Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Part 5)

November 02, 2016

Baptism and Fullness of the Holy Spirit

Today we want to look at the baptism and fullness of the Holy Spirit. There’s a great deal of confusion in Protestant circles concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit because certain Pentecostal and charismatic Christians claim that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a second work of grace in the life of the believer which brings one into a fuller and deeper experience of the Holy Spirit. They believe that when a person becomes a Christian he is indwelt by the Spirit but he is not baptized in the Holy Spirit. In order to come into this deeper walk with God you need to have a second work of grace – a second experience of the Holy Spirit – called the baptism of the Holy Spirit often accompanied by speaking in tongues which will initiate you into this deeper walk in the Spirit.

I think this view is completely wrong. It seems to me that the Scripture is relatively clear that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a second work of grace, but it is an initiatory work of the Spirit by means of which we are placed into the body of Christ. It is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit that we are indwelt by the Spirit and made to be members of the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13 seems to make that clear: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” Here the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the universal experience of the church, the initiating act by means of which we are placed into the body of Christ.

Charismatics will usually appeal to the stories in the book of Acts to show that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an initiatory act but is a second work of grace. But, in fact, a close examination of those stories in the book of Acts reveals that in every single case it is clearly an initial experience of the Holy Spirit that is being described and not a second experience. For example, in Acts 2 you have the story of Pentecost where the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to the church in Jerusalem and Judea. This is an initial baptism in the Holy Spirit that they were to wait for. They were not to leave Jerusalem until they received this baptism in the Holy Spirit. Then in Acts 8 you have the story of how the Holy Spirit is given to the Samaritan believers. Again, a close reading of chapter 8 indicates that they did not have the Holy Spirit until they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Then in Acts 10 and 11 you have the story of Cornelius and his household in which the Holy Spirit now is given to the Gentiles. And once again this is clearly an initial act of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Cornelius and his household. Peter says that the Holy Spirit fell upon them in the same way that he did upon us at Pentecost in the beginning. Then in Acts 19 you have this very strange story of the Ephesian disciples of John the Baptist whom Paul runs into and who says we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. Paul then baptizes them into the Holy Spirit and they likewise become Christians.

So, although the baptism of the Holy Spirit in these acts is differently related to water baptism (sometimes preceding it; sometimes actually coming after water baptism), nevertheless it is clear that in every case the persons who experience a baptism of the Holy Spirit are experiencing an initial act of the Holy Spirit and not some sort of secondary act of grace which puts them into a deeper walk with Christ.

So, it is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit that we are placed into the body of Christ, regenerated, born again to new life, and indwelt with the Holy Spirit.[1] Every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him. Romans 8:9-10:

But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness.

So it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes a difference whether a person is a Christian or not a Christian. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes a person a member of the body of Christ and a Christian.

Also 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” The Holy Spirit is the permanent possession of every believer. He is what makes us regenerate – what makes us Christians. Anyone who does not have the Holy Spirit does not belong to him and is not a Christian.

START DISCUSSION

Student: I'm not saying anything you said is wrong, I am just saying there is probably a little bit more to it. There are some things in my mind that are not clear, like what is the difference of your Christian and your walk as being filled? What is sanctification if it is not more than baptism? Also, remember on the other side of that is the whole nation of Israel is baptized in the Spirit when they went through the cloud coming out of Egypt. That is Christ also. Also, what about Philip? When they believed, they were saying they did not actually hope and repent, and they had to come down and baptize again. There is more to it than that. I'm saying what the Pentecostal extreme position is wrong; I’m saying we can’t be too simple – there is more to this.

Dr. Craig: That forms a nice segue to my next point which is going to be about the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Though in this peculiar case with the Samaritans, it seemed that there they needed to have the ratification of the Jerusalem apostles in order to receive the Holy Spirit, and they hadn't received him yet until they came down and lay hands on them.

END DISCUSSION

Although every Christian is baptized and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not every Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit. There is a significant difference between being indwelt with the Holy Spirit and filled with the Holy Spirit. Look at 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3. Paul says,

The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?

Then also in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. Paul says,

For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.[2] If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Here Paul seems to describe people who are Christians but who are still dominated by the flesh, that is to say, the fallen human nature. He calls them carnal or men of the flesh. He says that their works are not like gold and silver and precious stones that will endure testing, but they are like wood, hay, and stubble that will be burned up and destroyed though they themselves will be saved. What Paul seems to contemplate here would be three different kinds of people. There’s the natural man who is the unregenerate man. He does not have the Spirit of God. He is living in the power of the flesh – the fallen human nature. Then there is the spiritual man. This is the regenerate Christian who is living in the power of the Holy Spirit. And then there is this carnal man, or man of the flesh, who is regenerate (he has the Spirit of God) but he's still living in the power of the flesh – the fallen human nature – and so is immature and experiences futility.

Notice what the sign or evidence is of the spiritual man. It is not charismatic gifts. The church in Corinth exhibited all sorts of charismatic gifts, didn't it? Speaking in tongues, miracles, other sorts of charismatic phenomena. Yet it is the most carnal church in the New Testament. People were getting drunk at the communion services. A man was living in an incestuous relationship with his mother. It was riven with strife and jealousy and party spirit. So even though the charismatic gifts were highly abundant and evident in Corinth, this was not a church that was under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit. So the sign of the spiritual person is not charismatic gifts. Rather, it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit which take place in a person's life in the place of the works of the flesh. That is what we saw when we looked at Galatians 5:16-25. Paul says,

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

So the evidence of the Spirit-filled life is not charismatic gifts or speaking in tongues. The evidence of the Spirit-filled life will be the fruit of the Holy Spirit that is produced in a person's life instead of the works of the flesh.

Unfortunately, as we've seen, not all Christians experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit.[3] What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? I think that it means to be not only indwelt by the Spirit but to be empowered and controlled by the Holy Spirit. If we say that someone is filled with rage or filled with jealousy, we mean that person is controlled and possessed by that anger or by that jealousy. In the same way, when Paul says to be filled with the Holy Spirit, he is telling us to be controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit so that he will produce in our lives the fruit of the Holy Spirit that is described in Galatians.

When we meet next time I want to ask the question: why is it that so few Christians seem to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Why do so many Christians seem to live lives of defeat and frustration and misery, and how can we then be filled with the Holy Spirit so as to walk in the fullness of his power and control? That's what we want to look at next time.[4]



[1] 5:16

[2] 10:12

[3] 15:00

[4] Total Running Time: 16:54 (Copyright © 2016 William Lane Craig)