1

From Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Part 5): The Baptism In the Holy Spirit:

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.

From Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Part 6): The Filling of the Holy Spirit:

Why Are So Many Christians Not Filled With the Holy Spirit?

Last time we saw that there is a difference in the New Testament drawn between Christians who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit. All Christians have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ and are therefore indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But as we saw in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 and the first part of chapter 3, Paul says that although all Christians are indwelt with the Holy Spirit some Christians still are living under the domination and influence of the flesh, that is to say the fallen human nature, and therefore do not produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Instead these Christians exhibit the works of the flesh that Paul talks about in Galatians chapter 5.

We saw that the signs of the Spirit-filled life are not charismatic gifts like speaking in tongues or prophetic utterance or working of healing miracles. The church in Corinth exhibited all sorts of charismatic gifts and yet was one of the most carnal churches in the New Testament. Rather, the evidence of the Spirit-filled life is the fruit of the Spirit that Paul talks about in Galatians chapter 5. Those who are walking in the Holy Spirit, who are filled with the Spirit, produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives rather than the works of the flesh.

The question that I left us with is this: why is it that so many Christians are not filled with the Holy Spirit? Why is it that so many Christians seem to fall into that category of carnal Christians – Christians who are still living under the domination and influence of the fallen human nature? Why do so few seem to enjoy the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Let me suggest two reasons as to why so many Christians are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

[...]

Question: How do Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians rebut William Lane Craig's objections against their views on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Filling of the Holy Spirit?


Related: What is an overview of how different Christian denominations define well-known phrases related to the ministry of the Holy Spirit?

1 Answer 1

2

I do not consider myself Pentecostal nor do I support any specific charismatic denomination. I would rather label myself a continuationist, although I can understand to some extent why concentric cessationism may seem a reasonable position to hold as well. Having said that, I think I can make a case for a "second experience", even if "baptism with the Holy Spirit" is not strictly speaking the best label for it.

William Lane Craig said:

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. [...]

He then proceeds to cite a number of instances from the book of Acts, namely, Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10-11 and Acts 19. Craig then concludes:

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.

Although I understand Craig's reasoning in the aforementioned four cases, I was very surprised by the fact that he completely overlooked a very important instance from chapter 4:

29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29-31 ESV)

Pulpit's commentary:

Verse 31. - Wherein they were gathered for when they were assembled, A.V. When they had prayed. When they had finished the preceding prayer. The place was shaken, perhaps by a mighty wind, as in Acts 2:2. The word σαλεύεσθαι is properly used of ships or of the sea agitated and tossed by the wind; so Matthew 11:7, "A reed shaken by the wind." But it is also applied to the rocking caused by an earthquake (Acts 16:26), which maybe the kind of shaking here meant. In this fresh outpouring of the Spirit, whereby they were enabled to speak the word of God with boldness, they had a direct and immediate answer to their prayer (see Isaiah 65:24). Acts 4:31

Ellicot's commentary:

(31) The place was shaken. . . .—The impression on the senses was so far a renewal of the wonder of the Day of Pentecost, but in this instance without the sign of the tongues of fire, which were the symbols of a gift imparted once for all, and, perhaps also, without the special marvel of the utterance of the tongues. The disciples felt the power of the Spirit, the evidence of sense confirming that of inward, spiritual consciousness, and it came in the form for which they had made a special supplication, the power to speak with boldness the word which they were commissioned to speak.

I agree with Pulpit and Ellicot. I also think that what the apostles and disciples experienced (who by the way had already been baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost -- Acts 2:4) was a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. A fresh experience. A new experience. A "second experience" (or a third, or a fourth, etc.). And this experience is labeled "filled with the Holy Spirit", which is exactly the same phrase used in Acts 2:4:

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4 ESV)

But we know that what took place in Acts 2:4 was a baptism with the Holy Spirit:

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5 ESV)

Were the apostles and disciples "baptized with the Holy Spirit" again in Acts 4:31? I wouldn't be so fast to claim that "baptism with the Holy Spirit" is the appropriate label/concept here, but at the very least we can confidently conclude that the experience in Acts 4:31 was very similar to the experience in Acts 2:4. And given that there were people present at both events, it follows logically that Christians can experience profound visitations of the Holy Spirit more than once. Dottard's answer here comes to the same conclusion. Notice that at both events the disciples are said to have been filled with the Holy Spirit, suggesting that the phrase filled with the Holy Spirit denotes a powerful visitation of the Holy Spirit, which can happen more than once.

In fact, in Ephesians 5:18-21 Paul exhorts Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit:

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (ESV)

If Christians already have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, then Paul's exhortation wouldn't make much sense unless he is encouraging his audience to pursue a deeper walk with and experience of the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion

From Acts 2:4, Acts 4:31 and Ephesians 5:18 we can make the case that:

  • Christians can be filled with the Holy Spirit more than once, and
  • the phrase filled with the Holy Spirit denotes an extraordinary visitation/outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is consciously experienced by the believer.
1
  • 1
    This is a very good answer, and is very respectfully done considering that you are representing/defending somebody else's viewpoint. +1 Aug 5 at 2:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .