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When and How Are We Reborn?
Preface for Baptisms Article Series
Baptisms: Introduction and Historical
Original Proclamations about Baptism
Two Baptisms Occurring Separately
Baptizo: Two Baptisms, One Greek
Synonymous Phrases: Baptism in the
Water Baptism in Jesus' Name
No Record of Paul's Water Baptism
Is Baptism Essential to Salvation?
Acts 1: Parallel Account of the Great
Necessity of Water Baptism: 3 Common
Survey 1: Baptisms in Acts
The Baptism of Crispus (and Assuming
Survey 2: Baptism from Romans to
Baptism and Hebrews 10:22
Conclusions: When and How Are We
Survey 3: Baptism and the Ante-Nicene
Closing: Water Baptism for the Right Reasons
Now that we are near the end of our study, we will introduce another related hypothesis. It is our belief that baptism in the Holy Spirit is simply another phrase for the rebirth. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles and other 120 believers in the upper room received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. At this point, they were reborn. Prior to this point, they were believing for the promised gift, the rebirth through the Holy Spirit. John 7:37-39 corroborates that people were not receiving the Holy Spirit or eternal life until after the resurrection of Jesus (although the apostles were no doubt slated to receive both on Pentecost).
And this illustrates from another angle why baptism in the
Holy Spirit is the "baptism which now saves us" as Peter wrote
in 1 Peter 3:21. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the rebirth
through the indwelling of the Spirit of the Living God that
quickens our spirit, washes us (1 Corinthians 6:11), brings
us into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), testifies
that we are God's children (Romans 8:14-16), and apart from
which we cannot enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). And we
will get into more detail regarding some of these aspects
The only possible objection that the water baptism proponents
might make to this is that the 12 men from Ephesus were considered
believers before they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. The
idea behind this is that if they were considered believers,
they must have been considered saved and so they must've been
reborn before they received baptism in the Holy Spirit.
However, this is a weak argument at best. First, as we have said all along, Paul never actually calls these men believers. We have to infer that they were “believers” based on Paul’s question if they have received the Holy Spirit "since they believed." Second, there is some serious doubt that these 12 individuals could have been considered born-again, saved men. The glaring difficulty in accepting them as saved is the simple fact that they themselves admit that they did not even know “whether there be any Holy Ghost.” This phrase could refer to their knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s existence or merely their knowledge of the Holy Spirit having come, having been sent. But in either case, the question arises, how can one be born again by the Spirit and not know “Whether there be any Holy Ghost”?
Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos
was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts
came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said
unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?
And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether
there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto
what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of
repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe
on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of
the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them,
the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues,
and prophesied. 7 And all the men were about twelve.
From Paul's description of John's baptism to these men (verse 4) it is possible to conclude that these men did not believe in, know of, or hear about Jesus Christ prior to Paul's explanation. The passage suggests that they may have merely been disciples of John the Baptist who believed in the Christ based on John’s testimony but perhaps with little additional knowledge of Jesus directly. It may be, as verse 3 seems to indicate, that they were only familiar with John the Baptist's preaching. If this is so, we would have another reason not to consider them saved in the sense of being reborn prior to their being baptized in the Holy Spirit by Paul in verse 5.
The other scenario would be that these men had received only the baptism of John. In that sense, they were like the apostles and 120 in the upper room. They had believed in Jesus before the resurrection. So, they could not have been born again since the Holy Spirit and the rebirth did not occur until Pentecost.
Further proof that they had been baptized before the resurrection comes from their admission that they did not know “whether there be any Holy Ghost.” When Jesus commanded baptism in Matthew 28:19, he commanded that it be done in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. So, in order to be baptized after the resurrection and after the Great Commission, these men would have to have heard of the Holy Spirit.
