never entered it, because the incarnate Son of God did (Haggai 2:9; Luke 2:27).  Likewise, the glory of the church, because of Christ’s presence in her midst in his human body during His earthly ministry (cf. Hebrews 2:12; Matthew 26:30), and because of His presence as omnipresent God and, mediated by the Spirit, Redeeming Man (Revelation 1:13; 2:1) after His resurrection (John 20:22) and ascension (Acts 2), is greater than that of the tabernacle and the temple—indeed, if the coming of the Son into the postexilic temple, for a short time, made that edifice greater than Solomon’s temple, how much the more does His permanent dwelling in the church exceed all that came before in glory.  As the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, tabernacles in the literal human body He has united to Himself (John 1:14), in like manner does He tabernacle in “his body,” the church, “the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Timothy 3:15).  How should the people of God treasure their membership and worship in their particular Baptist congregations!  Jehovah shammah, Ezekiel 48:35.  In them they can see the closest earthly parallel to the ineffable and eternal glory that is their portion in the antitypical Holy of Holies, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:11, 23).  The reverent love that the saints have for their Holy One and Redeemer should lead to like passionate love for His church.
Similarly, as the saints’ individual bodies are temples of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), the dwelling places of the Trinity (John 14:23; Colossians 1:27) they must they keep them holy.

[7] “On the day of Pentecost the Lord demonstrated beyond any question that He was publicly inaugurating His new institution of divine presence (Mt. 18:20, 28:19-20; Rev. 1:13-20), worship and service--the local church. The Jews needed to be convinced through divine accreditation with signs and wonders (Mt. 12:38; I Cor. 1:22) that the Lord was done with the Zerubbabel-Herod Temple (Mt. 23:38), and that His new institution would be the Lord’s ekklesia (cf. Mt. 16:18; Rev. 3:1 ff.). As the glory of the Spirit of the Lord filled the Tabernacle, the Solomonic Temple, and will fill the Millennial Temple, so too His Spirit ‘filled all the house where they were sitting’ (Acts 2:2)” (“Ye Are The Body of Christ,” Dr. Thomas M. Strouse. Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary, Newington, CT. elec. acc.

[8] Note the emphasis placed upon prophesying in Acts 2:18 in comparison with the source of Joel 2:29.  Furthermore, while the larger question of the appropriateness of employing the term prophecy for Scriptural though non-miraculous preaching goes beyond the scope of this composition, Luke-Acts employs the verb profhteu/w uniformly for the miraculous gift (Luke 1:67; 22:64; Acts 2:17, 18; 19:6; 21:9).  Thus, the prophecy spoken of by Peter in Acts 2 as a fulfillment of Joel refers to the miraculous spiritual gift, not simply to non-miraculous though Spirit-empowered preaching.

[9] “Cornelius the centurion [was] a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews . . . a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:22, 2).  Both he and his entire household (cf. also 10:7) were “God-fearers,” (cf. also 13:16, 26). “Proselytes in the NT were called ‘Godfearing’ or those who ‘fear God,’ . . . In [the] synagogues were also men who were ‘devout converts to Judaism’ (Acts 13:43) and people described as ‘men who fear God,’ Gentiles who were ‘proselytes of the gate’ and not fully converted to Judaism or involved in the synagogue, but who liked its high moral character and monotheism. . . . It is undoubtedly true that for every full convert to Judaism there were many partial converts who accepted almost all of Judaism in the realm of belief and practice with the exception of circumcision. They were referred to in the 1st century as ‘those who fear (worship) God’ (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, gen. ed. Merrill C. Tenney. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1963, elec. acc.; Articles Fear, Galatians, Epistle to; Proselyte).  Thus, although a Gentile, Cornelius and his household had strong connections to Judaism, and were therefore different from those in Acts 19, who were simply Gentiles without any kind of previous Jewish connection.  Note also that before Acts 10 (and some continued to act so even after that time) the church was “preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only” (Acts 11:19), while between Acts 10 and 19, Paul preached, “children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent” (Acts 13:26).  After Acts 19, the church freely offered the gospel to “whosoever will” (cf. Revelation 22:17) without any kind of Jewish, Samaritan, God-fearer, or normal Gentile distinction.

