Baptism In and Filling with the Holy Spirit Part 2

Posted: January 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

Okay, if there is no such thing as a post-conversion “baptism in the Spirit” then what is going with these two passages?

John 20:19-23

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.

Acts 2:1-4

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Is Acts 2:1-4 not a post-conversion “baptism in the Spirit”? Most scholars don’t think so.  D.A. Carson, Andreas Kostenberger and many others believe that Jesus’ actions are simply symbolic.  Some scholars argue that Jesus is simply preparing the disciples for what is to come.

Either way, there is no indication that anything happens in John other than Jesus wishing his disciples peace. 

It is true that there are other episodes in Acts where individuals or groups have apparently come to faith in Jesus but then the disciples come along later and act as a conduit to bring the Spirit to them but one must keep these verse in context. 

In Acts there is Pentecost which is clearly the coming of the Spirit to  Jews who repent and believe in Jesus (Acts 2) and then the same for the Samaritans in Acts 8 and Gentiles in Acts 10, which perfectly follows Christ’s command given in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20 cf. Acts. 1:8).

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that the Holy Spirit is not something we can possess and utilize at will.  God cannot be manipulated and the grand narrative of Scripture is clear that the Spirit’s task in this age is to help us accomplish the redemptive mission given to us by our King.

Most importantly, as Wayne Grudem points out, the teaching of a post-conversion “baptism in the Spirit” creates first and second class Christians, which is unacceptable if we are truly one body.

Now, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t instances where the Spirit clearly enables one to perform special tasks but these tasks are always placed within the redemptive purposes of God not to set us apart for special recognition.  Only God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Spirit are to receive honor and glory.  So may it be.

Tomorrow we begin discussing the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints or remaining a Christian.

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