Another complication stems from the fact that these men are from Ephesus. Yet the apostles are specifically told by Christ in Luke 24:47-49 and Acts 1:4, 8 that the preaching of the gospel must begin in Jerusalem and not to leave Jerusalem to preach elsewhere until after the Holy Spirit had come. Ephesians are not mentioned among the foreigners present on Pentecost in Acts 2:9-11. And if these men had been present on that day, they certainly would have known about the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Consequently, the fact that these 12 men had not heard “whether there be any Holy Ghost” demands the conclusion that they had received water baptism by John prior to the day of Pentecost and prior to the Great Commission when baptism in the name of Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit began. It would seem that the most likely conclusion is that these men had been baptized before the resurrection, most likely during John the Baptist’s ministry according to verse 3-4, were not baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and were not born again since they had not even heard about the Holy Spirit’s coming.
Unless we want to conclude that these men were reborn and had “rivers of living water” inside them without being water baptized in Jesus’ name, without being water baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and before the Holy Spirit was given after Jesus’ resurrection, then we cannot conclude they were born again. Since these men could not have been considered saved in the sense of being born-again, Acts 19 simply lends no support to the theory that men could be deemed saved without having been baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Near the end of the Biblical aspect of this study we arrive
at a very simple question. How and when do we receive the
Holy Spirit in the way that makes us reborn? Is it through
water baptism as some might suggest? And if it is, what happens
during that act of water baptism that brings about the rebirth?
Wouldn't even water baptism proponents say that the Holy Spirit
comes upon you? And if he does, isn't that baptism in the
Holy Spirit? Of course it is.
However, proponents of water baptism would argue that baptism in the Holy Spirit cannot happen without water baptism. But on this point it is not enough for proponents of water baptism to demonstrate that water baptism simply must occur first. They must prove these two baptisms are the same event. Otherwise, since Ephesians 4:4-6 and 1 Peter 3:21 stipulate that only one baptism is essential to salvation, so long as there remain two forms of baptism, we must choose between them. And given the choice of which is essential, baptism in the material substance of water or baptism in the Holy Spirit of God, we have no choice but to choose baptism in the Holy Spirit. And we have demonstrated thoroughly that the New Testament demands this.
But the fact that the two forms of baptism were originally understood to be two separately occurring events is quite easy to demonstrate from the Bible. Not only do we have an account in Acts 8:12-17 when baptism in the Holy Spirit did not automatically occur when people were water baptized, but in Acts 10:44-48, baptism in the Holy Spirit actually comes before the individuals were water baptized. Together, these two events demonstrate completely that these are two separate events that may or may not occur at the same point in time. And that is without even mentioning that the apostles and the rest of the 120 disciples were not in the process of being water baptized when they received the Holy Spirit. They had been water baptized years earlier.
And, of course, John the Baptist had been water baptizing three years before the baptism in the Holy Spirit ever arrived while at the same time he was preaching that baptism in the Holy Spirit would come. So, it would have been built into the understanding of the people of that day that baptism with water and baptism in the Holy Spirit were two separate forms of baptism that, at least originally, occurred at separate points of time.
And we have already covered verses in which John the Baptist,
Jesus, and Peter all classified them as two distinct baptisms
(Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:26, 33, Acts 1:5,
Given that these two baptisms do not always have to occur simultaneously, we must conclude that they are two separate baptisms, not one. Indeed, the scripture will not allow us to construct any dependent relationship between these two forms of baptisms. Therefore, we know that baptism in the Holy Spirit is neither dependent upon, nor does it have to be predicated by, water baptism in order to occur. And given that John the Baptist, Jesus, and Peter all spoke of them as two distinct baptisms, we must conclude that they are, in fact, two separate baptisms, not one. The fact that they were counted as 2 separate forms of baptism is also evidenced by the mention of "baptisms" plural in Hebrews 6:1-2. As such, between the two we must choose baptism in the Holy Spirit to be the baptism which is essential to salvation and which is commanded in the Great Commission.
Since these are two distinct baptisms not one, if proponents
of water baptism state that water baptism is essential to
salvation, they make baptism in the Holy Spirit nonessential
to salvation. Without baptism of the Holy Spirit being essential
to the salvation experience, they are left to come create
some other work of the Holy Spirit through which we are reborn.