[10] And when Simon saw, &c. Whence it appears, that the Holy Ghost, or his gifts, which were received by imposition of hands, were something visible and discernible; and so something external, and not internal; otherwise they would have been out of Simon’s reach, and would not have fallen under his notice; but he saw, that through laying on of the apostles’ hands, the Holy Ghost was given: he saw, that upon this men began to prophesy, and to speak with divers tongues they had never learned, and to work miracles, cure men of their diseases, and the like” (Comment on Acts 8:18, John Gill, An Exposition of the Old and New Testament, elec. acc. Online Bible for Mac). “That they might receive the Holy Ghost. The main question here is, what was meant by the Holy Ghost? In Ac 8:20, it is called ‘the gift of God.’ The following remarks may make this plain: (1.) It was not that gift of the Holy Ghost by which the soul is converted, or renewed, for they had this when they believed, Ac 8:6. Everywhere the conversion of the sinner is traced to his influence. Comp. Joh 1:13. (2.) It was not the ordinary influences of the Spirit by which the soul is sanctified; for sanctification is a progressive work, and this was sudden: sanctification is shown by the general tenor of the life; this was sudden and striking. (3.) It was something that was discernible by external effects; for Simon saw [Ac 8:18] that this was done by the laying on of hands. (4.) The phrase, ‘the gift of the Holy Ghost,’ and ‘the descent of the Holy Ghost,’ signified not merely his ordinary influences in converting sinners, but those extraordinary influences that attended the first preaching of the gospel--the power of speaking with new tongues, Ac 2, the power of working miracles, etc., Ac 19:6. (5.) This is further clear from the fact that Simon wished to purchase this power, evidently to keep up his influence among the people, and to retain his ascendancy as a juggler and sorcerer. But surely Simon would not wish to purchase the converting and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit; it was the power of working miracles. These things make it clear that by the gift of the Holy Spirit here is meant the power of speaking with new tongues, (comp. 1 Cor 14) and the power of miracles . . . Simon saw, etc. That is, he witnessed the extraordinary effects, the power of speaking in a miraculous manner” (Notes on the New Testament, Albert Barnes, comments on Acts 8:15, 18 elec. acc. Online Bible for Mac).

[11] It is noteworthy that Peter, explaining Christ’s gift of the Spirit to the Gentiles in Acts 11:1-18, did not appeal to the OT to prove Gentiles were to receive the Spirit, as he appealed to Joel 2 for the Jews at Pentecost;  for the Gentiles, there is no “this is that which was spoken by the prophet.”

[12] Compare the analysis of Acts 19:1-7 above in a previous post.  It is also worthy of note that, contrary to the Oneness Pentecostal twist on the PCP doctrine of Spirit baptism, Acts 19:1-7 demonstrates that the formula given in Matthew 28:19 was employed by the apostolic churches, and that Trinitarian baptism is actually baptism in Christ’s “name,” that is, with His authority (Acts 19:5).  When Paul found people who claimed to be “disciples” (v. 1) who had “not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost” (v. 2), the apostle, in shock, asked “Unto what then were ye baptized?”  Since the churches were “baptizing . . . in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), employing the Trinitarian formula in their baptismal ceremony, Paul asks these alleged “disciples” how they could have been baptized and never have heard of the Holy Ghost, when He is mentioned in the baptismal ritual itself.  Paul’s question would not make any sense if the baptismal ceremony employed a formula such as “I baptize you in the name of Jesus.”  How would that formula be a guarantee that all baptized disciples had heard of the Holy Ghost?  Trinitarians correctly explain Paul’s mental process as, “How could these people be disciples in Christian churches—they have not even heard of the Holy Ghost, but He is mentioned even in the act of baptism!  ‘Unto what then were ye baptized?’”  Oneness Pentecostals would have to have Paul think, “How could these people be disciples in Christian churches—they have not even heard of the Holy Ghost—now He isn’t mentioned in the act of baptism, since only the word “Jesus” is used in the formula.  However, I’ll ask them what they were baptized unto anyway, as if that related to what they had just said somehow.”

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