Miraculous Gifts (Part Six)
by Tom Edwards
Holy Spirit Baptism Was Never a Command -- It Was a Promise
No one was ever given orders to baptize others in the Holy Spirit. Even when the apostles imparted the Spirit through the laying on of their hands, it was not to be equated with the baptismal measure of the Spirit. Only Jesus performed Holy Spirit baptisms (Matt. 3:11), and they were limited to merely a certain few.
Obviously, if everyone were baptized in the Holy Spirit at conversion, then there would have been no need for the apostles to lay hands on anyone for the giving of this.
Though this particular baptism was not a command, being baptized in water for the remission of sins is; and a person must, therefore, comply in order to be saved.
Only Two Cases of Holy Spirit Baptism
Interestingly, the New Testament reveals only two cases of those who were baptized in the Spirit -- the apostles and several people who had been at the house of Cornelius.
Notice Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit to His apostles in John 15:26: "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning." Equally informative is John 16:7: "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you."
I was once told that every time you see that little word "if," it indicates that there is a certain condition that must be met in order for something to result. The mother might tell her child, "You may have some dessert if you finish your vegetables"; and we realize that the requirement is that the child eats his vegetables before he can receive his dessert.
In John 16:7, however, the only prerequisite mentioned is not on the part of the recipient at all, but rather on Christ. The necessity being that He would have to go away in order to send them the Holy Spirit; an occurrence which was to happen after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God.
In Luke 24:45-49, the only obligation we find on the apostles' part was that they would simply wait in Jerusalem for the outpouring of this promise. Notice Acts 1:4,5 in which Jesus, after reminding them not to leave Jerusalem, makes a referral to Matthew 3:11 and declares: "for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Directly, the application is made to them.
Who Spoke in Tongues in Acts 2?
Let us now consider Acts 2:1-4. Here it is shown that those who had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit were speaking in tongues (languages) with tongues as of fire resting above each of their heads.
Who were these? Some would have us to believe that it was all the 120 who had been praying in the upper room with the apostles, but let us take a more careful look.
Acts 2:7 records: "...are not all these who are speaking Galileans? Were the 120 all inhabitants of Galilee? The apostles were!
Also notice Acts 2:14: "But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven...." Why does it not say that Peter was taking his stand with the 120, if they were all speaking in tongues? Undoubtedly, they had not been; for only the apostles had received this Holy Spirit baptism that enabled them to do such. That is why Peter took his stand among only them, so that he could explain why they, the apostles, were doing what they did.
Acts 2:15 is another helpful verse. It reads: "For these men are not drunk, as you suppose...." "Men" is the key word in this passage, for in Acts 1:14 mention is made of the women who were also in the upper room -- including even Mary, the mother of Jesus. Since they were part of the 120, why did not Peter say "these men and women?" How could he have forgotten someone like Mary, the Lord's mother, or any other of the faithful and dedicated women who had been with them? It was not forgetfulness; they simply were not the ones who had received this same type of baptism.
Next week we will give our attention to the unique case of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius' household. Never since has the likes of such an event occurred in the history of the world.