And then baptism in the Holy Spirit becomes secondary to that
primary work of the Holy Spirit. In this way, the proponents
of water baptism actually create the false doctrine cultivated
by the modern Charismatic movements. As we said in the introduction
to our redemption article, in the absence of sound doctrine,
false doctrine will always spring up.
Consider for a brief moment that since these are two separate
forms of baptism, proponents of water baptism are asking us
to believe that we receive the Holy Spirit and become reborn
in water baptism, not baptism in the Holy Spirit, a phrase
which in the Greek simply means "immersion in the Holy Spirit."
And this is despite the fact that, as we have already shown,
the phrases "baptism in the Holy Spirit" and "received the
Holy Spirit" were interchangeable and synonymous in the New
Testament including the book of Acts.
This demonstrates that the early Church and the apostles perceived
that when a person received the Holy Spirit (without which
we cannot be born again) that person was baptized in the Holy
As proof that the rebirth is different from baptism in the
Holy Spirit, proponents of water baptism might quickly point
to such New Testament passages as Luke 1:41, Luke 1:67, and
Luke 2:25, where we find individuals said to be "filled with
the Holy Spirit." Since this phrase also occurs after Pentecost
at which point it is used synonymously with phrases like "receive
the Holy Spirit" and "baptized in the Holy Spirit," water
baptism proponents might believe that baptism in the Holy
Spirit was not a new work, but instead it is the same work
of the Holy Spirit carried on throughout the Old Testament.
Thus, since the rebirth was a component of the New Covenant,
it must be distinct from baptism in the Holy Spirit.
But Jesus' own teaching does not allow this. Scripture clearly
teaches us that baptism in the Holy Spirit and the rebirth
are the same work of the Holy Spirit.
John 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou
knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee,
Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him,
and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman
saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the
well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the
well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his
cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh
of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh
of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but
the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of
water springing up into everlasting life.
Here we find Jesus comparing receiving the Holy Spirit to
drinking water. And in this comparison, Jesus equates receiving
the Holy Spirit with receiving eternal life. And notice how
verse 10 closely parallels John 7:37, where Jesus reiterates
this comparison to the crowds.
John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast,
Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him
come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me,
as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers
of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit,
which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy
Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
These two passages are so similar. Both of them speak of the
Spirit in comparison to water. Verse 39 of chapter 7 is particularly
interesting for three reasons.
First, verse 39 tell us that this "living water" spoken of
by Jesus was "the Spirit, which they that believe on him should
receive" but which "was not yet given." From this we learn
that Jesus was speaking of the rebirth because of his use
of the terms "living water" and "everlasting life" (from John
Second, we know Jesus is speaking of baptism in the Holy Spirit
because, as we have already shown in detail, the phrase "receive
the Spirit (verse 39) is synonymous with "baptism in the Holy
Spirit." (See Acts 10:44-48, 11:15-17.)
Peter's words in Acts 11:17 also confirm this, for in that
verse Peter refers back to both the conversion of the first
Gentiles in Acts 10 and the day of Pentecost when he says,
"God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed."
Thus, Peter equates the receiving of the Holy Spirit (spoken
of in John 3:39) with both belief and salvation. And notice
also that Acts 11:18 equates this event of receiving the Holy
Spirit (baptism in the Holy Spirit) with "repentance unto
life," a clear reference to the same "eternal life" spoken
of by Jesus in John 4:14 and 7:38. By viewing these passages
side by side, we can see that scripture clearly teaches "eternal
life" comes when an individual "receives the Holy Spirit"
which is the same thing as "baptism in the Holy Spirit."
