Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each record the words of John the Baptizer who states: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:31-34). While showing his humility, John shows the superiority of Christ, the Son of God and His work to come. Our study will deal with the phrase “he shall baptize with you with Holy Ghost” and answer the question: Do we receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit Today?
John was baptizing in the Jordan River. “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan” (Matthew 3:5). The Pharisees and Sadducees come out to see John’s baptism (3:7). He gives predictions concerning the baptisms of Christ that were to come. Predictions are seen more clearly in their unfolding and as more information is revealed. For instance, John, clearly upset with the Pharisees on this occasion of baptizing many, refers to Jesus’ baptism of fire and then refers to the chaff that is burned up after the harvest time. As more teaching is revealed, Jesus makes clear this references the Judgment Day to come. As pertaining to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, let us notice the unfolding events and revelation of Scripture.
What Scripture Reveals of the Nature of Holy Spirit Baptism
We should notice in each of the Gospel records, John the baptizer mentions Jesus’ promise to baptize with the Holy Spirit. This predicted baptism was a promise, not a command.
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49, emp. W.R.).
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. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (Acts 1:4)
What Scripture Reveals of the Who & Why of Holy Spirit Baptism
Among the audience there were also Jews who were penitent unlike the Pharisees and Sadducees. This promised baptism was to be administered by Christ to His apostles. He promised to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to them from the Father.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:26).
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning (John 15:26-27).
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come (John 16:13).
Jesus spoke these words to His apostles, giving them hope and comfort as He was soon to die and then return to the Father. This continues to reveal the predictive promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit to come upon the apostles. The apostles would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit to teach them, give them remembrance, and guide them into all truth. After His resurrection, Jesus is again with His apostles and would indicate they were the ones to receive this promised baptism.
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained (John 20:22-23).
The apostles would receive this baptism for the purpose of remitting sins. They would accomplish this by preaching the message of remission of sins, the Gospel.
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:46-48).
What Scripture Reveals of the Where & When of Holy Spirit Baptism
Luke recorded in the Gospel record as well as the book of Acts more unveiling of the predictive promise of the Holy Spirit baptism.
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49).
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. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (Acts 1:4).
“Not many days hence” would be found in Jerusalem and after Matthias was “numbered with the eleven” (Acts 1:26). Chapter two of Acts opens with the following scene:
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).
The apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit and given the ability to speak other languages, preaching the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, i.e., the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). This promised baptism administered by Jesus Christ himself was given to the apostles for their work of preaching the Gospel before the complete revealed word was written (1 Corinthians 13) so that “every creature” could be saved by their belief and baptism (Mark 16:15-16). Once that message was completely revealed, the purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit would be fulfilled. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was not promised to us today; however, we have the “apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42), and we must be obedient to it.
published in THE GOSPEL JOURNAL, July 2012