And third, from John 7 we also learn that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. But what does that mean? Does this mean that never before had the Holy Spirit been given to someone? Does this mean that never before was anyone baptized in the Holy Spirit? If not, then why are such phrases as "filled with the Holy Spirit" found in the Old Testament and in New Testament passages like Luke 1:41, Luke 1:67, and Luke 2:25 before the day of Pentecost? The answer is simple. The waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit was based upon Joel 2:28-32 as Peter clearly states on the day of Pentecost itself when he quotes that portion of Joel in Acts 2:16-21.
Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that
I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons
and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream
dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also
upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will
I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the
heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of
smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon
into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD
come. 32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall
call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in
mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD
hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully
come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And
suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty
wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of
fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were
all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other
tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance...16 But this
is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it
shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will
pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your
daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants
and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my
Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders
in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and
fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into
darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable
day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever
shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
And what did Joel 2 promise and prophesy? Was it something
new that the Israelites had never heard of, something that
had never been given to anyone before? No, Joel 2 simply promised
that what had occurred selectively in the past (whereby only
certain individuals received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit)
would at some future point be poured out upon a much wider
number of people so that it was no longer just certain select
men of faith but that by instituting a covenant of faith,
the Holy Spirit might be poured out "upon all flesh" and,
in fact, upon all of Israel instead of just a few Israelites.
So, when John 7 states that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given or when Jesus states in Acts 1 that the apostles were to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was given, these do not indicate that no one had ever received or been baptized in the Holy Spirit before that point in human history. Instead, these statements simply refer back to the prophesy and promise of Joel so that what was being awaited was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a greater number of mankind. That was clearly what Joel was anticipating. What John 7 is identifying as having not yet occurred was the giving of the Holy Spirit abroad to many as Joel had prophesied. It was the increased quantity described by Joel that had not yet been given even though the Holy Spirit had in both the Old Testament and New Testament come upon small, select numbers of men of faith such as King Saul (1 Samuel 10:10), Samson (Judges 14:6), and John the Baptist (Luke 1:51), etc. And according to John 7, Luke 24, and Acts 1, the apostles were among those who were awaiting the Holy Spirit prior to Acts 2.
What Joel prophesied and what the apostles were told to wait
for in John 7 and Acts 1 was the time at which this outpouring
that had occurred in small numbers in the past would be made
to occur to large numbers of people. Instead of one or two
prophets or a handful or remnant of God's people, the time
was coming when God would grant an outpouring of his Spirit
upon "all flesh." There is nothing in scripture, in either
the Old Testament or the New Testament, that indicates against
or prohibits the idea that men received the Holy Spirit (as
the apostles understood that concept and which we have defined
in their words throughout this study) in times past before
the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The only thing that scripture
indicates is that this did not happen in anywhere near as
many men before Pentecost and that Pentecost was the day marking
when this outpouring was going to occur and did occur with
much larger numbers of men.
In scripture, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not depicted
as a second work of the Holy Spirit separate from the rebirth.
And this is the simplest explanation. Baptism in the Holy
Spirit is the rebirth. This is when the Holy Spirit comes
into us and regenerates our spirits, washes us (1 Corinthians
6:11), brings us into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13),
and testifies that we are God's children (Romans 8:14-16).
There is nothing in the words of either John the Baptist or Jesus, which would indicate otherwise. Nothing in their words would point to two works of the Holy Spirit, one in which we are reborn and one in which we are baptized. Furthermore, we have no scriptural evidence, which would indicate that the Holy Spirit is received by means of water baptism (as water baptism proponents must propose).
The final objection that could be posed against our conclusion
might come in the form of the following question:
"If baptism in the Holy Spirit is the rebirth, then wouldn't
the fact that most believers don't speak in tongues, or prophesy,
or perform miracles indicate that we have not been baptized
in the Holy Spirit, and therefore, are not born-again?"
But the absence of speaking in tongues or performing other miraculous signs does not mean a person hasn’t been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Nor does it mean, therefore, that a person hasn’t been reborn. The reason for this is simple.
First, speaking in tongues and prophesying are evidence that someone has the Holy Spirit but just because that particular product of the Holy Spirit is not present does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not present. There are various kinds of proof for various things. Concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it is true that the ability to perform miracles was AN indication that the Holy Spirit was upon someone (Acts 8:14-18, Acts 10:45-46, Acts 19:6), for it is the Holy Spirit that manifests the gifts through individuals according to his will. (We will talk more about that in a moment.) However, although the ability to perform miracles was AN indication, it was not “the” indication, or “the only” indication, or even a required indication. Aside from the miraculous gifts, understanding the teaching of Jesus Christ (John 15:26, John 16:12-15, Ephesians 5:9, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 Corinthians 2:9-16) as well as the fruit of good character and good works (Galatians 5:22-25, Ephesians 5:9, Romans 8:13-14, 1 Peter 1:22) were signs of someone who remained in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Since it is the Holy Spirit that produces such things, these things too are evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence within someone.
So, in the absence of one product that the Holy Spirit produces
in our lives, such as miracles, the presence of other products
of the Holy Spirit would testify to his presence in us. And
furthermore, just because the early church knew for sure that
someone had received the Holy Spirit if they spoke in tongues
and prophesied does not mean the early church perceived that
the Holy Spirit was never present in someone unless they did
miracles of that sort. John the Baptist, whom scripture describes
in the same terms as those who were filled with the Holy Spirit
after Pentecost, performed no miracles yet he is said to have
been filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb.
Luke 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias:
for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear
thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And
thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at
his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord,
and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall
be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the
Lord their God.
John 10:41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John
did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man
So, while scripture records that people were known to have
the Holy Spirit when they did do miracles, it also denotes
that other people, such as John the Baptist, were known to
have had the Holy Spirit and yet performed no miracles and
did not speak in tongues. We should also note that both the
New and Old Testament speak of false prophets (Matthew 24:24,
Mark 13:22) and of lying miracles produced by Satan (2 Thessalonians
2:8-10, Revelation 16:13-14) who will do such things to lead
people away from God's Word. So, since ungodly spirits can
also produce miracles, the ability to do the miraculous on
its own does not prove that the Holy Spirit is inside someone.
(For more on this point, please visit our study on the Charismatic
Movement.) Thus, the presence of miracles does not prove that
the Holy Spirit is present, nor does the absence of miracles
mean that the Holy Spirit is not present, with John the Baptist
being the prominent example.
Second, the New Testament is clear that the miraculous gifts
are administered and manifested according to the will of the
Holy Spirit. We find this in 1 Corinthians 12.
1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of
gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences
of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities
of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in
all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given
to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the
Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge
by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit;
to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To
another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another
discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues;
to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these
worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to
every man severally as he will...29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
First, Paul is clear that not everyone prophesied or spoke in tongues. So, there is no way that the apostles could have considered prophesying and speaking in tongues to be necessary evidence of the Holy Spirit for all individuals.
Second, it is the Holy Spirit who decides when and how the miraculous
gifts are manifest according to his own will and counsel,
all we necessarily must conclude by the absence of such gifts
today is that the Holy Spirit is not willing to manifest them
at this time. Since it is within his control to do so or not
do so as he sees fit, it is his prerogative not to manifest
them if he so desires. Thus, we cannot assume that miracles
must or should necessarily occur in every generation no matter
what other factors are present. (For more on the other factors
involved in the miraculous gifts through history, please see
our articles on the Charismatic movement.) And since the Holy
Spirit can choose not to manifest the gifts of his own prerogative,
when the miraculous gifts are not occurring, the only thing
that we need to conclude is that the Holy Spirit is not manifesting
the miraculous gifts. We do not need to conclude that the
absence of the miraculous gifts means that someone doesn't
have the Holy Spirit. Instead, we should look to things like the fruit of the Spirit in their life or whether or not they remain in Jesus’ teachings, both of which coincide with the presence of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life.
There is no reason to go beyond this and assume that the miraculous gifts aren’t manifesting because the Holy Spirit isn’t present. The Holy Spirit may well be present, (and his presence may well be attested to in other ways) while at the same time the Holy Spirit chooses not to manifest the miraculous gifts for some reason or factor. (We’ll discuss this more in a moment when we look at Acts 1 and 2 below.) Just because the miraculous gifts are an indicator of the Holy Spirit’s presence, doesn’t mean that they are the only indicator or that in the absence of that particular indicator, we should conclude that the Holy Spirit is not present.
The fact that most Christians today do not speak in tongues or perform various other miracles when they believe does not in any way indicate they have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit. So long as other items are present that scripture states coincide with the presence of the Holy Spirit, such as an understanding of Christ’s teachings and the fruit of godly character, we can and should conclude that the Holy Spirit is within someone even if the miraculous gifts are not manifesting. In such cases, we can and should conclude that the miraculous gifts are not occurring simply because the Holy Spirit, who administrates the miraculous gifts, is choosing not to manifest them at this time according to his wisdom and particularly in accordance with reasons outlined in scripture. (Such reasons are discussed thoroughly in our articles on the Charismatic Movement).
Lastly, faith is the act of believing what God has said. And
with regard to the Holy Spirit, God has said that he will
give him to whoever asks.
Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall
be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall
be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth;
and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall
be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that
is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish,
will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask
an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being
evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how
much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit
to them that ask him?
Notice that Luke 11:9-13 promises the Holy Spirit. It does
not promise the miraculous gifts to anyone who asks. Nor does
it promise that the Holy Spirit will manifest miraculous gifts.
As John the Baptist had the Holy Spirit but performed no miracles,
Luke 11:9-13 simply promises the Holy Spirit. That does not
mean that miraculous power will automatically be included
or automatically be received as well.
Thus, faith requires that we believe that God will do what he said he would do. And so, faith requires that we understand and conclude that anyone who repents and commits his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and asks for the Holy Spirit to come upon him and produce the rebirth, will receive the Holy Spirit. If such a person rejects the moral behavior required in the New Testament (the fruit of the Spirit) or rejects the teachings of Jesus Christ, then we might well conclude that they have no remain in the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:24-29). But the mere absence of miraculous gifts is not a sufficient reason for reaching such a conclusion.
At this point we should also say that it is entirely possible
to be part of a return or reemergence of sound doctrine without
being endued with miraculous power from the Holy Spirit. That
was the exact situation of the apostles and the rest of the
120 disciples in the days between Jesus' resurrection and
Pentecost. Jesus Christ has come to restore the lost sheep
of Israel to the teaching of God.
Jesus came preaching the truth of God.
John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace
and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to restore the Israelites who had departed from
God and needed to be restored to following in God's commands.
Matthew10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the
house of Israel.
Matthew15:24 But he answered and said, I am not
sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Luke 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep,
if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and
nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost,
until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it
on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he
calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them,
Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven
over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety
and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
The apostles were part of the Israelites who heard Jesus'
teaching and received it. They were part of those sheep of
Israel that he came to seek and to save. And not only had
they sat under his teaching for 3 years before his death and
resurrection, but in the days between his resurrection and
ascension, he continued to teach them and to reveal to them
the things that had been hidden in parables and
shadows about him in the Old Testament.
Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the
words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you,
that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in
the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms,
concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding,
that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said
unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ
to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
Thus, before Jesus ascended into heaven, his apostles understood
his doctrine and the full context of his life correctly according
to the Old Testament scriptures as explained to them by Jesus
Christ himself. Therefore, they had correct doctrine. But
despite the fact that they had correct doctrine and had held
the doctrine of Christ without departing from it since the
time they began to follow him, the power to perform miracles
did not come upon them automatically or instantaneously as
soon as they had sound doctrine or just because they were
part of the sheep of Israel who returned to the Words of God.
Acts 1 also affirms these things by stating clearly that the apostles had received the teaching of Jesus Christ and remained in it. Yet that factor alone did not cause them to automatically or instantaneously received miracle-working power from the Holy Spirit. Instead, there was a timeframe that God himself had set and the miracle-working power was given only in accordance with those factors, which God knew and set by his own wisdom. It was not give strictly on the condition of returning to or keeping sound doctrine.
Acts 1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus,
of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until
the day in which he was taken up, after that he through
the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom
he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive
after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen
of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining
to the kingdom of God: 4 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. 5 For John truly baptized
with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not
many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together,
they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore
again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is
not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father
hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power,
after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall
be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea,
and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld,
he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
The disciples had been a part of that return to God's truth
and had embraced that truth without corrupting it in the 50
days between the resurrection and Pentecost. But the fact
that they held to sound doctrine during those days did not
guarantee an automatic manifestation of miraculous power the
moment that they had sound doctrine or just because they had
Having sound doctrine was not the only qualification that
God was waiting for but instead, while holding sound doctrine,
they still had to wait for the time appointed by God, which
was the day of Pentecost. Thus, being part of a return to
sound doctrine and keeping that doctrine does not on its own
guarantee the manifestation of miraculous power. Instead,
it is God's ordained time and purposes that determine when
he bestows miraculous power and even those who hold to sound
doctrine cannot change or alter the time and purpose of God
in this matter.
Additionally, in this example of the 120 disciples we see
that God's decision to bestow miraculous power is based upon
greater factors that are independent of simply holding to
sound doctrine even though the miracles function to confirm
the divine origin of doctrine. In this way, sound doctrine
is a prerequisite to miraculous power as we have outlined
in detail in our study of the Charismatic Movement, but sound
doctrine is not the only factor or even the primary factor
for God in determining if or when to bestow such power.
In Summary, baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit's
discretion to manifest the miraculous gifts are distinct.
Since the Holy Spirit manifests the miraculous gifts as he
wills, it is possible for the Holy Spirit to be present within
someone without willing to manifest the miraculous gifts through
them at that time in history or that time in their life, etc.
The absence of the miraculous gifts, therefore, does not in
any way logically mean the absence of the Holy Spirit.
This entire debate over which baptism is necessary for salvation
can be broken down into four simple questions. 1) Were these
two baptisms considered separated events or were they the
same baptism? 2) If they were two distinct baptisms, not one,
were they both essential to salvation? 3) Was baptism in the
Holy Spirit a secondary work of the Holy Spirit, or was it
the same as the rebirth spoken of by Jesus in John 3:5? 4)
Which baptism was commanded by Jesus in the Great Commission
as recorded in Mark 16 and Matthew 28?
We have answered all four. 1) These two baptisms were considered separate baptisms and distinguished between from the very start of the Gospels and this sentiment is recorded in the words of John the Baptist, Jesus, and Peter. 2) According to Ephesians 4:4-6, only one baptism is essential to our salvation. 3) Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the rebirth are the same event. They are the point in time when we receive the Holy Spirit and, in the New Testament, this was not made available until the day of Pentecost. 4) Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the mechanism through which we are reborn. Therefore, it is the baptism essential to our salvation and the one commanded by Christ in the Great Commission. This is perfectly consistent with the parallel accounts of Jesus' teaching to the apostles in the days between his resurrection and his ascension during which he gave the Great Commission and explicitly taught about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
In the end, we have no choice but to conclude that baptism
in the Holy Spirit is the essential baptism (Ephesians 4:4-6),
the baptism which "now saves us" (1 Peter 3:21), because that
is the manner in which we "receive the Holy Spirit" (John
7:38-39, Acts 10:44-48, 11:15-17.) The simple truth is that
"baptism in the Holy Spirit" is the Biblical term for our
receiving the Holy Spirit and therefore becoming reborn.
Now we will move on to the final part of our study, a survey
of the Ante-Nicene authors (orthodox Christian leaders who
wrote before the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD) to see if their
writings confirm or deny our findings from the Biblical survey